Alias Adam (Chapters 30-31)

Chapter 30 – Predator

This was perfect. The club in Columbia was packed wall to wall with people, most of them his age and better than half of them women. A number were attractive. It was like a cafeteria in there. All he had to do was make his selection and wait. They were dancing, drinking, shouting to be heard. Nobody would pay any attention to him.

Quite a few of the coeds were intoxicated and unguarded, but most of them were with friends. He needed to find someone who was alone, someone who wouldn’t be missed. How should he do this – sidle up beside a target, slip the drug into her drink, and act like she was with him when she got groggy? That might do it. He passed over a few candidates. There was something in their manner that put him off.

Wait – there she was, and she was the most beautiful woman in the room. He pushed his way through the sweaty pandemonium to where she leaned with her back against the bar. Ordering a drink, he glanced at her profile out of the corner of his eye. Nice. Very nice. The bartender wasn’t looking, and neither was she. No one would notice. Leaning on his right elbow, he held the little bottle in his left hand and slipped it slowly between his arm and his body. He edged closer to her drink. Extending the bottle until it was just over her cup, he started to tilt it.

He felt a soft hand on his wrist and started sinking slowly toward the floor. The edge of the bar was receding above him. Strong hands were under his armpits lifting him. The throbbing music became more distant. Though propped up physically, he felt as if he were continuing to sink, and he became aware of something dark swirling about him in frustration. He fell the rest of the way into a tormented dream he would be unable to remember.

The first rays of the sun awakened him. He was outdoors and lying on a mowed path. Taller grasses on either side of this trail stirred in the early morning breeze, and it was chilly. Turning his head to the right, he suddenly closed his eyes. The woman he had attempted to drug was seated next to him with her knees drawn up to her chin and her arms wrapped around her legs. He groaned and rolled his face toward the sky. She spoke to him.

“Do you feel disoriented? Are you wondering what happened to you while you were out? That’s how your victims would feel.”

Save for an increase in his rate of breathing, there was no answer.

“Imagine being a woman – me, for instance – and waking up with the feeling that your clothes don’t quite fit.”

Although he did not know this, the effects of the organic anesthetic had been aggravated by the small amount of alcohol he had consumed, and this amplified the impact of her words.

“Where am I?”

“You’re in a very special place. This is Osage Village. In a way, I kind of found myself here. Do you really know who you are?”

Confused, he said nothing.

“You should give that some thought. Tell me your name, please.”

After what he had tried to do to her, this struck him as a reasonable request. He felt the outside of his pants pocket. His wallet was still there. She could have removed it and gotten the information she wanted. She could have robbed and abandoned him, but she had not. Neither had she turned him in.

“Uh, Ron. My name is Ronald Avery.”

“Are you a student at MU?”

The apparent incongruity of this question knocked him off balance and promoted further honesty.

“That’s right,” he said with a trace of sarcasm as he sat up woozily. “Go Tigers.”

“What are you majoring in?”


He hung his head. The reminder of academic responsibility intensified his shame. What if his parents found out?

“I graduated with a major in literature and a minor in philosophy. The study of ethics has a lot to say about our values and priorities. A course like that would be good for a business major like you, yeah?”

“I – I guess so.”

He was beginning to wonder if he was on the right planet.

“You may have gathered by now that I’m older than you. Do you have any sisters?”


“That might have helped. Would you want someone to do to your mother what you wanted to do to me?”

The feeling was one of being vaccinated, and the needle kept going deeper.

“I, uh – I guess I hadn’t thought of it that way.”

“Ron, I’m going to ask you an important question, and you need to answer me honestly. Is this the first time you’ve tried this? I’ll be able to tell if you’re lying.”

“She will, Ron.”

This deeper voice startled him. For the first time since he had awakened, he looked up and to his left. About six feet away, a massive man of mottled complexion was standing with his back to him. The man’s head was facing sideways toward the southern horizon. Now he understood how he had gotten here. Again, he lowered his head.

“It was the first time. I was curious – and horny.”

“And insecure,” Evelyn Morris commented. “There are better ways to relate to women.”

