By Karen Singer
Chapter 8 (Part 1 of 3)
“You’re up awfully early,” Mrs. Faye noted as Carol came running down the stairs and into the kitchen. “Excited about seeing your mother today?”
“You bet!” Carol replied happily.
“What time does she get out?”
“Not till ten.”
“So what’s your hurry? It’s early yet.”
“I know. I can’t wait.”
“And Michelle is still letting you borrow her car?”
“Yeah. She’s trying to talk her mother into letting her go too, but so far, she’s had no luck.”
“I’m not surprised,” Mrs. Faye noted. In fact, she seriously doubted that Michelle’s mother would let her daughter go anywhere near the prison. Michelle was Carol’s best friend and had been here to the house many times. She had also met her mother once or twice. Both seemed to be very nice. “But you’re still leaving awfully early, aren’t you? I know it’s a bit of a drive, but it’s not that far!”
Carol only shrugged. “I can’t wait!”
Mrs. Faye smiled. She understood only too well. “Well, good luck, and give my best to your mother for me. Tell her I’m glad she’s out. And drive carefully!”
“I will, Mrs. Faye,” Carol replied as she ran out the door. Actually, she had told Michelle several days ago that she no longer needed to borrow her car, but Mrs. Faye didn’t need to know that. Roger’s car was again parked a little distance from the foster home and her first order of business was Burger King again – and then him.
Since he had no access to a clock, Roger had no idea what time it was. But the light coming through the little frosted window in the bathroom had been steadily growing brighter for a while now. He heard a noise and looked out the bathroom door. She came in again, Burger King bag and all. And… was there something different about her today? She seemed to be a bit more excited than usual.
Carol went straight to the bathroom where he was chained to the toilet. He was still there – perfect! She noticed that he appeared to be clean and already shaved again – also perfect. So far, things couldn’t be going better. Even the weather seemed to be cooperating. While it wasn’t exactly the bright and warm spring day she had hoped for, at least the weather appeared to be clearing up and she had hopes for sunshine later. “All ready?” she asked as she set the bag of food and his coffee on the bathroom counter.
“Yes, Miss Carol,” he replied.
She smiled. She really did like hearing him call her that. It showed respect! She unchained him and handed him his coffee to carry while she grabbed the bag of food. Together they went back to the kitchen again. She leaned against the counter while he ate at the table. The normal routine now. Roger wondered how much longer it could last though. She said nothing to him, only watching him the entire time as if she didn’t trust him – which he was fairly sure she didn’t.
The minute he was finished with his breakfast sandwich, she hurried him off to his bedroom to get dressed. He hadn’t even finished his coffee! She went straight to his dresser and pulled out another bra. Ugh! He got the thing on with a minimum of difficulty and she quickly adjusted the straps for him. Was it his imagination or was she in a hurry today?
He fully expected her to hand him another diaper to wear, but she didn’t. She went back to the drawer and pulled out another of the fancy panties for him – white with tons of pink lace all over them. He actually considered them fairly ugly. He hesitated at putting the frilly thing on, but it was a lot better than the diapers she had been making him wear. A whole lot better!
“Get dressed!” she ordered the minute he had the panties in place.
Yes, there could be no doubt about it, she was hurrying him this morning. Why? They still had a lot of time before school started.
The minute he was ready, she rushed him out the bedroom door. She herself stopped in the bathroom and grabbed his expandable case which she handed to him.
“Are we in a hurry for something today?” he asked as he accepted the case from her.
“Don’t worry about it,” was her only reply. On the way through the kitchen, she paused long enough to look around the room. She quickly grabbed the food wrappers that were still on the table and stuffed them into the trash can. She grabbed what was left of his coffee and handed it to him. “You might want that today,” she said. Then she opened the door leading out to the garage and let him walk through. “I’ll drive today,” she said as she headed for the drivers side. Roger’s head was practically in a daze from all the hurrying and the little changes.
He didn’t want to tell her to slow down as she drove toward the school, but as they got to one of the larger intersections he did say, “Watch out for the police up here.” Fortunately, she got the message and seemed to take things a little slower after that.
“I’m not going to be in school today,” she said as they pulled into the parking lot, “so I’m just dropping you off.”
“Don’t worry. I already left a note with the office. I have something important to do today.”
“Will you be back after school to get me?”
“Definitely!” She bit her lip. “It’s possible I may be a bit late though. So wait for me if I am!”
He said nothing. She pulled the car up to the curb in front of the door and he got out, his coffee cup still in his hand. The moment the door was closed, she took off again. He shook his head. Something was up! He could just smell it!
Carol got to the prison a full hour earlier than she needed to be. She hoped that maybe her mother would be released early. Eventually, a few other cars pulled up and parked near her as she waited in the parking lot. Then a small bus parked too. She watched the time on her watch. Almost ten o’clock. Obviously they weren’t letting anyone out of there even one minute early.
It was actually ten minutes after the hour when she saw the door opening and several people came out. Carol quickly got out of her car, scanning the faces. There! Her mother! With no conscious thought, Carol was off and running straight to her. Their embrace was joyous and loving and intimate, all at the same time. The best moment Carol could remember in a very long time.
