Janet Hansen hurriedly gathered up the faculty documents and put them into her briefcase. She slipped on her overcoat and grabbed up her car keys. It was growing dark rapidly. She didn't want to be left at the school all alone. Those dark, empty corridors could be quite creepy sometimes, especially this time of year. Halloween was only a couple of weeks away.
A young woman of thirty, she was slim and pretty, with an oval-shaped face. She always wore knee-length dresses and skirts. She kept her light brown hair pinned securely atop her head. For five years now, she had been teaching fifth grade at the local elementary school in Owensboro, Kentucky. Sometimes she felt a perfect fit for the job. Other times, she didn't feel smarter than a fifth grader, as the popular television show indicated.
After checking to make sure she had everything, Janet walked over to the door. She stepped out into the hallway and shut the door quietly, making her way towards the exit. All she needed to do was turn a couple of corners, and she'd be outside. The trick was getting past all the spooky decorations of witches, ghosts and other ghoulish designs lining the facility.
She noticed with a quick glance around that everyone else was already gone. Drat! She knew staying late to finish grading those tests was a bad idea. She should've taken them home with her, as she planned to do.
The school didn't seem the same anymore. It used to be considered a safe haven, but that changed a few weeks ago. A fellow teacher and personal friend of Janet's, Alice Perkins, was sexually assaulted while at home in bed. The police believed she was followed home after class by the offender. Since then, none of the female faculty members wanted to be alone in the school after dusk.
To make matters worse, it appeared thirty-four-year-old Alice had been attacked by the same man who terrorized other women in the town. The problem was, she wouldn't discuss the incident in detail with anyone. All she'd say was a masked man snuck into her house and forced her to have sex with him.
The guilty culprit was known as the Midnight Bandit. He broke into homes in the middle of the night and raped vulnerable females. The perpetrator had a specific modus operandi and was profiled as being a 'gentleman' rapist, the least violent of four types that existed.
The victims all said he brought a small knife to the scene. He told them to cooperate and no harm would come to them. He spoke in a soft voice and wore a bandit-style mask around his eyes, was in his mid-thirties. He sported a beard and mustache, had a medium build, was of average height and had short dark brown hair.
The women he raped described him as being polite. He handled them gently during the commission of the crime. There was no verbal or physical abuse involved. They reported he had a unique style. He performed foreplay on his victims, and then made them do likewise.
After that, he forced sexual intercourse upon them. They indicated he was compensatory and apologetic for attacking them. He asked for their forgiveness afterwards and ironically, offered them safety tips on protecting themselves from intruders.
Lee Bowers, a friendly detective who was handling the case, cautioned female teachers to stay in an area where other people were. He warned them not to be wandering around after hours. Just in case the masked intruder was lurking about the premises, waiting to follow one of them home.
With this in mind, Janet hastily made her way around the first turn, and then continued along the corridor. The thoughts she was having were causing her to feel jittery. She felt the sensation of being watched. Her pulse quickened; her breathing increased.
She suddenly heard a couple of scraping noises from somewhere behind her. At that moment, the lights went out and Janet shrieked in terror. She made a beeline towards the exit, running as fast as she could. When she rounded the final corner, she collided with a dark human form.
She screamed as her briefcase landed on the floor with a thud. The other person reached out to grasp her, but Janet wrenched herself away and tore off down the hall. The dark shapes formed by the decorations loomed at her; taunting with mockery at her fear. She'd helped put up the cardboard and paper designs. Now they were seemingly turning on her. She didn't stop running until she finally approached the exit.
She pulled and pushed frantically at the release bar across the double doors, but they wouldn't open. She heard footsteps heading in her direction. She panicked, kicking at the doors and tugging with all her might, yet they still wouldn't budge. The sound of shoes on polished floors drew nearer with each steady step.
Janet felt trapped inside of the building with no escape. There was nowhere to run and no time to get away now. She felt tears forming in her eyes as she resigned herself to her imminent fate. It must be the gentleman rapist, the so-called Midnight Bandit. He'd apparently come for her.
She caught a glimpse of the other person in the blackness surrounding her. Desperately, she gripped hold of the bar again, to no avail. It was then she realized the chain was wrapped around the door handles and securely locked. Dear God! She was hemmed up inside the school with a sexual predator.
Turning to regard her would-be attacker, she tried to speak. It took her a moment to find her voice, due to her horror at what she felt was to come. "Please, don't d-do this," she stammered.
Suddenly, the lights came back on, flooding the school with their brightness. Janet winced as her eyes adjusted to the change. She felt grateful for the restored visual, at least. As soon as she saw who was standing before her, she almost collapsed with relief. It was only the school janitor, Dennis Pittman, whom she had a personal interest in.
He was a ruggedly handsome man, around thirty-five, a quiet person. He had dark brown hair, wore a beard, and was of average height. His muscular build turned the occasional teachers' head. In ordinary circumstances, she would go out with him in a heartbeat.
She released a pent-up breath and a small sigh escaped her lips. "Dennis, it's you. Oh, thank heavens! I heard a noise, the power went out and then I heard footsteps. I thought- well, never mind. I couldn't get these doors to open," she related, raking a shaky hand through her hair.
Dennis peered at her kindly and flashed a warm, understanding smile. "I'm terribly sorry, Janet. I owe you an apology. I didn't realize you were still here. I figured everyone already went home, so I locked the place up tight. The fuse box is acting crazy today. I was on my way to repair it when we bumped into each other in the hallway."
"So that was you I ran into back there. Whew! It gave me such a fright. I imagined it was- uh, anyway. I sure am glad the lights came on again," she told him.
"I'm sure you are, ma'am. Here, I picked up your briefcase for you. If there was anything else, I couldn't find it in the dark," he said shyly. He glanced away as he handed it to her.
She reached out gratefully and replied, "Thank you so much, Dennis. You're a real lifesaver. I wish I'd known it was you. I wouldn't have been so nervous. Well, anyway, I need to get home. Would you mind letting me out?"
He nodded kindly and fished a set of keys out of his hip pocket. "Sure thing. I'd be glad to."
After he unlocked the chain, he pushed one of the doors open for her. As she stepped outside into the fresh evening air, he laid a hand on her back.
Janet jumped a little, surprised by the unexpected gesture. She regarded him questioningly, wondering what he wanted.
"Would you like me to walk you to your car? You shouldn't be out there all by yourself at night. You never know who might be lurking around, especially so close to Halloween," he informed her. Concern marred his brow.
