Ethan Evans – (September 1972)
Ethan knew he should be thinking about something other than an extra-large order of McDonald’s French fries but for the moment, this was his dearest wish. It was very dark in this strange place. The only view of the outside world was through a filthy basement window from which he could only see the feet of an occasional passerby. He had lost track of time as one day blended into the next; at night the darkness was terrifying.
Had his mother stopped looking for him? Did she miss him? Who was taking care of his pet turtle, Stanley? All these questions ran through seven year old Ethan’s mind as he sat alone in the darkness of a place with no name. He closed his eyes to the darkness and dreamed about sunny summer days, ice cream and riding his bike. He tried to hold onto the sweet scent of his mother’s perfume, a fragrance that had always provided him with comfort. He had no memory of his father who had left when he was a baby. Ethan covered his face and gave in once more to tears, as he sat on the cold floor in complete isolation from the world outside this prison.
Before he was taken, Ethan was a happy child living in the heart of SoHo. He liked his neighborhood and had adjusted well to the bohemian lifestyle including a very diverse population. SoHo during the 1970’s was filled with artists, musicians and something his mother called “homosexuals,” but he didn’t really know what that meant. Ethan’s school was very close to where they lived but his mother usually walked him to the front entrance each morning, before she went to work as a waitress in a health food restaurant on the corner of Bleecker & 4th Street. He knew the place well, as it was not uncommon for him to meet his mother there after school when she had to work late. He and his mother both practically lived on leftovers, which were a necessity due to the tight budget dictated by a single parent household. Ethan didn’t mind eating leftovers but he loathed bean sprouts, which were in just about every dish the café served. As his stomach began to grumble, he thought that even bean sprouts would taste good right about now.
Ethan’s blue eyes flew open as he heard the sound of keys opening the door. A sliver of light illuminated the stairwell and revealed the same twelve wooden steps he had counted every day since he was brought here. He stood up as he always did, ready for an opportunity to escape anytime the door was opened. The same heavy footsteps descended the stairs carrying a ceramic bowl filled with soup of an unidentifiable variety.
“Dinner time,” was all the man said as he handed the bowl to Ethan.
Ethan grabbed the bowl with both hands and started drinking the soup in large gulps; the man never gave him utensils anyway.
“When can I go home?” Ethan asked once more in a timid voice.
“Maybe tomorrow,” was all he said before leaving him alone in the darkness once more.
Ethan finished his soup then angrily hurled the bowl against the cement wall, where it shattered with a deafening sound. The boy covered his face and began sobbing until he was exhausted and fell into a dreamless sleep.
Sarah Evans – (October 1972)
She sat at the bar nursing what she promised herself would be her last drink. Daylight was fading fast and when Sarah looked at her wristwatch she realized it was almost 5:30PM. No matter though, no one was waiting for her to come home. Her son had been gone for several weeks now and the police still had no leads. Sarah had passed out flyers and hung dozens up around the neighborhood; with each passing day, hope of seeing her kidnapped son diminished. Unfortunately, since he was taken, drinking excessively had become her only source of comfort.
The bar was starting to fill up as the after work crowd began to filter in. Soon she would have some balding executive type with middle age spread to fend off as he tried to hit on her. Sarah knew she should go home but her desire for forgetfulness was strong, so she ordered another vodka & tonic instead. The bartender took a deep breath as he made her another drink and slid it down to where she was sitting with complete disinterest.
“Bottoms up,” she said out loud though no one was listening.
The door opened and let in a gust of cool autumn air as a rugged looking stranger entered wearing a long black coat. He had a stern face and steel grey eyes but when she caught his eye he smiled at Sarah, and she warmed to him immediately. Sitting up straighter Sarah patted the barstool next to her, pleasantly surprised her drinking companion would not be a balding executive after all. The tall stranger slipped into the seat beside Sarah and ordered a lager. He said nothing at first but then he turned to her and commented on how cool the weather was getting. This started a conversation between them that continued into the early evening hours as the two became noticeably inebriated, to the point where the bartender finally had to cut them off.
As they stumbled outside onto the sidewalk holding on tightly to one another, Sarah gave the stranger a very wet kiss and a clear indication more would follow. It started to drizzle as they made their way across the street and against her better judgment; Sarah invited him back to her flat on McDougal Street. They hustled up the street giggling like children and Sarah couldn’t remember when she last felt so carefree and horny. It had been months since she had been with a man; tonight, she craved the touch of this handsome stranger.
Her apartment was a two-story walk up for which she apologized as they navigated the narrow stairway. Sarah fumbled for her keys as they reached the apartment door and together they entered her small but well-kept living space. Her gray tabby, Felix greeted her with a yawn as he stretched out his legs in front of him.
“Say hello to Felix,” Sarah said turning to her dark stranger.
“Sorry, don’t really like cats much, never did.”
Sarah moved to the small kitchenette to retrieve a bottle of red wine she had been saving for a special occasion with her back to the stranger.
“I never asked your name, did I,” she said turning to him with the two wine glasses she had just filled.
“Jack,” was all he said taking a glass from her hand.
