It should have happened at night, in a secluded corner of
a dimly lit parking lot. Instead, it occurred at one
twenty-five in the afternoon. Farin knew the time because
she had peeked through the car window, glancing at the
clock in her Volvo -- purportedly one of the safest cars
on the road. Farin was a bug on safety. A fat lot of good
that was doing her now.
It wasn't fair because she had done everything right. She
had parked in an open area across the street from the
playground for God's sakes! There were people in plain
view. For instance, there was a man walking a brown pit
bull on a leash, the duo strolling down one of the sunlit
paths that led up into the mountains. And over to the
left, there was a lady in a denim jacket reading the
paper. There were kids at the play equipment: a gaggle of
toddlers climbing the jungle gym, preschoolers on the
slides and wobbly walk-bridge, babies in the infant
swings. Mothers were with them, keeping a watchful eye
over their charges. Not watching her, of course. Scads of
people, but none who could help because at the moment, she
had a gun in her back.
Farin said, "Just please don't hurt my bab--"
"You shut up! You say one more word, you are dead!" The
voice was male. "Look straight ahead!"
The disembodied voice went on. "You turn around, you are
dead. You do not look at me. Understand?"
Farin nodded yes, keeping her eyes down. His voice was in
the medium to high range. Slightly clipped, perhaps
Immediately, Tara started crying. With shaking hands,
Farin clutched her daughter to her chest, and cooed into
her seashell ear. Instinctively, shebrought her purse over
Tara's back, drawing her coat over handbag and child.
Farin hoped that if the man did shoot, she and the purse
would be the protective bread in the Tara sandwich, the
bullet having to penetrate another surface before it could-
The gun's nozzle dug into her backbone. She bit her lip to
prevent herself from crying out.
"Drop your purse!" the voice commanded.
Immediately, Farin did as ordered. She heard him rooting
through her handbag, doing this single-handedly because
the gun was still pressing into her kidneys.
Please let this be a simple purse snatching! She heard a
jangle of metal. Her keys? Out of the corner of her eye,
she saw the passenger door to her station wagon had been
opened. Again, she felt the press of the gun.
"Go in. From passenger's side! You do it or I shoot your
At the mention of her baby, Farin lost all resolve. Tears
poured down from her eyes. Hugging her child, she walked
around the front of the car, thoughts of escape cut short
by the metal at her tailbone. She paused at the sight of
the open door.
"Go on!" he barked. "Do it now!"
With Tara at her bosom, she bent down until she found her
footing. Then she slid into her passenger's seat.
"Move across!" he snapped.
Farin tried to figure out how to do this. The car had
bucket seats and there was a console between them. With
clumsy, halted motions, and still holding Tara, she lifted
her butt over the leather-cushioned wall, and into the
driver's seat, both now scrunched behind the wheel. Again,
Tara started to cry.
"You shut her up!" he barked.
She's a baby! Farin wanted to shout. She's scared!
Instead, she began to rock her, singing softy into her
ear. He was right beside her, the gun now in her rib cage.
Don't look at him, Farin reminded herself Don't look,
don't look, don't look!
Staring straight ahead. But she could tell that the gun
had shifted to Tara's head.
Think, Farin! Think!
But nothing came into her hapless brain, not a thought,
not a clue. Fear had penetrated every pore of her being as
her heart banged hard against her breastbone. Her chest
was tight; her breathing was labored. Within seconds,
Farin felt her head go light, along with that ominous
darkening of her vision. Sparkles popped through her
brain ... that awful sensation of floating to nothingness.
No, she hadn't been shot. She was going to pass out!
Don't pass out, you fool. You can't afford--
His voice brought her back to reality.
"You give me the girl! Then you drive!"
Tara was still on her lap, little hands grabbing Farin's
blouse. Once Tara was out of her grip, Farin knew they
both were helpless unless she did something.
Farin knew she had to move. Without warning, she pivoted
around, using the solid weight of her shoulder bone to
slam it against his gun-toting hand. Although the sudden
move didn't dislodge the gun from his grip, it did push
his hand away. Giving Farin about a second to spring into
This time, the console was her friend. Because now he had
to get over it to do something to her. She jerked down on
the door handle, then kicked open the metal barrier to the
max. Still holding Tara, Farin bolted from her seat, and
attempted to run away.
But her shoe caught and she tripped, falling toward the
What a klutz!
Thinking as she plunged downward: Break the fall with your
hip, cover Tara, then kick ...
She contorted, managing to land on her hip and shoulder,
scraping her right cheek on the unforgiving, rocky
asphalt. Immediately, she rolled on top of Tara. Finding
her vocal cords, she let out a scream worthy of the best B