"Well, no, honey. She's not any worse except for she's really upset about what happened to your all's home and the animals, and all that."
"What!! How did she hear about that? It only happened yesterday evenin' and I was dreadin' to tell her about it. How did you even know about it?"
"Well, one of the deputies told his wife on the phone and I guess somebody on the phone line heard him telling it. Then I reckon Hetty McReynolds, Doc Henry's wife, heard about it and kinda phoned one of the nurses she knows real well. Maybe she told a few others, and well, somehow or other, somebody just kinda let it slip to your Granny. You know how news travels around here."
"Oh, no! I guess I better go on in and see if I can calm Granny down a little and see if between me and her, we can figure out what to do. I sure ain't lookin' forward to it, though."
Pasting a smile on her face, she went in to face the music.
"Hey, Granny! How you doin' today?" Arlissa asked cheerfully.
The therapist had given Granny a chalk board and some chalk so she could write some thoughts on it as needed.
She had trouble holding the chalk but it was good exercise for her hand. Granny held up the chalk board for Arlissa to view.
MAD! she had written. SPIT NAILS MAD.
Her countenance certainly reflected her written words.
"Uh-oh" was what Arlissa was thinking. When Granny said she was so mad she could spit nails, that was her big-time mad.
"Now, Granny, they probably made it sound worse than what it was. I'll admit it was pretty bad, but things is gonna get better. We jist have to trust that God is gonna take care of us. You know, think about this...I wasn't there when it happened; so it coulda been worse. Let's jist be thankful I was at the O'Hanlon home at the time, havin' supper with them. You know, we can look on the bright side, can't we?"
Arlissa knew she was talking a mile a minute, but it soon had the desired effect and then Granny smiled a bit, but soon was crying when she thought about if Arlissa had been at the farm.
Arlissa sat on the side of the bed and hugged her Granny close to her.
"Oh, Granny. Please don't cry. You'll have me a cryin', too."
She gently wiped the old woman's eyes with the corner of the bedsheet.
"Things are gonna get better, don'tcha know? We jist gotta keep on goin'. Now let's get you a little more comfortable here. Have you had yore breakfast yet?"
Granny was erasing the board and writing.
soon had a new tray of food, and Arlissa saw that she used her right
hand as much as possible. Granny had to get back as much use of that
hand and right leg as she could.
had decided to help Granny get back on her feet and give her back a
determination to be as self-sufficient as she could. All the
encouragement that she could shower on her grandmother would only help
if her Grandmother was receptive to it.
Granny had finished the breakfast, the therapist came for Granny with a
wheelchair and helped Granny into it, with the old woman trying to help
as much as possible.
walked alongside the wheelchair, intent on learning as much as she
could about helping Granny when they were allowed to take her home.
Elaine, the therapist, remarked on her own distress upon hearing about the farmhouse and the animals.
"Is there anyone here that hasn't heard about our place?" Arlissa asked.
"I doubt it. It's just so hard to believe that gentle Con Douglas would do such a terrible thing!" Elaine opined.
"Well, we're pretty sure that it was him that did it! He was right mad at me cause I wouldn't go out on a date with him."
"I hear they haven't caught him yet, either!"
and it worries me. He was so mad at me, I don't know what he would've
done to me if I hadn't gotten to the O'Hanlon's place. I don't know what
we're gonna do for furniture and clothes and - oh, all that stuff he
cut up and busted. I dread goin' back there."
"Yes, it must be awful to think about being afraid in your own home. All that mess to clean up, too."
Elaine's comments did not help Arlissa or her Granny to feel better about going home, that was for sure, Arlissa was thinking.
"When are they having your friend's funeral? Are they receiving friends soon?"
"Yes, tonight from seven to nine at the funeral home over where we live in Hickston."
Arlissa certainly wasn't looking forward to that either.
the therapy room, Granny was beginning to show slow but good
improvement. Arlissa had great hopes for a chance to take her home
therapist was showing Arlissa how to do the exercises so that she could
help her Granny to continue doing them. She had Arlissa do them so she
could observe that she did them correctly.
