In Your Father's Name

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Epilogue

Part 2

+7+7+7+   Present

JD struggled to open his eyes. Cool air blew into his nostrils while tightness gripped his chest. The room slowly came into focus and he sunk back into the hard pillow. Hospital; he was in a hospital. He looked around the lonely room for any of his teammates but only saw an IV pole, nightstand and an empty chair. A hacking cough erupted from his lungs sending bolts of pain into his skull. Gasping for breath between the coughs, he curled his shoulders, trying to relieve the uncontrollable reflex. The tape anchoring the IV needle into his right hand pinched when he moved it toward his mouth. Somewhere a high-pitched alarm screamed.

“Calm down, calm down.” The gentle voice and moist, soft cloth on his lips offered a lifeline away from the excruciating pain. The nurse turned his face toward hers. “You’re safe. Calm down. You’re going to be alright.”

JD opened his mouth to speak but she moved the cloth over his blue-rimmed lips. “Don’t talk. You breathed a lot of smoke at the fire. Give your lungs a chance to relax. That’s it.” She smiled at the confused young face and continued. “I’m Betty. I’ve been taking care of you. I don’t want you to speak except, well, we need to know your name.”

Fearful of triggering another attack, JD slowly opened his mouth but didn’t speak. He looked into the nurse’s face, fear evident. His gazed dropped to his lap, noticing for the first time his left wrist encased in a fiberglass cast extending from his elbow to his fingertips. Staring at his swollen fingers, the events of the last week flooded his mind. The hospital room disappeared, thrusting him back into the inky darkness. Ghostly smoke swirled around him and found its way into his lungs.

No, not again. The walls entombed him, the smoke choked his breath. No one heard his screams. No one came to help him. The screams reverberated off the walls until darkness claimed his mind.


Orin stared at the paper, willing the letters cut from a newspaper to rearrange themselves into words that made sense.

I sentenced Steven Travis yesterday, five years to life in solitary confinement. An eye for an eye and a child for a child. Now you know the pain I feel every morning when the sun rises and I know my boy will never feel its warmth. At least your boy is getting bread and water, more than mine will ever get now.

Who was this madman, claiming to hold his son, a son he’d laid to rest several years previous?


“Feel better, JD?” asked the LPN as she gently rubbed the moisturizer into the young man’s sunburned back. A muffled sound made her smile and she knew he appreciated her ministrations. “Let me help you sit up. The transport should be here shortly to take you to X-ray”.

“Buck’ll be here soon,” he whispered.

“That’s what it sounded like when he called. I’m looking forward to meet your friend. He sounds like a good man.”

“That he is.” A cough stopped the conversation.

The nurse handed him the Styrofoam cup and guided the straw to his mouth. “Just a little at a time. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked you about your friend. Give your lungs some time to heal.”

JD sighed. He hated not being able to talk. When trapped in the railroad car he had no one to talk to and now, surrounded by the helpful staff of the Dodge City medical center, he couldn’t even visit with them.

“Looks like your ride is here. If your friend shows up before you get back, I’ll be sure to tell him what a great patient you’ve been. Jenna, you take good care of JD.”

“Don’t worry, Maxine. I won’t loose him.” The young aide helped the patient into the wheelchair and held his injured wrist as the nurse positioned the pillow in JD’s lap. Releasing the chair’s brake, she grabbed the chart. “Ready? X-ray is downstairs so we’ll take the patient elevator. Hope we don’t have to wait very long. It’s supposed to be only for transporting patients but some of the staff like to use it, too, so we have to wait. The other day I needed to bring a pregnant lady up from emergency, to the maternity ward, but the elevator never showed up. Thought for sure I’d have to deliver the baby, before we made it to the birth center. But we made it in time and she had a baby boy fifteen minutes after we got there. Barely got my chair back before……”

JD tuned out the girl’s consistent chatter and the zigzagging route to the elevator. Buck would be here soon and the nightmare would end. The local sheriff’s office still hadn’t identified the mysterious dead man from the trailer. Buck and the others would find out who he was and find the creep that drugged him in the airport.

The elevator came to a stop. “End of the ride, missy.”

JD’s head snapped up at the sound of the familiar voice. The man, the man from the airport. The one that helped him into the restroom. JD turned his head searching for the voice when the young aide slumped over his shoulder. Someone pushed them both out of the car into an empty hallway.

“What do you want? What did you do to her?” The agent struggled to free himself from the girl’s weight. “Get away from me,” he whispered, unable to get his voice to work.