“Well, I’m not too good at that.”

“You could try talking to us,” she offered.

“I can never figure out what to say.”

“That’s because you’re angling. Why not forget about that and just treat us like people? You can be nice and talk about normal topics. The right people respond well when someone takes a genuine interest in them.”

“And if they don’t?”

“Then just leave them alone, but eventually, someone will. Don’t obligate them with your attention. If someone doesn’t reciprocate, move on. A lot of people are lonely. You’re not unusual that way.”

The young man heard footsteps on the soft earth. He was aware of considerable bulk approaching then looming over him. He dared not look up.

“Look at me,” Adam commanded.

There was no coercion in the tone of this directive, so Ron looked compliantly, though reluctantly, at his imposing interrogator. Unmatched eyes seemingly burned downward from the center of that varied complexion.

“The woman you tried to drug is my best friend. Do you know what we do together?”

“None of my business,” he mumbled.

“Then why did you get in the way of it?”

The would-be predator began to shake uncontrollably. Adam bent over and placed a steadying hand on his shoulder.

“Let’s go back to my first question.”

“I – I don’t know.”

“We talk. She has a fascinating mind, and I love the sound of her voice.”

Eve’s cheeks and ears flushed, but she recovered quickly.

“We’re much more interesting as people than as sex objects,” she added.

“I’m Adam. Look at her, Ron.”

He blinked and resumed staring at the ground.

“I can’t.”

“That wasn’t a request.”

It wasn’t a threat, either. It was a moral imperative, and he obeyed again.

“It’s good to look at her if you do it in the right way. She’s a human being. See her with new eyes.”

Ronald Avery didn’t expect what came to him next. It was a childhood recollection of his mother, his aunts, other adult women, and how he had regarded them prior to the detrimental effects of acculturation and hormones. In this light, he saw Evelyn much as Adam had for the first time in the coffeehouse at Westport. She was beautiful and unspoiled. Who in his right mind would ever want to ruin that? Out of respect he stood up. She remained seated. Looking down on her didn’t feel right, so he kneeled.

“I’m sorry, Miss.”

“I have a name,” she said softly. “You told me yours. Mine’s Evelyn.”

She stood and extended your hand.

“It’s nice to meet you.”

He hesitated.

“It is?”

“Sure. You’re worth saving. We were, too. You know, I’ve read that rapists are never satisfied – not even when they succeed. Have you ever wondered why that is?”

“I didn’t get that far, so no.”

“It’s because forced penetration isn’t the same as intercourse with a willing, enthusiastic partner. Bodies respond differently in each circumstance, and I haven’t really said anything about the psychological effects of love.”

The resulting silence was uncomfortable, but the discomfort was appropriate. Eve allowed time for it to work.

“Can you promise us you’ll never do anything like this again?” she asked.

He stood again and took her hand, and she watched him intently. It was as if she could see inside of him, as if nothing could be hidden.

“I promise.”

Her inspection ended in a look of apparent satisfaction.

“I believe you. Ron, you’ll remember your decision and what we’ve talked about. You won’t remember me, and you won’t remember Adam.”

She touched his temples, and he was out. Powerful arms caught and lifted him.

“Wow,” Eve exclaimed. “I’m still amazed that all I have to do is think of the result, and then it happens when I touch somebody.”

When Ron came to, it was dark, and he was back in Columbia. He was seated in an alley with his legs extended and his back against a wall. The street beyond the mouth of the alley looked familiar. He was in the college town just off campus from the University of Missouri. The incidents of that morning were blurred, but key parts of his conversation with Evelyn remained with him. He vaguely understood that he had been somewhere else, that he was back, and that he had lost about twenty-four hours. He could not remember the people who had confronted him, but he remembered everything he and they had said. Three things had been implanted in his mind: an ideal of womanhood, an ideal of manhood, and an ideal of how women should be treated by men. Failure to experience or live up to those ideals did not invalidate them, but that did not matter. He had made up his mind, and he felt more human.

