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Killer Kills the Coopers in Middle America

Killer Kills the Coopers in Middle America

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Published by Joshua Allen
My first novel (written in 2005 and buried) come to light. It's been gathering dust, figured I'd air it out. At the time of writing, I had never heard of a comic book series called Wanted, and this "killer" has nothing to do with that one. For more info on my work, visit http://joshuallen.blogspot.com. I welcome any constructive comments as well. This is a rough draft, so bear with me. Fair warning: contains graphic sex, homosexual encounters, murder, drug use, and anything else I could think over the mad 4 days I wrote it.
My first novel (written in 2005 and buried) come to light. It's been gathering dust, figured I'd air it out. At the time of writing, I had never heard of a comic book series called Wanted, and this "killer" has nothing to do with that one. For more info on my work, visit http://joshuallen.blogspot.com. I welcome any constructive comments as well. This is a rough draft, so bear with me. Fair warning: contains graphic sex, homosexual encounters, murder, drug use, and anything else I could think over the mad 4 days I wrote it.

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Published by: Joshua Allen on Jun 18, 2009
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09/30/2012

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Bob started to speak and the words failed. He tried again,

but nothing happened. He realized the dream was gone. It had

troubled him most of the day, but now had floated away and

popped like a soap bubble. He could still recall some of the

residuals of the dream, but the content was absent. He felt good

about that, safe and calm. "I guess I don't remember. Never

mind."

She smiled. She felt better when she realized that whatever

was troubling him was gone. That's what mattered to her, not the

source of anger, fear and other emotions, but the reactions and

their ceasing. This one had ceased and so was better. They got

water, s'mores ingredients, material for class-A hobo dinners,

and some items for breakfast. They bought a bundle of firewood

and some matches. They got a couple of pans to cook the food in.

They got more water for cleanup. They got paper towels and

napkins and Handiwipes. They got paper plates and plastic eating

utensils. They bought some fruit because it was on sale and some

bread because it was cheap and looked delicious. They bought

some low calorie snacks for the ride.

When they caught up with the kids, they found the kids had

done more than scout out some items. They had found subzero

sleeping bags for all, figuring it was better to be too warm

than not warm enough. They had picked out two tents. They had

picked up two self-inflating air mattresses. They found cheap

pillows. They got two blankets, just in case. They also found

fire starters, a batter powered lantern, stakes for roasting

marshmallows, tent stakes, a netted picnic shelter to keep the

bugs out that Bob and Debra made them return because they didn't

think bugs would be a problem this time of year. The real find

was two portable heaters guaranteed to be safe in any tent

properly rated for combustibility.

They also had in their cart some practical things that no

one had thought of yet. For instance, Fran had a CD player with

seven second skip protection and a selection of CDs, including

albums by Nirvana, Tool, Pearl Jam and others. Debra rolled her

eyes when she looked at the covers, but not being hip on the

musical selections available to disenfranchised youth, she

allowed them to stand. Jim, on the other hand, had a couple of

hand-held video games, a board game the whole family could enjoy

and enough batteries to last through a nuclear holocaust. Bob

protested, but Jim talked him into the purchases.

So the Coopers figured they were ready for their camping

excursion and waded through the mire of the WalMart checkout

area. Waiting in line for that, of course, they found a few

other things that looked like they might come in handy on an

overnight stay, such as pop, candy bars and gum. These things

they purchased as well. By the time they got the carts out to

the car, they had purchased so much stuff that they could barely

fit it into the trunk of their car. So, a few items had to be

stored in the back seat in between Fran and Jim.

The killer watched their struggles to load their purchases

into their car and almost asked if he could help them by loading

some of it into his car, which was also their car. However, in

the end he decided it wasn't the right time to make his presence

known. He still wasn't sure if was going to kill them or not. He

did know for sure he wouldn't kill them until he'd had a chance

to speak to them. It appeared now that they were going camping,

so killing them might not prove too difficult if that's what he

decided to do. With this new knowledge, he found himself wishing

he had time to run in to WalMart as well so he could purchase

some outdoor gear. But not knowing exactly where they would end

up, he had to keep on tracking them.