She nearly melted right on the spot. How flattering to know he cared about her! "Yes, please. I'd appreciate that, if you wouldn't mind." She dreaded the idea of making the long trek out to her vehicle alone in the darkness. Especially after the scare she'd just had.
The two of them made small talk as they traversed the distance from the school exit to her parked automobile. Dennis waited patiently until she unlocked her car and was safely buckled up inside of it. He went to close her door, but leaned in first to say goodnight.
"You have a nice night and drive safely now, Janet. Be careful and make sure you check for signs of the Midnight Bandit when you get home, considering what's going on lately. A beautiful woman like you is bound to have a secret admirer," he told her. His dark eyes held hers briefly. His expression and thoughts were unreadable. But, she thought she saw a glimpse of passion within his brown depths.
Janet offered him a weak smile, glad to be heading for the shelter and safety of her home at last. "I'll be careful. Thank you for your help. Goodnight."
"You watch out for yourself. It would be a shame if that Gentleman Rapist got hold of such a sweet, little lady," Dennis lamented. He grinned pleasantly, watching her intently as he shut the door.
Janet shivered and tried to stifle the feeling of dread that came upon her. His words made the reality all too clear once again. The fact was, somewhere out there a bully with a prick was amongst them. And whoever he might be, he undoubtedly waited to strike again.
On the drive to her house, she recalled what Detective Bowers said about the offender. He was most likely a loner, shy and insecure around attractive females. The guy was pegged as a blue collar worker, who had trouble maintaining relationships with women. This was due to his feelings of insecurity and inadequacy. Supposedly the reason he committed sexual assaults stemmed from the need to assert his manhood.
The perpetrator hadn't killed anyone so far. It seemed he took what he wanted and left, including a piece of jewelry or a pair of panties. Profilers intimated he used them as trophies and souvenirs, to reminisce over his crimes.
Janet wished she could speak with Alice Perkins, her friend who'd recently been attacked by the rapist. But, the woman refused to talk to anyone, since filing a report with the police station. She'd simply gone into hiding since the night she was violated.
Alice was the seventh victim in Owensboro, though cops indicated there were similar incidents in neighboring cities. Janet would like to find out more details from her about what exactly occurred on the night in question. She thought the insight might help to better protect other women. Having knowledge was power. Using gleaned wisdom always proved to be useful in most cases.
Since the attacks began in her town, Janet took it upon herself to research everything she could on the subject of rape. She learned that rape was not about sex, as most people assumed. It wasn't just some guy who was horny and couldn't get laid, so he chose to force his sexual advances on women. Rape was about power and control; making someone else do what one wanted, plain and simple.
She discovered there were not one, but four different types of rapists. Each of them possessed individual tactics and styles. Getting the information out to women might help prevent assaults from happening. That was precisely the goal in her mind, when she started putting together an awareness booklet. She planned to distribute copies of it at the rape crisis center, where she did volunteer work sometimes.
Fortunately, she'd never suffered through such a nightmare before herself. She shuddered and switched on the heater, in an attempt to fight off the chill that suddenly invaded her.
A couple of days later, Janet left the school at a reasonable hour. She abandoned the occasional habit of staying late to do her paperwork. She intended to drop by and visit a friend of hers, Millicent McNeil. The teacher recently resigned from her position. This decision immediately followed the attack perpetrated against her best friend, Alice.
Millicent offered no explanation for why she abruptly turned in her resignation. The speculation seemed to be she'd grown tired of her job. For some reason, something didn't feel quite right about that theory to Janet.
She knew Millicent wasn't a quitter. The idea that she'd simply stop teaching out of the blue made no sense. The thirty-nine-year-old woman loved her job and enjoyed the children she taught. She wouldn't have ended her employment with the school like that. After all, she'd been a schoolteacher for over ten years.
Janet felt determined to find out what was behind the choice her friend made. It appeared too closely intertwined with the timing of Alice's rape to be a mere coincidence. Not to mention the fact that the formerly devoted teacher moved out of her house and was staying temporarily in a motel room. Only a select few friends and her family knew where she was.
Something was certainly up and Janet meant to find out the truth tonight. The woman appeared to be afraid of something or someone. Whatever or whoever it may be, Millicent could confide in her. They'd been friends for several years and shared many personal things with one another. This situation would be no exception.
Since Millicent and Alice were best friends, maybe Janet could find out where Alice had gone. She was certain the woman held valuable information to help other women avoid a similar fate. If only she could be persuaded to divulge what she knew, the assailant might finally be caught.
When Janet pulled into the parking lot of the motel, she reviewed all she'd gleaned from her online research about the four types of sexual offenders. She sat there for a moment, reading a page she printed off. She began with the least brutal of the bunch, working her way mentally towards the deadliest one.
The predator stalking her town was one of two offenders classified as a Power Rapist, listed under the Power Reassurance category. Known as the Gentleman Rapist, his goal is not to harm or kill the victim. He seeks to prove himself as a man through sexual assault. Usually a blue-collar worker, passive and non-athletic, with low self-esteem.
Has trouble developing relationships with women. Lives or works near victim, preselects her by peeking and stalking her. Breaks into home in early morning hours and awakens target. Uses minimal force, may bring weapon but not use it. Fantasizes victim is his wife or lover and engages in foreplay, before actual assault.
The second Power Rapist was listed under the Power Assertive category. Known as the Date Rapist, he is the athletic, macho type. Usually employs drugs or aggression tactics to get his way. He doesn't normally have specific target in mind, but looks for an opportunity to get female alone.
Plan of action involves taking a victim out on a date, and then forcing himself on her if she refuses his advances. Sometimes drugs victim into helpless submission. Feels a sense of sexual entitlement. Sometimes exploits female by videotaping assault. Goal is not to kill, but will call names, brandish weapon and slap or punch if necessary. May pose as a policeman or repairman.
The third perpetrator was one of two attackers classified as an Anger Rapist. Placed in the Anger Retaliatory category, he feels animosity towards women. His goal is to punish and degrade them. Typically abuses alcohol or drugs and is filled with misplaced anger.
Vents rage upon female victims by spontaneously brutalizing her into submission. Doesn't select specific target, but seeks opportunity to commit rape. Grabs from behind and drags into the bushes. Doesn't plan to kill, but beating inflicted by this individual could be fatal.
The second Anger Rapist was placed under the Anger Excitation category. Considered a sadist and the most dangerous of the four rapists. He derives pleasure from torturing and inflicting pain upon the victim. Usually intends to kill target, in order to prevent identification or to gratify a psychosexual need.
