Krista Heiser Final Draft Longer Short Story
Hannah tossed her coat and other winter accessories onto the rose-colored Queen Anne chair near the door before reaching down to ruffle Abigail’s golden fur. The dog
pranced around her feet, following her through the apartment’s east facing living room. Slipping her blouse
free of the black skirt she wore, she spotted the flashing red light of the answering machine. “Please don’t delete this message. This is Angela
Adams, Phillip Adams’ wife.” The two names together invoked an image of a petite, dark-haired woman and her burly, somewhat unkempt, husband. “I really need to talk to you, Mrs. Sinclair. know. It’s important. More important than you
Please call me at..”
Hannah hit the delete button, cutting off the other woman’s desperate voice. The first e-mail from Angela
Adams had arrived almost a month ago in Hannah’s inbox. When she hadn’t responded to the message, letters and postcards had appeared in her mailbox a few weeks later. Eventually she had stopped reading them. Yet, listening to
Krista Heiser Final Draft Longer Short Story the pleading and begging on the answering machine did what the other messages had not, they weakened Hannah’s resolve. Years of experience warned her to keep a healthy distance from the wives and other family members of the pedophiles she helped the FBI find and prosecute. In those
rare instances when she had been asked to appear in court, she had been subjected to both physical and verbal abuse. Not that all of the begging, pleading, and threatening had happened in court. Angela Adams wasn’t the first Wives,
family member who had ever tried to contact her.
girlfriends, and even a few mothers had tried to make her recant her testimony. She had been able to ignore the
bribes, but the threats had been enough to make her take certain safety precautions, like getting an unlisted number and adopting Abigail, a golden retriever she had saved from the pound. Somehow Angela Adams had unearthed her private listing, though. What Hannah found truly curious, though, was the fact that Angela hadn’t contacted her during the early days of her husband’s arrest and consequent imprisonment. The man
had already served three years, which is why his wife’s recent correspondence made little sense in Hannah’s mind. 2
Krista Heiser Final Draft Longer Short Story “Looks like we’re going to have to get our number changed again, girl,” Hannah said to Abigail. She’d call the phone company in the morning. As she made her way to
her bedroom, she wondered how the woman had been able to leave her a voicemail message. Surely no one she worked
with would have given out her number and her family kept it more closely guarded than Hannah herself did. Trying to push the Adamses from her mind, Hannah changed her clothes. When she finished she glanced over at
Abigail, who sat in the doorway with her leash in her mouth, her golden brown eyes intent on Hannah’s face. She ruffled the dog’s hair as she snapped the lead in place. “You’ve been trapped in here all day, haven’t you?
Poor baby. Let’s go for a walk.” Ten minutes later Hannah led her fifty-five pound companion out of the building and across Morningside Drive. The wide cement steps leading down into the park were covered in a light dusting of snow that Abigail didn’t seem to notice. Chilled despite layers of winter apparel, Hannah urged the dog to hurry about her business. As Abigail’s nose
worked through the thin accumulation of snow at the sidewalk’s edge, Hannah scanned the park. Few people had 3
Krista Heiser Final Draft Longer Short Story braved the cold. the landscape. Trees, benches, and statuary dominated Beyond the park’s perimeter she could see
the glow of Manhattan’s skyline. “Hurry up, girl,” she said, shivering. Abigail looked up at Hannah, seemed to weigh the seriousness of the command, and began wandering again. Hannah didn’t want to venture any further into the park, not in ten degree weather. She pulled on the dog’s leash
and forced Abigail to circle back toward the stairs they had descended. A woman, bundled in a winter coat, hat and gloves, stood on the bottom step. As Hannah drew nearer, the
woman’s features took on shape and recognition set in. Angela Adams had found her, whether by accident or design Hannah could only speculate. Heart racing, Hannah pulled Abigail to a stop. She
held Angela’s gaze, trying to determine the woman’s state of mind. She didn’t glare at Hannah or make any She simply stood on the bottom step,
the light from the park lamp glinting off her hair, waiting for Hannah to approach. Hoping she read the woman right, Hannah took a step forward. “Angela?” 4
Krista Heiser Final Draft Longer Short Story “Hello.” Hannah knew from the months she had spent gathering information on Phillip Adams that he and his family lived about an hour and a half by subway from Manhattan. Chances
were slim that Angela had just happened upon her. “What are you doing here?” “I’m sorry, but I really need to talk to you. e-mailing you and sending letters, but you never responded.” Angela’s gaunt face and haunted eyes revealed a lifetime’s worth of worry and sorrow. “I didn’t know what else to do.” Although she didn’t break eye contact with Angela, Hannah could see Abigail sniffing the woman’s legs. dog’s tail had slowed its happy swing, but otherwise Abigail seemed at ease, something Hannah put great stock in. “Please, if you can just give me ten minutes of your time,” Angela said. “I’m sorry, but I can’t,” Hannah said. She stepped The I tried
around the woman and guided Abigail up the cement steps they had descended earlier. Angela hurried after her. “Please. Phillip’s being
released next month and I have to know the truth.” 5
Krista Heiser Final Draft Longer Short Story Hannah thought the evidence she had helped compile on Phillip’s online alter-ego would have convinced the woman of her husband’s guilt. Apparently not. “He says he didn’t do it.
