By Karen Singer
Chapter 71 Part 2 of 2
More boxes of quilts got shipped out, and the stack of new ones was growing again. Since Candy was spending so much time cleaning the entire house, including Janice’s bathroom, he had a chance to notice each time a backpack full of money disappeared. Each of those packs represented a lot of money. An unthinkable amount! But every backpack that disappeared meant that Janice was getting closer to being out of his life – for good!
He had noticed the night before that there were still two full backpacks in Janice’s room. He didn’t even know how much money she might have in that little hiding hole he had built for her. Not that he would ever get a chance to find out. He was sure that by the time Janice did leave, that money would be long gone too. He didn’t care. She scared him too much. Carol too! He just wanted them gone – for good! And he couldn’t wait!
Early in the morning, he got dressed in his work clothes, including the high heeled boots he always wore… that he cleaned and put a fresh coat of polish on every night. He was so used to them now that he didn’t even think about them. He also didn’t think about the corset he was wearing… that he laced up himself every day. Actually, the darn thing really did make a very good back brace! There were times now when he was grateful to have it, especially with his diminished strength.
Fully dressed, including a dab of makeup, he got into his truck and drove off to the latest job site. This time they were building an entire house. It was a new neighborhood with several houses being built at the same time… just by different building companies. As he preferred, he was the first one on the site. Grabbing his clipboard, he began walking around, inspecting, planning, making notes on everything that needed to be done. Mike was usually very interested in those notes and often gave him pointers to think about for the future. Being a contractor meant you had to think about all too many things that he wasn’t used to worrying about. But Mike was slowly teaching him… just as he was still teaching Jerry and Pete his old job.
As he walked around a pile of lumber, pain exploded against the back of his head. Monstrous pain. He fell to the ground barely conscious.
“You had to go and tell him!” a voice yelled. “You had to go and talk all about it!” the voice added.
Candy experienced a whole new kind of pain as he was kicked in the stomach while he was still holding his aching head. He curled up in a ball, barely able to breathe.”
“You stupid faggot,” the voice said. “I should have killed you!”
Candy’s arm and shoulder erupted in pain as a two by four piece of lumber was swung down on him. He worried that his arm might be broken, but it was his aching head that concerned him the most. Through foggy unfocused eyes, he just made out the form of Fitz standing over him with a board in his hand, and he could only watch in horror as Fitz swung that board down on his back and arm again. He screamed and grabbed his arm where he had been hit.
He heard yelling. Voices. But he was in too much pain to understand anything. He only knew that he hurt, and that he was afraid that Fitz was going to kill him. With his eyes closed, he braced himself for the next attack, but it didn’t come. He chanced opening his eyes. Fitz was gone… at least he didn’t see him. He didn’t see anyone. He could hear shouting in the distance though. He forced himself to slowly sit up. His head hurt the worst. He moved his arm a few times. He didn’t think it was broken. Lucky! What the hell had happened? The answer to that one was easy. He had been attacked and almost killed by Fitz. But where the hell was he?
Afraid that Fitz might come back to finish him off, he looked around. His eyes still wouldn’t focus properly, but they were getting better. He was suddenly too afraid to stay where he was. He tried to get to his feet and had to grab the wood pile to steady himself.
He heard Mike’s voice calling him. He turned toward the voice and saw Mike running toward him. “Are you okay?”
“I hurt,” Candy replied.
“Lay down!” Mike ordered as he pulled his phone out. I’m calling an ambulance!”
Candy waved him off. “No. I’m… okay. Or… I will be. I think I just want to get out of here for a while though.” He rubbed his aching head where he had been hit by that two by four board that Fitz had been using on him. He was lucky to be alive.
“Let me call an ambulance… or at least let me drive you to the hospital.”
Candy shook his head. “No. I just want to go home.” But he wasn’t totally sure he wanted to go home either. What would Janice do? But home sounded a whole lot better to him just then than work. It took him a moment to realize that the main reason he wanted out of there so badly, was that he was afraid!
“Don’t be stupid!” Mike urged.
But Candy waved him off as he stumbled his way toward his truck.
“At least let me drive you!” Mike urged.
Candy ignored him. He really just wanted away from the job site. Away from where he had been attacked. And he wanted his head to stop hurting!
He had to pause a moment to find the strength to open his truck door and climb up into it.
“Are you going to be okay to drive?” Mike asked, his voice full of concern.