“Can’t do that, Steve. Do you know what we do with prisoners that escape?” The man’s gloved hand squeezed gently around JD’s neck, allowing the tiny needle to penetrate the skin. He propped the unconscious woman’s body in a corner of the vacant hallway before removing his white lab coat. “Sorry, child. Sorry I had to hurt you but you shouldn’t help him escape, again.” The man checked the adjoining hallway before removing the exam gloves. He pulled a sport coat from the small bag and slipped JD’s limp arms into the sleeves. Pushing the wheelchair through the vacant hallway, he never looked back at the abandoned pillow or aide. The wait for the visitor elevator was short and soon the two men arrived on the main floor.


JD groaned and tried to focus on the scene before him. Blinking his eyes a couple of times; the inside of the vehicle came into focus.

“Welcome back, Steve. We’ll deliver you to lock up in a few minutes.”

“Why do you keep calling me that?” JD asked, struggling to keep his head upright. “My name is JD Dunne, Agent JD Dunne, ATF.”

The older man looked into his rear-view mirror at his prisoner and huffed. “Sure tell another lie, Steve. Sins of the father means the children have to suffer. You being here is your father’s fault. He sent my son to prison, but the boy died there. I’m keeping you in exchange. He’s a cold son-of-a-gun, your daddy.”

The young agent looked at the passing countryside but nothing looked familiar. The knot in the pit of his stomach grew as the van pulled to a stop in the middle of a cottonwood grove. The burned out shell of a trailer house and a skeleton of another charred building marred one side of the driveway and an overturned, old, rusty boxcar surrounded by weeds sat on the opposite side of the gravel parking area.

JD shut his eyes, trying to stop his stomach from churning. “You’ve got the wrong person, mister. I don’t know my father, never met him,” the hoarse voice claimed.

“No, you’re lying, Steven. I saw you; I saw you with him. He had his arm around you, was so proud of you. I heard him, heard him call you son. You’re Steven, Judge O. Ryan Travis’ son, Steven Travis.”

A coughing fit, lasting several minutes prevented JD from disputing the man’s claim. Finally he quelled the tickle and said, “Orin Travis is my boss, only my boss. Everyone calls me ‘son’, except Vin. He, he calls me kid, since he ain’t much older than me.” JD gasped for air, unable to continue talking. He laid his head against the seat back fighting the darkness hovering at the edge of his vision. “A.D. Travis’s son, Steven was murdered, three or four years ago.” The nightmare still hadn’t ended. ‘Buck,’ he prayed. ‘Buck where are you? I need you. I need you.’

He watched his kidnapper hunt for something in the tall grass around the boxcar and his mental fog cleared. ‘Oh, no. That’s where I was before. That’s my prison cell. No. NO. Not again!’ He struggled against the ropes restraining him, ignoring the rough fibers cutting into his already tender skin.


“What do you mean, he ain’t here? Where is he?” Buck demanded, his face inches away from the hospital security officer. Chris and Buck raced from Denver to Dodge City as soon as they received the miracle call from JD. He was safe and nothing would stop them from bring him home. He was one of them and belonged with them.

Chris, recognizing the simmering volcano about to erupt, stepped between his colleague and the officer. “We spoke with Agent Dunne ten hours ago and the call originated from this facility.”

”Fellas, we issued a Code Purple, not minutes before you found me. One of our staff was assaulted, a young woman doing her job, escorting a patient to radiology. Now I’ve got to investigate that. Plus we got a missing patient. I don’t have time to look for your missing agent who you claim called you from here.” The man, approaching retirement, looked for any assistance he could find. Hospital security meant making sure employees didn’t park in patient lots or maybe jump-starting their cars when cold weather played havoc. Finding young women unconscious in hallways shouldn’t happen in a municipal facility like this.

“You are here for JD Dunne?” asked an older woman dressed in a comic covered smock. “Please, let’s discuss this in a conference room.” Another man, dressed in a suit stood beside the nurse and pointed toward an open doorway.

Hearing their friend’s name ended their interest in the security officer.

“What about JD? Where is he?” Buck continued his demand.


Judge Travis
Know what happens to prisoners that escape? Your boy was already in solitary confinement, getting bread and water. Now he won’t be eating for a while, all because of his dear old man – YOU!


Almo Davies discovered his love of science, beginning when he received his first chemistry kit and dreamt of a career in pharmaceuticals. Searching for medical miracles developed from the flora and fauna of the tropics, he spent most of his research isolating the chemical compound of the poison dart frog of South America. He tried to develop a gentler anesthesia from the poison extracted from the deadly frog’s skin, but the established medical community scorned his findings.

