EDGE OF NIGHT, 1.APR.1969
“Querying Barrington is our only alternative to finding out where Laurie is,” Mike pleads desperately to Ron.
“If I ask Barrington where they’re keeping Laurie,” Ron argues. “He’s bound to be suspicious. I’m sorry, Mike. The alternative is irrational. It's out of the question.”
"Then appeal to Barrington’s ego.”
“ I’m caught between a rock and a hard place," Ron throws his hands up in the air helpessly. "Either way. I, Ron Christopher, am the loser."
“Do you think it's any easier for Nancy and I?" Mike says. “The fact I can’t tell Adam anything or even mention Laurie’s kidnapping to Bill, the chief of police, puts me in an equal bind.”
Ron moves away from Mike’s desk and, in front a narrow window, flower buds tremble in peebles of ice from a stunted shrub as dead as winter and desolation as Ron is feeling. On one hand he is to bargain with Barrington, the devil's right hand, the other with Mike while pretending to be a spy for Barrington and staying loyal to Mike just as Phil Capice had done before he was nearly killed and beaten into a coma by Barrington's henchmen. Either way he is bound to be changed, too, in some form or another just like Phil by Barrington's henchmen or Mike's relentless crime commission more likely to make him an unavailable groom for his April 11 wedding at City Hall to Cookie like the retarded buds outside the window that will never know spring flowers.
“You listened to the call,” Mike reminded him.
Ron wanted to scream. “Yes," he grits his teeth, remembering Laurie Ann's terrified voice pleading so. Crying and pleading and begging for the right to live. He turns and looks at Mike with tears in his eyes. "Laurie. Dear God. She was scared to death..."
“If anything ...” A shaken Mike chokes up and is unable to continue..
Ron glances over at the buds, the wind knocking them back and forth against the pane. “Okay,” he blurts out, thinking, too, of Cookie’s reaction if he refuses to help save her sister's family. Cookie would never forgive him for that and might refuse to marry him. He would rather die than to lose Cookie. “All right, Mike. You win.”
Mike is uplifted and, for a first moment in many days, he manages a tentative smile.
“Tomorrow night," Ron says staring at the buds, "I’ll ask Barrington point-blank Laurie’s location.”
“But Mike,” Nancy argues with Mike after Ron has left, “don’t you see? If Ron asks too many questions, Barrington is sure to be suspicious. Don't you remember? It was Ron Christopher who got you tied up in this from the beginning with Barrington and loan sharks and this undercover charade. I emphatically hold Ron Christopher responsible for Laurie's kidnapping.”
“Nancy...Nancy,” Mike grabs his embittered wife by the shoulders and attempts to soothe her worries. “I assure you, working with Ron Christopher, is our best chance to get Laurie home to us safely.”
Nancy's green eyes widen in soundless horror. “You believe Laurie Ann will be killed, don’t you?" She bats her eyes, holding back tears and trying hard not to cry...but she is crying uncontrollably for the step daughter that she has accepted as her own real daughter. "Even if we cooperate fully. That no matter what we do...No matter how much we comply. Barrington isn’t going to allow our daughter returned to us alive. That’s what you’re really telling me, isn’t it?”
"Nancy..." Mike pauses unable to tell Nancy anymore or let her even know his plans to rescue Laurie himself with Ron's help.
"What is it Mike? What else are you not telling me?"
"Nancy I..." Mike turns away from Nancy, rubbing his chin. He closes his eyes, wanting so to tell Nancy everything because they shared everything as man and wife. It had always been that way. Nancy Karr. The good wife. The trusted ally always in his corner. His most loyal confidante. Supporter. The greatest mother of his daughter Laurie Ann. Nancy Karr was his life. His everything. Without Nancy he could not see the light, would not care to pursue living. For a first time he hesitated after looking into those trusting, beautiful green eyes. He was unable to tell her that he, the lion and hero of justice for all against the bad guys, was scared to death. This time around the bad guys had the upper hand and had their daughter captive. A sharp pain rushed suddenly up and then down his spine. He squeezed his eyes tight to control composure. Then blinked and closed them again only to shudder at the thought of how devastated Nancy would be if he was mercilessly killed while attempting with Ron to free Laurie Ann from her captors.