Candy nodded. “I’ll be fine. I’ll see you later. Or maybe, tomorrow.”
“Don’t come back today!” Mike told him. “Take a few days off if you need to. Just please call me later! Or better still. I’ll call you!”
“Thanks,” Candy replied as he reached to close his truck door. Mike closed it for him.
“I’m calling the police,” Mike told him. “You can probably expect a call from them later this morning.”
Candy just nodded. He pulled his phone out of his jeans pocket and stuck it into his purse that he had left in his truck. He pulled his keys out in the same motion. His head still hurt but the pain was finally starting to die down. He had been attacked! By Fitz. Out of hatred!
He started his truck. “I’m starting to feel a lot better,” he lied to Mike. “Don’t worry. I’ll be fine.”
“Call if you need anything!” Mike replied.
“I will.” He put his truck in gear and backed it up. He shifted gears and moved it slowly forward. On the bumpy ground, each bump seemed to aggravate the headache he was trying his best to deal with. He was ever so glad to get his truck onto a decent paved road a few minutes later.
He was halfway home when he heard his cell phone ringing. “What now?” he angrily exclaimed. He had half a mind to not answer the damn thing. But his hand snaked into his purse and he extracted the phone anyway. “Hello?”
“Hi Candy. I’m not calling too early am I?”
“Are you okay? Did I call at a bad time?”
“Don’t worry about it,” he finally said. “Hey, aren’t you supposed to be in school today?”
“I took the day off to wait for a delivery.”
“Yeah, and they just left already. Geez would you believe it? I was still in my pajamas when they knocked on the door!”
“So you were first on their list,” he noted.
“Yeah. I must have been.”
“So what did you buy?”
“Oh, I didn’t tell you! I finally got a new dryer!”
“Good for you,” Candy replied half-heartedly.
“Yeah. I’ve needed one pretty badly for a while now. So I finally got one.”
“I know,” Candy replied, although with his head aching like it was, he really didn’t care.
“Anyway, I’ve got the thing here,” she said, “but I can’t plug it in. Can you help me?”
“You can’t plug it in?”
“No! The plug that came with the thing doesn’t match the plug on my wall.”
Candy gingerly shook his head. It was a very common problem. Dryers used two-twenty voltage and there were a number of plug configurations available for them. When you bought the dryer you had to know what type your wall socket was. “Do you still have your old dryer?” he asked.
“It’s out in the garage,” she told him.
“No problem,” he said, “I can just take the plug off of that one and hook it up to your new dryer.”
“Could you?” she asked pleadingly.
“Of course. Not a problem.”
“Any chance you can do it sometime this afternoon? I’d really like to get at least one load of clothes dried before I go to bed tonight.”
There was no traffic so Candy pulled his truck over to the side of the road… to think. His head was still hurting. It felt like his brain was totally scrambled. But despite that, he realized that he would rather be with Jennifer than… with Janice! Jennifer was much more compassionate and loving.
“Candy?” Jennifer asked after not hearing anything. “Are you there?”
“I can be there in fifteen minutes if you like,” he finally replied.
“Yeah,” Candy replied as he pulled out onto the road again. “See you in a few!”
Parking his truck in Jennifer’s driveway was no problem. Getting out of his truck hurt his head more than a bit. He saw Jennifer coming out of her door by the time he got to the front of his truck.
“Hi Candy,” Jennifer called, then stopped dead. Then she screamed when she saw that Candy was hurt. “What the hell happened to you?” she yelled as she ran toward him, full of concern.
“I got beat up,” Candy replied as he held onto the front of his truck for support. His head was still spinning a bit.
“A guy named Fitz. Mike is calling the police.”
“And you didn’t stick around?”
“I didn’t want to get sent to the hospital,” Candy replied.
“Maybe you should have!”
Candy shook his head. “No. I’ll be fine. Just let me look at your dryer. A cup of coffee wouldn’t hurt either,” he said as he rubbed the back of his head.
Jennifer grabbed his head and pulled the hair away from where he had been rubbing at it. “Maybe an ice pack would be better than coffee! You’re bleeding a little.” She grabbed his arm to help him into her house, but he quickly pulled it away in pain.
“Not that arm,” he said.
“Candy, why didn’t you go to the hospital?”
“Didn’t want to,” he replied as he started walking toward her front door. She grabbed his other arm to help him instead.
