In Your Father's Name

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

Part 4


Cool, nighttime mountain air gradually replaced the muggy air in the locked van. The days spent as a prisoner in the railcar were torturous but at least he’d been able to move around the closed in space. The daily visit of his keeper broke the monotony of the days. But now, strapped to the seat and unable to stand, JD figured he’d eventually go insane sitting here watching a world go by, good people, totally ignorant of his plight, and him prisoned just feet away from their normal lives and routines. The man left him here, left him here to die a slow and tortuous death. He wasn’t coming back. He wasn’t coming back to let him go.

Looking towards Vin’s apartment building, JD sighed. Lights glowed in a few of the apartments where the inhabitants hadn’t yet retired to their soft beds. Was one of those lights shining in Vin’s apartment? He stared at the light he thought was Vin’s bathroom, willing his thoughts to reach his friend. But he knew in his heart, the message would never be received. He was going to die in this van, alone, hungry and thirsty. Eventually, someone would find his bones and wonder to whom they belonged. Vin would be distressed and filled with guilt for not finding him earlier, like he should have known. And Buck…, Buck would be devastated. JD hadn’t asked for this treatment; he hadn’t committed any crime. That man that took him even admitted AD Travis wasn’t the judge he wanted to destroy. In the end, it would be Buck, Vin, Chris and the others that would suffer the madman’s revenge.

Seeing the light go off, the light he thought was Vin’s, JD felt himself die a little more. He doubted he’d be able to endure another day, roasting in the vehicle without water. Maybe it would be easier to let go, to quit fighting to survive, and just fade away. No tears ran down his face, he was too dehydrated to cry. His tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth, but his mind refused to shut down. He knew Buck would continue to search for him; Vin wouldn’t defeat himself and be a quitter. He could almost hear Nathan continue to coach him in ways to survive and Josiah guiding him towards his faith. Ezra would tell him to work the con, cheat death. If he died, he’d have failed Mr. Larabee, his hero and now his friend. How could he die and let down the most important six people in his life? ‘Well, guys,’ he said to himself. ‘I’m not quitting but I’m not going anywhere, either. It’s up to you to find me. Just wish you’d hurry up about it!’


Tanner tried to watch the late news but couldn’t unwind. Something tugged at his mind, like an unvoiced request. For the third time since walking Rosie home and entering his place, he walked to his bathroom and looked down on the neighborhood. Everything seemed normal. No mysterious characters slinked through the darkness; yet something was not quite right. His eyes kept drifting back to the disorderly collection of abandoned vehicles and Rosie’s parting words: The guy had long, dark hair and a brown van. The kidnapper, who up to this point, acted intelligently; he wouldn’t be so stupid as to leave his victim right in this neighborhood. Or was that such a mindless scheme? The FBI was searching Kansas and points south and east. Had the man outsmarted them all bringing JD back to Denver, the last place they’d expect to look for the kid?

Knowing he was making a foolish decision, Vin grabbed his cell phone and trotted down the steps to his Jeep. The cliché said, ‘if something seemed to good to be true, it usually wasn’t’, taunted his brain but his gut kept telling him he would find answers tonight. He removed the large Eveready lantern from the locked storage bin in the back of his vehicle before crossing the street toward the junkyard.

Years earlier, the corner was the location of a used car lot with an owner who genuinely liked his customers, offering good money for vehicles and dealing fairly with potential buyers but when that owner died, the salesmen drifted onto bigger lots with more commissions and the place fell into disrepair. Other proprietors tried to operate repair and body shops at the busy corner, which resulted in more dismantled cars, trucks and junk vehicles littering the lot. The abandoned eyesore overgrew with weeds and became a magnet for the seedier side of the neighborhood.

Vin shined the beam around the crowded lot. Cars sat with open hoods; broken windshields and busted windows, the target of vandals. He strode down the rows, searching for anything that didn’t belong. Wishing he’d started searching while still daylight, he continued. None of the vehicles sported license plates; most plates ‘borrowed’ for use on other plundered vehicles. He stopped in the middle of the yard, trying to think like young Rosalietta. What path through the maze of Detroit’s pride and joy did she take?

How would the responsible residents of Purgatorio ever be able to clean up this mess? He squeezed between a delivery truck with Wonder Bread painted on the side and an old Dodge Charger, decorated with garish advertising and plenty of dents, to search the row closest to the trees that separated the junkyard from the rest of neighborhood. He almost missed the reflected light of a license plate. Bingo. He rubbed the dirt from the plate. Kansas!

Approaching the vehicle his heart raced. Was this the same brown van from the airport surveillance video? Squeezing into the narrow gap between the vehicle and a burgundy Ranchero, he aimed the powerful beam into the interior. A familiar head of black hair covered his friend’s face. “JD. JD, you alright?” Tanner yelled.