His eyes caught sight of the little bottle, still almost full, beside him on the pavement. They had left it with him. This was a test of his sincerity. He shakily got up and bent down to pick it up. Examining it, he felt revulsion toward himself and his former intentions. He wanted a clear conscience.  Thinking carefully, he scrutinized the wall on the opposite side of the alley. Something he could not identify, some oppressive presence, surrounded him. Seeking to restrain him from doing what he had to do, it had not completely taken over, but neither had it left. He hurled the bottle away in disgust. The monster disintegrated with the smashing of glass against the brick wall. As Ron walked toward the street, he did not notice the two figures which looked down on him from the overlooking rooftop of a store that had closed for the evening. The smaller of the two addressed the larger.

“Hey. We make a pretty good team, yeah? Are you in the mood for some jazz?”

Chapter 31 – Warrior

“We need to get a car of our own. Jonathan’s getting nervous about the amount of miles we’re putting on this one.”


“He hasn’t said anything, but I can tell.”

“Knowing him, he doesn’t want to discourage us, Adam. What do you think we should do?”

“We can’t afford a new car, but we can contribute more money to the house until we can.”

“Neither one of them will settle for that.”

He raised his eyebrows and drummed the steering wheel with his thick fingers. It was dark outside their vehicle, and they were both dressed in black. Eve had been right. The new fabric breathed. It also afforded greater freedom of movement.

“We’ll just have to be persistent. They’ll accept the new normal after a while.”

“What about your medical bills?”

“Medicaid picked up most of the cost, and I’ve made a sizeable dent in the rest. It won’t be much longer.”

She nodded thoughtfully.

“That should free up a fair amount of money. Maybe we could put it toward a used car.”

“If I save carefully…”

“And I could put some aside, too. After all, we’d both be using it.”

They were driving south along I-49. Adam turned on the right blinker when he saw the off ramp for State Road 171.

“Okay with you if I go this way?”

“You’re the navigator on this one,” she answered. “We wouldn’t even be doing this if it weren’t for another of your premonitions.”

The highway skimmed along the northern edge of Carthage. After a few more minutes, they entered Webb City and turned left at the intersection with Madison. The name of this street changed to Rangeline as they headed south into Joplin. Almost instinctively, Adam made a series of turns until they were closer to the downtown area.

“Better get your mask ready. We’re close.”

“These outfits work better, yeah?”


“Still black – but ventilated and form-fitting. The shoes, too. They’re lighter and they grip better.”


His last response indicated that he was thinking of something else. She made no further attempt to engage him in conversation. They had been working together for long enough that she recognized this peculiar fade in his concentration from the immediate to the imminent. Suddenly, he pulled over and pointed to the entrance of an alley.


With their masks on, they initially proceeded with caution. They did not know what to expect. Evelyn took the lead since her night vision was more accurate. They moved silently and quickly in the shadows of the alley. It was about when they reached the literal center of the block that Eve stood up straight and placed her hands on her hips.

“I think we’ve found her.”

An unconscious woman was slumped near a utility pole. As they moved closer, they could see that she was partially undressed and had sustained some bruises. Adam looked blankly at his partner. He was primed for action, but there was nothing for him to do. The adrenaline began to subside, and he felt uncharacteristically weak.

“Eve, no…”

“Adam, look away. She’ll feel better when I wake her if she’s fully dressed.”

Like a smoldering mountain, he did an about face. He understood. This scene was all too familiar. Eve went about her task and then called out softly.

“Okay. She’s more presentable.”

He remained with his back to her.

“Should I step away?”

“I don’t know yet.”

Compassionately, Eve touched her fingertips to the unconscious woman’s forehead. Her eyes blinked open, and she stared angrily at the slice of starlit sky peeking down from between the buildings on either side of the alley. Sitting up suddenly, she pounded the sides of her fists on the pavement in frustration. Adam was genuinely startled to hear her exclaim the very words he was thinking.

“No! Not again!”

He whipped around to see his friend vigorously waving him off. The victim had not yet caught sight of him. He stepped into the shadow of a back entryway. Eve took hold of her wrists in an effort to calm her and to keep her from damaging her hands.

