Authors: R. J.; Torbert
Copyright © 2016 by R.J. Torbert
Two Harbors Press
322 First Avenue N, 5th floor
Minneapolis, MN 55401
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the written prior permission of the author.
This is a work of fiction
Cover design by Jason Lash
Faith is being
sure of what we hope
for and certain of what
we do not see.
The Author is grateful to the following for their assistance during research of this book.
Detective Kevin M. Cronin (Retired SCPD)
Dr. Dennis O'Brien, MD
Dr. Martin Dominger, DDS, MD
Dr. Jerry Kowitt, DDS
The Riverhead Correctional Facility/Correction Officer John Roche
Port Jefferson Village Free Library
SUNY Empire State College
Front/Back Cover Design: Jason Lash
Back Cover Photograph: Shannyn Torbert
The Marchese Family,
the Henry Hallock House
Thanks for the continued Support and Inspiration
To All My Good Friends in Hong Kong and China
The Entire Staff at Fun World
your creation of the mask will forever be
the ICON of Halloween.
Whose work and accomplishments continue to be an inspiration. I'm so honored to have had regular communication with Wes, over the years including during his illness. He trusted me as he described his battle and I will honor him with that discretion. He wanted to read the manuscript to this book so he could give a review and support this piece of work. This is the type of man he was. He passed away the day this book was finished in the editing process so it was not meant to be, however the friendship that he gave to me, as well as encouragement is something I will always treasure. His fans would be proud to know that during his illness and communication to me, he was very brave, and grateful for the time he was given. He was very appreciative of his life, his family, his friends and his fans. A remarkable man who honored me with his time, his words, and his friendship. You will always be the Master. May God bless you and your family. Rest in peace,
7:00 AM SATURDAY
achelle went into the kitchen tying her hair back as her coffee maker automatically turned on. She had an hour and a half before meeting Deborah to drive out to the Riverhead Correctional Facility to see her sister Madison who had now been incarcerated for over eighteen months. The Face of Fear investigation made headlines around the world and gave notoriety to Rachelle, the police officers involved, and the Village of Port Jefferson. The young woman handled it well and could have gone on to bigger and more financially rewarding opportunities but rather chose to stay in her home at the top of Prospect Street. Rachelle also became a “local celebrity” in the town by writing more local stories about the history and local events of the village she loved, while maintaining her work with Joey Z in the restaurant. She had about four inches high worth of notes from what had happened the previous year and knew one day she would write a movie script.
She had begun taking part-time courses in creative writing at Empire State College and had decided she would take a script-writing course as well, with Professor Mindy Kronenberg at the Hauppauge location. She knew that while she wanted to stay in the village, she felt strongly about the need to grow and continue to better herself. Rachelle had even met with the mayor of Port Jefferson a few times about the possibility of writing a book based on the Dankleff murders in Belle Terre over twenty-five years ago. The novel she had started writing during the Face of Fear investigation,
Vanished: The Port Jefferson Murders
, had never progressed the way she had wanted. Although her friends encouraged her to write a novel about what had happened eighteen months prior, each time she started, she became too emotional to continue. Thus, the reason she decided to take part-time courses at Empire State College. She did manage to write
The Story of a Village Called Port Jefferson
, which sold over three thousand copies in the surrounding area of the village. Many were surprised it didn't sell more copies, with all the notoriety the village got, but with time, people forget and move on with their lives. She was now twenty-eight years of age and deeply committed to Detective Paul Powers. Their relationship became cemented with the conclusion of the famous case, and they now spent as much time as they could together based on their schedules.
This morning, their time would be limited. She visited her sister Madison twice a week at the facility and she was accompanied sometimes by Paul, and sometimes by Deborah, who had become her closest friend during the past year and a half. It was Deborah whose life was saved when Madison went on a vigilante killing spree wearing the Ghost Face mask and she, as well as her father, William Lance, the former county executive, never forgot it.
Rachelle finished her coffee and walked her two dogs, Wes and Craven, down the hill toward the apartment above the restaurant to say good morning to Paul. She used her key to open the door as the two King Charles Cavaliers ran up the stairs and jumped on the bed to awaken him, a ritual of which he and Rachelle never tired. Paul rolled over as Wes licked him until he yelled, “I surrender.” He half opened his eyes as he noticed Rachelle was wearing her Ben Franklin $100 bill sweatpants. He reached out his hands to her as she jumped on the bed and immediately started kissing him first on his forehead and working her way to his lips. Paul moved his hand under her sweats within seconds as she raised her head to stare at him.
“Hmm, really? You want to do this while Wes and Craven are watching?”
