Chapter 2



Though dimly lit, the kitchen’s whiteness gave its own light. Trenae glanced toward the room’s picture window, on the left, facing the street, where she quickly, gratefully noticed the curtains drawn. However, the curtains appeared thin. Not good.

She grasped for distraction from her fear. She focused her eyes on several red roses in a vase on the table, next to the window, while Jenny dug through the refrigerator. After questioning Jenny, she received the answer that Jenny had bought the roses for herself, simply to add color to the room. Odd.

Trenae then asked about the cozy home and Jenny quickly explained she only rented, and that her landlord had done a nice job of revitalizing an early 1900’s home.

The conversation changed, as Jenny asked about Trenae’s first time on stage, at Fontel’s. Trenae wearily tugged back some memories, some prickly, unsettling memories, telling Jenny how a stripper and her boyfriend supplied words of encouragement, told Trenae to smile and appear confident, to eloquently ignore the high heels. And how Darin’s girlfriend, Sam, who worked at Fontel’s and had even persuaded the owner to hire Trenae, helped with dancing lessons. Time went by, and Trenae succeeded, at becoming a better dancer, at keeping herself in flawless slim, physical shape, at putting up with the occasional pinches or brazen tongue laps from rude, male customers, and at getting along with the other hardened, street-smart dancers. She even charmed a few men, making them regular customers, though she seldom, if ever met with any after work. That could be risky.  But after working there only from the middle of April to the end of May, Clark Willson showed up. And Trenae was glad, since she was nearly getting pressured to do lap dances.

And she hated the thought of doing lap dances.

Piling some items on the counter, Jenny quickly made a chicken salad sandwich and placed it on a paper plate. “Want one too?”

Trenae waited to answer, thinking. “Umm, no, but do you have any apples?”

Jenny turned and searched in the refrigerator again. She removed herself and set an apple in Trenae’s hand. Jenny then stared curiously. “Do your eyes have yellow in them? I know they’re hazel, but I--”

“Yes, you’re right,” Trenae said. “I know, different.”

“But pretty. You have pretty eyes.”

A little heat flushed Trenae’s cheeks. “Thanks,” she said, looking down.

“Hey, come on, let’s head back.” Jenny again led the way, carrying the plate. Walking, Jenny began explaining the details inspiring her to write a book about alien encounters. Her Cousin Neil, hunting in the woods with friends near Libby, Montana, had become separated from his friends and witnessed a possible UFO crash, soon viewing a few aliens, the dark-eyed, large-headed Grays.

Jenny positioned the plate on the coffee table and sat down. Trenae sat down too, taking a quick bite of her apple at the same time.

“What happened next?” Trenae asked.

“After he pissed himself or before?”

Trenae covered her mouth a second, giggling. “He did?”

“Well, that’s what he said!” Jenny’s eyes widened. “What do I know, I just report the news!”

Trenae giggled again. Maybe Jenny truly was a nice, trustworthy person. Albeit a determined, fact-seeking nice person.

“But yeah, Neil was really scared,” Jenny said. “It was darn remarkable, in that he slowly was able to back out of there, and get away. Very few do, from what I’ve researched so far about these aliens.”

Trenae wrapped one arm around her stomach. “Gosh, yeah. I know, pretty scary.”

“Yeah, it is. Very disturbing. But I’m sure you know.” Jenny gave a slight grin. “So, getting back to you.” Seeming relaxed, Jenny leaned back in her chair. “Trenae, why don’t you sit back too? You look a little uncomfortable.”

Some embarrassment flushed Trenae’s face again, as she realized nervousness must still mar her appearance, even after a few laughs. She leaned back too. “Sorry, I just never really feel comfortable around people.”

“I’m sure, after all you went through. But you’ll get over it. I have confidence in you.”

“Thanks, I hope.” She studied Jenny’s face a bit. “By the way, how old are you, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“Just the lucky 25…do I look 25?”

“No, I’d say…more like 20.”

“You’re too sweet. But thanks.”

Observing a few more things, Trenae felt curious. “How come you haven’t written anything, or used the mini recorder?”

“You haven’t gotten to the alien story yet!” Yet Jenny’s tone wasn’t condescending.

“I just thought, maybe this other information I’ve said, you were using it too, and--”

“I can use whatever you want me to. Or not use. It’s up to you. But I want you to feel comfortable. But if you want me to take notes, turn the recorder on now, I will.”

“It’s up to you.” Trenae took another bite of her apple. She needed some energy.

“Some people like to be recorded, some don’t- I just wait till I leave the interview, find a quiet spot, and madly write everything down, before I forget!”

Trenae grinned. “I guess both are fine,” she said, giving an ‘okay’ shrug, becoming serious. “I’ll let you know anything I don’t want you to print…I wouldn’t print or tell anyone about what my wonderful brother wanted, you know.”

Jenny scribbled something on the note pad. Then she looked up at Trenae and smiled. “Noted! It will not be printed.”

“Thanks, cause that’s really embarrassing.”

“More like disturbing, to me. And I didn’t think you wanted that printed anyway.” Jenny bit her sandwich. “Have you ever thought about getting some counseling, therapy?”

“Sort of, maybe one day.”

“I don’t have any brothers,” Jenny said, between chews. “Just one sister. She lives in California.”


“Getting back on track here.” Jenny moved forward, toward the coffee table, and turned on the recorder. “Interview with Trenae Lafayette, Governor Willson and alien account…Your friend Brianna brought you out to meet Willson, after she felt it was okay?”

“Yes. Like I told you today. We went together, outside, through the backdoor. This tall, muscular man with a suit and tie stood next to the passenger door of a limo, a beautiful, shiny, and very black limo. He just stood there, with the door open, not saying anything, and motioned me over. I could see a man inside, which was Willson. He called me over, but I definitely did not get in at first. I just walked to the door and looked inside. The first thing that hit me was how it smelled so new in there, that new car smell. You know?”