Her mother carried a small bag which Carol grabbed from her as they walked back to the car. “This is it?” Janice asked after seeing what Carol was driving.
“It’s the only car he has.”
Janice walked all the way around the car. It was old and small and ugly. The trailer hitch sticking out of the back of it didn’t help matters either. She shook her head. “We’ve got to get something better than this… and soon!”
Carol only laughed as her mother opened the driver’s side and got in. Carol threw her mother’s bag into the backseat and got in next to her.
They talked animatedly and excitedly the entire way back. Much of the conversation though was Carol telling her mother the intimate details of what she had done with Roger – especially about making him wet his diaper over and over again and then making him drink all night from the baby bottle. Janice made little mental notes about it all. The things Carol was telling her reminded her of when Carol had been little. She had loved playing with her baby dolls. She would spend hours and hours playing with them.
Their first stop was at the foster home – Janice insisted on it. They could have gone straight in, but Janice also insisted on walking up to the front door and ringing the bell – formally. The door eventually opened.
Mrs. Faye saw Carol out on the doorstep with another woman and immediately recognized the resemblance. With a huge smile on her face, she said, “Mrs. Stokley! Welcome! Come on in!” She turned to Carol. “You didn’t need to ring the bell. You could have just walked right in.”
“Actually, it was my idea,” Janice replied. “I wanted to come by and thank you for taking such good care of Carol. She says you’ve been very good to her… considering.”
Mrs. Faye blushed. “Well… I try to be good with all the kids.” Her demeanor changed abruptly. “But you know, I can’t just release Carol to you yet. Child Services has to approve it and…”
“Yes, I know,” Janice replied quickly. “And trust me, getting Carol back quickly is my first concern. I’ll be calling child services as soon as I can.”
“That’s good,” Mrs. Faye replied with a smile. “I’ll be waiting to hear from them.” She looked over at Carol. “We’re going to miss her around here. She’s been an absolute angel since she got here.”
Carol beamed at the compliment but said nothing.
Janice beamed as well. “Thank you. That’s very kind.”
“So where are you going?” Mrs. Faye asked.
“Actually,” Janice explained, “I’m already looking for a job locally here. And Carol has been helping me find some promising prospects.”
“That’s excellent,” Mrs. Faye returned, obviously pleased. “I certainly wish you luck, although I don’t know when she has found the time. Between her school projects and her friends, I’ve hardly seen her all week.”
Janice smiled. “My daughter can be very resourceful when she needs to. Would you mind if I kept her with me today until Child Services can release her to me?”
“No. Not at all,” Mrs. Faye replied. “Just please keep me posted on what’s happening.”
Once they were back in the car again, Carol gave her mother directions to get to Roger’s house. Janice loved the location and the huge lot, but wasn’t too pleased with her first sight of the house itself. “Oh dear!” was her only real comment at seeing the shabby looking house. And in the back of her mind was another worry. This wasn’t exactly the type of house where someone would hire a housekeeper. But there was little choice now. She would just have to make do… and perhaps she could eventually turn the place into something… at least a little better. At Carol’s suggestion, Janice drove straight into the two-car garage and pushed the button to close the door behind her.
Janice was actually fairly pleased with the kitchen. Yes, it was smaller than she would like, but it looked like everything, including all the appliances, was new. The laundry room where the back door was located was also acceptable. She noticed that the washer and dryer weren’t brand new however but they didn’t look more than a few years old. Not a big problem to her.
The living room was both a pleasant surprise and a disappointment. She loved the hardwood floors that gleamed under her feet – beautiful! But the furnishings left a lot to be desired. They were not only sparse, they weren’t her style at all. The only major thing of interest, furniture wise, was the large flat-screen TV that dominated the room. She was sure her daughter probably loved it. She shook her head. “This place certainly needs a woman’s touch!” Well, she would change things fairly soon to suit her needs, whether he liked it or not!
From the living room, she entered the hallway that led to the bedrooms. She could see the main bathroom ahead of her and the chain lying on the floor still attached to the toilet. Without looking into any of the rooms, she went straight to the bathroom. Not too bad really. Like most of the rooms, it was smaller than she would like, but overall she couldn’t complain.
The door to the master bedroom was right next to it. She went inside and looked around closely. Again, the room was smaller than she would like. The master bathroom looked new and very nice, but it too seemed small. There was a walk-in closet in the room that she could hardly call a closet at all. And the furnishings… She let out a small sigh. She’d have to make do for a while.
She left the master bedroom and went back out into the hallway. There were two more doors off of it. She opened the one closest to the bathroom and got an immediate shock. There were no walls, or ceilings, or floors. An unpleasant odor assaulted her sense of smell. Obviously, this was where Carol had said she had kept him for a few days. She braved the odor and walked all the way in. Only a row of wall studs separated the two rooms. She turned to her daughter and shook her head. “You told me, but I was hoping for better. We’ll have to make getting these rooms finished a very high priority.”
Carol had somewhat known that. But Mr. Brinkley and this house were the best she could come up with for them.
