Wrong Ride …
Carol waited for the van that would take her to her Monday appointment. When she was able to go home after back surgery the doctor referred her to physical therapy where they set up three sessions a week at the hospital therapy and rehabilitation program. The van was about ten minutes late and it stressed her a little. She never liked to be late for any appointment. She took her cell phone out and began to dial the ride schedule number when the van pulled up to the curb, so she put the phone back in her purse.
The driver got out of the van and walked up to the porch to help Carol to the van. “Sorry, I am a little late, Mrs. Wilson. My name is Kim. Your regular driver is sick today and the scheduler called me to fill in. This is my normal day off, but, I am always glad to help out.” Carol was always cautious with people she did not know. The driver was wearing the bright orange vest with the hospital name on it, so that assured her all was well. He held her arm as they walked. Her cane tapped on the sidewalk each time she took a step with her left foot. Nerve damage from the surgery caused her left leg to be weak. “I have never seen you before,” she said. “Are you new at the hospital?”
“No. I have been an employee there for a few years. I just never had this assignment before,” he replied as he helped her into the van.
When she was seated and buckled securely in, Carol looked around. “You did not pick up Adam. Am I on the wrong ride? Is he not going in today? I hope he’s okay.” Kim quickly said, “I am sure he is okay. The scheduler said another driver will pick him up.” Carol thought that was odd. She also thought it odd that the driver turned the wrong way on the next street.
“You should have turned right. Do you not have the proper schedule and directions?” Carol was worried. She did not like changes in her schedules. Carol was always meticulous about her plans and routines. The driver said he had to pick up another patient first.
“Oh? Is this a new patient? Adam and I have been the only two for this one o’clock Monday session.”
He sounded a little irritated when he answered, “Yes, it is a new patient.”
“Well, is this new patient very far away? We are already ten minutes late.” She was getting irritated herself.
The driver was silent and she looked at his face in the mirror. He was scowling and driving a little too fast. “I asked you …”, she started to say, but he cut her off.
“You ask too many questions and I have a job to do. Now sit still and be quiet!”
Carol was stunned. No one had ever said anything like that to her, but she was too shocked to say any more. After another ten minutes or so she became frightened when they left the city. Looking out the windows she saw they were in an area of warehouses. Something is really wrong she thought. She was getting antsy and wanted out.
When the van stopped in front of an older warehouse with no sign of life, Kim got out and opened the large door. Carol tried to unbuckle her seat belt and get out to run away. Run where? I am unable to run and there is no place to run to. She panicked when the seat belt would not release and Kim came back. He drove inside, got out and closed the warehouse door, locking it. He quickly slid the back door of the van open and Carol lifted her cane to hit him. He pulled a gun from his vest and pointed it at her head. “Don’t even try it, lady!” He unlocked the seat belt, dragged her out of the van, yanked her cane away from her and took her to a room in the back. Forcing her to sit on a chair he taped her hands to the chair arms and taped her legs to the chair legs. She was terrified and struggling, crying hard. “We sound-proofed this room, so crying and screaming won’t do anything except piss me off!” Kim slapped her and told her to shut up.
Pulling another chair in front of her, Kim told her to listen closely, “Your husband has been a spy for our country for many years,” he paused when Carol shook her head in denial. “That is not true!” She shook her head. “We have been married for four years. I know he is not a spy! You are lying.”
“I told you to listen carefully.” Kim calmly said. “He has been working for us for over ten years. Over the last two years we have had bad luck. Many of our plans have been weakened by leaks, someone tipping off your government,” Kim lit a cigarette and offered it to Carol. She shook her head. After taking a long drag he blew the smoke up and stared at her. “We found out it is your husband who has been one of the double agents who has been leaking our plans. As soon as he tells us who that other person is I will release you from this chair and take you to Kevin. And he will tell us … soon. He cannot take much more.”
“What do you mean? Kevin is at work. Cannot take much more what?” She stared at Kim with fear. Kim dropped his cigarette on the floor and stamped it out. “Carol. Your husband never got to work today. We picked him up at 7:10 when he stopped at the market where he gets a coffee every morning. Two of our men have been … uhm … questioning him for over,” he looked at his watch, “for almost seven hours now.” Kim pulled his phone from a pocket and dialed, a few seconds later he said, “Got her.”
He held the phone in his left hand. “Kevin has just been informed that you are my prisoner. And …,” Kim lit another cigarette, tilted his head back and blew the smoke out slowly. “and he has been told by now that some bad things will happen to you if he does not give us the information we need.” Carol was beyond fear now and started shaking with sobs.
“Quiet!” Kim yelled. She jumped and stared at him, her face wet with tears. “If you do not believe anything I have said, believe this,” he looked in her eyes. “As soon as your husband gives us the information we need we will let you both go. And I will then take you to him. This I promise.”
The phone rang, Kim answered and said, “Okay.” He stood up, put the phone on the chair and went to a cupboard behind Carol, opened the door and took something out. He went back to Carol. She stared in fear at the needle and syringe in his hand. Quickly he jabbed it in her arm. Before she lost consciousness, she saw Kim pick up the phone and dial.
Carol awoke and looked around. She did not know how she got to this unfamiliar place. It was so dark, cold and close, like a tunnel. Wrong ride, was all she could think of and feared what would happen now. He promised to take me to Kevin, he promised! He took me on the wrong ride! Then she heard Kevin call her name.
“Kevin?” Carol did not see him. “Kevin, where are you?” She looked all around in panic. “It was a wrong ride, Kevin. I was to go to my appointment. I didn’t know … I didn’t do anything wrong. Where are you, Kevin?”
“I’m right here, darling,” Kevin said calmly. “Don’t be afraid, I am here.” She spun around and there he was, safe and strong as ever. “Kevin, oh Kevin, my love. I was so afraid, so scared.” She rushed to him and he held her tightly, rubbing her back and kissing her forehead. She cried so hard as he comforted her. “It’s okay now. Everything is alright, it’s over. We can go home now, together.” She looked up at him. “Yes, let’s go home and forget all this. I want to go home.”
They turned and with their arms entwined walked towards the light.
© 2018 Phyllis Doyle Burns
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