“Can’t say I do, seeing what I usually drive.”

Trenae smiled again.

“Sorry, go ahead.”

“I asked him what he wanted. And then he started with the charm, told me I looked very beautiful dancing, that I was a great, sexy dancer, the best dancer there, the prettiest, all that stuff.” Trenae gave Jenny a serious expression; she didn’t want any compliments on her behalf to distinguish the horror. “And then he asked me if I would like to go out to dinner with him. He explained who he was, one of the candidates running for Governor. And needless to say, I felt very impressed. My initial gut feeling wasn’t right, it felt strange. I mean, how could he be interested in me? But I figured he had to be someone you could trust and all. And besides, he just wanted to take me to dinner. So, I got in. I was just wearing jeans and a tee shirt, but he said he knew of a small, informal restaurant.”

Jenny laid the unfinished portion of her sandwich on the table. “You’re right, sounds slick.” She crossed her arms.

“But after I got in, something felt definitely wrong. The big man who had been holding the door open, a dangerous-looking man, turned out to be Stiles.”

“Oh my god.”

“Yeah, really. Clark told me to sit next to him, on his right side, my left. But then Stiles sat next to me too, on my right. I was sandwiched in.”

            “How big was the limo?”

            “Well, there were two seats, each facing each other, and a TV and small bar on one side. And of course the front seat, a third seat, where the driver was.”
            “Sounds like a six-seater to me.”

            “Yeah, maybe. Now that you mention it. Willson then introduced me to the two guys. Stiles of course, by me, and then across there was another man, a smaller guy than Stiles with brown hair and blue eyes. Actually, though, Willson introduced them by other names like Mr. Martin, for Stiles, and Mr. Sanders, for the other man, who I found out later they called John Traferro or Johnboy. Stupid, since I knew those Mr. names couldn’t be. But, I always felt I was hearing names that weren’t the real ones, with the other men, while I was at Willson’s.”

            “Hmm, interesting. And later you found out Stiles’ name?”

“Yes, right…But, anyway, after Willson introduced me, this brief moment came, though it seemed like forever, where I could see and feel all three of them giving me this really, really, chilling cold stare, like they could kill me with their eyes, look right through me. Either that or they wanted to rape me…but all I knew, I wanted to jump out of the car and escape.” Trenae began trembling a bit. She lifted her cup. “But it was too late, we were moving. I tried smiling, to loosen up the air. It either worked or they just had enough of staring me down, but Willson started talking to me. Stiles and Traferro just looked out the windows.”

            “What did Stiles look like?”

            Done with another sip, Trenae put both the cup and apple on the table. Her thirst and appetite had disappeared. “Like I said, tall, around 6 feet, like 6’4” or so. And muscular. I know that for sure, not only because of what happened with us later, but as he was sitting next to me, I could feel the solid firmness of his muscles. It’s too bad he was such a creep, because he was attractive, had a nice body, rather handsome too. Heck, so were Willson and Traferro. But Stiles had black hair and brown eyes.”


            “I would assume. I never asked, didn’t really care, not after the way he treated me.”

            “Traferro sounds Italian. Do you know how you spell it?”

            “No, but I do think he was Italian. But don’t be misled. Willson had a regular international smorgasbord at his estate.”


“Yeah, every nationality you could think of was there, different languages too. But what do I know, I was just the slave there.” Trenae smiled.

            “Actually, that’s not funny.”

            “I know, I know,” Trenae said shyly, quietly. So much for her attempt to lighten the air.

            “Seemed like a bunch of creeps, huh?”

            “I told myself, as we were driving to the restaurant, that maybe these guys just had to have a very tough demeanor, since they worked for Willson and he was in politics and it was a competitive, ugly business…you know.” She again gave Jenny a serious look. “So that’s why they were like that, and I shouldn’t doubt it or worry. I mean, after all, I worked at a strip club and I was the one with the bad reputation!” Trenae gazed down and studied the lines on the sofa. “Maybe they thought I was on drugs or something, didn’t trust me. So, I reassured myself.” She lifted her head. “And Clark was being nice and sociable during the ride. But my first feelings were right, as I found out later.”

“I see.”

            “And we did go to this small restaurant. I don’t remember too much, since I was drinking a lot. Gosh, I don’t even remember what I ate. But I do remember Willson going over his idea about me moving to his ranch, working there…I don’t know…” Trenae shook her head, disgruntled. “Why I got so suckered in! I should of known. Working for him was one thing, but living there? What was I doing?”

            Jenny leaned forward slightly, still holding the note pad. “I know why you left, two reasons- like you said, you wanted to better your career situation, and probably most of all, you wanted to leave your mom and Darin. You were still living with them, right?”

            “Yeah, I was. I guess you’re right.” She looked in Jenny’s eyes. “But, I think more than anything, I had a Cinderella complex. You know, what they call it when you’re looking for someone to take care of you? Like someone to be your Prince, carry you away, be with you forever, that stuff?”

            “Yeah, a fairy tale.” Jenny gave a concerned look. “Doesn’t exist. Though I will say, I’m sure it’s the dream of every little girl, at least at some point.”

            “I know, and even though I was 21 then, I was still hoping for it.” Trenae sighed and gazed down.

            “As long as you’re not living it now,” Jenny said firmly.

            Her words made Trenae uncomfortable; she changed the subject. “Anyway, he brought me home that night to my mom’s house, in the limo. My mom and Darin, needless to say, were quite shocked. Loser Trenae, with the candidate for Governor of Idaho,” she said mockingly. “Rather impressive, I guess they thought. Yet in a way, they weren’t as shocked as I thought they would be. They still treated me the same, for the short time I still lived there.

