Righter Publishing Company
Post Office Box 105
Timberlake, NC 27583
Printed and bound in the United States of America
Library of Congress Control Number
Where Are They?
By Janice Rawlins
I dedicate this book to my daughter, Jennifer Sorrell, and to Joan Tackett for encouraging me to keep writing. I want to thank my husband for being so patient with me while writing this book.
Chapter 1: Ted Truman.. 5
Chapter 2: Desperate.. 11
Chapter 3: The house.. 17
Chapter 4: next morning 27
Chapter 5: the basement.. 39
Chapter 6: The truman’s. 51
Chapter 7: Stella truman.. 61
Chapter 8: Stella’s story.. 79
Chapter 9: Ellen’s sickness. 87
Chapter 10: strange happenings. 97
Chapter 11: the phone call. 107
Chapter 12: the trumans’ secrets. 121
Chapter 13: strong heart.. 139
Chapter 14: basement of secrets. 161
Chapter 15: the trumans arrive.. 179
Chapter 16: blood darters. 189
Chapter 17: back home.. 195
Chapter 18: leaving.. 203
About the Author.. 211
As a mother of three, Ellen Garvin was looking for a new start. She had many problems in her life, but today seemed different. It was a beautiful September day in 1978. Autumn was approaching quickly causing the leaves to change an array of colors. The gentle breeze on her face, mixed with the warmth of the sunlight shining through the windshield, made her feel more hopeful.
It had been a long time since Ellen had enjoyed such a day. She smiled as she glanced in her rearview mirror at two of her three kids. She shook her head as she thought of her three children. She knew she had her hands full. Two of them were teenagers and the youngest one was getting close to becoming a teen as well.
Ellen’s eldest child, Josh, was a typical seventeen-year-old. He was a prankster and liked to pick on his younger brother, and get a laugh. Josh was tall with a skinny frame, dark skin, and sky blue eyes. He knew he was a cutie and the girls loved his charming personality. Josh had his mother’s features and his charm came from his father. She remembered that was what attracted her to Bruce Garvin, the father of her children. She did not want to think about him at this time. She had too many other worries on her mind. Bruce was the reason she had left everything behind.
A smile spread across Ellen’s face when she thought of her only daughter, Susan. She was barely thirteen, but acted as if she was the mother. Susan was bold and a take-charge leader and her mother was proud of her strong personality. She had features much like her oldest brother, the same dark hair, but her eyes were green. She was a health nut and wanted all the family to eat right, exercise, and do all the things in life to stay healthy. For one so young, she was much wiser than her years.
It was when she thought of her youngest child, Ben, when Ellen realized how fast time was passing. It felt like it was passing her by. He was already an active eleven-year-old boy, and he had a heart of gold. It seemed just yesterday that she was changing his diapers. Ben was a curious boy, full of mischief, and unlike his older brother, girls were the last things on his mind.
Ellen tried her best to hide the worried look on her face from her children. She had never once thought she would ever be in the situation she now found herself in. It was hard, but she knew she had to leave. She had to be brave for her children. Her biggest worry was finding a place to live. She knew that if she didn’t find a place to rent soon, she would have to find shelter before nightfall.
Kentland was a place Ellen had called home all of her life. Now she was three hours away from home and yet another worry; once again, the temperature gage in her 1972 Blazer was running hot. She closed her eyes for a split second as she remembered using the last jug of water to cool down the radiator a little over an hour ago. Her new worry bothered her more, because she thought the Blazer might leave them stranded along the highway.
She felt a moment of joy when she saw the sign for the Mountain View gas station. It was a worn and weathered sign, but she could still read the faded letters that offered a glimmer of hope. Ellen tried not to get too excited about the sign. After all, it was only a sign.
It was not until she had driven another two miles down the road that she allow herself to become excited. Several cars in the parking lot gave her some hope it was still open for business. She might get help, one way or another, and that would relieve at least some of her worries.
Ellen and her children looked around the old gas station with curiosity as they slowly coasted in. It was nothing like the others they had back in Kentland. This one was more dilapidated. The smell of diesel fuel loomed in the air around them.
Her heart began to pound faster as she turned off the engine. For the first time in over three hours, all three of her children were quiet. Not one of them knew what to make of the old station. It wasn’t until Ellen reached for the door handle that the rest of them even attempt to move.
“It looks like something out of a scary movie,” Josh said, looking around.
“Josh,” Ellen warned under her breath.
Ellen wanted it to sound more like a threat so as not to frighten his younger brother or sister.
She knew the gas station wasn’t abandoned. There was the sound of a radio coming from inside the garage. There was no doubt someone was inside listening to an old Harry Williams song called I’m so lonesome I could cry.
She thought to herself, “Feels like I could cry.”
“Why don’t you guys wait here,” she said cautiously. “I’ll go in and see if there’s anyone there.”
Her kids didn’t argue with her. She walked straight toward the door, trying to look nonchalant and hide her fear about what she might encounter. She kept walking, getting closer to the garage door, and glancing backward to make sure her kids could see her and knew everything would be okay. She did not want her children to become more afraid than what they were. She knew they were afraid just by the look of the place. As she walked, she stepped on a soda can and it crushed under her foot. She had to bend over to get it off her shoe. She shook her head and looked around; there were soda cans everywhere, just lying around on the ground.
Just this once, she wished her kids would have disobeyed her and insisted on coming with her. None of them did. Instead, they huddled close enough to one another in order to have protection, but not close enough to make it obvious.
Ellen took a deep breath as she made her way towards the garage door. She prayed with every ounce of her being that everything would be alright and that she would be able to find help and not have to worry about her kids or her own safety.
“Hello?” She called out, her voice shaking, “Anyone here?”
She listened but only heard the radio playing in the background. She thought for sure if her heart pounded any louder her kids would think it was drums playing on the radio.
“Ma’am?” A man’s voice said, seemingly out of nowhere. It seemed to be coming from somewhere slightly left of her.
Ellen jumped at his unexpected voice. She couldn’t help but stare at the man as he walked closer to her. He looked nothing like what she had pictured in her mind.
He was nearly a foot taller than she was. Ellen could tell he was well built by the way he carried himself. She thought to herself how much he could have used a shower, as he was covered in grease, dirt, and God only knew what else.
It wasn’t until he removed his hat to wipe the sweat from his brow on his shirtsleeve did she realize he had light reddish-blonde hair.
“Ma’am,” he repeated.
“I’m sorry,” she said, quickly directing her attention back to the man. “I’m having car trouble and I was wondering if you would be able to help me.”
Ellen could hear the desperation in her own voice. She tried with every ounce of energy to appear brave in front of the stranger. At that moment, she felt like she could break down and cry.
“What kind of trouble are you having?” he asked, replacing his dusty cap back on his head.