Abraham Winston sat on the street corner and fidgeted with his hands. People would stop and speak to him, he would mutter a word or two back, but refused to make eye contact with them.
“That boy is slow,” some muttered as they passed by. Some people went so far as to avoid contact with him at all. Abraham exhibited few social skills. His father, Tate Winston was senior Alderman of Fredericksburg.
On days when he brought Abraham to work with him, he would leave him with the security guards that sat in the lobby. Various paintings and drawings of Fredericksburg was hung from the walls. Abraham was entranced by the colors of the paintings.
Timmy Mathieu, senior guard would often take Abraham outside when he went out to smoke. Today, was no different from any other day when Abraham visited. After completing his rounds, he stopped by the desk. His partner, Becky Stonebridge, sat behind the desk and watched the monitors.
“Hey Becky. Abraham and I are going outside for a minute. We’ll be back in five.”
It took Timmy some time to connect with Abraham, but he finally managed to get through to him.
“Abraham, do you want to go outside?”
Abraham nodded and wrung his hands. He swayed back and forth and followed Timmy outside. The smoking area bordered the western side of the building. Timmy and Abraham walked through the small square garden that led into the smoking area. Timmy sat on one of the benches and lit his cigarette.
Abraham wandered around the garden. Timmy watched traffic pass by. He finished his smoke and turned to talk to Abraham.
“Abraham? Where are you at, bud?”
There was no answer.
“Oh, sweet Jesus.”
Timmy leaped to his feet and walked around the garden. Abraham was nowhere to be seen. He raced through the garden and into the government building. Becky looked up when he rushed in.
“Have you seen Abraham,” Timmy shouted at Becky.
She shook her head, her eyes wide at the ferocity of Timmy’s voice.
“No, Timmy. I haven’t seen him since y’all went out.”
“Look on the monitor. Find something….”
Becky backed up the tape and played it from the start. The camera had captured Abraham wandering through the garden flapping his hands.
“There,” Timmy shouted. “What was that?’
On the screen, a shadow of a human form showed on the video. Abraham looked at it and followed it. He disappeared from the video and never showed up again.
“Oh God, poor kid. We need to let his father know.”
“I’ll call him down,” Becky offered. Timmy shook his head.
“No. I lost his son; he’ll hear it from me. Call 911 and let them know that Abraham is missing. Get the ball rolling.”
Timmy started up the stairs. “How am I going to explain this to his father,” Timmy fretted. On the second floor of the building, Timmy stopped outside of Alderman Tate Winston’s office.
He knocked on the door and took a deep breath.
No one answered his knock. Timmy turned the knob and the door swung open. He walked in. Alderman Winston looked up from his desk. His face was wet with tears.
“Oh, sir. I’m sorry to burst in, but I need to talk to you.”
“I know,” Alderman Winston said.
“I’ve lost your son, sir. We’ve called the police…”
“It’s okay, Timmy. Abraham is safe…for now.”
“Everything is fine as of now. Please, I need you to go.”
Timmy stepped out and pulled the door shut. What the Alderman had said made no sense to him. He walked down the steps to his desk. Becky looked at him, and Timmy shrugged.
“I don’t know what’s going on,” he told her. “Alderman Winston said not worry about it, that Abraham is safe.”
A police car pulled up in front of the building and walked in. The senior officer walked to the desk, the junior stood next to him and stayed silent.
“We received a call about a missing kid. What happened?”
“Officer, I went out to smoke. Abraham goes with me, sometimes. He went out with me today, and he was wandering around the garden. I finished my smoke and turned to get him, and he was gone.”
“You didn’t see anything?”
“What did you do next?”
“I searched the garden, and ran here. We looked at the video and saw that someone convinced him to follow them.”
“We need the video.”
“Sure.” Timmy ejected the video and handed it to the officer.
“Thanks. We’ll look into it.”
The senior officer turned and looked at Timmy and Becky. He cocked his head to one side.
“Is that all you’re going to ask me? This kid is autistic, his father is Alderman Winston. Shouldn’t you question him to see if he has any enemies or something like that?”
The officer stepped close and leaned toward Timmy. His dark eyes peered into Timmy’s.
“You should quit while you’re ahead, hoss. We’ll find the kid. You’re a security guard, not a cop. Don’t think to tell us how to do our job.”
“Sir, I didn’t mean for it to come out like that.”
“Just stay out of the way, old man.”
Timmy watched them leave, Becky stood at his shoulder.
“Is it me,” Becky said, “or did they seem to not care if Abraham was found or not?”
“It wasn’t you, Becky. Neither officer seemed interested in finding him. Did you get their names?”
“No, sir. There was no identification on their uniforms, they weren’t wearing any badges. I don’t think they were cops…”
Lilly slept across the bed, Konan slept in his recliner. Both dreamed of dead bodies eaten by rats. Konan woke before his alarm went off. He walked into his bedroom and checked on Lilly. She was still asleep. Konan shut the door and turned on his coffee pot. He inserted a K-cup and pressed the largest size.