“But like I told you, I agreed to Willson’s terms and moved out. Stiles and Traferro helped me, which was weird. One of them was always either talking with my mom or helping me, but never both by me at one time. Darin wasn’t there that day- he was working.”

            “Can I ask, how come you never got an apartment, even before Willson asked you to live with him?”

             More uncomfortable words. Trenae looked down. Then she gave more in-depth details, telling Jenny that Darin and her mom convinced her she was too stupid, didn’t make enough money, to ever get an apartment. Or her mom would say Trenae was needed in the house, to help with the cleaning. In reality, Trenae did all the regular cleaning anyway. She could never fight them, tell them she didn’t want their chores any longer. They were both just too mean and powerful.

Trenae lifted her head. “It was a losing battle. So, I was glad to get out of there, however I could. Whether by myself or through some ‘Knight in Shining Armor’ rescuing me. Besides”-she placed her hands on her lower shoulders- “can you imagine, me, a poor girl, a low life having the chance to work for a politician, a celebrity? That alone kept me going! It convinced me that this was a really good decision, even though Willson’s men were creeps.”

            “It seems to me you have it backwards,” Jenny said flatly. “They were the low lifes.”

            “Sure, in retrospect.” Trenae rested her hands on her lap. “But not then, not to me.”

             After taking a tea sip, Jenny penciled a few words down. “So, is Willson’s estate all they say it is?”

            “Yes, he’s rich. Has a huge, nice house. Ten bedrooms. Maids, lots of bathrooms, several guesthouses, besides the apartment I had over the garage, a four car garage at that. There were some other garages, and other farm type buildings. And his property bordered on both the Middle and North Fork of the Boise River. It’s like 1500 acres.”

“Damn.” Surprise lighted Jenny’s face.

“And his place was actually not too far from Idaho City. But the mansion house is really nice. It’s kind of a modern ranch style with a lot of rustic woodwork, wood siding and white siding, kind of combined, but nice. He had a lot of those stuffed dead animals on the walls too.”

“Gross, no thanks,” Jenny said, scowling. “And to think I thought he made all his money through the silverware factory his father left him. That and the stock market, real estate investments.”

            “Maybe he used all that up, then got involved with the mafia and organized crime, like for the drug business?” Trenae shrugged. “Who knows?”

            “I can’t even begin to say…So while you were working there, he started seeing a lot of you?”

            “Yeah, after work, on nights I didn’t do phone soliciting.” Trenae went on, explaining how a man named Mr. Finley, another of Willson’s goons, would typically walk up to her apartment, announcing that Willson had invited her to dinner. Or she would receive a phone call. Either way, she and Willson would then have dinner together, occasionally with Stiles too, and then Willson would either talk to her at the table for a while or give Trenae a little tour of his mansion. At first, she viewed the candidate part of him, the person all of the public viewed and liked, a charming, likable guy. And he talked about how he truly wanted to help Idaho, especially the poorer people of Idaho. He really seemed to care.

            “Yes, that’s the Clark Willson I know too,” Jenny said.

            “I guess.” Trenae nodded a little. “He acted Doctor Jekyll, Mr. Hyde, like struggling between good and evil. At least with my mom and Darin…there was no doubt, they’re evil. But not with Clark. Especially when he talked about Stark, you could really see his bad side sneak out.”

            “Sure, Mathew Stark, the candidate running against him. Nice guy.”

 “Willson really didn’t like Stark. But, anyway, the more he invited me to dinner, the more I felt closer to him. Eventually, he started asking me up to his room. And of course…one thing led to another, you know.”

            “Was he any good?”

            “What do you mean?” Trenae felt puzzled.

            “In bed. Don’t worry, I’ll never print it. Just curious, because you can tell a lot about a person by the way they make love. For instance, was he a caring lover or a selfish lover?”

            “Actually, to tell you the truth,” Trenae said slowly, thinking carefully, “he was…very mechanical, almost like he was following a manual. Or just trying me out. I, of course, was starting to fall in love with the guy each time we were together like that, but never felt it from him. And then, like I told you before, I found out he was seeing one of the other five girls there, Crystal. That’s when I packed my stuff and tried to leave in my car. But they stopped me at the gate.”


“Yeah, the creepy other guys there. One called Willson on a cell phone. I drove back to my apartment and waited. Then, when Willson showed up, he told me that they practiced some sort of free love relationship stuff at Hegemony Hovel.”

            “Hegemony Hovel?”

            Trenae snickered. “Some weird secret name he called his house. Stupid. But anyway, he said I could sleep with the other guys at the ranch and he slept with the other girls. And everyone was okay with it. And he told me I should stay, because, he claimed, after all, I came from an abusive family. I shouldn’t go back there.”

            “You told him about your mom?”

 “No, I didn’t. I never…never quite understood how he knew. I was too embarrassed to tell him. I think it was about then, I figured the men working for him had powerful connections. After I refused to have a threesome with Willson and he slapped me, everything just went downhill. I guess you could say that the cat was out of the bag.”

Jenny gasped quietly.

Trenae’s stomach knotted. She crossed both her arms by her waist, near the bottom of her black shirt.  “Willson raped me a few times, and then Traferro had his turn with me. And then the creep Stiles took over.” An involuntary shudder rippled through Trenae’s body. Jenny said nothing. “Stiles was…he was very harsh and frightening with me. I hated him. And he told me, just like Darin, that I was a loser, a wimp, a coward. That I was afraid of everything, because I never did all the sexual things he wanted or was not provocative enough, something like that. And because I wouldn’t snort their drugs. I was so scared.”

