Sins of the Father Chapter 20

Elijah was coming back from the bathroom when he heard voices coming from the conference room. Deputy Rosie hadn’t let him look in the conference room earlier. He stopped just outside of the door. A tall man with graying hair was yelling at the Sheriff. The Sheriff looked really pissed. When the man stormed out of the conference room, Elijah scuttled back to the Sheriff’s office before the deputy noticed he was missing or the Sheriff saw him listening at the door. 

Six murders? There had been five murders? He knew about the first lady at the flower shop. He’d had to sit by her body. He’d sat by her until he couldn’t stand to look at her anymore. Then he had drawn the tarp over her body. It had been hard. The tarp was thick and heavy and he’d had to grab it tightly between his thumbs and the sides of his fingers. He told himself that he was doing it for her, to give her peace from prying eyes, but the truth was he couldn’t stand to look at her, and face what he had done. What was his father doing? Why hadn’t he left town? He always left town after he gave into his impulses, but this time he had stayed in town and continued to kill. He never killed this often. It had only been a few days. Had he killed a person a day? He should have known that his father would never let him go. Now, Elijah was responsible for those people his father had killed. He was always responsible. Even though his father did the actual act, Elijah didn’t do anything to stop him. Now, Drake was missing as well. He was probably dead, too. His father never kept anyone alive. He’d kidnapped Drake to punish Elijah. Elijah would have to live with the knowledge that he had gotten Drake killed. If he had done as his father told him in the beginning, those other people would be alive. He wouldn’t be sitting here playing a stupid video game. He wanted to throw the video game at the wall, but he didn’t want the deputy to know how he was feeling.

He pushed his fists into the pockets of the brand new hoodie Drake had picked out for him. He looked at his new shoes. They were expensive and they would last a long time. He had two other pairs back at the Sheriff’s house. He’d never owned more than one pair of shoes at a time in his life. He’d never needed more than he could wear or carry. If his father had extra money, they spent it on food or a place to stay. The first thing Drake did was buy stuff for Elijah to make him happy. He didn’t need three pairs of shoes or more than one hoodie, but Drake wanted to make sure he had everything he needed. He didn’t need the video game, but Drake thought having one would make him happy. No one had ever cared if he were happy, or not. Maybe, his mother had, but his memories of her were fuzzy. He remembered that she had died, but how she died was a mystery to him. When he tried to remember that part of his life, his brain seemed to shut down. He began to sweat and tremble, and he found himself shying away from really remembering her. His father always kept him safe, but he never cared if he were happy or not. Drake was the first person to care about how Elijah felt about things. He had to help him.

There had to be something he could do. Rosie was sitting in a chair near the Sheriff’s desk. She was reading a magazine, and wasn’t paying much attention to him. Maybe, he could slip out. He could figure out a way to get to his father. He could convince him to leave. If Drake were alive, he would convince him to let Drake go. Then, they would leave town together, and continue traveling like they always had. As he prepared himself to sneak out of the office, he realized that he had no idea where his father was. It wasn’t like he could call him. What could he do? Wander around town until his father happened to come by? Someone would see him and probably report him to the Sheriff long before that. He realized there was absolutely nothing he could do.

Sins of the Father: Chapter 19

It was late afternoon. Surely, the police had found his latest scene by now. He’d done everything but call in the directions to the place. Powering on the burner phone he had purchased on his last visit to Grand Junction, he dialed the Sheriff’s cell number. He wanted to make sure he dealt with her directly, and that she understood what was at stake. She had to know that he wouldn’t stop until he had his boy back. She picked up the call after the first ring. She was anxious and waiting right by her phone. He smiled. That was good. She was getting to ready to bargain with him.

“Sheriff Rhodes.”

“Hello, Sheriff. Did you get my message?”

He could hear her take a deep breath on the other end of the line. Her breath shook a little as if she were trying to calm herself. That was good. She was close to losing it.

“I’ve still got your man, Sheriff, and he’s not looking too good.”

Drake, in fact, was asleep on the couch. He was pale and bruised, but he was holding up. He was a pussy, but his will to survive was strong.

“If you hurt him, I swear I’ll…”

“We both know you won’t do shit. You do what I say and you’ll have your man back safe.”

