EDGE OF NIGHT
“Querying Barrington is the only alternative we have left to find out where they'll keeping Laurie,” a desperate Mike tells Ron.
“If I ask Barrington where they’re keeping Laurie Ann,” Ron counters, “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.”
"Yes, anything, Ron. Anything to convince him you can be trusted like his own face in a mirror."
“Mike, I’m caught between a rock and a hard place," Ron throws his hands up in the air helplessly. "Either way. I, Ron Christopher, am a loser."
“Do you think it's any easier for Nancy and I? The fact I can’t even tell Adam anything or even mention Laurie’s kidnapping to Bill, the chief of police, puts me in an equal bind.”
Ron moved away from Mike’s desk and, in front a narrow window, he stood and gazed at flower buds trembling in peebles of ice from a stunted shrub. The buds were as dead as winter and as dead inside as Ron felt. On one hand he bargained with Barrington, the other with Mike. Somewhere in the middle he couldn't stop stressing over Phil Capice who posed as a loan shark client under Mike's direct orders to get dirt on them for conviction. Impending result. Phil unmasked. Phil in a coma after being nearly beaten to death by Barrington's unsympathetic henchmen. Either way he was bound to be discovered, too; then beaten into a pulp by those same men with hard knuckle gloves. He shivered at that thought and his own impending wedding to Cookie that was in jeopardy, his wide-eyes never leaving the retarded buds outside the window he knew would never know spring flowers.
“You listened to the call,” Mike reminded him.
Ron wanted to scream. “Yes," he gritted his teeth, remembering Laurie Ann's terrified voice. Crying and pleading, begging for the right to live. He turns, looks at Mike with wide eyes. "Laurie. Dear God. Mike, she was scared to death..."
“If anything ...” A shaken Mike chokes up.
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 manages a tentative smile for the first time in many days and nights.
“Tomorrow night," Ron says staring at the buds. "I’ll ask Barrington point blank Laurie’s location.” He looks at Mike. "And then what?"
Mike says nothing staring into the space.
“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 light, would not care to pursue living. For a first time ever 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...had their daughter captive and was literally holding him by the balls until it hurt. A sharp pain rushed suddenly up his spine. He squeezed his eyes tight to control composure and not scream. Then blinked and shuddered at the thought of how devastated Nancy would be if he was mercilessly killed while attempting with Ron to save Laurie Ann.
"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 not 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. My first mother. Same thick dark hair as I had. Big brown eyes. The way my lips used to curve when I smiled. Sarah Lane-Karr was my birth mother's full name before Sarah married my father when Mattie, Sarah's mother and my grandmother and Uncle Winston's secondwife, 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 years she struggled as a outcast member of the Lane family. The Lanes were best known for grandfather, her first husband's, richer brother Uncle Harry's criminal business dealings. Uncle Harry even framed his own wife, my Aunt 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 Sarah 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 and I would have died then....died instantly. She screamed so loud, 'Laurie Ann!' and, like a bolt of lightening, she was in the middle of the street. She shoved me out of the way and I heard tires screeching. And that sound. A horrible thud knocking Sarah down. 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. That man, 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 would live 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. I miss Nancy Karr 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. A moment later she realized she could not really pray. Not now...not properly against an inevitable fate that Laurie Ann must die. Laurie’s fears were as 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...