Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Key (02/14/13)
TITLE: Key Witness
By Myrna Noyes
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The auburn-haired young woman nervously ripped clothes from hangers and flung them into a large suitcase. Despite the July afternoon's warmth, a chill seemed to invade the small, neat bedroom of her apartment, and she shivered involuntarily. Her diary, a framed photo of her parents, toiletry items, and some undergarments were tossed atop the clothing pile before she banged the lid shut and fastened the latches.
Grabbing purse and keys off the dresser, she hurried from the room as fast as her heavy case allowed. At the front door she hesitated a second before turning back to snatch up a scrawled note she'd found in her mailbox upon returning from work. She stuffed it into her purse as fear propelled her toward the curb, where she threw her suitcase into the car trunk and slid behind the wheel.
With her head bowed upon trembling hands, she briefly closed her eyes. "Now just where can I go that I won't be found? Dear God, help me know what to do!"
She straightened, inserted the key into the ignition, and listened while her nearly-new '47 Ford roared to life. It had been purchased with hard-earned wages from her secretarial job at the insurance company, and today it was her ticket out of town and hopefully out of trouble.
Ten minutes later, she passed the town's limits and turned onto the highway leading to the anonymity of some larger cities where she hoped to blend into the crowd for a couple days while she formulated her plans.
That night was spent in a cheap motel along the way, but after an early breakfast, she was on the road again. She'd read and reread the threatening note, and each time it strengthened her resolve to flee the situation. It contained only six short words, but they punctured her heart with knife-like thrusts: "You blab, you'll pay--big time."
As she drove along, questions hammered at her: Why did I have to overhear that horrifying conversation? Why was I careless enough to be seen running from the building afterwards? How did the police know to ask me those questions? Again the desperate plea ascended: "Dear God, help me know what to do!"
At one point she turned on her radio in an attempt to drown out her fearful thoughts with some Big Band music. When the early evening newscast began, she was stunned to hear her name: "Twenty-three-year-old Laura Bendix of Morganton, a key witness in the extortion and murder trial of local businessman Terrance McDowd, is missing. She failed to report to the courthouse this morning for a pretrial interview with the prosecuting attorney and hasn't been seen or heard from by anyone since leaving work yesterday. Miss Bendix is new to the area, coming from out-of-county, and has been employed for two months by the Scott Insurance Company, situated in the same building as Mr. McDowd's accounting business. Anyone knowing information on her whereabouts is asked to phone Attorney Peterson at the courthouse. The case comes to trial beginning at 9 a.m. tomorrow. In other news..."
Laura flicked off the radio and began biting her nails. She couldn't go to her folks' place and endanger them or any of her hometown friends, and she had to stay away from Morganton until the trial was over and a verdict reached.
I don't want any part of the court proceedings! If I can't be found, I can't be forced to testify. Then I'll be able to breathe easier and return to my apartment.
Later, at the little diner where she ordered a bite to eat, she made a quick phone call to her parents. "Mom, it's Laura. No, I can't tell you where I am, but I'm okay. Please ask God to show me what to do. If I give evidence against Mr. McDowd I might come to harm. I'll call again soon." With that she hung up, while snatches of the radio broadcaster's words replayed in her panicked thoughts: "Laura Bendix...key witness...extortion and murder...missing...trial tomorrow."
Kneeling in another lonely hotel room that night, her prayer was simple and direct: "Help me, God." This time she stilled her mind, listening for an answer. Out of the silence, it came clearly, powerfully: "I am with you always. The truth shall make you free."
Peace settled over her. Knowing what she was to do, she arose and reached for her car keys.
Scriptures quoted: Matthew 28:20 & John 8:32
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