His dedication to his research left him little time or energy to spend with his two sons. Life moved from one catastrophe to another. His wife died in a freak car accident that left his oldest son a paraplegic. Forced into early retirement and a few failed business deals with other pharmaceutical researchers left him unable to pay the mounting hospital and therapy bills. Somewhere along the way, Bruce, his youngest son, developed a passion for chemistry of the illegal variety. The first meth lab cooked along side Almo’s own private research. Soon the wayward son moved onto thievery to get the raw materials, the anhydrous ammonia and shoplifting of pseudoeffedrine. The law and Judge Travis were the last straw. No longer would he meekly accept the raw deals life dealt him. Revenge and desire drove him.

With precise accuracy he planned and schemed. So far no one connected a string of random poisonings resulting in deaths throughout the Midwest. Three semi-truck drivers died from tainted coffee at a truck stop on Interstate 80 in Nebraska. One of them had been the driver involved in the accident that crippled Brian Davies, the oldest son, and killed Elnora, his wife. The other two drivers were unfortunate victims in Almo’s quest for justice. A professor in Missouri blacked out while driving to classes and broadsided a full school bus. The coroner found a small pinprick on the back of his neck but the investigators missed the twin needles imbedded in the instructor’s headrest. A few years earlier the man flunked a student, Bruce Davies, for cheating on a final exam, forcing the young man to loose a scholarship and his eligibility to play college baseball.

“Stupid fool!” the man yelled at his deceased nephew’s residence as he searched for a ladder. All Roger had to do was feed the hostage twice a day and give him a pail of water each morning. Well, the escaped prisoner would have to learn to ration the provisions he’d leave in the boxcar. Didn’t really matter; the result should be the same. The sentence of death whether slowly starving or quickly from a stabbing doesn’t matter. Dead is dead and his pain would be revenged.

The classical music radio station crackled as the announcer spoke, “The State of Kansas has issued a Missing Persons alert. A patient, John Dunne, was abducted from the Dodge City Hospital this afternoon. The victim is described as a white male, 23 years old with black hair and hazel eyes. He was last seen wearing hospital pajamas. Officials are looking for a late model Chevy Lumina, red or maroon, four-door sedan. If you have seen this vehicle or young man, you are asked to call the Kansas State Highway Patrol. Mr. Dunne is wearing a fiberglass cast on his left forearm. He is the young man discovered trapped in a old railcar following the deadly fire at an acreage fifteen miles southwest of Dodge City. Repeating the Missing Persons…”

Almo shut off the radio and stared at the silent controls before looking at his watch. No, no way they could know all that already. And they knew he’d driven the Lumina. Would the county authorities think to return to the farmstead, the place where the boy had been discovered two days ago? Without time to finalize a plan, he decided to switch vehicles and take the prisoner back to Kansas City. No one would be looking for Roger’s old brown van.

Clear hazel eyes watched him and unnerved his composure. Davies pulled a plastic bag from his pocket and removed a small syringe. JD struggled in a vain attempted to escape the man. With no gentleness, the older man grabbed JD’s head and cruelly jabbed the needle into JD’s neck, depressing the plunger as the needle sunk deeper into the young man’s body.

Ignoring his racing pulse, Davies opened the canvas bag lying beside the passenger’s seat. He’d purchased the flexible restraint at a pawnshop in Kansas City after reading a report of the deadly fire near Dodge City. All of his well-planned tactics crumbled as he went from offensive to defense.

In a short time he secured the unconscious man to the single seat in the cargo van. Neither hand would be able to move from the locked position. He pulled the right strap extra tight to stop the boy from pulling his hand loose. He used a pair of handcuffs to secure JD’s right ankle to the seat support. Davies’ mind raced.

He couldn’t remain at the burned homestead any longer. Someone might have spotted him. One mistake, one stupid huge mistake! Were they on their way now? His eyes darted back to the road. Did they have surveillance tape of the patient loading area? Was he recorded man-handling the prisoner into the sedan? Where could he dispose of the prisoner?

Almo Davies used county blacktops to move across Kansas and stopped for fuel at small, independent gas stations, paying in cash. Just enough mud smeared across the license plate, obliterated the number from the few stations that might have hidden cameras but enough of the stolen plate was visible to be legal. Thoughts swirled through his imaginative mind. Judge Travis took his son away, sent him to a prison where he’d been murdered within weeks of internment. Well he’d shown that pompous old man. Eye for an eye, son for a son.

The revengeful father looked at the young man who no longer struggled against his bonds and sighed. Steven, or, what was it that he called himself, drooped in the seat. Revenge was justifiable and sometimes, innocent people are caught, too. He stalked the older man and saw the perfect opportunity to cause extreme pain and heartache. He’d sentence the man’s only son to his own form of prison life after witnessing Travis meeting with the young agent and calling him ‘son’, sealing JD’s fate. Figuring the younger man’s different name a poor attempt at nepotism or a second marriage, Dunne became the surrogate ‘prisoner’.