            “Did they use condoms? Were you worried about STD’s?”

            “Sometimes they did, sometimes not. But, yeah, I worried about getting something, some disease, but I’m okay now.” Trenae sighed and leaned forward, resting her arms on her knees.

            “I’m glad to hear that.”

            “Yeah, really.” She looked in Jenny’s face. “It wasn’t only me suffering, though. I talked to the other girls, when no one was around and it was safe, and found out they all seemed to have shaky backgrounds, just like me. They were getting forced to do things with the guys too.”

“Really? That’s terrible.”

Burrowing into deeper, horrifying details, Trenae enlightened how some of the girls were runaways, some abused, some drug users. Girls who had no real family, that nobody wanted. Girls who were mostly white, with blond or reddish brown hair. They all thought, like Trenae, that this was their opportunity to better themselves. And even though she and the other girls did get paid at first, weekly, though not much, Ted, the campaign chairman, or Mondo, another campaign or finance worker, began telling Willson’s men that Trenae and the girls did something wrong, inappropriate. Just some false statement, such as they used too much paper, stole items, or caused the computers to crash, things the girls knew they never did. Very suspicious accusations. Willson’s men then said the girls would have to do some extra work or favor to get their full paycheck. But unfortunately, cunningly, the supposed malfunctions the girls did added up far beyond their paycheck amounts. Therefore, Trenae and the other girls could never pay back the amount they owed, but could only keep doing extra work or favors, to make up the difference.

Trenae added that by then, she and most of the girls had seen the guns Willson’s men carried, though they faked concealment, hiding them haphazardly. And so, when Stiles ordered the girls to ‘entertain and make happy’ the important men at Willson’s parties, they had no choice but to do so. Especially too, as time went by, their family members became threatened as well, if the girls behaved noncompliant. There was no one to call, no way to escape.

“What about the Internet, leaving a message somewhere?” Jenny asked.

“No. Some of us thought about that, since we had to work on updating Willson’s campaign Web site. But we were just too afraid, for ourselves or our relatives. Just so scared.”

“Shit, that’s awful.” Jenny paused a bit. “What happened to Crystal and Willson?”

Trenae smiled a little and looked down, remembering the girl who became Willson’s next lover, after he discarded her. “Yeah, she thought she had him. Acted so stuck up, better than me, whenever she and Willson were near.” Sadness then weaved around Trenae’s heart. “But soon, Crystal was passed aside for another girl too, just like me. And before long, some of the girls started disappearing, leaving the ranch. When we asked, the men said those girls were doing something special for Willson’s campaign. Or that they did an extra special favor and then decided to leave.

 “And then some new girls,” Trenae continued, “just one or two though, would show up. Really frightening, since some of us secretly thought the other girls had been killed. How could we know for sure?”

            “Frightening, sure.”

“Especially, this one time, when I was in the kitchen with Stiles.” While making himself a sandwich, Trenae explained Stiles talked excessively, because Trenae believed he didn’t want her to hear the two men conversing in the living room, who both handled a machine gun, possibly a Russian gun. But Trenae did overhear some of their words. Shaking her head in disbelief, she told Jenny their words highlighted talk of purchasing weapons, most likely illegal weapons. “I could barely hear everything,” Trenae added, “but it was enough to convince me Willson had become involved in some very, very serious stuff. I was so frightened, so worried. I knew then- I’d just better do what they say and watch it.”

“Wow, unbelievable.” Concern lay in Jenny’s tone. “But being compliant didn’t help much, did it?”

            “Well, it did a little. I was only punched in the stomach once, by Stiles.”

“Once? Once is bad enough!”

            Trenae shrugged and gazed down. “And I was thrown around and slapped a few times. But some of the other girls received far worse.” She lifted her head. “One ended up needing a doctor and the hospital. But mostly, they tried not to hurt us or leave marks. I guess they didn’t want to ruin the merchandise for Willson’s visitors,” she said, forcing a disgusted smirk.

            “Couldn’t you girls tell some of those visitors at the party, about your problems?”

            “No, definitely no. We were threatened, remember? I was too scared. Whether the other girls did, well, I don’t know…But the worst thing that happened to me…was, was when I…became pregnant, by Stiles.”

            Jenny leaned forward, her eyes widening, her mouth dropping open. “No, really?” she asked softly.

            Deep sadness bled through Trenae. “I really don’t like to talk about this. I told Stiles…I was pregnant. I tried to hide it as long as I could, but he could see, I was different, sicker.” Trenae looked at her knees. “He went ballistic, told me I had ruined everything. I told him he was the father, I thought. I was quite sure though. He forced me to have an abortion, September 28th.” Raising her head, tears sneaked from Trenae’s eyes. “I , it was, a terrible...”

            Jenny placed a hand on Trenae’s knee. “Hey, don’t talk about it. Let’s just move on, okay?”

            But it was too late; the terrible memory prevailed. No! I don’t need anything spoiling this friendly interview. Trenae quickly wiped her eyes and nose, heaved in a deep breath, and smiled. “Okay, sorry,” she said, holding her head high.

            “No, no, don’t be ridiculous. You must be strong. You’re doing great, to have survived that nightmare.” 

            “You think so?”

            “Yes, I do,” Jenny said gently. “Do you want a tissue?”

            Trenae brushed away some remaining droplets by her eyes. “Yes, okay, but I’ll be all right.” Jenny retrieved a tissue from a box on the TV entertainment shelves and handed it to her. With gentle blots, Trenae pressed around her nose and eyes. “It just can get bottled up inside, and then when you talk about it…”

            “I know, it all comes flooding back. You want to stop now?”

            “No, I can go on.” Trenae sat up straight and sniffed her nose a little. “Remember I told you, how I went to the basement, to get Lucia the wine bottle under the stair well?”

