Read Stolen Lives : The Lives Trilogy Book 1 Online

Authors: Joseph Lewis

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Stolen Lives : The Lives Trilogy Book 1

BOOK: Stolen Lives : The Lives Trilogy Book 1
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Author’s Notes

 

Human Trafficking is a blot on our society.  To take anyone and force them to do things against their will is a terrible crime.  However, it is my belief that to force a child to engage in sexual activity is unconscionable.  This should not, must not, happen.  Ever.

In 1990, I came across a story of a boy from St. Joseph, Minnesota, Jacob Wetterling, who at age eleven was abducted at gunpoint by a stranger wearing a mask in front of his little brother and his best friend.  To this day, I have no idea why the tragedy of this story affected and stayed with me.  It got to the point where I reached out to his parents, Jerry and Patty Wetterling, and offered my help.  Honestly, I was only a high school counselor and didn’t know what I could do, but I felt compelled to do something; anything. 

I began to research the topic of child abduction, child sexual abuse, child safety, prevention, and education.  I began speaking to parent groups, student groups, teachers, and faculty about the topic and how we can keep kids safe.  It wasn’t much, certainly not nearly enough, but I did what I could.

Jacob’s story was the genesis of Taking Lives, which is the prequel of my trilogy, and each book of my trilogy, which includes; Stolen Lives, Shattered Lives, and Splintered Lives.  These are works of fiction, yet based upon years of research, as well as the stories that kids and parents shared with me over the years.  But it is a work of fiction, first and foremost.  The statistics quoted in the stories are true, taken from the National Center for Missing and Sexually Exploited Children website.  These dedicated individuals do such great work and go unnoticed by the general public.  God Bless You!  And while kids are abducted, some for a long time, kids do make it back home.  We’ve read news reports about kids who do, and we rejoice.  Sadly, some kids don’t make it back home.  Some kids are found dead.

Taking Lives and each book of the trilogy, Stolen Lives, Shattered Lives and Splintered Lives are meant to be stories of hope, a story of survival.  Each of these books pays homage to law enforcement and other caring individuals who work to bring kids home safely.

I want to thank Jamie Graff, Earl Coffey, and Jim Ammons for their expertise in police, FBI, and SWAT procedure, James Dahlke for sharing his forensic science work with me, Jay Cooke, Dave Mirra and Bill Osborne for their IT expertise, and Sharon King for patience with all my medical questions.  I also want to thank the folks at Sage and Sweetgrass, Robert Johnson, and various personnel at the Navajo Museum for taking the time to answer my questions about Navajo culture, tradition and language.

I want to thank Theresa Storke and Winona Siegmund for their patience and their editing skills on each of the books.  I want to thank Stacey Donaghy of Donaghy Literary Group for guiding my writing career, and of course, Natissha Hayden and the folks at True Visions Publications for giving me the opportunity to see my books in print.

Lastly, I can’t tell you how supportive and encouraging my family has been.  My wife, Kim, and my kids Wil, Hannah, and Emily have been so understanding and encouraging, never letting me give up and pack it in after each rejection.  They stood by my side and supported me and whatever great or little success I might have as a writer. I am truly blessed for having been a husband to Kim and dad to my kids.  I love you guys.

To you, the reader, thanks for taking a chance on an unknown writer, a guy who loves putting words on paper and seeing what might be made from them.  I hope you enjoyed Taking Lives and I thank you for your willingness to continue the journey with me through the trilogy and beyond, and I hope I never disappoint you.

 

Happy and Thoughtful Reading,             

Joe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dedication

 

Stolen Lives is dedicated in love to my son, Wil Lewis, who at age 28, was taken from this earth much too soon.  He is loved and deeply missed.

From Taking Lives

 

Prologue

 

2 years earlier

 

Brett walked home from school, but took his time so Bobby wouldn’t be far behind him, in case his uncle was there waiting for him. He slowed his walk and searched the street. There were a couple of cars and a blue van, but not his uncle’s car, and that was a relief.

He used the code for the garage, opened the back door, took off his shoes and dropped his backpack near the hallway that led to his room. As was his ritual, he got a glass from the cupboard, went to the refrigerator, used the ice dispenser to get a couple of ice cubes, and then filled his glass with water. Then he opened the refrigerator door, found an orange and went to the sink to peel it. He stuffed the rinds into the disposal, turned it on and ran water into the sink to wash them down. He took the orange and his glass of ice water back to the kitchen table and ate it. Bobby came into the kitchen.

“Hey.”

“Hey.”

Bobby dropped his bag near Brett’s, went to the fridge and took out the orange juice. He went to the cupboard and took out a glass, filled it up, drank about half, and refilled it to the top. Then he sat down at the table with Brett.

Brett knew Bobby was going to ask him for the millionth time about him and Uncle Tony, so he went to the dishwasher, opened it, placed his glass on the top rack, and then picked up his backpack and walked down the hall to his bedroom.

He changed his clothes to shorts, a t-shirt, and basketball shoes. He stuck his head into Bobby’s room and not seeing him there, walked back to the kitchen. Bobby hadn’t moved.

