dontravis.com blog post #305
|Courtesy of Pixabay|
Let’s finish our story today. Hope you enjoyed the two-parter. You will remember that we concluded last week’s post with the revelation that Mary Harcaswter’s ex-husband was paroled from prison some six weeks ago. The ex-con is under the impression that little Samantha is his daughter and has been demanding to see her. Now the child has disappeared.
Lights flashing, Sandy and Tom raced across town to the Park Street Motel, which was contracted out to the feds as a halfway house. The manager, whom Sandy suspected was a federal officer, heard them out before confirming Bill Robbins was a resident. He was to spend the last three months of his sentence at the motel. The residents were free to move about town during the day but were required to return to the halfway house for the night. So far, Robbins was an exemplary resident. No, he was not around right now, nor had the manager seen a small girl with him.
After obtaining the model and make of Robbins’ car—a black 2005 Buick LeSabre—Sandy and her partner took off for the Robbins’ last known residence. The current occupant professed to have no knowledge of William Robbins but directed them to the house across the street.
Giles Mimms, a man of wide girth and receding hairline, had lived at his address for twenty-seven years and recalled his former neighbor vividly.
“Robbins was too smooth by half, in my opinion. Always knew he would end up in a bad way. And he done it, too. Now the wife, she was a dear.”
“Why do you say he was going to end up in a bad way?” Sandy asked.
“Putting on airs. Spending money like he had a printing press in the basement.”
“Fancy cars. Expensive vacations. Cabin in the mountains. Dressed Mary up like a million bucks. But by the time she ended up in the family way, he was already on the downslide. Poor woman practically went around in rags after that. Hope she’s okay.”
“Do you know any of his friends or intimates?” Tom asked.
“Nope. Kept to myself and minded my own business. But I kept an eye out. Tell me, did Mary have that baby? Boy or girl?”
So the nosy neighbor knew nothing about a miscarriage. Sandy shook her head. “No, sir. She lost it.”
“Dammit! I knew what he was putting her through would take its toll. Is she okay?”
“She’s fine, Mr. Mimms. She’s remarried and has a beautiful daughter. In fact, that’s why we’re here. Someone took her.”
“You think Robbins done it?” Mimms blinked and showed how sharp he was. “He thinks she’s his own, don’t he?”
“Afraid so. You have any idea where he might go to hide out?”
Mimms’ fleshy face collapsed into a frown. “Maybe that cabin I mentioned. He went up there a lot during the summers.”
“Somewheres up on Mountain Lake. Don’t have no idea where, though.”
A search of public records sent Sandy and Tom up Mountain Loop Road to meet a county deputy at the intersection with Mountain Tarn Drive.
“Robbins don’t own that cabin anymore. Got sold when he went to prison,” the deputy said after being briefed.
“You know about that, huh?” Tom asked.
“Whole community knows about it. Big news back in the day.”
“Who owns the cabin now?”
“Couple down in the city, but they don’t get up much.”
“Anybody there now?” Sandy asked.
“Dunno. My instructions was to steer clear until you got here.”
They followed the deputy’s cruiser up a rutted dirt road. After a mile, the Jeep drifted to a halt and the deputy walked back to let them know the place was just around a curve.
“Might want to walk from here,” he said. “Course, you can hear a motor from a mile away in these mountains, so he probably already knows we’re here. If he’s even at the cabin, that is.”
Sandy and Tom bailed out of their unit and trailed the deputy through the forest. As they broke through the tree line before a log and rock cabin, there was no evidence of a LeSabre in the clearing. But there was smoke coming from the chimney.
“Over there,” Tom said, motioning with his head. Robbins had pulled the Buick off into the trees. “He’s here.”
The deputy covered the back of the building while Sandy and Tom approached the front. When they were in position, Tom pounded the door with a fist. “Police, Robbins. Open the door.”
For a moment, Sandy thought they were in for a siege, but then the sound of a lock being thrown sent a surge of adrenaline through her, heightening her senses. She had her service pistol in her hand as the door slowly opened to reveal a pretty little blonde child in a play suit, her bare toes still caked with dried mud.
The child nodded. Tom immediately snatched her to his chest and backed away from the door.
“Mr. Robbins,” Sandy called. “Come on out. Samantha’s safe now.”
“I’m coming. I’m unarmed. I… I just wanted some time with my daughter.”
Sandy didn’t know what she expected, some dirty skell, maybe, but a handsome man with corn-tassel-yellow hair walked out the door with his hands up. He fell to his knees and went prone when ordered to do so without resistance. Sandy had one thought as Tom put the girl in her arms and bent to handcuff Robbins. She’d been lied to. Samantha’s resemblance to the man lying on the porch in front of her was too strong to be coincidence. Robbins was the child’s father. She was certain of that.
They put the ex-con into the more secure county cruiser. Then they followed the deputy back down the mountain to the city. There were some things to be straightened out, but one thing was for certain. The Harcasters would be happy to see this cute little imp… muddy toes and all.