Chapter XXI

Madame Cambier sat up slowly in her bed. She scanned the room to identify the noise that had woken her up. She then heard it again coming faintly from downstairs. She quickly got up and put on her robe, shook her husband awake and rushed down the stairs. She had now realized that the noises were light knocking sounds on the front door. As she got closer she discerned cries mixed with the knocks. She stopped in front of the door and brought her ear closer. Suddenly her heart started beating faster. "Clément?" she called, uncertain. A sob answered her. She quickly unlocked the door and opened it.

Clément stood in his pajamas, shaking from the cold and holding his arm, his face covered in blood. Madame Cambier picked him up, slammed the door shut in her hurry and called, panicked, for her husband. Monsieur Cambier came rushing downstairs, took one look at Clément, grabbed his coat, and rushed outside toward the Glairon's house. He had not yet reached the gate when he stopped in his tracks upon hearing a gunshot inside the Glairon's house. Cursing profusely he rushed back to his house and picked up the phone dialing the police and the ambulance.

In the meantime Madame Cambier had assessed Clément's wounds. "I know it hurts, sweetheart," she told him gently as she cleaned the cut on his forehead, which happened to be the source of all the blood streaming down his face. His arm was probably broken and there was nothing she could do to stop the pain until the ambulance came. "You're going to be just fine.'s okay." She finished cleaning the cut and bandaged it as well as she could. Monsieur Cambier had told her quickly what he heard outside and with a worried look t she asked Clément to tell her what happened.

"Sweetie, can you explain to me how you got hurt?"

Clément looked at her with teary eyes. "I fell."


"Mommy..." He sniffled heavily before continuing. " bedroom window..."

Madame Cambier slowly put the pieces together. Clément had a bed sheet tied to his waist when she first saw him. "Did mommy lower you down from your bedroom window?"

Clément nodded, tears flowing down his cheeks again. "My arm hurts," he cried.

"I know baby. We called the doctor...shuh..." she put him on her lap and hugged him tightly, mindful of his arm. "Everything is going to be all right." The worst scenario ran through her mind, and she tried to hide her tears from Clément so she wouldn't worry him.


  Beatrice pushed the barrel of her gun into Laurence's back as they walked downstairs. "You thought you could be smarter than me," she yelled angrily.

Laurence was trying to keep steady down the stairs, but Beatrice's blow to the side of her head had made her very dizzy. She lightly touched where the barrel of the gun had connected with her head and felt a gooey substance. A quick look at her finger and she realized the substance was blood. Beatrice pushed her toward the kitchen. Laurence was finding it difficult to focus and her head was throbbing, making it harder to put one foot in front of the other.

Once they reached the kitchen, they both were surprised to find it empty. Laurence let go of a breath she didn't know she had been holding. Beatrice shoved Laurence into a chair. Her eyes had turned wild, her hair was disheveled, she looked one hundred percent like the mad woman she was. "You and your little friend think you can outsmart me...we'll see who wins."

"Come on Beatrice. Why don't you recognize it when you've lost?" Laurence blinked, trying to focus her suddenly blurry vision. The throb in her head was almost unbearable.

"Chloe!" yelled Beatrice. "I'm going to shoot your girlfriend, want to come and watch?" Beatrice brought her gun an inch away from Laurence's face. "Bang," she said jokingly with a mad laugh. "I'm going to count until five. Either you come back and maybe we can talk, or I shoot her...One..."

Chloe slowly got out from her hiding place under the dining room curtains, her mind quickly trying to find a solution to stop Beatrice. "Chloe run...don't worry about me." She heard Laurence call.


"Stop Beatrice, I'm here." Chloe walked into the kitchen with her hands raised above her head.

"No," screamed Laurence, tears flowing down her face.

"Good. Have a seat," said Beatrice, pointing at the chair next to Laurence.

Chloe slowly sat down. Her eyes never left Beatrice. A quick look at Laurence showed that she was trying very hard to stay conscious, her hair was glued together with blood and her eyes were unfocused. Chloe tried to ignore her own throbbing head and lightly smiled at Laurence reassuringly.

Beatrice slowly lit another cigarette, "You see..." she took long drag before continuing. "There is something you should know about me by now...I never keep my promises." As she finished her sentence, she raised her gun and aimed at Laurence. "Goodbye," she said sarcastically.

Chloe saw Beatrice raise her gun toward Laurence and her instinct kicked in. She threw herself at Beatrice as her finger was getting ready to pull the trigger. Chloe knocked Beatrice to the floor as the gun fired a shot. "No!" yelled Chloe as Laurence doubled over in pain and fell on the floor. Blind rage gripped her, she kicked the gun away from Beatrice's hand and started pummeling her with her fists. Beatrice had not had time to react and there was little she could do against Chloe's anger.

After a few more blows, Chloe stopped, out of breath and stood up, leaving Beatrice lying on the floor. She grabbed the gun quickly and pointed it toward Beatrice.

"Get up," she yelled, looking worriedly at Laurence who was on the floor contorted in pain. Beatrice slowly got up. "Sit down...hurry, I am in no mood to deal with you..." Chloe took a deep breath and knelt next to Laurence. "Lo...can you hear me? How badly are you hurt?" she asked with a shaky voice.

"She got my shoulder...hurts like hell," said Laurence, pain obvious in her voice. Chloe stood up suddenly at the sound of sirens. "I guess Clément made it," said Laurence faintly.

"It's the end are going back to the insane asylum, and somehow this time I don't think you're going to get out so easily."

"I can't go back there." She looked at Chloe, her eyes almost pleading. A few seconds ticked by as Chloe and Beatrice stared at each other.

Chloe took a deep breath. "I'm going to help Laurence and we're going to get out of here... you know it's over." As she finished her sentence, police cars pulled in front of the house. Chloe slowly knelt next to Laurence for the second time, her eyes once again never leaving Beatrice. "Sweetie, I know it hurts, but I need you to be strong one more time. I'm going to help you get up and you and I are going to walk out of here." Chloe pulled Laurence into a sitting position. "Almost there, come on." With Laurence helping as much as she could, they finally got into a standing position. Chloe backed up slowly and let go of Laurence once she had gotten hold of the wall. She then walked back to Beatrice and slowly put the gun onto the kitchen counter. The two women exchanged a look of understanding and Chloe backed up to where Laurence was. They reached the lobby as a loud knock was heard. Chloe opened the door and let the police in as a gun shot was heard from the kitchen followed by the fall of a body. Chloe didn't flinch and helped Laurence out.


Chloe sat on a reclined chair holding Laurence's hand. Laurence had undergone surgery to remove the bullet lodged in her shoulder, and she now slept peacefully. A large bandage covered the right side of her head where Beatrice's gun had connected with her skull. Chloe's wound had required a few stitches, but after her x-rays came back and no obvious trauma was found, she requested to be released. The doctors refused, but she made such a fuss that they agreed to let her stay in Laurence's room, so they could at least keep an eye on her for 24 hours. Chloe wiped a tear from her cheek and held Laurence's hand tighter. On a makeshift bed slept Clément. His little form was cuddled under the dark blankets, the only white spot on the bed was his fresh arm cast. The doctors had called him lucky for coming out with only a broken arm and two stitches on his forehead. Chloe shook her head and tried to push away her worries. She knew their night adventure would have consequences on Clément's behavior and her heart tightened thinking of the fear this little four-year old must have felt. She tucked her blanket under her chin and closed her eyes.

To be continued

copyright (c) 2000 Malaurie Barber
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