Good job, both of you! You should be able to take her home in about
five days. Don't forget, Marta will be coming to get you today later on
for your speech therapy!"
helped Granny back into the wheel chair, and Arlissa decided to take
the old lady outdoors for some sunshine, since Granny had indicated she
wanted to do so.
Granny, here we go! We'll go to your favorite spot out by the park
bench under the trees, and watch the birds, soak us up some sunshine."
was smiling at the prospect of going home in a week's time, and Arlissa
was thinking of the things that had to be done in the meantime,
wondering how it was all going take place.
was Rosie's visitation to attend that evening, as well. She wondered if
it was going to be peaceful or if something would happen to ruin it.
She was deep in thought and didn't see the tall woman who was walking up behind them as she pushed Granny's wheelchair.
me, honey! Could you help me with something, please? I'm new around
here and I seem to be lost." The blonde woman seemed to be in real
distress. Her hair fell in beautiful waves across her face and she held a
beautiful blue purse in her hands.
Arlissa got the idea that she was bashful, perhaps because she was embarrassed by having to ask for help.
"Sure, what are you looking for?"
I was looking for the library and saw this large building and thought I
had found it, only to discover this is a hospital."
"Oh, that is an easy mistake to make. Actually the library is just down the street. I'll show you from the sidewalk."
She turned to Granny and said, "Granny, I'll be back in jist a minute. This nice lady needs to find the library..."
two of them walked toward the sidewalk, and soon were out of Granny's
sight. As they approached the sidewalk and a blue automobile parked at
the curb, the stranger reached into her purse.
removed something, and putting an arm around Arlissa as she pointed to
the library down the block, injected a hypodermic needle containing
Phenobarbitol into an unsuspecting Arlissa's arm.
She never felt the prick of the needle, and slumped into the woman's arms.
Soon the girl was inside the car, lying in the back seat, unconscious, and the stranger drove off, carrying her away.
Granny Hinton sat waiting for her granddaughter to return; she waited ten minutes, then fifteen more.
is that girl? Don't she know I need her? Surely it couldn't be taking
her that long to show that lady where something is!"
began making noise...it sounded garbled but it was still noise. Nobody
seemed to be around. What could she do? She looked down and saw the
brake on her wheelchair and released it.
"Maybe I can wheel myself along the sidewalk and back to the building," she told herself.
began turning the wheel on one side with her left hand, but that made
the chair turn in a circle and not the way she wanted to go. Reaching
down with her right hand, she began slowly forcing the wheel to turn and
soon she was making slow progress. It was slow going because she could
not use the right hand very well.
But she was doing it; and beginning to feel very proud of her accomplishment; yet worried about Arlissa.
worked for over twenty minutes slowly inching her way to the hospital
side door where they had emerged at least an hour before. The door was
not automatic and she couldn't get it open, so she began banging on it,
hoping to get someone's attention.
Arlissa awakened slowly, in a cold, dark place. Her mouth felt like cotton, dry and needing moisture.
"Where am I, anyway? What happened? How did I get here?"
Slowly sitting up, she moved, only to feel a shackle on her ankle, and to hear the sound of a chain rattling.
"What in tarnation has happened to me?" she whispered.
Then she began to shout...
"Hello? Is someone here?"
"Well, hello, honey! You're finally awake, ain't cha? Oh, don't worry, you're safe here with me."
She heard the striking of a match, and the lifting of the shade of a lantern.
Finally, someone came to the door and helped Granny Hinton come back in.
"Ma'am, why are you outside by yourself? Can you tell me?"
Granny reached down at her side and pulled out the slate, where she wrote her name.
"You're Ms. Hinton?"
Granny nodded her head and wrote Arlissa's name and the word "gone".
"Arlissa was outside with you?"
Another nod, with a worried look on the face.
"Where did she go? Do you know?"
"Was someone sick and needing help?"
A shaking of the head in a negative manner.
Granny was beginning to feel great frustration.
"Find library" she wrote.
"Ah, I see. She was helping a woman look for the library."
Granny leaned back in her wheelchair, glad to be understood at last.
By now several people had gathered around the two.
One of them was Granny's doctor.
"How long ago was this, Ms. Hinton?"
