Monday morning, Devon is lying on the bed facing Randy as he sleeps. He sees Randy start to stir. As Randy slowly wakes up, he is feeling warm and toasty. He opens his eyes and as they focus, he sees what looks like green eyes looking back at him. He is startled and falls out of bed as the green eyes quickly fade away. His fall makes a loud thump. The door to his room opens and his dad pokes his head in the room. Seeing Randy sitting on the floor, facing his bed, with an astonished look on his face. Devon is laughing at Randy.
"Are you okay, bud? Must have been quite a dream?"
"Hahahaha! I said that must have been some dream. Well, hurry up and get ready for school. You must have turned off your alarm. You slept in a little, so hurry so you're not late."
"Uh... sure Dad, I'll be ready soon."
His dad closes the door and Randy stands up untangling the blankets and sheets from around him. He is still looking at the bed and rubs the sleep from his eyes.
"Devon? Was that you? I mean, when I woke up I thought I saw green eyes looking at me."
Devon's mouth drops open. He can't believe what he just heard. Somehow Randy saw him, or at least his eyes. The possibility that Randy may have seen him, or at least part of him, makes him jump around on the bed. While Devon is doing this, Randy sees his bed move a little, like someone is jumping on the bed. Randy's eyes widen.
"Uh... Devon, uh... are you... jumping on my bed?"
Devon stops and faces Randy. His smile grows wider. Randy is looking at the bed and Devon looks down; he doesn't see anything, but he moves nearer to Randy and launches himself at Randy, grabbing him around the neck. Randy feels that strange feeling that he had last night, when Devon hugged him. He puts his arms around Devon, and he again can almost feel Devon in his arms. Randy hugs tighter and he suddenly feels a slight pressure on his cheek as Devon kisses him. They stand like this for a minute, enjoying the feeling of closeness.
"Devon... I have to get ready for school, okay?"
Devon lets go and slips back to the floor. Randy feels the change and suddenly feels kind of empty. He goes over to dresser to get some clean underwear out.
"Stay here, Devon. I'll be back in a little bit."
Randy leaves the room and goes to the bathroom to clean up. Devon sits on the bed, and then gets up with a mischievous look on his face; he gets to the bathroom as the shower starts up. Giggling, he goes inside. He pauses for a moment, and then goes into the shower. Inside he sees Randy with his back to Devon. Devon looks at Randy and sees an average sized 15 year old. He doesn't have the body of what many people would call a computer geek. He has some well-defined muscles, probably from his training in the Explorer program. Devon realizes that Randy is good looking. Randy starts washing his hair, and Devon moves up behind Randy and pinches his butt. Randy jumps and starts to rub the spot. He turns around, trying to get the shampoo out of his eyes.
"Ouch! What the fuck?"
Randy suddenly turns red all over; he drops his hands over his crotch to cover himself. His mouth drops open.
"Devon, did you do that? What are you doing in here? Get out, creep, let me finish."
Randy is trying to be harsh, but he can't keep the smile off his face. Devon is laughing, and he moves forward and hugs Randy around the waist. Randy feels him once again. He gives him a quick hug back.
"Okay, now get out. I'll be out in a little bit."
Randy feels Devon's presence let him go. Devon leaves the room and goes back to Randy's room. Randy finishes and comes back to his room. He gets dressed in his usual school clothes, jeans and a polo type shirt. Devon is with him. Randy goes downstairs and greets his parents, grabs a bowl and some cereal and sits down.
"So, Randy, what were you dreaming about?"
"Nothing really. I think I just rolled the wrong way, and I must have been near the edge of the bed and fell off."
"Honey, should I see if we have some extra rails at the hospital that we're not using, and your Dad can attach them to your bed, you know, for safety?"
"Real funny, mom. Don't quit your day job. I heard it's hard to make it as a comedian."
Randy's dad and mom laugh at him as they go back to finishing their breakfast. Once Randy is done, he picks up his backpack, says goodbye, and goes out to the garage and gets his bike out. He starts to leave when he gets that familiar cool warmth feeling around his neck and on his back. There is no real weight, but he feels a little something. He smiles and starts pedaling.
"Morning, Devon. I'm guessing you're going to school with me."
He feels a slight pressure around his neck, and it makes him smile wider as he continues to school. When he gets there, he feels Devon leave him. He locks his bike up and starts inside. He feels a light pressure around his waist. Randy looks around to make sure no one is looking his way, then he moves his arm around where he thinks Devon's shoulders are and gives him a quick squeeze. He gets to class. Devon follows him and sits on the floor near Randy. Devon feels better. Before he made this connection with Randy, he didn't know how alone he had felt. Now he feels happier. Throughout the day, he follows Randy around the school.
At lunch Randy finds a secluded tree on the campus and sits down under it.
"Devon, are you here? Let me know some way."
"Damn. Devon, where are you?"
"Maybe I should have brought the ball."
Randy feels something like a kiss on his cheek, Randy smiles.
"Devon, did you just get here?"
"Have you been here the whole time?"
"You little rat! If I could find you, I'd beat your butt!"
Randy's voice had risen a bit, so he quickly looks around to see if anyone noticed him. There appears to be no one that has noticed him. He wipes his cheek, even if there really is nothing there. The feeling remains. He is smiling.
"Seriously, little brother, you've got to come up with another way to communicate other than a kiss. Not that it doesn't feel pretty cool, but I'd rather it was a girl kissing me, not you. No offense."
He feels a light tap on his arm.
"Well, that at least is better. Hopefully it isn't harder; that could get kind of sore after a while."
He gets hit harder, once on each arm.
"Let's just keep it on the light tap."
"Okay, I've been thinking and... I really want to talk to my dad about this."
"Why not? He could really be of help with this. I know, you can't answer that."
Nothing for a few moments, then Randy feels arms around his neck.
The bell rings for the end of lunch.
"Devon, time to get back to class."
Randy feels the arms go away and he gets up. Devon follows him to class. For the rest of the day, Devon follows Randy around. When it is time to go, they head to the bike racks. Randy gets on his bike and stands still for a moment; when he fells the slight weight and arms around his neck, he starts for home.
At home that evening after dinner, Randy does his homework, then sits and watches TV in his room. Not far from his thoughts is how he can help Devon and how he will get Devon to let him talk to his dad about all of this. Devon watches Randy and does not do much besides going out to play with Gus for a little bit. He has a worried look on his face, because Randy doesn't really talk to him much this evening. Randy gets ready for bed later. As he gets into bed, he looks around the room.
"Are you staying here with me, Devon?"
Randy feels Devon's arms around him.
"Good. Then I know I'll sleep good. Thanks for being here with me."
.[Thank you for being here with me, Randy. You are the big brother I wish I had. I love you]
They cuddle together and Randy slowly falls asleep with a slight smile. Devon pulls back after a few minutes and watches Randy sleep. He lies down again to relax and closes his eyes to rest, since he has nothing better to do.
The next couple of weeks are pretty much the same for the two of them. They get up, Devon goes with Randy to school, and they talk some more during lunch and go home. Randy continually tries to convince Devon to let him tell his Dad, and Devon continues to refuse.
Andrew continues to look for clues on the new missing boy, Jonathan. No luck, no clues, another dead end. By the end of the week, he is glad to go home and try to relax, hoping another one doesn't go missing.
Late on Friday night a man enters his garage where his van is parked with the back doors open. He has a blanket wrapped object in his arms. As he nears the van doors a small hand falls out of the blanket. He lays the object into the back of the van. After closing the doors, he gets in the driver's seat and opens the garage door with the opener. He starts the van and backs out, and turns the van around. He then turns on some music and, whistling to the tune, drives off toward Highway 14.
