Sunday 23 – Sunday 30 October 2016
‘It’s not him,’ Detective Kane had made his way to the Lawson residence in record time, lights ablaze and siren blaring on the squad car clearing the way as quickly as possible.
‘Yeah, Kathy, I’m positive it’s not Benji. I viewed him myself. This one’s younger than Benji, and a red head.’
She squeezed her husband’s hand in a vice-like grip of excitement.
‘There’s still a possibility then?’ Mark Lawson wanted so badly to believe that Benji was still alive, but he’d been steeling himself for the worst.
‘A possibility?’ Kane repeated. ‘Yes, yeah, there’s a possibility. But in all honesty, I can’t say how long we might have left to bring him home.’
‘But while there’s a possibility . . .’ Kathy’s voice faded before she could finish.
‘As far as I’m concerned, Kathy, if there’s not a body, there’s always hope.’ The detective shifted from foot to foot. He didn’t believe a word that had just come from his own mouth. No body didn’t necessarily mean there was any better chance of a missing person being returned alive. In fact, in Kane’s experience, no body did mean no hope. He was loathe to tell the Lawsons that they weren’t likely to see Benji alive, not after they’d lost Joe to The Trapper. God how he hated the names that the media felt the need to bestow upon criminals. He’d always thought it had given the bad guys more power than they deserved.
‘We’ve been here before, Woodrow.’ A short, simple statement by Mark summed up everything that Kane had been thinking as well.
‘No, Kathy,’ Kane jumped in, ‘he’s absolutely right. We’ve been here before, right at this very point, in fact. There’s no point in hiding from it. It’s the elephant in the room, isn’t it? You’re both wondering if I’m going to be able to bring Benji back alive to you, because I couldn’t bring Joe back alive. Hell, even I’m thinking that. I’d be a fool if it wasn’t in the forefront of my mind. He’s got a valid point, and I’m not gonna step back from it.’
‘So what makes this different from last time, Woodrow?’
Kane gestured to a chair opposite the sofa, and Kathy nodded. Three long strides and Kane had moved from the door to the lounge room over to the chair. He lowered himself into it, pressed his back into the plump chair back, and rubbed his eyes and temple.
‘If I’m honest with you, I don’t know that it is different, but I feel that it’s different from last time.’
‘Mark, for God’s sake, leave it alone. Leave him alone.’
‘It’s fine, Kathy, it’s fine. Gut feeling, that’s all I’ve got. A gut feeling. Okay, here it is . . . let’s assume it’s the same guy. At this point, it is only an assumption, but let’s make it. We’ve gotta ask the question: why has he taken Benji? Why not take some other kid? There are plenty around that he could have grabbed, but instead, instead he grabbed Benji. The younger son of a couple who have already lost one child. Why would he want to come back for a second bite of the cherry? I think, I think that he’s done it deliberately. I think he’s targeted you. I think . . . I think he’s goading us, and I think we’re going to find Benji alive because this guy, this asshole wants it all to come to a head. He wants this to be a big show, and in order to do that, he’ll need to keep Benji alive for as long as he possibly can because I think, I can’t say for sure, it’s all conjecture on my part, but he’ll want us, the police, to get as close to saving Benji as we can before he considers doing anything else.’
* * * * *
Every radio station, every TV channel, every newspaper and magazine, every news website, and Social Media platform was covering the abduction of Benji Lawson, and it thrilled Simeon. He revelled in knowing that at that very moment, the entire world was waiting on his next move. Beside the computer keyboard on his filthy kitchen table, Simeon had opened his notebook to a plan that he’d formulated some months before. His handwriting was scratchy and fine, and it detailed each step in Simeon’s process of abduction, torturing, and murdering Benji Lawson. He reached for a pen, and ticked off each step that he’d already completed.
‘Time for fun,’ he mumbled to himself.
In the cellar below the squalid kitchen, Benji listened for the footsteps across the kitchen floor. For the last few days, every single day at about 3pm, the old man visited Benji. The clock on the far wall read 2:57pm. It was easy enough to read the digital display in the darkness of the cellar, and he was sure the man had put that clock in the cellar on purpose to scare Benji. It was never nice when he came down to the cellar. Rarely did he arrive with food, and only occasionally did he bring fresh water.
The footsteps should have been at the cellar door by now, but there was only silence.
. . . To be continued . . .