Deleted Scene from Baby Doll by Hollie Overton

Deleted Scene from Baby Doll by Hollie Overton

I didn’t have a road map or an outline when I started writing Baby Doll. Having worked as a TV writer, Lily’s voice came to me first, and then Abby’s. I wrote ninety pages and realized this was definitely not a screenplay. I continued writing and before long, I had written three new characters, the twin’s mother, Eve, and the kidnapper, Rick Hanson. The characters evolved slowly as did the plot.

But as I was writing, I wanted to show how Lily’s abduction affected the law enforcement officer who oversaw the investigation. In early drafts of Baby Doll, Sheriff Tommy Rogers played a much larger role. He also took us to the crime scene, the cabin where Lily was held captive. He seemed so real to me, this kind hearted man who found himself in the middle of this terrible family tragedy, a man, that despite his good intentions made some very poor decisions. He was the opposite of Rick Hanson and yet still deeply flawed. I loved Tommy so much but when I began revising the manuscript, my agent Eve Atterman kindly pointed out that Tommy’s narrative took away from the main characters and slowed down the pace of the novel. I kept trying to convince myself that his story mattered, that he made the novel better, that through Tommy’s eyes we got to see how widespread the damage Lily’s disappearance had caused. I thought about the painstaking hours I spent, crafting Tommy’s story, at least twenty pages of writing, and it hurt to see him go. It’s not easy saying goodbye to a character you love but it’s all part of the process. Fortunately, I’m able to share this chapter with you and give Sheriff Rogers life after death.

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

SHERIFF ROGERS

He felt like sh*t. His heart was pounding and his blood sugar was too low. He needed to eat but this entire day had left him nauseous. He was heading over to the crime scene, to the cabin where Lily had been held captive when his cell rang. It was Carl, his Deputy Sheriff.

“Hey boss, you need to get back to the station. Had a bit of a problem with Hanson.”

From the pinched tone in Carl’s voice, Tommy knew something was up and it wasn’t good.

“Guy’s been in custody for three hours. What the hell happened?” Tommy said.

“Well, I’m not real sure,” Carl hesitated.

“Jesus Carl, give me the cliff notes.”

“Someone beat him up.”

Tommy took a deep breath. He looked at the kid’s hands. His knuckles were bruised, a bandage covering them. Jesus Christ, this kid was stupid.

“Sonofab*tch!” Tommy took a breath. He’d save the rage for later when he confronted the dickhead responsible. “Keep him isolated until I get there. I want to talk to the pr*ck responsible for watching him.”

“Will do boss.”

Tommy hung up, flipped on sirens and lights and sped back to the station. The Feds had already chewed him a new asshole, accusing him of letting things spin out of control, telling him he was responsible for creating a three-ring circus by allowing Lily to go to the high school in the first place. Tommy wondered who he’d have to fire for this. Or maybe he’d just take the fall. This job was wearing him down. Joanie hated the long hours and with Kelly almost done with college, the idea of retirement especially seemed pretty goddamn appealing.

Tommy reached the station and went straight to holding. Rick Hanson sat on his cot, staring straight ahead, his face black and blue, a busted lip, and his jumpsuit torn. Rick didn’t say a word, he just stared blankly back at Tommy. No remorse. Dead hollow eyes. It was wrong. Tommy knew that. But he loved seeing this asshole’s handsome features marred. He imagined that he was the one inflicting the pain, punishing this man who had stolen so much from so many. But Tommy was better than that. He turned to Kevin, the wide-eyed blond officer on duty and motioned for him to follow him out of the cell. He didn’t know the kid that well. He was fresh out of the Academy and rotating throughout the department.

“What the f*ck happened?” Tommy asked.

“I don’t know, sir.”

“You don’t know? This man’s in your custody, under your watch and you don’t f*cking know?”

“I went to take a p*ss. When I came back…”

“So he’s all alone in this cell and he what? Fell. Busted up his own face? That he was attacked by ghosts? Is that what you’re saying?”

“I’m saying I don’t know.”

“If you’re taking the rap for one these knuckleheads out there, it’s a dumbass move for a probie.”

“Sir, I reported it as soon as I got back. I swear to you.”

Tommy took a deep breath. He looked at the kid’s hands. His knuckles were bruised, a bandage covering them. Jesus Christ, this kid was stupid.

“Call medical. Get a doctor out here to treat him. He doesn’t get transferred to medical, he gets treated right here where Carl can monitor things. I’ve got to let the Feds know that we f*cked up. I want you to take photos of his injuries and write up a report of your account of the events. Then get your sh*t and go home. You’re suspended for thirty days.

“But Sheriff…”

“Open your flap and it’ll be sixty.”