Another week goes by with no budging on Devon's part about talking to Andrew. On Saturday, Andrew and Randy are going to Home Depot for some supplies, and Andrew notices that Randy is kind of quiet and looking out the window.
"Randy, anything the matter, bud?"
Randy continues to look out the car window. Andrew reaches over and lightly punches him on the shoulder. Randy looks around.
"I said, is anything the matter?"
"Well, you've been kind of quiet."
"It's nothing, just thinking."
"Nothing much, just stuff."
"You know, if there's something bothering you, I'd be happy to listen."
"I know, dad, thanks. It's nothing, just thinking."
"Okay, but if you need help, let me know."
"Yeah, I know. No problems to worry about."
Andrew smiles and Randy goes back to looking out the window. He is of course thinking about Devon. This issue of Devon not wanting Randy to talk to his dad is bugging him. Randy knows that somehow he knows that he can get his dad to listen to him and convince him that Devon is around. Somehow he has got to convince Devon. Maybe tomorrow at the park, he can get Devon to agree.
That night Randy lies back against the headboard reading. Music is playing softly in the background. He stops after a bit and lays the book open beside him upside down.
"Devon, I've been thinking about this all day. I don't know how else to help you, and I really think that we need to talk to dad. I know that I can convince him about you being here. Please let me tell him. I promise he'll help. Please, bro, let me."
The book closes.
"Hey! What was that for?"
The book opens back up, where it was.
"What does that mean? Yes, or what?"
There is no movement of anything.
"Well, bro, think about it, okay? Just think about it. I'll see you in the morning."
Randy picks up the book; he looks at the pages and sees it is where he was at. He puts a bookmark in the place, puts the book down on his bedside table and lies down to sleep. Devon takes his standard spot, backed up to Randy. He gives a smile of contentment when Randy puts his arm around him. They both close their eyes smiling.
That night Randy has a dream where he and Devon are doing all kinds of things together, playing catch at the park, riding their bikes to see a movie, just a lot of the kinds of things that brothers do together.
Sunday morning Randy wakes up with his arm around Devon. He looks down at the younger boy in front of him, smiling down at his little brother. He sits up and rubs the sleep from his eyes. He looks down to the younger boy again and shakes him.
"Wake up, bro. Time to get u... .Whoa, shit!"
Randy tries to get up from under the covers, get out of bed. He gets tangled and falls out of bed landing on his butt. He looks up, as the face of a boy that he has only seen in a picture and his dreams looks over the bed at him, with a quizzical smile on his face. Randy just stares with his mouth wide open. Devon's smile falters after a few moments and he starts to get a concerned look on his face. Devon gets up and Randy watches him. It takes him a moment to notice that Randy's eyes are following him. He stops and now his mouth drops open as he stares back at Randy. Randy's mouth opens and closes a few times and he takes a breath. When he speaks it is almost a whisper.
"Devon? I can see you. I can really see you, little bro. I can't believe it, I can see you. What happened? How... I mean... I... I don't know what I mean, but wow!"
Devon's mouth moves like he is talking "You can really see me."
Randy looks puzzled and Devon just moves forward and falls into Randy's arms. Randy holds him tight, and his face seems to shine with wonder as he tightens his arms as he sits on the bed. He gives him a quick kiss on the cheek. After a few moments, Devon kisses Randy back on the cheek and then sits back and looks at Randy. There are tears in both of their eyes.
"Devon, I can really feel you. It's not quite like before, you're more... solid, I guess. Are you really here?"
"Does that mean you're more alive or something?"
Devon frowns and shakes his head.
"Ohhhh. But wow, I can really see you. Maybe my dad can see you now too?"
Devon shakes his head.
"I know you didn't want me to tell him, but this changes things. Even if he can't see you, maybe now that I can see you, it will be easier for you to help him. I can translate. I know this will work."
Devon frowns a bit and looks down like he is thinking.
Randy waits. Devon gets up and walks over to the window looking outside.
"Besides, bro, what about the missing kid? We've got to find him. The others are probably de... uh... like you, but we should try to find out what happened to them at least."
Randy gets up off the floor and sits on the bed watching Devon. After a few minutes, Devon turns and looks at Randy, he nods his head. Randy jumps up.
"YES! Thanks for trusting me, bro. I won't let you down. I'll get dad to believe me somehow."
Randy goes over to Devon and hugs him tightly. Devon returns the hug and looks up at Randy. Randy looks down and ruffles Devon's hair.
"It's time to get dressed."
Randy grabs some underwear and goes to the bathroom to shower and brush his teeth, while Devon sits on the bed hugging his knees to his chest. When Randy returns he is in his underwear. He takes a t-shirt from his dresser and jeans from his closet and gets dressed. Once he finishes, he smiles at Devon.
"C'mon, bud, let's go."
Devon smiles at him and gets up from the bed, following Randy as they go to the kitchen. Randy's parents are already in the kitchen. His mom has breakfast almost done. His Dad looks up from his paper and coffee.
"Morning, dad, mom."
"Dad, can I talk to you after breakfast?"
"Sure, what about?"
"Just something I've been thinking about."
"Okay, we can go to my office."
Randy looks toward Devon standing in the doorway and smiles. Andrew notices the look as he picks up the paper again. He looks where Randy was looking but does not see anything, so he shrugs and goes back to the paper. Mary serves breakfast and they talk as they eat. Just as the meal ends, the phone rings. Andrew gets up and answers it.
"Hello?" Pause. "Oh, yeah, morning, John." Andrew frowns while he listens; the silence has gotten the attention of his family. "Okay, I'll be right in." Pause. "Yeah, okay. I'll leave now, be there in a few. Thanks, see ya."
He hangs up the phone with a frown on his face.
"What is it, dear? Is it something about those boys?"
"Yeah, it is. There is another one missing now. I have to go in and get the report. They didn't tell me much; just that another one has been reported missing. I'll be back later."
Randy looks over at Devon, who now has tears in his eyes. Randy gets up and rinses his plate and glass out, and then walks toward his room, Devon follows him. As soon as he enters, Devon runs to Randy and holds on tight. Randy puts his arms around the smaller boy and comforts him the best that he can. He feels the boy's crying subsiding and looks down as Devon looks up.
"I can't believe it, another one. We have got to help Dad."
They go back out and hear his dad's car drive away.
"What was that, Randy."
"Um... sorry mom, I just wanted to ask dad something before he left."
"Well, he said he would be back as soon as he can. Just a couple of hours or so."
"Okay. I'm going to walk Gus down to the park for a little while."
Randy gets the leash, and he and Devon take a walk to the park. They get to their usual spot and sit down. Randy throws the ball for Gus as they sit there. Devon sits across from him, so Randy can see him.
"That really sucks. Another one is missing. I wonder if that means the one before is... dead now."
"We need to talk to dad as soon as he gets home. Hopefully I can convince him. We don't have a lot of time, the other one was just a couple of weeks ago."
Devon gets a determined look and nods his head.
[We have to stop The Man.]
"I wish I could read lips, so I knew what you just said."
Devon then pantomimes as he repeats what he said.
He points at his chest and to Randy as he mouths the word.
He slowly pronounces the words.
He pushes his palms toward Randy.
He again slowly pronounces the words.
"The... what was that?"
Devon stands up and struts a little, then looks and points to an older man walking through the park and again says [Man].
Randy concentrates and then follows where Devon is pointing. "Oh, man? The man? Is that what you mean?"
Devon nods vigorously.
"You call him The Man?"
