The Big Katt was pacing again, as big cats will, but this time she paced with greater purpose, and she had plenty of company. In the police squad room, she looked at her Daddy, who looked at the police chief. The detective was late, half an hour late. “Where are they?”
The chief shrugged. “Chief?”
“Don’t even think it. But call him, Eddie, get Sloane on his cell. He’s not stupid, so I’m not even going to think it.”
Eddie dialed Sloane’s number, and his call went to the answering machine. He shook his head.
“Call his office. And get a car over there -- now.”
“Oh Daddy, I can’t believe it. I can’t believe this murdering ex-husband of mine has slipped through again.”
“Jerry may have stopped for coffee, but he’s too shrewd to let someone get a jump on him. I know Jerry,” the chief said.
Yes, he knew Jerry all right, but perhaps not quite well enough. And he continued to underestimate the evil resourcefulness of the stranger.
“Officer, why does this keep happening -- why, why, why?”
“If he got away this time, I just don’t know. Sometimes you’ve gotta face it -- the nuts rule the world.”
“And now my Spud is out there somewhere and I don’t think I’ll ever get him back.”
The phone on the office desk rang. One of the officers picked up. “Yes. What?” His face went white, indeed, a hundred shades of white. He turned to the chief: “George Lesslie.”
His hand gestured at his throat.
“Oh God -- Big George is dead. Oh Daddy, Spud, Spud, Spud.” Katt was jumping up and down. “What is going to happen to Spud?”
What indeed, as the stranger’s truck moved along the bayou back roads through the shadows, rumbling toward the witch doctor’s shack. He had the biggest bargaining chip of all, and with it he would have the Big Katt, and he would go away with her. He would literally get away with murder, and she would fall in love with him again and they could live safely in Europe, without fear of extradition. The stranger sorted things out in his mind. But there was one question that still puzzled him -- how to kill Spud and still manage to use him as a bargaining chip to lure the Big Katt into his grasp. He couldn’t trade straight up, he’d have to concoct some devious plan. You bring me the Katt, and I’ll give you the whereabouts of Spud, alive and well. Only Spud wouldn’t be so alive and well, he’d see to that. He had special methods of torture in mind for Spud, the man who would dare usurp his throne and take unto himself the stranger’s lawful wedded wife.
He spotted the mojo shack from the road and turned off, pulling up into the drive. Inside the hut, it was quite dark now, and he lit several candles and an old lantern, and now he could at least see his way around. It took him a moment to realize it, but realize it he did. He was alone. The chair he had tied Spud up in was empty. Empty and turned on its side. It was empty for a simple reason, and something he had never expected or anticipated -- Spud had escaped.