Wednesday morning, after his parents left for work, Danny woke up. He was a bad sleeper, he woke up frequently early in the morning. Other kids were still sleeping when he was already working around the house. When they were working the day shift, his parents left at half past six in the morning and came back at half past seven in the evening, sometimes even later. Due to their absence, almost all chores had to be done by the boy. He had no problem with it, he hated being alone in the house having nothing to do. When school was out, working was his escape and after he finished, he either went strolling through town or met up with the Gang.
The Andersons lived on Jefferson Street, not far away from Maple Street. Their house was a modest one with a small yard. Danny’s father was keeping rabbits, his mother chickens. So usually among the first things he did in the morning was to feed the rabbits and chickens. He opened the door, let out his pet cat called Demon and begun his morning routines. Demon was his only pet, a completely black but friendly cat who slept beside Danny every night.
After feeding the animals he cleaned the hen house then went into the kitchen to wash the dishes which had been left in the sink yesterday evening. He also reminded himself that his mother told him to prepare some meat and vegetables in the afternoon. Danny had to do this many times in order for his mother to finish preparing dinner earlier. This chore remained for later, however. The job of preparing dinner was Danny's job sometimes. He could cook simple foods, he liked it. Cooking made him feel like an adult.
He locked the doors and went out on the street. It was about 9 a.m. and the sun was already heating up the pavement. Some puddles still remained here and there but most of last night’s rain evaporated. He admired, as he always did, the giant oak tree which was in front of his home. It was thick and tall, a majestic example of Mother Nature's artwork. He was the only one agile enough to climb it.
Danny headed towards Maple Street and from there he planned to go to the park which surrounded the library. He used to sit on one of the benches which were present there. It was a calm place with trees and bushes all around. The vegetation and the building itself muffled the car sounds coming from the nearby streets.
When he reached the corner between Maple Street and Denver Street, he saw a great deal of activity about where Andy’s house was. At first, Danny was afraid that something had happened to his friends. He quickened his pace until he saw that the problem was at the Stevens residence. Two police cars were parked at the side of the road. Sheriff Kerrigan was outside talking to a middle-aged couple. Danny knew that they were Karen’s parents. He could tell right away that they were in great distress, especially the woman. She kept biting her knuckle with panic showing on her wrinkling face. Her husband was chain-smoking and staring into infinity, lost in thoughts. He was most likely analyzing options and possible solutions to whatever had happened.
‘Will you find her, sheriff?’ the woman asked and grabbed Kerrigan’s hand in both of hers, ‘Please, you have to find her!’
‘We’ll do everything we can,’ he responded with the standard reply he gave a thousand times before, ‘but we have to wait for forensics first to sweep the house. Then we’ll know more.’
The woman broke out crying and her husband took her in his arms. The sheriff looked restless as well. Danny wondered why. In his long career as a police officer and then sheriff he sure saw horrible things, maybe much more horrible than this. After talking to the couple, he kept pacing back and forth on the sidewalk. Looked like he was talking to himself. The other three officers were talking to neighbors and bystanders, nodding to everything they said and carefully taking notes.
Danny saw that Andy and Chriss were not outside, he assumed that they were still sleeping. They were much better sleepers than him. Sometimes they boasted about sleeping until noon, sometimes even more. Danny didn’t want to linger around anymore so he moved on towards the library. Nobody was in the park at this time of the day. People came in the afternoon, they came with their children or with their dogs. Elderly people came alone or in groups. Many times they played chess or cards.
Danny sat on his favorite bench which was looking right onto the middle of the library where the staircase was located. The library had three storeys and had a large staircase with big windows. The whole building was fitted with large windows in order to be well illuminated. Danny sat there lost in thoughts and listening to the birds when he saw movement inside. Victor Whayman and a young blonde girl, his new secretary, where heading down the stairs. She was carrying a stack of papers, he was just following her with hands in his pockets. Victor was a tall man. His brown hair was combed backward on his head and reached just above his shoulders. He wore small round-rimmed glasses and was dressed in a grey business outfit. The girl was good-looking. She wore a short, brown skirt and a white, buttoned shirt.
Both of them were smiling, the girl shook her hips in a playful manner as she descended. Victor’s eyes were focused on her bottom, he bit his lips. Danny was witnessing all this from his bench which was in a perfect position to see everything that happened on the stairs. Victor looked around and, after making sure that nobody could see them, he grabbed the girl’s butt. There was no way he could have seen the boy on the bench. The vegetation partially covered him and also the sunlight made it difficult to see details from the inside. This was a real shock to Danny because he knew Nate’s father as a God-fearing and loyal man.
The two of them headed towards the archives which were located, from Danny’s position, in the right side of the basement. The other side was sealed off 25 years ago by Victor, soon after he inherited the director’s chair from his father. The basement had small, grated windows to the outside which were almost completely hidden by the decorative bushes. On the left side they have been painted white but on the right side they were not so Danny got up and hurried to the wall to see what happens. He squatted near one of the windows and looked inside.
