I had the milk carton in my pocket, I pushed it in front of her face.
“This is what you are talking about?”
“She was your babysitter, yes. She wanted a baby, couldn’t have one, so she tried to take you. It took months to get you back, then we came here. Changed everything, our names, I dyed my hair. They never caught her, but we always figured she was looking. Knew she could show up any day. I’m sorry.”
She closed her eyes and rested her neck further back onto the pillow.
“Is there anyone I can talk to about this?”
“I’m so tired. Too tired for this.”
“No, no, no, no,” I pleaded as she fell asleep.
I locked myself into my parents’ home and ignored two calls and three text messages from Debra. I wasn’t sure who to believe. I obviously trusted the mother who raised me, but I couldn’t argue with the newspaper clipping Debra had shown me. Debra had also pointed out numerous discrepancies in my life which fit perfectly with what she was telling me happened.
Yet, I was chilled to the bone with what my mother told me in that room. There was an uncontrollable fear now burning inside me. There were plenty of reasons to be suspicious of Debra as well and my body still had that sixth sense of a connection to the woman who raised me.
I jumped when my phone buzzed in my pocket. I had a voicemail. Assumedly from Debra.
I looked at my phone and was surprised to see I had just missed a call from another 828 area code number, not Debra’s.
I dialed in my voicemail as fast as I could and heard a hard knock upon the front door just as my voicemail system started talking into my ear. I ran up the stairs to the second story of the house with the phone stuck my ear, waiting for it to start the message.
There was another pounding on the door in the near distance as the message started up with a nearly ancient, groggy voice crackling through my phone speakers.
“Hi there John, this is Vern McDonald from The Citizen-Times in Asheville. Sondra passed on your message, your request, to me a few weeks ago, but it took a long time for me to get to it. I move a little bit slower than the kids they have here now and I only work a couple days a week, so I apologize for the delay, but I have some stuff about your case I think actually raises more questions than it answers actually and it doesn’t make the ol Citizen-Times look too good. So basically, the story that you saw was mostly incorrect. Things were different back then and what happened is this kid went missing and no one could really get the real story until this lady, Debra, gave us a call and said that she was a single mother and someone kidnapped her son, Jeff Clancy, and she was looking for him. She claimed, he was abducted by her babysitter, Susan, who was obsessed with him, and her family and she ran off somewhere with him. Well, back in those days, you kind of just went with what the what you had and we ran the god dang story that way.”
I could still hear the pounding on the door when I slipped into my parents’ room. I then heard the shattering of glass when I opened their closet and pushed a trap door to the side that concealed their secret gun room. I had already cleared all the guns out of there, but the room was almost impossible to detect if you didn’t know it was there. This thought made me feel a little bit better when I heard footsteps trudge up the stairs outside of the bedroom door.