Lawrence's heart raced as he pulled into the driveway. He felt his stomach churn as he look at his house, which was surrounded by police cars. Susan was hysterical, talking and crying as a cop directed him to pull his Camry to the side of the road. He was quick to oblige, driving his car onto the grass before bolting out the door. He got about three feet before he was intercepted by the cop, an old guy with a crew-cut and beer belly, who cut him off as he started up the cobblestone path leading to his front door.
“You Dr. Marshall?”
“Yeah,” he said as he brushed aside the officer and continued towards the house. He could see the faces from the crowd studying his every move. They watched him as he raced towards the door. Susan stayed behind, asking the police man questions they couldn't possibly have answers for. He couldn't worry about that now. He had to deal with the crisis at hand. He took a deep breath, then fished through his pockets for his keys. Everything seemed to be happening in slow motion. Another police officer jogged from across the yard towards him. He mumbled something into his walkie-talkie, then stopped as he reached the bottom of the stairs.
“You know what’s going on in there?”
Lawrence glanced at the man without answering, then turned towards the angry mob that was gathering in his front yard. The police were trying to keep them at bay, but they were greatly outnumbered. He turned to the door, the knot in his gut tightening as he turned the knob and stepped into his house. He offered a silent prayer that this was all a bad dream, but that hope faded when he saw the fear in his Mother's eyes.
“I'm so sorry, Lawrence."
“What's going on here?"
The old woman ran her hand over her eyes, wiping at her tears. She took a deep breathe, then pointed to the staircase that lead to the children’s bedroom.
“A madman broke into the house. He grabbed Meghan and pulled her upstairs." she replied, her voice trembling. "I think he took her to the roof!”
Lawrence glanced out the living room window. The drizzle had turned into a steady rain. The image of Meghan on the slick, asphalt shingles flashed before his eyes. He rolled his hands into fists.
“I’ll take care of it.”
Lawrence heard the living room door slamming, heavy footsteps plodding on the hardwood floor behind him. He turned to see a big man with a buzz cut, suit and tie and scowl chiseled into his granite features. The man approached him, flashing a badge as he stopped to identify himself.
"Sergeant Joe Slatter, Desmond Plain's PD. Any idea who this guy is?"
Lawrence shrugged, then glanced towards the doorway leading to the attic.
"He's got my daughter up there."
"Any idea why he'd be coming after her?"
Lawrence turned back to his mother, his eyes widening as panic gripped his voice.
"Where are Julie and Kyle?"
The old woman sighed, then pointed towards to the master bedroom.
"There OK. A police officer is with them now. He just went after Meghan."
Lawrence sighed. "I was out with my wife. I'm a psychiatrist at Bannister hospital. I was just appointed head of the department. They were having a party in my honor..."
Slatter scribbled something on a notepad, then turned his attention back to him.
"The guy is big, maybe six-four. Skinny Irish guy. Got a voice like sandpaper--or so your mom says."
Lawrence swallowed. "Hennessey."
"Jacob Hennessey. He was one of my patients. I had him transferred to a group home about a week ago."
Slatter again jotted something down on the paper, then folded the pad and slid it into his pocket.
"How would he even know where I lived? I never gave him my address!"
"Your is the phone book?"
Lawrence gritted his teeth, then glanced back towards the door leading into the attic.
"Don't even think it. I called for a SWAT truck twenty minute ago. I'm going to send a hostage negotiator to try and talk him down. You just sit tight and let us do our job."
He barred his teeth, then took a seat on the couch in the far side of the living room. Slatter pulled his cell phone from his pocket and dialed a number, heading into the kitchen before the first ring. Lawrence could see Susan from the couch, soaked to the skin as she cried uncontrollably. The cop was trying to best to calm her down, but it wasn't helping. He slapped his hands on his knees and rose to his feet. Slatter was still talking on the phone, so now was his chance to make a move. He headed towards the door, yanking it open and racing up the stairs that led to the attic.