"I guess that is as good a name as any, until we find the bastard. You're right, we have to stop the man. Well, let's go back home and wait for dad to come home."
Devon nods and stands up.
Randy throws the ball one last time, gathers up the leash and snaps it on, once Gus brings the ball back. They start walking. Randy feels a poke at his side and he looks at Devon. Devon is crouching down a little. Randy looks at him, puzzled. Devon points at Randy, then crouches a little again. Randy thinks a moment, then smiles and nods. He looks around, and then crouches down a little. Devon moves behind him and jumps up on his back, and wraps his arms around Randy's neck, putting his head next to Randy's so that they are cheek to cheek. Randy adjusts the light weight of Devon on his back and automatically puts his hands under Devon's legs to support him, just as he would if he really had a normal 12 year old's weight on his back. He starts walking down the street, Devon revels in the feeling of Randy carrying him. Randy of course barely feels the weight. Instead of the 80 – 90 pounds of a boy Devon's age and size, it feels more like carrying his backpack for school, maybe 20 pounds or so. As they walk down the street, a young boy of about 8 or 9 playing in his front yard looks at Randy and has a puzzled look as he sees Randy come down the sidewalk, looking like he is carrying something. The boy walks over toward Randy.
"Whatcha doing, walking like that?"
"Walking like what?"
The boy points at Randy and then demonstrates holding his hands like Randy is doing while carrying Devon on his back. Randy blushes and quickly looks around. He feels Devon tighten his legs. Randy looks down and sees Devon's ankles locked around his waist. He smiles and lets his hands drop. He shrugs at the boy. The boy looks at him like he's weird.
"I was thinking about something else, I guess."
He smiles at the boy and walks on.
Randy looks over to the boy and sees him smiling as he says it. Randy smiles back and waves, the boy waves back and goes back to his play. Randy can feel a slight vibration against his back; he turns his head to the right and can see Devon giggling. Randy looks around and back to where the boy is playing, not paying attention anymore. He whispers.
"You think that's funny, brat? I'll show you funny."
He reaches around with his right hand and pokes Devon in the side several times. The vibrations get bigger as Devon starts laughing. Devon suddenly jumps off Randy. Randy turns around and Devon races by him toward home. Randy starts to turn around after him and notices the young boy is looking his way again, with a puzzled look. Randy gives a weak smile and wave, then turns and runs after Devon. The boy kind of waves back; he watches as Randy runs around the corner before turning back to his play, shaking his head.
Randy is racing after Devon with Gus running by his side. He starts to catch up to him, just before they get to the front door. Devon races inside, and Randy just barely stops himself from crashing into the door. Suddenly Devon's head and upper body look through the door and he laughs and points at Randy, then disappears back in the house. Randy opens the door and starts looking for Devon. He goes to the kitchen, where he sees his mom in the backyard relaxing in the shade on a lounge reading a book. She looks up, sees him and waves. He waves back, then searches through the rooms until he gets to his room. As he enters, Devon springs out of the closet and startles him.
"Shit! Oh, little bro, you are so dead...."
He suddenly stops when he realizes what he said. He gets a stricken look on his face.
"Oh, Dev. I'm so sorry. I didn't mean...."
Devon just smiles and runs to Randy and jumps up, putting his arm around Randy's neck, and his legs around his waist, giving him a quick kiss on the cheek. He pulls back and smiles at Randy. Randy pulls him forward for a tight hug. Devon lays his head on Randy's shoulder as Randy begins to kind of rock him, shifting one hand down under Devon's butt, holding him up. Devon is still just as light, but it is kind of an automatic gesture to support him. Devon sits back after a little bit and smiles at Randy.
Devon loosens his hold and drops from Randy's arms. Randy takes off his shoes, picks up the TV remote, turns on the TV and gets on the bed. He sits back against the headboard, and Devon joins him on the bed, only he lays on his stomach facing the TV. Randy turns the TV to a comedy movie and they are laughing together, one loud and one silent. Every so often, Devon looks back at Randy to share his laughter with him.
Just as the movie ends, Andrew comes in to Randy's room and sees him laughing. Randy does not notice him right away, but Devon does. Andrew is smiling at his son, Devon kicks out at Randy; the slight touch gets his attention and he looks at Devon.
Randy notices his dad in the doorway smiling; he stutters a moment.
"Uh... hi Dad... I didn't see you there."
"That's okay. When you finish with the show, come on to the office, no rush."
Randy sees the serious look on his dad's face and nods his head.
"Uh... sure Dad, we... I'll be right in."
Andrew gives him a look as he catches the "we", then shrugs and turns away. Devon looks at Randy.
"I wonder what that's about."
Devon lifts his hands up and shrugs.
"Well, we might as well find out. Let's go."
He gets off the bed and turns the TV off. Devon follows him as he leaves the room. He walks to his Dad's office and enters. His Dad is sitting at the desk looking at a folder. He looks up when Randy enters the room. Andrew looks a little tired as he gives Randy a smile and motions for him to come over to the desk.
"Hi, son. Well, I got the information on the new missing kid. Take a look."
He hands the folder to Randy who opens it and then almost drops it. The picture looking up at him is of Kyle Johnson, Devon's roommate and friend from the Jeffries home.
"Oh, no... not Kyle!"
Devon runs over to Randy and stands behind him, looking at the picture of his friend.
"Yeah, sorry to say, it's Kyle. They didn't wait the whole 24-48 hours like normally. They just waited for a few hours, then called the Jeffries back this morning to confirm that he was still missing, and then I was called. Because of my report on Devon's case about the home, they didn't believe that Kyle was a runaway either. So they jumped on it right away. This may give us an extra day or two to find him. Any little bit helps."
Randy nods absently as he looks at the picture of Kyle. He notices that Devon is right next to him and is looking up with tears running down his face. He nods as his eyes get moist. He closes the folder and hands it back to his dad, then takes a deep breath.
"Uh... Dad, there's something that I need to talk to you about."
"Sure, son, you know you can tell me anything. I remember you said something about wanting to talk to me about something this morning before the station called."
Andrew is smiling at his son as he says this. He gets up and motions towards the couch in the room. Randy goes and sits down near an arm of the couch. Devon sits on the arm and puts his arm around Randy. Randy smiles a little, glances at Devon, then his dad. Andrew notices the look up toward Randy's right side, but waits for Randy to start.
"Remember a little while back when I had that error in my computer code a few weeks back?"
"Sure. That was kind of creepy that night."
"Yeah, well... um... don't freak out or anything, but things have changed a little bit and... um... .more things have happened."
"Things? What kind of things?"
"Well, I can kind of... talk to Devon now."
"What!? What do you mean, you can talk to Devon?"
"Not talk exactly, but communicate, kind of. Basically I talk and he makes his answer known to me."
"Okay. This is kind of creepy. Do you mean he is haunting you?"
"Well not exactly... I guess... maybe in a way, but not haunting like scary and such."
"I have to ask this question as stupid as it sounds but, you haven't been doing something stupid... you know like taking drugs...?"
"Daaaaadd! You know me better."
His Dad holds his hands up. "Okay, Okay. I'm a cop, I have to ask things like that, you know. Especially when something like this comes up. I know that evening it was kind of creepy, but I don't really believe in this spirits thing, you know."
"I know, dad, and I kind of didn't either, but like I said, things have happened."
"Okay, let's say this is true. How do you 'talk' to him, and how does he talk back?"
