The drive was subdued. Callie wouldn’t speak to Rus, or acknowledge him in anyway. She had become withdrawn
and eventually had fallen asleep until they had stopped for a late lunch.
Callie had ordered a spaghetti dinner, but most of it went untouched. When they got back into the car she
had slept some more. Rus was really at a loss as what to do to help Callie feel better, considering it was all his fault to
Eventually they stopped at a hotel on the side of the freeway. It was clean and inexpensive. It was small
so surveillance would be easy. Rus hadn’t noticed any other cars following them into the parking lot. At least that
was a good sign.
Rus woke Callie from her sleep. It took her a while to get her bearings. At last Rus helped her out of the
car. He had to wrap his arm around her waist to lead her up the stairs and into her bedroom because she was still too groggy
and a little helpless to manage on he own.
Another officer carried in Callie’s bags for her and set them at the foot of the bed. He quickly departed,
leaving Rus and Callie alone. Tension filled the room. Callie stepped away from Rus, putting distance between them. Rus removed
the distance with a few small steps.
He grabbed Callie by the upper arms, whirling her around to face him. His eyes raked over her. "Callie I’m
sorry about Colby," he said painfully. "I didn’t expect it to turn out the way it did. I wanted it to be a happy occasion
There wasn’t much for Callie to say. "It wasn’t your fault really. It’s just the circumstances,
is all." Her words were strained, full of bitterness. She didn’t blame Rus. Not in the least. His heart had been in
the right place, but the circumstances were all wrong. She didn’t want Colby hurt. That’s all she care about and
she didn’t know how to make Rus understand that.
"The captain will take good care of him," Rus admitted. He had to somehow penetrate Callie’s defenses,
make her feel better in some small way.
Callie’s eyes met his at last. "Does he have experience with someone Colby’s age? It doesn’t
seem to me as if he’s ever been married."
There was a silence that filled the room. Rus choked back some emotions, then he said, "Captain Lee had a
nephew once. He loved the boy. They spent a lot of time together. They’d go to the beach together, go deep sea fishing.
The captain was the closest thing the kid had to a father. And vise versa. The two of them were practically inseparable "
Callie was flabbergasted. She had never expected to hear that. "What happened to the boy?" Callie wanted
"He got mixed up with some known drug dealer. He was fourteen. His mother never said anything to the captain.
One day, he got some bad drugs and it killed him."
Callie eased down onto the edge of the bed. "Didn’t the captain know he was using drugs?" Her expression
was one of gloom. She wrapped her arms around herself to ward off the chill that had suddenly claimed her. "That’s why
the captain wanted to start up the juvenile program., isn’t it?"
"Yes," Rus answered softly. He sat next to Callie on the bed but making sure not to get to close to her.
"He took it very hard. He blamed his sister for not telling him. They rarely speak now, if at all."
"That’s awful," Callie replied.
"Captain Lee keeps a picture of his nephew in his desk drawer. He’ll take it out on occasion and look
at it. You can tell how sad he is."
"I know," Callie admitted. "I saw that look that first day I came to the office. I knew something had happened.
I just never imagined that. Did they ever find the drug dealer?"
The tension between them had been resolved for the time being, only to be replaced with another kind of emotion.
Sympathy. "No. He’s still out there, somewhere. We don’t even know his name or who to look for."
"Do you think they will ever find him?"
"I hope that they do. Not only for the captain’s sake, but for our youth as well. I mean, it could
easily have been my son and I thank God every day it wasn’t.
At last there was no more reason for Rus to remain in Callie’s room.
He came to stand in front of her, casting his eyes down upon her face. She was lovely. Her hair bellowed
around her shoulders. She was delicate and feminine and everything about her was wholesome and righteous. He loved that about
He wanted to speak of his love for her, but he didn’t think now was a good time. Instead, he gave her
instructions for the night, letting her know where the guards would be stationed outside her room and where he would be if
she needed him.
He kissed the palm of her hand then headed in the direction of the door. Just as he was about to step through
the threshold, Callie called out his name. He stopped, took a deep breath and turned to her. It was the hardest thing he’d
ever had to do in his life.
"Rus, thank you for telling me about the captain."
It was then that Rus noted the love in her eyes. She may never have actually said the words. But the look
in her eyes told him everything. Suddenly a weight lifted off his shoulder. He was glorified in that moment.
"You’re welcome," he acknowledged with a breathless whisper. He closed her door behind him, falling
against it for support. She loved him. She truly loved him. It was all he could think about on his way to his own room. He
crawled into bed, thanking God for the moment that had just passed. He thanked him for all the blessings he had bestowed upon
him. But when he turned off the light, sleep evaded him.
Ricky sat alone on his Grandma Hannah’s porch. It was early in the morning and the sun was just cresting
over the horizon. He was facing the ocean. The sandy beach was not far from the house. Through the strand of trees he could
see the waves as they crashed to shore. He watched the gulls as they dove for fish as they leapt out of the water. It was
a beautiful setting, almost serene.
There were other houses near by, but Ricky thought how isolated it was in a place like this. He had only
been there for two days and he already longed for his room back home, for his old friends. He missed his dad. And he missed
Callie to. He worried about them all the time. They were constantly on his mind.
Ricky needed to talk to someone, but because he didn’t know anyone, he wasn’t sure who that might
be. He couldn’t talk to his grandmother because he was certain she wouldn’t understand a thing about Christ.
More and more he was thinking about God. Every since he had talk to Callie he had wanted to know more. Did
he really believe in God? How did he know God really existed?
There were so many question in his mind, but Ricky didn’t know how to ask them, or who to ask. He knew
his friends back home would laugh at him. Then he’d never be able to show his face around school.
