What really goes through the mind after a night on a fishing trip? Can it ever be 'life as usual', again?
Nausea rose as quickly as the thick dark liquid flowed over the mound of bloated batter. Memories from the night before flashed through her mind so swiftly Penny didn’t realize she’d moved until she felt the sticky bottle in her hand and was looking down into the upraised startled face of her four year old son.
Jamie Brooke had been so intent on his act of drowning the last piece of pancake with the remaining contents of the bottle of syrup he hadn’t noticed his mother approaching until the container was abruptly removed from his double fisted grip and he was left looking up in surprise.
“Mom, where did you go last night? I was looking for you.”
“Yeah, honey where did you go?” Joshua Brooke let the irritation he felt resound in the tone of his voice. “I woke in the night because the kid was crying and you weren’t here. I’m getting pretty tired of it. Why didn’t you leave a note? How many times have I told you not to leave without letting me know? The world is not safe for a woman alone. Did you have a call? What kind of emergency was it?”
“Uhm, yeah I had a run to make. I’m sorry about the note. I intended to leave one, but I guess I was moving too fast. We had to remove a child from its home. I hate when that happens. I’m always hoping something else can be done, but it was terrible situation.”
Penny Brooke looked at her child sitting opened mouth and staring at her from across t he kitchen table, the pancake on the tip of his fork in danger of dripping syrup on his chin which would then plop down to stain the front of his shirt. She loved it when she could use him as an excuse.
“Jamie, honey please pay attention to what you’re doing. We won’t have time to change your shirt. Don’t worry about the kid. Everything is fine now. Finish eating.”
“Why didn’t you wake me before you left?” Joshua left his spot at the table with his empty plate and walked to the sink. Over the running water, he continued his lecture. “You know I hate it when you just leave like that in the middle of the night. Penny, anything could happen. I know you take to heart the safety and well-being of those children, but being a CPS agent can’t be your be all and in all. You need to remember you have a child of your own.”
“I understand that Josh and I’m really sorry.” She moved to his side and put her arm around his waist and kissed the tip of his ear. “I started to wake you but you were looking so sweet and adorable as you slept, I didn’t want to disturb you.”
“What about me, Mommy?” Jamie squeezed his body between his parents and hugged his mother’s legs. “Did I look sweet? You didn’t wake me.”
“Yes. You looked sweet, too.” Penny picked up the child gave him a quick kiss and hug before putting him down and giving him a little nudge on the back. “And you taste sweet too. Now go wash your hands and face and get your backpack so Daddy can drop you off while I finish getting ready. Smiling at the child’s quick obedience she turned back to face her husband. “All right with you, Daddy?”
“Gonna have to be, huh?” He kissed the top of her head. “I already feed and watered Graham. He’s in his kennel. Gotta, go. I’ll rush the kid out and then we’re gone.”
Penny finished clearing the dishes to the sounds of her husband and son gathering their things and leaving the house. At the final slam of the front door she rushed up the stairs and into the bedroom to gather her clothes from the night before. After arriving home in the early hours she’d only had time to strip in the hallway and push the damp smelly clothes under the huge wardrobe in the corner of the room before slipping into the shower. She hadn’t dared wear them to walk all the way across the bedroom to the bathroom in case Josh would have awakened and questioned her wet smelly presence. She had been frightened out of her wits when she’d heard Josh peek into the bathroom, but had pretended she hadn’t and when she slid into bed, he just pulled her close and never questioned. She knew the lack of interrogation wouldn’t continue because his natural instinct as well as his profession as a police detective always caused him to want to be in the know of everything.
Holding the rank pile of clothes as far away from her body as her outstretched arms would allow, she tried not to wretch as she rushed back down the stairs, through the kitchen and garage to the edge of the street where she dumped the bundle into the trashcan at the end of the yard. Penny hopped back to the house through the grass on naked toes wet from the rains from the night before. As she closed the door to the kitchen she could hear the clanging mechanical sounds of the garbage truck coming around the corner and thanked God for making everything work in her favor. She moved to push her hair away from her face but stopped short at the whiff of decay on her finger tips and gagged.
“Ack, my hands stink,” she gagged again. “And my stomach is too damned weak for this kind of thing.” She scrubbed her hands under the kitchen faucet. “I better take another shower and get the hell on off to work.”
