The Doll Collector

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Chapter 51

Joshua had almost missed that biting wind. Almost. Whipping off the sea’s surface, it would freeze anyone daring to venture near the coast.

Despite the icy wind and the accompanying low temperature, it was dry, and he could make use of his time outdoors. His coat and scarf were in position, wrapped so tight around its neck that it could almost be a vacuum seal, preventing anything from penetrating to his midriff.

With the sea behind him, he was sitting on a bench, facing from a few metres away, the red car that had brought him to this part of the world, which, from his perspective had been standing still in time. Everything was as he remembered it.

Joshua had, in fact, been sitting close to his current position when news reached him of his parents’ deaths. It was fitting that he should be in the same place when Dan Castle would resign himself to defeat. His seat offered the best view of the scene that he would create in a matter of moments.

As he turned his head to the left, Joshua could also see his new car, ready to be driven away when needed. He knew where he would be going, and what he would do when he arrived. For the first time in days, Joshua wasn’t just telling himself that he was in control, he was in control.

He pushed his left sleeve back with a freezing right hand and noted that almost half an hour had passed since he called the Private Investigator. He could have easily hung up after five minutes, knowing that the police would have an approximate location, but there was no harm in leaving the call open, building the tension, the drama. If Abigail’s muffled cries could be heard, it would add even more to the anxiousness of her father.

With a plan to follow, every detail figured out, Joshua was free to enjoy the moment, and to take in every detail. He could relish the opportunity to let the sinister side of his personality run around for a while. All-too-often he was careful, measured, calculating. Sitting there, he was wild, powerful, passionate and alive.

For most of his life, the time spent with young girls had been the only remedy for pacifying his passions and calming his craving. Only that feeling of absolute power could do it. He had the feeling now, but the feeling of power, not just over young girls but over everyone, was exhilarating. It was new.

Dan was dancing at the end of the strings he controlled. The P.I, his daughter and the police were all his puppets. It was his show. Like a crazed movie director, he had created it, he had manipulated the cast for maximum thrills. There he was, sitting on his bench, waiting for the action to begin. An audience of one.

He shook his head. “This is what five grand buys you, Mr Castle,” he said through purple lips. “I’ll let you suffer, and then I’ll take your money.”

Reaching his left hand into his pocket, he checked again that the walkie-talkie was in place. On its own, the small device could do nothing. When it connected with its twin, part of a makeshift bomb, the result would be spectacular.

With steady hands he had stripped walkie-talkie wires, and had added a car battery to increase the voltage. When the time was right, these wires would spark, igniting the powder from a large box of fireworks, relocated into a reasonably sized tube. When combined with the petrol leaking from the punctured tank of the old car, the explosion would provide the area with something between chaos and carnage. He had created a lethal bomb from common objects, with a combined cost of less than one hundred pounds.

Joshua smirked as he thought about the destructive device. Maybe, if this kidnapping and ransom doesn’t work out I can be a budget bomb maker.

As he watched and waited for Mr Castle to show up, he realised he was whistling a song. A wide smile formed on his face, despite the cold air making his cheeks hurt. Of all the songs I could have in my head, none could be more apt.

The Cliff Richard song in his head, making its way out through mediocre whistling, had reached the top of the UK music charts in the late Fifties, and again in the mid-Eighties. The words ‘I’ll lock her up in a trunk so no big hunk can steal her away from me’ seemed particularly pertinent.

Joshua was using the boot (or the trunk in American terminology) to trap the girl until the inevitable could occur. Her travels, in this life, were at an end.

He was tapping his feet, partly due to the cold, and partly in anticipation. He was a matter of minutes away from witnessing something spectacular, if he could be certain his homemade explosive worked as planned. In a few minutes he would find out whether Dan Castle really loved his daughter.

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