"Well, here's how it happened. After that stuff in the office a few weeks ago. The next day I took Gus for a walk to the park and to throw the ball around. Anyway, one of my throws went into some thick bushes and I figured it was lost. So I put the leash on Gus and started to lead him home. He kept straining against the leash back toward the bushes. When I looked back, I saw the ball roll out from the bushes. I thought about what had happened the night before, so I unsnapped the leash and told Gus to find Devon. He ran right toward the bushes, stopped, looked up, and then looked back at me. I knew then that Devon was there, you know those stories that say that dogs supposedly can see spirits and all that?
Andrew nods. "Yeah, like I said the other night, I've heard that, I just didn't think anything about it being true."
"Well, that wasn't the end. The ball rolled several feet by itself and Gus picked it up and brought it back and dropped it where Devon 'was'. I picked up the ball and walked over to a tree nearby and sat down. I looked around to make sure no one was near, then I threw the ball a little ways out, and then I started asking Devon questions, you know, to the air. They had to be yes or no questions. Every time I got a 'yes', the ball moved closer, for a 'no', the ball didn't move. He kind of wiggled it a bit for 'I don't know'. He even moved the ball kind of in a circle to mean a giggle or laugh or something; anyway I was able to 'talk' to him this way. It was hard but I got some information. He says that it was a man, that he could recognize if he saw him again, but he didn't know who it was, because he could not remember seeing him anytime before."
"Wait a minute. You are serious here, aren't you?"
Randy nods. Andrew sits back and thinks a bit. Randy waits as he sees his Dad thinking about this.
"Okay, let's say for the sake of argument what you say is true. Why didn't you tell m...?"
"Dad, just wait, let me finish."
Andrew nods and waits.
"First he made me promise not to say anything yet, and I thought I might lose contact with him if I went against his wishes, so I promised, even though I tried hard to convince him to let me talk to you."
Andrew nods and shrugs.
"Anyway, that was just the beginning. When we got back to the house later that night, he and I talked some more. I tried to convince him again that I should talk to you, but he wouldn't let me out of my promise. So I got the idea to have him try to type stuff on the computer and he tried. It took a long time and he was finally able to push down one key: it didn't work well. So we gave up that idea. We 'talked' a little longer, then I went to bed and Devon stayed with me, and the weirdest thing happened. I 'felt' Devon near me and I put my arms out and I could almost feel him. It was an awesome feeling. I fell asleep with him in my arms; at least that is what it felt like. Remember when you came in that next morning because I fell out of bed. (Andrew nods and smiles) Well, I fell out of bed because when I woke up I saw two green eyes looking at me and it startled me, so I fell."
"Green eyes?" Andrew looks through the folders. "Devon had green eyes."
"Yeah, I remembered; that's why I fell out of bed when I saw them."
Andrew starts to chuckle and Randy joins him. Randy feels the arm on his shoulders shake a little and he glances over to Devon to see him giggling. Andrew again notices the look but again holds his comment.
"That day and for the next couple of weeks, Devon went with me to school. I could kind of feel a light weight on my back as I rode to school. We also would talk a bit during lunch when I could find a secluded place. I continued to try to get him to let me tell you, but he wouldn't. That was until this morning. When I woke up this morning, I saw Devon laying in front of me on the bed."
Andrew's eyes widen. "You what? You say you saw Devon?"
"Yeah, I didn't think about it at first, so I kind of shook him awake, and suddenly I realized what I was doing. That is what I wanted to talk to you about this morning before you got the call from work. This morning I finally got Devon to agree to let me tell you."
"Whoa, this is a little much to take. If I were a drinking man, I'd want something right now. So... uh... is he... here now?"
Randy looks to his right and smiles at Devon, and gets a smile in return. Andrew follows Randy's look and his eyes open wider. He quickly gets up and walks over to the arm. He looks real hard moving his head around, but can't see anything. He waves his arm over the place where Devon is. Devon leans back and giggles. Randy can see him and feels him shaking a little. Randy giggles a little.
"Well, I don't see anything. But you can?"
"Yep, right now he is giggling at you."
Andrew frowns, waves his hand a few more times, then walks back to his desk and picks up the folder, before walking back to the couch and sitting next to Randy. Randy and Devon stop giggling.
"Then I guess that means he saw this?"
"Yeah, Dad, he did."
"Okay, you can see him. Can you hear him too?"
"No, I can only see him. So he can kind of make motions and such, and sometimes he can mouth words that I can understand, but they can only be very short sentences and he says them real slow over and over until I understand him."
"All right. Let's think about this some. Whooo, this is going to take some getting used to, but I'll try anything, because we are nowhere and nothing else is working, so here goes. He says he could recognize the man if he saw him again, but he doesn't know the man. Hmmmm. I've got an idea, let's take a ride into the station. We can do some searches for sex... wait, I'm only guessing here but and this is going to be hard, was there some sexual abuse involved?"
Randy looks at Devon, who nods with tears in his eyes; he gets into Randy's lap. Randy hugs him. Andrew looks and shakes his head.
"Yeah, there was, Dad."
"This is too weird, I can see you hugging air, so I have to assume that it's Devon, but from here it just looks kind of crazy."
"I guess, but I can feel him, sort of. He feels kind of solid but soft... it's hard to describe."
"Well, don't worry about it, I'll deal with it, even if it does creep me out a bit. I had just assumed that this was some kind of serial sexual predator of some kind. Okay, so I think that first, it would be a good idea for us to go into the station, and do some searching for local sex offenders, let's say within a twenty-five mile radius, and see what comes up. That should be a good start. Now maybe we can catch this guy before he hurts Kyle. Okay, guys?"
They get up and go to the living room.
"Honey, Randy and I are going to go out for a bit. We'll back later; do you need anything?"
"No, where are you going?"
"I... uh forgot something at the station and I need to get it, and Randy said that he wanted to go with me."
"All right, see you when you get back."
Andrew gets his keys and they go get into the car and drive off. They are silent for a bit.
"Randy, I just had a thought... uh how long has Devon been with us?"
"Since we went to the Jeffries house that day."
"Really? He's been here all that time? That kind of explains a couple of other weird things; remember your ball hitting the glass door, was that Devon?"
Randy looks at Devon sitting on his lap. Devon smiles shyly and nods and then shrugs apologetically. Randy smiles.
"Yeah, that was him. I think he says sorry about that."
"That's okay, I thought it was some kids in the neighborhood."
They get to the station and go inside. Andrew greets some of the guys in the station as they go to his desk.
"Hey, Andy. What are you doing here? I thought you left. Hi, Randy."
"I did, just forgot something at the desk. I wanted to look something up and Randy was bored at home and wanted to come along, so here we are."
"Okay, but hurry up and get out of here. This is a Sunday; go enjoy yourself."
"Thanks Rick, I plan on leaving as soon as I can."
"You do that; see ya guys, got to go."
"Bye, Mr. Johnson."
They make their way to his Dad's desk, and Andrew sits down and boots up the computer. Randy moves the chair next to his dad and sits down. Devon sits on Randy's lap. Randy resists the urge to put his arms around Devon, since there are a few people in here and he doesn't want anyone to see anything out of the ordinary. Andrew gets into the database and puts in the search criteria, the address of Devon and Kyle's group home, sex offenders and twenty five miles. The database does a search and comes up with the list. He then enters some new search criteria to narrow it down to those involving boys under 14. The database works again and another list comes up. Andrew moves closer to Randy and talks low.
"Okay, here is a list of those who have committed crimes against children. So we now look at the pictures and see if Devon recognizes anyone."
"Okay, Dad, he's ready."
Andrew makes some settings on the control panel of the program and the pictures with the name and penal code offense start to scroll by slowly, changing every few seconds. They sit and look at them. The list goes on for about 15 minutes and comes to the end. Randy looks at Devon, who shakes his head. Randy frowns and looks at his dad, who is waiting.