"Laurie Ann...is my daughter, too.," Nancy was saying to Mike's un-wavered back. "I know you never expected I would love and cherish this child, your child, Laurie Ann, as my own. But...I do...Laurie Ann is my child completely. Her pain, your pain is my pain. Please, Mike, I must know everything. Even if you're planning to defy Barrington and rescue Laurie yourself and not tell me and have me worry."
Startled that Nancy has already figured out his plan unknowingly, Mike opens his eyes, turns around and faces his wife he can no longer keep in the dark.
Meanwhile at the shack up in Graham county a despondent Laurie discusses her past and future with Mona, but she speaks of them in past tense. "I once had another mother before Nancy was my mother.. My father, Mike Karr,.used to tell me I looked just like Sarah who was the first mother. Same thick dark hair. Big brown eyes. The way my lips used to curve when I smiled. Sarah Lane-Karr was my birth mother's full name and she had been the first and only daughter of grandma Mattie Grimsley, before Sarah married my father when Mattie was Mattie Lane and widowed and not fond of my father because he was just a poor Irish-American cop on the beat All she wanted for mother was that mother would have more than what Mattie had had all those struggling years as a member of the Lane family and wife of Dick Lane. The Lanes were best known for Dick's richer brother Uncle Harry's criminal business dealings. Uncle Harry even framed his own wife, Cora, for murder of his secretary, Marilyn Ballon, long before Mattie finally met and married grandpa Winston Grimsley. They told me, Sarah and Mike, were happy together. Very happy and in love and they had me and then Sara died and I was a baby girl and not very well. You know, Sarah saved my life after I ran out into the street and that fast moving car was aimed to kill me instantly. She screamed so loud, 'Laurie Ann!' and, like a bolt of lightening, she was in the middle of the street and shoved me out of the way and I heard tires screeching. And that sound. A horrible thud that knocked Sarah down and she collapsed into a ball in the street. I laid there helplessly at the edge of the sidewalk bruised and bleeding.. The man driving the car got out. He was a big man bigger than my father. He called himself Charlie White and wore a dark overcoat and a big tall black hat. He grinned at me; then went over and stood over mother and don't remember his helping her but I could hear a siren rushing up the street and Charlie got back in his car and it speeded away. I was crying and my throat got so tight I thought would choke if I didn't stop. Mother's eyes were closed. She couldn't hear or see me anymore or know that I lived until now. After Sarah died in my father's arms at the hospital, Mike met Nancy and they fell in love and Nancy became the new mother. Nancy was my mother, too. I will miss Nancy, my mother, very much.."
“I don’t like that kind of talk,” Mona snapped. “Please don’t talk that way. As if there’s no future.”
“They’ll never let me go alive. I know that. You and Barney know it, too.”
“But Barney and I...we won’t harm you,” Mona says; then quickly whispers a prayer underneath her breath after an after thought. A moment later she realizes she can’t really pray. Not properly anyway or officially against an inevitable. Laurie’s fears are accurate as her own. Both she and Barney were powerless against Barrington and higher powers in charge.
They speak no more about it.
Laurie lays back down and cries herself into semi-sleep. Mona leaves Laurie alone to cry in Laurie’s own tears.
In the middle of the room Mona digs a key out of her pocket; then tiptoes over to the dresser. The top drawer is secured with a new lock Barney fixed to keep Laurie out of it. With the key Mona nervously unlocks it. Her wide eyes staring at a small leather pouch. She unzips it and takes hold of the gun.
Glancing back at Laurie and the gun now in Mona’s jittery hand, Mona stands over Laurie and decides to free herself and Barney of anymore debt.
She squeezes her eyes shut and pulls the trigger...