Chapter Twenty-Two ~
It took almost an hour to get to their destination. Jude caught sight of the red and gold flames on the store window, but drove right on by and didn't come to a stop until almost two blocks later. They couldn't afford to let the man see them. They needed to catch him before it was too late. He was getting out of hand and his desire to kill Jude was just another catalyst that egged them on to the finish.
"Did you see any lights on?" Shepherd asked from the back seat.
"No, did you notice if Otis and the others were behind us? If he's in there we could sure use Amos' skills as a negotiator to try to talk him down if it comes to that," Jackson replied.
"I don't see this guy being talked down by anybody. He's way too prideful, and he has a plan. He's going to stick as close to that as he can possibly manage. He needs to stay in control of his situation..." Shepherd said.
"I don't see him backing down, either but I would feel better if they were already here," Jude admitted into the quietness of the car. The windows were already fogging up from all the breathing in such an enclosed space.
"They were right behind us. We'll give them a few minutes to catch-up," Shepherd said as he un-buckled his seat belt and scooted forward. "So what is the plan?"
"We're going to go in, hopefully surprise him, and take him down. If he fights, we're prepared to use our weapons. As a law enforcement officer it's my duty to try my best to keep the public safe," Jude said. And myself as well, he added silently.
"I'm not really law enforcement, per se, but I agree with Jude. I have to confess I wouldn't feel too guilty if I had to put one in him," Jackson put in.
"It's a hard row to hoe, isn't it?" Shepherd asked.
"The Christian life, you mean?" Jude asked. "Most definitely the most difficult thing I have to do. What's so hard about it is trying to keep from inserting my will into everything instead of doing God’s will. When I remember it's God who works through me, my life goes a lot better."
"It is a hard thing to do, I can tell you from personal experience," Isaiah said. "The hardest thing to let go of is our control over our own lives. Even when I think I've put everything into His care, I'll realize I haven't. I'm always trying to second-guess what I think should be done as opposed to what I believe He's led me to do."
"That's exactly how I feel. We should pray for wisdom to do what He would have us do," Jackson suggested. They all agreed and the next few minutes were spent in a shared prayer. The others showed up just as they finished and Jude pulled his phone out and texted Scott. He told him to be ready to go in at his signal.
When Jackson gave the signal to go in, they all got out of the car in an unhurried fashion. They could've been late shoppers, as casual as they looked. They moved in a small group, chatting and pretending to be having a good time. When they came to the red and gold glittered windows Scott, Otis, Amos and Jackson went around to the back, making sure to cover all the exits. Jude, Shepherd and Isaiah spread out across the front of the store and peaked in the window. It was darker than the rest of the stores around, but Jude saw a light on in the back. He pointed to Shepherd and sliced his finger in the air, pointing to the door just around the corner. Shepherd broke away and disappeared around the side, and Isaiah stuck to Jude like glue.
"I don't know why I even came. On second thoughts, I should've stayed back with the women. I have absolutely no value to impart to you guys," He said.
"That's not true. Didn't you say you were a hunter?" Jude whispered close to his new friend's ear.
"Yeah, I used to do a fair amount of it. It's been awhile though," He warned.
"If you're after a prey that knows you're there, what do you do?" Jude asked.
"You have to make the prey believe you're not after them," He said simply.
"How do you do that?" Jude returned. He saw movement under the crack of the door at the back of the main store and his heart sped up. He stood up straighter and watched intently, lest the door open.
"You make it think you've left when you really haven't," Isaiah said quietly.
"That's some good advice," Jude said. The back door suddenly opened and Jude barely caught a glimpse of Kenny Wilson before he and Isaiah moved swiftly to the side of the building. He texted Scott and told him to begin evasive maneuvers. They met around the side of the building, waiting for Kenny to come out. Sure enough, he came around the side of the building, trying to see if anyone was around. They were all hiding in a huge pile of garbage that spilled forth from a big, green garbage dumpster.
They waited for several hair-raising minutes, making sure he hadn't detected them. They listened, but didn't move back out into the open until they heard the distant tinkle of bells over the store's front door. "He's gone back inside. Spread out and enter at every door," Jude ordered as they advanced.
They all rushed into the store from the four outside doors, effectively closing in on him from all sides. Scott, Otis and Amos went in one side door and Isaiah and Shepherd went into another. Jude went right in the front door and Jackson in the back.