Typically charming and intelligent when luring victim into his trap. Female may or may not be a stranger. A white collar professional and criminally sophisticated. Premeditates crime, rehearsing it methodically in mind before committing it. Will tie, gag, blindfold and torture over period of days. Records crimes in diary, takes photographs or videotapes them.
Janet knew all the facts about these individuals. She also remembered the tips she received from the websites. They suggested not being out alone in the dark, if possible. It was best to avoid strangers, no matter how friendly or harmless they might seem to be.
Keep car doors locked and car windows rolled up when driving alone. If at home, check to make sure all windows and doors are securely locked. Leave a porch light on during the night.
If meeting someone new, meet them at a safe, neutral place, such as a restaurant. Make sure you choose a place where other people will be, while you are on your date.
If you end up alone with him and something doesn't feel right, act like you are sick or need to use the restroom. Call a friend in front of him to casually mention who you're with and where you are. Do anything necessary to get to a populated area, so he won't have you off to himself.
One idea Janet found of particular interest was how to respond in the event of being placed in a trunk. The article said to kick out one of the taillights and wave a hand or foot through the opening. Perhaps someone would see it and call for help.
The experts instructed a woman to try to get away from the rapist, if she could. But, if unable to break free of him, she should try to talk her way out of it. If that didn't work and he became increasingly violent, she should submit to his demands.
This would hopefully minimize the level of harm inflicted. She might survive the horrible incident, if she complied with the assailant's wishes. Ultimately, the obvious goal for a victim was to make it out alive.
Janet had to admit the last three rapists scared the daylights out of her. She'd hate to meet up with any of them. How could they brutalize and violate a woman, with no regard to her feelings.
She'd heard some women indulged in so-called rape fantasies. Those usually involved being taken forcefully, from what Janet understood. Well, she couldn't imagine how anyone enjoyed daydreaming about something so vicious. She certainly didn't want to be treated roughly by some animal with an erection.
Millicent paced around her hotel room as Janet sat sipping coffee at a small table. The former teacher wrung her hands together and glanced around nervously. "Are you sure no one followed you here?" she asked, for the third time.
Janet stared at her friend curiously. She'd only been there fifteen minutes and already she could tell that something was disturbing her. "I'm positive. Nobody was behind me," she stated emphatically, not for the first time.
Millicent continued walking back and forth on the worn green carpet. The room consisted of a table, a bed and a nightstand. There was a television, which was quietly playing and a bathroom off to the side. As the newscaster began to discuss the recent victim of the Midnight Bandit, their friend Alice, Millicent jumped. She appeared startled, stopping to gaze at the screen as if in a trance.
Janet rose from where she was sitting to stand beside the other woman. She placed an arm around her shoulders. "What's wrong, Millicent? You seem worried about something."
"Nothing is wrong. I'm fine," she insisted. The tremble in her voice belied what she was saying. Quite obviously, she needed to relax.
"Why don't you come over here and sit down for a while? Take a load off," Janet suggested. She steered her friend over to a chair across the table from hers. Reluctantly, the frazzled woman took a seat.
Janet poured a cup of coffee and placed it before her. Then she reclaimed her own seat. She contemplated how to approach the situation for a moment, deciding to take the plunge. "Please, tell me what is going on. I'm very concerned about you. You quit your teaching job out of the blue. No one knows why. You left your home to stay at this rundown motel. Now, you're running around like a weasel in a chicken house. Something has you scared, doesn't it? What is it?"
Millicent peered around the room, refusing to meet her friend's eyes. She ran her hands over her face and rubbed her eyes sleepily. Then she raked her fingers shakily through her thick mane of blonde hair. "I don't want to talk about it, Janet. I simply can't."
"Well, why not? You know you can trust me with anything. I won't say a word to anyone. Whatever it is, you can share it with me."
"I do trust you. It's just too painful to stir all of those memories up again, after all this time. It was so long ago. Yet it's still almost like it was yesterday." She took a couple of sips of her coffee and sat it back down.
Janet reached out to grasp her hands. She held them gently, imploring Millicent to meet her eyes. "What are you referring to? What happened a long time ago?" she wondered.
The slightly older woman briefly locked gazes with her, before focusing on some point above Janet's head. "I know I'm behaving irrationally to others. But, I'm so frightened. I can hardly eat or sleep. I live in fear every day that he's coming for me," she confessed. "That's why I won't stay at my house. I'm hiding out, just like Alice."
"Has she told you where she's staying? Have you heard from her since her assault?"
"Yes, she's called my cell phone a few times. But, she won't say where she's at. She's too afraid he will find her and attack her again. He told her he'd be back, when he finished with her that night."
"My goodness, she should've told the police what he said! I didn't realize he threatened to return again. No wonder she willingly disappeared. I feel so bad for her. If you hear from her anymore, please ask her to call me. I really want to speak with her. Will you do that, Millicent?"
She nodded affirmatively. "Yes, I'll tell her, if she calls me. But, I'm not sure if I'll hear from her anymore."
"Thank you. Now, back to you. Why do you think someone's after you? Who are you talking about?"
"The Midnight Bandit," she whispered, as if terrified to say it out loud. "Don't you see? I had to hide because he was stalking me. I was to become his next victim, after Alice."
Janet sat up straight in her chair. An uneasy feeling came over her. "Why do you think that?" she questioned, wary of the answer.
"He left a couple of notes on my front door at the house, telling me I was next. He included a single red rose with each note. It was signed, 'Secret Admirer'. That was all the proof I needed. I hauled my tail out of there so fast, after the second one. I drove in circles in case I was followed. Then I drove way out here to throw him off track. I can only pray it worked. I haven't heard from him since."
"What makes you so sure he's the same man who hurt Alice?" Janet inquired.
"Because he did the very same thing to her, a few days before he raped her. She told me and I believe it has to be the same one."
"She should've told the police about that. Maybe they would've been able to stop him."
"She only told me about the gifts. She didn't take it seriously. It seemed like one, big joke. She kind of felt flattered at the idea of having a secret admirer."
"Why didn't you show them what he left for you? They could've helped you."
"That takes time and I didn't have it. He would've gotten me, before they caught him. That was two weeks ago and he still hasn't been arrested. I would've been assaulted by now, had I stayed there."
"You could go to them now. I can give you the name of a nice detective. You remember the one who spoke with us after Alice's attack, Lee Bowers? He will help you."
"I recall the investigator you're referring to. He did seem caring. But no, I can't. I'm not coming out in the open, until that rapist is apprehended. I'm already fearful every day of him showing up here to finish what he started. I guess he had to find another victim, in my place. Dear God, how I feel for her, if he gets her instead of me. But, I just couldn't stay at my house anymore, not until I'm sure it's safe. And it won't be until he's behind bars."
