The Hostage Taker

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Footsteps, yarns and little fibs


A youth takes a girl hostage and knows of a cave they can hole up in.

Submitted: September 27, 2017

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Submitted: September 27, 2017

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The phone rang in Henry’s office. The policeman on the other end asked him to look out for a man and child, likely to be on foot. The man had robbed a jewellery store and taken a ten year old girl as a hostage. They found his abandoned car nearby out on the main road and there’s a chance they followed the railway line but also, maybe they could have gone into some property nearby possibly looking for another vehicle. There was an off-chance they headed into the forest but without food, that was unlikely.

Henry was looking after Bert’s farm, while he was away with Edna visiting his maiden aunt, so after work he went there to feed the chooks, dogs, cats and the rest of the menagerie. The police heads-up had slipped his mind until he noticed that the gate chain was not how he left it the day before. He noticed such things, most county folk do. So he took the precaution of locking his truck and walked up the long drive. There was no cover hide his approach, except for when he ducked behind the old, clapped out tractor, he hid behind it like John Wayne taking cover. He could see no movement in the house or shed, but he waited a minute or two to be sure.

The house was locked, he knew that because Bert had given him the key ‘in case there was a water leak’, so Henry thought the thing to do would be to skirt around the house to look for broken windows. Rounding the first corner of the house – wham! He nearly stood on that bloody mad rooster! It ran off squawking like a squadron of magpies! He paused because the racket would surely have woken a whole cemetery!

There were no broken windows.  

On checking the hen house he found there were no eggs, yet daily, regular as clockwork, there were six, so he knew there had been a visitor – or a stoat! In the shed, he found Bert’s lancewood walking stick, so he took it to use as a waddy in case he had to whack the guy around the head. The hairs on his neck quivered when a fat rat scarpered from a sack of wheat but otherwise he found no life in the shed that was unusual.

Two hours later, at home, Henry noticed a wisp of smoke in the forest and immediately knew there was a campfire at the cave just below Nat Stevens’ old homestead! He guessed it was probably the jewel robber but was more concerned about the fire and the drought-created tinder-dry conditions up there. He paused briefly thinking about phoning the police or picking up his light rifle. He did neither, but took his own length of lancewood and drove up there in his car because it would be quieter than the old, rickety truck.

Stopping at a point where there was a shortcut of perhaps four hundred metres leading to a public walking track, Henry headed down towards the cave familiar to him. The cave has historical importance and he had guided many a school group to it. He crept cautiously over a ledge of the sandstone, above the cave and there he saw a young man loading small sticks onto the fire. The little girl stood by the fire trying to warm her hands because the evening was cool. The eggs sat there beside the fire and Henry wondered what the guy’s plan was to cook them. There was nothing to put them in and they didn’t seem to have and water!

‘Better put that fire out, fella.’ Henry called – just loud enough.

The youth spun around expecting the voice to be coming from the track but the girl spotted Henry straight away and stared at him, wide-eyed.

‘Up here!’ Henry called, ‘no need for alarm, I just want that fire out. I’m coming down, ok?’

The youth looked hard at Henry, and at his waddy, then obediently stamped on the fire to extinguish it. Henry climbed down to where the pair stood. The girl stared at him for a moment and rushed to his side.

‘This isn’t going to end well for you young fella,’ said Henry softly, making sure the guy was aware of his lancewood waddy, ‘I’m taking the girl, her mother is frantic with worry. You don’t want to fight me, just let me take her quietly. You can come too, or stay, over to you but hand over your matches.’ He flourished his waddy again, ‘But you can have a crack at me if you must.’

‘No.’ replied the lad, ‘I remember you. I was on a school trip and you gave me a lift because I was carrying the pack.’

Henry didn’t remember him; but he remembered that always the smallest kids carried the pack!

‘I won’t cause trouble,’ promised the lad, ‘I know I shouldn’t have taken her, it sort of just happened.’

The lad agreed to go with them back to Henry’s house where he first called the girl’s home phone number and spoke to her father. He put the girl on the line to assure her dad that she was safe. Meanwhile Henry’s missus prepared a hot drink for them, tea for the lad and cocoa for the girl. She opened a packet of gingernuts too. After the call to the girl’s father, Henry called the police and soon three police cars arrived, charging up the drive full of gusto! Henry had his work cut out for calm to prevail, because lad no longer posed any danger and hadn’t physically harmed the girl.

It was dark out and Henry hadn’t done of his own chores, he was tuckered out, so they could wait – after all, it would be Saturday tomorrow.

 


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