Granny stretched her left arm up above the right one to indicate a long time.
"As much as an hour ago?"
She nodded her head vigorously.
wrong, doctor! She would never have willingly left her grandmother
there for very long, especially in her condition and helpless. We need
to call Sheriff Bradshaw."
"Where am I? Who are you? Why have you brought me here?"
my, little girly! You're full of questions, ain't you? Well, I'll tell
you when I think you're really ready to hear the answers. Right now,
let's just say you're in a safe place, where nobody's going to know
where to look. Hope you're not afraid of snakes, and rats, and such.
They pretty much have the run of the place."
"Could I have some water, please? My mouth is so very dry."
Her mystery captor set a bottle of water in front of her, yet keeping to the shadows away from the light of the lantern.
Arlissa noticed that the sounds seemed to bounce off the walls of whatever place she was being held.
"You might as well lay down and get comfortable, cause you ain't goin' nowhere."
"What time is it?"
"My, my! Still demanding answers? The time don't matter, cause you don't need to know."
"Well, could I please have a blanket to cover me? It is very cold and damp where ever we are."
She could tell that she sat on the ground somewhere, or so it seemed.
you want all the comforts of home, I reckon." Her captor laughed a high
and trilling giggle. "Now, I can't have you being too comfortable. You
need to be punished, and learn what it's like to have nothing."
"Please, my Granny needs me! I need to get back to her!"
"I have to leave you now. I'll be back later."
She felt another stick in her arm as the person gave her another injection. Then the darkness overcame her.
Sheriff Bradshaw was at the hospital talking to Arlissa's grandmother. He sat in a chair next to her bed, holding her hand.
looking for Arlissa, and I need some information. What can you tell me
about where she might have gone? Did you see the woman who came up to
Pulling her hand from his, Granny Hinton wrote on her slate, "Tall woman. Soft voice."
"Had you ever seen that woman before?"
"Well, thank you, Ms. Hinton. We are going to do our best to find her."
The Sheriff patted her shoulder and promised to do all he could to find the girl.
He got up from his chair and left the room.
reached with her left hand and picked up the Bible to read it,
searching for comforting scripture. Flipping through the book, she came
across the births and deaths pages. Looking at them, she realized the
two pages had been separated.
thought I had them pages kinda stuck together," she reflected. "Wonder
how they got unstuck? Did Arlissa see them? Nah, she woulda sure said
The old lady was reassuring herself that the secret was safe from Arlissa.
Granny bowed her head and began to pray for Arlissa's safe return.
When Arlissa once again awakened, she was alone. As she moved her leg, she felt the shackles.
"Hello! Hello! Is anyone there?"
Her voice seemed to bounce off the walls. An echo resounded following the sound of her voice.
am I? What am I going to do?" She began to think about how she could
escape. She began to follow the chain attached to her leg.
"Maybe I can find out how long the chain is and where it is fastened."
As she crawled around, she felt the bottle of water, and opening it, she drank some from it.
There were pebbles on the floor of her place of captivity.
"A dirt floor?" she asked herself. "Where could I possibly be?"
All at once, her hand found a wall. It was cold and damp.
"I'm either in a basement or a cave, but I don't know which. Maybe if I crawl around some more, I can find out."
she crawled, she felt the chain growing taut and realized she was
crawling in the wrong direction. She needed to find the beginning of it.
Changing direction, she took hold of the chain and began crawling and
feeling the chain, trying to find where it started.
felt something slither over her legs, and screamed, only to realize it
was the chain she was moving. It had slipped across her legs in the
Arlissa prayed as she crawled, asking God for guidance. If she ever needed help, that was the time for it, she knew.
was feeling for rocks or any other item she could use to aid her. There
seemed to be nothing, at least as far as she could tell.
she reached a bolt and the other end of the chain. It seemed to be
securely fastened, with nothing to help her get free.
about the umpteenth time, she felt where the chain was fastened to the
shackle on her ankle. It had a lock securing it to the chain. If only
she could get her hands on the key; but she knew that was well-nigh
impossible. She was a prisoner at the mercy of her captor.
to her knees, she decided to stand and see about walking around, now
that she had found a wall. Maybe she could figure out what kind of place
she was confined to. All she knew was that it was dark and cold and
damp. She was cold and hungry; she was scared to boot, but getting very
"How dare anyone to treat
another person this way! I'm not going to give in to my fears. I've got
to believe someone will find me before too long. Oh, God! Please help
didn't know if it was an answer to her prayer; but she chose to believe
it was. Her hand closed around a good-sized rock, just as she heard a
sound behind her.