“Yes, and then Stiles and Willson came down, along with those other jerks, and thought no one was down there, since you didn’t put on the stairway light.”

“Right,” Trenae said softly. “After Stiles talked about Nancy Willson’s murder, and then found out I was actually down in the basement, he stared at me, hate in his eyes, but then quietly let me go upstairs. And then I got in Mr. Chang’s car.”

“Yes, I remember. Mr. Chang, the nice man, your date for the night.”

“That’s right. While I sat there waiting for Mr. Chang, it started to occur to me, even more, like a ton of bricks dropping on me, that I had been sleeping with, or rather, being forced to have sex with, the murderer of Willson’s wife. I became completely overcome with terror, remembering how they laughed at Stiles’ details of the murder, how he beat Nancy with a bat, how he had choked her with a cord until her neck was bleeding…how there was blood everywhere.”

Jenny gasped. “That’s sick, awful.”

Crack! Whizzz! Loud noises shot from the kitchen. Trenae jolted, and swung her head left.

“Oh, sorry,” Jenny said, raising a hand. “Don’t worry about that. It’s just my dishwasher.”

Even so, Trenae’s heart landed in her throat. “Phew,” she said, touching near her chest, “that scared me.”

“No, it’s okay. I’m sorry. You’re just not used to my house.” Jenny’s tone was sincere. “Are you sure you want to keep going?”

Determined resolve held Trenae captive. “Yes, sure, sorry, I’m fine.” Trying to relax, she sat back and exhaled a sigh. “Willson, like I said earlier, even seemed scared of Stiles as he described everything, while they were in the basement. The other guys, Traferro and Finley, seemed to thrive off listening to the gore, though they acted a little frightened of Stiles too. So I knew, without a doubt, sitting in Mr. Chang’s car, that I was dealing with some very evil people then, people capable of anything. I was…I can’t even describe the absolute terror I felt.

            “And then Willson came out and leaned on the car, made me put my window down. Chang wasn’t there yet, and then Willson told me, quietly, so no one heard, how I better not vanish. How I better dare not tell Mr. Chang about what I knew, because no matter what, they could find me. He said they could find me anywhere in the world. He said, ‘Yes, we have those kinds of connections. Powerful connections. After all’ he said, ‘I am going to win the election in a couple of weeks, and I can’t have any interference. You can understand, right Trenae?’ Yeah, sure, you bloodthirsty creep.

“Then he slapped the top of Chang’s car, not a hard slap, but it startled me. I remember really jumping in my seat. Then he walked inside the mansion. They never wanted anyone at the party to know something unusual was going on…so, they were very smooth, never made any sort of scene, anything seem unusual. But I knew they would get me,” Trenae said slowly, staring into Jenny’s alarmed, quiet face. “And I knew Stiles would do to me what he did to Nancy. I was shaking so hard then. I felt…I felt so light headed, gone. I knew I was going to die. I was so scared, Jenny. It’s so hard to even describe.”

            “Actually, I can’t even…I’m speechless, and that’s rare for me.”

            Yeah, you do appear pale, Trenae thought. Maybe I was wrong- you’re not that tough. “I just kept telling myself, I need to think, calm down.” She picked her words carefully, trying not to frighten Jenny; seeing people at ill ease disturbed Trenae. “I tried to relax, take deep breaths, figure something out. But the fear I felt…was so overwhelming. I couldn’t seem to control the shaking.

“And then I started to cry. No, great, Mr. Chang will see me like this, wonder what was wrong. I thought maybe I should tell him. But, no way, he could secretly be involved. Or I could get him involved and threaten his life too. Besides, what could he do anyway- tell the local police, drop me off at the police station? What, so they could just hand me over to Willson anyway, and then just have them beat me worse because I tried to run and told Chang, like Willson said not to?”

            “Yes, you’re right,” Jenny said. “That’s so terrible.”

“I know…I just needed to think harder. There just HAS to be something I can do to save my life. And soon, Mr. Chang came out. He was happy, seemed completely oblivious to anything bad going on. When he got in the car, he asked me if I was feeling better, since he thought I saw a ghost or something, after the basement. I told him I was okay and tried to smile, act calm…that was extremely hard to do.

“While he drove, he kept on talking to me, about where he worked, the things he did, stuff about his family. I can’t remember any details, because for the whole drive I kept thinking ‘what can I do, what can I do’…And then, finally, I came up with an idea. Not much of one, but something.”

            “What was it?”

“Mr. Chang decided to take us to Pine Cabin Inn, a little motel on route 21, not far from Idaho City, where I used to live.”

“Yeah, I know it. Has like 12 individual cabins, making up the whole place?”

“Yes, that’s the one…” Trenae went on to explain that she decided to steal Mr. Chang’s car, once he fell asleep, planning to sneak his keys. Then she would take her belongings and disappear quietly from the cabin. She realized it was a crime, but desperation had overridden lawful behavior.

Fortunately, once they walked into the cabin, Mr. Chang treated her kindly, not demanding a good time. He promptly asked it she was all right, observing Trenae’s tearful, despondent behavior, her attempt at steely composure having failed. He asked if he could help, if there was anything he could do. But Trenae told him the main thing she needed was sleep. So eventually, Mr. Chang left her alone. He lay down, on his own bed, since he rented a two bed cabin.

 Trenae pretended to sleep, and finally, when she heard Mr. Chang snoring, she slowly, quietly arose. Her clothes still on, she softly lifted her purse and jacket, putting her jacket on and then searching sleuth-like for his car keys. She ultimately found them in his pants pocket, on the floor.  Quietly carrying the keys to the front window, she opened the curtains just a crack, to view if any of Willson’s men were there. And at first, everything appeared okay.

