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  • Book Town Book Excerpt for Down to the Needle by Mary Deal




    Down to the Needle

    Down to the Needle
    A thriller
    By Mary Deal




    A woman’s search for her abducted child leads to an inmate on death row only months away from lethal injection for a crime she didn’t commit.

    ***

    “Forget it!” Abi said and then caught herself. “I’m just wondering what kind of scars you had that made your dad put you through those procedures.”

    “I always had it…as far back as I can remember.”

    Megan had said it when referring to the scarring. One scar. Abi’s heart flopped again. Sure, she would have had a scar that far back if Preston had the mole removed immediately after the abduction. Of course, Megan would not remember anything other than growing up with a scar on her cheek. She had blocked out the removal, just like the rest of her first five years.

    Every bit of information that surfaced about this inmate hinted at her being Becky. Abi’s heart thumped erratically. She looked around for her purse and then remembered the vial in her pocket. She fumbled nervously with the cap, finally able to retrieve a single nitro tablet. “Excuse me,” she said, then quickly inserted the pill under her tongue.

    “At least…you’re going to die from…natural causes,” Megan said pitifully. Then she began to hack again, doubled over, gagged and spit into the wad of tissues.

    The guard behind came forward and checked her condition. “She’ll have to go back to the infirmary soon,” she said.

    “Oh, please,” Abi said. “Please, a few more minutes.”

    The guard asked, “Winnaker?” as she placed a firm hand on Megan’s shoulder. “Winnaker? You up to this?”

    She couldn’t answer because of the coughing, so she waved a hand. The guard stepped back. Megan straightened up again and looked straight into Abi’s eyes. “Joe, the photographer…said you could help me. Unless you’ve got…something earth shattering to tell me…I’m leaving.” The more she tried to sit upright, the more tired she looked. Her strength was ebbing, her attitude deteriorating. Abi had to do something fast in order to get some concrete answers. “When’s your birthday?” she asked.

    Megan looked confused. “Well, September ninth, if you’re designing my tombstone.”

    The birthday could have been switched as well. Abi persisted. “Megan, do you know the name Becky Ann?”

    Megan’s eyes widened with an incredulous stare. Finally, she asked through clenched teeth, “What is this?” She coughed again. “You’re supposed to help me. All you ask are moronic questions?”

    “Please, just think a—”

    Curiously, she looked away. “I don’t know a Becky Ann,” she said. “Unless she’s the one who threw the damned brick…who the hell cares?”

    Abi’s moment of truth waned. She could go away and come back again when Megan felt better. That would mean more time wasted. What could she do right now, while she still had Megan’s attention? She could only sit and stare and wish for a miracle, but none happened. “I’m sorry I bothered you,” Abi said softly. She took one last look at the young woman. Thinking a mole had left a scar that resulted in dermabrasion was an exercise in futile hope. As far as the rest, this girl could have had a sadist for a father and it still would not make her Becky Ann. In desperation, Abi had tried to read too much into the situation. She decided that Megan was not her daughter and expected a wave of relief to wash over her. None did. She stood.

    “Where are you going?” Megan asked. “I thought you had some answers.”

    Abi paused, not knowing how to apologize for having given her false hope. “I thought I’d find some answers too,” she said, resigned. “But you’re not the person I’m looking for. You’re not my Bippy.”

    Megan’s eyes widened again. She gulped air. “Wait!” she said, screeching. The sound echoed off the walls. “Wa-ait!” She coughed pathetically. “What did you call me?”

    All of Abi’s strength left her. She gripped the edge of the table for support. “Do you know that name?” she asked.

    “Bippy. You called me Bippy.” Megan stood and the guard came to attention.

    “Sorry,” Abi said softly. “I meant to say Becky.”

    “No, you said Bippy!” She still screeched. “My dad told me never to say that.”

    Abi gasped and felt her knees going weak. “Never to say what?”

    “Bippy…Bippy,” Megan said, looking like she was trying to remember. Then her face lit up. She almost smiled. “Bippy, Bippy. You’re my Bippy,” she said in the sad, singsong voice of a child. She began to cry.

    Abi’s knees gave out. She nearly missed the chair when she collapsed. The room began to spin. She felt her arms drop from the table and everything began going black.

    A rush of people came at her and Joe helped her stay in the chair. “Becky,” she said, only able to mumble. “Becky.”

    Both guards held Megan in her seat.

    “Sorry,” one guard said. “Some of you are gonna’ have to leave.”

    “Hey, get it, okay?” Det. Britto asked. “The woman’s got a heart condition.”

    “And she’s just found her daughter,” Joe said.

    “Her daughter?”

    “Yes,” Joe said, motioning. “She’s not Megan Winnaker. Her name’s Becky Ann Fisher.”

    “Mommy?” Megan cried like a child as she clawed the table while being held back by the guards. “You’re my mommy!”

    Megan tried to free herself but could do little. A third guard burst through the rear door. “Time’s up, Winnaker,” the guard said. “I think we’ve seen enough.”

    “No, please!” Megan said, begging. “She’s my mother. I’ve found my mother.”

    “Bippy?” Abi asked as she reached across the table. She wanted desperately to touch her daughter but the diameter of the table separated them.

    Guards still held both of Megan’s arms. Mucous ran from her nose and her eyes watered. “Tissues,” she said, turning to show the guards. “Tissues.” She had calmed somewhat and they freed her arms so she could sit but stood close beside her. “You deserted me!” Megan said, screeching again. “You walked out on us.”

    In the time it took for Megan to blow her nose, Abi regained her composure. “No, Becky Ann,” Abi said. “Preston kidnapped you. He changed your names. He changed your face.” She gasped for breath. “You’re Becky Ann Fisher. I’m Abigail Fisher…your mother.”

    A strange look of recognition came over Megan’s face. She touched the side of her cheek as if remembering. Her demeanor changed in a flash. She halfway stood and gripped the edge of the table, looking like she might jump up onto the tabletop. “Mother,” she said, screaming suddenly. “Help me!” The guards dragged Megan screaming from the room. “I didn’t kill anyone! I don’t wanna’ die!”


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