Turning slowly, she saw a lantern lifted shoulder-high, and in its glow was a shape which she recognized, but pretended not to.
mister! I'm so hungry! Did you bring me somethin' to eat?" She put real
misery into her voice and went to her knees, wailing, and holding the
rock hidden in her hand.
"Are you now, Miss High-n-Mighty? Singin' a different tune, it seems!"
is that you? Oh, I'm so sorry for treatin' you so bad yesterday! It was
only a date you wanted, wasn't it? Please, won't you forgive me?"
She heard him laugh that silly high laugh of his.
now, I don't know. You reckon you learned your lesson yet? I may not be
through teachin' it to you. I'll bet we know who's boss around here,
though, don't we?"
"Please, Con, dear! Let me make it up to you!"
"Well, maybe I'll just let you give me a kiss to prove how sorry you are! Stand up here next to me, Sugar!"
reached down to pull her up to him and when he did, she brought her
right arm up as hard as she could and hit him in the temple. He dropped
the lantern onto the floor.
went down like a felled ox. She hit him again for good measure. Then
she began going through his pockets, looking for the key to the shackle
on her ankle.
Her hands were shaking like a leaf, afraid he would wake up and grab her. He lay still as she searched frantically.
"Oh, please, God, it's gotta be here. Help me find it, Lord."
She set the lantern upright. Fortunately, it was still lit.
"I hope I haven't killed him; I'd hate to have his blood on my hands."
Her shaking hands felt the key; pulling it from his back pocket, she brought it out and dropped it.
"Oh, no! I can't lose it!"
the lantern, she saw it on the floor, and snatched it up, fitting it
into the lock on her ankle. Then she fastened it around his ankle, and
put the key into her pocket.
"There! Now, to check and see if he is still alive."
She leaned down close to the man who had held her captive.
saw his fingers moving slowly as she bent to check his pulse in his
neck and began to slide away from him. Arlissa knew then that she had
not killed him and knew she should run.
Taking the lantern, she moved in the direction from which she had seen him approach her.
back, she could no longer see him. It was blacker than pitch in her
place of captivity and she had no idea which way to turn.
She heard his howl of dismay when he discovered what she had done.
little slut! I'll get you yet! You ain't outta here and I know you
can't find your way out. You'll die in here without my help to get you
out. That lantern'll run out of kerosene before you ever find your way.
Jist mark my words!"
held the lantern high and looked around her at the walls. She was in a
cave; the hills of Kentucky were full of caves, she knew.
thrill of getting out of his reach began turning to worry at the
thought of the truth of his prediction. Was he right? Well, she could
wished she had the bottle of water he had left for her, but that was
the least of her worries. The thought of water made her think of what
obstacles she might have to overcome to get out of the cave. Were there
drop-offs in the cave? Was there water running in it anywhere? What time
was it? Was it dark outside, if she made it out of the cave? Did he
have somebody helping him? What about the woman who had kidnapped her?
much that she didn't know and had to worry about if he had someone
outside waiting for him. That would be another hurdle to overcome.
progress was slow and hindered by the fact that she was very weak from
the drugs that had been injected into her body. The dehydration she was
suffering added to her inability to think clearly.
the lantern high, she searched for the entrance to the cave. She was
remembering the country song recorded a few years earlier about a man
trapped in a cave in Georgia. The thought that she might wind up like
him, urged her on.
hour later, she stumbled out into the open and began shouting for help.
There was no one near to help her, but she did see the blue car that
she figured must have brought her to the cave.
you, God!" she wept, falling on her knees. It was almost dark and she
had no idea where she was. She couldn't remember ever having been in
this area before. Arlissa was shaking.
Almost crawling to the car, she wrenched the door open and saw the inner light come on. There in the ignition were the keys!
