Act of Betrayal

Act of Betrayal by Edna Buchanan Read Free Book Online

Book: Act of Betrayal by Edna Buchanan Read Free Book Online
Authors: Edna Buchanan
Tags: Fiction:Suspense
    â€œLet’s see, there was a story in some little throwaway and there were some circulars posted and … kid who went to school with him said he was pretty sure he saw Charles Randolph shooting baskets over at St. Patrick’s playground the weekend after he disappeared. Then a woman, a former neighbor of the Randolphs, said she thought she saw Charles standing in front of the Pizza Hut at Dadeland Mall.”
    â€œSame weekend.”
    â€œWally, they’re more than twenty-five miles apart. Any true sightings?”
    â€œSome kid came forward after a PA announcement at his school, says he saw Charles at a video game parlor at Northside. Says he chased after him and the kid threatened him with big trouble if he mentioned seeing him.”
    â€œWhat do you think?”
    â€œEhhh, maybe a combo of being too eager to help, and an overactive imagination. At the time, though, it seemed like the kid could be out there playing cat and mouse. Now … who knows?”
    â€œAnything lately?”
    â€œNah. This one’s been gathering dust. We get new cases every day.”
    â€œHe didn’t run away,” I said accusingly. “What happened?”
    â€œAll I know is a kid is walking down Garden in broad daylight, then poufff! You tell me. You got a good imagination. Could be he’s some smart-ass still out there playing cat and mouse.”
    I made a derisive sound.
    â€œOr,” he continued, “for all I know the father walloped the hell out of the kid for sassing ‘im, hit ’im too hard, buried his mistake in the backyard, and then reported him missing. It’s been done before, ya know.”
    â€œSure,” I said. “That explains why he came to the News looking for help. Explains why they’ve given thousands of dollars to phony psychics and Pls trying to find their son.” What I really wanted to tell Soams was that he couldn’t find a fish at Sea World and was stealing his paycheck.
    â€œHey,” he said affably, “if you turn up anything, let me know.”
    Cassie Randolph answered on the second ring.
    â€œMy husband said you might call. Thank you, Ms. Montero, for what you’re doing.”
    â€œWell, I haven’t done anything yet.”
    â€œWe need to bring Charles home.” Her soft voice had a razor edge. “Some people, even friends, say we should accept the fact that he’s gone, that we’ll never see him again—but it’s not true. He’s alive. Mothers know these things. He’s out there somewhere and he needs us. We have to find him before it’s too late.”
    â€œIf he’s out there,” I foolishly promised, “we’ll find him. Somebody must know something.”
    So I got carried away, but I meant every word, and we did have a good shot at it. The News’s circulation is more than half a million. Wire services, radio, and TV pick up our stories, circulating them even more widely. If I reported this well enough, we probably could bring Charles home, one way or the other. I hoped her maternal instincts were right. I prefer happy endings.
    The doctor whose boat he had cleaned on his last job was out of town. The housekeeper was new. Vera Verela was in New York cutting an album. I caught her at the Westbury Hotel.
    Her memory needed jogging, but once she knew what I was talking about, she was effusive and quotable. “That beauuutiful boy,” she trilled. “So quiet, so polite, and so hardworking. He still has not been found? ¡Dios mio! ¿Qui pasa en Miami? People don’t just disappear.”
    â€œThis one did.”
    â€œHow terrible for his parents. Tell them I pray for them and their beautiful son.”
    â€œDid he ever say anything to you about wanting to go somewhere or talk about anything that was troubling him?”
    â€œBritt, I never really spoke to the boy. He comes once a week to

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