Angela kept pace with her.
That he only took the plea bargain to prevent our family any more embarrassment.” Hannah pressed her lips together and kept walking. She guided Abigail, who seemed unconcerned by the strange woman’s persistence, to the crosswalk. The light had
turned, trapping them on the sidewalk with Angela. Cars hurried through the intersection, the street lights reflecting off their windows. Hannah met the woman’s eyes for the briefest of moments. lips. She bit back the caustic words that sprang to her
Finally, she said, “I have nothing left to say on
the matter. Please, leave me alone.” Angela plunged ahead. “I want to believe him. have daughters, Mrs. Sinclair. But I
And while I want to think I
can trust Phillip around my girls, there’s a small part of me that wonders. father. And I hate that! He’s my husband. Their
Yet, because of you, I just don’t know.
Is there That
any way, any way at all, that he didn’t do it?
Phillip really was in the wrong place at the wrong time?” 6
Krista Heiser Final Draft Longer Short Story Hannah let the woman ramble. She pressed her lips
together and kept her gaze trained on the crosswalk signal, willing it to change. steady flow of traffic. conversation. She’d even settle for a break in the She didn’t want to have this
She didn’t trust herself to be sympathetic In fact, knowing the woman had children
who she might knowingly place in danger infuriated Hannah. Across the street the little white man appeared in the box, spurring Hannah into motion. “Please.” The woman’s voice broke and Hannah knew without looking Angela had started to cry. Hannah knew she should just keep walking and not encourage the woman’s unwanted attention, but her reaction to the desolate cry defied common sense. She turned and The dog
retraced her steps, pulling Abigail in her wake. caught up to her at the curb.
Tears shimmered in Angela’s eyes and tracked down her cheeks. The damp trails infuriated Hannah. “I can’t help you because he did it. at the wrong time. Wake up. He wasn’t in the wrong place
And he didn’t take the plea to save you
from embarrassment; he took the plea because the alternative was worse.” 7
Krista Heiser Final Draft Longer Short Story Abigail’s body had stiffened with Hannah’s first terse word. In a protective move, she positioned her furry body
between the two women and issued a low growl of warning in Angela’s direction. Angela took a step back and cast a nervous glance down at the dog. She held her hands up in a universal gesture
meant to ward off attack. Hannah forced Abigail to heel. dog to protect her from this woman. She didn’t need her The only danger Angela
Adams posed right now was to herself and her daughters. “And let me tell you one last thing,” Hannah said, lowering her voice and narrowing her eyes. “If he hasn’t
touched your daughters yet, there’s a very high probability that he will. Do a little research for God’s sake.”
Angela shook her head, denial and horror etched across her features. “He’s never touched my girls. asked them.” “For their sake, I hope you’re right,” Hannah said as she turned away from Angela. conversation. “Wait!” Hannah kept walking. With every step she cursed She was done with this Never. I
herself for saying anything at all because she could see 8
Krista Heiser Final Draft Longer Short Story now that it would only encourage Angela to keep reaching out. If only she could have held onto her temper. Abigail kept turning to growl over her shoulder, stopping every few feet to take a stand. Hannah had to
pull on her leash several times in order to get her across the street before the signal changed. Angela darted after her, nearly being clipped by a car in the process, the blaring horn and muffled curses of the driver damning her for her foolishness. “If you don’t stop following me, I’m calling the police,” Hannah said. “If you’ll give me ten – fifteen – minutes, you’ll never hear from me again. I promise.”
