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PART SEVENTY-FIVE

Stacie pulled out of her parking spot and wound her way through the parking lot to Little Road where she headed north to the State Road Fifty-four traffic light. “I’m like, three miles west of here,” she declared as they sat in the left turn lane, waiting for the light to turn.

“Oh, Suzann,” she said, stealing a glance at her shot-gun passenger and flashing a smirk, “I live on the third floor, but there’s an elevator if you need it.”

“Oh, fine. Just fine. Keep it up. Just remember that school secretaries have great power, little Miss!”

“Well, you know what Uncle Ben says, ‘With great power-’”

“‘Comes great responsibility!’” Karla declared from the backseat. “I love them Spiderman movies. Speaking a responsibilities, guess I best see who called me. Might have to do with Skylar, though why somebody’d call and not leave me no daggum message is beyond me.”

Karla grabbed her phone, entered her PIN and hit callback. The phone rang five times before a tiny, scared voice declared, “Hello?”

“Hey,” Karla said, “this here’s Karla Kisor. I believe you called me.”

“Oh, my gosh! Mrs. Kisor! Thank goodness! Are you okay? Do you know anything about Skylar or my stepmother?”

“Skylar or your stepmother? Wait, who is this? Is this Sara?”

“Yes! Didn’t the police call you?”

“The police!? No! I just got a call from this number on my phone and no message and I was just trying to see if it’s important. What the he- that is, what you talking about with your mama and Skylar and the police? Has there been a accident?”

“No, Mrs. Kisor, no! Skylar’s father is alive, and he took her and Marti! He slammed Marti, Skylar and me to the ground and took them away! He would have taken me too, but Skylar told me to run! He’d have me too if it wasn’t for Skylar. I’m waiting for the police to arrive now.”

“The police to arrive now!? Where are you?”

“At the bus depot, just past the school a little ways? On Interlachen between your house and ours? I called nine-one-one and the lady said the police would be here in a minute. She’s on hold.”

“Lord, Lord, Lord, Lord, Lord. Goodness. Okay. We’re coming. Is that sirens I hear?”

“Yes, ma’am. Are you coming here? I don’t want to stay here!”

“Okay,” Karla said, voice choked with emotion. “Okay, honey. You go with the police. I’ll call them, and we’ll come get you. Have you called anyone else? Your daddy?”

“No. Just the police. I just did. And Daddy’s flying home from Ireland. I could leave him a message?”

“No, no. You sit tight and wait for the police. Are you safe?”

“I think so. I’m behind a locked gate and there’s a big fence. That’s why he couldn’t get me. Skylar’s dad? Oh! Skylar told me to run! That’s why I’m safe. I’m sorry I couldn’t stop him, Mrs. Kisor. I’m so sorry!”

“Not your fault, darling. Not your fault. You take care. Them police gotta be right there, them sirens is so loud. We’ll be there quick as we can. You just stay safe, alright?”

“Yes, ma’am. And I see the police. I’m sorry!”

“Not your fault. See you soon,” Karla said before disconnecting. Free from the restraint of giving comfort to a scared and grieving nine-year-old she screamed, “Shit! Shit! Shit! Shit! Shit! Shit! Shit!” at the top of her voice.