The Thirteenth Station - Part 2

By Sue Simpson

Mary took her car and drove to the bank by herself. This was a safeguard against arousing the suspicion of Johnny's kidnapper if he was watching her movements. She withdrew the notes that had been marked ultra-violet after the police warned the bank to have everything ready and on standby. When she got back to the flat, she busied herself with the washing up. They had about two hours to kill before she had to set off. Boyd was alerted to Mary's stiffness as she stood at the sink, rigid. "Mary? My god Mary. What is it?" Mary turned, the plate in her hands sliding to the floor to shatter at her feet.

"He escaped at eight thirty yesterday morning as he was being transferred from Broadmoor to Highgate top security prison. The surviving guard is said to be in critical condition at St. Mary's hospital. Repeat you are urged not to approach this man he is armed and extremely dangerous." The voice of the radio newsman went on to a story about The Artist Formerly Known As.

Mary sobbed hysterically "Holmes has got Johnny!" Mel and Jillly rushed to comfort her. Trying to calm her Mel said, "Don't be silly Mary. That man who has escaped is a rapist, and now a murderer, but he has no known form as a kidnapper, believe me he'll have more important things on his mind than taking a little boy."

Mary's voice was almost inaudible. "You don't understand. Barry Holmes is Johnny's father."

For several seconds nobody said anything. The air was suddenly thick, stifling with the revelation that floated upon it. Jilly pulled Mary's head into her, cradling the sobbing woman, rocking gently to and fro as you would with a distraught child. Mel was the first one to speak, unable to curb the tone of annoyance in her voice. "And you never thought that this minor little piece of information you've just thrown in here might just have been relevant? Jesus, Mary did you really think you could hide this from us? Did you figure we wouldn't find out? If you'd told us this yesterday we could have been more prepared. Bloody hell we have two hours. Two hours to save your son Mary. So...what? Were you married to him?"

Her voice had risen with each sentence until she was shouting loudly in anger and frustration.

"He raped me." Mary's reply was merely a whisper mumbled into Jilly's cardigan

"Excuse me?" admonished Mel, still shouting. She towered over the two women using the height advantage to make her point. She hadn't heard what Mary said.

Mary wrenched herself out of Jilly's protective embrace, she stood up almost knocking Jilly backwards. She squared up to the surprised police sergeant. Her face contorting with rage, her voice easily matching the other woman's. She slammed her fist down on the loaded table. Two of the four coffee cups fell, one spilling its dregs onto the spread papers. Two pieces of writing paper swept off the table in the wind caused by the downward movement of Mary's arm, they fluttered to the floor. A pen rolled, tottered on the brink of the table for a moment then also fell to the carpet. A cream puff bounced off its plate to land on the polished mahogany, and the rattle of plates and cups clinked along with the eruption. Mary herself was an unveiled contortion of fury and rage. "He raped me!" she yelled. "He raped me damn it and Johnny was the result!" The woman stood trembling impotent and angry, unable to scream at the person she wanted to see die a slow painful death, but with a fierce desire to lash out somewhere. Mel sank down into the soft giving cushion of the sofa. She lowered her face into her hands and shook her head. When she brought her head up to face Mary and Jilly again there were two pin points of color in her cheeks. She was shamed and saddened. Her voice, when she spoke was gentle.

"You poor, brave woman." Hardly a professional comment from a police officer, but it was all she could think of to say as a woman. Why didn't you tell us Mary?"

"Well if you lot had done your bloody job properly, the bastard would have been safely tucked up in his four star cell, and none of this would have happened." She had never uttered a single profanity in her entire life, and here were two in one sentence. In her need to hit out at somebody Mary was making no distinction between the police and the prison authorities.

"That man's an animal. I was the main witness against him at his trial. He swore from the stand that one day he'd make me pay. Johnny doesn't know anything, he thinks his father is dead." Mary slumped like a deflated balloon. Spent. All the fight purged from her as she thought about Jonathan in the grip of Holmes. Now she not only feared for the life of her child, but she prayed for a quick and merciful death for him if that's the way it had to be. Though no parent should ever have to stare their child's mortality in the face, as she was doing. Donnan had flown from the room during Mary's outburst. Every second of time that they had had to be put to its best use. He was on the phone within seconds organizing a SWAT team, and calling the commissioner. Pulling out all the stops. This man was extremely volatile. If he went down, there was no telling who he would take with him. He considered closing the two stations and stopping all the trains coming into and out of Manchester. After all it would be his neck on the line if mayhem broke out and bystanders were hurt. If he did opt for full panic alert Holmes would melt away into the crowd and they'd never get him. This was a nasty situation and would need to be handled with the utmost care. They knew what they were dealing with now and Donnan was scared. He had no doubts that Holmes had Jonathan Walker, and he didn't want to imagine what he'd be capable of doing to the child. What he had possibly already done.