"I understand. I'm sorry for what has happened to our friend, Alice. I wish you didn't have to go through this," Janet empathized.
Millicent shivered, wrapping her arms tightly around herself. "It isn't the first time. I just can't deal with this again. This can't happen to me a second time."
"What do you mean by that? What has occurred before?"
Sighing wearily, Millicent looked down at the wooden table. She drank more coffee and then began a journey into her past. "I've never told you or Alice about this before. Thirty years ago, I was kidnapped from my home and sexually assaulted by my aunt's friend. I was only nine years old."
Her hands started to tremble, so she carefully set her mug down. Her eyes grew moist, but she wiped her eyes and sniffled quietly.
"My gosh! I had no idea that happened to you. I'm sorry," Janet mumbled. She felt shocked by her friend's admission. "If you don't feel like talking about it, I understand. If you do, I'm here to listen."
"I need to get it off my chest. I must! I haven't discussed the incident in many years. With all that's taking place with this rapist these days, it's a knot of tension building inside me."
Janet nodded sympathetically. "You can tell me, Millicent. I won't share with anyone what you have to say. It'll only be between us."
"Okay, thank you. Well, they call this Midnight Bandit a gentleman rapist. The nineteen year old boy who raped me was the same type of assailant. My aunt wouldn't go to the races with him that day. He ended up visiting me and my mother. She was a single parent and it was her birthday. The boy, Dean, brought his uncle with him. They stayed for a while then left. He came back later to help celebrate mom's special day."
She paused for a while to gather her thoughts, before continuing. "We gave him the grand tour of the small house, including a spare room with a broken window. He casually asked if anyone could come in through it, if they wanted to. Without giving it much thought, mother said they probably could."
"Geez! He was planning it in advance wasn't he?"
"Yes, it appears so. Anyway, I went on to bed, while he sat in the living room with mom. Soon after, I fell asleep. The next thing I knew, I woke up in a moving car. I glanced over at the driver, but couldn't see them. I was still in my nightgown and I didn't have my glasses on. I just assumed there was some emergency mom was rushing to. Shortly thereafter, the car came to a stop in a secluded spot on a dirt road. It was then I realized I wasn't with my mother. It was Dean instead."
Millicent shivered, glancing warily about the room. It was almost as if she expected some bad guy to materialize from the woodwork.
"What happened then?" Janet wondered. She wrapped cold hands around her warm mug and brought it to her lips. She felt uncomfortable to say the least.
"Dean just sat there for a while talking to me. He wasn't making much sense. I think he might've been on drugs. He kept saying Cuz was going to beat me up. I didn't who he meant. Then he suggested we get out of the car. When we did, I saw a blanket spread out upon the ground, waiting for us."
"He must've premeditated the assault and placed it there before he brought you."
"I guess so. Something began to feel not quite right about the situation. I sensed he was up to no good. He wanted to get into his back seat, which we did. The way he kept talking and touching me made me nervous. So, I told him I had to use the bathroom. He let me get back out."
Janet sat her coffee cup on the table and reached for her friend's clammy hands. "What did you do?"
"I peed very quickly and then I started running, just as he got out of the car. He chased after me. I tried to escape, but Dean was too fast for me. He caught up to me, grabbed me from behind and made me get in the backseat again. Once we were inside, he started touching me all over. He ripped at my panties, until he got them off me."
Millicent's lips trembled and tears trickled down her face. She brushed them away. "He didn't beat me up or call me names. He didn't force me to do anything to him. He put his head in between my legs and held me firmly, so I couldn't move away, while he performed oral. I didn't know what he was doing to me at the time. I felt nothing at all. I was so scared he was going to hurt me. And he did, when he got up and began to penetrate me; to rape me. It was the worst pain I ever felt in my life. It was like I was being ripped apart. I begged him to stop. He kept saying he would in a little while. I was so relieved when it was finally over."
Her shoulders shook convulsively as she buried her face in her hands. For a moment, she seemed inconsolable.
Janet rose from her chair to stand at Millicent's side. She gathered the poor, distraught woman gently into her arms and held her close. "I'm so sorry, sweetie. It's okay. You're safe now. He won't hurt you again," she soothed. She noticed tears rolling across her own cheeks.
Later, after both women regained their composure, the conversation resumed. "How did you manage to get out of that situation?"
"He led me up the dirt road to two trailers across the road. I went to one of them and the lady there knew my grandmother. She drove me to her house. My grandma called my mother, who'd awakened to find me missing and had the police searching for me. They all came over and I rode to emergency room on my mom's lap, in the back of a patrol car."
"How long were you in the hospital?"
"About two weeks. The doctor had to sew me back together down there. I lost a great deal of blood as a result of the sexual assault."
"Did that awful creep go to jail for what he did to you?"
"Yes, he went to prison for several years. When he was released, he faded into the scenery. I wouldn't know him if I saw him, it was so long ago."
"Does anyone know why he chose you as his victim?"
"Some say it was because he had a crush on my aunt. She wouldn't go out with him. They say he did it for revenge against her. He hurt her by hurting someone she loved, that was me."
Janet winced and shook her head in disgust. "He was a real sicko."
"Yeah, it turns out I wasn't his intended victim. He originally planned to rape his niece, who was only four or five years old. He couldn't get her alone, so he selected me as his substitute target."
"Dear heavens! What a horrible maniac!"
"I just thank God I survived; that Dean didn't kill me. So many kids and women who are assaulted never live to tell about it. I was one of the lucky ones. I'll always be grateful to the Lord for saving my life that night. He spared me from a cruel fate."
"I'm so glad you made it through that night," Janet agreed. A sudden thought popped into her head. "Say, you don't think your attacker and this gentleman rapist could be the same person, do you?"
"No, I don't. Dean was nineteen when he hurt me, which would make him forty-nine now. The intruder police are looking for is in his mid-thirties. There's too much of an age difference."
"Well, whoever he is, he'll be apprehended at some point," Janet anticipated.
"I hope so. Then women of this town will be able to feel safe again."
"You know, speaking of safety, I got quite a scare the other night when I left the school. It got dark on me and when I was walking to the exit, the lights went out. I bumped into someone in the hallway, and then ran like a madwoman. But, I couldn't get out. Somebody walked up and I thought it was the rapist. The lights came back on. It was only Dennis Pittman, the janitor. He said the fuse box was acting up. He was nice enough to walk me outside to my car."
Millicent frowned. "Hmm, that's odd. The exact same thing happened to me right after Alice was attacked. I quit shortly after that, when I started receiving those gifts on my doorstep. Talk about coincidences. That's too weird."