Lawrence’s legs were burning by the time he reached the top. It felt as if he had been running a mile in cement boots, each step harder, each mouthful of air more precious. He paused for a moment, then headed for the window that provided the easiest access to the roof top. To no surprise, the glass had been broken. He hesitated for a moment, then stepped out onto the slick shingles.
He could hear the voices from the crowd below. He shut them out, focusing instead on the tall figure standing by the chimney. It was Jacob Hennessey, wearing pajamas and a hospital robe, his jet black hair drenched by the rain. Lawrence dropped his eyes to the girl sitting by his feet. He swallowed a gulp of air, then whispered her name.
"Daddy!" she said, in a voice softer than a scream, but loud enough to alert Hennessey that he had company. The madman glanced up at him, smiling victoriously.
“It’s raining.” he said, as water dripped down his face. “I love the rain. It washes away all our sins -- like a fuckin' shower from heaven.”
Lawrence studied Meghan, who clung desperately to a narrow pipe that shot out from the roof. The pipe, a venting port for the attic, was the closest thing to an anchor she could find.
He took a deep breath to compose himself. “Pretty darn cold out here. You guys should come inside now. You don't want to be standing out here in the storm.”
He glanced towards the ground, where close to a hundred upturned faced watched his every move. The crowd was standing nearly fifty feet below, and traction on the slick shingles was nearly non existent. He spotted Susan in the group, she was standing next to Sergeant Slatter, who looked pissed.
“Ya just wanna get yer precious daughter back. Ya don’t give a squat if I live or die!”
Lawrence looked up as Hennessy pulled Meghan and jerked her upright. The young girl’s feet slid out from under her, tripping Hennessey to a knee as he grabbed her arm to stop her from falling.
“It's dangerous out here, Jacob!”
Lawrence could feel his heart beating quicker, as Hennessy inch closer to the precipice.
“All I want is for you and Meghan to come out of the rain. You’ll both catch pneumonia out here---either that or you’ll fall!”
He could sense his tone growing desperate, struggling to maintain his composure as he searched for a way to lure Hennessy back inside. The crowd below was growing belligerent, screaming profanities with every step the madman took.
“Daddy!” Meghan sobbed, as Hennessy dragged her closer towards the edge. "I'm afraid!"
Lawrence crept closer to the two. He lost his footing for a moment, dropping to his knee’s as the crowd below let out a collective gasp. He was about four feet away from Meghan, who by now was teetering on the edge on the roof with Jacob Hennessey.
“Be careful, Doc!" Hennessy said with a razor blade smile. "It's a mighty long way down."
Lawrence could hear Susan's from below. She was screaming now; the fear in her voice rattling his composure. How could he have been so stupid as to let Hennessey free?
“Please, Mr. Hennessy. Let me bring my daughter inside--she’s so cold out here!”
Lawrence’s voice cracked under the weight of his emotions; everything he knew about Psychiatry went out the window. This was no longer about anything other than getting Meghan back in the house. He was not going to try and mask his fear, or attempt to reason with the maniac. He would simply beg him to surrender his daughter---and pray that Hennessey was not the monster that everyone said he was.
“These people--they all hate me. They treat me like I’m not even a human being. Like I'm some kind of monster.”
Lawrence again looked down at the crowd gathered on his front lawn. The police had bought in a spot light, and were aiming it like a giant laser pointer at them.
“I care about you! Meghan cares about you! I’m sure the others do as well. You just need to give them a chance.”
Hennessy dropped his eyes to the rain slick roof, loosening his hold on Meghan’s arm. A smile formed on his lips, as he looked down at the terrified girl.
“Sometimes, people run out of chances.”
Hennessy stepped off the edge, wrapping both arms around Meghan as he leapt off the roof.
Lawrence tried to scream, but it was as if his throat was frozen. He could hear the roar of the crowd below ring in his ears, watching as Meghan and Hennessey disappeared into the darkness. He dropped to his knees, grabbing hold of the same iron pipe his daughter had clung so desperately moments earlier. He closed his eyes as the rain pounded his skin.