He could have said “safe and sound” but he was pretty sure that Drake was no longer sound. He was having a hard time dealing with what he had done. The man supposed he was having a hard time with his conscience. While Drake had killed that couple, he was weak inside. He didn’t have the strength of character to deal with his choices. He didn’t think that Drake would ever be the same person again. He’d wanted the Sheriff to pay for taking his boy, and now she’d pay every day of her life—when she looked at her man and saw what he was truly capable of.

“I’m going to give you some directions. You’re going to meet me at midnight. You’re going to bring my boy with you but no one else. If I think that you have anyone else with you, I’ll kill your man and come take my boy anyway. This way, we both get what we want.”

He proceeded to give the Sheriff the directions. She was repeating them, so he knew she was relaying them to someone else. That was fine as long as she was alone when the time came. If she wasn’t, he’d break Drake’s neck and go after his boy himself. He’d kill everyone in the town until he had him back. And he’d start with the Sheriff.

When he hung up, Drake was awake and staring at him.

“Why are you doing this?” Drake asked.

“She took my boy. I want him back.”

“Why?”

“Why? Are you stupid or something? He’s mine. I’m not leaving him in this hellhole. He stays with me.”

“So you can turn him into a killer, like you did me?”

Anger lanced through him. He slammed his fist onto the table. Drake jumped at the sudden crack. He charged Drake and hauled him off the couch. Drake flinched away from his raised fist.

“Listen to me, asshole. My boy ain’t a killer. He never will be. I keep him out of my business, and I made sure he’d never do what I do.”

He wanted to kill Drake so badly, his fist began to tremble. He stared into Drake’s pretty-boy blue eyes. He didn’t really need Drake. He could kill him now and leave. He could meet the Sheriff alone and take his boy back. No exchange. He’d kill the Sheriff and save his boy. Drake had begun to tear up. Fuckin’ pussy.

He shoved Drake back onto the couch, but the prick wouldn’t shut up.

“How did you make sure?”

He drew ragged breaths in to calm himself. He couldn’t afford to lose control now. He’d made a deal and he was going to stand by his word. Wiping the sweat off his head, he turned to Drake.

“What?”

“How did you make sure that Elijah wouldn’t….do what you do.”

He bristled at Drake using his boy’s name.

“I made sure he couldn’t use his hands.”

Drake began to look a little ill. “His hands?”

The man sat down. They had a couple hours until it was time to go. If Drake wanted a chat, they’d have a little chat. Maybe, it would keep him from killing him.

“The men in my family have a sickness. My father had it. I have it. For all I know, my granddad had it, too, but I never met him. I know that Elijah probably has it. My dad started taking me on what he called his trips when I was about Elijah’s age. My dad worked a lot, so I didn’t see him very often. I looked forward to those trips. Just him and me. No women around to interfere. We’d go into the city, and find a whore. Dad would take us to a cheap motel room, the kind that didn’t ask too many questions and rented their rooms by the hour. He’d get the whore nice and relaxed and then he’d finally relax himself. He’d give in and put the woman out of her misery. That’s what he used to say. That he was putting her out of her misery. She wouldn’t have to fuck strange men for money, or worry about where her next fix came from.”

“So he was an altruist?”

The man snorted. “Fuck no, he wasn’t no altruist. He was a black-hearted killer. He couldn’t look what he was in the face, so he had to make up a reason to kill that would help him live with himself.”

Drake looked surprised.

“What? You think just because I kill, I don’t know fancy words, like altruist? When my dad was working, I had a lot of time to myself. I liked to read. I would steal books from the library, and take them home with me. I’ve probably read more than you. Ever read The Gift of Fear? That book taught me how to get people to trust me, and how to alleviate their natural-born fears. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. Stephen King. Thomas Harris. I learned a lot from reading.

“Killing isn’t about helping people. It’s about control—absolute control. When I walk down the street, I choose who will survive and who won’t. Didn’t you feel it? Back at that cabin. I gave you the power and you took it. You held that couple’s lives in your hands. You held my life in your hands. You held your life in your hands. Do you remember what that felt like?”

Drake shook his head, clasping his hands between his knees. He began to rock like that.

“It didn’t feel like that at the time. I didn’t feel like I had any choice.”

