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Authors: Fern Michaels

Tags: #Retail, #Suspense, #Fiction

Weekend Warriors (5 page)

BOOK: Weekend Warriors
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“Julia Webster, you’re here because you thought you were married to a man who took his marriage vows seriously. He infected you with the HIV virus and made it impossible for you to continue your career as a plastic surgeon. A death sentence looms on your horizon because of those infidelities.
“Yoko Akia, you are here because your father brought your mother to this country under false pretenses. Unable to speak English at the time, she thought she was coming to the golden world. Instead of the golden world she expected, her world turned into a life of corruption and prostitution. She died at the age of thirty-three.
“Nikki Quinn, you are here as our legal counsel. It’s important for all of you to know that Nikki has put her career on the line to join us.”
Charles took that moment to press a button on the remote in his hand. Nikki’s picture flashed on the monitor. The same picture that had appeared a short while ago. She flinched at the memory.
“Last but not least, sisters. I’m here because my daughter was killed by a hit and run motorist who had diplomatic immunity. At the moment there is nothing I can do, but the day will come, I’m sure, when the man will find his way back to this country. When that happens, I want to be ready to exact my vengeance. Until that happens, I’m here to help you in whatever way I can.
“What we’re going to do now is this. Each of you write your name on the slip of paper that Charles will give you and drop it into the shoebox in the middle of the table. Charles will pick a name and that’s the first case we’ll work on.”
Myra watched the play of emotion on the women’s faces as they wrote their names on the small squares of paper Charles handed out. She saw misery, despair, hope and hatred. She couldn’t help but wonder whose name would come out of the box.
Charles clicked the remote and a statue of the scales of justice flashed on the monitor. This was Myra’s cue to end her speech. “Unlike her,” she said, pointing to the screen, “we are not blind, nor do we care about the scales of justice because those scales favor the criminal more than the victim.”
“Kathryn Lucas,” Charles said clearly, reading from the slip of paper he’d drawn from the Keds shoebox.
“Kathryn swallowed hard as the others stared at her. She felt light-headed. She turned to look around the room. She saw everything as if in slow motion. It was all so surreal. “I have to get my dog out of the truck. I didn’t think we’d be here this long. I don’t know why I left him in the truck. I shouldn’t have done that. It’s like . . . like when I left Alan in the truck that . . . that time. I want my dog. I
need
my dog. I need him right now.” She was off her chair a second later, the panic on her face obvious to everyone in the room.
“I’ll go with you,” Charles said calmly. “I didn’t know you had your dog with you or I would have insisted you bring him in with you.”
“If you know I wear flowered underwear and gargle with Listerine, how could you not know about my dog?” Kathryn snapped as she followed Charles out of the secret room.
“We know about your dog, Kathryn, we just didn’t think you would bring him with you this evening. I apologize. Let me get you a slicker.”
“We don’t have to go outside. All I have to do is whistle and click this remote,” she said, pressing a small black box in her hand. The door to the cab will open and close on its own. I didn’t know about gadgets like this until after . . . until after Alan died and I got my dog. He’s been K-9 trained. Open the door. He’ll find me.”
And he did. Charles stepped backward until his back was pressed against the newel post on the stairway. In his life he’d never seen a more magnificent dog. He said so in a shaky voice.
“Charles, this is Murphy. I named him after the man who taught me how to drive that rig out there. He was one sorry son of a bitch. Shake hands, Murph.” The Belgian Malinois held out his paw. Charles shook it manfully. “Now, Murph, show him those beautiful teeth of yours.” The dog obliged and growled as he did it, his lips peeling back as his ears went flat against his head.
“How much does he weigh?” Charles asked nervously.
“One hundred and ten pounds,” Kathryn said smartly. “I got him the day after Alan’s funeral. I needed someone in . . . in . . . in his seat. Murph was fully trained at the time. He’s three years old. He’s been trained to kill, if necessary.” Charles blinked at her flat, emotionless voice.
“Are you ready to return to the others?”

We’re
ready,” Kathryn said.
The panel in the wall moved quietly and closed just as quietly.
“This is Murphy,” Kathryn said by way of introduction. The collective gasp pleased her.
