Fugitive?Mrs. Carter arrived at the Laundromat to see her daughter Marci sitting behind the supposedly out of order washing machine. Marci was hugging her legs tight against her chest, shivering with fear. After all, it was nightfall. Mrs. Carter raced into Quick n’ Clean, kneeling beside her panic stricken daughter.
“I think something is seriously wrong with Valerie,” were the first words out of Marci’s mouth.
“What do you mean?” Her mother asked.
“Well-” Marci started explaining what Valerie had done over the past hour. “-And she went totally ballistic when she saw that her washer was out of order. In fact she ripped the sign right off and threw the clothes in regardless. Right before she turned it on she found the knife and also found that the machine was working. Val has been acting strange lately, is there something that I don’t know about her?”
Mrs. Carter hesitated because there was indeed more to Valerie than what met the eye but was she ready to tell Marci? Or anyone? She decided against it for the time being and replied, “No, there is nothing wrong with your sister but we need to get her back to the house so I can have a little talk with that girl.”
Marci knew that when her mom started calling Val ‘that girl’ that she was in a load of trouble. Mrs. Carter opened the washer when it was finished and dumped the wet clothing articles back into the hamper.
“These can air dry on the clothes line at home. Let’s go.” With that Mrs. Carter grabbed the hamper and strode to the door. Marci followed closely behind as they proceeded towards her mother’s silver, vintage VW Bug.
Mrs. Carter picked up the phone, rapidly dialing Jessica Hanes’ number, impatiently tapping her foot. Marci initially had been told to go to her room but curiosity had overcome her so she peeked out from behind their leather couch listening intently for the conversation to begin.
“Hello?” Mrs. Carter asked. “It’s Kelly Carter, can I talk to your mother, Jessica?”
“Yeah, hold on.” Jessica responded unsurely.
“Hi.” Mrs. Hanes said happily, concealing the fact that she was slightly annoyed that Valerie’s mother would be calling them at such a late hour. “What can I do for you?”
“What you can do for me is send Valerie home.” Mrs. Carter pressed her lips into a flat line. “I understand that Marci told me that Valerie had gone to your house to stay with Jessica for a couple days because she was upset at something I am not going to get into details with.”
“What? I-I mean Valerie is not here.” Mrs. Hanes was moderately confused.
“She’s not there?” Mrs. Carter’s hands started to shake. Marci gasped when she heard the last sentence her mom uttered.
“Um, no.” Mrs. Hanes looked at her daughter raising a brow then whispering, “Is Valerie here? I need to know Jess, this is serious!”
“No,” Jessica said growing afraid for her friend.
“Alright, I have to go, bye.” Mrs. Carter said, her voice strained. She made her way to the couch sitting down and putting her head in her hands. “Marci, I need to talk to you. I know you are back there, you breathe astonishingly loud.”
Marci sighed, slowly arising from her hiding place. “Where is she mom?”
“You were the last one to see her.”
“I swear, she said she was going to Jessica’s.” Marci felt a tad bit guilty but what more could she have done? Then a thought dawned on her, “What if she was lying and was really going to some other friend’s house?”
“You’re probably right.” Mrs. Carter didn’t want to believe that her eldest daughter was missing. “Tomorrow I’ll call the rest of her friends. It’s getting late now, you should go to bed. Marci nodded and descended to her bedroom. Lying down on her full sized bed Marci had two specific questions swimming around in her head that loomed above all others. Where was Valerie and why was she acting so strange?