They sat comfortably on her small love seat and before long they were engaged in a heated embrace, as articles of clothing were hastily removed and tossed about. They eventually moved to her bedroom where they spent the next few hours indulging one another’s desires over and over again, until Sarah could stay awake no longer. As she started to drift off to sleep, she murmured softly that he was welcome to stay.
Morning light started to filter into Sarah’s bedroom as she lay nude on her bed, now a mass of rumpled sheets and blankets. She slowly opened her eyes with a smile and that is when she saw her stranger sitting in the chair watching her sleep. She sat up and started to speak but something about the look on his face stopped her. Gone was the smiling face from last night and in its place, a stern looking expression that almost frightened her.
He was holding a picture frame she recognized; Sarah realized he was a photo of her son, Ethan. “Do you ever wonder where he is…or do you even care?” Jack asked her with undisguised disdain in his voice. He held the picture frame up to her as he spoke in a monotone voice.
Sarah pulled the sheet to cover herself, suddenly feeling vulnerable in her nakedness.
“That’s my son’s picture, give it to me,” she demanded holding out her hand.
Jack sneered and threw the picture frame where it landed face up on the bed. “It’s just a photograph, Sarah. Would you like to know where he is?”
At this she jumped to her feet, holding the bed sheet in front of her. “You son of a bitch, who are you?” she screamed as she ran to the night table yanking open the drawer.
He sat there with a smug smile holding up her small berretta with one finger. “Looking for this by any chance? Didn’t your mother ever tell you not to play with guns?” He was clearly mocking her now.
“What do you want, I don’t have any money. Where the hell is my son!”
“All in good time, my dear Sarah…all in good time. I can take you to see him, just say the word and you can see him now if you like.”
“Dear God…you took him…you’re the one they’ve been looking for!” she cried in disbelief.
“Why don’t you get dressed now, and we can talk about what you can do for me and maybe…just maybe you might see your son again.”
Jack – (August 1972)
It was almost too easy, Jack thought to himself as he followed little Ethan Evans walking home from school to the Sacred Chow Restaurant where his mother worked. Such a young boy; he was small for his age and just asking to be taken. He knew all about child abduction because he had been one himself. Much of what Jack had experienced when he was kidnapped as a boy had faded into memory, except the most awful fragments of repressed memory that occasionally came back to him on sleepless nights.
Jack was eventually found and returned to his parents but inside, he was never the same child again. He blamed his mother mostly for her carelessness. How could a parent leave a young child alone in a shopping cart unsupervised? It all happened so fast and all because his mother decided she needed to buy a new shade of lipstick; those precious minutes were all the time needed for the elderly woman to snatch Jack up and take him away. He could have screamed but his fear paralyzed him until it was too late. Inside the car of his abductor, he began to realize he was being kidnapped however; his screams were stifled by a gag the woman had put in his mouth. Tears streamed down little Jack’s face as he recognized the danger he was in and the realization, that he had been rendered helpless.
Ethan reached the restaurant and glanced behind him, forcing Jack to duck into the shadows so he would not be seen. This boy would be his second abduction. The first boy, Harry had been too young and difficult to manage so he’d had to let him go. What Jack needed was a partner in crime, someone to help him with the abductions. A woman would be perfect; he needed someone with a pleasing face and a gentle nature. Sarah Evans fit the bill perfectly. He kidnapped her son because he needed something to barter with; after all, not everyone wants to be a partner in crime. Motivation was the key, Jack thought to himself. You can only convince a stranger to help if you have something they cherish above all else. Jack put on his best “grinch-like” smile as he began to formulate his plan.
No matter how hard he tried, Ethan could not imagine ever escaping this place. He pushed away his plastic bowl (a replacement for the ceramic one he broke). He was no longer interested in eating as he sat in the corner looking out the dirty window, certain no one would ever help him get out of this place.
The sound of keys opening the basement door did not stir him at all today. Ethan had given up on the hope of getting away so he stayed put when the man came down the basement steps.
“Here you go, buddy,” the man said as he handed him an order of French fries.
“Don’t want them” he said stubbornly with his hands folded across his chest.
“Suit yourself then,” Jack replied as he pulled a chair up next to him and began eating the fries in a tantalizing way just to tease the boy. The smell was overwhelming and his stomach growled but Ethan could not be tempted.
“I saw your mother today…would you like to know what we talked about?” Jack asked.
“I don’t care.”
“Liar, yes you do.”
“I don’t!” Ethan repeated raising his voice in anger. The smell of food was torture but he would not give in to it.
“What if I told you your mother was happy I took you…that she was too busy to raise a child…in fact, she didn’t even ask me where you were,” the man said cruelly.
“You’re the liar!” Ethan argued but as his eyes filled with tears and his throat tightened as he started to believe it might be true.
“Maybe she can join our little family, then. What do you think about that? Jack asked.
“If you hurt her, I swear I’ll kill you,” Ethan responded.
“You and whose army, kid?” was all Jack said as he dropped the half-finished bag of fries at Ethan’s feet, knowing full well that the boy would devour them once he was gone.
