Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Christmas Stranger - Part Five

His boss wouldn’t care that Lance sat in the cold from dawn to dusk, fearing the exhaust from his car would give him away while he watched and waited for Ethel/Linda to leave. Although his boss would be glad to hear that Lance, keeping a safe distance so as not to spook her on the lengthy drive, had the boy’s car seat in sight.
His instructions (after being assured how patient his boss had been up to now) as of an hour ago, were to get the boy tonight using whatever means necessary. This job could end none too soon to suit Lance. Then maybe he’d retire. Yeah, he thought, like the boss would allow that.
She stopped in front of a brightly decorated house, not the one he’d followed her from this morning, and parked at the roadside with him a few doors down. If anyone was watching they’d see a diehard runner in a black jogging suit out for a winter evening run.
He jogged by in time to see her step out carrying Jonathon, along with so much baby paraphernalia it was a wonder she didn’t tip over sideways into a freshly- built snow bank. Finally, his luck was turning around. That luck took a quick nosedive when it registered somewhere that although that was definitely Linda’s car he’d been following, the woman who now stepped into the light of the porch lamp was not Linda James.
“Son of a,” he said to himself while a whirlwind of questions ran through his head. Now what was he to do? Was the baby in her arms even Jonathon or had he been following the wrong woman? Had she known it was him following her this morning? Was this a set-up to throw him off her trail?
“Good night, Lucy. Tell Ethel that Jonathon can stay overnight with me anytime. And congratulate her on winning the contest when she gets back.”
“I will. Thanks again, Maggie, for everything.”
Under the cloak of darkness their voices carried, assuring him that he had at last found Jonathon. “And where baby is, Mom won’t be too far behind,” he said into the silent night, as he crossed the street and sauntered back to his car, giving her a couple of blocks lead before turning his lights on to follow.
As she parked in Linda’s driveway he cut his engine and lights in front of her neighbour’s house, and hunched down. Scoping out the quiet surroundings he spotted the path that ran between the two houses; a hedgerow-lined path that would keep him hidden from view and led right to her basement window.
Perfect, this job was going to be simple after all, he thought, as with gloved hands he opened his car door after a quick look around. His senses now humming as they always were when he knew he was close to his prey, as hidden from view, he watched Linda pull into her driveway.
One day he would look back and applaud her for the car switch that had almost – almost - thrown him off her trail, but for now, he was tired of playing her cat and mouse games. Tonight the jig was up.

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