Finding a place to camp proved more difficult than the

Coopers had assumed it would be. A lot of the parks were closed

for the season. Surely, they thought, there had to be at least

one place that was open to late season campers--a rare and

slightly crazy breed. They skirted the edge of the National

Forest awhile, where their map showed the highest concentration

of campgrounds and had no luck. The Coopers proved to be

difficult to follow in their periodic stops and turnarounds. The

killer was sure a few times that he was going to be spotted.

Anyone with any experience in counter-surveillance would have

spotted him a long time ago. Luckily, the Coopers were too

distracted with their own problems.

After hitting all of the major campgrounds and a few

smaller ones, they realized they would have to venture into the

forest itself if they were going to have any luck. The forest

edge of the forest was marked with large wooden signs painted

brown with the name of the forest carved into it surface and

painted yellow and green: Mark Twain National Forest. Fran had

read some Mark Twain this year at school. She wondered if there

were monuments to Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn out in the

forest. The trees were mostly conifers, but there enough leafed

trees to dot the sides of the hills and mark it with speckles of

yellow and red, in sharp contrast to the almost blackness of the

conifers.

They drove down and up through the winding mountain roads.

There were virtually no cars on the road. Occasionally, Bob

would see a car in his rearview mirror. It was a car much like

his own car. It even sported plates from the same state though

he couldn't make out if the county was the same. Seeing a car

similar to his own did not surprise him. He'd purchased the car

for the quality of it being so ubiquitous so as to be

inconspicuous. Bob had never considered before the implications

of that decision. Why had it been so important to him to be so

inconspicuous? When he thought about it, everything he'd done

since he'd graduated college had been in almost excessive effort

to appear normal.

He thought about his childhood for the first time in a long

while. He had never really considered it before. He grew up with

a brother and sister and a mom and a dad. They had been normal.

Perfectly normal. They had even had a white picket fence and a

dog. Every so often they would get into the kind of trouble kids

get into and they would have to make decisions about what they

really believed in and the true nature of their morals, but in

the end their upbringing always triumphed. The dog--THE DOG

Bob had completely forgotten about Girl. The dog belonged

to the kids, technically, so they should have thought about it,

too. But since he did most of the caretaking of the dog--who

would otherwise starve to death--he knew the real responsibility

fell on his shoulders. However, he decided he would take the

opportunity to teach the kids a lesson in responsibility; he

only hoped Girl hadn't paid the ultimate price for their hasty

departure.

"Kids."

Fran and Jim had been sleeping in the back. Debra had been

staring at the trees as they whizzed by. All eyes now turned to

Bob.

"Kids, I just remembered that we forgot the dog. We forgot

all about him. This is no time for finger-pointing or blame, but

we need to remedy this as soon as possible. Fran, hand me your

cellular phone."

Fran, being a teenager, had owned a cell phone for almost

two years now, to be used only in emergencies. Unlike most

teenagers, Fran actually did save it only for emergencies, and

since she had never actually experienced an emergency, she

barely thought about the device. She dove into her purse and dug

out the cell phone. When she dug into her purse, her hands

encountered a small box that was unfamiliar. She teased it to

the surface through all the other things she kept stuffed in her

purse. She nearly brought it out completely, but saw what it was

and shoved it back down in a hurry. Why were there cigarettes in

her purse? The next thought that came to her was that she needed

a smaller purse: something lightweight and compact, something

that would go with a dark-colored skirt. She had never worn a

skirt before but made a vow at that moment that when they got

home, she would go to the second hand store where she bought all

her clothes and get a nice dark-colored skirt. She immediately

amended her vow and decided instead that she would get one at

the mall.

