Dead River

Dead River by Fredric M. Ham Read Free Book Online

Book: Dead River by Fredric M. Ham Read Free Book Online
Authors: Fredric M. Ham
    “I—I—I’m not sure, I—”
    “I—I—I, what’s wrong with you? Why can’t you answer a simple question?”
    He paused. She tensed, expecting him to hit her.
    “I’ll tell you what’s wrong. You’re a whore! You’ll never get to the seventh heaven. Whores aren’t even allowed into the first heaven.”
    “I’m not a whore,” she whimpered.
    “Oh yes, you are, Sara Ann! Oh yes, you are! Everybody knows it! You fuck that soccer player I saw you with. I know you fuck him! You are a whore!” Gabriel paused, and his voice softened. “But you can be saved, you can become an angel. I can save you; I’m the Prince of Justice. Did you know that, Sara Ann?”
    “Please, Gabriel, I need my insulin.”
    “I asked you a question! When I ask you a question, I expect an answer!”
    “No, no, I didn’t know that,” Sara Ann said, beginning to cry uncontrollably.
    “Stop crying!” Gabriel paused again and lowered his voice, almost to a whisper. “You’ll get your insulin, Sara Ann, and then I want you to write something for me. Okay?”
    She didn’t respond.
    Gabriel brought his mouth right up close to her ear. “But first you will get me,” he breathed.

    IT WAS MONDAY EVENING, three days since Sara Ann disappeared. Adam sat at his desk in the study, mindlessly rustling through the Wall Street Journal. None of the articles interested him, and neither did work. He and Valerie had decided that they both would not go back to their jobs until Sara Ann was home safely.
    He flicked the newspaper on the desk and swiveled his chair to turn on his computer. There was a Web site he’d seen on TV,, the official Web site of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. He typed in the address and was soon staring at the faces of three children lined up across the screen, none of them more than five. All three wore a smile, the pictures certainly from happier times. Tears streamed down Adam’s face as he imagined Sara Ann’s picture on the Web page.
    He spotted the If My Child is Missing link and clicked on it. The screen flashed and six bullets appeared: a checklist of what to do if your child is missing. His tears blurred his vision. He dabbed at them with first one shoulder, then the other, leaving two damp spots on his shirt.

    Glenn Wilkerson gnawed on a two-hour-old ham and Swiss on rye as he worked through the mounds of routine paperwork that covered half his desk. The phone rang and he grabbed for it. It was Averly.
    “Do you have something, Rob?” Wilkerson asked, as he tapped his pencil on the pile of papers in front of him.
    “Probably nothing.”
    “I got the lab results back on that black stuff you guys scraped off the driveway. Big surprise—it’s rubber.”
    “Figured that.”
    “It’s a kind of hard rubber they use for all sorts of things, including the heels and soles of shoes.”
    “You thinking what I’m thinking?”
    “The photos show that mark as real dark, like it was fresh.”
    “I know.”
    “What was she wearing?”
    Wilkerson stopped tapping and scratched his head. “Maybe the boyfriend knows.”
    “Right. Like he spent time looking at her shoes.”
    “Yeah,” Wilkerson said, snickering and sighing simultaneously.
    “You guys don’t get many of these, eh?”
    “Never had one before.”
    “I figured that.” Averly paused for a moment. “We see them all the time.”
    Wilkerson hung up the phone and stared at the piles of paper on his desk.

    Adam finally left the study to check on Valerie. She was sitting up in bed, staring straight ahead.
    “How are you feeling?” he asked.
    “Hold me,” she pleaded, with her arms reaching out for him.
    Adam sat by her side and took her in his arms, gently placing her head on his shoulder. “I love you, Val.”
    Valerie said nothing, only squeezed his ribcage tightly.
    “Would you like some water?”
    She nodded and her arms slowly retreated.
    Adam rotated on the bed,

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