DISCLAIMER: See Chapter One for disclaimers, etc.

TITLE: Real Monsters – Chapter Five


SETTING: October 1981

SUMMARY: Jill goes to talk to the parole board and a decision is reached.

AUTHOR's NOTE: The first chapter of this story and this chapter are going to be similar. But, Jill is going to make different remarks in this chapter.

It was a warm late October morning. Jill had been on the road for three hours and figured she still had another three hours driving to do before she reached the state prison in Vacaville. It was lonely driving with nothing but the radio or her cassette tapes to keep her company, but Mike wouldn't have been able to go anyway. Someone had to stay home and take care of Mary Kathryn. She pulled up to the guard's shack at the prison shortly after noon. After explaining why she was there and showing appropriate I.D., she was directed where to go.

She walked into the visitor center where she signed in, had herself and her bag searched, then followed a guard to where the parole board was meeting. "Please have a seat. They'll call you when they're ready for you," the guard instructed her as she nodded.

"Thank you," Jill whispered as she tried to relax.

After what seemed to be an eternity of waiting, a woman came out of the room and beckoned Jill to follow her. She walked in to find a long table with six people sitting at it across the room from another long table where she was instructed to sit. "Thank you for taking the time to talk to us today, Mrs. Danko," one of the men said. "There's water at your table if you need some. We'd like to hear what you have to say."

"Thank you," Jill poured herself a glass of water before reaching over and removing the eight by ten framed picture of Mary Kathryn that she had placed in her tote bag and placed it beside her on the table. "On October 22, 1973, my husband and I went out to dinner for our anniversary. I don't remember anything of what happened from the time we were seated at our table until early the next morning. At around 8:00 that night, a man by the name of Steve

Wainz entered the restaurant, looking for one of the patrons. When the maitre d' attempted to detain Mr. Wainz, he pulled out a gun and began shooting. My husband told me later that the whole incident probably lasted no more than two minutes. I was seriously injured in the attack. I had learned that afternoon that I was pregnant with our first child. I lost that child due to hemorrhaging caused by the bullet wound. I spent almost six hours on the operating table that night. Mr. Wainz caused a lot of misery not only in our lives, but also in the lives of our friends and family. A lot of things that Mike and I used to enjoy as a couple were taken away from us that night. Going out to dinner was something we both enjoyed very much. That was taken from us. A friend of mine pointed out to me that now when we go out to dinner, Mike sits where he can watch the door. Having a conversation with him during a restaurant dinner is impossible, because he's watching every single person who enters the place. Wanting a family was something that we also wanted very badly. For a year after the attack, I wouldn't even entertain the idea of trying to have another baby. As you can see, I changed my mind about that. But, it was another three years before that dream was realized. I was told when Mr. Wainz was sentenced that he would be in prison until 1999. I didn't know about good time and time served. My husband did, but he didn't want to upset me by telling me the reality of the criminal justice system in our country. I don't want Mr. Wainz released, because I don't want to open my morning paper five or six months from now and read about him going into another restaurant and ruining someone else's life as he did to me and my husband," she paused as she shuffled the papers in her hand.

After answering questions from the parole board, Jill finished reading her statement concluding with remarks about how Mike and her rarely took their young daughter to restaurants. "Thank you for taking the time to talk to us. You'll receive word of our decision," they dismissed her as if she were a fly on the wall.

Jill packed her things away and walked out, wondering how much, if any, of her statement the board had actually paid any attention to. She stopped at a pay phone on her way out and called home, reversing the charges. Mike answered on the first ring. "Hello?" He asked, sounding slightly out of breath.

"Hi, sweetheart. It's me. You sound breathless. What're you and Mary Kathryn doing?" She asked.

"She's wearing me out. How did it go?" He asked as he shushed Mary Kate, who was running around the kitchen.

"I don't know. I just feel like I was talking just to hear the melodious sound of my voice," she said in irritation. "I'll be home sometime this evening. I just wanted to let you know that I was going to be on my way home soon."

"Okay, be careful and I'll see you this evening," he told her as they broke the connection.

Driving home that evening after it had gotten dark, Jill thought about the whole disgusting incident with Wainz. She hoped the parole board had listened to her. She remembered his statement to her when he was sentenced. About how sorry he was and he hoped she could forgive him. She'd forgiven him a long time ago, but she could never forget, no matter how hard she tried. Having Mary Kathryn had helped in the forgiveness department. She remembered the very first time she'd actually seen him. It had been on the evening news shortly after she'd been released from the hospital. It was stock footage taken when he was arrested in the flower shop following his escape. Jill had commented to Mike how she was disappointed. That she thought he'd look more like a monster than a pathetic middle-aged man who a heavily bandaged head. Mike had replied to her how monsters could come in all forms. Over the years, she had learned how right he had been.

Mike was trying to read a bedtime story to Mary Kate, but the little girl wasn't cooperating. "When's mom coming home? She reads better than you do," she complained petulantly as she threw one of her dolls off of the bed.

"I told you that mom had an errand to run. She'll be home later after you're already asleep. And, why is it you tell her that I read better when she reads to you?" He wanted to know.

"I don't know," she pouted as she threw another doll to the floor.

"Mary Kate, stop it or you're going to sleep right now," Mike warned as he picked the dolls off of the floor and placed them back on her bed.

"How come I can't have a kitten?" She asked as she threw herself down and covered her head with her blanket.

"Mary Kathryn, I'm not talking to you again. Sit up and listen to the story, or I'm getting up and turning off the light," he said as Mary Kate reluctantly removed the covers from her head. "We'll talk about the kitten another time."

"Can I have a drink of water?" She asked, sitting up and smiling brightly.

