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Chapter Twelve

Ralph and Ruth Troulson entered Gossville shortly after 11 p.m.
They had to drive through town to reach Pinegrove Motel on the
northern outskirts. Nightlife was at its peak, and the main street was
filled with vacationers going from one tavern to another.

"Oh, Ralph! All these people! They make me so nervous!"

"Don't let them bother you, honey!," he assured her. "They're all
wrapped up in their own affairs. No one is paying any attention to

"With the down-town lit up so brightly it seems like they can look
right into the car and see our faces and recognize us. I keep wanting
to look back to see if someone is reading our license plate."
Just then a traffic officer standing in the middle of the street blew
his whistle and signaled Ralph to stop.

"Oh, Ralph! He's spotted us. Now we'll never reach the motel, and
Tommy will be frantic wondering what happened to us."

But her fears were allayed when the policeman signaled them to
proceed after a few pedestrians crossed the street in front of them.

"No one but Jehovah knows where we are, honey. And his hand of
protection is over us. In just a couple of minutes we'll be at the motel
and you'll be able to relax. Joe and Larry should be pulling in there
with Tommy any time now, if they haven't arrived already." Ralph
knew his role and played it well as he sought to comfort and
strengthen his wife, but his own heart remained uncomforted and
fearful of the many uncertainties ahead.

Indeed, the Troulsons were about to have their worst fears
realized. For the individuals awaiting them in room number 5 at
Pinegrove Motel were not Tommy, Joe and Larry, but state police
detective Philip McIntyre and two local officers from the Gossville
department. Their cruiser and the detective's unmarked car were
parked behind the Sunoco station next door to the motel, hidden from
the sight of anyone approaching from the road. The three men sat in
front of the TV in the darkened room watching "Hot Panties in Paris"
on the movies-for-money channel--a treat innkeeper Rosie Haskins
offered them for free if they promised not to break up any of her
furniture while making the arrest.

"I'll gladly help you put these child abusers behind bars," she had
told them. "That's where they belong. But I don't my property
damaged in the process."

Detective McIntyre had assured her that he and his associates were
professionals and that they knew how to do their job without making
a mess. Besides, the suspects they planned to arrest were a married
couple with no history of violent behavior. It wasn't as if they were
lying in wait for drug dealers or bank robbers.

Finally arriving at the motel Ralph Troulson scanned the cars in the
parking lot as he pulled in. To his great disappointment he noted that
Joe Fontaine's Thunderbird was not among them.

"They're not here yet," he told his wife in the most confident tone
his vocal cords could produce.

"Oh, dear! I hope nothing has gone wrong. Maybe we should have
gotten a mature older couple to drive Tommy up here."

"No! Remember: we decided this way was best because people are
looking for a father, a mother, and a son--not for a couple traveling
alone or for two young men with a little brother. Besides, Joe and
Larry are pioneers; they're responsible and mature theocratic brothers
for their age."

"Why are you parking here, right in front of the motel office?" Ruth
challenged as her husband shut off the motor.

"So the boys will see our car right off and will know we're here."

"Remember to use your middle name when we check in," she
added, nodding her agreement with his decision on parking.
Rosie Haskins was at her desk as the Troulsons entered. "Good
evening folks. A room for two?"

"Yes, there's just the two of us, two adults," Ralph replied, making a
point of the fact that they had no child with them.

"And for how many nights?"

"One. One night only."

"Fill out this card, please," Rosie instructed, placing a clipboard and
pen on the counter.

Ralph exchanged glances with Ruth to let her know that he
remembered what to do, then printed "RALPH CLARK" and signed the
same name at the bottom.

"And how will you be paying for it?"

"VISA Card," came Ralph's response as he reached for his wallet.

"Oh, no. Make that cash." Ruth's elbow in his side had saved him from
betraying their identity with the card. He handed Mrs. Haskins $85.00

"Okay! That will be room number 5, three doors down on the
right," the innkeeper said as she placed the key on the counter. Then,
turning from the guests who seemed to fit the description given by
detective McIntyre, she stepped over to the switchboard and rang the
phone in room 5.

Responding to the pre-arranged cue, the detective killed the TV
and assumed his position behind the door, pistol in hand. The two
Gossville officers drew their guns also and ducked into the bathroom.
The trap was set.

Ralph Troulson the light switch next to the door as he stepped
inside, and then commented to Ruth about the mussed appearance of
the bedspread where the officers had been sitting watching TV.
"I think we should go back and ask for a different room," she
responded on seeing it for herself.

At that moment, as they were about to turn from the bed,
detective McIntyre announced his presence by slamming the door
behind them. "We're police officers," he proclaimed loudly as the two
uniformed men emerged from the bathroom, weapons in hand.

"Oh, Ralph!", Ruth squeaked, throwing herself against her husband,
who wrapped his arms protectively around her.

"Just cooperate, and no one will get hurt," McIntyre spoke softly
now, gesturing with his pistol for the two to stand apart from each
other. "Ralph and Ruth Troulson, I presume?"

"Yes, officer. I can see no point in denying it. You must know who
we are, if you were waiting for us like this."

"That's correct, Mr. Troulson."

"Then you must have our son, Tommy," Ruth broke in excitedly.

"The boys were the only ones who knew we were coming here. Where
is Tommy? I want to see my son!"

"All in due time, Mrs. Troulson," the detective continued calmly.
"The first order of business is for us to ask you a few questions."

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