Five minutes later, he was holding an ice pack against the back of his head. “Thanks,” he said. “I appreciate it.”
“Why didn’t you tell me on the phone what had happened? We could have done this some other time!”
Candy smiled. “And miss your tender loving care? Janice isn’t exactly the tender or loving kind.”
Jennifer just looked at him and shook her head. “You’re still as hard-headed as ever!”
Candy smiled and gently knocked his knuckles against his head. “Very hard,” he said, trying to make a joke.
“Don’t be stupid!” Jennifer replied. “You could have been killed!”
“I know,” Candy admitted. “I really left there this morning because I kept seeing him swinging that board down on me. I guess I was… afraid.” It was a bit hard to admit. But it was the truth.
“Who did it?” Jennifer asked.
“Isn’t he the one that you said was fired and you got this job?”
Candy nodded. “That’s the one. I guess we know now how he felt about it.” He pulled the ice pack off his head. “Let me look at your dryer. I think I need something to take my mind off of… everything else.”
Jennifer reluctantly led the way to her laundry room, even though he knew perfectly well where it was.
“Nice,” Candy said as he saw the new dryer… and noted it was one of the cheaper models. The dryer was pulled away from the wall some, but he pushed on it and moved it so he could get further behind it. There was no electrical plug attached to the dryer. “Where’s the plug?”
“Over here,” Jennifer replied as she picked the unattached wire up from a basket of laundry she was waiting to do.
Candy examined it briefly, then he took a good look at the plug on the wall. They definitely didn’t match. “You said your old dryer is out in the garage?”
“Yeah. They were nice enough to stick it there when they brought this one in.”
“No problem,” Candy said. “I just need to get a screwdriver.” He went out to his truck. While he was there, he saw the garage door opening so he could get inside. After finding the screwdriver he needed, he easily found the old dryer and a few minutes later had removed the old plug. He brought it in to where the old dryer was.
With Jennifer looking on, he pushed the new dryer out further from the wall to give himself more room to work. As he did, a large roach ran out from under the new dryer. Jennifer screamed and Candy did his best to try to step on the thing with his boots. He wasn’t having much luck. It took him more than a few tries chasing the thing before he was able to kill it. “Got it!” he finally declared.
“I hate those things!” Jennifer exclaimed.
“They’re hard to keep out,” Candy told her as he turned back to the dryer to start installing the new plug.
But thoughts of the bug he had just killed kept running through his head. Thoughts of the bug… which lead to thoughts about the bug man story he had overheard from the FBI agents – the same story he had told to Jessica. Maybe it was just that his brain was so scrambled from where Fitz had hit him, he didn’t know and he didn’t even dare to stop to think about it. In fact, he barely knew what he was doing. But before he attached the plug to the new dryer, he reached up and stuck the plug into the two-twenty voltage wall outlet and slapped the thing in with his palm. Not even thinking about what he was doing, he grabbed the ends of the bare wires in his hands. The high voltage literally threw him across the room.
Jennifer screamed for all she was worth! She ran to him and knelt over him, tears streaming from her eyes. “Candy! Candy!” she called to his closed eyes.
He stirred and opened his eyes. “Wow!” he exclaimed.
“Tearfully, she asked. “Are you okay?”
That was the part he was most interested in. He tried to do something he had never been able to do before. He tried and said, “Janice is a thief!”
His words startled Jennifer. They weren’t at all what she was expecting him to say. “What?”
Candy took a deep breath. His head hurt horribly, his fingers felt numb and were most likely burned, or at least bruised… right along with his bruised arm and chest. But despite all that, there was a clearness in his head that he hadn’t felt in a very long time. “Janice is a thief!” he said again.
“Candy, what are you talking about? Are you okay? Are you hurt?”
Candy smiled. “I might be better now than I’ve been in a very long time,” he replied.
“What do you mean? Here, let me help you up.”
“No! Don’t touch me!” he exclaimed in alarm. “Don’t even try to move me.”
“I’m calling the ambulance!” she said as she got quickly to her feet.
“No! No ambulance. I need you to call someone else instead!”
“Someone else? Janice?”
“Anyone but her!” Candy replied. He thought quickly, but he already knew who he needed to call. “Get my purse out of my truck,” he said urgently. “Hurry!”
