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In the Crosshairs of a Mother's Eye

By Rebecca Crawford

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Copyright 2003 Rebecca Crawford





     Eight months had slipped by.  Grandpa spent more time in bed then he did up with Grams waiting on him constantly without a complaint.  She always managed to show loving smiles and happiness.

     Liz found a job in town working for a cell phone company.  She loved repairing and selling the phones.  Dayla had started pre-kindergarten and Grams would pick her up from school.

     Liz was working the counter, as always on Mondays.  The bell rang on the door alerting her someone came in.  She was sitting at the computer reviewing sales reports, when she looked up; Johnny was walking toward her.  

“Hi, Johnny, what can I do for you?”

“Trade my cell phone for a newer model; something smaller if you have it.”

Liz got up, walking around the counter to the display.

“We have a few you can choose from if you’d like to take a look at them.”

Johnny looked over the smaller versions, “This one will work.         

“That’s our newest release, it’s a little more expensive but it is top of the line and comes with a great package.”

“Set me up.”

“That I can do, follow me.” 

Johnny followed Liz back to the counter, leaning on it.       

“So, I haven’t seen you.  Do you even come out after dark?”

Liz stopped, looking at Johnny.  “Sorry, I’ve been spending a lot of time with my grandparents.  I’m sure you’ve heard Grandpa has cancer.”

“Yes, I did hear that.  A good friend of your Grandpa works for me.  It’s terrible, Liz, Sorry.”

“If I’m not spending time with them, I’m working with Dayla, she started school.”

“When do I get to meet her?”

“I’ll bring her by sometime.”

  “How about a picnic at the park Saturday?”

  Liz shifted slightly, “I don’t know Johnny.”

“Look, we’re friends, right?”

“Yes, we’re friends, Johnny.”

“Well, then what’s the harm?”

“Oh, alright, Saturday then.”

“Great! I’ll meet the two of you there; let’s say 11:00 a.m.?”

“Okay, now let’s get this paperwork done.”

“Jeez, bossy.”

Liz laughed; she couldn’t remember the last time she had laughed with true laughter.  At home it was always a cheerful front for Grandpa but her heart wasn’t in it.  Liz finished up with Johnny’s new cell package; showing him how to use it. 

“I guess I’m all set now.”

“Yep, you’re ready to go.”

“Saturday, Liz.”

“We’ll be there.

Johnny walked out of the store, Liz felt like she had been holding her breath the whole time, she exhaled loudly.  “Oh, what am I doing?”  When she arrived home that night, Dayla was playing in the living room with her dolls.  When Liz came in Dayla ran to her, “Mama, I can count to twenty!”

“Can you write your name, too?”

“Yes, but Grammy says I write it backwards.”

Liz laughed, “Well, we’ll need to practice on that, but you’re doing really good.”   Liz patted her on the rear, putting her down.  Dayla went back to playing with her dolls, when Grams walked in. 

“Hi, dear, how was work today?”

“It was good, unusual, but good.”

  Liz followed Grams into the kitchen, putting her purse down, sitting at the table. 

“What do you mean, unusual, Liz?”

“Johnny came in today; I sold him a new cell phone.”

“That sounds common so far.”

He asked me out.  He wants to meet Dayla and have a picnic at the park Saturday.

“Are you going?”       

“Yes, I don’t see any real harm in it.

“There never was any harm, Liz; you’ve just kept yourself distant from all men.”

“He’s a friend, Granny.”

“We all need friends, Liz.  Besides, Dayla loves the park; she’ll have a good time.”

“That’s true.”

“Now eat up, we’ve already had our dinner.”

“How’s Grandpa doing?”

“I had the doctor by today; he gave me more pain killers for him.  He’s not doing very well, Liz.”

“Is he awake?”  I’d like to go in and talk to him after dinner.

“He was, last I looked.”

Liz ate her meal, then went into Grandpa’s room, knocking softly, “Grandpa, are you awake?”

“Yes, yes, come in.”

Grandpa was sitting up in bed, flipping through the channels on the T.V.  “There’s never anything good on anymore.”

Liz went over, and sat beside him on the bed.  “Ah, what do you need it for anyway, I’m here?”

Grandpa laid his hand on Liz’s, “How’s work?”

“Really good.”

“Good to hear that, honey.”

“I really came in to talk to you about something.”

“What is it?”

“You asked me to try and move on, to come to terms with losing Calvin.  I finally made a step in that direction.  Johnny Sly asked me out for a picnic with Dayla Saturday.”

“He’s a nice boy, Liz, do give him a chance.”

“I will, Grandpa.”