When his coffee was made, he spooned in sugar and sat on the edge of his couch. The bedroom door opened, and Lilly walked to the couch. She sat beside him.
“I just got a phone call. Do you know Alderman Winston?”
“No. I can’t say I do.”
“He is the senior Alderman for Fredericksburg. Winston has an autistic son named Abraham. As of now, he is listed as missing.”
“We’ve already got a case, why are they calling you?”
“It was Val Rankin and Manson. They are assigned to it.”
“So, why did they call you.”
“I don’t know. I guess we aren’t the only ones who think there is something evil happening in our town.”
“Well, it’s after 9. I suppose we should go to work. Why don’t we grab something to eat through a drive through or convenience store. We should go by the M.E.’s office to see if there are any new developments.”
“Sounds good. Do you think anyone would notice if I wore the same clothes as yesterday?”
“I think that we’re too busy for anyone to notice what you’re wearing.”
“Good. Let’s roll.”
Tammy Bowen was sitting at her desk when Lilly and Konan walked in. She nodded at Lilly, and looked away from Konan. Lilly sat down. Konan stepped out in the hallway. For some reason or other, Lilly seemed to get more information from Tammy when he wasn’t in the room with them.
“Good morning, Tammy. Have you nailed down what the cause of death is in Tiffany Watkins case?”
“A heart attack as I said in my preliminary examination.”
“Did anything stand out when you examined her thoroughly?”
“The rats started with her ankles, then started on her thighs and neck. There is one thing that bothered me about it. She was missing the whole weekend right?”
“Yeah. She was last seen on Friday night, or early Saturday morning.”
“Then, how was she still drunk when the rats began to eat her?”
“She was still drunk?”
“Yeah. The booze was still in her system, along with several party drugs.”
“Yeah. It was a bad way to die.”
“Thanks for the information, Tammy. We’ll let you get back to it.”
Konan and Lilly left the M.E.’s office. While Konan drove them to the police station, Lilly filled him in.
“Someone was there when she passed away. They kept her drunk, and when she passed they upped and left. What kind of psycho are we dealing with,” Lilly asked. Konan shook his head.
“No idea, Lilly. This entire cluster makes no sense.”
Val Rankin and Manson were sitting at their desk when Lilly walked in. She sat down beside them.
“Any luck finding, Abraham?”
“Nope. The security guards said they gave the tape to the police. Afterwards, they realized that the ‘cops’ had no badges or name tags on their uniforms.”
“They weren’t cops?”
“No,” Rankin said. “The guards said they looked military.”
“Poor kid. I would imagine that he is going nuts right now.”
“Where’s your partner,” Manson asked.
She and Konan had not hit it off when they first met. Manson and Rankin were ambushed by Blankenship. It was then when Konan decided to take out Blankenship on his own.
“He’s outside gassing up the car.”
“What have you learned about Tiffany Watkins,” Rankin asked.
“Ah, it’s horrible. She was kept intoxicated, rats ate her ankles, thighs, and throat. Someone was there until she expired.”
“It’s a sick world,” Manson said.
“Yes, it is,” Konan said as he sat down. Manson gave him a nod. Rankin said nothing.
Lilly nodded to her partner. He craned his neck in the direction of Tia Mathers office. She shook her head no. Konan stood to his feet and walked to her door.
“She’s not in,” Rankin said.
“Where is she?”
“Don’t know. She hasn’t been in all day.”
Lilly pulled over a white board and began to hang pictures of the victim’s on it. Rankin and Manson hung pictures of Abraham on it as well.
“Abraham is missing. Tiffany Watkins is dead. Judge Traylor has stepped down. Alderman Winston is the father of Abraham,” Lilly said. “It’s as if the politicians and high-ranking authorities are being targeted for removal.”
“You’re jobs are not to spout conspiracy theories,” Tia said as she unlocked her office. The detectives turned and looked at her. She turned and met their gaze.
“Furthermore, I had a doctors appointment this morning. Just in case you wanted to add my ‘disappearance’ to the white board. Where do we stand on the murder?”
Konan scowled at Tia, so Lilly briefed her on everything they knew so far.
“Someone kept her intoxicated, Tia. They were there when she expired.”
“Tammy stands beside cause of death as a heart attack. She also said that there was no way possible for Tiffany Watkins to have been drunk at the point of death unless someone was there to keep her drunk.”
“Focus on the murder,” she pointed at Rankin and Manson, “you two should be on the streets looking for the missing kid. Unless, he decided to come here to hide.”
Manson scowled in the direction of Tia and left the room. Rankin was hot on her trail. Konan scooped up the loose papers and took them with him when he walked out. Lilly met him at the elevator.
“Our beloved leader seemed unconcerned with all of it, didn’t she?”
Konan nodded. “Yep. Conspiracy theories.”
“Do you still think there’s more…”
“What do we do now?”
“We find the murderer. One thing at a time, Lilly. When we find the killer, we will find the people behind all of it.”