Canto Thirty – Rage in the Clarke Name
Kyle Clarke came storming into the Zeffer house before either the sheriff’s deputy or Mrs. Philips could arrive. He was angry to the point of curse words over what apparently had happened to Valerie. He made Mrs. Zeffer and Ray repeat the story of how Ray found her three times before he even started calming down. He made it clear he wanted the story from Ray, not Valerie. Once he had learned she had been unconscious, he didn’t even want to hear her version of events. He told her she would not be able to make sense of things until she was well rested and recovered. He wanted Mrs. Philips, a registered nurse, to examine her before any other investigation took place. Valerie could only imagine in horror what he suspected.
“Mrs. Philips! We need you to examine little Valerie Clarke,” said Mrs. Zeffer as Mary’s mother arrived at the Zeffer home. “She’s been attacked by someone.”
Mrs. Philips was very pale, and also seemed shaken.
“What is the matter, Mrs. Philips?” Kyle asked. “You seem unwell.”
“My daughter Mary and her boyfriend Pidney Breslow are missing. I’m afraid it has something to do with what happened to Valerie.”
“Oh, no! We’ve phoned the sheriff already and he’s sending Deputy Harper from Belle City to investigate,” Kyle said in a concerned tone.
“Do you know what happened?” asked Mrs. Zeffer.
Ray was sitting on the bed in Bobby’s room next to Valerie who was already wearing the clothes Kyle had brought her. Both of them looked at the adults standing just outside the bedroom doorway. Valerie’s fear for what might’ve happened to Mary and Pid was overwhelming. She leaned against Ray’s shoulder and began to cry softly.
“It was the strangest thing. The three of them were all in our basement, reading some old book. Then, suddenly there was a purple fog in the house. It smelled so sweet it made me sick to my stomach. It apparently knocked me out. When I came to, I found my daughter Amy and her brother Jason were both sleeping on the floor. They had been knocked out too.”
“And the kids were taken from your house?” Kyle looked alarmed and upset.
“Yes, all we found were their clothes in the basement. I have never seen anything so strange. Whoever took them must have stripped them naked first.”
“Oh, you poor dear,” said Mrs. Zeffer, taking hold of Lady Philips’ shaking hands and guiding her to a chair in Bobby’s room. “Sit here. Let me get you some tea.”
“Was there any indication who might have done this terrible thing?” asked Kyle.
“I… I don’t know,” Mrs. Philips said as Mrs. Zeffer bustled out of the room to make tea. “We found the empty clothes… and then you called asking me to come here and examine Valerie.”
“You should’ve said something then,” Kyle said.
“I… I just felt numb. I told Jason to look after Amy and came right here to see what I could find out.”
“All right… um, Mrs. Philips… I called you over here to examine my daughter Valerie. I was worried someone might have… well, she was found naked in the alley, unconscious.”
Lady Philips made a small strangling sound in her throat. Valerie knew immediately what she must have thought had happened to Mary.
“I’m okay, Daddy. I know for a fact that nobody did anything like that to me.”
“Valerie, princess, you were unconscious. Somebody drugged you and stripped you naked. We need to be certain what happened.” Daddy Kyle was trying to be comforting and soothing, but there was a cold, desperate edge to his voice that actually scared Valerie. She looked at Ray. Ray’s eyes were frightened too.
“Your dad is right, Val. You need to be checked. Mrs. Philips is an RN, a professional nurse. She’ll be able to tell.”
“Okay, Ray,” said Valerie’s dad coolly, “You should go help your mother in the kitchen. Deputy Harper will be here soon.”
Ray reluctantly let go of Valerie and stood up. “You know, sir, that I would never hurt your daughter.”
Kyle’s angry glare softened a bit. “I… I do know that, son. And believe me, I am grateful for the way you rescued her and brought her somewhere safe. I’m on edge right now. I don’t know what was done or who did it. You know what I mean?”
“Of course. If I were in your shoes, I’d be afraid for my daughter too.”
Ray nodded resolutely. Then he went out of the room.
“I will examine her in private, Mr. Clarke. I will be able to tell. I have treated rape victims before. I don’t have a kit with me, but I will know if one needs to be used… Only…”
“What?” Kyle asked.
“After we know, I am going to need you and Deputy Harper to find Mary.” Valerie’s dad was grim-faced, but he nodded his agreement.