Looking into the rearview mirror, Davies adjusted it to view the passenger restrained in the back seat. He couldn’t see the boy’s face because of the long bangs. Why was he still slumped in the seat? Had the drug he’d administered reacted with other drugs from the hospital already in the boy’s system? Heading east on Interstate 70 in the northern part of Kansas, he pulled into a mega-truckstop, parking the brown van between two unoccupied semi-trailers. He reached back to touch J.D.’s neck, searching for the silent pulse. Was it there? He adjusted his fingertips on the young man’s neck, pressing hard into the sweaty skin before he smiled. “Yes, can’t have you dying too soon, Steven or whatever you think your name is.”

Thirsty and needing to answer natures’ call, Almo forced himself to exit the van and check that each door was locked. He’d buy the boy a couple of bottles of water; the local meteorologist forecasted another steamy day.

A familiar face stared at him from the overhead TV screen in the tourist information area. The national news feed scrolled across the screen, though the volume was muted. The agent’s name crawled repeatedly. JD Dunne. JD Dunne. A tall, dark-haired man with a mustache pleaded into the camera. Buck Wilmington. Why was the other ATF agent the one on camera? Where was the heart-broken man that called the prisoner ‘son’? The next screen pictured a shot of the exterior of the Dodge City hospital, followed by surveillance tape of the brown van leaving the Denver International Airport flashed on the screen. No, No, NO! Davies quickly paid for the two bottles of water and the large mug of coffee and he hurried to the van, hoping no one recognized the vehicle as the same one blasting across the airways.

Feeling like he was driving a neon pink elephant rather than a plain, mud splattered brown van, he pulled back into traffic. Sweat ran down between his shoulder blades, soaking the back of the shirt. How close was the nearest exit? He needed to make a new plan. He’d planned to drive to Kansas City, Missouri and switch vehicles but might local law enforcement be looking for him? Had they identified him as the driver of the brown van? He left the quickest route to the Kansas eastern border, exiting the freeway for another narrow blacktop road.

“You taking me home? Denver’s the other way.”

The voice from the backseat scared the driver, causing him to swerve on the county blacktop. Guilt wormed its way into his mind as he slowed down, correcting the oversteering. He glanced into the mirror, surprised to see two eyes glaring back at him. “Who’s the fellow with the mustache?”

“What? Buck? You aren’t planning on hurting him too?” JD asked.

“Saw him on the news back there. Seemed awfully concerned about you. Figured your old man should have been the one pleading for your safe return.”

“Told you before. I never knew my father. Lived with my mom in Boston till she died and I joined the AFT team in Denver. Now I’ve got six big brothers, especially Buck!”

The ATF agent’s vehement denial of the elderly man being his sire stirred a need to verify Almo’s own research. He stopped the van, turned on the map light and grabbed the leather portfolio from beside the driver’s seat and withdrew several folders. He looked at the court record of his son’s sentencing. In a flourishing script, the judge signed his son’s incarceration, O. Ryan Travis. Another sheet of paper referenced the senior assistant director at the Denver Federal office of the AFT, Orin Travis.

No! He’d grabbed the wrong man’s son, the wrong judge and this wasn’t even his child.

Almo glanced back at the boy and a horrible thought struck him. He couldn’t get caught. Brian! Brian needed him. Brian needed him. The thought repeated itself over and over. He still had a son who needed him. No, Almo Davies couldn’t get caught. He slammed on the brakes and did a bootleg turn in the middle of the lonely road. He’d return the boy to the mile high city, leave the van parked someplace, someplace where the law might find him.

The law would expect him to run to anyplace but back to Denver.

Feeling Dunne’s eye penetrating the back of his head, Davies formulated his new plan. The sun hinted its presence on the eastern horizon. He knew just area to dump the vehicle and the agent. He’d blend into Denver society and disappear back east before any law could find him. Refusing to answer any of the young man’s unasked questions, he turned the rearview mirror back to its intended position. He continued to feel the innocent eyes staring at the back of his head. He couldn’t risk looking at them one more time. In a couple of hours he’d be in Denver and the mistaken ‘son’ would be ‘home’. All could be forgotten. It was all just a big misunderstanding. One huge mistake.

The sun crept over the horizon as Davies eased the vehicle into an empty spot in the junkyard. He looked around for any early risers before exiting the van. Pulling his baseball cap low over his eyes, he grabbed two of the unopened bottles of water and twisted off their caps. Still refusing to look at his passenger, he stuck the bottle between JD’s legs.