“I’m afraid of dogs,” Yoko said, drawing her legs up under her so they wouldn’t dangle on the floor.
“Get over it, because this dog goes where I go.” Her voice was not unkind, just cooly matter-of-fact.
Yoko’s feet stayed under her rump.
“Seitz.”
The Malinois dropped to his haunches and then stretched out at Kathryn’s feet. “He understands German, as I do,” Kathryn explained.
“Tell us how you came to us and then tell us your story, Kathryn,” Myra said gently.
Kathryn ran her hands through her hair as she struggled for the words she needed and wanted to say. “I’ve only ever talked about this once and that was to Nikki Quinn, the day after Alan’s funeral. It wasn’t easy then and it isn’t easy now. I was walking down the street and there was this walk-in legal clinic where lawyers do pro bono work. I walked around the block a few times before I got up the courage to go inside. I waited seven years to tell my story and when I finally told it to Nikki Quinn she told me the statute of limitations had run out and there was nothing I could do legally.
“I’m very nervous talking about this. It’s still as painful as the day it happened. It’s like a beacon in the forefront of my mind. I’ve lived with it every hour of every day for seven long years.”
“You have to tell us everything, Kathryn. It’s the only way we’re going to be able to help you,” Myra said gently. “Start at the beginning and tell us everything you can remember. We’ll ask questions when you’re finished. What kind of a day was it? Where were you headed? What were you hauling?”
Kathryn took a deep breath. “It was a nice day. The sun was out. It was one of Alan’s better days. He loved riding shotgun, as he called it. Listen, I need to tell you, right now, right up front, how much I loved that man. He was my white knight. He was the wind beneath my wings. He was the reason and the only reason I wanted to get up in the morning. He was my one true love. You need to know all this so you don’t misjudge me or Alan when I finish my story.
“We were both orphans, both of us working our way through school. We met in one of our engineering classes. Back then we thought we were going to build a whole new world. In our third year, Alan was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He was one of the unfortunate ones because it attacked him quickly and viciously. By the time we graduated he was using a cane to get around. Suddenly, building new worlds didn’t seem important to either one of us. We both worked for a year and the money we saved during that year was used to put me through truck driving school. I made enough money the first couple of years to put a down payment on that rig out front.
“There were no remissions for Alan. He just got steadily worse. The day came when he couldn’t walk anymore so I took on extra jobs to get the truck outfitted with a hydraulic lift so he could get in and out of it and then into a wheelchair. In addition to the multiple sclerosis he was also diagnosed as having Parkinson’s disease. He loved being on the road. It was what he lived for. He used to sing as we tooled along. He’d talk on the CB to other truckers. They all knew us. When we’d pull into a truck stop they’d always help so I could shower and they’d help Alan. He hated that part of it but the other truckers were good to him. After a while it didn’t matter. It was so hard for him in the beginning to let others see how incapacitated he was.
“We didn’t have a house or a home base of any kind. We lived out of our truck. Sometimes if there was a long layover, we’d camp out in a cheap motel. His medical bills bled me dry. He . . . loved me so much. Sometimes late at night I’d hear him cry. In the daytime, he kept this tight control. You know what I mean. I used to cry in the bathroom at the different truck stops and then wear my dark glasses so he wouldn’t know. He always knew, though.
“That afternoon we drove into Bakersfield, California, to pick up a load of computers to be delivered up to Mojave and from there we were going on to Vegas with some repaired slot machines. We headed up Highway fifty-eight through the Tehachapi Pass, delivered the computers to the military base and then stopped at the Starlite Cafe for fuel and to get something to eat. It wasn’t one of my regular truck stops. I was starving, so we stopped. I think I was there once before, but it was years and years ago. I was ahead of schedule by forty-five minutes that day.
“I got out of the truck, walked around to the passenger side and was getting Alan’s wheelchair out of the special motorized compartment I had built behind the cab when I heard . . .”
. . . . a loud roar that shook the ground. She swung around to admire the cycles. She and Alan had ridden during their first two years in college. In fact, they’d belonged to a motorcycle club. It had always been Alan’s secret desire to own one of the 1930 Indians. She waved and smiled, knowing Alan was probably admiring the Indians from his perch in the cab. Some of her fondest memories were of the little back road trips they used to take during those first two years of college.