She also saw in the front seat the clothes the woman had been wearing, along with a blonde wig.
Of course, she told herself, Con had disguised himself as a woman. He was trickier than she had ever given him credit for.
As she sat in the car, she heard the approaching sound of another vehicle.
didn't know what to do...was it a friend of Con Douglas? Until she
could find out, she decided to hide in the car, so she lay down in the
seat to remain invisible, yet almost unable to control her shaking body.
all, she reasoned, if they were there to help Con, they would go on
into the cave. If not, well, she didn't know what was going to happen.
It could be that somebody saw the car and decided to investigate.
The person driving the other vehicle might be more dangerous than Con. After all, Con hadn't really hurt her yet.
heard the idling of an engine; the sound of feet crunching gravel as
someone neared the car where she lay, brought new hope partnered with
fear to the heart of the young woman.
She heard the footsteps stop and waited. All at once, the car door opened.
Looking up, she saw Zeb O'Hanlon standing there, head lowered and in the doorway.
"Arlissa! We've been looking everywhere for you! How did you get way out here?"
Not waiting for an answer, he shouted, "Hey, Odie! She's over here!"
By this time Arlissa was clambering out of the car and had flung herself into Zeb's arms.
I thought I was a goner, for sure, Zeb! Con Douglas kidnapped me and
brought me out here. I'm so glad to see someone I know!"
"Where is he? How did you get away from him?"
hit him with a rock and took the key to the chain he had around my
ankle. While he was out, I unlocked the chain and put it on him. Then I
got away and finally found my way out. He woke up about the time I
"Ah, Miss Arlissa! You are somethin' else!" This came from Bobby Joe Odom, spoken in admiring tones.
"I never thought I was ever gonna get outta there! I was plenty scared!"
"What are these clothes doing here in the front seat? Are they yours?"
he was wearin' them, dressed like a woman and wearin' that wig, at the
hospital and actin' like he was lost and lookin' for the library. I
walked down to the sidewalk with him, to show him and all at once, the
next thing I remember, I was wakin' up here in that cave. He had given
me a shot of somethin' in my arm, cause he gave me another one later. It
knocked me out."
I must say he isn't lacking for cunning. Just too bad he's not using it
for something good. Well, he can just stay in there awhile. We'll let
the Sheriff know where he is and he can pick him up. Give Con a taste of
his own medicine. Let's get out of here right now. We have a receiving
of friends to get to tonight for Rosie."
When Zeb had finished speaking, the three of them headed for his car.
"Miss Arlissa, you are one brave little gal! I'm right proud and honored to know you!" stated Bobby Joe.
She smiled at him and, without warning, fainted. He quickly caught her and lifted her into the car.
"I guess her ordeal just finally caught up to her!" he said to Zeb.
"We need to get her back to the hospital. She is dehydrated and her Granny needs to know she is safe," remarked Zeb.
her in the center passenger's seat in front, they also got into the
car, and Zeb took off, going as fast as he dared to drive.
Within a few minutes, Arlissa began to stir.
"Where am I?" she wanted to know.
You're okay now. You're with me and Zeb. You're safe; we're taking you
to your Granny so she can see for herself. She's been giving the
authorities fits over finding you!"
Arlissa lay back against the seat, and leaned against Bobby's shoulder.
a few minutes they were back into civilization, and then in another
twenty minutes or so, they were pulling into the emergency bay of the
Bobby Joe scooped her up into his arms and carried her into the emergency room.
young woman needs some attention right away! She's dehydrated, and has
been given some kind of injection to make her sleep this afternoon."
Trooper Bobby Joe Odom spoke with authority and no one questioned it.
Officer; we'll see that she gets help. Just bring her over her and
place her on a gurney. This is Miss Hinton that they've been searching
for, isn't it?"
"Yes, ma'am, it is. I'll be staying with her, if you don't mind."
had parked the car and came in just as they were wheeling Arlissa into a
cubicle behind some sheets. He followed them and told Bobby he would go
up and let her Grandmother know she was okay.
"We need to call off the manhunt and let the Sheriff know where he can pick up Con," replied Bobby.