Hannah thought of the e-mails, the letters and postcards. machine. She thought of the voicemail on her answering She could spare a few minutes of her time if it
meant she’d never hear from Angela Adams again. “Fine. Ten minutes.” Angela’s mouth fell open in surprise, but she quickly recovered. “I need to know why you thought he wanted to
have sex with..with the child you were pretending to be. What proof do you have?”
Krista Heiser Final Draft Longer Short Story Hannah took a deep breath, hoping it would help her maintain a smidgeon of calm. “You read the transcripts of
our chats, didn’t you?” Angela shook her head and Hannah felt her mouth fall open this time. “Why not?”
“I never got a chance to read them.” “Your husband’s attorney would have had copies.” Angela shrugged, but the casual motion did not reach her shadowed eyes. “I never saw them.” Not at first. Then, in a
Hannah didn’t understand.
flash of insight, she realized Phillip Adams had likely invoked client-attorney privilege. The attorney wouldn’t
have told Angela anything without Phillip’s express permission and, since the case had never gone to trial, she wouldn’t have had an opportunity to see or hear anything in the courtroom. Angela’s uncertainty took on new significance. Hannah glanced toward her apartment. of every case on her hard drive. She kept copies
She could print a copy of
the transcripts and the damning photographic images he had sent her. “Why don’t you meet me at the coffee shop on Do you know where
115th and Broadway in about an hour? that’s at?”
Krista Heiser Final Draft Longer Short Story When Angela shook her head, Hannah gave her directions and promised to follow after she had taken care of Abigail and printed off what evidence she still had in her possession. It wouldn’t be a complete copy of what the
Feds had used against Phillip Adams, but it would be everything Hannah had contributed to the case, which was substantial. Thirty-five minutes later, Hannah grabbed the copies off the printer and left Abigail whining at the door of her apartment. She tucked the thick manila envelope under her
arm as she exited the building and started walking. She paused only when the coffee shop – the one she had sent Angela Adams to - came into view. She gripped the
envelope in both hands as she stared at the famous logo and warm, welcoming lights. What would the agents she worked with say about her handing over evidence like this? hadn’t considered their reaction. She felt in her pocket for her cell phone. call Agent Delessio and ask. She could She
She could get their opinion
on what she was about to do. What if they advised her against it? What if they told her to go home and to let
Angela Adams deal with her husband on her own?
Krista Heiser Final Draft Longer Short Story She pulled the cell phone out and flipped it open. She never should have agreed to this. thinking? As she navigated through a rather impressive list of contacts, a teenager stepped out of a nearby apartment building. Hannah tried to stop, but she couldn’t prevent As their eyes met, Hannah’s throat What had she been
bumping into the girl.
tightened and her pulse raced. The girl could have been Emily. The brown curls at Her skin the same
her temple and neck had the same bounce. peaches and cream complexion. gray-green Hannah remembered.
Even her eyes were the same
Faced with the living ghost of her lost niece, Hannah tried to reason with her heart while her mind raced. Emily hadn’t been killed. kidnapped. “Sorry,” the girl muttered, stepping around Hannah. Of course, it wasn’t Emily. Couldn’t be. Emily had Maybe
Maybe she had run away, or been
been killed by some stranger in a cheap hotel room. The memory of those awful months had driven Hannah online. She had wanted to understand what had happened to It hadn’t taken her long to realize how
vulnerable her fourteen-year-old niece had been in the 12
Krista Heiser Final Draft Longer Short Story shark-infested waters of the online chatrooms. Deciding to
pose as a teenager in order to draw out the pedophiles in the room had been the turning point. It had been the first
step in her journey to assisting the FBI. Hannah closed her eyes. Emily in a long time. She hadn’t thought about
Taking the reminder as a sign of
what she was meant to do, she closed her phone and moved to the crosswalk. Standing on the corner of 115th and Broadway, Hannah thought of Angela Adams’ daughters. Would their father Would the fear
turn his perverted attention to them now?
of being re-incarcerated lead him to their bedroom instead of some gullible child online? Angela sat at the table nearest the door, a large cup gripped in her hands. back of her chair. Hannah sat down opposite the other woman. the envelope on the table between them. “I didn’t think you’d come,” Angela said. trembled as she reached for the envelope. “I almost changed my mind,” Hannah admitted. Angela pulled out the contents of the envelope. moaned low in her throat like a wounded animal as she 13 She Her fingers She placed She had draped her coat over the
Krista Heiser Final Draft Longer Short Story looked at the three photographs Hannah had included. shot featured a rather unique birthmark. Angela covered her mouth as if to smother her reaction, but Hannah knew by the look in her eye that Angela had never seen the photos before now. Uncomfortable in the face of the woman’s distress, Hannah glanced over at the menu hanging behind the counter. “I think I’ll give you some privacy.” She left Angela alone with the pictures and the other printouts. Coffee cup in hand, she browsed the shelves Coffee cups, travel Each
full of holiday-themed merchandize.