“Well,” Paul answered, “that does have a strange ring to it,” and they both laughed. They kissed again as Rachelle moaned but got up quickly.
“I have to get back to the house, change clothes, and meet Deborah to go out to Riverhead to see Maddie.”
Paul raised himself up and said, “Tell her hello for me. Give my best to Deborah as well.”
“Will do,” she replied. “I love you,” she said as she kissed him again. “Please check on the dogs before you go to work.” Paul saluted her as he walked down the stairway to accompany her.
“I'll see you later in the restaurant.” Rachelle turned around and blew him a kiss as she closed the door behind her with a smile on her face.
Rachelle was a few minutes late as she drove onto Cliff Road in Belle Terre to pick up Deborah. At twenty-nine years of age, Deborah was more beautiful than ever. Her life as the kidnapped victim that started the Face of Fear investigation seemed like a lifetime ago, despite the seemingly daily reminders. One of which was visiting Madison, Rachelle's sister. Deborah believed she would not be alive today if not for the actions of Madison, or Maddie as they affectionately called her. Maddie was responsible for killing six people who were involved in her kidnapping, the murder of a police officer, and the attempted murder of Rachelle and a twelve-year-old girl during the investigation, and she was in jail for taking the law into her own hands.
The public outcry for Madison was so strong that Deborah's father, William Lance, was able to pull strings after the trial was over, keeping Madison in the Riverhead facility jail close to her sister instead of going upstate to prison. The Riverhead facility had always been a temporary home until a trial was over and an inmate was sentenced, but in this special circumstance, an exception was made. Madison was sentenced to ten years with a chance to get out in six to seven years. Her attorney, Al Simmons, prepared a brilliant case for the jury and Judge Green, against the state, and with the plea bargain and public outcry she was convicted of manslaughter in the first degree.
Deborah and Rachelle could have taken a stretch limo to the facility because of William Lance's wealth, but it wasn't Deborah's style. When she was in a limo she didn't know who her friends really were. She became close with Rachelle for the bond they would always share. As Deborah jumped in the passenger seat, she kissed Rachelle as she backed out in her 2013 silver BMW 328i that she leased.
The drive to Riverhead was approximately thirty-five minutes, which allowed plenty of time for girl talk between the two young women.
“Well, girlfriend,” Deborah spoke, “it's approaching about a year and a half since you and Paul finally came to your smarts. What's the latest?”
“Well,” Rachelle smiled as she turned onto Route 83 South toward the expressway. “You mean since yesterday when I spoke to you?”
Deborah laughed but tugged at Rachelle's blouse. “You haven't talked about you and Paul for a while,” she said with a concerned half-grin. Rachelle looked at Deborah while they were stopped at the red light.
“I love him with all my heart,” Rachelle said. She paused as Deborah waited for her to continue. “I wish sometimes he would be a little more romantic, I wish we could spend more quality time together. I mean, we spend time together, but our lives are so crazy busy I just wish we had more time to be with each other.” She looked back at the traffic light before speaking again. “I hope we have a long life together, but I . . . ” She stepped on the gas as the light turned green.
Deborah said, “But I what?”
Rachelle spoke again as her eyes remained on the road. “I thought I was pregnant about six months ago, and I was afraid to tell him.”
“Why?” Deborah asked.
“I thought,” Rachelle answered, “that he would be upset with me and I was worried it would be too much of a stress on his mind and job. He has never brought up marriage to me. I mean, I know he loves me, and don't get me wrong, the sex is beyond good,” she said as she started to laugh with her friend, who was amused. “But now he is a part of me and I sometimes worry he doesn't think about me in any other way.”
Deborah looked out the window, then back at her friend as she spoke.
“You need to have a talk with him. You guys have gone through so much, but now life is back to normal. His career got a boost after the Face of Fear case was over. The task force created for the cops involved is the envy of most cops everywhere.”
Rachelle asked, “Do you think there is something about the reward of the task force being created because of my sister being involved that is holding Paul back from making more of a commitment?”
Deborah put her hand on Rachelle's leg as they passed Exit 68 on the expressway, and said, “No, I don't, but perhaps you need to ask him that question.”
“Enough about me,” Rachelle shot back. “I noticed you and Bud don't go out as much anymore.”
A smile came back to Deborah's face. “Well,” she said in a long breath. “He's a wonderful man, a funny man, a great cop, but it just seems like we became good friends this past year. I don't know how to explain it.”
“And?” Rachelle asked.
“And what?” Deborah replied.
Rachelle began shaking her head and said, “Come on, details, details. There isn't anything wrong under the sheets, is there?”
Deborah covered her face with her hands. “Oh, I can't,” she replied.