The body didn’t move. Finding the door locked didn’t surprise Vin. He immediately called 911 and explained the situation but he wasn’t about to wait patiently for the rescue vehicles to arrive. What could he use to break the windows and get to his friend?

The assortment of automobile parts offered plenty of choices. He grabbed a solid tie rod and swung it forcefully at the rear door. The van lurched but the glass refused to shatter. A second and third swing gave the same results. He tried the driver’s side door and windshield but none broke. Who would put bulletproof glass in an old van unless they needed protection from the authorities? Listening for the wail of the local police’s siren, he tried again and again, worried that with all the noise inside the van, JD hadn’t moved.

“Drop it, mister!” ordered a voice in the darkness.

Vin dropped the useless hunk of metal, and stealthily reached for his gun.

“You’re making an awful lot of racket, bothering the good folks in the neighborhood, trying to get some sleep. Care to explain?” the voice continued.

”There’s a man trapped inside this van. I’ve called the police and I’m trying to find a way to get him out.” Tanner’s voice spat back, his temper barely restrained at the intrusion to the mission at hand.

Footsteps crunched broken glass and gravel as Vin searched through the shadows for the source of the voice. “No wonder you’re beating them windows. Laminated?” The owner of the voice stepped into the open area, lit by the full moon, shining his flashlight into the van. “Is that you, Tanner? From across the street?”

“Moses? Listen, that’s my friend in there. He was kidnapped days ago and some bastard decided to leave him here to die. I got get him out of there, now!” Vin returned his gun to its holster; glad he hadn’t fired at the well known, older man. Moses Smithson walked the streets of Purgatorio, watching out for youngsters and running off troublemakers, the unofficial law of the community.

“You and I both know DPD will take their own sweet time moseying over toward our fine corner of this city. How about I round up some help? Some of them boys that know more about dissecting one of these machines than they do about behaving themselves. Be right back.”

Vin aimed the light into the van and worried about the kid’s hunched appearance. He pounded on the window again and was rewarded with a small movement of JD’s head. The kid was alive! Vin grabbed his cell phone and pushed the number one button. “Come on, Larabee. Pick up!” he mumbled. “Chris, get Buck and the others. I got him. I got JD and as soon as we can get him out, we’ll take him to Denver General…still a bunch of metal and glass between us but I’m not letting him out of my sight till I know he’s alright…yeah, he’s alive but he ain’t too responsive at the moment. Got some fellows comin’ to help get him out. No, don’t need more folks getting upset. We’ll meet you at the hospital. Go to Buck. By the time you get him, we should be there.”

Lights danced through the shadows and several footsteps and voices signaled the approach of group of men.

“Moses said you need a vehicle opened. We brought the can opener.” One of the men lifted a gas-powered chopsaw into the air; others focused their flashlights on the brown van.

“Tanner, these boys will have your friend out before the police decide to show themselves,” Moses offered.
The sound of metal ripping echoed through the night air and a crowd of the locals drifted toward the commotion in the junkyard. Neighbors gathered in small groups near the opening, awaken by the loud motors and the seeing the beams of light bobbing in between the vehicles.

Soon the strangers removed the back doors and frames in a neat slice when sirens added to the atmosphere.
“ Hey, mister! We weren’t never here,” one of the men wielding the saw demanded before melting into the darkness. By the time the cruisers parked outside the gates, most of the crowd dissipated. Word would spread about the fate of Tanner’s friend even though no one wanted to be caught in the vicinity of the police.

Officers Dirksen and Shambers, DPD, approached the one man holding a flashlight. “Got a report of trouble. Care to tell us what’s going on?” Dirksen asked while Shambers shone his flashlight into the gaping hole in the back of the brown van.

Vin demanded. “What’s the ETA of the ambulance?” The ATF agent unlocked the side door from the inside and knelt inside the van beside JD trying to release him from the uncooperative belts. “Damn, what’s holding you in here, kid?” He looked at the police officer and scowled, “Get that light out of my eyes. I’m Agent Tanner, ATF, and this man is another agent, He needed medical attention yesterday. I’m the one who called you almost an hour ago. You’d better be an EMP cause I’m holding personally responsible for his survival!”

The young officer bristled at the accusation, but before he could say something inappropriate, the more experienced officer joined him. “Should be here in five minutes. What should I tell them enroute?”

After updating the patrolmen on JD’s condition, the three men worked to free him from the restraints. Dirksen’s key released the cuffs locking the right ankle but neither knew how to remove the strong flexible bands that held JD’s arms tight to his waist.

“Who cut the back off this van?” Officer Dirksen asked. “We could use the saw. Never seen these restraints before. Shambers, get the chain cutters out of the trunk. Let’s see if they can cut this stuff.”

The younger officer trotted back to the cruiser while the older man approached Moses. “Think you might be able to round up some muscle; maybe rustle up some of the sleeping beauties that live around here. Help us push the van back in to the driveway. It’d give the medics more room to work on that fellow. Take too long to wait for a wrecker to get here.”