The next evening, Janet arrived home after a long day of teaching, followed by grocery shopping. She was very tired and just wanted to put away her purchases. She longed for a warm soak in the tub with sudsy water.
So engrossed in gathering up her items was she, that she failed to notice anything at first. She grabbed the four plastic grocery bags and made her way up the porch steps. As she neared the front entrance, it only took her a moment to realize something was pinned to the door. A rose, with a note! Just like the one Millicent told her about yesterday evening.
Janet stiffened immediately and glanced around, but she didn't see anyone. She almost dropped her bags, yet managed to hold on, depositing them into a nearby chair. She took down the red rose, along with the tiny piece of paper.
As soon as she unfolded it, her eyes grew wide and her heart began to race. There were two simple words written tauntingly, ‘You’re next!' It was signed, Secret Admirer.
She gasped loudly, and then laid the items on a small table. Terror gripped her like someone had hold of the front of her dress. She tried to keep her cool. She paced back and forth across the porch, contemplating what she should do. She had to notify the police. She wouldn't keep quiet like her two friends had. She was now the target and that made her very scared. She didn't want to become another victim of this prowling rapist who was on the loose.
She fetched her cell phone and placed a call to Detective Lee Bowers. He'd been so friendly and helpful to her before, after Alice was assaulted. Perhaps he could assist her now. He was in fact the lead investigator assigned to the case. And he'd told her to phone him anytime.
One she'd spoken with him, he assured her he'd be right over. Cautiously, she proceeded into the house. Janet put away the food and searched for any signs of forced entry or burglary. There seemed to be nothing out of place. At least he hadn't come inside to invade her turf.
Thirty minutes later, Detective Bowers drove up. A police cruiser pulled in right behind him and a couple of officers stepped out. The men joined Janet on the porch. One officer put on gloves and recovered the gifts, placing them into an evidence bag. He got out a fingerprint kit and dusted the door, as well as surrounding areas for fingerprints.
Afterwards, Janet led the way into her house. The men looked around for any indication of the perp's having been in the home. Finding nothing, one officer filed a report, taking her statement. Soon, the two officers departed, leaving her to speak with the detective alone.
She invited him to sit down on her sofa and poured him a glass of tea. Settling across from him in a soft armchair, she filled him in on all she knew, regarding the case. With some reluctance, she included what Millicent told her about receiving presents as well. Of particular interest was Alice getting gifts on her doorstep shortly before her rape.
"Detective Bowers, I don't know what I'm going to do. Should I stay here? Will I be safe? Or should I hole up in some motel like Millicent. Maybe I should just disappear like Alice did."
"Please, call me Lee, Miss Hansen," the detective told her. He smiled warmly at her and flashed a concerned smile in her direction. "By the way, I really need to speak with Millicent about this case. Would you have her phone me, please?"
"Ok, sure. Why don't you call me Janet? Anyway, I'm afraid now that I know I'm his next target. I never imagined this would occur. Why did he have to pick me of all people? Will he harm me?" she wondered.
Lee regarded her seriously, as if scrutinizing her. "I believe he picked you because you're a beautiful, vibrant, young woman. All of the other women were, too. He searches for that in a victim. He doesn't seek to destroy beauty, only to admire it and partake of it."
She met his gaze and held it steadily, almost overwhelmed by the compassion and care she saw there. He was a very good-looking man, in his mid-thirties, with brown hair and deep brown eyes. She guessed him to be about six feet tall and around two hundred pounds. She could tell he found her attractive also; by the way he looked at her. If they weren't mixed up in this and she didn't like Dennis, perhaps she might be interested in the detective.
"What will I do? Nothing like this has ever happened to me before."
Clearing his throat, Lee replied, "If you choose to remain here, an officer can drive by every couple of hours. If you decide to hide out elsewhere, let me know where you'll be staying. Does that sound like a plan?"
Janet hesitated for a moment. "Yes, I think so. But, I just feel there's more I could do to get this guy off the streets, before he hurts another woman."
"What did you have in mind, Janet?" he asked gently.
"I'm not sure exactly. Maybe set a trap for him of some kind or something."
"That could be very dangerous and it might backfire, you know?"
"Yes, I realize that, Lee. But, I believe I must do what I can to help nab the bad guy. He isn't going to stop unless we stop him. More women, possibly me, may end up becoming another casualty of this guy. And if there's anything I can do, I'm willing to try it."
The detective finished his tea and sat the glass down on the coffee table. "Listen, leave the detecting to the professionals, okay?"
"All right, if you insist. I really don't want to leave my home because of this individual. So, if you can assure me I'll be safe enough, I'll stay here."
"I can't make any promises. This intruder is a slick, intelligent individual."
"I'll have to take my chances then. I'm not letting him run me off," she stated defiantly.
"Suit yourself. I'd betting be getting back to headquarters. Call if you need anything," he told her. He stood and bid her adieu, before heading out the doorway.
Janet stared after Lee as he walked off. Then she got her phone and put in a call to Millicent, informing her of all that took place that day. Her friend sounded mortified to learn of the new development. She promised to speak with Detective Bowers and tell him why she moved into a motel room.
The very next day, Janet received a phone call she wasn't expecting, but was hoping for. It was Alice and she sounded nervous, though eager to talk.
"I can't stay on here for long. I just heard from Millicent last night. She said you found a gift from the Midnight Bandit on your door. Dear Lord! He couldn't get at her, so now he's after you. Please, don't stay at your house all alone. He'll come for you, too. Just like he did me," she warned.
Janet felt a chill shoot through her at her friend's words. "I'll be careful, I promise. Don't worry about me. I'll be fine." She tried to keep her voice from quivering.
"Yeah, that's what I thought at first myself. I imagined it was a prank someone was playing on me. If I'd only called the cops and told them, maybe he'd have been caught. But, no, I waited until it was too late," Alice lamented.
"Well, I spoke with a detective, Lee Bowers. He had the door fingerprinted and the evidence bagged."
"I know, Millicent told me. I'm glad you did. Thank God you took it seriously, unlike me. I remember being questioned by Detective Bowers about my assault. He seemed nice enough. But, I just couldn't talk about it. I've sequestered myself away, because I don't want that maniac to find me. Anyway, I need you to listen to me carefully, Janet. I believe I've figured out who the rapist is. It was something you shared with Millicent when you were in her room. There's no way it could be coincidental."
"What is it, Alice? Who do you think it is?"