"He's not there."
"Damn, I was sure this would work. Wait, I have another idea. I'll expand it out to 50 miles. I don't think someone like this would be going much farther than that to commit this kind of crime."
He enters the information and widens the search again searching for those who have committed offenses on those under 14. The list is pretty long.
"That is going to take quite a long time. I'm going to narrow the search a bit, and we can always come back to the whole list if we need to. I'm going to narrow it to those who have committed multiple crimes or have had multiple victims, or the victims were boys."
He enters the information and starts the search. The list is still kind of long, but much easier to handle. Again the scrolling starts and they watch the offenders parade by on the computer. Again at the end, Andrew looks at Randy with a raised eyebrow. Randy looks at Devon, who has a frown on his face as he shakes his head. Randy looks back at his dad and shakes his head.
"Well, we can look at the whole list, but I'm starting to think this guy may have never been caught, or he's never done it before. He might even be already out of state. The lack of evidence is what makes this real hard. No bodies, no witnesses, nothing. Anyway... let's go home."
They reluctantly get up after shutting the computer off. A few of the guys wave goodbye as they leave. The trip back is again quiet. They get back home.
"Hi, guys, did you get what you needed?"
"Yeah, I'm going to be in my office."
"Dinner will be ready in a little bit."
Andrew motions for Randy to follow him, Devon close behind. They go back into the office.
"Okay, son. I'm going to do some thinking about this, and see if I can come up with some ideas. Why don't you go and help your mom? If I come up with something, I'll let you know and we, all of us, can talk some more."
"Okay, c'mon Devon, let's go. You can keep me company."
"Uh... one more thing son, be careful about Devon around your mom; let's keep this quiet. I don't think your mom needs to know."
"Sure, Dad. We'll watch it."
Randy leaves to help his mom, while his dad goes through some of the files. Andrew looks through the files on the missing boys. He is getting frustrated and slams the file on one of the boys down on his desk, just as his wife calls him for dinner. He sighs loudly and gets up to eat dinner. The talk at the table is just inconsequential things. After dinner Andrew goes back into this office. He sits down again and starts going through the files. After a while he sits back and starts muttering.
"This guy is so damn good or lucky. I don't believe that he has ever been caught at this before. He must have done it before somewhere else; he is just too damn slick. No clues, no witnesses, no evidence of any kind. If we could just find a body, maybe."
Andrew gets up and paces again, and then suddenly he slaps his forehead.
"Damn, how could I have been so stupid?"
Andrew hurries to the door of his office and toward the kitchen.
"DEVO... uh... RANDY!"
Mary comes at his yell.
"What did you say, hon?"
"Uh... I was calling for Randy. I thought he was helping you with the dishes."
"I had him take out the trash; tomorrow's trash day, you know. He should be right back."
"Good, yeah, could you tell him when he gets back that I need his help with... uh, something on my computer?"
"Sure, I'll tell him."
Andrew goes back into his office and starts pacing, hands clasped behind his back, head down as he thinks. A few minutes later Randy comes to the door and Andrew stops and looks up.
"Dad, Mom said that you were having a problem with your computer?"
"No, uh, close the door."
Randy turns and closes the door and comes in the room with a concerned look on his face.
"Dad, is everything all right?"
"Yes, maybe things might be looking up."
"What do you mean?"
"Randy, is Devon here right now?"
Randy looks around and spots Devon standing by the door. He smiles at Devon and Devon returns it.
"Yeah, he's over by the door."
Andrew looks at the door, concentrating hard, and then just shaking his head in frustration, while Devon makes his way to the couch, walking by Andrew as he does. Andrew is still looking at the door.
"I wish I could see him; it would make this easier."
Andrew faces the door.
"Uh, Dad, he's over on the couch now."
"Damn, next time let me know, so that I don't look like an idiot."
Giggle. "He moved when you were looking at the door."
"Okay, just tell me next time."
Giggle. "Sure, Dad."
"Okay, you guys, I've been thinking about this, and I am certain that this guy has done it before somewhere, so I'm going to send an inquiry across the country to see if this has happened before. This guy is very slick. He's never been seen. He leaves no clues and he leaves no bodies of those that he... kills after holding his victims. And we know he kills now as evidenced by our... guest. Sorry, Devon, to put it so bluntly, but it's true."
Randy looks at Devon. Devon is sitting on the couch with tears in his eyes. Randy crosses the room and puts his arm around Devon, who leans into him. Randy looks up at his dad.
"I think he understands"
"That is still weird to look at." He shakes his head. "Anyway, like I said, I've been thinking about this and the lack of evidence... until I realized that we might finally have a break in this case."
"You have? That's great. Did the station call with some info?"
"No... the evidence is right here."
"Right here? Oh... Devon." He looks at Devon.
"Devon, I'm going to ask you a real hard question." He looks at Randy.
Randy looks down at Devon, who looks up and nods. "He's ready, Dad."
"Okay, I can honestly say that I have never asked this question. Devon, do you know... uh... where you're... buried?"
Devon looks up and frowns. He gets up from the couch and walks toward the window, Randy's eyes follow him. Andrew sees Randy drop his arm and look after Devon; he follows where Randy is looking. Devon stands in front of the window, thinking. Randy is watching him as he stands with his back to them. After standing there for a few moments, he turns around and looks at Randy, nodding. Randy turns back to his dad.
"He said yes, Dad. I think he knows."
"Okay, is it far from here?"
Devon nods as he joins Randy on the couch again.
"Yes, he says it is far from here."
"Ouch. Okay...let me think... wait, you said that Devon has been with us since we went to the Jeffries house. Is it far from the Jeffries house?"
Devon nods his head.
"He said yes again, Dad."
Andrew walks around to his desk and sits down and leans back looking off into space. Randy and Devon both watch and wait. After a few minutes Andrew leans forward and puts his elbows on the desk folding his hands together.
"Okay, guys, here is what we are going to do. Tomorrow, you're going to stay home from school and we are going for a drive. We have put out pictures of the missing boys in the paper, since they went missing, except for Kyle, since he was just reported. I think I want to keep his picture out of the paper for now, so we don't spook this bastard yet. I'm assuming he was just as careful and from what the initial report was, there are no known witnesses. Maybe that will buy us some time. Devon... how long were you with him?"
Devon thinks for a minute, shrugs, and then holds up four, then five fingers.
"He's not sure?" He looks at Devon, who nods. "But he thinks four or five days." He looks at Devon again, who nods.
"Okay, so we have a little time. Not very much, but some time. Okay, this is where it gets tricky. I'm going to write something down, and I want you to take it and ride down to the store. Go to the pay phone and call this number. It is the tip line. I'm going to write what I want you to say; you are going to ask for the lead detective on the case of the missing boys. If they give you any flack, tell them you will call back in five minutes and that you want to speak to the lead detective right away. They should then call me and conference me in when you call back. We have to keep this short so they can't trace the call. They might be able to get the city you are calling from, but I'm hoping we can keep this short enough so that they can't find you. As soon as you're done with me, get back here right away. You have to be careful what you say, because they will record the call. Also, if you can make your voice sound different, I don't mean with an accent but lower if possible. Think you can do this?"
"Yeah, Dad, I think that I can. Just tell me what you want me to say."
"Give me a couple of minutes."
Andrew sits for a minute, and then starts to write something on a pad at his desk. When he finishes, he holds it out for Randy. Randy gets up and takes it, reading it as he walks back to the couch. When he sits down, Devon scoots next to him again and reads the paper. Randy looks up when he finishes and smiles at his dad.