"Yes, you can have some water," he answered, reaching over and handing her a cup of water from the night stand. He couldn't resist that smile that was so much like Jill's.

But, after replacing the cup and once again starting to read, the same behavior started once again. "Okay, that's it," Mike stated as he closed the book and got to his feet.

"No, daddy! I'll be good! I promise! One more chance! Please?" She begged as Mike walked to the door.

"No. You were told twice. Lay down and go to sleep," he admonished her as he turned out the light and pulled the door partially closed.

"Daddy!" Mary Kate cried as her father's footsteps faded down the stairs. "Daddy, please come back!"

"Go to sleep, Mary Kathryn!" Mike called as he went to the kitchen to fix a snack before going back upstairs to his and Jill's bedroom.

Due to traffic, it was after ten by the time Jill got home. Pulling into the driveway, she saw the light was still on in hers and Mike's bedroom. She walked into the house and reset the alarm before going up the stairs to the bedroom. Stopping first in Mary Kathryn's room, she picked up her favorite doll and covered the little girl, who had kicked off her covers. Mary Kathryn sleepily opened her eyes when she felt the covers being tightened around her. "Hi, mom. Did you finish your errand?" She asked as she yawned widely.

"You're supposed to be asleep," Jill whispered as she kissed her on the forehead. "Did you have a fun day with daddy?"

"He said we can have pancakes tomorrow? Can we?" She begged as Jill stood up.

"Yes, I'll make pancakes tomorrow. Go back to sleep. It's very late. Here's Alice," Jill handed her the beloved rag doll as she got ready to leave the room.

She walked across the hall and stood in the doorway of their bedroom, smiling. Mike was asleep with his reading glasses propped on his forehead and a Stephen King paperback opened face down on his chest. After more than 12 years together, her heart would still jump into her throat every time she looked at him. There were times when she loved him so much that it was hard to breathe. After all of the teasing about the early days of their relationship, when she thought he was a pest, he was everything she ever could've dreamed of in a husband and much more. She couldn't have asked for a better father for their daughter. He was so much more patient where Mary Kathryn was concerned than she was. He didn't mind the endless questions and he was always available for tea parties with her and her endless family of dolls. And, as Willie, Terry, Chris and Lt. Ryker would tell her, you couldn't ask for a more loyal and devoted friend. He would put his life on the line for them in a minute if it ever came to that and he knew they would do the same for him.

She quietly walked over and removed her nightshirt from her dresser drawer before walking into their bathroom and closing the door. She decided to wake him up in the best way she knew how when she got into bed. She knew how much he loved that. After taking a shower, she exited the bathroom and made sure their bedroom door was closed before climbing into bed beside her husband. "Mike, sweetheart. I'm home," she whispered as she picked up the book he'd been reading and looked at it. "Mike, if you keep reading this, you'll never let Mary Kathryn have a dog."

"No, I just won't let her have a Saint Bernard," he yawned as he opened his eyes sleepily. "When did you get home?"

"A little while ago," she answered as she propped herself up on his chest and stared into his eyes.

"How did it go?"

"Okay, I guess. I'm not sure if they listened to me or not. I read my statement, they asked me a few questions and that was that. How was your evening?" She wanted to know.

"Okay, until this evening. Mary Kate decided this evening that she didn't like the way I read to her so she started throwing her dolls off of the bed," he grinned at the look on Jill's face.

"I get that all of the time. When I read to her, she always tells me that you read better than I do. I just stop reading, get up and leave the room," she informed him.

"I did that. Remember the movie 'Shane,' at the end when Joey is calling for Shane to come back?" He asked as Jill nodded. "That's what I heard as I was walking down the stairs."

"She was actually calling for Shane? I didn't think she'd ever seen that movie," Jill teased as Mike made a face.

"Very funny," he grumbled as he slipped his arms around her and pulled her tighter to his chest.

"I just want it to be over, Mike. I don't want to have to think about it any more and I don't want to have to explain it to anybody else," she whispered as she looked intensely into his eyes.

"Well, let's just hope that they did listen to you and he doesn't get out until his original release date. Then we can slam the book closed on this chapter of our lives," he promised as he pulled her down to kiss her.

Jill was cooking breakfast the next morning as Mary Kathryn sat on a stool nearby watching every move she made. "Where's daddy?" She asked as Jill expertly flipped a pancake on the griddle.

"He went running with Terry. He said you were complaining about his reading last night. Daddy works hard, Mary Kathryn. You're lucky that you have a daddy who wants to read to you before bed. A lot of daddy's just say they're tired and send their little girls to bed without a bedtime story," Jill looked pointedly at Mary Kathryn as the little girl hung her head.

Mary Kathryn was about to say something when her and Jill heard the front door open and close. "Great! I'm just in time for breakfast!" Terry announced as he trooped into the kitchen, followed by Mike.

"Sit down, I'll get you some coffee," Jill smiled as she walked over and got a coffee cup from the cabinet and filled it before giving it to Terry.

"So, how did it go?" Terry asked as he sat beside Mary Kathryn.

"I don't know," she replied as she placed plates at the kitchen table. "Mary Kathryn, please go wash your face and hands."

Several weeks later . . . .

Jill anxiously opened the letter with the return address of The Department of Corrections. She almost cried with relief when she read the short, but to the point form letter.

Dear Mrs. Danko,

This is to inform you that the decision of the parole board is to keep Steven R. Wainz incarcerated until his original date of release.

"Sincerely yours, blah blah blah," Jill held the letter to her chest and heaved a huge sigh until she looked down to see Mary Kathryn looking up at her expectantly. "Mary Kathryn, let's go inside and cook daddy a very special dinner."

"Let me guess. Chicken and rice?"

"You've got it," Jill smiled as she gathered the small girl in her arms and squeezed her tightly.