mugs, bags, and CDs vied for her attention, but Angela’s defeated form drew Hannah’s eye again and again. At a loss for anything else to do, Hannah grabbed a stranded paper from a nearby table and settled down to read the latest headlines. The words blurred. She glanced over
the top of the paper towards Angela and discovered the woman had started reading the chat room transcripts. The
photographs had been turned face-down on the small table. Sometime later – how much Hannah could only guess Angela put the transcripts down. In a gesture of complete
and utter defeat, Angela bent over until her forehead rested against the tabletop. Her shoulders shook. Her 14
Krista Heiser Final Draft Longer Short Story back heaved and trembled as the sobs became more pronounced. Leaving her coffee cup and the borrowed paper behind, Hannah hurried across the short distance. She sat down and
reached out with both hands to grasp Angela’s pale fingers. “I’m sorry.” Angela grasped at Hannah, holding tight to her fingers. volume. “Shhh.” Hannah glanced over the woman’s bent head and met the curious stares of the other customers. She felt She squeezed and squeezed, the sobs gaining
heat climb into her cheeks. “It’s going to be alright.” Angela shook her head from side to side. When she
finally found the courage to face Hannah, a red mark marred her otherwise pale forehead. dampened her lashes. Tears streaked down her face,
“No..it’s not.” Instead, she
Hannah had expected to feel triumphant. felt miserable.
She didn’t have to ask whether or not The sorrow and
Angela believed in her husband anymore.
shame shadowing Angela’s eyes told Hannah the truth had penetrated layers of love and dedication. betrayal lay in its wake. An ugly scar of
Krista Heiser Final Draft Longer Short Story “I wanted..you..” Gasping breaths made the words difficult to understand. “..to be..wrong. I wanted..” “I know.”
Hannah could imagine what Angela had hoped. Angela pressed her lips together.
She took a deep, She
shuddering breath and straightened her shoulders. gently tugged her hands free of Hannah’s hold.
seconds, she concentrated on regaining a measure of selfcontrol. “What am I supposed to tell my daughters? My parents?” My
brothers and sisters?
“It’s his shame, not yours.” Angela’s laugh mocked Hannah’s logic. monster.” Hannah felt herself floundering. She wanted to Her “I married a
alleviate the woman’s pain, but she didn’t know how.
own loss interfered with the compassion she wanted to show. “You didn’t know.” Angela closed her eyes and bit into her bottom lip. She wiped at her face and reached for a napkin to blow her nose. “What does it say about me? who..who..” “This isn’t your fault,” Hannah said. “He’s sick.” That I married someone
Krista Heiser Final Draft Longer Short Story Angela’s gaze flickered to the photographs and the transcript. After a moment’s consideration, she nodded. Don’t want to believe it.”
“I still can’t believe it. “But you do.” “Yeah, I do.”
Hannah took a deep breath.
She had thought for a
second there that Angela would turn a blind eye to everything she had just seen and read. “I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Angela said, staring out the window. She seemed almost to be talking to
herself instead of Hannah. “I don’t know where we’re going to go. How I’m going to be able to support us.” “You mentioned parents and brothers and sisters. Someone will take you and the girls in, help you get back on your feet.” Hannah couldn’t bear the thought of Angela taking Phillip back into her life. Angela held her gaze for a long moment. Catholic. “We’re
My family doesn’t believe in divorce.” “I’m sure
“Surely they’d understand,” Hannah pressed.
they wouldn’t want to risk your daughters any more than you do.” Angela wiped her nose. “No, they wouldn’t. my girls.” 17 They love
Krista Heiser Final Draft Longer Short Story Hannah glanced down at the evidence spread out between them. She had been intent on taking it back to the
apartment with her, but she wondered now if Angela would need it to convince her family of Phillip’s darker side. She gathered the papers together, stuffed them and the photographs back into the manila envelope, and then handed everything over to Angela. “Take these. They might help.”
Angela hesitated for a moment but finally took the package. Hannah stood then and wished Angela well. She left
the young woman with the proof she hadn’t really wanted and walked out into the cold, wintery night.