Stepmother’s Plan 11 (https://tentaclestories.wordpress.com/2015/12/28/stepmothers-plan-11/)
Margaret sits at the porch staring into the drive way. Tomorrow, her husband will be back. She still hasn’t come up with a good excuse for his daughter’s disappearance. She has contemplated multiple excuses and the resulting scenarios for the whole day yesterday.
If she tells him that her daughter is on vacation, it will only take Alisa a few words to debunk that idea. Albeit the fact that her husband seldom trusts his daughter’s words, words like ‘kidnap’, ‘tied’, ‘fucked’ are going to give his daughter a substantial boost in the credibility department. His daughter may lie about her lack of pocket money and her daily schedule of drug and booze, but certainly not about being kidnapped into a bunker while repeatedly fucked. And when the realization hits her husband, the first person her husband will suspect is going to be the first person who told him that his daughter’s on vacation. Hence, not a really good excuse if she’s planning on staying with her husband for as long as possible.
She could tell him that she doesn’t know anything but knowing her husband, he will start to investigate and set out the big guns to find her daughter. The FBI. Joseph has some powerful people, his friends, in the bureau. A few words and lobbying, he can have the FBI take over the case from any jurisdiction. She, of course, has confidence in Luther’s track covering skills but with the might of the FBI on Alisa’s trail, Luther has to be way extra careful.
Even though if caught, she knows Luther won’t rat her out. And exactly because of this uncompromising loyalty he has for her, both as a client and a good friend, she can’t bear herself to abuse it and risk getting him into trouble. Besides, if the FBI gets on this, the media is bound to come at her and her husband like a pack of hungry rabid dogs, which kind of defeat the purpose of getting her kidnapped in the first place.
She can, of course, asks Luther to send Joseph a message on behalf of Alisa. Well, on behalf means using her phone and send her father a message, probably without her consent. Luther can send a message imposing as Alisa to Joseph that his daughter is on a vacation and telling him not to bother to come look for her. But knowing Joseph, he’ll probably cut her credit cards and ask her to come back. When Alisa doesn’t come back even after the cards are cut, shit will hit the fan. He will know something is wrong. It won’t take too long for Joseph to realize a problem. He may seem to not care about his daughter, but every now and then he keeps an eye on her. Perhaps is his way of proving that he’s still her father.
Margaret pinches her nose bridge and lets out a frustrated sigh. Her head is hurting. She has been up all night and still can’t find a good way of breaking it to Joseph. It seemed good at first to have Luther kidnapped Alisa. But now, she isn’t very sure anymore. Yes, the media frenzy has died down after her disappearance, which is what she intents to do. But how will she tell her husband about his daughter’s disappearance?
Perhaps, she should ask Luther to stop and send Alisa back. That way, the damage can still be undone. She’s gone a week now which is not unusual. Margaret can still use the ‘ignorance’ card, that the duration of disappearance is no different from Alisa’s previous disappearance attempts. How would Margaret know if she was kidnapped? How could she tell the difference? It’s not the first time the girl has disappeared on the married couple.
The sound of a car pulling into the driveway draws Margaret’s attention. She scowls at the sight of her husband’s car. He’s home early. A day early. She thought she had another day. The car screeches to a stop and her husband practically leaps out of it before approaches her. His face is strained with worry. His hair is disheveled. His eyes are close to bloodshot. Margaret’s heart skips a beat. One look on her husband’s face and she knows something is wrong.
“Oh Margaret.” he breathes.
“What is it?” she holds her husband’s face.
“It’s Alisa. She’s been kidnapped.”
Margaret heart sinks. She forgets how to breath anymore. She sees her husband’s mouth moving. However, she doesn’t hear anything. The incessant ringing in her head drowns out his voice.
“What?” Finally, she hisses in disbelief. It surprises her too. She sounds so genuinely shocked she can even fool herself.
“She’s been kidnapped. They’ve sent pictures of her.” he hugs her by the shoulder. His voice strained.
“Oh god. When?” she asks again.
“This morning. Margaret. What should I do?” he panics. He sounds so sad the guilt in her heart suddenly weighs more.
