For the next three Wednesdays, I'll be sharing an excerpt from Kidnapping the Lorax, so readers can see if it is a novel they'd like to purchase. This excerpt takes up where last Wednesday's left off.
Lacey Thurman was feeling very self-satisfied. After several days of ineffective attempts, she’d finally succeeded in producing a decent bowel movement. As the automatic toilet flushed behind her, she straightened her skirt and then tore off two squares of toilet paper, which she used to slide the lock on the door. One couldn’t be too fastidious about hotel cleaning practices, even in a five-star such as the Benson. She tossed the paper behind her into the commode, and stepped out of the stall.
At the basin, she’d removed her watch and washed her hands before hearing a sound that caused her to turn around and come face to face with a young woman and two men. The woman was wearing the hotel uniform and Lacey’s instinct was to reach for a towel from her, but something was terribly wrong here. All hotel personnel had been removed from the area before Lacey entered the bathroom. How did these people get past the Secret Service men guarding the door?
The trio seemed equally surprised to see her. It was the man with curly hair who recovered first. “Lacey Thurman, Secretary of the Interior” he said in a low voice, “be quiet and come with us or I’ll have to kill you.” He raised his arm as he spoke, pulling something from his coverall pocket, and she saw it was a gun. She nodded her understanding, unable to speak regardless of his order. The hypnotic gun gleamed, it gathered all the light emanating from the many bulbs and refracted by the mirrors over the basins, and swallowed all that light into the shiny blackness of the muzzle pointing at her heart. Lacey could imagine the flash of light that would signal her death, and the black hole of that gun sucking the life from her body. The gun must have already killed her bodyguards; there was no other way the three of them could have gotten in here.
They stood looking at one another for a moment, the trio seeming to hesitate, as if unsure what to do next. Lacey would later think bitterly, I should have run then. But in this moment, she could not marshal her leg muscles to run; she could barely remain standing. The moment passed. At the curly-haired man’s signal, the other man, the big one, circled behind her and came in close, and she felt the muzzle of another gun, its vicious dark certainty tucked in her ribs.
As they started walking, Lacey looked back toward where her watch lay, but the man said, “Leave it. You’re not going to need it where we’re going.”
The young woman led the way—not toward the right, where her bodyguards must lie dead, but toward the left, opening the door to the supply closet that her guards had tried and found locked, shortly before they’d left her alone in the bathroom. Lacey couldn’t understand why it was unlocked now. The trio moved her quickly, in a tight formation, through the supply-pantry and into a short hallway and toward another door. With unnatural, vivid clarity, Lacey took note of the plush plum carpet under her shoes, the two softly-lit sconces on the wall, the wallpaper with its deep blue and plum stripes, narrow gold lines. Then they were through the second door, and outside the hotel, in an alleyway. So quickly, so very quickly. Lacey stumbled, and the man behind her, a bear of a man, put his arm around her waist and half carried her the last few feet to a waiting vehicle. A cream-colored, older model Volvo. Beige interior. The young woman, freckles standing out on her pale face, opened the back door and climbed in. The large man deposited Lacey on the backseat, and the other man, the one with the curly hair, leapt in behind her, and shoved her down to the floor. A heavy blanket was thrown over her.
“Be careful now, Tracker!” the man in the backseat cautioned as the Volvo leapt to life. “Just drive normally,” he said. “You know the drill.” He was the only one who had spoken so far. “Nobody saw a thing.”
Lacey felt the car accelerate, heard the turn signal, muffled by the blanket enveloping her, and felt the car turning right. “The bomb shouldn’t go off for another three minutes,” the man chortled. “Plenty of time. We’re way ahead of schedule.”
A bomb! Dear God! Lacey began a prayer for the people she’d left in the hotel, but the car turned again and she realized she needed to pay attention now and pray later. She had always had a miserable sense of direction, but now her very life depended on it—she would have to memorize their route. They had traveled for perhaps ten minutes when the man, clearly the leader, said, “Tracker, turn on the radio.” The sound of Hawaiian slack key guitar filled the car.
“Not K-BOO, for fuck’s sake! Get an all-news station!”
There was alternating static and snatches of songs and voices, then Lacey could hear someone giving the weather report. “Clear the rest of today, with clouds gathering later tonight; increasing chance of rain moving in over the next few days. Next up, we’ll take a look at what’s happening on Wall Street.” They were all silent—listening, Lacey realized, for news of her disappearance from the hotel, of—dear God! —her kidnapping. She was being kidnapped! The car picked up speed.
* * *