“We always have a choice. Your mind just tricked you. Our will to survive is so strong our minds will make us think we don’t have a choice, when we actually do. You could have turned the knife on me. You could have turned it on yourself. You made a choice”

He could see Drake begin to tremble. That was what was wrong with society. People couldn’t live with their choices. For a moment, he had admired Drake. He had acted out of self-preservation. He had done what he needed to do to survive. What made him a pussy was his fuckin’ conscience. Drake had to believe he was a good person, but sometimes to survive you needed to be bad.

Drake cleared his throat.

“What does that have to do with Elijah?”

There was that name again. If Drake knew the boy’s name, it meant that he had trusted him enough to talk. When he got him back, he’d have to remind him of the value of silence.

“My boy is just like me, and my father before me.”

Drake was shaking his head.

“He is, but I decided when he was born, that I’d never let that side of him come out. I kept him away from the family business, as you might call it. He never goes with me on a kill, and when he was old enough to realize what I was doing, I made sure he could never kill.”

“How did you do that?”

“I broke his hands.”

Drake looked at him, stunned.

“You probably think I’m a monster, but I’m like any other man who is trying to protect his boy. I did it for his own good. He’ll never be able to wrap his hands around another person’s throat. He’ll never be able to hold a knife or a gun. I read a book once about a little girl in China. She had a feet bound to make her more attractive to a Chinese husband. For some reason, that idea stayed with me. I realized I could do the same sort of thing to my son, but with his hands. He’ll never use those hands to kill.”

“He’ll never use them for anything.”

“That’s the price he has to pay.”

They sat in silence for a while. He was feeling better, calmer. He didn’t have the urge to twist Drake’s head off his neck anymore. He wondered where his boywas now. Probably, with the Sheriff. Was she getting him ready? He hoped the boy didn’t get used to the comforts of having a home. That was not the life that was meant for him. The boy was tough like he was. He knew how to survive. If he had to talk to get by with the Sheriff and her fancy man, then that was what he had to do.

“C’mon. We have to get ready.”

He gestured to the kitchen. Drake got off the couch and went into the kitchen ahead of him. Drake might be broken, but the man knew he couldn’t trust him. He had Drake pack up what food there was in the house into his pack. There were quite a few canned goods. He had Drake put the cans into his pack. He added some spoons and a can opener to the cans, and zipped up the pack. It was heavy, but he was used to carrying a heavy load.

“You got any cash on you?”

Drake looked surprised and slapped his back pocket. The man smirked. He hadn’t bothered with Drake’s wallet. He wasn’t a thief, except when he had to be, but his cash was gone, even what he took from the lady at the flower shop. Drake pulled out a couple of hundreds and some twenties, and handed them over.

“Thanks. I’ll consider this a gift.”

Drake nodded.

“Let’s get moving. You don’t want to keep your lady waiting.”

They left the cabin and headed out to the battered Jeep. He was going to park it in the woods, and hope he and the boy could to it in time. He knew that the Sheriff wasn’t going to come alone, but he was prepared for that. The place he’d found for the exchange was dark. Anyone she brought with her would need flashlights to get to the spot. He’d be able to see the headlights of the cars coming down the track leading to the small clearing he had chosen. It wasn’t perfect. There was high ground around the clearing, but he hoped that the dark would obscure him. He’d keep Drake close until the last minute. As soon as he had the boy, he’d take off running to the Jeep and get as far as he could, before they had to abandon it.

He opened the passenger side for Drake.

“You’re not going to do anything stupid, are you?” he asked Drake as he climbed into the Jeep. Drake shook his head.

“Good. We’re almost done. Don’t try to play the hero now. You don’t have it in you.”

He slammed the door, and headed around to the driver’s side. Looking at Drake’s miserable face, he said, “Cheer up. You’re going to be back with your lady before you know it.”

Sins of the Father: Chapter 18

When ATT called with the location of Drake’s phone, she and Hal were ready to go. She had called the School Resource Officer, Rosie, to sit with Elijah. Rosie had the most experience and training working with children, and she hadn’t been on duty the night Andie was killed. She hoped she could watch Elijah without intimidating him like some of the other deputies might. She knew that she had made the right decision when Rosie showed up with dinner for Elijah.

“Thanks, Rosie. All he’s had since lunch are snack foods.”

“That’s okay, Sheriff. I thought he might be hungry, and you’ve got a lot to handle right now.”

Madison nodded and turned away. Her eyes threatened to fill up with tears, but she had to stay strong, for Drake and Elijah. Hal appeared from the weapons room with two high-powered rifles.

“Are you ready to go?” Madison nodded. She stepped into the office to say good-bye to Elijah and then she and Hal headed to her SUV. Ross and James, the other two deputies she had called in to duty were already waiting in Hal’s SUV. Hal held out his hands for the keys to her SUV. Normally, she would have balked. She could drive as well as any of the deputies, but Hal knew the area better than she did. He probably knew right where they were going. She didn’t want to lose time by having to follow directions. Hal pulled out of her parking space and sped out of town. The other deputies were behind them. Hal turned on his lights and headed down K Road. As they passed a driveway, Hal pointed it out to Madison.

“That’s the other murder scene. Kurt just called me before we left. They’re wrapping up the scene, they’ll be with us as soon as the coroner loads the body.”

“What about the other scene?” 

“Harold is still there with two other deputies. He’s waiting on the coroner. Mesa County had to send someone else for that body.”

In a few minutes, they pulled up to the road that led to the cabin where they had located Drake’s phone. Hal killed the lights as did the deputies behind them. He drove slowly on the rutted gravel road. Scrub brush and wild grass surrounded the road.

“There’s no cover. If they’re in there, they’re going to see us coming.”

“I know Hal. We’ll just have to take our chances.”

The cabin stood in a clearing at the end of the road. The cabin was surrounded by several large trees. Drake’s Pacifica stood in front of the cabin. The Sheriff Department SUV’s pulled up side by side, but no one got out of the cars. Hal used the speaker on Madison’s SUV to call out to the cabin.

“This is the Fruita Sheriff’s Department. Any one in the cabin come out now.”

They waited a few minutes and then Hal made the announcement again. Madison couldn’t stand it any more.

“I’m going in, Hal.”

Hal nodded. As he turned off the ignition and slid the keys into his pocket, Madison pulled her gun out and clicked the safety off. She made sure that she had a round already in the chamber. Hal did the same. Using Drake’s SUV as cover, Madison and Hal slowly approached the cabin. The other two deputies were armed with high-powered rifles and came in behind them. They weren’t SWAT trained, but they were both good, steady men. They covered Hal and Madison as they approached the cabin. Nothing moved at the front window. When Madison approached the door, she could see through the peeling wooden screen that the front door was open. Slowly, she opened the screen door and held it with her foot while she pointed her weapon through the doorway. Stepping into the cabin, she stopped, stunned by what she saw. Dropping her arms but still holding her weapon, she called to Hal. The living room is clear. Hal came in behind her. He only paused a moment before the grisly scene in the living room and proceeded to clear the kitchen and the other rooms down the hallway leading form the living room. When he finished clearing the rest of the cabin, he returned to the living room.

Madison stood in the middle of the room. Another message was scrawled on the wall in blood: You’re wasting your time.

Hal was already on the phone calling for the coroner. The other deputies brought in their forensics kit and began processing the scene. Madison knew she should help, but she stood frozen to the spot. She had no way of contacting the suspect, and no idea where he and Drake were. She hoped that Drake were alive, but if the suspect had realized that she wasn’t going to bargain with him, he may have already killed Drake. Finally, she tore her eyes away from the bloody message, and stepped out of the cabin. She needed to follow protocol like anyone else. She went to her SUV and pulled booties and gloves out of her Forensics kit. The deputies already had a kit in the cabin, so she left hers where it was. At the door of the cabin, she covered her boots with the booties and slid the gloves onto her hands.

When she stepped into the crime scene, Hal was on the phone ordering another coroner. How many coroners did they have working on this case now? Three? It was getting out of hand. She knew that the town wouldn’t stay quiet much longer about the continuing murders, and she was powerless to stop it. They didn’t have a clear description of the suspect, nor did they know what car he and Drake were now using to travel. They could be anywhere. The one thing she knew for sure, however, was that they were still in the area. She now knew that the killer wouldn’t leave until he got what he wanted—Elijah. And there was no way she was going to let him near the boy. She hoped Drake would forgive her for not putting him first, as usual. His last words drifted into her mind: Don’t worry about me, just take care of… She assumed he meant that she should take care of Elijah, and that’s what she intended to do.

