AN ABANDONED FACTORY
Patterson spoke up gently, "you have to let go of him."
"Where are they?" she
sobbed. "Where's the ambulance? What's taking the doctors so
long? We can hear the sirens! Why aren't they here yet?"
"Steph, it's too
late!" He reached down, grabbed hold of her hand, and tried to force
her to release her grip on her father. "He's gone. There's
nothing that you can do. There's nothing that anybody can do."
"No!" She let go of
her father's hand and buried her face in her own, sobbing hysterically.
Finally, after several moments, she rose to her feet with Patterson's
help. "I...I killed him. I killed my father."
"No, honey, you didn't kill
him," he said reassuringly. "That man wasn't your father.
The man you knew and loved as your father died a long time ago and you had
nothing to do with that."
somebody please tell me what the devil is going on here?" Detective Jim
Fitzpatrick spoke up as he burst into the room. He immediately saw Stephen
Lake's lifeless body and let out a slow, weary exhale. "Oh, god,
don't tell me...."
"He's dead, Detective,"
Patterson responded almost matter-of-factly. "And, in case you're
wondering, that is Stephen Lake."
"Have you completely lost your
mind?" Jim snapped angrily. "What the hell were you thinking by
just showing up here alone? You could have gotten yourself killed! I
told you that this was a matter for the police and..."
"And you didn't seem the
least bit interested in finding her!" Patterson snapped. "If I
hadn't shown up when I did, he would have succeeded in taking her away from
Albanyville and then no one would ever have seen either one of them again!"
"All right, all right,"
Jim sighed and he waved his hands as he tried to calm Patterson down. More
police officers were starting to flood into the room and they began to comb the
office for clues and evidence.
"Excuse me. Comin'
through," a man spoke up as he pushed a stretcher into the room followed by
a couple of doctors who were no longer really needed.
Jim carefully placed his hand on
Patterson's shoulder to guide him out of the way. "Now, why don't you
tell me exactly what happened here. How did Lake wind up dead?"
"I...I shot him,"
Stephanie muttered vacantly as she kept her eyes focused onto on her father's
body. "I did it."
had a gun," Patterson tried to clarify and he put his hands on her
shoulders and pulled her to him as if he were terrified of letting her go.
"He was...going to shoot me. Stephanie grabbed the gun and they
struggled. It...went off accidentally."
do it!" she sobbed.
"It's okay, Steph,"
Patterson said softly and pulled her even tighter into his arms. "We
know it was an accident. We know you didn't mean to do it."
"This is just great!" Jim
grumbled in annoyance and reached up to massage his temple because of the
intrusive headache that had started to appear. "We wanted to take
that man alive! We wanted to question him about his wife's death."
eyed the detective curiously, unsure about what he was saying.
"I have every reason to suspect
that Mr. Lake was, in fact, the person responsible for his wife's murder---not
Mrs. Callison!" Jim shoved his hands deep into his pockets and shook
his head in disgusted frustration. "Now that he's dead, there's no
way we can actually prove that for a fact."
"Y-yes, there is,"
Stephanie spoke up hesitantly. "I can...tell you."
"What are you talking
about?" Patterson asked as he turned her so that he could look her in the
eyes. "Do you mean that you know how your mother really died?"
"He...he told me," she
muttered before taking a deep breath and turning back to face the
detective. "My father told me that...that he killed Momma. He
told me that he did it because...because she would keep us apart. He
"It's okay, honey. It's
okay." Patterson kept his arms around her as he tried to provide her
with a sense of comfort and support.
"H-he wanted to protect
me," she continued. "Oh, Paddy! He killed Clark,
too! He wanted to protect me from Clark and he...he..."
"Dear lord," Patterson
"Miss Lake, would you be
willing to make an official statement about your father's confession?"
"Y-yes," she nodded
weakly. "T-the Callison family hasn't deserved anything
that's...happened to them. It's been all...my parents' fault."
"Well, then, let's get you down
to the station so that we can get that statement." Jim attempted to
lead her out of the room, but Patterson stopped dead in his tracks and held her
"No! She's not
going," he spoke up firmly. "She's been through a horrible
ordeal and she needs to be checked out by a doctor."
nodded reluctantly. "Miss Lake's health and well being is what's most
important. There'll be plenty of time later for official statements.
There's...an ambulance waiting outside that can take Miss Lake to the
hospital." He paused as he watched Stephen Lake's body being wheeled
out of the room. "A...private ambulance."
"We'll be there in a
moment," Patterson agreed and then watched the detective walk out of the
room. Taking Stephanie by the hand, he led her out into the hallway away
from the other police officers who were busy looking over the scene.
Paddy, I was so scared that he...he was going to hurt you," she sobbed as
she fell into his arms. "I just...don't know what I would have done
if he...if he...."
"Now, now, don't think like
that," he said softly as he held her tightly in his arms. "I'm
fine. You're fine. You're safe now. I promised myself
that I wouldn't rest until you were safe and sound, and you are."
"Paddy, I don't know what I'd
do if I lost you." She buried her face in his chest as tears began to
roll down her cheeks.
"I...know what you mean,"
he sighed, relieved that the terrible nightmare was finally over.
"Every moment that you were missing seemed like an eternity. I
just...couldn't let myself think about what it would be like to be without
you. But I couldn't help but think about it and...well...it scared the
devil out of me."
She pulled away from him slightly
and gazed up into his eyes.
"Stephanie," he continued,
"these last few weeks without have made me realize a lot of things---things
that I think I've known for a long time, now, but just didn't want to admit to
"Stephanie, I..." He
paused and then swallowed hard before taking a deep breath.
"Stephanie, I love you. I love you more than I ever thought
possible. I swore to myself that if...when...I found you that I
wasn't going to let another moment pass without telling you how I feel."
"Oh, Paddy!" she sighed as
she felt her heart begin to beat fast. "Oh, Paddy, I..."
"No, don't say anything,"
he smiled and then pressed his index finger to her lips to silence her.
"Not yet. You've been through enough. I don't want you to say
anything impetuously just because of the moment. I want...you to be sure
in your heart."
"But, Paddy, I..."
"There'll be plenty of time for
that later." He slowly began to lead her down the hallway and away
from the room. "We've got the rest of our lives to worry about
that. Everything's going to be all right."
As they neared the end of the
hallway, Stephanie turned to look back over her shoulder in the direction of the
room as a chill ran down her spine. Could she really believe that
everything was going to be all right? Would anything ever be all right