Victor and the girl just entered the archives. She threw the stack of papers on a table, he locked the door then grabbed the blonde by her hips and kissed her. She embraced him too and they continued kissing. The man grabbed her breasts with one hand and played with them for a few seconds. She dropped her head back and moaned. Danny’s jaw dropped, he couldn’t believe what he was just witnessing. The girl didn’t hesitate much and went down on Victor. It was the first time that Danny something like this live. Sometimes he saw this kind of movies late at night on TV but never for real. He felt his trousers tightening. It wasn’t long until the girl stood up and bent over one of the tables inviting Victor in from behind. He gladly obeyed the invitation and did her for about ten minutes before finishing. After the happy finish came the cigarette. Only the girl was smoking, she was giggling and talking. Victor was still enjoying the calm aftermath of the quick sex.
Danny sat down on the ground with his back to the wall and tried to digest what he had just seen. His heart was pounding fast, his chest heaved with excitement and shock. How he’s going to tell Nate about this? Is that a good idea in the first place? After some time, he calmed down and could think more straight. The natural reaction was to rush and tell his friend about his father’s affair but then he thought he’ll destroy his family by telling. Even him, with his young mind, understood this. It doesn’t matter how it is, he should leave it alone.
Danny stood up and looked inside the basement again. Victor and the girl were holding each other and kissing but this time it wasn’t for long. They soon exited the archives and went back up. The boy gathered himself and then went back onto Memorial Street. When he was passing the statue, he saw chief Kerrigan’s patrol car stopping on the roadside.
The chief exited the car and headed straight to the library. His face showed deep concern. When he reached Victor’s office on the second floor, the director was already there. Keith found him in front of a mirror rearranging his suit and tie.
‘Good morning!’ said Kerrigan and closed the door behind him.
‘Good morning, my old friend!’ replied Victor in a cheerful voice, ‘What brings you here at such an early hour?’
Victor turned away from the mirror and shook hands with the sheriff. He noticed right away that something isn’t right.
’This time I didn’t come ‘cause I wanted to.’
‘The Stevens girl has been abducted. At least that’s how it looks like.’ he said and took a seat in one of the chairs in front of Victor’s desk.
‘So...why did you come to me? I didn’t abduct her, that’s for sure.’
‘I know that, don’t worry.’
‘Then spill it out! What’s bothering you?’
‘I don’t know,’ Kerrigan said and he was struggling to decide whether to tell Victor what was on his mind or not, ‘it looked like a plain and simple abduction.’
‘But? There’s always a “but”, right?’
‘Right, the first odd thing was that the wooden fence in the backyard was broken. Like somebody walked right through it.’
‘No shit! Even stranger was that the back door had been forced open from the inside. It had been locked beforehand.’
‘What could have done that? A skinny little girl couldn’t have.’
‘Yeah, it could have been hard even for a grown man. My first thought was that somebody broke in through a window but not a window had been touched.’
‘Then how could have the assailant gone inside?’
‘Either he was let inside by the girl, a new boyfriend or something, or the back door was open, to begin with. Either way, the broken fence remains an open question.’
‘Wasn’t it broken before the abduction?’
‘No, the girl’s parents confirmed that it wasn’t broken before. But this is not the weirdest part. What is bothering me the most, is that we found a lighter on the floor.’
Before Victor could reply, somebody knocked on the door. He invited the person in. It was the blonde secretary, she brought some freshly brewed coffee.
‘Good morning, sheriff.’ she said and put the coffee on the desk.
‘Good morning, Christine,’ the sheriff replied and noticed the kinky smile she threw towards Victor.
‘When the hell are you gonna straighten out?’ he asked Victor after the girl left, ‘you’ve got a wife for God’s sake, and kids.’
‘I know but I can’t control myself, my wife doesn’t give me what I want anyway, she got old and ugly. What about that lighter?’
‘The girl’s parents told me that the lighter looked just like the one that was buried with Karen’s ex-boyfriend.’
‘The firefighter, yes. I remember him, he was a good kid. And why is the lighter relevant?’
‘I have a bad feeling. The night was foggy, do you remember the foggy nights of 1958?’
’No way, ’said Victor, his face became pale as chalk and his hands were visibly shaking, ‘there is no way that’s happening again! It was just another lighter that looked like the one you mentioned and it was dropped by the perpetrator.’
‘I dunno, but the fog combined with the bluntness of the abduction and the damn lighter makes me think about it. We’ll see on Friday night if anything happens. I really, really wish that I’m just overthinking and it’s a damn coincidence.’
‘I really hope it is,’ Victor replied sat down in a chair, ‘for fuck’s sake, don’t scare me like this again!’
‘Sorry, but I had to tell ya. You know how cunning it was, playing with our minds,' said Kerrigan and stood up, 'and now this...'
He put his hat back and walked out the door. Before closing it he turned back to Victor.
‘If I’m right and it’s happening again,’ he paused a little and threw a grave look toward his friend, ‘I hope you won’t run away again.’
Whayman didn’t say a word and Kerrigan left. When he got back to the police station, Kevin's father was waiting for him. He saw right away the concern on the man's face.