"Yes, I'll do that, too, my friend, then I have to go to the funeral home with my family."
Within minutes, Zeb was in Granny's room, who sat up expectantly when he entered the room with a big smile on his face.
have her! She's safe and a little dehydrated. We'll let her tell you
all about it in a little while, after they get some fluids into her.
Have you had your supper yet, Ms. Hinton?"
He glanced at her tray table and saw the food untouched on it.
"I'll bet we can get them to bring you a fresh tray and bring one for Alyssa at the same time."
By this time the old lady had her face in her hands and weeping with relief.
Then, looking up at Zeb, she spoke a garbled, "Thank you!" at least that is what she intended it to be.
knew from the look on her face that she was thanking him. She held out
her arms to him and hugged him with a heartfelt kiss on his cheek.
welcome, ma'am. I'm just glad we could bring her back to you. Now, I've
got to go see to about some more supper for you and to call the Sheriff
to let him know what has taken place. I'll see you later. I've got
somebody I want to bring by to see you."
With that, he left her and stopped at the nurses' station out in the hallway.
"May I use the phone for just a moment, please? Oh, and Ms. Hinton needs another tray, if you don't mind."
With the nurse's assent, he picked up the phone and asked for Sheriff Bradshaw's office.
In seconds, he was telling the dispatcher that Arlissa had been found and was safe in the hospital.
never believe where he had her, Sheriff! Yeah, she had gotten away from
him and now he is the prisoner where he had her. Turned the tables on
him! It's quite a story. You're gonna have to pick him up when you're
ready. You know that old cave off of county road 78? You'll see his car
when you get there. You'll find him inside. I'll drop the key off to the
chain he's cuffed to. Yeah, it was in her pocket and she gave it to me
right after we got her."
He listened for a minute and then replied, "Yeah, Sheriff. She's got spunk, all right."
Joe looked at Arlissa lying there on the gurney and realized how much
he would have missed her if Con had done away with her. He knew enough
about her to know what a tough time she had growing up without a mama
and a daddy. He felt a kinship with her, with his own parents being
killed in a wreck when he was much younger.
lay there so still and pale, with that beautiful red hair framing the
petite face, wearing an old-fashioned dress that had belonged to someone
else. Zeb had told him the story of the break-in at her home. Her
bravery simply floored him.
Joe sat by Arlissa's bed and took her hand, so small, so scraped up
from dealing with Con Douglas and held it gently as he spoke to her.
"Arlissa, are you awake?"
Her eyes flew open and she jumped, startled by the sound of his voice and not quite knowing where she was.
"What? Where am I?"
in the hospital, safe from Douglas. He'll no doubt be in jail soon as
the Sheriff goes out and gets him out of that cave, where you left him.
You are one brave little gal, you know."
"Oh, Bobby Joe! It's you. How did I get here?"
you remember...no, I guess you don't. You passed out just after we got
you out of that old blue car. Me'n Zeb brought you here."
"My Granny! Does she know I'm okay? I gotta go see her 'n let her know I'm all right!"
she knows. Zeb went right to her room to tell her. You just lie here
and rest till you're feeling better. She'd have my scalp if I let you up
before the Doc says you're okay to go."
"Rosie's wake...they're havin' it this evenin' and I need to be there!"
"No, I don't think so! You can go to her funeral services tomorrow."
on, now! Just who made you my boss? I'll do what I want to do! I still
have time to go this evenin'! Jist you get outta my way. I'm goin'!"
She sat up abruptly only to realize she wasn't in shape to go after all.
"Oh! Well, I could go if I had a way to get there. I guess I'll jist wait till in the mornin'."
had to work to keep the smirk off his face, but he kept his face
solemn; he knew she would go if it killed her if she knew he was
"How about I get a wheelchair and take you up to see your Grandmother in a few minutes? I'll bet you could use some food, too!"
"Yes! I'd like that, please."
had noticed that right after he had brought her in, the nurse came in
and hooked her up to a bag of fluid to replace the water she had lost.
She was still hooked up to it, but it would roll with the wheelchair, he
Bobby Joe went out into the hall to see if he could take her to her Granny's room.
(To be continued)