But did things like that matter when you truly believed?
By now Ricky was so confused. He needed answers. And he needed them fast. He went inside searching every
drawer, every cabinet, searching in closets and hutch cabinets, but he couldn’t find what he was looking for. The Bible.
He grew aggravated and swore harshly unaware that his grandma stood nearby.
"Young man," she scolded. "You will not use language like that in this house."
Ricky’s face turned every shade of red imaginable. He could feel the heat spread across his cheeks.
"Sorry grandma. I’m looking for something."
Grandma Hannah stood with a stooped back. She had a full head of gray curls and glasses that perched on the
very tip of her nose. She wore a tattered dress that nearly touched her ankles and a colorful apron. It was obvious she was
cooking because she had a dusting of flour across her cheek. Her hand trembled just a little as she stood watching Ricky from
across the room.
"What is it that you are looking for?" she asked in the stern voice of hers.
"Never mind grandma. I’ll look for it later."
Grandma Hannah didn’t say much, but let Ricky go on about his way. She returned to the kitchen and
watched him walk toward the beach where a small group of kids his age had gathered at the edge of the shore. At first he seemed
shy, standing back away from the crowd. Then it wasn’t long before one of the young girls in the group took herself
away from her friends and wandered in Ricky’s direction.
At first it seemed awkward for the two young kids. But after a few minutes, Ricky seemed to relax while the
young girl led him over to the small group of kids and began to introduce him to her friends.
Grandma Hannah smiled and knew everything was going to be okay.
Joe Hines stood under a shaded tree at the edge of the park. No one was out at this time of day. The heat
kept most everyone in at this hour. The only people out on the streets were vagrants. Joe remembered the few times he used
to roll them and take their money. But these days he didn’t bother much with them . They weren’t worth his time.
They usually didn’t have much cash on them any way. He had moved on to bigger and better things.
A man strolled up to the tree along side him. He had a ragged scar across his left cheek and a small marking
just above his right eye. He wore a silver studded shirt and a pair of black dress slack. Around his neck were a dozen gold
chains and his hands adorned a gold ring on every finger.
He didn’t say anything as he approached Joe Hines. He reached inside his shirt and extracted a long
white envelope. He handed it over to Joe Hines.
Without saying a word, Joe Hines took the envelope, rifled through the stack of bills inside, then, satisfied,
stuffed the envelope in his back pocket.
"So what’s the word?" Pep asked, placing a pair of sunglasses over his nose.
"I was hoping you could tell me," Joe responded. "All I know is they’ve taken the girl away. Now that
makes my job that much harder."
Pep paced around the tree nervously. He didn’t like Joe Hines much. He trusted him even less than he
liked the man. He especially didn’t like getting on his bad side and right now he knew he was skittering on the edge.
He needed to placate Joe and quickly.
"Anything I can do to help, boss?"
Joe’s eyes began to twitch. That was also a bad sign, and Pep knew it. "You’ve done enough, already.
We need to lie low for a while until everything has blown over. No more drugs until you hear from me. Understand?"
Pep was on edge. All he had ever wanted was to make a few bucks any way he could. It just happened that drugs
was the only way he knew how to do that. He had never expected to kill anyone. He couldn’t help it that some innocent
kid had gotten some bad stuff one night. Or that it had killed him. That wasn’t his fault. Was it?
Now everything was turning ugly. Joe Hines was getting greedy. He was no longer happy with the few extra
grand he was getting a week. He wanted more and more all the time.
And frankly, Pep didn’t like it one bit. He was running scared. He was ready to pull out of this town
and go somewhere else. Some where no one else would find him.
He had felt bad about that kid. He didn’t want to see anyone else get hurt. Especially a beautiful
woman who had done nothing wrong but be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The truth was, Pep was turning soft. He was also afraid of Joe Hines. He had a mean streak in him a mile
wide. He’d seen the dark side of the cop many times. Where ever Pep went, he was sure that Joe Hines would hunt him
down and kill him.
Pep was shaking in his boots. Sweat poured down his neck. Joe Hines smiled in his own private bliss. He liked
making people nervous. He liked being in control. He liked the sense of power it gave him.
But Pep’s days were numbered. And Joe was certain that the man knew it to.
"I want you to find out where the girl is, you got that?"
Pep kicked a small patch of dirt at his foot. "But boss," he pleaded, "Do I have to? Can’t you get
someone else to find her?"
Joe Hines pulled a baseball cap over his blond head of hair and shielded his eyes from the sun and from Pep.
"Cops are out there looking for you, Pep," Joe Hines warned. "They know you and I are working together. You
better make sure they don’t find you or you might end up a dead man."
It was a threat and it hit its mark. Pep understood too clearly that Joe Hines would expose him without any
guilt at all. And if he did, he was as good as dead. They couldn’t pin the kid’s death on him, but with time,
Pep was sure they would try. Then the truth would come out. They would throw the book at him then. Without even trying he
had become a murderer. A murderer of an innocent fourteen year old boy.
The cops wouldn’t care where the drugs had really come from. All they would care about is who gave
it to him. And Pep was the guilty party. It had been an accident, but they wouldn’t see it that way.
"Okay, I’ll find out where the girl is, but" Pep stated in a firm voice, "this is the last thing I
will do for you. Then I’m leaving town, you got that."
Joe Hines pointed a finger right up Pep’s nose. His eyes were hard and sinister. "You have three days
to get me what I want. I’ll be waiting." Then he was gone, leaving Pep to stare after him.
Pep knew he was in big trouble. He was prepared to leave town tonight. But where could he go that he wouldn’t