Sarah and Jack
Sarah and Jack walked together toward Washington Square Park not speaking, each lost in their own thoughts. Sarah couldn’t stop thinking about last night and the fact that she had slept with the monster who abducted her child. She didn’t think there could ever be enough soap and water to cleanse away every trace of him from her body.
“I am going to introduce you to Kevin, he will be joining our family next,” Jack said as though they were merely discussing plans for dinner.
“You’re serious about this aren’t you, you really expect me to help you abduct children?” Sarah asked as they entered the park where dozens of innocent children played with reckless abandon.
“You will…if you ever want to see your son again.”
“What exactly am I supposed to do?”
“There he is…over there,” Jack pointed to a red haired child of about six.
Jack took her hand and despite her automatic reaction to pull away, he squeezed her hand so tightly she gave up the fight.
“We are Mr. & Mrs. Wilson. Sarah and Jack, that is. We are new to the neighborhood and you, my dear are going to befriend his mother…see her sitting over there reading her book. Look at that, she is hardly watching Kevin at all now is she?”
“You’re an atrocity!” Sarah spat at him.
“Come on now,” Jack scolded as he gave her hand another painful squeeze. “You’ll get the hang of this eventually…you befriend the mothers and I'll be the doting husband who desperately wants a family of my own. I’ve learned you can never say that enough about loving children.”
“If I do this for you, do I get to see my son?”
“Tonight, Sarah…I promise. Just play the role of adoring wife and win this woman over and you may see him tonight.”
Sarah put on her brightest smile and approached the red haired mother who was blissfully unaware of the danger her little boy was in.
Sarah & Ethan
The rest of the day passed slowly until finally nightfall came and darkness settled over the SoHo neighborhood Sarah called home. Her fear of losing her son was stronger than any concern she had about being double-crossed, so Sarah Evans decided to do exactly as she had been told. She could always go to the police after her son was safe but for now, she followed Jack’s instructions. She ended up in a rather run down section of SoHo, where many empty factories and vacant apartment buildings stood. Jack had promised her he would be waiting for her in front of the old shirt factory on Broome Street. Vacated in the 1960’s, this building took up most of the block, and was especially quiet this time of night.
Sarah’s breath caught in her throat for a moment when she first saw Ethan. She watched her son from across the street where he had been held captive for more than five weeks. Ethan stood next to his abductor who placed a heavy hand on his shoulder. Her son’s hair had grown so long and curly, she barely recognized him in the darkness. Sarah had done what Jack requested and now it was time for this despicable man to release her child. Traffic was almost non-existent due to the late hour, but Sarah still wanted to help her son across the street. She took a step forward but then hesitated, Jack was making the rules tonight.
When the light changed Jack finally pushed the boy into the crosswalk; Sarah’s heart stopped for a minute in anticipation of holding Ethan in her arms. Her son looked so thin and frail it scared her; Sarah held out her arms, afraid he would vanish before reaching her. Ethan ran to her burying himself in her embrace; she smothered him with kisses, and then lowered him to the sidewalk, anxious to get away from this dangerous man before he changed his mind. Jack started across the street moving toward them and Sarah instinctively pushed Ethan behind her.
“How did it feel to hold your son again, Sarah?” he asked. She thought it was a strange question, but before she could respond he drew the berretta he had taken from her night table and pointed the gun at her.
“I hope you enjoyed it… and now you need to pay!” It happened so fast, Sarah had no time to react. Jack shot her in the chest and watched her collapse onto the sidewalk.
He tossed the gun where it landed at Ethan's feet. Jack looked into the boy's blue eyes, fully enjoying the anguish he saw in them. The light of innocence was gone; this boy would never be the same and in that moment, the connection Jack felt to his former-captive was complete.
Jack turned to leave as he heard the faint sound of sirens headed toward them, but then Ethan called out, “Hey mister!”
Jack swung around to confront seven year old Ethan holding the small hand gun with two shaking hands. Without even blinking, the boy shot him twice in the stomach.
Still holding the gun, Ethan ran to Jack’s crumpled form, kicking him with all his strength and shouted, “That’s my army!”
He heard a sound and turned to see his mother watching him. She was still alive! Ethan moved toward her body, looking down at her with cruel eyes; he emptied the gun into her chest as crimson blood sprayed all over his clothes.
The sounds of police sirens grew louder and Ethan noticed a few neighbors coming to their windows, but no one came out to help. When the first police car arrived, Ethan was so confused he didn’t know how he would explain what had happened. Paramedics were right behind the police and although it was really too late to save his mother, one of the EMT’s jumped out of his van and attempted CPR just the same.
A female officer rushed to the young boy to make sure he was safe. “What happened here, son?” she asked.
Ethan pointed to Jack’s body and said, “That man kidnapped me because my mother was careless.”
“What do you mean,” asked the officer slightly confused.
“If my mom had been more careful, it never would have happened.”
“Who shot your mother, son?”
“He did,” Ethan said pointing to Jack’s body…“but I had to finish her off." The boy still held the empty gun as he glared at the officer with the eyes of a killer.