“I’m going back to school to play some basketball.”

Bobby nodded.

Brett studied his brother’s face.

“What’s wrong?”

Bobby shrugged, but didn’t take his eyes off the glass he held. Brett sat down next to him.

“What’s wrong?” He asked again.

“I have my piano recital tonight, and I’ve never played in front of anyone before.”

“You don’t have to worry. You’re really good.”

His little brother looked up at him, shocked.

“What, you don’t think I listen to you?”

Bobby shook his head.

Brett smiled and said, “Sometimes, when you practice, mom and I come out to the kitchen and listen to you.”

“You do?”

“We know you don’t like anyone listening to you, but you’re really good, Bobby.”

Dumbfounded, Bobby didn’t know what to say.

“You are. That song, Mandolin Rain, I like that one the best.”

“You listen to me singing?”

“You have a good voice. Mom likes that Kip Moore song.”

“Hey Pretty Girl?”

“Yeah, that one.”

Bobby shrugged.

“It would sound better on guitar.”

Brett punched him lightly on his arm.

“Bobby, you’re really good.”

“But tonight, I’ll be playing in front of mom, dad, Grandma Dominico and a bunch of other people. And I have to play classical crap,” he added with a “Blaahh,” and his tongue sticking out.

Brett laughed. “And you’ll do great.”

Bobby smiled at him and shrugged.

“You wanna go play basketball with me?”

Bobby thought about it, almost said yes, but said, “Nah, I better practice.”

“You sure?  We can use one more guy.”

“No, I better practice.”

“Okay. You’re really good, Bobby. Don’t worry about it. I bet you’ll be the best one there.”

“Thanks.”

With his hand on the doorknob, Brett stopped and stared at his brother. Bobby turned around.

“What?”

Brett wanted to tell him he loved him, something that he couldn’t ever remember telling him. He wanted to tell him that he was sorry he didn’t do more with him, that he was sorry they never talked or hung out. He wanted to apologize for not being a very good big brother. Mostly, he wanted to tell him that he was proud of him, and that from now on, he’d do better.

“What?” Bobby asked again.

“Nothin’. I’ll see you later, okay?”

“Yeah.  See you later.”

Brett went back into the garage, found his bike, pulled it out of the garage and shut the garage door behind him. Then he jumped on the bike and peddled out of the driveway without looking back.

He took his time, peddling slowly. 

No one was on the street, and there wasn’t any traffic. He came to a stop sign and thought about blowing right through it, like he had done hundreds and thousands of times, and not knowing why, he slowed to a stop.

A blue van pulled up next to him, and the sliding door opened. Brett felt rough, strong hands pull him off the bike and clamp a damp smelly cloth over his mouth and nose.  His bike fell to the pavement. He tried to fight back, but the cloth… the smell….

The sliding door closed, and the van pulled away from the stop sign. Brett tried to scream for help. He tried to fight back. He tried to push the hands away, but they were too strong. He tried to hold his breath, but it was too late. He felt himself getting drowsy, sleepy, and then there was darkness; nothing.

Brett was gone.

A half a block behind, Tony Dominico watched the brief struggle. He watched them pull Brett off the bike and into the van and watched the van pull away and drive down the street.

Dominico tried to summon up a feeling, any feeling, but nothing came to him.  Nothing at all; it was all Brett’s fault anyway, Brett’s fault. Not his.

STOLEN LIVES

 

Where do the children go between the black night and the darkest day?

Where do the children go and who’s that deadly piper who leads them away?

Hooters, 1985
(
Rob Hyman and Eric M. Bazillian
)             

 

Tuck you in, warm within, keep you free from sin, til the Sandman he comes.

Sleep with one eye open, gripping your pillow tight . . .

We’re off to never, never land . . .

Metallica, 1990
(
Kirk Hammett, James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich
)

 

 

Approximately Two Years Later . . .

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

The boy’s muscles ached, and he longed to stretch out, but the handcuffs prevented him from doing so.  His head hit the steel wall of the dirty van each time Frank drove over a rock or a rut or pothole in the dirt road.  The boy’s neck and shoulders had grown stiff from trying to cushion the blows.  He shifted sideways so that his arms could take more of the pounding, but that was even more uncomfortable.  He leaned as tightly against the wall as he could, pushing with his heels but slipped on a McDonald’s bag, frowning at the mustard and pickle juice on his pants’ leg.

The man wearing the baseball cap pulled low to his sunglasses merely glanced at the boy, but gave no hint of emotion.  The boy had never seen him before, that is at least he didn’t think he did.  The way the man looked at him showing no emotion, no expression bothered him, but he wasn’t going to give into that, so he ended up ignoring him just like the man wearing the baseball cap seemed to ignore the boy and the other two men in the van.

Ron, however, who sat in the passenger seat turned around and glared at him, his thick lips pulled back in a sneer.  The boy looked away and stared at the tips of his worn-out shoes.  His big toe poked out of one, and the sole flapped on the other.  When the boy guessed that the big man wasn’t watching him any longer, and when he felt that the man wearing the baseball cap wasn’t watching, he turned back cautiously and strained to see out the windshield.  Red fingers of rock poked the blue horizon.  Bulky buttes formed walls on either side of the van like impatient onlookers at a passing funeral procession.

