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"...Choose only entertainment and media that uplift you. Good entertainment will help you to have good thoughts and make righteous choices...Do not participate in entertainment that in any way presents immorality or violent behavior as acceptable."
For The Strength of Youth

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Submitted by Steven ODell on 8 July 2007 - 11:58pm.

Chapter 16

Denise was having an amazing dream. She was in the middle of a large meadow and there was every kind and color of flower that she had ever seen or could imagine in her mind’s eye. She heard birds singing and saw them flying overhead. The wide expanse of this meadow was almost without limit, but there were many large trees all around it, far off toward the horizon. It was so beautiful that she wanted to share it with someone. She had no sooner thought this than he was there, right in front of her. His back was turned, but she knew it was Ron. She could not help but smile and she felt herself drawn without effort toward him. He turned and a look of pure delight graced his face as he set eyes upon her. She felt suddenly the warmth of the sun that had not penetrated to her before. It was a surprise that was more than pleasant, for she felt that Ron himself, in some inexplicable way, caused it. She was suddenly in his arms and he held fast to her as though he were afraid he would never hold her again if he should let go. His words were sweet and full of love, Where were you? I was so worried. She looked up into his eyes and answered. Don’t you know that I am always with you? Doesn’t your heart tell you that?

They stood tight in their embrace for several long minutes and then she looked up at him with concern. As easily as she had felt herself drawn to him, she now felt herself being pulled away with a force so strong that she found it impossible to resist. Ron…she called to him. Ron, help me…and then she was gone from him into some impenetrable remote darkness.

Denise awoke with a start, gasping with the fright she had received. He was not here. She recalled where she was with the disappointment of a condemned prisoner and began to cry. She had to escape somehow. It was not a choice—it was a necessity. It was imperative. She threw off the blanket and stood to begin her search of the room in more depth than before. Perhaps she had missed something. Every nook and cranny must be discovered and explored. She knew from her childhood that old basements often had little holes and crevices where the owners kept tools or other things they needed to keep handy or kept secret in the shadows. It meant feeling about in the darkened areas where the spiders and cobwebs might be. She cringed, but the alternative was unacceptable under any circumstances.

About five minutes into her search she found a nook near a now inoperable water heater. Her fingers rested upon a cylindrical object that felt like wood. What good will wood do me? When she pulled the object forth it proved to be an old screwdriver with a wooden handle. The steel end was tarnished and rusted in places from many seasons of moisture condensing and drying. She knew immediately that it might be used as a weapon or to dig the aged mortar out from between the bricks of the wall, but the latter must be in a place that was not seen from the door or any place that Ted might stand to talk to her. Behind the furnace or the water heater were the only places that fit the requirements. And she knew she took a chance of being discovered, for he had already burst in so rapidly that there would be no way to conceal her efforts in time to appear nonchalant. But what other choice did she have? She got busy immediately.
Ted had found it easier than expected to get information out of the easily intimidated staff of the diner. They knew he could return and do damage at any time he chose, to people or property. He just might be crazy enough to burn the place down at night. They had no way of knowing how far this man would go to get what he wanted. The fact that he had returned at all was enough to make them question his mental balance. They knew the police could not arrive in time if he chose to throw a chair through a window or to beat someone smaller than himself. He had shown how he felt about women already, so the owner had concluded that the smartest thing to do was to give him any info he wanted and get him quickly and safely out of the diner. He’d soon left with what he wanted-Barb’s last name. Then he’d just sat in the bushes outside her home and waited for his chance. It had almost come the second day, when that old man—Ron, he knew now, having overheard them talking—had left the house for a while, but returned too quickly for him to accomplish his goal. He had decided then that he would use the next opportunity to see where Ron lived and followed him at a safe distance where he would not be seen. Again, by the ease that Ron had displayed when he entered the house, Ted decided logically that this was Ron’s own home and not that of an acquaintance, just as he had deduced with Denise earlier. He then had returned to take his place again in the bushes outside Barbara’s home. All he could do was wait and he decided he was prepared to take all the time in the world for that.

His chance had come the third day of his stakeout. He overheard Barb announce her intent to go shower and he moved around the side of the house to where he could hear her singing to the radio. He had then gone to move his car into the alley behind the house and proceeded to jimmie the lock and gain entry. Denise was sitting with her back to him and was easily subdued with a fist to the back of the head, knocking her out cold. From there, he threw her over a shoulder, left the house by the same back door and put her in the trunk of his car and went to deposit her in the basement of the old house. It had been so simple that he had almost laughed all the way there. She would pay for having worried him and embarrassing him in front of others, but first he would make Ron pay for his part in this misfortune.

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