Once these important decisions were made, she had time to

consider the fact that there was a pack of cigarettes in her

purse. Had her parents put them there? Were they secretly

condoning her actions? Had Jim done it in a moment's panic to

avoid the rest of them finding out his secret only to forget he

had done it? She looked over at Jim, who was looking at her

expecting her to produce a phone any second now. He looked

sublimely innocent of any knowledge of the item in her purse.

She looked at her parents, also looking at her expecting a

phone. Neither of them looked in on a gag to make her look

silly. They rarely locked their doors; maybe somebody had broken

into the car. Who would break into the car and instead of

stealing something, add something instead? Maybe the potential

thief had been interrupted in the midst of his deed and somehow

placing cigarettes in her purse had been a cover. The only other

possibility was that strange night in Kentucky, there seemed to

be a lot none of them could remember and yet none of them seemed

too concerned about that.

No, she knew those cigarettes hadn't been in there earlier

that day. There had to be a rational explanation. For now, she

needed to get her phone out before her family started thinking

she was spaced out on drugs. She was a little. She'd ducked into

the bathroom after her parents had sent her and Jim off alone

and in the stall she'd taken a few hits off her last joint--just

enough to feel a buzz. That had been awhile ago, but she could

still feel her high there, lingering. She found her phone on the

bottom and dug it out, careful not to let the pack of smokes

rise to the surface. She handed it up to her father.

Bob handed the phone off to Debra who began to dial the

neighbor's number from memory. They weren't exactly friends with

the neighbors, but the neighbors had kids too and the Coopers

had exchanged contact information with them because it was the

safe thing to have more than two sets of eyes who could watch

out for the kids and the neighbors understood this. Debra

deleted and repeated several digits of the phone number until

she was sure it was correct. Bob waited until she had a strong

signal at the top of a hill and pulled off to the side of the

road. They were all too occupied to notice the car behind them

and too focused to look at it as it drove by very fast and

disappeared around the next bend. They, of course, couldn't have

seen it then pull off onto a side road and wait like a policeman

in a speed trap.

Debra listened to the phone ring several times and almost

hung up when finally she heard a voice on the other end.

"Kim, thank God."

"No, no, everything's fine with the kids. Look, we took an

impromptu mini-vacation and we completely forgot about our dog,

Girl."

"Yes. That's the one. Look, can I ask you a huge favor? He

should still be chained up in the backyard; could you maybe

check on him and give him some food--just until we get back? I

would pay you back with interest if you could."

"Oh! Ok, that'd be great."

"Mmmhmmm."

"Ok."

"That's fine! Why don't I call you back later so we can

discuss that? Thank you so much, you are a godsend."

With that, Debra hung up the phone.

"Everything's fine, she'll feed him until we get back, no

big deal."

Everyone breathed a sigh of relief. What no one could hear,

on the other end of the line, was Kim telling Debra that she was

near the rear window of their house and could check on the dog

now. No one else subsequently heard Kim tell Debra, in a worried

tone of voice, that their dog appeared to be gone. No one could

see Debra's thoughts as she pleasantly ended the phone call at

that point. If they could have, they would have seen her turn

from worry to horror. She had let her children down and now the

dog was gone and probably either dead, taken in by another

family, or captured by animal control. Since they weren't there,

they would have no way of reclaiming Girl and she would be the

property of another family or resident of the humane society's

incinerator by the time they got back. No one could also know

how quickly Debra's urge to protect her children kicked in,

allowing her to think all these things with no one having access

to her immediate expressions and tones of voice had any inkling

of--except maybe Bob, but only because they'd been married for

however-many years.

Debra held the phone in their hand, wishing she could

somehow signal to Bob to stop somewhere and take the kids away

so she could call Kim back and try to find out some more

details. But she couldn't, not without making the kids

suspicious, so she sat in her seat, holding onto her daughter's

phone and staring out the window as if everything were right

with the world.

It was easier to fake peace-of-mind when Bob asked her

again where the next campground was. She pulled out her map,

located their approximate position and told him where to turn.

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