"Yeah, I think I can do it."
"Good. Why don't you read it, so I can hear how it sounds."
"Okay. 'Hello tip line, can I speak with the detectives on the case about those boys that are missing that I read about in the paper.' If they just want the information, then I say "I'll call back in five minutes; please have him available to talk.' Then I hang up. I wait five minutes, then call again and again ask for the lead detective. If they say that they can't find him and want me to wait while they connect me, I hang up. Then I call back in five minutes and see if they connect me right away. I keep hanging up and then call every five minutes until they connect me. When they finally do connect us, I say the rest. 'I think I may have seen one of these boys that you are looking for. Do you have a cell phone? I don't want talk too long on this line.' When you answer yes, I will say 'Give me the number and I will call you in five minutes.' Then I hang up and head back home."
"Okay, that sounds good; are you sure you can do it?"
"Sure, Dad, anything to help. We can't let anyone else get hurt and we have to get Kyle back."
"Okay. Let's set this in motion. Good luck and be careful; don't improvise, do just like I said."
Randy waves and heads to his room to get a jacket on. Devon follows close behind.
"You coming with, bro?"
"Okay, let's go."
As he passes the living room he sees his mom sitting watching TV.
"Mom, I'm going to ride my bike for a little bit."
"'Kay, be careful, don't forget your helmet."
Randy waves and they go outside. He gets his bike out of the garage, he puts his helmet on, Devon jumps on his back, and they leave, riding toward the strip mall where the pay phones are. It only takes a few minutes to get there and he looks around and chooses one that is semi secluded. He takes some money out of his pocket and puts it in the phone. When he gets the dial tone, he calls the tip line.
"LA Sheriff's Tip Line, how may I help you."
"Hello, can I talk to the detectives on the case of those missing boys that I read about in the paper?"
"Do you have any information about that case?"
"I think so; can I talk to them?"
"You can give me the information and I will pass it along." "No, I think I need to speak to them. I'll call back in 5 minutes."
Randy hangs up the phone and looks at his watch to check the time. Devon watches him.
At the call center, the person who answered the phone checks a list on her computer and dials a number. Sue Mason, a civilian employee with the Sheriff's, answers the phone.
"Hello, Detective bureau, Susan speaking."
"Hi Sue, this Ann Grantland at the tip line, we just got a call about those missing boys. Some guy called and wanted to talk to the detectives handling the case. Do you know who is working on it?"
"Yes, Andrew Shepard is the lead detective on it. He's at home now."
"The caller said that he wanted to talk to the detectives and that he would call back in 5 minutes, that's about 2 minutes from now. What do you want me to do if he calls back?"
"Tell them that he is off work and that he can give you the information."
"Okay, I'll let you know."
At the call center, Ann tells the others to route any calls about the missing boys in the next couple of minutes to her; she waits.
Randy checks the time and lets it run a bit past the five minute mark, then calls again.
"LA Sheriff's tip line, how may I help you."
"Yes, I wish to talk to the detectives on the missing boys that have been in the paper?"
"Just a moment."
Back at the call center Greg Preston motions at his phone to Ann. She nods and picks it up.
"Hello, this is Ann, can I help you."
"Do you have the detective on the line?"
"No, I'm sorry he's off work right now, but you can leave the information and I will get it to the detectives right away."
"Sorry, I need to speak to the detectives in charge of the investigation. I'll call back in five minutes; please have him available."
Randy hangs up again. He looks a little nervous, and gives Devon a smile. Devon smiles back and hugs him. Randy looks around then puts his arms around Devon quickly.
At the call center, Ann clicks off and calls Susan back.
"Hello, Detective bureau, Susan speaking."
"Sue, Ann, he called back but wouldn't give me anything. He said that he'd call again in five minutes. What next?"
"Okay, sit tight, I'll try to see if Andy's available."
"Okay, you've got about three minutes."
"I'll try to get Andy to call you guys on the back line."
"Okay thanks. This might be important, to go through this much trouble."
"Yeah, let's hope. Thanks Ann."
Sue pulls opens a file on her computer and finds Andrew's home number. At the house, the phone rings. Andrew is sitting at his desk and picks it up on the first ring.
"Hi, Andy, this is Sue Mason at the station. The tip line has a caller that has called a couple of times wanting to give information about the missing boys case that you are working on, but will only talk to the lead detective. Can you call the tip line folks on the office line and have them let you talk to this person when he calls back? That should be in about one or two minutes."
"Someone called in a tip? That's great, at least I hope so; we could use a break. I'll call right away. Thanks, Sue."
"You're welcome. Ask for Ann Grantland. She's the one who has taken the calls."
"Okay. Thanks again."
Andrew hangs up and dials the number. One of the other tip line people picks it up.
"Hello, this is Grace; can I help you?"
"Hi, Grace, this is Detective Shepard. I understand that you folks have gotten a call on my case. May I speak with Ann Grantland?"
"Sure, Detective. Let me put you through to her."
"Hello, this is Ann."
"Hi Ann, this is Detective Shepard. I understand you may have some information for me."
"Yes, we have had a caller saying he has information on the missing boys case and will only talk to you. He supposed to call back any time now. Can you wait?"
"Hell, yes, how long do you want me to wait?"
"It should just be a minute or so."
"Fine, just make sure the elevator music isn't too annoying.'
She laughs. "Not much I can do about it, just hang in. I'll connect you with him as soon as he calls."
She puts him on hold.
Back at the strip mall, Randy checks his watch, smiles at Devon and picks up the phone again.
"Here goes, bro."
"Hello, LA Sheriff's tip line; how may I help you."
"Have you gotten the detectives on the missing boys case?"
"Yes, sir, I have; just a moment and I'll connect you." Ann hits a couple of buttons. "Detective, I have the caller."
"Good, go ahead and connect. You are taping this, aren't you?"
"Good, go ahead."
She hits a couple of more buttons. "Go ahead, caller, I have the detective on the line."
"This is Detective Shepard; what can I do for you."
"I think I have some information on your case if you are the detective in charge."
"Yes, I am the lead detective; what do you have?"
"Not on the phone. I'll call you, do you have a cell phone?"
"That's not the way we normally do things, sir. You can tell me. There is a reward for any information, you know."
"I don't care, but I won't talk on this line. Give me your cell phone number and I'll call you right away. Otherwise, I'm outta here."
"Okay, okay, don't hang up. Here it is, 818-555-7690. Got it?"
"Yeah I got it." Click.
"Well, that was quick. Thanks, Ann, for your help."
"Sure, detective, I hope this is a good one."
"Yeah, me too, I could use a break on it. Bye now."
Andrew hangs up and waits. At the strip mall Randy smiles as he hangs up and Devon gives an answering smile. They get on the bike and take off for home. It has gotten a bit cool, so he rides fast. He can feel a slight vibration on his back. As he looks back he sees Devon giggling, which makes Randy smile as well. When they get home, he quickly puts his bike away and goes inside.
"Is Dad in his office? I gotta ask him something."
"I think so."
He goes to the office door and knocks. His dad says come in, so he enters and sees his dad sitting on the desk facing the door. Andrew crosses the distance to Randy and hugs him.
"Good job, son. You did good."
"Thanks, Dad. I was a little nervous, but now we can get this going."
"I've been thinking, I'm going to call the Lieutenant and tell him that I am following up a tip. We're not going to wait until tomorrow; we're going now!"
"Cool. The sooner the better." "Go get a warm jacket, I'm going to get some stuff out of the garage. I'll meet you at the truck.
They split up to get ready. Devon follows close on Randy's heels. He gets his ski jacket, hat and gloves. Andrew stops in the living room to talk to Mary.