"I believe it's Dennis Pittman. I stayed late after class one night and the lights went out. He had to unlock the doors. The same thing happened to you and Millicent, too. It has to be him," she insisted.
After her friend clarified what she meant, Janet felt her heart sink. She really liked Dennis. The last thing she wanted to hear was that he might be the perpetrator. Even so, she extracted a promise from Alice. "Please, talk to Bowers and tell him everything you just told me. He has to hear this. It's the only way to catch the assailant red-handed."
"Okay, I will get Millicent to go with me to the police station later today. I'll answer any inquiries they may have. I won't withhold information like I did before. I was just so humiliated and embarrassed about being assaulted. I didn't want to go into the details."
"I understand. We have to let the police know everything though. Otherwise we're making their job that much harder instead of easier. We have to nab this creep or more women will be violated by him." She hesitated for a moment. "Will you tell me what he did to you?"
"The same thing he did to the other women he attacked. I'll tell you more later. Let's not discuss this over the phone. Will you meet me at the station at five o'clock?"
"Sure, of course I will. I've been hoping to see you. Thanks for sharing with me."
Once she'd hung up from Alice, she thought over all that had been said over the last few days. A great deal of information had come to light. She felt extreme disappointment at who the rapist appeared to be. Why did it have to be Dennis of all people? She shook off the letdown as a plan formed in her mind. She had an idea of how to reel in a big catch and prayed it would work.
She immediately called Bowers and let him know about the phone call from her friend. She informed him of her plans to lure the perp out of the woodwork.
Lee listened for a while, and then said, "Now Janet, don't go opening up a can of worms. What you're thinking of would be too unpredictable. Don't go getting involved in this."
"I'll be okay. I'm only going to tempt him to follow me home. Like he did when he was stalking Alice."
"And just what do you think you'll do if he takes the bait?" he queried skeptically.
"I'll whack him upside the head with a baseball bat, that's what!" she returned. "Hey, he's coming for me whether I entice him or not. I'll only be speeding matters along."
"Don't do it! I'm telling you, it's a bad idea," Lee cautioned her adamantly.
"I can handle this. Besides, I'm fairly certain I know who the Midnight Bandit is."
"Who do you believe he is?"
She explained to him what she'd learned from Alice earlier about Dennis. Her conclusions were based mostly on the similarities between what took place at the school, involving all three women.
"Yeah, it could be possible. But, you don't know that for sure. He may not be the one. What if was a coincidence?" he reasoned.
"It could be and if it is, I'll owe him an apology. Still, I have this funny feeling I'm right. I need to call him out." She paused briefly. "You know, you could have him arrested, couldn't you?"
"On what charges, the mere speculation of three frazzled females? I'm sorry, but that's not enough evidence. We'd need something to tie him to the crimes. We've collected samples of saliva and semen from the rape test kits already. We just need a perp to match them to. So far, we've turned up nothing. This guy isn't simply going to hand over his DNA for no good reason."
Janet digested this new information slowly, pondering over a solution. Suddenly, she said, "What if I was able to retrieve the samples for you? Would that work?"
Lee groaned in frustration. "And how would you do that?"
"Follow him around; wait for him to discard a Styrofoam cup or coke can. I've seen it on TV before. If that doesn't pan out, I'll try a different tactic," she offered.
"You're not thinking of sleeping with the guy, are you?" he asked doubtfully.
Janet paused before she answered. At one time, the idea of making love with Dennis excited her. Now, in light of everything, it seemed repulsive to her. "Lord, no. I hope it wouldn't come to that. Just trust me on this, all right. I'll get the DNA you require in order to prove who the bad guy is," she promised.
"Whatever you're thinking of doing, don't! Let me do the investigating. You must stay out of it. If not, you could end up getting hurt."
Janet failed to heed the warnings. Her mind was made up on the subject. She wouldn't be dissuaded from carrying out her plot to trap the intruder in his tracks. For the next few days, she stayed late after school and dressed in more provocative outfits. She meant to tease him into action.
Although frightened by the prospect of a visit from him, she was determined to see it through. She knew he planned to do this anyway. It might as well be sooner when she anticipated it, rather than later when she least expected it. This way she'd be better prepared by being proactive.
She followed Dennis around discreetly. She kept waiting for him to throw away something that contained his saliva, but he didn't. He only drank from the water fountains in the hallways. Was he being careful on purpose, just in case someone might be on to him?
Janet was aggravated by the whole situation. Why wouldn't he just make it easy on her? Obviously this ploy wasn't going to bear fruition. So, it was time to move on to plan B. All she could do now was wait for him to come to her. When he did, perhaps she could swing the ball bat at him and get a blood sample, after he got knocked out cold by the blow. The she could call the cops to come arrest him.
The only other option she had available might be to come onto him. He wasn't exactly ugly and she used to want him badly. If he accepted, she could have sex with him and obtain DNA for the police. The problem was she didn't want to resort to such extremes. If he was guilty, she certainly didn't want a man who raped women touching her.
On Friday, Halloween arrived. The fifth graders Janet taught, were excited about dressing up in costumes. They chatted incessantly about what they would wear. She listened with interest to their plan of comparing candy on Monday morning.
Once she glanced up from her desk to see Dennis. He was standing out in the hall, sweeping up some trash. Only he wasn't paying attention to his work. He was instead peering in at Janet.
His intense gaze burned right through her. She detected an unmistakable look of desire in his eyes. If only things were different, she thought regretfully, I'd pursue this sexy matter further.
When he saw her looking back at him, he quickly dropped his eyes. He returned to his task and moved further along the corridor. Janet shook the weird feeling he gave her off and refocused her attention on her students.
One boy kept jumping around like a gorilla, making ape-like noises. He also hid behind the door a few times when someone walked in. He yelled 'Boo!' loudly. One female teacher shrieked and jumped about five feet in the air. When the school principal walked in, he just glared at the young boy. He shooed him back to his seat.
Janet couldn't help but chuckle at the silly antics of her class. She usually ran a fairly tight ship. However, on holidays she let them act up a little bit. They all promised to bring her some goodies from their treat bags. She reminded them to inspect their candy and apples for razors or other dangerous objects. They told her they'd be very careful.
After class, she waited until it started to get dark. She had no plans for Halloween, so she intended to head on home. Gathering up her things, she headed out into the shadowy hallway. The lights had been working fine lately. She hoped they wouldn't fail on tonight of all nights.
Somehow she didn't feel as scared as she did that first night. But, she was still wary and leery, knowing she was all alone. The janitor was probably the only other person around. Thinking of that fact made her want to hurry up and get out of there fast. She could still remember the way he'd stared at her earlier that day. It was almost like he was a lion and she was his chosen prey.