“But then I noticed a car,” Trenae said, wringing her cold hands together, “that I sort of recognized, and I could even see someone in it.”

            “Willson’s men followed you!”

“Yes, exactly. As I figured they might. I started to panic more at first, but then I went into the bathroom at the opposite end of the cabin, kept the light off, and looked out that window, without touching the curtain.” Trenae squinted, and looked toward Jenny’s TV, remembering. “There were some trees, I could just barely see in the dark…but then too, I noticed some movement, to my right, a man, standing by a tree. I think I saw a gun too.”

“Another guy?”

Trenae nodded in agreement. “I felt, well, this is it. I’m trapped. For a while, I just stood there and cried, quietly. I knew soon, I would be dead.

“But then…it seemed like a series of miracles began to happen. The first was I looked for the man again, and he was gone. Now, I figured he could be to my left, around the corner, but I decided to take a chance anyway. I quickly opened the window, and climbed out. I was very quiet and closed the window afterwards, to cover my tracks. I felt sure at any moment I would get clobbered on the head or shot, but it didn’t happen. I figured the guy who left his post was a dead man, if I got away.

“And to make a long story short,” Trenae said, shaking her head in disbelief, “I was able to walk through the woods behind the cabin, down this hill, and make it to the highway, since the road curved around the motel.

“And then the second miracle happened.”

“Hmm.” Jenny appeared very curious.

“Immediately, I saw a tractor-trailer truck coming. All I did was raise my arm, and he stopped for me. I guess it was my outfit. I told him I needed to get near Grangeville, and fortunately, he was heading to Lewiston, so…after some turns, we eventually were heading north on 55, then north on 95.

            “But I didn’t trust the trucker very much.” Trenae paused a moment and took a quick tea sip. “He kept looking at me weird. But before we got to Grangeville, he stopped at this trucker gas station. He wanted to get something to eat, or whatever, and asked if I wanted to come with him. I said no, that someone who wanted to harm me could be around. So, I stayed in his truck…And then the third miracle happened.”

“A third miracle?” Jenny gave a half smile.

“Yeah.” Trenae remained serious. “Suddenly, this red sports car pulled up, not far from the truck, and this young guy, dressed in a tuxedo, jumped out of his car and quickly ran into the store. It didn’t look like he took the keys, so…well, I was desperate. I got out of the truck, saw that he left the car running and that no one was in there, and I jumped in the car. I was shaking real bad, but I made it away.”

“Wow, you stole a car,” Jenny said softly. “Did you want to head back to your mom’s?”

Using her left elbow as a prop on the sofa’s armrest, Trenae rested her face in her hand. Retelling this story exhausted both mentally and physically. But, she needed to go on.

            “To my mom’s, good question. I thought about it…” But Trenae’s thoughts had centered mostly on checking the rear view mirror, again and again. Yet no one followed her. No police, nothing. She told Jenny her mom’s house would prove a bad idea, Mom and Darin most likely laughing at her predicament, sending her back to Stiles and Willson, telling her Willson and his men would never say or do such a horrible deed. They would say Trenae’s stupid imagination materialized the conversation in the basement. “Besides”, she continued, “I still had concern for them. I didn’t want to see my mom and Darin dead too…so…”           

“Wow, I cannot imagine.” Jenny shook her head. “So why were you heading to Grangeville?”

            “Only one thing was left to do.” Trenae sighed. “Even with those three miracles occurring…I didn’t want to, but…I was too afraid to go to the police.” Especially now, Trenae told Jenny, that she had stolen a car. And no other authorities, no friends, no one else who could possibly protect her. She was alone. Even if she wanted to hide in New York, Montana, or somewhere else, she only had 20 or 30 dollars in her purse. In retrospect, she wished she had stolen some of the trucker’s money, but she didn’t know where it was. Her only saving grace- the car had a full tank of gas. 

“What kind of car?” Jenny asked.

            “A 2006 Mitsubishi Eclipse. Really nice, new inside. And warm, good heater. At least I was comfortably, for the short time, that--”

            “What do you mean, where did you go?”

            Trenae inhaled a deep breath. “When my father was alive, he used to take Darin and I, never my mom, she would never come, to a place he found hunting one time. He called it River Cliffs. It was really nice. Dad always made sure we never got too close to the cliff’s edge, watched us good.” Removing her arm off the sofa, Trenae wrapped it around her stomach, closely, and stared down. “But anyway, it’s in Gospel Hump Wilderness and Nez Perce Forest, not far from Orogrande, a really small town.”

            “Oh yeah, heard of it. Not far from Grangeville, right?”

“Yes, that’s right.” Trenae looked up. “Anyway, it was not a place that was on the map or anything, but just a small area my father found. Rather hidden, but we weren’t the only ones who knew of it. Other people went there too. But it was so pretty, is so pretty…”

Using her hands to place details, Trenae explained how a gravel road, ending in a small circular turn-around, gave way to a grass covered trail, which began just at the circular turn-around’s right or south eastern border. They had to walk some distance on the trail until an old fallen tree and large boulder, on the left, signaled the turn up a pine covered hill. A quick climb up the pine hill brought them to the hill’s apex, a large, narrow clearing, possibly 200 feet in length and 20 feet wide, covered mostly on its ground by grass, stones, and sand. The clearing’s length ran both left and right, with the left side heading toward the gravel road, and the right side heading up a pine covered mountain. Trenae explained her dad, brother, and she never really traveled up the mountain, since their one time attempted excursion ended when a snowstorm began.