"Mary, I just got a call. It's a tip on the case I'm working on. Randy is going with me."
"What... won't that be dangerous?"
"No, no chance of that. But I promise he will be safe. I'm not going anywhere dangerous, you have my word."
"I will hold you to that. I want this kid to have a big brother. In one piece."
"Like I said, don't worry. I want the same things as you. I just need his help with something. No danger at any time."
"Okay, you two be careful."
"We will. Love ya, see ya later."
Andrew gives here a kiss goodbye and goes outside.
Randy gives her a hug and a kiss as he leaves, and to Randy's surprise Devon does too. When he does that, she puts her hand to her cheek in surprise and looks around. Randy turns to hide his smile as they leave the house. He sees his dad put some tools in the back of the truck. When he finishes, he motions toward the truck.
"Okay, let's get going."
They get in and drive away. Devon waits until Randy is in, then he gets up in Randy's lap and leans against him. After buckling up, Randy puts his arms around Devon and gives him a quick hug, then clasps his hands around him. Andrew heads north toward Valencia and the Jeffries house. It takes them about twenty minutes to get there. They stop down the street from the house and Andrew turns to his passengers.
"Okay, guys, here's the plan. Devon, we're going to follow your directions. You lead us to your... uh... your resting place. Then we'll go from there. Okay?"
"He understands, Dad."
"Good. Okay, which way do we go?"
"That way, Dad."
"Okay, here we go."
Andrew starts off slowly, occasionally asking directions and Devon showing Randy, who then relays the directions to his dad. Slowly they make their way through Valencia, until they get to Bouquet Canyon Road. Devon points to the road and Andrew turns on it. Devon points down the road and raises his arm up and then waves his hand away.
"Dad, I think he says that he came down this road a long way." He looks at Devon, who nods. "Yeah, he came down this road a long way."
They follow it to where it ends on Elizabeth Lake Road. They pull to the side before they get to the intersection. Randy watches as Devon looks around, then he points east.
"We go right, dad."
They turn right and head toward a city.
"Dad, where are we? What city is that?"
"I think it's Palmdale." He looks around a bit more. "Yeah, that's Palmdale ahead, and over that way is Lancaster. So I guess it's on to Palmdale. I think we're going to stop there for some coffee and bathroom break. Sound good?"
"Yeah, dad, sounds good, something warm sounds real good."
Devon smiles and points to himself.
"Sorry, you can't have any, bro." Randy ruffles Devon's hair which gets him a smile.
"That is still just weird. All I see is you rubbing your hand in the air. Just looks strange; I don't know if I'll get used to it."
"Just chill, Dad. Devon's just messing around. He thinks he's a clown."
Devon elbows him in the stomach.
"Oww! Hey, that hurt, jerk." Randy rubs his stomach.
Andrew chuckles at his son. Following the road, which becomes Palmdale Boulevard, they stay along it until it nears Highway 14. Andrew pulls into a fast food place. They go in and use the restroom. Then Andrew orders a large coffee and a hot chocolate for Randy. They go back out to the truck and get in. Devon points east on Palmdale Boulevard. They follow it. Devon keeps pointing east as they drive along, until they come to 70th street. Devon points north.
"Dad, Devon says to turn left on this road."
Andrew nods and turns left. They travel about three miles on the road, then Devon turns to Randy and gets his attention. He holds his hand up.
"Dad, Devon says to stop!"
They are in an area near a wash. Devon leaves the truck and Randy opens the door to follow him. Andrew quickly pulls off to the side of the road. He gets out and watches as Randy stands at the edge of the road watching Devon walk into the wash area. He starts to follow.
"Randy, wait! Don't go out there without a light. Hang on."
Andrew reaches behind the seat and gets a big police flashlight. He gives it to Randy. Randy starts off across the desert following Devon. Devon kind of wanders back and forth as he walks. Randy can see him fairly easy, as he seems to glow a little. Andrew follows close behind Randy. After about ten minutes Devon stops, and looks down at the ground. Randy and Andrew catch up to Devon and stand beside him.
"Okay, Randy, stand back and give me some room."
Andrew takes the flashlight from Randy and starts sweeping the area around the spot. Devon and Randy watch him. Andrew goes all around the area examining the ground all around the spot. After watching for a while Devon turns and puts his arms around Randy. Randy holds Devon close and feels the boy shaking against him. Randy looks down and sees the boy crying. Tears start to fall down Randy's face as well as he hugs him and comforts him.
"Dad, what are you doing?"
"Just checking the area out before I do anything. No clues here either. Okay, son. Is there any way to get the truck nearer?"
Devon nods against Randy's chest.
"Devon says that there is a way."
"Good, where is it?"
Devon lets go of Randy and starts to walk a little ways away. Randy and Andrew follow him with the flashlight. They get to a dirt road. Andrew nods.
"Okay. Randy, let me have the flashlight. Do you think you can wait here until I get back?"
"Yeah, we'll wait."
Andrew walks off with the flashlight following the course of the road. Randy stands with his arm around Devon as they watch the flashlight meander along the road. They see when he reaches the truck and starts it up. In a couple of minutes he is back with them. He gets a shovel from the back of the truck. They follow him to the site. He hands the flashlight to Randy. He lays the shovel down and takes an electronic device out of his jacket pocket. He pushes a couple of buttons on it, and then puts it away.
"What was that, Dad?"
"GPS unit. We need an excuse to be out here. This way I can tell anyone that asks that the person who left the tip, gave me some coordinates and I followed them."
"Okay, I know this is hard, Devon, but can you tell me where the place is?"
Devon walks over to an area about twenty feet away and points.
Randy walks over up behind Devon and puts his hands around him. "Right about here, Dad."
"Okay, I hate this but I have to ask... Devon, did this man wrap you in something before putting you here?"
Devon pulls Randy's arms around him and nods.
"I think he says that he was wrapped up."
"Yeah, Dad, he was wrapped up."
"Okay, that's what I was hoping for. Step back and keep the flashlight where I'm digging. Is it very deep?"
Devon shakes his head.
"No, Dad. How deep, Devon?"
Devon shrugs and holds up two, then three fingers.
"He's not sure, two or three feet."
"Okay, just keep the light on the spot"
Andrew bends down and starts taking shallow scoops of sand. He works at it for a while keeping the scoops shallow and making the hole about three feet square. When he gets down about two and a half feet, the shovel catches on something. He stops and puts the shovel to the side and kneels down. He carefully brushes the sand away and sees a piece of blanket. He stops and gets back up and heads back to the truck.
"Randy, follow me. Time to call in reinforcements. This just became a crime scene."
He pulls out his cell and dials the number of the station. It gets picked up by Sue Mason.
"Detective Bureau, how may I help you."
"Sue, this is Andy Shepard. I need a team out here near Palmdale. I think I found a body; it may be one of the missing boys."
"What? So the call was real?"
"Yeah, he gave me some GPS coordinates, and I didn't want to call it in, just in case it was just a hoax. But it appears genuine. Send someone as soon as you can, and you better call Bill. He's probably going to want to be here."
"Okay, Andy. I'll call you back; you're on your cell, right?"
"Yeah, great reception out here, nothing to block the signal. Tell them to take the 14 to Palmdale, get off on Palmdale Boulevard, head east to 70th and go north. I am near the site. I'll put a Coleman lantern on the top of my truck while we wait for you."
"We? Is the tipster there?"
"No, it's my son Randy. He came along."
"Okay, the cavalry's on the way."
"Thanks, and have them bring some coffee and hot chocolate for us."
