The Simsville Inheritance
Copyright ©2006 Elizabeth G. Cox. All rights reserved.

Chapter 25 - Speechless

When the call came in, Jones was nearly speechless. He had decided to head back to the house, get Smith caught up to date and see what Avery was up to, then maybe take a shower. He knew he wasn't going to get much rest for the next twenty-four hours, but a change of clothes and some of Smith's cooking - no offense to the saloon - and he'd certainly feel better. Physically, anyway.

The town meeting had to be called together for tomorrow, which meant a bunch of telephone calls tonight. Only the heads of families would be notified, about fifty people. He, Smith and Green would split the list and start up the phone tree by six o'clock that evening. Each name on their list had a group of five other families to notify in cases of critical emergencies, and this sure qualified if anything did. The message would be brief and to the point: a critical emergency town meeting has been called for six o'clock tomorrow evening. The word "critical" would do the trick. Everyone would know not to ask any questions about the reason for it tonight, just be at the meeting hall tomorrow at six.

By eight o'clock the people that could be reached would have had a call. Those out of reach would be tried several times before the message was left on an answering machine. It was a workable system for their small numbers, but it meant the evening would be pretty much shot for Jones.

He found Avery and Smith sitting across from each other at the kitchen table, quiet but looking on edge. From the empty mugs in front of them he guessed they had been batting ideas around and finally ran out of coffee to sip and things to say. Looking up with a question on her face, Smith pushed up from her chair. "Any news?"

Before Jones could reply "Not really," the house phone rang. With a tired sigh, he sat in the chair Smith had just vacated, picked up her empty coffee mug and waggled it towards her before reaching for the phone. Suddenly he sat up straight, his tiredness disappearing as he held the receiver to his ear.

"Alice? Are you okay?" Avery quickly got to her feet, came around the table and stood elbow to elbow with Smith behind Jones' shoulder. Both tried to edge close enough to hear what he was hearing.

"You sure? Okay, come here to the house. I'll let folks know." He hung up the phone, then turned to face the women. "They're both all right, thank God. They got loose from wherever they were being kept and walked through some woods to a farm house. The farmer's giving them a ride and they're not too far out, about eight or nine miles. That's all I know for now. We'd better call the other guys."

A quick call to the saloon found most of the other Council members still huddled up in the back room. Jones explained the situation to Green in a few short sentences. Since they didn't know who or how many kidnappers they were dealing with, he suggested they disperse casually from the saloon as if simply going home to their individual houses. Then after a few minutes they'd regroup there at the house.

Shaking her head as if she didn't know what to think next, Smith put on another pot of coffee while Avery began rummaging in the refrigerator for sandwich makings and snack foods. The Council members hadn't long finished lunch but Alice and Jack were sure to be hungry.

"Jones, you're sure they're not hurt? Do we need to call EMS, a doctor or somebody?" Somebody like the state cops, Avery added in her mind. She still hadn't made the call to her office in Richmond, not sure how to relate these events to her boss. Or how to make the request she wanted to make, in an official sort of capacity.

"Alice said they're okay, just mad. Mostly at themselves. Snookered by a kid, she said. The rest of the story'll have to wait till they get here." He glanced at the kitchen wall clock, now showing nearly four o'clock. Asa and Jeffrey had left the saloon when he did. Picking the phone back up he dialed Asa's cell number from memory. It would be better to get them back there to the house along with everyone else, no use them getting the news late and second-hand. The barn could wait until daylight.

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Chapter 13 | Chapter 14 | Chapter 15 | Chapter 16 | Chapter 17 | Chapter 18 | Chapter 19 | Chapter 20 | Chapter 21 | Chapter 22 | Chapter 23 | Chapter 24 |