“I…I…” she stutters. Call the police? That’s the most logical way to do. But she doesn’t want the police to be involved and thereafter, certainly not the FBI. “Let’s get you inside first.” she finally says.
She leads her husband into the living room and places him onto the couch. She tells one of the maid to get water for her husband.
“I’ve already called Larry. He will send someone here soon.” he palms his hands on his face.
Oh God! Margaret screams in her head. Larry Malcolm. One of his best friend. Special Agent In Charge Larry Malcolm. Shit! She knew he will call him. Her heart begins to race. The shit has just hit the fan and she needs to find a solution quick. She looks at her apparel. A bathrobe with laces undergarment underneath. Not exactly the attire to greet someone from the bureau. Perfect excuse.
“I need to change.” she tells her husband. Her husband nods dejectedly.
She goes up to her room and then locks the door behind her. She fishes out her phone and taps the password. The lock screen fades into the home screen. She taps the call button and taps the number she remembers by heart. After the third beep, the line connects.
“What the hell is going on?” she hisses quietly.
“So you know already.”
“God damn it. Why did you tell him?” she’s so angry she can see blood.
“You are never going to tell your husband. And from the way I see it, I think you even consider letting her go.”
She presses her nose bridge again. Luther is always ahead of anything he does. It almost seems like he has the power to predict the future.
“He’s calling the feds.” she warns as if he should be scared.
“Ouch. That kind of hurt my pride.” he chuckles and Margaret can almost see him rolling his eyes.
“I don’t want to get you into trouble. Luther.”
“The Feds aren’t going to find out where I am. You just be yourself, be Joseph Graham’s wife. I’ll take care of everything.”
“Please. If you let her go. Everything will be fine.”
“Trust me on this. M.” he says her old code name. It reminds her how good their time was before she retires.
“You just pretend you don’t know everything. Delete all the videos I’ve sent you. All the messages. From now on, don’t contact me anymore. This will be my biggest gift for you.” the call ends.
“Luther?” she stares at her screen in disbelief. A notification tells her the call has ended. She curses in frustration.
As advised by her friend, she empties out her phone’s secondary drive. The drive where all the videos, call details and messages are stored. She taps a series of codes into her phone and activates an embedded cleaning software. The deleted data are instantly jumbled up to prevent any attempt to salvage that information.
She quickly changed into a more presentable apparel. She decides to put on a t-shirt and a sweatpants. When she goes down, she finds her husband still sitting on the couch, hunched and with his fingers gripping his hair.
“Baby.” she crawls onto the couch and hugs him. “I’m sure everything is fine.”
“They…” his voice breaks. “did terrible things to her.”
“What terrible things?” she asks cautiously. She already knows the answer to it but if she doesn’t ask, it would be suspicious. Any person with a healthy curiosity will ask the question.
As expected, her husband clams up. She can imagine what he saw in those picutes. His daughter, naked, surrounded by men in balaclava. She immediately feels sorry for her husband. No father should see his daughter in such a state. But still, she has to prod further. She can’t just stop asking as if she already knew. She doesn’t know anything about the kidnapping and should remain as so for the rest of her life. Period.
“Can I see the pictures?” she demands softly.
It takes her husband a few seconds to gather his wit. He finally takes a deep breath and takes out his phone. He taps something on the phone and then passes it to Margaret. She takes the phone and looks at the image. She clasps her mouth as if in shock before feigning disgust by putting the phone face down on her lap. The picture is exactly what she has expected.
She hugs her husband by the neck. Silently, she wishes she hadn’t went with the plan. It was a spur of a moment thing and the guilt is now bearing down on her hard. Inwardly, she scolds herself for being such a selfish bitch. It hurts her so much to see her husband suffering. If only she could take away the pain from him. Her eyes tear up by her guilt.
“I’m sorry.” she sobs. Her husband probably thinks of the apology as something one would hear during a funeral. An act of condolence. Nothing more. But Margaret knows better. She is genuinely apologizing for her selfish actions that has caused him distress. The selfish actions that has Alisa kidnapped. At that thought, she hugs him even tighter.