“Ah, people change a lot when they grow up.”

“He seems a lot different then when we were in high school.”

“I should hope so.  Besides, He’s a hard worker and a rather nice looking boy.”

Liz blushed, “It could turn out to remain a friendship, but I just wanted you to know I’m trying.”

“That’s all that matters, Liz.  It makes my heart happier to know that.”

Grandma walked in, “It’s time for your medicine.”

Liz kissed Gramps on the cheek; getting up, “I better let you rest.”

Gramps gave Liz a wink, “everything will work out for you, Liz.”

“You’re always right about things, Gramps.”

“Us old timers aren’t so dumb.”

Liz smiled from the doorway, “You’ve never been dumb, Gramps, it’s a shame, when you’re young you don’t realize how smart the generation before you are.”

Gramps laughed as Liz left the room heading for Dayla.

Saturday morning arrived with clear skies.  Liz felt it was better not to tell Dayla about Johnny until they got there, to avoid multiple questions.  Liz had already dressed Dayla and had now finished dressing herself.  “Dayla, are you ready to go?”

“Yep, Momma, can we get a puppy?  I always see people at the park playing ball with their puppies.”

“We’ll see.”

“Please, Mamma, please!”

“We’ll talk about it.  I promise to keep an eye open for one.”

Liz went into the kitchen; “Hey Grams, we’re leaving now.  Dayla’s about trapped me into getting her a puppy.”

“A dog would be good for her.  We have room enough for one.”

“I can see you’re not going to be any help.”

Grams smiled, “Have a good time today.”

“I’ll try.  It just makes me nervous being with another man, and Johnny to boot.”

“Just relax; I’m sure he won’t pressure you.  He hasn’t so far, and you’ve been back now all this time.”

       “You’re right.  Oh, why am I so nervous?”

       “Go now, get.”

       “I’m going.”

       Liz and Dayla left for the park.  When they got there, Liz drove slowly looking for Johnny but didn’t see him.  She pulled up; parking and getting out.  When she went around and opened Dayla’s door, Johnny pulled up next to her.  Liz got Dayla, and was holding her by the hand as Johnny walked up.

       “Hi, Liz; you must be Dayla?”  Johnny dropped to one knee to face her.  “Pretty like your mother.”

       Dayla smiled, “Who are you?”

       “My name’s Johnny, I’m a friend of your mother.”

       “Do you have any puppies?”

       Johnny glanced up at Liz then back to Dayla, “No, but I’m sure someone in Helena does.”

       “Mamma’s getting me a puppy!”

       Liz smiled at Johnny.  “I told her I would keep on eye out for one, but it seems she’s looking harder than I am.”

       Johnny stood up, getting the blanket and picnic basket out of his truck.  “Follow me, ladies, and we’ll find a nice place for lunch.”  Johnny found a spot near the play ground where they could keep an eye on Dayla.  He spread out the blanket, “How’s this?”

       “Mamma, can I go play?”


       Dayla scrambled off to the play ground.

       “I guess that was a definite yes.”

       Johnny laughed, looking at Liz; she’s a very beautiful child.”

       Liz sat on the blanket, taking off her shoes, “Wait till you get to know her, she’s quite a riot.”

       Johnny sat down, crossing his legs and leaning back on his arms, “so how have you been, Liz?’

       “I guess good considering the circumstances.  Gramps is slowly fading away; it’s hard to see him like this.”

       “I’ve always like him, Liz, he’s a good man.”

       “Apparently, he likes you, too.”

       “Liz, I’m going to shoot straight with you.  I have to get this off my chest.  I told you our senior year that I made a big mistake when it came to losing you.  You were the best thing that ever happened to me.  I was too young to realize how big a mistake I had made.  I was hoping that we could start seeing each other again.  I won’t pressure you or push you, I promise to be patient.  All I’m asking for is a chance.”

       Liz looked away from Johnny, watching Dayla play.  Looking back at Johnny she said, “Johnny I’ve always cared about you.  It’s just been so hard losing Calvin.  I really have pushed away men all this time.  I can say I will give it a chance, but I can’t promise you anything.”

       Johnny smiled, “That’s fine, Liz, I understand.”

       Liz watched Johnny throughout the day.  He was nice looking, that went without saying, but her heart would always belong to Calvin.  She would just have to learn to care about him differently.  As the sun was setting, Liz got up saying, “We should probably go now.”

       “Yeah, I hate to see the day come to an end.  I’ve really enjoyed myself, Liz.”

       “So have I, thanks for asking us to come.”

       “What are you doing tomorrow?”

       “I don’t know yet.”

       “Can I call you?”

