I started writing this early this morning at work and with being slammed with work and then having multiple things go wrong here at home I’m finally finished. It was a fun piece to write in response to Discover’s prompt. There is adult content so readers be warned. Also, it’s longer than I intended. so sit back and read a spell. It felt good to be writing again…or getting back to it.
When I was a young girl I remember seeing my parents watch a 10th Anniversary airing on the news about an infant missing and mother murdered and father still claiming innocence. They didn’t look worried or concerned but held each other and smiled enjoying each other’s company. They were always a very loving couple and set the standards to which I held every one of my relationships too. My father and mother owned a small grocery store in our small town of Assumption, Minnesota. I remember when it was big news that they were adding a deli/butcher counter. The entire town of a little over 500 people was ecstatic now that they don’t have to drive over an hour out of their way to purchase fresh meat.
Even though my parents worked tirelessly at the store they made time for me. If I had a recital or wanted to go to the movies, or had a bake sale, they were there. I didn’t go without either and thought myself to be a very lucky child. The 15th Anniversary airing was on the news and again my parents didn’t seem bothered just enjoyed sitting next to each other. I was 15 at the time and was heading out the door when I stopped and stared at the TV. The mother of the poor infant was red headed and green eyed like me although my hair wasn’t curly. My mom looked over her shoulder and asked what time I would be home breaking me out of the trance. I politely replied 10:30pm and out the door, I went.
I got to Annie’s house and she and her family were all sitting around watching the news. Annie looked at me strangely and I knew what she was thinking but we didn’t say anything. The news report stated that the crime happened in Wisconsin and that the father still claimed his innocence and is begging for someone to come forward with any information. Even as he sits in jail he was still searching for his wife’s killer and baby girl. The anniversary airing was interrupted by a special report. A woman has been missing for the past 48 hours and if anyone knows of her whereabouts or has seen her to contact their local law enforcement agency. She was described as having red hair, green eyes, 156 lbs, and 8 months pregnant. I thought my mom was about 8 months along too. My father and she were so excited to add to the family. Annie and I hung out for a bit as there wasn’t really anything to do in Assumption but hang out. We talked about the missing woman and the dance next week and who was taking us. We talked about hair, makeup, and the essay due. During all the talking we pigged out on pizza that her mom made with the fresh pepperoni from my father’s deli. I got home and assumed my parents were already in bed as they weren’t on the couch. I quietly went to my room and fell asleep.
It must have been late morning when I woke up to the phone ringing, nonstop. I wobbled out of bed and downstairs to the kitchen where there was no breakfast and no mom and dad. I picked up the phone but it went dead. I guess the caller gave up. I looked and there wasn’t a note on the fridge but thought maybe mom and dad let me sleep in and they went to open the market. I was sitting down to a glass of OJ and reading the paper when someone knocked on the door. So hard, in fact, it startled me and dripped juice down the front of my shirt. Wiping my chin I opened the door while looking down trying to wipe away the wet spot from my shirt,
‘Lacey? Are you Lacey Dupree?’
I looked up to see two men standing in front of me both with serious looks on their faces.
‘Who’s asking?’ I said suspiciously.
‘I’m Detective Winslow and this is my partner Detective Cummings.’ Explained the taller gentleman showing badges. Are you Lacey?
‘Am I in trouble?’
‘No, but we need you to come into the station for questioning.’
I nodded and asked if I could change clothes and do something with my mop of hair. Annoyed, they obliged and then the next thing I know I’m sitting in the police station with a cup of hot chocolate that was probably there since the office was built and everyone staring at me.
The detectives returned and were asking me basic whereabout questions and about my parents. I told them everything that I did that night, where i went, who I was with, and what time I got home. They asked about my parents and I told them that they were already in bed when I got home. After a few more questions we were interrupted by my mom storming through the station with her red hair flying behind her.
‘Lacey, are you ok?’ She had my face in her hands looking into my eyes then over me like a mother does. You! You had NO right asking my daughter anything without parental consent. And before you say you couldn’t get a hold of us I would like my husband released NOW!
‘Mrs. Dupree your husband is being detained for the suspicion of kidnapping Lana McWhirter.’ I gasped remembering seeing the pregnant woman on the news. ‘Daddy wouldn’t do that!’ I yelled.
‘Mr. Dupree has legal counsel on the way so the questioning stops now!’
My mother demanded to see my father and took me by the hand as we were being escorted to see him. I realized then that she was a force to be reckoned with. The door opened to my father, sitting there calmly in a white painted masonry block room with a buzzing light overhead.
‘Katey, Lacey, what are you doing here?’
‘We’re here to take you home.’ My mother said approaching him to offer comfort.
‘I assume you called Charles?’
‘He’s on his way,’ my mother reassured my dad. He patted her lovingly on her pregnant belly and reached over and gave me a huge bear hug and asked if I was questioned.
‘Up until mom came barging in. You should’ve seen her dad. No mercy was shown and I think she even scared them a little.’ He chuckled and we went home.
Walking out of the station was a huge relief and mom and dad held hands smiling as if nothing had ever happened. We got home and dad made a few phone calls and told mom that he had to run to the store for a few hours. She nodded and asked him to bring back some mustard. Mom and I worked on dinner in the kitchen and by the time it was done dad pulled in the driveway. I set the table and mom pulled the casserole out of the oven.
‘Dinner smells amazing girls. My girls. I’m so proud of the family we have and soon we will have a new addition.’ Dad sat at the table and mom started making plates and passing food around. We talked about the rest of the day and what Annie and I had done the night before. Mom said that the doctor said to be prepared that the baby could come at any time. Then we discussed what needed to happen for the baby’s arrival. It was like dad was never accused of kidnapping. Dad put the mustard on the table, ‘You started putting mustard on everything before Lacey arrived.’ dad told mom and she grinned at him.