“This has happened to me too – repeatedly. I’m here to help.”

“Who put my skirt back on?”

“I did. The last time this happened, did you report it?”

“No. It wouldn’t have done any good.”

It will tonight. We’re going to catch him.”

“You? Who are you?”

“I can’t identify myself, but I mean what I said.”

“Well, it’s not him. It’s them. There were two. What can you do?”

Her words had come between forceful breaths.

“Not just me – not anymore. I have a friend, a very capable friend, and we’re good at finding people. May I introduce you to him?”

She shuddered and hesitated.

“I don’t need to meet another man right now.”

“You might feel differently if you met this one. He helped me after the last time I was attacked.”

Curiosity was taking hold but not at the expense of her protective defiance.

“Suit yourself.”

This girl had some fight in her, but she had nowhere productive to direct what she was feeling. Adam stepped out of the shadows, and she gasped involuntarily.

“Please don’t be alarmed. I’m on your side.”

“Do you believe me, now?” Eve questioned.

“I – I guess so.”

Silent tears filled her eyes.

“I need to wash off.”

“That might not be the best idea,” Eve instructed. “Please think about calling this in and submitting to an examination. They’ll need forensic evidence because we’re going to catch these guys.”

“Did you know them?” asked Adam.

“No. They had knives. They threatened me not to scream, not to tell.”

“Cowards,” he muttered. “Can you describe them?”

She did, and Eve followed up with another question.

“Where did they come from?”

“I was in the bar around the corner. I didn’t even have that much to drink. They must have followed me out.”

“Is there anything else you can tell us, anything that might help?”

She drew her shoulders in for a second and a fearful look of recollection crossed her face. It was quickly replaced by one of outrage.

“Yes. There’s something else. Before they – before they…”

Eve touched her shoulder.

“You don’t have to say it.”

The woman’s eyes flashed in the dim, ambient light.

“I want to. Before they attacked me they bragged about almost having their quota for the evening.”

Adam clenched his fists.

“We’ve got them. They’re still at it, and they’ll be in custody before sunrise.”

Shocked by the forcefulness of his pronouncement, she looked up at him as Eve helped her to stand.

“We have to hurry, but only if you promise me you’ll do what I asked. The police will need evidence to match to the men who did this.”

“But… they used condoms.”

“Were you able to scratch them during the assault?”

She looked down at her hands, and her voice quavered.

“Each – each one held me by – by the wrists while the other held his knife to me and…”

Her speech was accelerating. Eve touched her on the side of her neck, and the released chemicals calmed her down. Eve repeated her question.

“Did you manage to scratch them?”

“I think so – both of them, mostly on their wrists. I twisted my hands around and dug in pretty hard. I don’t know if the first one noticed because he was laughing at me while he was holding me down for his friend, but the other one cursed at me and knocked me out when it was over.”

“Then you’ve got the evidence you need under your fingernails. Be sure not to wash your hands until after you’ve been examined, and make sure they check for signs of a concussion – that is, if you’re in.”

Feeling herself in a position of emerging strength, the assaulted woman nodded with resolve.

“I’ll do that,” she asserted.

“Are you sure? If you agree to this, you need to understand the ordeal isn’t over.”

“And it wouldn’t be if I did nothing. It wasn’t before.”

“You have a phone, yeah?”

“No. They smashed it, but I’ll go back to that bar and make the call.”

“We’d go with you, but we need to remain anonymous.”

“I wouldn’t let you, anyway. I want to do this by myself.”

“Where can we find you so you can identify them?”

She looked apprehensively at Adam and whispered her address in Evelyn’s ear.

“Don’t worry. He can be trusted. Do you need an escort?”

“No,” she answered in an effort to maintain what she could of her independence. “I’d rather walk. It’s not far.”

“Are you sure?”

She nodded again.

“Lightning won’t strike twice in one night.”

This was not a typical response, and it betrayed something unusual about the young woman’s character. Impressed by her courage and fierceness of spirit, Eve looked briefly at Adam.