       “Okay, but not too early.  I’m sleeping in.”

       “No problem.”

       Johnny walked Liz and Dayla back to their Blazer. After Liz put Dayla in the Blazer, she turned back to Johnny, “Okay, well, I guess I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

       Johnny really wanted to kiss her, but knew that wasn’t a good idea yet.  He climbed into his truck, “Tomorrow.”

       Liz drove home listening to Dayla’s constant chatter.  “He sure is nice, Mamma.  Can we see him again?”

       “I’m sure we will.”

       They pulled into the driveway at home.  An ambulance was sitting there.  “Dayla, stay in the truck, honey, till I come out to get you.”

       “What’s wrong, Mamma!”

       “I don’t know.  Now stay here, Okay?”


       Liz ran inside to Grandpa’s room.  Two paramedics were working on him.  As soon as Grandma saw her come in, she walked over to Liz.

“He stopped breathing.”

       “Oh, no, not yet!”

       Grams and Liz stood with tears in their eyes as the paramedics tried to resuscitate Grandpa.  After fifteen minutes, one of the paramedics turned, “I’m sorry, we’ve lost him.”

       Liz hugged Grams as they both cried.  Finally Liz pulled away, grabbing Grams hand, “Come on Grams; let me make you a cup of tea.”

       Grams was dazed, “I can’t believe he’s gone, Liz.  I knew it would come.  I guess no one’s ever really ready.”

       “Grams, sit down, I have to go get Dayla out of the blazer.”

       “Oh, dear, what will we ever tell her?”

       “Tell the truth, Grams, like you had to do with me when I was her age.”

       Liz went out to get Dayla and bring her into the kitchen.  Dayla saw Grams crying, she ran to her, “Granny, why are you sad?”

       Grams took Dayla’s hand; pulling her up onto her lap, “Sometimes sad things happen, Dayla.  Remember how Granny told you that Gramps was sick?”

       Dayla looked up at Grams with her icy blue eyes, “Yes.”

       “Well, he’s not sick anymore; He’s gone to be with Jesus.”

       “Up in heaven?”

       “Yes, up in heaven.”

       “Will he come back to visit me, like Daddy does?”

       Grams looked over at Liz then back to Dayla, “Well, I’m sure he will if he can.”

       The paramedics went by the kitchen door with Gramps covered up on the stretcher, putting him in the ambulance.  One of the paramedics came back to the door entrance, “Mrs. Shamblee?”

       Grams got up, “Be right there!”

       Liz sat in the kitchen chair while Grams instructed the paramedic on the funeral home to take Grandpa to.  They had made pre-arrangements for his burial services.

       Grams came back into the kitchen as the paramedics pulled out of the driveway.  Sitting at the table, she began to sobbing.  Liz reached across the table, putting her hands on Gram’s arm, “We’re here for you Grams and we’ll get through this together.”

       Grams reached down and pulling her apron to her face dried her tears, ”I know, honey.  I just miss him so much.  We spent our whole lives together.”  The next few days Liz and Grams spent preparing for Grandpa’s funeral.  Liz had just hung up the phone when she heard a car pull up outside.  She walked to the living room window; looking out.  She saw that it was Johnny’s truck.  A knock sounded at the door,

Liz opened it,

        “Hi, Liz,  sorry to hear about Grandpa Shamblee.  I brought a pie by, I hope you don’t mind.”

       “No, not at all, come in.”

Johnny stepped inside.  Liz took the pie from him, “Here, let me take that into the kitchen.  Have a seat, I’ll be right back.”    Liz went into the kitchen as Johnny took a seat on the couch.  She came back, taking a seat across from him.

       “So, how’s your Grandmother holding out, Liz?”

       “She’s doing better than I expected.  I can see the sadness in her eyes.  She’s out back playing with Dayla right now.”

       “If either of you need anything, just let me know.”

       “Thanks for the offer, Johnny.  I’m sure we’ll be fine.”

Johnny stood up to up, “I should probably be going now.  I’ll see you at the funeral tomorrow.”

       “Thanks for the pie.  Sorry I’m not good company right now.”

       “I wouldn’t be either, Liz,” Johnny said as he went out the door.

       “Thanks, for coming by.”

There was a big procession for the funeral.  Grandpa had known almost everyone in Helena.  Liz had never seen so many flowers and plants in one place.  Robin and Lee helped with greeting people and having them sign the remembrance book.  At the burial site, the preacher read Grandpa’s favorite verses from the bible and said a final prayer.

Liz let Dayla place a single red rose on the coffin.  She kissed her fingers then touched the coffin, leading Dayla away to the car.