Kevin’s entire body sagged, but he kept his mouth shut. Tommy turned and headed to the bullpen. He puts his fingers between his lips and whistled. The entire squad stopped what they were doing and focused on him.

A tacit murmur of agreement greeted him. Tommy knew he’d catch hell for what happened to Hanson but he still had to get to the crime scene.

“I know we’re all p*ssed about what’s gone on here. We spent years busting our asses looking for Lily Riser. You all know Kelly went to Lancaster High and I know a lot of you socialized with the Hansons. I would love to drag that piece of sh*t out back, pull out my Beretta and put two slugs in his temple and let him bleed out, but I won’t. And I’m telling each one of you right now I don’t give a sh*t what your personal feelings are about the maggot taking up space in that cell back there, he’s in our custody. He gets the rights every perp gets. You hear me?”

A tacit murmur of agreement greeted him. Tommy knew he’d catch hell for what happened to Hanson but he still had to get to the crime scene. He was scheduled to brief the media, which the FBI had been so gracious to allow him to do.

He hauled ass towards the cabin, the place crawling with law enforcement from every jurisdiction. Yellow police tape and several officers stood guard, keeping unauthorized personnel and the piece of sh*t media out. Tommy parked and made his way up the drive, dirty snow crunching under his boots. It looked so ordinary, like a peaceful country retreat. He couldn’t believe how close they’d been to Lily. She was right under his f*cking nose. They’d searched these woods for weeks and weeks never once thinking she could be right here. He reached the door and saw his lead detective Matias Andrews, salt and pepper hair still neatly coiffed, his shirt freshly pressed, and a tie that Tommy was certain was designer. They shook hands, a grim look on Matias’s face.

“Thanks for handling things while I was tied up. The sh*t storm keeps growing doesn’t it?”

“Got that right. You know the Feds moved in?”

“Yeah, I got that call. Think they’ll let an ole country bumpkin like me see what we’ve got down there?”

“I’d like to see them stop you, sir.”

Tommy smiled briefly and turned to head inside. Matias reached out to stop him.

“Just so you know it’s bad down there. F*cking really bad.”

Tommy nodded as he put on his booties and headed into the room. From where he stood it appeared to be an ordinary office. Dark paneled wood. An old oak desk lovingly restored tucked into the corner, a giant Mac computer set up. But it was all for show. He realized that now. He saw the stairs, a door leading downstairs. He made his way down, the wood creaking as each step announced his arrival.

When he stepped downstairs, the size was the first thing he noticed. It was so damn small. Maybe four hundred square feet and that was being generous. No windows. No light. Nothing, but darkness. There was a door that led to a tiny room, less than a hundred square feet. A small bed with pink pastel linens was stuffed into it. He realized that was where Sky, the child slept. As he got closer, he saw the latch on the outside and he realized the little girl was locked away. Eight years in this cold, musty lifeless room. Eight goddamn years. He turned and saw Matias watching him and he cleared his throat.

“Anything else I should see? Want to know what I’m dealing with before I brief the press tomorrow.”

Matias nodded and moved to open a small closet. Tommy didn’t say a word, fighting the bile that was rising up. He couldn’t even count how many instruments there were. More than a hundred. Whips. Chains. Wrenches. These were weapons, designed and purchased with the sole intention of inflicting pain. He couldn’t stop staring at how neatly they were organized, all by size, all gleaming as if they’d been lovingly tended to. Tommy felt blood rush to his head and he spun around. He couldn’t stop thinking about what this man would have done to this girl, wondering what this child heard, how you survived eight years of this.

“Boss, you okay?”

Tommy nodded, but he needed to get out of here, needed to smell fresh air, to put aside the mental images that were battling for space in his brain.

“I’ll let you and the Feds handle things here. I need to get back to the station.”

He rushed up the steps, busting out of the building, gulping in air. He was revolted, felt an even greater pleasure at the thought of one of his men slamming their fist into Rick Hanson’s face. As he made his way out of the driveway, he grabbed his cell and dialed.

“Carl, do me a favor and tell the kid who was watching Hanson to take a week of paid vacation.”

“But Boss, I thought you said…”

“I know what I said earlier, just do it.”

It was almost midnight. He knew he should go home but instead he drove past the high school, parked in the lot and stared at the classic brick building, a place thousands of parents, including himself had sent their children, certain they would be safe. He thought about how many times he’d clasped Rick Hanson’s hand in appreciation, seen the town and school reward this man’s commitment to education and their children.

“Such a nice couple,” Joanie always remarked and he agreed because Rick Hanson had seemed quite remarkable. But the worst part about it all was he hadn’t known. He hadn’t felt the goose bumps or the hairs on the back of his neck or any of those other signs he felt all these years on the job, when he was in the presence of evil. He had failed Lily. He had failed everyone.