Janice led the way back out of the unfinished rooms… securely closing the door as soon as they were in the hallway because of the smell. She went straight back to the kitchen. “Now,” she said to her daughter, “what was that number you had for your case worker, Mr. Fitch?” A minute later, she was listening to his phone ring… and ring… and…. “Hello, Mr. Fitch? This is Janice Stokely, Carol Stokely’s mother. … Yes, I got out this morning and I’d like to have custody of my daughter as soon as possible. … Very good. I’ll see you there at two. Thank you, Mr. Fitch.” She ended her call and looked to her daughter. “He’s going to meet with us at Mrs. Faye’s house at two o’clock.”
Carol hugged her mother. “I can’t wait. It will be so good!”
Janice could only agree. “Let’s go get some lunch somewhere,” Janice suggested. “And then, there’s a bit of shopping I want to do.”
Roger was hungry. Carol had been in such a rush that morning that she hadn’t remembered, or bothered, to give him any money. He had to settle for a small cup of coffee out of the teacher’s lounge and that was it.
He tried to spend his lunch hour instead working on lesson plans and creating the upcoming tests, but more and more his mind returned to Carol. Why wasn’t she in school today? Not that he minded that – he was actually glad he wouldn’t be seeing her in class. He only wished he’d never have to worry about seeing her ever again!
But the more he thought about her, the more he wondered just what she was up to. He gave some serious thought to trying to fight back… something he probably should have done long ago, but he quickly remembered that she had all those pictures of him. No matter what, he would probably wind up in jail – and that was without a doubt, something he wanted to avoid for as long as possible!
And then there was the string-puller! Fighting back was going to be even harder because of that. He had no doubt that whoever the string-puller was, that person already had all the pictures that Carol had taken safely hidden away somewhere. He was screwed – totally! His only hope was to avoid going to jail sooner rather than later.
FBI Agent Ted Jacobs walked into his colleague’s office. “Hey, guess who got out of prison today?”
“Who?” Sid Forsyth asked.
“Remember Janice Stokley?”
Forsyth wracked his brain. There were so many cases. “The name sounds awfully familiar, but I can’t place her.”
“Suspected of stealing close to eight million in a number of places between here and Louisiana. A year and a half ago we picked her up, but we couldn’t prove anything and couldn’t find the money. Best we could do was a lousy drug charge that she probably didn’t have anything to do with anyway.”
Things finally clicked in Forsyth’s head. “Oh yeah! She’s out?”
“Where’d she go? I’m still betting she’s got all that money stashed somewhere. And now that she’s out, she might lead us straight to it.”
“That was my thought,” Jacobs replied. “I don’t know where she went, but I have a feeling she’ll head for her daughter first.”
“Damn! After that, she could head straight for the money.”
“That’s kind of what I thought!”
“See if you can get a line on the daughter. We need to find some way to slow the mother down till we can get some eyes on her.”
Ted Jacobs smiled. “I’m on it!”
Edward Fitch didn’t particularly like his job, but as jobs went, he knew it could be worse. Basically, to him, it was just a job. But in today’s job market, any job had to be considered a good job.
He was just getting ready to walk out the door to head for the meeting with Carol Stokley’s mother, when his phone rang. He knew Janice Stokley had been in prison. His calendar even recorded the date she was expected to get out… today, so he had been expecting the call from her. He was glad to be meeting with Mrs. Stokley because after today he would have one less child in the system to worry about. Not that Carol had ever been a problem at all, but he counted every child in his case load as a potential headache.
He picked up his ringing phone before walking out. “Hello?”
“This is Ted Jacobs with the Atlanta FBI office.”
Fitch immediately raised his eyebrows. Just what he needed another headache kid to handle. “What can I do for you agent Jacobs?”
“You have a teenager in your files named Carol Stokley. Her mother’s been in prison on a drug charge.”
“Yes,” Fitch replied. “I was just on my way out the door to meet with her.”
“Oh good,” Jacobs replied. “Listen, is there any way you can slow her down a bit?”
“Slow her down? What are you talking about?”
“We’d like to find a way to keep her in the area for a few days if possible.”
“Keep her in the area? Why?”
“Let’s just say... we’d like to keep an eye on her for a while.”
“Do you think she’s any threat to her daughter?”
“No. Not at all.”
“Then I don’t see how I can help you. She’s out of prison now and every judge in the nation would back me up with turning her daughter over to her.”
“Then I don’t see how I can help you. She’s out of prison now and every judge in the nation would back me up with turning her daughter over to her.”
“Yes, we know that. We’re just hoping you might find a… loophole of some sort so we can get a better line on her before she takes off for who knows where.”
“I don’t know Agent Jacobs, it doesn’t sound very likely. I’ll keep an open mind on the subject, but I’m fully expecting to turn Carol over to her mother right away.”
“Okay. Then can you at least try to find out for us what her plans are then.”
“Hey, this all sounds like your job, not mine!”
“Mr. Fitch, we’re all government employees trying to keep the best interests of the people in mind. So there are times when we all have to work together.”
Fitch wasn’t too sure about any of it. In fact, it all sounded like one more big headache! “I’ll do what I can Agent Jacobs, but don’t expect much. What’s your phone number?”