Another episode in my series of connected flash fiction.
A Dime a Dozen
By Laura McHale Holland
Two uniformed officers break down the front door of a ramshackle home in an otherwise nondescript middle class neighborhood. The suspect, a spindly, gap-toothed man in ripped jeans and white T, flees out a back window. He is apprehended in the weeds by another officer who cuffs him, escorts him to a police van and shoves him inside.
In the basement, the police find the meth lab they’d suspected was there. Behind one locked door they also find a cache of assault rifles and ammunition. They expect to find the same behind another door, but when they clip off the padlock and pry open the door, they enter a windowless room with padded walls. A young woman cowers on a cot in a corner. She holds a small yellow blanket in one hand and a pink baby rattle in the other. She faints at the sight of them.
One officer rushes to her, lifts her up and carries her out in his arms. “You’re okay now. Whatever you’ve been through, it’s over now,” he says.
She opens her eyes, searches his face and asks, “Have you seen my baby, my baby girl, Chloe?” She passes out again.
Later that day, a few blocks from the meth lab, Janet, a middle-aged woman with worry lines creasing her face, watches the evening news. She observes an officer carrying what looks like a bone-thin young woman to a police car. Janet can’t see the face, but she notices the yellow blanket and pink rattle in the woman’s hands.
“Jasper, Japser, come quick!” she calls. “I just saw Carly on TV. They were carrying her out of that house that got raided today. Our Carly, Jasper. I saw Chloe’s blanket and rattle in her hands.”
Jasper sprints into the room and wraps his wife in his arms. It’s been more than three years since Carly, then only seventeen, nestled her baby, Chloe, into the carriage Janet and Jasper had just purchased for her. Carly planned to take five-day-old Chloe to visit her best friend one block away. But Carly and Chloe never made it there.
Initially, investigators on the case thought Carly had hitchhiked to visit her former boyfriend, the baby’s father, who was away a college. But they found him studying for exams in his dorm room. He hadn’t spoken with Carly since they’d broken up five months before. He said he’d relinquished his parental rights and didn’t want to have anything to do with Carly or the baby.
“Now, honey,” Jasper says. “Don’t get your hopes up too much. Those baby blankets and rattles are a dime a dozen.”
“We have to go see, Jasper. We have to go see.” She grabs her purse, picks up a framed picture of Carly and Chloe from a table by the door and runs outside. Jasper follows.
All of the episodes in this series in the order in which they were posted follow: