A nurse had just bandaged Duncan’s leg and was leaving the house. Duncan listened to the instructions she gave his wife. When Meg shut the door, he got up, limped to his desk and began filling his pockets with his badge, wallet, and keys.
“Where do you think you’re going?” Meg came in, firmly prepared to stop him by force if she had to. They’d been married thirty years, how could Duncan not know she would try to stop him?
“Meg, Jazz is missing. I know Victor has something to do with it, and I mean to see him put away. I’m not sure what his game is, but if Jazz is alive she doesn’t have much time. She can’t wait until my leg is healed.”
“Duncan, you can’t go out like this. You can call one of the other guys. You need to stay home.”
“Meg, look at me.” Duncan pulled his wife to face him. “How would you feel if our daughter was kidnapped?”
“But you’re not going to do Jazz any good if you get yourself shot again.”
“I’m sorry Meg, I’m going out. I have to, besides Stan’s killer has to be brought to justice. No one else knows this case as well as I do and he was my friend.”
“Duncan, I love you. I wish I could stop you, but maybe that’s one of the reasons I do love you.”
Duncan kissed his wife, “You pray for me everyday. Pray for me now. I need the Lord to see this through for me, I need to go.”
Hating to see him go, she nodded. This wouldn’t be the first time he went out before he should have. It wouldn’t be the last. “Okay you crazy old man, just be careful.”
“I will. Right now I’m just going to Jim’s. Somehow Victor’s got Jim convinced he’s a Christian now. I don’t understand it, because Jim’s usually pretty level headed. He’s way out of his league; I don’t know how Victor got around him. Whether he knows it or not, he’s at risk too. The only way I’m going to help them is to stake out Jim’s place.”
“Yeah, alone. You know we’re Lone Rangers most of the time anyway.”
“Except in dangerous situations. Besides, the Lone Ranger had Tonto and Jim West had Artemis Gordon.”
Duncan smiled. She knew him so well. “That’s not fair.”
Meg returned her husband’s smile with a kiss on the cheek, “You started it, and that’s what wives are for.”
“That and so many other things.”
“I’ll see you later. I love you.”
She watched him walk to the car and drive out in the street, disappearing down the dark road. She tried to keep it light with him, but when he left like this she let the tears flow once the door was closed.
Duncan sat outside Jim’s house in the same parking lot that Buck had found so useful. Soon a man dressed in black with a dark stocking cap got out of a black car, apparently locking it before leaving. Furtively he made his way to Pastor Jim’s front door, and knocked. The door opened and he slipped in.
Johnson had spent every night with Jazz since the night she tried to escape in much the same way as the first evening after the attempt. They conversed for a few sentences, and then he fell into a drunken daze, drinking his liquor of choice. The man seemed to enjoy terrorizing her with his presence.
That night Johnson walked into the room in his robe as usual, with bottle and glass in hand. He sat down and prepared himself a drink, “Ms Phelps, I have to tell you that I have been having dreams about you and me together,” He picked up his bottle, already half empty, “You’ve no idea the dreams la Fée Verte gives. But you will discover the joy she gives to those who worship her. Yes, as soon as Victor does his job, I will take care of him and introduce you to the Green Fairy when I have you all to myself. It will be you and me and Absinthe.
“Your God isn’t much of a god if he let me take you. Why are you so insistent to believe?
“I grow tired of waiting for Victor. He’s taking too long. We must think of a way to hurry him along. I might have to send him one of your fingers or something, even supposing he cares about you.”
The coolness with which Johnson spoke froze Jazz’s blood. And what of Victor? Did he care, or did he disappear, glad to be safely away from this menace? No, she made herself stop thinking that. No, she had to hold on to hope or she would die. Die. Perhaps she should try that escape. She shook her emotional head, “No!” she screamed inwardly, “Stop! Stop! Stop!” Concentrating, she prayed, “Father, please help Victor and me. We’re in a lot of trouble.”
While Jazz inwardly struggled with her thoughts, Johnson sat at the desk drinking and looking far away, but Jazz knew his mind was not blank. He was thinking about her. Those glassy vacant eyes were seeing them together in an appalling vision brought on by the Absinthe. Why didn’t he act on his visions now? She wondered.
“Sleep,” she heard the Voice speak again. By now she was more inclined to obey without the argument that she’d given that first night.
The next evening, Johnson sat in his study, staring out the window. His visions were driving him further into madness than he was already, seeing them in his conscious mind as well as his dreams. He needed Jazz to remain intact for just a little while longer. He wanted to be rid of Monroe, but now he was also impatient to act on his imaginations as well.
Calculating thought quickly presented a solution. Immediately, but coolly, Johnson acted on it. He dialed his phone, “Monroe, we need to meet. Let’s say, 7:30 tomorrow morning.” After the arrangements were made, and Johnson hung the phone up, he smiled. Monroe didn’t even ask the reason for the meeting. He dialed Victor’s cell phone.
“I’ve set up a time for Monroe to meet me at our rendezvous at 7:30 tomorrow. I expect you to be there. Your little lamb will be. You know what happens to lambs when the wolves are watching.” Johnson hung up the phone, picked up his bottle of Absinthe and went to her room. Tonight he would allow himself to stay with her only a few minutes, then he would go to his own bed in preparation for tomorrow. Tomorrow night would be the night he promised her. He closed his eyes.
Early in the morning Johnson dressed and then rang a bell. The man who’d brought Jazz to his house walked in, “Get the girl.”
Duncan glanced at his watch. It was 5 a.m. Jims’ door opened, and three men walked out. Wondering who the third guy was, Duncan watched as they walked past several houses to Victor’s Interceptor parked under the trees. As soon as Victor’s car left the parking spot, Duncan put the car in gear and followed at a distance.
“Someone’s seems to be following us,” Victor remarked to the two men in the car with him. “Do either of you recognize the car?”
“I don’t,” Jim said after glancing in the mirror on his side of the car, “but I can’t tell in this light.”
“What about you Buck? Look like anyone you know?”
“No, but I can’t tell either.”
“Jim, do you think it’s Duncan?”
“He drives a light colored car, but I don’t think that’s him. I think he’s still in the hospital.”
“I guess we can’t worry about it. If it is Duncan, having the police isn’t such a bad idea. I just hope your friend knows that we’re on the same side.”
Jim grimaced. He hoped so too.
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