The urgency in Candy’s voice, mixed with her fear over what had just happened to her had Jennifer hurrying for her truck as fast as she could. She grabbed Candy’s purse… noting that she should have never left it in her truck to begin with… and she hurried back to her with it.
“Open it for me,” Candy said as she approached. “Find my wallet!”
“There’s a card in there from the FBI. From Agent Forsyth.”
“I remember him,” Jennifer said with more than a hint of distaste. It took a few minutes for her to find the card in the unfamiliar purse. “Got it!” she exclaimed once she had found the card. “Now can you sit up?”
“No! That’s the last thing I need. If I sit up or stand up, then I won’t be able to tell anybody anything about what’s going on!”
“That makes no sense at all!”
“It will after I explain it,” Candy replied. “Now find my phone and dial that number for me and let me talk to him.”
Agent Sid Forsyth was fuming over the fact that he was again upstairs helping out Missing Persons. But his newbie partner was stuck in another mandatory training session that day. He hated being stuck with someone fresh out of the Academy. Why couldn’t Jacobs have been straight?
“Any luck with that last guy?” he asked Hanna as he sat in front of one of the computers to review more video logs.
“Which one?” Hanna asked.
“Um… I think his name was Hallory, or something like that.”
“Hallifax!” Hanna proclaimed. “Nope. Never found him. Not even a sign of the guy. We’re guessing he’s probably dead and buried somewhere, but we’re not giving up hope.”
“So who are we looking for now?” Forsyth asked.
“His name is…” but she got no further than that as Forsyth’s phone rang.
“Hello?” Forsyth said as soon as he got his phone out.
“Agent Forsyth? This is Candy Brinkley… You might remember me as Roger Brinkley.”
“Yes of course. And I do remember that it’s supposed to be Candy now,” Forsyth relied, totally mystified about the call.
“Janice Stokley is a thief!” Candy said. “A major one! And I can prove it and tell you everything I know, but you’ve got to come here and you’ve got to come fast! Because I can’t guarantee how long I’m going to be able to say anything at all?”
“You can’t come here?” Forsyth asked, already getting up from his seat.
“No! I can’t move at all! If I move, I’ll never be able to tell you anything and you’ll never get anything out of me again!”
“Now that makes no sense,” Forsyth said, already heading down the hallway towards the elevators at a trot.
“I’ll explain it when you get here, or I can try to explain it over the phone if you don’t hang up. But Agent Forsyth, I recommend that you bring some good recording equipment because I can guarantee that this will be the one and only time I’m ever going to be able to say anything at all about it. Trust me!”
“I still don’t understand,” Forsyth said as the elevator door opened for him. “Hang on, I’m getting into the elevator, I don’t know if the signal will hold or not!” He stepped inside and the elevator door closed. “Brinkley, you still there?”
“I’m here,” Candy confirmed.
Forsyth was relieved. “Now start from the beginning. I’m heading for my desk to get the recorders, but it’s going to take me a little while to get there.”
“First of all,” Candy said, “Janice is a master at mind control. She’s a master at mental torture! And that’s her whole secret. Beware of her Forsyth, she’s a lot more dangerous than you can imagine!”
With Candy on the phone, Forsyth got most of the story from him as he drove at breakneck speed to get to where he was… Jennifer White’s house. He had been there before with Jacobs. He remembered it. Driving that fast and trying to listen to everything that Brinkley had to say was impossible, so he wasn’t able to call in any backup or support. He saw Jennifer holding the front door open for him as he got out of his car.
“Hurry!” she said to urge him on. But he was already hurrying.
He found Candy Brinkley lying on the floor of the laundry room. “Are you hurt?” he asked immediately.
“Yeah, but don’t worry about it. Just don’t try to move me. The minute you move me, I guarantee, I won’t be able to tell you anything anymore!”
“Because of that mind-control thing,” he said dubiously. Now that he could free up his phone he started making phone calls. “He turned to Brinkley. “Do you know where Stokley is?”
“She should be at my house right now,” Candy replied.
“Do we have your permission to enter?”
“You can enter and you can search. Check the master bedroom where she’s been staying. She literally has backpacks full of cash. Big ones!”
Forsyth just nodded and began issuing orders into his phone. It was nearly ten minutes before he could get back to Candy. He pulled out a recorder to tape the interview.
“I’ve got a video camera if you need it,” Jennifer offered.
Forsyth nodded his head. “It would be a big help.”