As soon as Janet stepped out into the hallway, she nearly collided with Dennis. He was standing just outside her doorway. She darted sideways to avoid making contact with him. "Oh! What are you doing here? I was just about to leave," she remarked.
He nodded and grinned sheepishly. "Janet, I thought I'd show you to your car again. Since it's Halloween night, you can't be too careful."
She sighed impatiently, relaxing a little. "Right, I appreciate the thought, Dennis. Thank you for thinking of me."
He gave her an appraising look before asking, "Did I scare you, ma'am?"
"Yes, I guess so. But, I'll be all right. Now, can we please get going? I must hurry home."
She didn't want to be there without a weapon to defend herself, should he launch an attack. If he did try to force himself on her, she'd much rather be home on her own turf. The school seemed too much like his stomping grounds; his territory. She felt he would show up at her house soon, maybe even tonight.
Wrapping her coat tightly around her, Janet allowed him to lead the way down the hall. They made small talk as they walked along. She couldn't wait until they reached the exit. She wanted to get as far away from him as possible.
"Nice decorations ya'll got put up around here," he noticed, glancing at the walls. An assortment of fake bats, ghouls, goblins, witches, vampires, ghosts and black cats greeted them.
"Thanks. Yes, they are nice and creepy," she agreed. Just like you, she thought silently.
"I sure do hope they catch that Midnight Bandit soon. I worry about you being at home all alone at night. I like you. I mean, after Alice Perkins was raped, it gave me cause for concern."
Janet eyed him curiously. What would make him say such a thing? He almost sounded sincere. Confusion made her start walking a bit faster. She kept her mouth closed and decided not to converse with him further.
"Are you afraid of me, Janet?" he inquired. "Please, don't be. I'd never hurt you, pretty lady." He reached out a hand to touch her on the shoulder, but she pulled away. Partly because he aroused strange feelings within her; part fear and part desire. She had a crush on him. She knew he felt the same way. Why did he have to be the assailant?
As they proceeded to the exit, she noticed how Dennis kept darting his eyes over towards her. "What is it?" she asked.
"Lovely clothes you've been wearing lately, ma'am," he commented. "I like how they look on you."
She shivered and replied simply. "Thank you."
Whenever they approached the exit, Janet saw that the double doors were chained again. She rolled her eyes and glared at Dennis.
"I'm sorry, I forgot all about you being here and I locked everything up. I was about to head out when I saw your light on."
He felt inside his pocket for the keys. Then frowning, he said, "Man, I must've left them in the janitor's closet. I'll be right back. Don't worry, sweetie. You'll be safe inside the school with me. I'm not going to let anything happen to you."
If only she could believe him. Why was he being so kind and assuring her of protection? A monster that enjoyed taking sex from a woman wouldn't be like that, would he? She felt so confused, torn between the facts and her feelings for this man.
Just as he turned to go fetch the keys, the lights suddenly went out. Janet screamed and felt terror strike her heart. No! Not now! She was almost outside. Why couldn't this have waited? Was it all a part of his plan?
Dennis stood there for a moment. "Would you like to come with me or wait here?"
He seemed so nice, yet he must be the one who was committing these assaults. If not him, then who? In a way he gave her the creeps, in another way he drew her toward him like a magnet. She didn't want to be left by herself in the hall, yet she didn't want to go with him through the dark corridors either. She wasn't entirely sure whether or not he could be trusted. He was the bad guy, wasn't he?
"Uh, I think I'll stay right here until you return," she responded warily.
"Okay, I'll hurry back as quickly as I can." He trotted off, disappearing into the surrounding darkness.
She nervously watched his dark form retreating, until he was no longer in sight. She sighed heavily and stood there waiting. It seemed every nerve ending she possessed was on full alert. She had no idea what to expect now. Everything would've been simpler had she been home. But, if he chose to accost her here, what would she be able to do? Maybe she should search for some type of weapon to defend herself, if need be.
Alone she hovered, in the blackness which enveloped her. She couldn't see five feet in front of her and that made her all the more edgy. She considered making her way to the other exits to see if she could get out there. But, the idea of stumbling around didn't sound too appealing.
Soon, she began to hear faint noises, a scraping sound. It was further away at first and then it drew closer. What on earth could it be? Was Dennis attempting to find his way back to her? Being here with a potential rapist, trapped inside a building was very terrifying. Maybe she should break a window to escape. She could make amends to the school later.
Janet jumped, a bit startled when her cell phone rang suddenly. She grabbed it and flipped it open. "Hello?" she greeted.
"Hi, it's Alice. Where are you?" the woman asked.
"Uh, I'm still at the school. I'm standing by the exit doors, waiting on Dennis to fetch the keys. The lights went out again," she told her.
"Listen to me, okay? A couple of hours ago, someone broke into Millicent's hotel room and tried to attack her. She hit the guy over the head with a lamp and got away. He ran off before the cops came. She's okay now. She's here with me and my family."
"Dear Lord! How did he figure out where to find her? No one was supposed to know."
"Apparently he followed someone to her room unobserved. He must've wanted to finish what he started with her," Alice guessed. "Fortunately, his plans were foiled."
Millicent came on the line. "Janet, you need to get some place safe. Go to your parents' house, please."
"All right, I will. But, why do you say that? I'm locked in at the school."
Millicent's voice took on an urgent, panicky tone. "You've got to get out of there right now! The rapist told me he was visiting you next. I don't care what you have to do, just get to your car immediately." She broke the connection abruptly.
Janet shoved her phone in her purse and glanced around frantically. A sliver of fear shot through her at the chilling words her friend had spoken. She sprang into action. She rushed toward the closest office, intending to break the window so she could get out.
Before she could reach the office door, a dark form lunged toward her. She dodged sideways and missed them, hurrying for the doorway. If she could just make it inside, she'd be able to lock the door behind her and shut them out in the hallway.
She felt the person grab her from behind firmly and drag her in the opposite direction. "No!" she yelled. "Let go of me!"
She flailed at the individual with her arms and kicked at him with her feet, hoping to wrestle free. But the assailant gripped her even tighter, refusing to let go. "Shhh, be quiet!" the man hissed.
"Turn me loose!" she screamed at him. "Help me someone, please!" she hollered, though she knew there was probably no one else there. Nobody could hear her cries.
"Hush up!" he ordered. "I'm not going to harm you." He continued tugging her backwards towards the general direction of the teacher's lounge.
Janet knew there was a big sofa in that room. Oh, Lord! she thought. He's planning to rape me on that couch. I must figure out how to escape from him first.