       “Mamma, why did they put my grandpa in that box?”

       “That’s the way it’s always been done, baby.”

       “I’m sad, Momma.  I’m going to miss him.”

       “Me, too, very much.”

Two weeks went by and things gradually returned to normal.  Dayla seemed to be doing well in school.  Liz buried herself in her work to escape the feeling of loss.  Grams keep busy at home keeping up with Dayla which helped her get through each day.

That night as Liz, Grams and Dayla were sitting around the kitchen table eating dinner Dayla said, “Mamma, I saw this funny man again today.”

       “What funny man, Dayla?”

Grams looked at Liz, “She’s been saying that to me for the last few weeks.  I figured it was just one of the parents.”

Dayla toyed with her food, “Then how come I never see him leave with a kid?”

    Liz giggled, “Well, Miss FBI, maybe your not there when he gets them.”

       “He always tries to talk to me, but I do what you said, Mamma, don’t talk to strangers.”

       “That’s right, Dayla, but I’m sure he’s okay.  A teacher would have caught it by now if he wasn’t.”

       “Okay, Mamma, but I’m still not talking to him.  He’s funny looking.”

       “Everyone is made differently, Dayla.”  Liz tickled Dayla, “How would you like to go four wheeling tomorrow?”

       “That would be fun.”

       “Aunt Robin an Uncle Lee said we could use their four-wheeler.  We can visit with them and then I’ll take you on a tour.”


That night Liz and Dayla lay in bed together, talking.

       “Mamma, I saw Daddy again.”

Liz glanced at the picture of Calvin and herself on the wall.  A tear fell down her cheek.

  “He was a good, kind man, Dayla, you remember that.”

       “Is Gramps with him now?”

Liz rolled over kissing Dayla on the forehead, “Yes, baby.  Now get to sleep.  We have a fun day planned tomorrow.”

       “I can’t wait!”

       “The sooner you get to sleep, the faster tomorrow will come.”

Dayla pulled up her blanket as Liz reached over turning out the light.

       “I love you, Momma.”

       “I love you.”

The next day Liz and Dayla drove over to Robin and Lee’s house.  Lee was outside mowing the yard.  He shut off the engine when they drove in.  Liz got Dayla out of the

Tahoe and she ran toward Lee.  “Uncle Lee!  Uncle Lee!  We’re going to ride the four-wheeler today.” 

Lee grabbed her up into his arms, “Okay! Hey, Liz, how are you?”

       “Pretty good, I hope its okay.  I thought it would do Dayla and me

some good to get out.
       “I told you, you could use the four-wheeler anytime.  Looks like Dayla will be making you use it more.”

   Robin came outside, walking over embracing Liz, then looking at her.  “What are you two doing?”

 “We’re riding your four-wheeler Aunt Robin!”

 “Good!  You’ll love it.”

  “I figured it would do us good to get out, Robin.”

  “I wanted to show Dayla some of our old stomping grounds.” 

       “You should let us keep her some weekend, Liz.”

       “She would love that.  Just let me know when and we’ll be here.”

Lee put Dayla down, leading her to the garage to get the four-wheeler out.  He checked the gas and oil levels, cranked it up and backed it out onto the grass.  “She’s running fine, Liz.  Before you go let me get you something you should take with you.”  Lee went inside and came out with a knife in a leather case.  “Take this with you.”

       “I just wanted to take a ride, not fight a war.”

Lee grinned, “It’s good to have something with you when you ride.”

Liz took the knife securing it down the back of her blue jeans.  “Okay, General Lee.  We’ll be back in an hour or two.”

Dayla was already on the four-wheeler, making sounds as she pretended to steer.  “Scoot up, Dayla.”  Liz got behind Dayla, cranking the engine, looking at Lee and Robin with a smile, “I haven’t done this in a long time.”

Robin laughed, “It’s like riding a bike, you never forget.”

Liz revved up the engine; putting it into gear, “You ready, Dayla?”

       “Yes!  Let’s go!”

       “See you two in a bit.”  Liz pulled out with Dayla giggling in front of her.  They went off into the country on the trails.  Liz pointed out beautiful sites to Dayla, stopping every so often to let Dayla pickup a pretty rock or other natural artifact.  After an hour of riding, Liz decided to stop near a grove of trees bordered by large rocks. Liz had just gotten Dayla off the four-wheeler and was putting her down when Dayla said, “Mamma, who’s that man over there?”  Liz turned, looking around, there was a dark haired man approaching them.  “Stay here, Dayla.  Let me see what he wants.”  Liz began walking toward him.  When she was close enough to see his face, she froze in her tracks.  He stopped in front of her.  His hair was greasy and his teeth were rotting.  “Did you miss me, bitch?  Well, I missed you.  I came back to finish what I started five years ago.  I told you I’d get you.”  He looked around, “But it looks like I get a little bonus.”