She stepped closer to the bodies. They were an older couple, maybe in their early seventies. They were tied to chairs. She wondered why the suspect had suddenly changed his MO. He had strangled both Andie and Mandy, now he was using a knife to stab people. There were two clean slices across both their throats. Their faces were contorted. He didn’t know who he had killed first, but it was obvious he had made the other one watch the murder. She didn’t understand what type of person could do this. How could someone be so evil that they would make people suffer so?

It took several hours to process the crime scene, because of all the blood evidence. After the coroner came and took the body, Madison and her deputies secured the crime scene. As the other deputies left the scene to file their reports and return to patrolling the area, Hal and she sat in silence.

“What do you want to do now?” he asked softly.

Madison didn’t know what to do. Until the suspect called them, there was nothing for them to do. She had to laugh at herself. She thought she was going to get the upper hand over him and gain control of the situation, but she was beginning to realize that she had never had control. The killer had been making the rules of his little game from the start. All she could do was try to figure out his next move.

When they returned to the Sheriff’s department, several news vans were in front of the Sheriff’s department. She was surprised that it had taken them this long to get a whiff of the story. She noticed a couple of vans from stations in Denver. Now, that there had been multiple murders, the rest of Colorado was starting to take an interest in their sleepy little town. She couldn’t give an impromptu press conference. She had to prepare a statement. When Hal saw the vans, he turned down the alley and parked at the back of the station. She and Hal rushed into the station before the reporters could realize where they had gone.

Rita met her at the back door.

“The mayor is waiting for you in the conference room.”

“What?”

“He’s been here for a while. I think he’s getting impatient.”

That was all they needed. She hurried to the conference room to find the mayor examining the information written on the whiteboard. Mayor Rodriguez was a tall man with salt and pepper hair and piercing brown eyes. He turned and pinned her with an angry glare.

“We have a serial killer roaming our town, and I had to hear it from the news.”

“It’s not department protocol to alert you when we have a crime. My deputies and I are working the case.”

“Wouldn’t that be cases, plural, Sheriff? How many murders have there been?”

“Six, but we believe they’ve all been commited by the same perpetrator.”

The mayor paled. “Six? There have been six murders? Have you called in State Patrol to help you with the case?”

“No. The State Patrol doesn’t have jurisdiction over these cases. We’re handling it. My men have been trained in evidence collection and scene preservation. We’re more than capable of solving this case.”

“I disagree with you, Sheriff. You have a total of fifteen deputies and six cases to work. You don’t have the manpower. I want you to contact the State Patrol and get some additional men here now.”

“If I feel the additional men are needed, I will..”

The mayor cut her off. “I wasn’t making a suggestion. I appointed you as Sheriff and you’re damn well going to do what I say. Call the State Patrol in now or I’ll do it for you.”

The mayor stomped out of the office. When he stepped outside, he was besieged by reporters. Madison sent Hal out to run interference for him. When Hal returned after fending off the mob of reporters himself, he headed back to the conference room.

“Madison, I think he’s right.”

“Not you, too, Hal.”

“Look, I’m not questioning your ability as Sheriff, but on top of the murders, we have a kidnapping case, and the victim is your husband. You’re too close to the case. It’s going to compromise your ability to lead the investigation.”

She turned on Hal and snapped, “How am I compromised? Have I deviated from procedure in any way? Have I bargained with the suspect? I’ve followed procedure from the start. I tried to recuse myself from the case, but it’s gotten too big. We need every man available to handle this.”

“That’s what I’m saying. We don’t have enough people to investigate the cases and keep the town safe. We need help searching the back roads. We need help with Drake’s kidnapping. We need to call State Patrol and CBI. If you weren’t personally involved in these cases, I think you would have already called for back-up.”

Madison had to consider Hal’s words. Should she have called the State Patrol? Her men were pushed to the limit. They couldn’t work back-to-back shifts indefinitely. Also, CBI often handled kidnappings. They had the ability to issue statewide alerts. She knew, though, that once the CBI took over Drake’s case, she would have no control. The killer would realize that his game was over and kill Drake. She couldn’t let that happen. She needed to get Drake back and stop the killer before he did any more harm.

“Please, Hal, give me a little more time.”

Hal sighed.

“It’s not me you have to worry about, Madison. I think you’ve run out of time, but I’ll help you any way I can.”