            But across the width of the clearing, from coming up exactly near the fallen tree and boulder, a stand of quaking aspen trees added white streaks of varying tint to the scenery, with their tree bark. When she walked beyond those trees, and through more pine trees and another clearing, a much smaller clearing, the cliff came into view.  Several large boulders lay in an area about 9 feet wide and about 4-5 feet from the cliff’s edge. Probably only enough to seat five people, Trenae explained, which is why the spot never made a good park look-out.

The cliff’s view was stunning. Straight across, another pine-covered hill appeared, with a steep, rock-faced granite mountain next to the hill, to the cliff’s right side. And from around and near the granite mountain forged a stream, cutting its flow between the cliff and the cliff’s mountain and hills, and between the hill across from the cliff. The stream gushed by rapidly over many small and large stones. 

 Trenae noticed Jenny waited on her every word, describing River Cliffs. Somehow, being sought after, the center of attention, felt reassuring. At least for the moment.

“And then the stream just sort of eventually, more to the left of the cliff, disappeared into the rest of the woods, on the far other side from the cliff,” Trenae said. “And if you listened really well, were really, really quiet, just sat there on the rocks, still, you could eventually hear a faraway waterfall. We never went to check it out, but…”

“Why do I get the feeling,” Jenny asked, taking another quick tea sip, “that you’re describing this for a bad reason?”

“Because you’re right. This is where I went, Jenny, that night. It was hard, believe me. Besides being an absolute wreck, and constantly checking for cars following me, I had to drive in the dark, which I’m not the best at, and on 95 north. Fortunately, I never saw any cars following me. And when I made it to Grangeville, I eventually got on 14, headed toward Orogrande. 14 was really hard to do at night, with all the twists and turns along the canyon there. And then I had to take a sports car on a gravel road, heading south.”

“You mean past Orogrande, heading toward Calendar?”

            “Yeah, you know? The roads aren’t the greatest there.”          

“I know.”        

“But I just kept making right turns, in the dark, and very, very fortunately, I finally made it to the gravel road’s end. I faintly saw the trail…the trail to River Cliffs.”

“So dark out, huh?”

“Yes. Somehow, I managed to drive the car down the narrow grass trail.  I just definitely did not want to get out and walk it. And there it was, the boulder and the fallen tree, still there, after all those years.

“But anyway, I parked there for a moment. My watch had like 5:30 am, but it was still quite dark. While I leaned over to see in the glove compartment, to get a flashlight, I felt something on the passenger seat, under a man’s jacket. I lifted the jacket and found a bottle of ‘97 Beringer 3rd Century Cabernet Franc, definitely rather expensive.”

“How much they go for?”

“Like $100 a bottle. I’m pretty good with wine, so…I was surprised, since I hadn’t seen it before, but, of course, in my condition.

“As I told you, I drink, it’s my escape. So, I eagerly looked for something, to remove the cork. Finally, I found a screwdriver in the glove compartment, and after some time, got the cork out. Some of the cork remained in the wine, and I spilled some wine. But, what did it matter. And then, I just kept drinking and drinking. I always liked red wine and I was thirsty a bit anyway. I needed to get really drunk, and I think it was like 20 proof, so, and I just kept thinking,”-Trenae forced a quick giggle- “that poor guy, drinking all his wine, and--”


“What, Jenny?”

“I’m sorry. Why did you have to get so drunk?”

“Because I was going to jump off the cliff.” I thought she already knew.

Jenny covered her mouth and widened her eyes.

“There was nothing left for me to do.” Trenae gazed down, avoiding Jenny’s shocked expression, and pressed her body into the comfortable sofa. “After about five minutes, I think, of drinking the wine, I finally came up with the courage to leave the car. I carried the wine and flashlight. And my purse, I guess, to identify me.” Jenny gasped again.  “All I wore was this tube-like emerald green dress, a dress that Willson had given me and wanted me to wear.” Trenae lifted her gaze, and used her hands for descriptions. “But it was really short, had slits in the front by my legs, and it was strapless, really skimpy. And I had on some black leather high heel boots, like 4 or 5 inches high, you know, spike heels?”


“Hard to walk on. I’m surprised I didn’t break them when I left the motel cabin and ran down that hill, to the road. And a thin black leather jacket on, cut short, to my waist. So, as you can tell, I was ready for a hike up the hill.” Trenae smiled a little.

Jenny smiled briefly, but didn’t laugh.

“The first thing I remember was how cold out. It had been a lot warmer near Boise. I coulda taken that guy’s jacket, but, no, not a good idea. And I knew that even though my watch had around 5:30, it was really around 4:30 in the morning, because of the time change.”

“True. You got that car around Grangeville, right?”

“Yes. My dad, Darin, and I always had to worry about that when we traveled up there. But it was still really dark.”

“You must have been so scared. I don’t like the dark, especially in the woods!”

“Well, don’t forget, I drunk all that wine. I was a little more relaxed. I just…went right up to the large clearing. And I got down on my hands and knees.”


Trenae looked at Jenny. Of course, she couldn’t know. “After my father died, his will stated he wanted us to have him cremated and then sprinkle his ashes around River Cliffs. And since my mother refused to come there--”

“Even after he died? Even though he wanted it?”

Trenae nodded. “Yes, even then. And Darin stayed with her too. I just went with my Aunt Heather, my father’s only living relative, his sister. You see, my mother has no sisters or brothers, and her father, my grandfather, had died. Her mother lived in New Hampshire. But both my father’s parents were dead. So, you can see, my Aunt Heather was the only one around. And she had no children. She lived with her husband in Spokane, but I just couldn’t...”

“You couldn’t ask her for help.”

Jenny’s words demanded a response. “I couldn’t,” Trenae said. “I couldn’t go to her house, involve her. I liked her too much.