“See what I can do, sir.” Moses handed Vin’s light to the policeman and headed toward Vin’s building.

“JD, can you hear me?” Standing hunched over, Vin held a bottle of water to the parched lips of his young friend. “Come on, kid. You can do this.”

As the water touched JD’s lips, his dehydrated body greedily accepted the moisture and the suffering man responded to the ministrations, but not with the response Vin expected. Fearing the kidnapper had returned, Dunne refused any more water and struggled against his bonds. His free legs kicked out with a strength unexpected from someone who seconds before had been unresponsive; one catching Vin in the shin and the other kicking the flashlight from the policeman’s hand.

“Get away. Let me go. I’m not the right man. Let me go!” Dunne mumbled, still struggling to escape the madman who made him a prisoner.

Surprised by JD’s strength, Vin struck his head on the roof and fell back into the driver’s seat. Ignoring his injuries, he grabbed the water bottle before the rest of the water spilled onto the floor. He positioned himself to the trapped man’s side. “JD, it’s Vin. You’re safe. You’re safe. We’re going to get you loose; get you out of here. Shush. You’re ok. That’s it. Look at me, now, JD. You’re safe. Here, drink some more water.” He held the bottle on JD’s lips, waiting for him to accept the water.

“Vin? Is it really you? Vin?”

“Yep, kid; I’m here. We’re working on getting you out of that seat.”

“You, you gotta warn him. Gotta warn him,” JD gasped, trying to get the words out.

“Warn who? Who did this?” Officer Dirksen asked, leaning against the door opening but away from the young man’s bare foot.

JD jerked at the sound of the unknown voice, panic written plainly on his face. His breathing rate increased as fear raced through his body.

“Whoa, there, JD. Take it easy. Come on now; nice slow breathes. That’s it. Take a deep breath, nice and slow.” Vin repeated the calming litany, many of the phrases similar to what he’d used on a frightened animal.

“Travis, got to warn Travis. He wants to hurt Steven, Travis’ boy Steven.” JD closed his eyes, and he continued. “He thought I was Travis’ son, took me by mistake.” His whole body shook with fear before he passed out.

Not wanting to argue, Vin replied. “I’ll tell him. Will let him know what you said.” Ezra was right. There was a connection between the cryptic messages sent to Travis and JD’s disappearance.

“Need me to call someone?” the policeman reached for his microphone.

“No. Director Travis is already aware of the situation.”

The young officer returned about the same time a group of men joined Vin by the van. “Need some help, Officer?” one of the men offered.

Brute force pushed the JD’s prison back toward the open area of the lot and the police chain loppers sliced through the belt retaining him to the seat. The ambulance arrived. After a few minutes the unconscious man was loaded onto the gurney to be moved toward the rescue vehicle. One EMT assessed the victim’s condition while his partner began the process to strap JD to the gurney. Vin stayed by his side, not wanting to let his friend out of his sight.

“No, NO!” JD leaped to his feet, escaping the restraints and hitting Vin in the nose with his cast. “Let me go!” He scrambled away, his bare feet unaware of the glass shards cutting into his soles. The men circled around the terrified agent, ready to capture him. The policemen danced on the balls of their feet ready to tackle him. No one wanted to hurt the agent further.

“Stop,” Vin yelled. “All you, stop, you’re scaring him worse. JD, it’s all right; nobody here to hurt you. Just gonna to take ya ta the hospital.” He wiped the blood away from his mouth, spitting more on the ground.

His friend’s eyes grew wide while his body shook, petrified in fear. Breathing rapidly, JD searched for an escape route. He couldn’t see anyone with all of the lights blinding his eyes. Dehydration affected his thinking, blocking Vin’s familiar voice.

“No. Not tying me up again. No,” he said as his legs folded, dumping him unceremoniously onto the ground. The police and EMT’s rushed the down agent and grabbed him, wanting to secure him before he regained consciousness again.

“You’d better come with us, mister,” one EMT said to Vin, handing him a gauze pad to staunch the blood flow from his swollen nose as they loaded the gurney into the ambulance.

The ride to the hospital was amazingly short but the sight of the familiar campus did little to calm the building tension in Vin’s heart. He’d felt the tremors running through JD’s body and saw the young man open his eyes, fully aware of the restraints bonding him to the stretcher. As if a balloon deflated after being stuck with a fine needle, JD seemed to give up, quit the fight he needed to champion. His eyes closed in defeat, almost willing himself to stop breathing. Was death the only way to escape the nightmare continuing to seize him?

Vin grabbed JD’s arm and shook him. “No you don’t. No one runs out on Chris Larabee. No one. And I won’t let you be the first. You fight, dammit, JD. You fight. I promise you, that monster that done this to you, won’t get you again,” The Texan screamed at his young friend.

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

Carol P 2006