The boy guessed that they were still in Arizona.  The last road sign he saw mentioned Tuba City, but that was before they had left asphalt and turned onto the dirt road.

“How much farther?”  Ron asked the driver impatiently.

Frank turned onto a gravel road, crossed a cattle gate, and slowed to a stop as the boy watched a cloud of dust envelop the front of the van.  Frank stared intently out the windows in all directions.

Satisfied, he nodded and said, “’bout as good a place as any.”

The two men in the front got out of the van, and the boy braced himself.  He had suspected, maybe deep down knew, what was going to happen.  For the better part of a year, the boy had taken trips in the back of a van, sometimes handcuffed, sometimes drugged, as he was driven from one city to the next.

The man wearing the baseball cap and sunglasses sat in the van, staring at the boy, still showing no emotion and not interacting with either of the two men or with the boy.  The boy looked at him expecting him to say or do something, but he didn’t.  He merely sat staring at him.  Or at least, the boy thought he might be staring at him.  With the sunglasses, he couldn’t tell if his eyes were open or closed. 

The side door slid open, and Ron yanked the boy’s legs toward him.  The boy tried to slow himself down, but the man was too strong.  Before he knew it, both shoes were off and flung into the van.  His socks followed shortly after that.  Then Ron ripped off the boy’s shirt and threw that into the van as well.

His eyes wild, the boy tried to kick, but the man was too big, too strong, and moved too quickly. With the boy’s hands cuffed behind his back, he was defenseless.  The man slapped the boy in the face, and then slapped him again.

“Not in the van!”  Frank barked.  “Just get his clothes off and bring him out here.  We don’t want a mess to clean up.”

The man opened the boy’s jeans and pulled them off along with his underwear, tossing them in the pile with the shoes, socks and what was left of the boy’s shirt. Then he grabbed an ankle and yanked him out of the van with a thud.  The boy hit his head on the door frame, but he didn’t yell.  No.  He wouldn’t give them the satisfaction.

“Get up!”  the fat man said to him.

When the boy didn’t move fast enough, the fat man kicked him.

The boy stumbled awkwardly to his feet and faced both men.  Never more than then, facing those two men, knowing what was about to happen, did he miss his mother.  He had never forgotten her face; how her green eyes danced when she smiled; how her nose turned up at the end—a ski slope he had teased her about.  He remembered her gentle touch, her soothing voice, and the perfume she wore when she went out with dad.  Never more in the whole year he was gone, did he miss her more than in that instant.

“Start walking,” Frank said, exhaling smoke and tossing the last of a cigarette to the sand.

The boy walked slowly, the hot desert sand burning the soles of his feet.  Now and then, Ron would give him a shove, and the boy would stumble, but not fall down.

The man wearing the baseball cap got out of the van but stood close to it.  He didn’t like the openness of the desert.  He didn’t like the sheep grazing up on the side of the hill.  He tried to look that direction, but even with his sunglasses, he was staring into the sun and had to turn away.  There was something about the place that gave the man an unsettled feeling.  There was something he didn’t like that was more than just the vast expanse of desert, so he stayed by himself and leaned against the side of the van near the passenger door and watched the two men and the boy.

“It’s too fuckin’ hot for this shit,” the fat man grumbled quietly, so the man wearing the baseball cap didn’t hear him.  “We deserve more money.”

Frank said nothing but wiped sweat off his face with the back of his hand and then felt for the gun in his belt.

“Okay, that’s far enough,” he said.

The boy turned around and faced both men and said, “You’re going to kill me.” 

It was a statement, not a question, as if facing them and seeing the gun made it all more real.  Final.

“Yeah.”

“Just fuckin’ do him, and let’s go,” Ron said.

Frank shrugged at the boy as if to say,
What am I supposed to do?

A tear ran down the boy’s face as he sobbed, “I wanna go home!”

“Yeah, sure,” Ron said with a laugh.

“Why?”

Frank shrugged, waved the gun and said, “We don’t need you anymore.”

The boy looked down at the ground and then up at the men.

“I want to go home,” the boy said again.

“Sorry, kid,” Frank said, popping the cartridge and then palming it back into ready position.  “Got orders.”

“No one will find me,” the boy said in panic.

Ron laughed and then spit. “That’s the fuckin’ point!”

The thought of being left alone in this place, this desert, with no one or nothing around him except for some sheep grazing in the distance and a hawk circling high up in the sky, made him feel desperate.

“Please?”

“Sorry kid,” Frank said, walking behind him, putting a hand to the boy’s shoulder, making him kneel down.  “You won’t feel a thing.”

The boy shut his eyes, steeling himself against the blast of the gun.  Frank stepped behind and away from the boy, aimed at the back of the boy’s head and pulled the trigger twice.  The boy fell forward, still handcuffed his face in the hot desert sand.  Frank was right.  The boy never felt a thing.

BOOK: Stolen Lives : The Lives Trilogy Book 1
12.94Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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