It took another ten minutes to get everything set up. “How you doing?” Jennifer asked Candy with concern.
“So far, so good. But I can’t guarantee that something will happen and I won’t be able to say anything about it anymore.”
“Okay,” Forsyth said, “All set, let’s take this from the top. Will you please state your name.”
“Candy Brinkley is my legal name now. But it used to be Roger Brinkley.”
Once again Candy went through it all. From the initial blackmail and torture by Carol to Janice and Carol returning from some vacation somewhere and going off hiking to bring back more money. Forsyth stopped him frequently to ask questions and to clarify things, but eventually the whole story came out.
Janice and Carol were packing quilts into another box when her phone rang.
“Who the devil could that be?” Janice muttered as she hurried off to find her phone. “Hello?” she said as pleasantly as she could.
“Janice,” Susan’s panicked voice came over the phone. “We just got word. They’re coming for you. They could be there any second. Run! Don’t stop to grab anything! Just get out of there fast!”
“Carol! Run for the car,” Janice yelled as she herself ran for her bedroom. She grabbed her purse which had the car keys in it along with both sets of her IDs. She took only a quick glance at the two backpacks of money still against the wall. And she ran.
She drove as fast as she could, but the minute she could turn off of the road Candy’s house was on, she slowed to a more normal speed.
“What’s happening, Momma?” Carol finally asked.
“I don’t know dear. But somehow the authorities must have found out about something and they’re after us.”
“What are we going to do?”
Janice’s phone rang again. “Hello?”
“Janice, did you get out?”
“Yes, we seem to be safe for now.
“Good.” Susan’s voice declared, full of relief. “We need to find somewhere we can meet you.”
“I’m open to suggestions,” Janice replied as she took another turn that would lead her further back into the country roads.
“I think that’s about got it,” Forsyth said finally. “Is there anything else you can think to add?”
“Only that I’m not the first one she’s done this with. That bug guy I overheard you talking about is another of her victims.”
“Yeah, I figured that out,” Forsyth replied.
“Can we get you up now? I want to have a doctor take a good look at you. And I’m more concerned about that knock on the head you said you got this morning. I’m betting you’ve got a nasty concussion there.”
Candy was clearly concerned. “I’m more worried about what’s going to happen when I do sit up. I’m almost positive that my impenetrable wall will heal itself like it did with that bug guy and I’ll be back to what I was before.”
“Maybe not,” Forsyth replied. “Now that you’ve told us, maybe nothing will happen at all.”
Candy was clearly dubious about that. Forsyth reached down and Candy grabbed his arm and let him pull her slowly up into a sitting position. The increase in her headache was immediate…as was her vision of the impossible grey wall, but this time that vision was much more than a brief flash. This time she got a much better look at her wall. There were holes in the wall. As impossible as it sounded, there were holes in it! But as she watched, every one of those holes miraculously healed themselves solid… as her brief vision faded away… and all of Janice’s conditioning rushed back at her full force. Protect Janice! Protect Janice! Protect Janice! It was her number one priority!
“No! No! Everything I just said is a lie!” she screamed. “Janice is a wonderful housekeeper. A wonderful woman! She’s done nothing wrong! It was all a lie! A lie! Everything I told you was all a lie!”
Completely panicked, she forced her way to her feet despite Forsyth trying to hold her down. As she stood this time, her vision of the impossible wall was more normal… just a very brief flash… and the wall was completely whole. “Everything I just told you is wrong!” she insisted as she grew more agitated. “Everything I said is a lie! Janice is a wonderful person. Carol is a fantastic kid! I love them both!”
Forsyth was unprepared for the sudden incredible change as Candy started thrashing blindly around. “Miss Brinkley, calm down. You’ll hurt yourself again!” He had to grab her and wrap his arms around her to keep her from hurting anyone… especially herself. “Calm down!”
“It was all a lie! She’s done nothing wrong!” Candy yelled again. Another thought struck her. “And you can’t search my house!”
Forsyth was stunned by her desperate need to get free, but he held the overly agitated woman tightly so she couldn’t hurt anyone… especially herself. “It’s too late!” he told her. “Our agents are already there!”
“It’s all a lie! It’s all a lie! Nothing I said was true!” Candy cried as she struggled against his grasp. But he held her too tightly, too strongly, and eventually Candy was forced to give up. “It’s all a lie,” she cried as she sank to the floor again in despair. “All a lie!”