"Kenny Wilson, I know you're in here. Come out with your hands up," Jude ordered as loud as he could without a megaphone.
"Do you really think it’s gonna happen like that, you idiot?" He asked as he opened a door in the back right corner none of them had even seen. "You've fallen right into my trap, Jude my boy," He said as he reached his arm to the wall and pulled a lever down. A huge net fell and covered Jude, and he was powerless to stop it. He thrashed around wildly, trying to get free, but it was no use.
"Kenny, get your arm away from that lever or I'll have to shoot," Jackson warned as he cocked his gun and aimed at Kenny's arm, which was still advancing toward the lever.
Scott, Otis, and Amos were advancing on the serial killer, but Kenny stopped them with his next words. "I wouldn't come any closer if I were you." He reached the second lever and pulled it downward with a quick movement, and the floor under Jude gave way, and he fell. He landed on the floor beneath with a huge thud. He heard his arm snap as he used it to break his fall. It was dark and smelled of urine, feces, and death.
"Where did he go?" Jackson yelled.
"Oh, he's my little project now. If you don't run along, you'll be down there beside him," Kenny warned in a triumphant voice.
"You can't really expect us to leave without him, can you?" Shepherd asked.
"I can't figure out why you're even here, Mr. Adams. Aren't you a pastor in a little church down Oklahoma way? I sure would hate to see any of your parishioners come up missing..." He trailed off with a thinly veiled smile.
"You should stop this right now before you get in even deeper," Isaiah Cobb said evenly.
"Mr. Cobb, I wondered when you were going to grow a backbone. I'd hate to see that pretty little wife of yours in so many different pieces," He sneered with evil intent.
"You say that so easily, knowing we already have you," Isaiah said.
"Oh, you don't have me at all, you just think you do. Did you really imagine I would allow you to trap me here with no way to escape? I'm disappointed in your opinion of me, if so," He said as he carelessly examined his fingernails.
"What is it you think you're going to do to Jude?" Scott asked. He'd seen Amos slipping away unnoticed, and he wanted to keep the killer distracted.
"I'm gonna kill him and chop him up and feed him to the fish, that's what I'm gonna do. I hate him with everything in me. I can't think of anything in this life that would give me more pleasure," He finished with a flourish of his arm.
"You know we have you surrounded, Kenny. There's no way out of here, even if you join Jude. We have you, and that's all there is to it. Why don't you just answer some questions for us while we wait for your next move?" Jackson asked.
"I don't have to answer anything from you, and you don't 'have me' like you think you do," Kenny replied almost petulantly.
It was time to taunt him into anger, which would cause him to lose sight of his goals. They'd already tried stroking his ego, but that plan had fizzled out without even a nibble. He was definitely smart, but he was also full of pride. "Oh, we do have you. I can smell the fear coming from you. You stink of it, and it makes me ecstatic," Jackson said in the same sneering tone Kenny had used on him.
It caught the man off-guard and his mouth dropped open for a second before he closed it tightly, a look of resolution on his face. "You're not going to make me angry so I make mistakes, you insane ninny. I'm not two years old, and I've been doing this for a very long time, ever since I killed my daddy." Kenny turned the tables on Jackson, trying to surprise him into giving up some ground.
Jackson was surprised, but he didn't give ground. He took another step toward the killer as Amos came up behind him. He had a hypodermic needle in his hand and he brought it up and stabbed the dark-haired man in the neck with it and pushed the plunger all the way down. "It's time to go nighty-night Mr. Serial Killer." Kenny Wilson slid to the floor in a heap, the look of surprised horror still written on his face. As he drifted off, he thought, and I didn’t even get to tell them the best news yet; I’m not Kenny.
"Well that worked better than I planned," Amos said with a smile. He pulled his dark blue cap off, scratched his almost bald head and returned it with a smile.
Cheers went up around the room and someone turned the lights on. Jackson ran over to the lever and pulled it up; hoping the door in the floor would reopen. A loud creak filled the room and the door opened with a thud as it moved completely to the side. Jackson rushed over and looked down into the dark hole beneath. Jude wasn't there. "Jude old buddy, where are ya?" Jackson asked frantically as he climbed over the side of the hole and dropped to the floor beneath. He landed on his feet first, and then fell to his backside with a resounding thump. "Jude, Are you down here?" Jackson yelled. He pulled out a small keychain flashlight and pointed it toward a long, dark hallway. "Jude, are you down here, friend?"