“You tell me!” Rachelle shot back. “Or I will pull over and we won't move until I know.” Deborah looked down and then out the window as the Pine Barrens started to disappear as they approached their exit for the facility.
“He is the most caring and sensitive man I have ever known. There has only been one other man I have wanted to be so close to, and Bud is so sweet and tender. It's just that it seems like our relationship changed since the task force was created, and I have to say that when I started dating other men, I just began to look at Bud as my big brother. He did make me realize that I wasted too much time on Robert, and I didn't know any better having fallen for him at such a young age.”
Her thoughts turned to him. Robert Simpson was her father's personal assistant and Deborah's first love from the time he was hired until it was exposed he “stepped out” on her with her then–best friend, Patty Saunders. It was during her kidnapping for ransom that her world fell apart, and was only saved with the love and support of the new people in her life: Rachelle, Madison, Detective Cronin, Paul Powers, Bud Johnson, and Sherry Walker, who resigned from the force six months ago to concentrate on starting a family. However, it was Bud who would always be special to Deborah. She looked at Rachelle and asked, “You know what I mean?”
“Yes,” her friend replied as she took one hand off the wheel and touched Deborah's hand.
“What a great big brother to have. Besides,” Rachelle continued, “the best thing that ever happened to you is that you, I, all of us never heard from Robert again.”
The BMW pulled into the front entrance of the correctional facility and the young ladies were asked for their names, whom they were going to see, and their identification. Rachelle could see the slight change in the sheriff's facial expression when she said the name Madison Robinson. She was granted entry and parked in the visitors' parking lot, and the two began the sixty-yard walk to the visiting section of the facility. They sat in the beige bleacher-like seats with the rest of the visitors, and since they were regulars now, they did not react with surprise when the K-9 dog walked through the area to ensure no one was bringing any illegal firearms or drugs with them during their meeting with the inmates. For first-timers, the K-9 dog, the correctional officers, and the signs posted could be very intimidating. Bright red and white signs, specifically stated there would be no yelling or loud talking, children must stay seated, and there would be no noisy behavior. Lockers were also in the area so all visitors could put away all their belongings before being allowed to enter the area to visit. On the opposite side of where the inmates greeted their visitors was the attorney room, where Madison met with her attorney, Al Simmons, twice a month or more, depending on the need.
The correctional officers announced it was time for the visiting hour and reminded everyone only two visitors at a time were allowed. Rachelle and Deborah went into the room that contained a row of stools on one side of a low glass panel and stools on the other side of the panel. They sat and watched as Madison came into the area with her yellow Velcro covering on backwards. This was done to eliminate the opportunity for inmates to hide anything in their private parts of their bodies. Madison smiled as she hugged and greeted both her sister and Deborah. The low glass panels enabled them to embrace and kiss, which was allowed at the beginning of the meeting and at the end of the visit as well. As they sat down, Rachelle and Madison held hands over the top of the glass and did not let go until the hour was up. Rachelle had tears in her eyes, which had become normal and expected during her visits with Madison.
“How are they treating you?” Deborah asked her.
“They treat me fair,” the inmate replied. “They don't have much choice but to treat me in a professional manner. I get extra food if I want it. They look the other way if I take a few extra minutes on a phone call. Let's put it this way, they don't treat me like I'm a murderer,” she said as she looked at Rachelle. “I will do my time, and thanks to your dad, Deborah, I will be here so I can be close to Rachelle,” she said as a tear came down her face. “I have church service here, Al Simmons checks to be sure I'm treated right, and Paul even checks on me. I miss having human contact, but they're afraid to have me mingle with the other inmates.”
Rachelle spoke up. “It's probably safer for you, Maddie. It's been almost eighteen months already; another four years, and this will be behind us forever.”
Madison looked at her older sister and asked, “Are you going to make me an aunt before I'm out?”
Rachelle smiled as she squeezed her sister's hand.
Madison began to tell Rachelle how much she loved the book she wrote about Port Jefferson. “I'm so proud of you, Rachelle; so much great history and information. They let us read, and they even sneak newspapers in to me so I know what's going on.”
The hour was up so fast that no one noticed it was five minutes past the hour except the officers. They all knew who Madison Robinson was, and while they kept their personal opinions to themselves, they needed to show professionalism in the rules. A few extra minutes here and there for Madison was their way of silently letting her know they knew she wasn't a cold-blooded killer, but someone who was a masked vigilante that not only saved innocent lives, including Deborah's, but also millions of tax dollars that would have been spent in court cases. The police and correctional facility could never publicly show their support for her, but between trusted friends and co-workers they admitted they agreed with her and would express it if they had civilian clothes on instead of a uniform.