At one fifty five pm A woman walked into St. Peters Square Metrolink station Manchester. She wore blue jeans, a blue and white check shirt and a denim jacket. She also wore a brown shoulder length wig and carried a black holdall. She was a female police officer and had been flown in from Birmingham, at five minutes notice, after police records nationwide had been checked against Mary Walker's photograph for the closest physical match. The woman was scared, and just hoped that she was in for a decent bonus if not a bravery citation for this. Three times she had almost refused. They told her that she could pull out at any time if she thought it was too much for her. Three times it almost had been. Only thoughts of that poor little boy kept one foot moving in front of the other.

At one fifty five pm a woman walked into Piccadilly Railway station Manchester. She wore blue jeans, a blue and white check shirt and a denim jacket. She had brown shoulder length hair, and carried a black holdall. This woman was Mary Walker and she was ready to die for her son if she needed to.

At one fifty five, Father Buxton sat in his confessional. He had a few free hours until he had to conduct evening Mass. He thought he might go into town and get a nice piece of steak for his dinner.

Mary walked along the platforms. Adrenaline was pumping and she could feel a cool rivulet of sweat rolling down her spine to dissolve into the bunched material of her shirt where it was belted at the waist. She was surprised at how calm she felt. There was not one iota of fear, just a red hot anger. She wanted that man's balls fried on a plate, with a crisp green serving of retribution and a fresh twist of bitter revenge to garnish. She actually smiled at her simile as she walked along.

She had been concerned that she would miss him. It was a big station and she hadn't been given a platform number or any direct instructions of where to be at two o clock. Donnan told her not to worry, he'd find her if he wanted to. Plain clothes officers milled all around her. She didn't know who they were in case she alerted Holmes to the fact that the police were ready for him. Boooong. Boooong. Two tolls of the station clock signified that it was time "This is it," she told herself. "Brace yourself girl." She was almost disappointed when Holmes did not suddenly appear "as if by magic" beside her. 2:02 she walked along platform one. 2:03 she walked back along the platform, and smiled back at a lady who smiled at her. 2:05 she moved past the cafeteria, strolling on to walk casually past the ladies and then the gents toilets. She wrinkled her nose at the acrid smell of disinfectant and urine. She walked on another fifty yards and then turned to retrace her footsteps. As she drew level with the Gents toilet a man came rapidly out of the door, turned left and collided into her. He was big. Six feet plus. Mary found her head in his chest and noticed an aroma of Pleasant aftershave and hand soap. Her heart rate escalated. "What was happening?" The man untangled himself.

"I am so sorry, I didn't see you there. Are you all right?" Mary stood panting, she was aware of people running from two directions. Under cover police. She tried to warn them to stay back. "Excuse me love, are you all right? Can I get you anything?"

She panicked, he was going to blow it. He had placed his arm firmly under her elbow, trying to guide her towards the seats outside the cafeteria. She thought fast. Taking advantage of the fact that she looked terrible, clammy skin, pale complexion, sunken eyes from no sleep the night before. "I'm a heroin addict with full blown Aids love. I can't give you sex, but I'll give you a blow job for the price of a fix."

The man recoiled in disgust, he backed away from her and moved back into the toilets he had just come out of. Mary smirked as she imagined him standing at the sink again, re-washing his already soapy fresh hands. She also took a second to be surprised at herself, she had never spoken like that in her life.

2:10 She walked casually down platform three, just one more frustrated traveler waiting for another late train. 2:15 She strolled up platform six where the phone boxes were situated by the chocolate and drink machines. A lady approached her and asked loudly if she had change for the phone. She nudged her purse toward Mary, and she saw the police lady's ID. Mary made a pretense of searching her own purse, while the woman pocketed hers.

"OK Mary," she whispered under her breath "We gave it our best shot, he's not going to show. Go home and we'll see what happened at St. Pete's station." Mary's heart sank

"We can't give up yet. I am NOT going to give up on my son like this." She hissed at the police officer.

"Move away now, Mary. We are looking suspicious. Thank you." the WPC finished loudly.

Mary walked to the front entrance with heavy heart. She had to accept that they had chosen the wrong station. She moved out by way of the main entrance. People stood with bags spewing all over the pavement. Briefcases, belonging to men in suits. Rucksacks to people who looked like students. Suitcases, carrier bags, and those ridiculous trolleys on wheels holding up a couple of elderly ladies. A snake of black cabs lined up outside the building. Cabbies loading luggage in and out of their taxi boots. Mary's shoulders slumped in defeat. She had lost her air of composure. Suddenly she had nobody there to fight and she felt beaten. She made her way through the debris of people's travels. Stepping round a couple deeply oblivious to all human life. As they existed in their own space and time, locked in a passionate kiss. Defeated and weary, Mary felt tears pricking the back of her eyes and she fought not to let them out. If she started to cry now she felt sure it would never stop. Would she ever see her son again? She felt in that place that mothers have somewhere deep inside themselves, that St.Peter's station wasn't the place she had been meant to turn up. Intuition told her it was wrong. That she had been right to go to Piccadilly. Perhaps Johnny was already dead. She raised her head slightly to avoid bumping into a young man slouched against the wall reading a newspaper. "Swap your holdall with one of mine. Do it now, and do it quickly then keep walking, I know this place is swarming with scuffters." The youth had not moved a muscle. She couldn't see him. His face hidden behind the open newspaper. She knew though that it wasn't Holmes, this person was no more than a child himself. Twenty at most. Holmes would be nearer forty.

