Once the train was on its way, the rocking rhythm sent Chloe into a deep sleep. Although Remi enjoyed the company, she relished this bit of quiet. It had been a while since she had spent any time with a twenty-something-year-old. The questions and constant chatter were gonna take some adjustment. Experience told her, just as soon as she became accustomed to having her around, it’d be time to say goodbye.
Pretty soon, they’d be coming upon another town, and if she let the kid sleep through it, she’d probably be up all night. As she was debating with herself, she mumbled. “Hmm, I should wake her or she’ll keep me up all night.” Remi shook her head as she made her decision. “Wake up, girl. There’s a stop coming; we need to take care of business and fix some chow.”
As Chloe woke up, she immediately began rubbing her sore bottom. “Remi, I was thinking of getting off in Colorado. That’s where my parents live. They are away but always leave a key for emergencies. I would say this would be one.” Then nervously, she included, “Um, if you want, you could come with me. You know, use the shower, sleep in a real bed, oh and I can cook you a nice meal.” Chloe held her breath, waiting for Remi’s answer. This week had been so scary the thought of being alone, even in her parent’s house, had her trembling.
“Hm, I don’t know kid. That’s your family home. I’m sure they don’t want some stranger there while they are away.” Although Remi would love a nice hot shower, she felt uncomfortable trespassing in her parent’s home.
“Remi, please say you’ll come, I promise they won’t mind. I used to have friends over all the time.” That was true; as an only child, Chloe had been pretty spoiled. “Well can you at least think about it before you answer?”
Chloe looked up at Remi with such hope that Remi couldn’t help but smile. “Okay, girl, I’ll think about it but don’t go pushing me.”
Chloe smiled widely, and she was pretty sure Remi would say yes. “Okay, I won’t push.” Feeling encouraged, Chloe began preparing for the stop. This time she would be on the train before the whistle blew; no way was she chancing any more swats.
Belly’s full, they each retreated to their section of the boxcar and were casually chatting when Remi asked. “You don’t have to answer but what’s got you running? Somebody after you, girl?”
“I don’t mind answering but I don’t really know what’s going on. I woke up locked in a strange trailer. I have no idea how I got there or who put me there. The last thing I remember was being a this really hot party. I was thirsty from dancing and someone handed me a drink. After that everything went dark.”
“You took a drink from a stranger? I bet you didn’t even know who was throwing the party?” Chloe could see signs of Remi’s irritation and shyly looked down at her hands. “Girl, if I were your momma, I’d skin you alive, putting yourself in danger like that.” Grunt. “So how’d you get away?”
Meekly Chloe agreed. “Believe me, I know it was a dumb move. Well, when I woke up I was alone. I didn’t want to take a chance to be there when they came back. The door was bolted, and the windows had steel over them. Luckily they never thought of the skylight, so I broke the plastic and squeezed out, then ran.”
Remi sat in the dark, listening to this young child tell a story that would have ended so tragically if not for pure luck. Although they had only been traveling together for a couple of days, Remi felt protective of the girl. “Once we get to your family house we need to contact the police.”
Chloe grabbed hold of that last sentence and ran with it. “So you’ll come with me to my house?” Remi nodded in agreement, then Chloe added a little nervously. “I know this is asking a lot, but can you be there when I talk to the police?”
“Yes, I can do that. Now let’s get some rest and in the morning we can make a plan. We’ll have to figure out the closest stop to their house. We need to pick up a pencil and some paper, you’ll need to write down everything you remember. So between now and then try to remember details and names. Even tiny bits are essential, so think hard.” Remi laid her head down and was asleep soon after, leaving Chloe to contemplate their conversation.
The following morning they both were startled by the train’s whistle. “Come on, girl, get up. We have to get off the train. We have a lot to do today. Let’s take care of business we are running low on food and we need to come up with a plan.”
“Oh Remi, Can’t we just ride until we get to my parents town?” Chloe asked hopefully.
“Girl, we don’t have time for games. Get ready; we‘ve gotta get a move on it as soon as we stop.” End of discussion.
Even though they have known each other less than a week, Chloe recognized that tone. She was not going to put her bottom in any more jeopardy. So she made sure to be prepared as soon as the train stopped. After a quick breakfast, they spent the day filling their cups with coins then shopping for supplies. As luck would have it, they made it back in time to catch the 9:07 pm train eastbound.
It was another two days before they made it to Colorado and several hours more to the town closest to Chloe’s parents’ house. From there, they hitched a ride, finally arriving at their destination at almost midnight. Upon entering her childhood home, Chloe could finally relax. She showed Remi to the guest room and told her where to find the shower. Once Remi was settled, Chloe used the bathroom attached to her parent’s room before stumbling into bed.
Chloe woke to the smell of coffee brewing and the sound of news coming from the tv in the kitchen. She smiled once she remembered where she was, then a frown quickly formed. The thought of talking to the police made her want to vomit. At least she wouldn’t be alone; Remi would be by her side. Chloe made a beeline for the coffee pot. “Mmmm, caffeine, my old friend.” Remi just rolled her eyes at Chloe’s dramatic entrance.