Water from the dead body hitting the murky depths played over and over again in her mind. Pressing home the fact she would be useless out in the field in such a state.
Even though she knew the necessity of the fishing trips and had gladly fallen into the procedure, the act of premeditated murder would sometimes spark a flame of guilt. True she had never been part of the final elimination of breath, but her presence was in essence the reason the perpetrator was there. Scrubbing hard at her breast she shuddered at the remembered touch of last night’s victim’s hand as it had pushed under her sweater. Looking at her skin she noticed the scratches she hadn’t seen the night before and cursed. She would now have to make up a story to keep Joshua from going left. It was bad enough she was lying to him about the emergency night calls and making him worry about her safety, without having to lie about explaining unnecessary wounds.
Last night was a nightmare she never wanted to relive. It was the closet she had ever come to being raped when dealing with one of the pedophiles. He had been a huge, cruel and insensitive man and she had given a sigh of relief when his body disappeared in the whirlpool of Clear Lake’s waters. Most of the other creeps tried to use a gentle cajoling method to seduce her, believing her to be a child of 15 or 16, but this guy had been a pig. From the time she and Durham had met at the assigned place the guy had been all over her. The plan had been for Durham to pretend to be her boyfriend and arranger of the meeting. They were to get the guy in the car and to the woods as quick as possible, but from the start it had gone awry.
Sitting in the backseat with the perpetrator Penny had immediately been made aware the guy was a violent type of pervert who got his kicks from the brutality of the sexual act he would force on a child. He had thrown her on her back and practically had her pants off before the car was shifted into drive.
Totally engrossed in the fight to protect herself she was unaware of Durham pulling over or getting in the backseat. One minute she was in a struggle for her life and the next she was sucking in the last putrid gusts of breath the creep gasped. Durham lifted the man's dead weight off of her and pushed him to the floor without saying a word until he was back behind the steering wheel.
"Do you ever get tired of doing this Durham?" Feeling as if she would break down and cry, Penny kept her head down and out of his field of vision possible through the rear view mirror.
"Listen, Penny. You can stop anytime you want. This is more dangerous for you than it is for me. I don’t want anything to happen to you. Hell, you wonder if I get tired. Hell yeah I do, but the laws especially in Shiningbal give me no choice. I can’t sit around and let men like that scum continue to prey on defenseless children and get away with it. I’m sure if a common person were to find out about what I am doing they would be torn between two minds. One side would negate me into the role of a murderer while the other side, the more truthful side, would applaud me for taking a stand and ridding the world of useless and dispensable trash.
Just think how we have saved the sanity and sanctity of three little children and you will be able to make it through the rest of the night. This guy had been married three times and in each marriage it has ended the same. He rapes and brutalizes the children. Tortures them mentally and just moves on. He plotted his own destiny. And if I forget my reason for why I continue my mission, I just back up and remember my childhood and a little girl who never had a chance. Men like him make me want to run up and down the street shooting their kind without a second thought. Just imagine him on top of those little children, bastard."
Closing her eyes for a moment, she didn’t have to imagine. The fear during those moments would remain in her mind forever. The weight and the determination of the guy had frightened pure hell out of her. She'd adjusted her clothing and climbed over the front seat uncaring that the car was traveling at break neck speed. She just wanted to be as far away from the dead body as possible in the confines of the car. She had been put with Durham a few times, but had never felt any inkling of danger. Every other guy had seemed harmless both in appearance and mannerisms. Their 'trade mark' as Durham called them. Though she much preferred dealing with the mild mannered perpetrators she didn't know how much longer she would be able to play judge, jury, or executioner. It was all getting hard to stomach.
Thanking God for giving her the presence of mind to not have scheduled any home visits. Cautious and believing she needed to lay low and stay out of sight of whom or whatever she preferred spending the day after a fishing trip working through files in the office. She hadn’t figured out who she was hiding from because no one knew about the late night trips or at least she prayed they didn’t.
Read Interview with Penny: In the Chair
JUMPING OUT OF THE BOAT & EMBRACING CREATIVITY
EY WADE~ Entertaining Your World And Designing Eternity
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Beads on a String-America's Racially Intertwined Biographical History.
Beads on a String-America's Racially Intertwined Biographical History.
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