"Where's my son?" she hissed

"Do exactly as I've told you or you will never see him alive again ...DO IT!" He spat the last two words at her, and the newspaper shook with the vibration. She bent down to drop her holdall, and suddenly she knew she couldn't just walk away and leave Jon to die at the hands of a sex crazed monster. She didn't know who this person was, but at the moment he was her only link to Johnny. Maybe the police had all given up and gone. What then? Perhaps they had relaxed their guard and hadn't noticed this interchange. Mary dropped the holdall, and picked up one of the boy's bags. As she straightened, she used the force of the movement to ram her head hard and fast into the soft flesh of his belly. The man let out an uuumph of expelled air and slumped forward almost falling onto Mary's head. The newspaper fell to the ground.

She dropped the bag she had just picked up, and with her now free hand made a fist and used every calorie of power she could muster to bring her bunched, solid, hand up firmly between his legs. She felt the flesh of his penis and scrotum fold under her punch and he sprawled to the floor unable to make a sound. Mary fell to the pavement as his momentum carried her down on top of him. Her head glanced off the cold stone. Her vision blurred and she succumbed to the tangle of arms and legs she found herself a part of. The next thing she knew she was pulled gently away from the recumbent youth who was lying fetally curled and wheezing. Two pairs of arms were about her guiding her to a waiting car. She saw the fair haired young man hauled to his feet and escorted by two police officers to another car waiting with doors open in front of them.

At Two fifteen the lady in the brown wig walked out of the station and into her police car. Glad to be walking away unscathed. she felt good to be able to breathe the clear fresh air again. Never again would she underestimate the sheer joy of anti-climax.

In interview room two. A blonde haired youth. Samuel David Johnson was interviewed by Detective Inspector Donnan and police Sergeant Boyd. Johnson was a rent boy. He knew virtually nothing. Only that he had been given the chance to make some easy money. A man had approached him in the public lavatory on Picadilly Station. He told Johnson that he had snatched his son from his ex-wife. The woman had been planning to leave the country. She was going to take the child away from this family to live with her and her lover in Saudi Arabia. The man said that he had wanted only to frighten the woman and that all Johnson had to do was collect a bag from her. Make a few idle threats about her never seeing her son alive again. Then take the bag and drop it in the third phone box outside the Odeon in Manchester city center at Four Thirty. He had been given fifty pounds up front, with the promise of another hundred after it had all gone to plan.

Johnson was charged and thrown into a holding cell. After giving a reasonably good description of Barry Holmes.

Mary was checked over by a doctor and given a heavy sedation that would ensure her a good many hours of blessed sleep. She had fought the doctor bitterly and had to be held while the injection was administered. Jilly took responsibility for the treatment being in her best interests. The older woman looked wearily down onto her sleeping friend. "Aaah sleep on pet. The pain of tomorra will be on us all soon enough"

Jilly looked as worn and tired as Mary had. She sat long hours weeping into her hanky waiting for the phone to ring. Waiting for some news. Waiting for Johnny who may never come home.

Not very far away from St. Peters station, Father Buxton walked out of the confessional. His neck ached and his arthritis was giving him some gyp. He went to smile at the man standing motionless on the far left hand side of the church, and then he stopped in his tracks. He passed hurriedly on, the smile dying on his lips, after a second's brief eye contact with the stranger. When he reached the altar he genuflected and blessed himself. Then he made the sign of the cross again, and asked for the Lord's blessing. He had surely come face to face with a demon.

Jesus is condemned to death. Holmes looked at the beautiful oil painting. The first station of the cross.

He moved onto the next painting; Jesus bears his cross. The second station of the cross.

The man with the black soul moved slowly along the paintings. Marking off the stations of the cross in his mind as he went.

Tenth Station. Or Victoria station on the Manchester line. The man taking the Stations of the Cross smirked to himself. An insane mirthless leer.

Jesus is stripped of his garments and given Gall to drink

Twelfth station Jesus dies.

At exactly two o' clock Holmes stood in front of the Thirteenth station of the cross. "Johnny is taken down from the cross and laid in Mary's arms." The Thirteenth Station

He imagined Mary. Stood waiting at St. Peters station, or would it be Piccadilly? No matter, the money was never important. If the rent boy delivers it, all the better, but it was only an incidental. Silly little Virgin Mary.

He moved onto the last station of the cross, and a cold shiver of anticipation ran through him. The fourteenth station of the cross. Jesus is laid in the tomb.

Johnny had already displayed his terror of the dark. It was almost, but not quite, as total as his morbid fear of Holmes himself.

The man with the black soul, tuned and his heels echoed through the cavernous church. Inside the vestry Father Buxton listened to the retreating echoes, and when he heard the door slam, he blessed himself once more.