The next few days were as normal as always. Work at the store, family breakfasts, and dinners, homework, hang out with Annie, the occasional minor tweaks on the baby’s room and one more mustard run even though the first bottle hadn’t been opened. It was as if the entire police station scenario was just a bad dream. Not even the community noticed what had happened. The nightly news reported that there weren’t any new leads about the missing woman and a reward was posted. Dad sat on the couch next to my mom with his hand resting on her now bigger belly. We said our goodnights and everyone headed to bed.
The next morning I woke up to an empty house but found a note on the fridge this time.
‘Mom went into labor last night. I will call you with any news. Love Dad’
I was super excited and pissed at them for not waking me so I could go to the hospital too but thought about getting ready for school and how they probably didn’t want to interrupt my day. I ate my breakfast, got dressed and packed my school bag. I thought, ‘I’ll have a new baby brother or sister when I get home from school,’ locking the door behind me as I left. The trash cans weren’t at the curb for pickup and grabbed them on my way to the sidewalk when I noticed that there was a box of red hair dye in the bin. ‘Mom must be trying to cover her few silver strands of hair. I couldn’t sit still during class and told Annie that mom went into labor last night. We talked about if it was a girl how we would dress her up and make her look like a little doll.
When I got home I could hear my dad and mom in the living room cooing over the baby. Home already? I thought. My mom was sitting in her rocking chair with a tiny white bundle in her arms. Mom looked like an angel and dad as proud as ever.
‘Come meet your little sister, Hailey.’ mom quietly said. I walked over to see the tiny pink little girl with the reddest hair I’ve ever seen. We both must get it from our mom.
‘Oh she’s so tiny,’ I sang at her reaching to hold her. Mom stood and had me sit down and placed my little sister in my arms.
‘Is it ok for you two to be home already? She looks so small.’ I asked with concern.
‘Yes, dear. She came so quick I didn’t have time for medication or doctors. We left right before you got up and she arrived right there in the car. Your father got to deliver her. We stopped at the hospital and they checked both of us over and said we were both ok and sent us home. I just need to take it easy and little Hailey just needs to eat. Would you like to feed her?’ Mom asked as she handed me the bottle. I was in love with this little girl and couldn’t wait to dress her up and teach her how to play Barbie and tea party.
Dad had a sale at the deli counter on fresh ground meat and ribs in celebration of my little sister arriving. People congratulated him and even sent home gifts for Hailey. I helped out more at the store so mom could rest. I just closed the store for the evening and started home when Detective Cummings asked if I needed a ride home. I kindly declined and headed home. It was there that mom had dinner ready and dad just laid Hailey down. We just sat down for dinner when there was a knock on the door. Dad answered and the next thing I know he’s asking mom to set another place and that Detective Cummings would be joining us for dinner.
‘Where’s your partner, Winslow?’ My father asked cutting into his meatloaf.
Shoveling a pile of my mother’s mashed potatoes in his mouth and speaking with his mouth full, ‘Winslow is executing a search warrant on your store Mr. Dupree.’
‘I haven’t given consent, does my legal counsel know? I haven’t seen any paperwork.’ My father said and that’s when I noticed that my mom was white and my dad was glaring at her. He never looked at her like that. My mom was up and on the phone, ‘Charles, this is….’
Mom was calling the lawyer and my dad was reading papers that Winslow slid to him as he continued to eat our dinner.
‘God! Can you stop eating our food!?’ I said getting up from the table. Mom and dad didn’t seem to care about my rudeness. I walked into Hailey’s room and she was there staring up at her mobile. I picked her up and rocked with her in the chair annoyingly waiting for the dinner hoovering menace in the kitchen to leave.
Everything happened so fast. There were sirens and mom and dad were cuffed then placed in cars. Hailey was taken out of my arms by a strange woman with a badge and I was told to leave with her and Hailey. I’m now sitting in a hospital having my cheek swabbed and blood drawn. I was interrogated about my mom and dad and then asked if I knew who they really were.
‘I assume they are my mom and dad since they raised me from birth. They are grocery store owners. They are in love and just had another baby.’ I said crossing my arms confident in my answers.
‘I hate to tell you this but they aren’t who you think they are and that isn’t your baby sister.’
Months passed and I have met my biological father a couple of time but not ready to live with him yet. He was released from prison when mom and dad were convicted of my biological mother’s murder. I learned that my mom and dad were actually serial killers and used the deli and butcher counter as a front to sell the evidence of their crime to our town’s people. Mustard was a code word for it’s time to finish the crime and kill the victim. Lana McWhirter was my mom and dad’s last victim. Mom and dad wanted another child but since my father was sterile and didn’t want to wait for adoption approval they hunted the poor woman for slaughter and to take that precious baby. I also learned that there had been 19 victims in total, all of which the town consumed. Assumption assumed that I was in on the crimes but luckily my father and mother or the people that I assumed were my parents backed my claims up. I now live in a foster home until I’m ready to either live with my real father or live one my own. Hailey or rather Rose is with her real father and will grow up knowing that her mother loved her very much.
I still visit mom and dad. I need answers to questions only they know. Did they love me? Did they eat my mom? The answer is yes they loved me and we never cooked human meat. How can I still love these monsters? How do I move on from my family history? Will Rose hate me when she learns the truth about her mom and my parents? Do I continue to assume the role of their daughter? Some answers are easier to come by than others.
‘We will always love you and be here when you need us.’