       “If you touch her, I’ll kill you” Liz growled.

       “Oh”, he laughed crazily,” What with, your hairspray?”  He bent down; pulling a knife out of his boot, “Looks like I have just the thing for you; and when I’m done raping you,

I’ll slit your throat.  If you’re lucky, you’ll live long enough to watch me fuck up your kid.”

Liz remembered the knife that Lee had given her as they left on their ride.  Slowly she reached her hand behind her back putting her fingers around the knife handle.

       “I watched you on the base, how you flaunted yourself, you wanted a fuck!”

       “You’re crazy!”

       “Yep, suppose I a.m., at least that’s what the other girls told me.  They’re buried now, no one will find them.  But you’re the one I’ve been wanting.”  He took a step toward Liz.  Suddenly a bright light behind Liz blinded the stalker.  Liz whipped out her knife stabbing him in the side.  He went down, blood starting to soak his shirt.  Liz turned toward the brightness.  In the light was her mother and Grandpa’s faces, smiling down at her, and then they faded away.  Liz ran to Dayla putting her on the four-wheeler.

       “You cunt, I’ll have you! You hear me?”

Liz cranked up the engine, slamming the four-wheeler into gear and spraying rocks as she raced past him headed for Lee and Robin’s home.  Dayla was shaking and crying.  “It’s okay, baby, Mamma won’t let anyone hurt you.”

       “He’s the funny man from school, Momma.”

Liz’s heart sank knowing how close her daughter had come to danger.  Liz sped into Robin and Lee’s yard, screaming, “Lee! Robin!”

Lee ran out the front door, “What’s wrong, Liz?”  Robin followed close on his heels.  As Liz put Dayla on the ground, she ran crying to Robin, “My God, Liz, what’s happened?”

       “It’s him, the guy from military school.  The one that tried to rape me!  We were stopped at the tree grove and he came up with a knife.  He was going to kill me, then Dayla!  I stabbed him, Lee!”

Lee wrapped his arms around Liz.  “Robin, go call the police, now!”

Robin ran in with Dayla in her arms, calling the police and telling them what had happened.

        “Liz it’s going to be okay.  Get in the truck; we’re going to get him!  Robin, stay with Dayla and send the police to the tree grove.  If that bastard’s not dead when we get there, he will be.”

Liz and Lee jumped into the truck.  Lee sped out toward the grove.  He pulled his pistol out from beneath the seat, checking to make sure it was loaded and laying it next to him.  When they arrived at the grove, Lee slammed on the brakes, jumping out with the pistol.  Liz got out, pointing in the direction where she had stabbed her assailant.  Lee disappeared behind the large rocks.  He finally came back, “He’s gone!  I found blood, but he’s gone.”

       “But how, Lee, I stabbed him in the side.”  Lee lifted his hand holding the knife he had given her by the blade with two fingers, blood still staining the blade.  “He’s crazy, Liz, a killer.”

The patrol car could be heard coming in their direction.  When the police arrived, they did a full search of the area, coming up cold.  “Sorry, Ma’am, the blood trail stops after fifteen feet of the incident.  He must have patched it up enough to slow the bleeding.  We need you to come down to the station and give a full report.  Did you know the guy?”

       “Yes, yes, I did.”  Lee drove Liz to police headquarter where she gave a full account of the incident and what the man did to her five years ago.  The police obtained his file.  “Mrs. Richards, we’re going to keep a patrol car in your neighborhood for awhile, we’ll catch this guy, and I

promise you that.
        ”What’s his name?”

       The police officer looked at her, “Freddie McClaine.”

       “I never knew before, no one told me.”

       “You keep a close eye on your daughter and yourself, until we get this nut case.”

       “I will officer.”

       Lee lead Liz outside.  “Liz, I’m taking you to get a gun.”  They climbed into the truck and headed for the gun shop.  Liz didn’t oppose Lee.  She knew with a killer like this guy on the loose, a gun would make her feel safer.  Lee picked out a 38 revolver.  “This is what you need, Liz.  It doesn’t have much kick and it’s accurate.”  Liz paid for the gun with her credit card and walked out of the store with a new pistol and three boxes of bullets.  “It’s time for some target practice, Liz.

       Liz looked at Lee, “Let’s do it.  If the police don’t catch him and he corners me again, I’m killing him Lee.  No one is going to hurt my child.”




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