She swung her fists and feet around harder, connecting with his hard body. "Quit hitting and kicking me!" he commanded.
With little effort he pushed her inside the doorway of the teachers' lounge. Then he forced her onto the large sofa and slipped some rope out of his pocket. He produced what appeared to be a small knife along with it. "Stop fighting me or I'll use this," he threatened. "You know you don't want me to do that. So obey what I say and you won't get injured. Will you behave for me?"
"Yes, I will do whatever you tell me to," she agreed, nodding her head. What other choice did she have?
He laid the knife on the table nearby. He bound her wrists together and crouched over her. He tried to kiss her but she turned her head. "You’re so beautiful. Kiss me," he whispered. He took hold of her chin and maneuvered her head to face him. He placed kisses over her lips and tried to invade her mouth with his tongue.
Janet couldn't see him very well, yet she could hear his heavy breathing and feel his bandit mask against her face. She felt sick and thought she might throw up all over him.
"I'd like to take my time with you," he told her. "But, under the circumstances, you've left me no choice. This will have to be quick."
She began to struggle again and attempted to pry loose from her wrist restraints. She slid as far back into the couch as she could go to avoid him. She whimpered in fear of what he might do to her.
The masked man slid down onto the floor in front of her and spread her overcoat apart. He gripped her legs to pull her to the edge of the sofa and pushed her dress up to her knees.
"Shhh, it's okay. I'm not going to hurt you. I won't do anything to you that hasn't already been done before," he breathed huskily.
She squirmed about and pleaded, "Please, don't do this."
He lowered his mouth to her knees and started to kiss them gently. She could feel his hot breath; his wet tongue trailing over them. He grasped her thighs and opened them, despite her best efforts to keep them closed.
Suddenly, someone else burst through the doorway to the teacher's lounge. "Hey! What do you think you're doing?" the individual shouted to the assailant. The man sounded like Dennis.
Janet glanced over toward the door, relief filling her instantly. She couldn't see anything in the dark, but she felt the man who'd been attempting to assault her back away. He jumped up hastily and charged toward the other man.
The two of them collided and Janet could heard them scuffling together at the entrance. The sound of fists hitting flesh and groans of pain were audible.
Janet shook her head to clear it and sat up, grasping her clothing. She recovered herself and smoothed her skirt out. She could hardly believe how close she'd just come to being another victim of the Midnight Bandit.
The fight beside her carried out into the hallway. She didn't know who would win and she was terrified the rapist would try to finish the job.
She was just about to call the police when she heard sirens in the distance. She remembered then that Alice and Millicent had promised to send help.
As soon as the perpetrator caught wind of the approaching officers, he broke free. His loud footsteps pounded against the floors as he fled the scene.
Janet heard glass breaking from somewhere nearby. She realized the offender was using the same escape route she'd planned to take earlier, a school window, before he'd ambushed her.
Dennis called out to her from the open doorway. "Janet, are you all right? Did he hurt you?"
"No, I'm okay. You interrupted him and he wasn't able to get very far. Thank God! Thank you, Dennis, for rescuing me," she told him.
"You're welcome. Come on, let's go let these officers in," he suggested.
Later, after the police searched the school and filed a report, they left. Janet stood waiting for Dennis to return from the basement. He'd gone to work on the fuse box.
Janet's phone rang again. She reached into her pocket to retrieve it.
She flipped the top and raised it up to her ear. "Hello?"
Alice's voice came on the line. "Hey, are you at your parents yet?" she asked.
"No, I'm still at the school. I'll be leaving here shortly."
"Well, you can relax now. There's no need to be afraid anymore. The rapist has been caught and it isn't Dennis Pittman."
"I know. Dennis is here with me.” She explained what had occurred moments before. When she’d brought Alice up to speed, she asked, “So, who is it?"
"You'll never believe it. The rapist is Detective Lee Bowers. He was caught trying to break into another woman's home about thirty minutes ago. My brother has a police scanner and we just heard the news."
"My goodness! That's shocking. Who would've ever thought it would be him? Now I know why he didn't want me involved in solving the case."
"He had us all fooled. They say he was bleeding from a mild head wound. That would be from where Millicent hit him with the lamp. He had other minor cuts and abrasions. Probably from his altercation with Dennis. I guess when he discovered where Millicent was staying, he decided to stalk her again. He must've planned to rape her and then refocus on you later," Alice supposed.
After a brief pause, she continued. "I spoke with an officer a little while ago and he said the rapes began when Bowers came to work in this town. He was probably the one in those other nearby cities, too. I'm sure DNA will point to him. No wonder they couldn't catch the guy, it was the very detective who was working on the case."
Suddenly, the power flickered back on and the hall was flooded with bright lights.
"Thanks for calling me. Listen, can I get back to you when I get home?" she requested.
"Sure, I'll catch up with you later." Alice rang off.
Dennis came walking up just then. He looked at her warmly, with compassion and concern. "Are you going to be all right?" he wondered.
She nodded. "Yes, I will be after I get past the shock of what took place here tonight. I was so afraid until you showed up in the teachers' lounge and saved me from Bowers."
Dennis approached her slowly and reached out to place a hand on her arm. She jumped a little bit, still shaken by the earlier event.
"It's okay," he soothed her. "You're safe now. No one will bother you as long as you’re with me. I can promise you that."
Glancing directly into his eyes, she asked him point-blank. "Did you rig up the fuse box so the lights would shut off on Alice, Millicent and me?"
"No, it's just a coincidence. That crumbly thing is old and rusty. The principal has ordered a whole new system to replace it. Just ask him."
She relaxed a bit at that explanation. Suddenly, she grasped his hand. "The rapist has been caught. It was Detective Bowers."
"What? Are you serious? After all those safety warnings he gave the teachers, he was the one who was attacking women?"
"Yeah, what a hypocrite. He was crafty and conniving, but he got caught up in his own web. I'll fill you in on all the details. Listen, I'm not ready to go home and be by myself just yet. Would you like to go somewhere else together? I can think of much better things to do on Halloween than hang around here. Can't you?"
"Absolutely, madam. I'd love to have the pleasure of your company for the evening. Come on! Let's go celebrate the occasion!"
They both laughed as they trotted happily down the hallway. They both got in their cars. He followed her to the nearest bar so they could enjoy the festivities. Bats flew, wolves howled and leaves fluttered to the sidewalk, signaling the bewitching hour of All Hallows Eve.
Publication Date: 10-02-2010
All Rights Reserved
Dedicated to all the victims of sexual predators.