Remi waited for Chloe to finish her cup of coffee before inquiring. “Have you finished writing down everything you remember?” Chloe nodded yes. “Let’s see.” That was not a question, so Chloe got up to retrieve her notes. Then once she handed them over, she refilled her coffee. Remi sat at the kitchen table, carefully reading and shaking her head in disbelief. Chloe was surprised by Remi’s following line of questions and the details she was able to extract.
Chloe was a bundle of nerves as they entered the police station. Remi took over at the front desk when Chloe was unable to make herself understood. “Who do we gotta talk to? We need to report a kidnapping.” It took several minutes of explaining before being introduced to a junior detective. Chloe handed the detective the notes Remi had her write down. Realizing only now how helpful it is to have the events down on paper.
The detective glanced up after she finished, “from what I’m reading, this took place in Nevada. So why not go to the police once you escaped?”
“Well, technically I was in California, just outside of Sacramento, near where I live. I don’t know how I ended up almost three hours away.” “I didn’t go to the police because I was scared and I wanted to get as far away as possible.” exasperated she continued, “I don’t even know if anyone knows I’m missing. Oh no, my job. I haven’t even called them.” Chloe was beginning to panic as she thought about losing her dream job.
Remi quickly redirected Chloe back to the conversation. “Girl calm down, right now this is more important.” Chloe knew Remi was right, but that didn’t stop worry from creeping in.
The detective searched the computer for any bulletins coming out of the Sacramento area. When a missing person’s alert came back for Chloe and another woman of similar age and build, she seemed to sit up a little straighter and take more notice. Being new to the force and not wanting to jeopardize the young women’s safety, she decided to confer with her commanding officer. “Ladies give me a moment ladies, I need to run this by my commander.”
Chloe began to fidget as they waited for the detective to return, which was getting on Remi’s nerves. The warnings were subtle at first, “relax,” “You need to control yourself, girl.” but Chloe was working herself into a wreck. One minute she was anxious because they were taking so long. The next she wanted to leave and go home. “Settle down, girl. Before I march you to the ladies room and do it myself.”
That seemed to have the desired effect; Chloe was startled but relaxed. “Remi, that’s not fair.” Remi just smiled back at the girl.
Just then, the detective returned with her commanding officer. “Good afternoon, ladies. I’m Commander Shields, the detective here has filled me in, but we will need a little more information. I’m going to need it for each of you to go with these officers and tell them what you’ve said to the detective here.
Chloe immediately panicked. “I want Remi to come with me.”
“Girl, you’re gonna be okay. They need to make sure you’re okay. I’ll wait right here for you. You can relax. Just tell them everything you can remember.” Remi watched as a detective escorted Chloe into another room. Then she turned to the Commander and asked. “Now, how can I help you?” She led to a nearby desk, where they ran her ID and plied her with questions. Although she didn’t know anything about the actual kidnapping, she gave a complete account of where Chloe boarded the train and relevant conversations.
Once the detectives got all the information from Chloe, they could and compared both statements from the two women; they rejoined the ladies. When Remi and Chloe were together, the detective informed them of the other woman who went missing the same evening. Although Chloe didn’t know her, the detectives in Sacramento verified she had been to the same party. They were hoping the information Chloe provided would be enough to help them locate the other girl.
The Sacramento police department asked that they not return for two or three days to give them a chance to locate the trailer and check out the area. Chloe agreed to stay away and practically begged Remi to stay with her. Seeing the desperation and stress in the younger girl’s eyes, Remi knew she couldn’t leave her alone. Remi was getting a real soft spot for this girl.
Back at the house, Remi, still uneasy about using her parent’s home, instructed, “You need to call your parents. They need to know what’s going on and about us staying here.”
“No, I don’t want to ruin their vacation.” then she added a statement that was not true. “Plus, I don’t know where they are staying.”
“Girl, Are you sure you want to stick with that story?” Remi crossed her arms across her chest and let Chloe think for a minute. When it was clear the girl had no intention of contacting her parents, Remi continued. “Now I’m going into the other room; I expect you to find me once you decide to come clean and tell me the truth.” Remi left Chloe standing in the kitchen, amazed at Remi’s ability to make her feel guilty.
It didn’t take long for the worry to overtake Chloe. She didn’t lie, exactly; she didn’t know where they were staying, but they did make sure she could always reach them. Shoulders drooping, Chloe followed Remi; she needed to confess. “Remi, Um, the thing is, well, It’s true I don’t know where they are, but I can, um, I can email them.” nervous now, Chloe waited, fully expecting Remi to pack up and leave. She didn’t expect what Remi said next.
“Girl, You and I are going to have discussion but first go stand with your nose in that corner.” Chloe stood, not moving, shocked by Remi’s words. The shock quickly passed, turning to a shiver when Remi came to her side and in a low voice asked, “Do I need to put you over my knee for you to listen?”