He patted the boy’s arm and said, “ In case you get thirsty before I get back.” Slamming the van door, he checked the lock. Taking one more inspection of the deserted lot, Davies squatted below the hood of the pickup parked next to his van. Keeping himself small, he duckwalked between the junked cars, trucks and vans to edge of the lot. A row of trees hid the wrecked cars from the road and offered protection from watchful eyes. Slipping past a couple of older buildings he circled around the block to blend in with the morning rush hour traffic.

He smiled to himself. By this time tomorrow he’d be the grieving uncle at his tragically departed nephew’s funeral back in Kansas. Stupid boy. Was Roger’s fault. What was he thinking cooking more meth in his trailer? All he had to do was to feed and water the prisoner twice a day. Not draw attention to himself. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.


JD leaned back against the uncomfortable seat. Barely able to reach the open bottle of water with his teeth, he’d drank most of it before realizing the mad man drugged him again. For over an hour, he’d sat motionless in the seat, more in a state of suspended time than true consciousness. The last he remembered the sun had only begun to illuminate the new day. What day was it? How many pigeons could sit on the wire? Did they care what time it was? What time was it? His mind rambled as he struggled to keep focused. Sweat ran down his face. The skin under the cast itched. Why couldn’t he scratch the itch? Questions filled his brain but no answers responded. When did the dawn turn into daytime?

Gradually the questions focused on his own situation as he relived the events of the past few days. He’d been fine on the flight back from Hawaii and only got sick after he entered the airport terminal. He remembered the few days locked in the black hole, with dried bread thrown to him, like a caged animal. The sick laugh of the man, the smoke filtering into every pinprick of a hole, the reassurance of Buck’s voice over the telephone. Did the nurse say he was in Dodge, Dodge City, Kansas? Somebody famous came from Dodge. His mind wandered as he tried to remember the name, but it eluded him. The site of a rusty boxcar near the burned ruins of some buildings flashed in his mind.

Realizing his mind was wandering again, he forced his mind to analysis the situation. He already knew he was tightly restrained. Some type of flexible bands held his arms tight. His left, cast encased wrist was tied to a belt; the right arm hung down straight. His fingers could feel the metal seat support where his one leg was secured, giving him very little wiggle room.

Morning sunlight illuminated the neighborhood. JD studied his surroundings. Several damaged and striped vehicles were visible while a row of poplar trees screened his view of the nearby street. He turned his head, trying to look out the back of the van and could only see the backside of a dilapidated garage with various car and truck parts leaning precariously against the building. Tall weeds grew between the rusting metal pieces. He was in the middle of a junkyard, an abandoned junkyard.

The sun continued its journey chasing the nighttime chill away; the dark colored van roof absorbed the solar energy. JD stared at an unopened bottle of water on the floor. Still dehydrated from the extended stay in the railroad car, he willed the bottle to roll towards his foot. Would the crazy man return or had he abandoned the van leaving JD imprisoned just like before?

Scanning the horizon one more time, his mind clearer, his view locked on a nearby building. Why did that one building seem familiar? Vin’s apartment building; Vin lived there! He could almost see his friend’s room. How many time had he looked out Vin’s bathroom window and seen this very collection of abandoned and wrecked cars and pickups? Would the Texan look out that window and see a new roof in the lot? Would he investigate? Did the team know to look for a van, this van?

Slight movement outside the window caught his attention. Somebody was there. “Hey! HELP! Call the police!”
A young girl, wearing a bright fuchsia backpack, looked at him, terror written on her face. She backed away several feet before turning and dashing away, disappearing between two of the trees.

JD slumped down in the seat, as far as the restraints allowed. She wouldn’t tell anyone; she was too scared. No one would know he was here. His gaze returned to Vin’s building. He remembered Vin complaining about the deplorable state of the neighborhood, especially this eyesore, how it attracted the bad element to the neighborhood and frightened potential businesses from the area. How he wished he shared the unspoken connection with his fellow agent like the sharpshooter did with Chris, the team lead!

By the time the sun was directly overhead, the temperature inside the vehicle felt like a sauna. JD’s dirty hair hung in stringy clumps, with some plastered to his sweaty face. The heat exhaustion made him lethargic and he felt the confusion of earlier in the morning returning. How much longer before being discovered wouldn’t matter? Closing his eyes to the bright sunlight reflecting off the neighboring truck’s window, JD slowly allowed his body to relax. He fought a building panic attack and decided sleep would be preferable to slowly roasting to death, while watching this small corner of the world spin by.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Epilogue

Carol P 2006