The late autumn air tugged at the long, whitish blonde locks on Naomi's head as she walked from the cabin. It had snowed last night - earlier than usual but at least it provided something new for the first time in ten days. She loved the feel of the fresh stuff crunching under her boots as she walked up the hill. But the temperature was rather cold - a little too much so for the light jacket she was wearing. As she had no gloves or mittens, she kept her hands jammed in the pockets.
Still, it was nice to not be told to bundle up before going outside. Her father didn't really have much in the way of rules after he had surprised her by picking her up from school that day. Naomi had been excited when he said they were going camping in a cabin up in the mountains. She couldn't wait to tell her friends but he had insisted she tell no one.
As it was, she didn't have the chance as he drove straight from school to the cabin hours away. It was late at night when they arrived and Naomi learned that he had hastily grabbed some of her belongings at random and had stuffed them in garbage bags. When she asked to call her mother (her parents divorced now for three years) to bring other items, he was evasive, vaguely promising to call later.
Still, it was fun at first - plenty of places to explore, no third grade classroom to be confined in, no bedtime. But there was also no electricity, which meant no TV. And none of her friends. She would have liked to have called some of them, but her father wouldn't let her use his cell phone. Every couple of days, he charged it in the car which was also the only time he used the vehicle - no trips away from the cabin.
While Naomi was getting bored, her father was becoming ever more tense and irritable. She overheard him on the phone last night, speaking to someone she did not know.
"No, we're still out here," he said. "Even if they knew where I was, they'd probably leave me alone with the kid along with me. She's getting on my nerves but at least she's insurance."
Naomi had lain awake that night, wondering what was really going on. This wasn't a camping trip - that much the eight year-old discerned. Her father was hiding from some people because he did something he shouldn't. Naomi was pretty sure that was why her parents had divorced - he was always getting into trouble.
Eventually, she fell asleep. When she awoke to find the new snow, her father's woes were forgotten as she excitedly bolted from the cabin to greet the early winter.
Troy eyed the target ever since she emerged from the cabin. It had been a long night's drive after he and his crew mates had "eavesdropped" on the phone conversation. The girl's father had been talking to an accomplice in what he thought was a private call the night before. However the accomplice had been quite helpful in allowing others to listen in. In Troy's professional experience, sawing fingers off of people was a wonderful way of fostering an environment of cooperation. This dirt bag had only needed two digits subtracted before he was on board with the plan.
With the location in hand, Troy had made his trip out here. The girl's father was right about one thing - no one was going to touch him while the girl was around. But he was going to have to live with the consequences. It made for a more impactful 'teachable moment'.
This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Mr Double's Palisade
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Changes last made on: Tuesday, August 22, 2017