“Hey, Red,” someone called out.
Kathryn whipped around, her hand going to her heart. “You scared me there for a minute. How’s it going?”
“Sorry. I didn’t mean to frighten you. I was wondering if you needed any help.”
“Thanks, but no. I do this all the time.”
“Is it for him?” the biker asked, pointing to Alan who was staring at them through the window.
She stared up at Alan and smiled. He looked so anxious. “I was admiring your motorcycles. Alan and I used to ride Indians. No other bike like them in the world.”
“You got that right, Red,” the biker said referring to Kathryn’s mane of auburn curls.
“So what’s wrong with him?” the biker asked bluntly.
“My husband has multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.”
“Damn shame. Must be hard on you, Red.”
A chill washed up her spine. “I manage,” she said curtly as she stepped away. She pulled the wheelchair closer. Out of the corner of her eye she saw two men in cycle garb step out from behind the back of the truck. Her heart took on extra beats as she tried to figure a way to outrun the men if need be. Why in the damn hell had she parked so far away from the main parking area? Because there had been no other spots available when she’d pulled in. Now the lot was practically deserted.
“I really have to get moving. Nice talking to you,” she said, stepping closer to the cab door.
They came behind her, yanking her arms backward. The man she’d been talking to kicked the wheelchair away. She watched it skid across the parking lot. They ripped at her boots, at her clothes until she was naked, and then they dragged her across the shallow ditch at the end of the parking area and into the undergrowth.
She tried to scream, but they chopped at her throat as she fought them with every ounce of strength in her body until she couldn’t fight any longer. She closed her eyes and tried to put her mind and body in another place, a place that was warm and gentle, a place where Alan protected her. She felt them change position, felt them roll her over, felt their hands, smelled their bodies. She knew she was crying, whimpering as they raped and sodomized her over and over again. “If I ever find you, I’ll kill you . . .
“. . . . but I never went after them.” She wiped at the tears streaming down her cheeks. “I have all this evidence and it doesn’t do me one little bit of good. All because of a stupid law. A damn stupid law that doesn’t care about me or about Alan,” Kathryn said bitterly.
“Are you up to some questions, Kathryn?” Nikki asked.
“Sure. Nothing could be worse than saying all that out loud.”
“Why didn’t your husband get on the CB or roll down the window and call for help? Why didn’t he blow the horn? Why didn’t you call for help?” Julia asked.
“I took the ignition key with me. The CB is powered. So are the windows and horn. I needed the key to open the compartment.”
“Maybe if he had opened his door . . .”
“No,” Kathryn interrupted. “It wouldn’t have helped. He couldn’t get out and down without my help. I tried to call for help but they chopped my neck. I could only make croaking sounds. He did everything he could under the circumstances. He took their damn picture. We have a partial license plate. They were wearing jackets that said Weekend Warriors. That’s a motorcycle club with a thousand different chapters all across the country. It’s made up mostly of white-collar professionals.”
“Did you report the rape to the police?” Alexis asked.
Kathryn hung her head and mumbled, “No. No, I didn’t. The reason I didn’t was Alan. He had a seizure and I had to think of him. I crawled back to the truck, found my clothes and the key that was in my shirt pocket. I was like a zombie, okay? I shifted into neutral and got dressed and went inside to get help for Alan. The paramedics came and revived him. I was
alive
. I wasn’t sure about Alan. He was my primary concern. If you want to think that was stupid, go ahead and think it. There was no way in hell Alan could hold up to police questioning and a trial. Absolutely no way. Alan was never the same after that night. Neither was I, but I tried. Alan didn’t seem to have a choice. He kept having more and more seizures. Then he had his last paralyzing stroke. He lost his will to live. I know that. I tried to keep him alive as long as I could. I did everything. Everything. If only you had known him when he was young. If only you had known the Alan I fell in love with. If you had known him, you would understand. I survived and he didn’t. It’s that simple.
BOOK: Weekend Warriors
6.16Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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