Elle Klass is the author of Baby Girl Book 1: In the Beginning. She is now publishing book two to Baby Girl, Baby Girl 2 Moonlighting in Paris. Join us on Facebook, for her Facebook book tour!
Past jobs: The days of old
Remember being a teen and getting that first job. I made a whopping $2.35 an hour at McDonald’s. I had a lot of fun at that job. My coworker and I loved to play with the drive through headset. One of us would go outside while the other stayed inside and we’d talk to each other, and yes on occasion we made the mikes extra staticky, although it didn’t take much effort then. I moved up in the world when I took a job at a frozen yogurt store, made friends with one of my coworkers there as well and we spent a lot of time alone in the store, sampling the yogurt, cookies, brownies, waffle cones; whatever we made we sampled. If it wasn’t for me being so young I probably would have looked like a blimp. Being young and unworldly I really thought I was moving on up when I started working in retail. It didn’t take me long to realize how much I disliked it, although I loved the wands we used for scanning items. Sometimes we’d fight over assisting customers just so we could play with the wands. This was the day long before people just swiped their debit or credit card. We had to place their credit cards in a machine with carbon paper to get the imprint, remember those? Once the bank told me to take the customer's card and cut it. I called my manager and allowed them the privilege of dealing with an irate customer and the bank. Those days are gone, thank goodness. Technology has its rewards.
Didier kept me busy the next few days. All the time I kept thinking, and determining what my next move should be. Would I call the police? What would I say to them? That’s when it hit me like a ton of bricks! The letters! They were still in my backpack, but I couldn’t get to them until Didier had left again. He knew I was acting strange, “melancholy” he called it. I did my best to act appropriately so he wouldn’t suspect anything and patiently waited for him to have some out of town emergency that needed immediate attention. Each day my anxiety grew and it became extremely difficult to control my flailing emotions. Finally! I caught him packing. Trying not to sound too apprehensive as I really did care for Didier and didn’t want him to think my restlessness had anything to do with him, I asked, “You’re leaving?”
“Yes, I’m sorry. I will only be gone a short time, overnight at the most,” he stated, his intense eyes searching my soul. I wasn’t sure if the intensity was him not wanting to leave or his worry for me and my strange behavior.
I strode over to his side and wrapped my arms around him, burying my head into his chest. I wanted him to leave, and also to know that I would be OK. His scent was inviting and so were his firm arms. “You go, take care of your business. You’ll be gone just long enough for me to miss you,” I said in my coyest playful voice.
“I do miss every moment without you,” and he gave me a kiss that played across my lips and lingered.
I watched him leave from the terrace and as soon as his car departed, I ran back into my room, pulled my backpack out of hiding, and tore through it, looking for the letters. I found them in the bottom, squished and bent, but present. There were four letters, three from someone who called himself Slug. Who would want to be called Slug? According to the dates they were approximately three years apart starting from the time I was age three. The oldest said, “The Tomato Shack at 3:30 on 3/11,” the next “The Tomato Shack at 5:00 on 8/30.” I made a mental note to find out what the Tomato Shack was. Obviously Slug wasn’t his real name, so maybe Tomato Shack was a code word or something. Written on the third letter was “1523 Tanwood Dr. at 2:00 on 1/20 and bring the girl.” I must be the girl, but why would someone who calls himself Slug want anything to do with me? Bells and whistles suddenly started blasting in my head. I had been kidnapped! This was like a ransom of sorts. Bring the girl, the words jumped off the page at me. My mother wasn’t my mother, of which I always had my suspicions. She was my kidnapper! There was one last letter from Slug. It read: “This will be the last meeting. I don’t want to see pictures of the child and if you refuse to bring her I will hunt you down and kill you both!!!!! Tomato Shack 10:00 4/23.” I wasn’t sure why he thought to write five exclamation points when one would have sufficiently gotten the point across. His harsh words sent chills up and down my spine. The date on the letter was weeks before my mother’s, or kidnapper’s, disappearance. The air around me felt cold and quiet. He killed her and now he’s hunting me? Was he responsible for Einstein’s death? No, Einstein’s killer confessed and was sitting in jail. My mind was overwhelmed, and thoughts played through my head. Was I abducted at a young age to protect me from Slug or was he hired by my true family to find me?
The final letter was written by my mom but never mailed. It wasn’t addressed but simply stated “Sweet Baby” on the envelope. I opened the letter very carefully and pulled out its contents. Inside were pictures of me dressed up in taffeta and velvet dresses, and patent leather shoes. Each picture was taken about every three years. I remembered having the pictures taken, her dressing me up, and putting rollers in my hair the night before. Someone looking at the pictures would never know the tormented life I lived, how I had been abandoned periodically for weeks at a time. How I had been forced to run away and live on the streets.
My heart was pounding and I had to catch my breath as I carefully placed the pictures back into the envelope and uncurled my mother’s letter written to me…
I know I haven’t been much of a mother to ya. I haven’t given you much of a life. Without me ya wouldn’t have had no life at all. I took ya and was saposed to give ya to somebody. I could’t stand to see yar life end before it began. So I didn’t give ya to them. I kep ya. I have always kep ya secret. Nobody nows where ya are. The people that want ya are powerfu. They are real rich and can do most anything they want. I tell ya this cause I want ya to be careful. Don’t ever let them find ya. They won’t hestate to kill ya. I don’t think I’ll be comin back. I do love ya and hope ya unerstand I had to keep ya hidden to keep ya alive.
The room was spinning out of control in front of my eyes. My brain couldn’t digest all that had been put on its plate. According to my mom I had been abducted by her to protect me from my true family? Who was my family and why would they want an innocent baby gone? My life had just gotten a hundred times more insane than it had been a few moments ago.
I knew now what I had to do. My mom wasn’t much of a mom. In fact, she was a horrible mom, but she had kept me hidden, alive. I picked up my throw away phone and called the police. The officer in charge of my mom’s case was Officer LaTige. The receptionist said he no longer worked for them, but she would patch me through to his partner, Officer Han. I anonymously referred to the case and told him where the shack was located. I also told him she didn’t live alone, but she had a daughter. Then I hung up and dropped the phone in a sink full of bleach. Next, I took the phone and smashed it with a hammer I had picked up while dumpster diving. Then grabbed a small plastic garbage bag and picked up the pieces, pulled my hat over my head, and placed my sunglasses on my face. Ready with sneakers, baggy jeans, a sweatshirt and no makeup, I left. I walked to the metro station, got on and rode, where to didn’t matter. When I felt a safe distance from the hotel I got off, and walked for a bit, dumping most of the bits and pieces of the phone into the trash then strolled back to the metro. On the way back to the hotel I got off again, deposited the bag that held the rest of the phone, then journeyed home. I felt good. This woman who had been my mother at least would have a grave with a marker and I could no way be traced.