“But anyway, instead of sprinkling my father’s ashes there, we put his ashes in this small, red and gold urn, and then gently placed it in a large metal cookie box, like 10-inch square, about 4 or 5 inches deep. We found it in the garage. I cleaned it out good. And then I put his favorite gold watch in the box, some letters and cards he loved, some written to me. And also his medallion from the Marine Corps.”

“Weren’t these things that your mom would have wanted?”

“I don’t know.” Trenae shrugged. “Go figure. But anyhow, I wrapped the box up really tight and secure with some plastic wrap and black electrical tape. And then, we left. We took the long drive up there. I was fine, happy, mainly because Aunt Heather kept talking to me and keeping the subjects light and cheery. She was always so nice to me. But when we arrived there, I lost it.” Trenae’s voice grew weary. “We found a small quaking aspen tree, away from some of the other ones.”

 “For a marker?”

 “Yes. It was near the large clearing’s edge, not far from the cliff. My aunt dug with a shovel, me with a garden tool. We finally laid the box in the ground. That’s when I started crying, rather inconsolably. I could barely push the dirt back on top. But Aunt Heather, well, she helped me handle it. Then we said a prayer, both spoke a few nice words. And then we left. I never came back there again, until…”

“Until that night, excuse me, that morning?”

“Yes, it doesn’t matter. Before we left, we put a large flat rock on top of the spot, by that tree, so we knew for sure. No cross or anything, since it would be too obvious. And sure enough, when I got there, the rock was still there.

“But, I noticed the quaking aspen had grown bigger. It had pushed into the rock a bit. I just removed the rock and started digging with my hands. I know this must seem odd, but I wanted to see something of my father before I died, something when things were so much better for me. You know?”

“Absolutely. I totally understand, Trenae.”

“But the more I dug the ground, the more it appeared that I couldn’t find the box, even with all the dirt dug out. My hands felt so cold, nearly frozen.”

“Any snow on the ground then?”

“From what I vaguely remember, yes, a little, I think. But I know the ground, the dirt, was so cold, and damp. And I, and I …just couldn’t go on.” Trenae sighed. “I started crying, shaking. And I really don’t remember too much after that, except that the next thing I knew, the edge of the cliff came near my feet. My father would’ve been so upset…I could still hear him say, ‘Resi, you’re too close, come back from there’. It was a new moon that night, so it was pretty dark. But the stars…the stars looked so comforting.

“Anyway, I pointed the flashlight down at the rocks in the stream below. Those rocks…they were sharp, deadly looking. Some big, some small. The light from the flashlight sparkled on the water, sort of just moving along, so peaceful, a peaceful place to die. I looked up at the sky again, too. It was such a clear night.”

Trenae leaned forward a bit, lowered her head, and held her hands in her lap. She felt a bit uncomfortable, maybe needing to use the bathroom. “I remember telling myself, that this can’t be happening to me. I mean, I was pretty and young, had a nice body.  Fontel’s wouldn’t have hired me, if it wasn’t true. But I guess my personality just kept getting in the way.” She lifted her head. “You know, what they all said about me. I guess it was true. Men want a woman who’s confident, with guts, with attitude. And me, I had none of that. I’m shy, insecure.”

“You can’t base your opinion of yourself on those scumbags with Willson, Trenae. Besides, I believe there’s someone for everyone. Don’t you think?”

“Yeah, maybe…But still, I wanted to jump, if only to end my suffering too, of the emotional pain, from the abortion, from my lousy life, my crummy personality. Yet the more I thought about jumping, the more I realized it might not be such a good idea. The cliff wasn’t that high.”

“How high?”

“Maybe 3 or 4 stories high. But those sharp rocks…I kept thinking, what if I jumped and just got wounded, and was still alive? Stiles could still come along and beat me to death anyway. Or some wild animals could get me.”

“Oh my God, how terrifying,” Jenny said slowly, quietly.

“I know, it was.  If I remember right, I thought some more, drank some more wine. I don’t remember too much more, but then finally, I decided NOT to jump. There had to be something else to do. But the bottom line was, well, I failed, again.” She stared in Jenny’s eyes. “Now this is a little foggy, due to my drunkenness and stress, but I just remember starting to step back away from the cliff…and, I fell!”
            “Your boots!”

“Yes, exactly. The next thing,” Trenae said, shaking her head, “I fell hard, on my butt. I fell on the edge first, see, and then quickly grasped for anything to hold, because I was slipping, fast. Very fast! My nails were grinding into the rocks, grasping rocks, dirt, I don’t know. But nothing worked. I couldn’t believe it. In those few split moments, that I didn’t want to jump, and then look, now I was falling anyway! And believe me, I didn’t see my life pass before my eyes. I just searched desperately for anything, anything that I could grab! But, there was nothing.”

Jenny stared, speechless.

“And then, I felt my left foot smash really hard into a jutting rock, from the cliff’s side, sending a horrible shock through my whole leg. It hurt really bad, and in a split second, I knew, it’s gonna get worse, much worse, the pain, when I hit the bottom.

“Hitting that rock did another wonderful thing too. It made me start to fall head first!”

“Hold on,” Jenny said. “You’re right here, in front of me…So?”

Trenae leaned closer. She shouldn’t have- her lower abdomen squeezed. “That’s because,”- her voice raised, then quieted- “something caught me.”


“It was, it was…” Trenae sat upright. “Jenny, I’m sorry, but could I use your bathroom first? I think all the tea is getting to me.”

Even though Jenny seemed disappointed, Trenae couldn’t wait another moment. She hoped Jenny didn’t think it was deliberate.

“Sure, right over there, to the right of the TV cabinet,” Jenny said, her face frozen in bewilderment. “Help yourself.”

As Jenny turned off the tape recorder, Trenae arose and walked to the bathroom.