Andrew puts the phone away. He goes to the back of the truck and gets the lantern out, lights it and puts it on top of the roof. Then he lowers the tailgate and has a seat. Randy joins him. Devon sits on Randy's other side. Randy absently puts his arm around Devon, who leans into him. They silently look out into the dark and up at the stars. They can see a lot because they are far enough away from the city lights so that the sky is not as obscured.
"Why, Dad? Why do people do such things?"
"I don't know, son. Some people are just plain evil, and I think this guy is just evil. He's very smart to have gotten away with this for so long. I think he's done it before somewhere else. I hope we find that information as well. I hope there is some clue here. We need something to break the case so that we can get this guy before the same thing happens to Kyle. If we catch him, he's going to wish he wasn't born when the other inmates find out what he's in for. He'll probably be put in isolation, but they have ways. Evil people find ways to do what they want to do. It will probably be an hour or two before they get here. It's pretty late." He looks at his watch. "Damn, it's midnight."
Andrew lays back in the bed of the truck, Randy lays with his head on his dad's stomach, Devon lies with his arms around Randy. They quietly let the time go by as they wait for the team to arrive.
At about 2am, Devon taps on Randy's stomach and sits up. Randy gets his dad's attention.
"Dad, cars coming?"
Andrew sits up and they get out of the back of the truck. They watch as four vehicles get closer, three trucks and one car. The lead truck has a spotlight shining ahead of it. They watch as it finds the faint road that leads to their position. The three trucks go up the road, the car parks near the turn off. The faint road has some soft patches in it, so it probably was a good idea not to drive on it with the car. The driver of the car gets out with a flashlight and starts walking toward them as the three trucks pull up. They all have LA Sheriff's markings. Andrew walks over to the lead truck and its occupants get out.
"Hey, Andy. Is it true? Did you find one of those boys?"
"Don't know for sure, but yeah, I think I did. C'mon, I'll show you."
They follow Andrew as he walks toward spot. As they get nearer, they can see the shallow hole that Andrew has dug into the location and the bit of blanket at the bottom.
"I started making shallow scoops and piled it all right there, so you can sift through it if you wish. When I first got here, I looked around the area and saw no tracks or anything, so I went ahead and started to dig, just to make sure there really was something at the GPS location the caller gave me before I called you guys in."
"Okay, keep your son back and we'll get to work. Okay guys, get the lights, some shovels and screens!" He looks down at the site. "It looks like it's about three feet deep. Okay, let's get working."
Andrew steps back out of the way. A hand comes down on his shoulder and he jumps a bit.
"Shit, who... ?"
"Hey, Andy. You caught a break?"
"Damn, Bill, you scared the shit out of me. Yeah, I'm sorry it's this kind of break, but yeah. Maybe we can catch the bastard who's doing it, if it is one of the boys."
"I hope so too. Oh, here's your order."
"Thanks, Bill. I was thinking about this, and I think this guy has done this before. He just seems too slick; he must have done this before. Can we send feelers out to other departments, nationwide?"
"Good thought. Yeah, I'll get the word out later this morning. You might be right, no clues at the scene, he could be experienced or just lucky. Anyway, this caller tell you anything besides GPS coordinates?"
"No, that was it. He told me to follow the coordinates and I might find a clue. So I entered them and followed them out here and here we are."
"You know, I'm going to go back to my car and make a call. We'll get those feelers out there as soon as possible instead of later."
Bill walks back to his car as Randy comes up and sits down on a rock next to his dad. Devon sits on his lap. Randy starts to put his arms around him to hold him, but realizes all the people that are around and lets his arms drop into his lap. Devon smiles at him and kisses him on the cheek, putting his arm around Randy's neck as he sits in his lap watching the activity. The forensic team and the officers set up a generator and some lights. Once they get the lights set up, they get to work. A couple of them start digging out the body by taking shallow scoops like Andrew had done earlier. Slowly more and more of the blanket is exposed. After about forty-five minutes they have most of the body uncovered. Steve the supervisor looks over toward Andrew.
"Andy, we're going to uncover him now. This might not be the best place for Randy right now."
"Yeah, maybe so. Randy, go back over to the truck and wait, will ya?"
"Okay, Dad, I don't think I want to see this anyway. I'll wait at the truck."
"Good enough, son, there's plenty of time when you become a cop to see this kind of stuff."
Devon gets off Randy's lap. Randy heads toward the truck, but stops when he notices Devon isn't with him. He turns back and carefully motions with his hand for Devon to come on. Devon shakes his head, so Randy looks at him with surprise, and then shrugs and heads back to the truck. He gets up in the back like before, lies down and looks up at the stars again. Back at the site, Devon stands nearby watching. Andrew and Bill move closer, along with almost everyone else, as the forensic supervisor unwraps the blanket. As the blanket is unwrapped, the body of Devon comes into view. Because of the burial out here in the desert and since it is during the cooler part of the year, there is only a little discoloration on the body. They carefully uncover the body and show it fully dressed in a t-shirt, jeans and tennis shoes. Andy nods. Devon starts to cry and runs to the truck. He jumps up in the back and lies down on top of Randy sobbing. Randy looks around and since no one is near he holds him close, doing what he can to soothe him.
"I'm here for you, bro. No one can hurt you again."
Back at the site, Andrew identifies the body as Bill joins him.
"Devon Carter. He was number seven. Damn, I just don't like this part of the job."
"Yeah, me too."
"Hey, Bill, can we keep this quiet? Not releasing this to the press? I don't want to spook this bastard."
"Sure, we'll keep it under wraps. Steve, get him processed and look close; we've got to get some clues from him. That is the only way we're going to catch him, unless he suddenly feels remorse and turns himself in, but I don't think we can count on that."
"Goodnight, guys, I'm going to get Randy home. I'll call later today to get any information that you have. Talk to you later."
"See ya, Andy, get some rest. Great job on this."
Andrew walks back to the truck and sees Randy in the back apparently holding Devon, as his arms are wrapped around air.
"C'mon, guys, lets go home."
"Was he real bad?"
"No, not really. Being buried out here in the dry air, and since it is December and cooler, he was real well preserved. They're going to take him in and process him. Hopefully the son of a bitch left a clue or two, some DNA or something. Anyway we're going to head home and get some sleep."
"Okay, Dad. C'mon, Dev, lets go home."
Devon gets off of Randy and they get into the truck and drive back home. They get back in about an hour. When they get inside, Mary is waiting up for them. She gets up off the couch where she was watching TV. She sees the look on their faces.
"Guys, is everything all right?"
"We found Devon Carter buried out near Palmdale in the desert."
"Oh dear, that poor boy!"
"Now that we have a body, hopefully we can find a clue. I'm going to call in later today and get an update."
"You guys, go get cleaned up and get to bed; you're filthy."
Randy hugs his Mom and Dad before heading to his room. Devon follows Randy. Randy gets cleaned up as quickly as he can and gets into bed. Devon is waiting for him. As soon as Randy lies down, Devon takes his customary place. Randy wraps his arm around Devon and hugs him close.
"Was it real bad to look at yourself there?"
"I'm sorry it happened. I really am. Devon, I so wish that you could have been my little brother and that this never happened. If I could, I'd give my life to save yours. I... love you, little brother. I always will and one day we'll be together forever. When I have kids, if I have a son, he is going to carry your name. That way I will always be reminded of you and will never forget you. Good night, Dev."
Devon turns around in Randy's arms and hugs him tight giving him a kiss on the cheek. He slowly mouths [I love you too]. He then turns around and snuggles back against Randy. They close their eyes and Randy is quickly asleep.