“Then we’ll get started. We’ll have them for you by morning at the latest.”

They walked with her out of the alley. She turned left, and they turned right to go to their car.

“Do you have a fix on them?”

“Not yet. I need your help.”

“I know this town. They won’t work the same bar twice or even one nearby, but I doubt they’ll go too far away, either. They obviously target college girls, so that cuts the list of spots down even further. We can hit all of them. We’ve got good descriptions, and your radar might start working.”

Adam looked at her with admiration.

“So this is what you know how to do. You’re good. Let’s go hunting.”

She gave him a grim smile, and her pupils constricted.

“You know what?” he asked with a nervousness he could not conceal. “I’m glad we’re on the same side.”

It was after four in the morning when the victim heard the knock on her apartment door. Sleep had been impossible. The memory of being attacked, the perceived degradation of being examined by a man, it was all too fresh. She was too mad to sleep, and the fact that this had happened to her twice called her sense of reality into question. It was no longer possible for her to determine the rules by which the universe operated. She looked through the peep hole in the door and flinched then relaxed. The two masked figures looked threatening at first, but then she remembered them as the man and the woman who had come to her assistance in the alley. She opened her door to a sight which put her on the road to clarity. Her assailants were lying unconscious on the ground.

“They’ll be out for hours,” the female figure reassured her. “Do you recognize them?”

“It’s them,” she confirmed. “How did you…”

“That’s not important. Do you have a phone?”

“My roommate’s.”

“Please get it now.”

She closed the door. A few minutes later, she opened it.

“Dial 9-1-1,” Eve instructed. “I want to make sure you don’t do anything rash before we leave. These men are helpless, and they’re at your disposal. Don’t reduce yourself to what they are.”

“What should I say?”

“Only that the two men who attacked you tonight are passed out in front of your apartment door. It won’t be a lie, and the police might think your attackers were still stalking you. Please don’t mention us. It might interfere with our work.”

The call was made. After giving the information to the dispatcher, the young woman hung up. There was a calm urgency to Eve’s voice as they were preparing to leave.

“You know the trial’s going to be difficult. The defense attorney will try to paint you in the worst possible light. Getting them convicted won’t be the end of it, either. You’ll need professional counseling. I did, but I resisted doing it for years. When I finally gave in, it helped. And get in touch with an advocacy group. You’ll need someone in your corner to help you through the trial. All right?”

A curious expression lit her features, one of surprise, hope, and determination.

“Yes, and thank you. This is really going to happen this time, isn’t it?”

“Yes, it is.” Adam confirmed. “If you’re really up for this, you could do a lot of good by following through.”

“To others like us,” Eve added. “Too many of us have been putting up with this in isolation.”

Once they were out of sight, Eve buried her face in Adam’s shoulder and cried.

“Why couldn’t we get there in time? We came as soon as we found out. Why didn’t he…”

“Do you think we can blame him?”

“No. At least I don’t want to…”

She remembered the thoughts that had answered her questions at Osage Village. Those answers had not been easy. Nor had they been emotionally satisfying, but they had spoken of responsibilities that most human beings were unwilling to undertake. The efforts that she and her chimeric friend were making would never be enough by themselves.

“This could have been my fault,” Adam reasoned. “Maybe I should have sensed it sooner. Maybe I wasn’t receptive.”

She dropped her head and shook it back and forth against his arm.

“We can’t do this to ourselves. We’ll burn out.”

“Then we’d better not try to explain it. We’d be wrong, anyway.”


“So we just keep going.”


“I just hope we didn’t push her too hard.”

Eve shook her head.

“Not this one, or I would have stopped. It might not help everyone, but it will help her.”

A thought occurred to Adam.

“I don’t know if this will make you feel any better…”


“Did you see the look in her eyes?”

Eve drove home, as she usually did, and they rode in silence. Deflated and wishing to drive more slowly in less traffic, they had decided to take S. R. 43 instead of the interstate. The darkened fields passed by their windows in mute testimony of their disappointment. Shaken by their experience that night, neither of them felt like turning on the car radio.



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