Sunday 16 – Monday 17 October 2016
Panic had a way of settling into its surroundings, of worming its way into every person involved in the situation. But it also had a way of calming some people, and right now, in the heart of the trauma that again befell Kathy and Mark Lawson, panic placed itself firmly on the shoulders of Kathy and she felt the world slow down around her. Mark, on the other hand, was as close to hysterical as he’d ever been, never once considering that after young Joe’s disappearance, his little family would suffer through the same circumstances again.
‘It’s entirely possible, Mr. and Mrs. Lawson, that Benji’s gone off to be with some friends, they’ve lost track of time, and he’ll turn up, wondering what all this fuss is about.’ Ryan Reid prayed that his words would have some sort of calming influence over the father, because right now, he was getting on Reid’s nerves with his bellowing, howling, and constant pacing around the room. The mother, Reid thought, was the epitome of serenity, and he considered that to be just as irritating as the father’s hysterics.
‘Reid, go find something constructive to do, will you?’ Bonnie grabbed his shoulders, spun him around, and pointed him in the direction of the officers stationed outside of the Lawson’s house. She watched as he shuffled away, shoulders slumped in protest at being sent out of the room like a naughty schoolboy. ‘I’m sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Lawson, Detective Reid isn’t the most empathetic of detectives on the force. If you wouldn’t mind, I’d like to hear again the lead up to Benji’s disappearance. Maybe you can remember something new?’
‘How many times do we have to go through this? Don’t you believe us that Benji’s been kidnapped? This is exactly like what happened when Joey went missing. He ended up dead, if you weren’t aware, Detective Teller.’
She kept a cool head when she spoke to Mark. ‘I understand, Mr. Lawson, I know you’ve been through it a number of times, but I’m trying to piece together a picture of what happened, and I can’t do that if I’m imagining what happened. It’s entirely possible that you or your wife might include a piece of information this time that you didn’t remember the last time you explained it. I’m also perfectly aware of what happened to your eldest son, sir. That’s why I’m eager to hear what happened from you and your wife. I don’t think there’s anyone here right now who isn’t taking this seriously. Now, please, can you start from the beginning?’
It was Kathy’s calm voice of reason that cut through her husband’s aggression. ‘You know, Detective Teller, there is something that I’ve remembered, but it’s not about today.’
‘Go on,’ Teller encouraged.
‘It was something I noticed when I was visiting Joe last week. It was a feeling I had while I was at the cemetery. Something didn’t sit right with me. I don’t know if it was just me, or if it had to do with the day because it was coming up to the anniversary of . . . or if it was something that I caught a glimpse of out of the corner of my eye.’
* * * * *
He had been easy to lure away from the crowd, which surprised Simeon no end. Surely the family would have instilled in this kid the need to stay the hell away from strangers, to stick with the people he knows, not to go with someone so obviously foreign and unknown to him. Apparently not, because here he was, Benji Lawson, little brother of abducted and murdered Joe, bound and gagged in his cabin. It was easier than taking candy from a child.
A part of Simeon ached. He’d desperately wanted to see the chaos unfold firsthand but had to settle for watching the Lawsons go through the trauma of losing another child via the media. The police had spared no time at all plastering the kid’s face over the TV screens across the country. He heard the amber alert issued for Benji as he drove out to the cabin. He assumed it had been issued within half an hour of the police being called, and the boy’s disappearance. It was satisfying to hear about the abduction as the rest of the world was hearing, almost as satisfying as having committed it.
The boy was locked in the winter cellar. It was cold, dark, and despite Simeon’s best attempts to prevent it, the cellar was damp. The cabin was old, ancient even, and it needed a lot of restoration to get back to being as good as it was in its heyday. Restoration that Simeon was not interested in undertaking. When he was done with Benji, he would be done with the cabin. An accidental forest fire would do the trick, razing the cabin to the ground, and along with it, any evidence that he or Benji or any of the other boys had ever been there. By the time the authorities were on the scene investigating the cause of the fire, Simeon would be flying somewhere high above the ocean, on his way back home to Belgium.
He periodically checked to make sure that Benji was still alive. Simeon had learned from one of the early attempts, that it was a necessary evil to sedate the boys for a period of time, and that it was just as necessary to check on them to ensure that they hadn’t prematurely died. That third boy, Andrew, hadn’t been any fun. He was the first and only mistake that Simeon made. Too much sedative for a small body, and Simeon was dealing with the only death that he didn’t willingly cause.
He looked in on the boy, tested his breathing. The sedative would start wearing off soon, and then Simeon intended to spend the night inflicting as much pain and suffering on Benji Lawson as he could.
. . . To be continued . . .