Ben walked out of the hospital as the sun was setting. The weather had turned colder, and it had rained. Ben’s gut churned, thinking of Rachel. Daylight was their friend when looking for someone. He got into the chief’s marked SUV.
“Right now we are just holding him for questioning. We are most likely charging him with child endangerment after we get phone records we can charge him as an accessory for kidnapping and the whole lot. I will suggest the DA throw everything they can at this guy and see what sticks. If he is responsible in any way, you have my word Carter, he will not walk out of Sagnqwa county a free man.”
“Thank you. He has a list of priors; his crime of choice was beating the shit out of my finance and their son.”
“He hasn’t strayed far then.”
They rode the ten minutes to the station in silence. They pulled up to the suburban police station, it still had lamps on either side of the staircase, like out of an old detective movie. Ben followed Chief Sanders in, and no one questioned him.
“Hey Anderson, where is Lawson?” The chief asked as they crossed the station room.
The chief turned back towards Ben.
They walked to Room 2, and the Chief knocked. The door opened, and a detective who wore the same questioning face Ben had worn so many times looked out.
“Snyder step out for a minute.” The chief said as he waved him out. “This is Detective Carter from CPD and Mrs. Lawson’s finance. He is going to speak with Mr. Lawson for a minute. I want you to please step out. Have you gotten anything out of him?”
“No. He’s a slippery fucker. You know I have been at this for a long time, and this guy doesn’t give two shits about what’s going on. He doesn’t even really seem to care that his sons were involved. I can spot a shitty acting job when I see one. He knows a whole hell of a lot more than he is saying. Good luck, Carter.”
“Thank you for your help.”
“Now Detective Carter, up here in the country, the cameras don’t always work so well in our interrogation rooms..” The chief tapped his nose. “You have forty-five minutes, before this asshole’s attorney gets anywhere near here. You read me?”
Ben nodded, “yes, sir.”
Ben reached for the doorknob.
“And Carter, don’t kill him.”
Ben nodded again.
Ben stepped into the small white room that resembled a box more than a room. There was a small table in the corner with two chairs. Rhett looked up and Ben saw the faintest glimmer of panic. Had he not been trained how to read people, Ben may have missed it. Ben walked up to the chair and sat down without saying a word.
“You aren’t supposed to be in here. I am not talking to anyone until my attorney gets here. You don’t have jurisdiction to question me here.”
“I am not here in an official capacity.”
“I know. Get the hell out of here; I am not talking to you.”
“You are so fucked. It doesn’t matter who you talk to or don’t talk to.”
“I had nothing to do with anything.”
“Really, that is why you are in a police station in Southern Michigan, your ex-wife is missing and your sons are in the hospital? You expect anyone to believe this is all a coincidence?”
Rhett stayed quiet.
“In case you were wondering. Your boys are going to be okay. I know you aren’t going to tell me where Rachel is, but I have to wonder something?” Ben stopped talking.
He let the silence grow uncomfortable. Rhett took the bait.
“A big powerful man like you, lets some guy rough up his ten-year-old son. I mean a man’s son is his pride and joy.”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“You don’t know or was it part of the plan?”
“I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“I am talking about the thugs who took your ex-wife beat the shit out of Tommy. He’s in bad shape.”
“No, I am telling you the truth, kid’s eye is swollen shut, lip split open, his whole face is bruised. I mean, I know that’s normally your job, guess someone beat you to it.”
“No fuck you, you are going to prison for this. So is your dad. You two will fucking rot away. I will cut right to the chase, tell me where Rachel is, and maybe you will get out while your cock still works.”
“You don’t have shit.”
“ We have phone records Rhett, lots of phone records. We can prove that your dad called you to tell you where the boys were. You had to have known that they had Rachel.”
There was that flash of panic again.
“Bullshit, if you had phone records you’d know where they were.”
“It’s only a matter of time. I thought you didn’t know who “they” were?”
Ben knew Rhett couldn’t handle the pressure, he was soft inside, used to having his dad clean up his messes.
“You know you are on your own now; your dad won’t be able to help you, he’s going away for this too. You will probably never see him again. Neither of you will ever be free men ever again. Tell us where she is before it is too late. I believe they still have the death penalty here in Michigan. You will die with a fucking needle in your arm. The clock is ticking; it’s your funeral.”
Ben stood up to walk out; it was all theater. He wasn’t leaving that room without Rachel’s whereabouts. Rhett stayed quiet.
“She’s not worth all of this, she’s really not,” Rhett said coldly. “I die one way or another. This is out of my control.”
Ben wanted to ask so many questions, over time he had learned when to shut up and listen.
“Is Tommy going to be okay?”
“He looks pretty rough.”
“The boys were not part of the deal. I cannot believe my dad would let someone rough up Tommy; he’s his grandson.”
“Tommy told me your dad was there and didn’t stop it.”
Rhett’s resolve crumbled a little more. Ben pounced.
“If he would let that happen to his grandson, imagine how you are going to fare in this, over a woman who you don’t think is worth it. Are you going to spend the rest of your life in prison for someone who isn’t worth it?”
Ben sat there quietly. The air in the room grew thick with tension again.
“I need protection if I talk.”
“I’m out of jurisdiction here, I can’t make a deal, but I can help you if give them real information, like where Rachel is. Like you said, your dead either way, but it’s your choice. You have to give me something real to go on.”
“My dad runs this poker game. All sorts of shit is waged over this table, vice, women, drugs, sex, favors, you name it. My dad only has two rules, the first; all bets are final and the second; you must pay up. I got fucked up one night and Derek, who was like a brother to me, joked that I should wager Rachel. I didn’t think he was serious so I did and I lost. He won her. I really loved her. I know I was a shit husband, but never would have thought my dad would have made me go through with it, he did. I couldn’t stand her after that. Knowing she had slept with Derek, she should have fought harder, said no more, gone to you guys… I can’t stand the sight of her. She belongs to Derek; my dad has to do what he says, that’s the way the game works. If someone reneges on a bet, that’s it you die.”
“Derek is behind bars; what can he want with Rachel?”
“I don’t know; I don’t care.“
“Yet, you can’t seem to leave her alone. You’re pathetic. Need your daddy to keep your wife in line and clean up your messes for you. You will definitely be the bitch in prison. You can get fucked every night until the day they stick that fucking needle in your arm, you piece of shit.”
“Whatever. How do you even enjoy fucking her? She is a used up whore.”
“You must not have been doing it right then.”
Rhett stood up.
“You going to hit me? I’m not Rachel; I’ll hit you back. I will knock every fucking tooth out of that perfect smile you have. Where is Rachel?”
Rhett took another step towards Ben.
“Fuck you! Go get me someone who can make a deal. I want to get out of this shithole.”
“Not until you tell me where Rachel is.”
“Probably dying under some creep while she calls out for you, knowing you didn’t do shit to save her. I’ll make sure all of your favorite pieces of her are mailed to you one at a time. I remember the address.”
Ben lost it; he hit Rhett in the face as hard as he could. Ben felt the bones in his hand break as he smashed his hand into Rhett’s face but he didn’t care. Rhett stumbled backwards, blood instantly pouring from his nose.
“Now who’s fucked? You can hit me; you’re a cop. I am going to sue you so fucking hard; your grandkids will still be paying me.”
Ben took a step towards Rhett again, and hit him again, with the same hand, not feeling the pain from the broken bones, the anger raging through him masked the pain. Rhett stumbled against the wall and this time swung back. Ben dodged the punch an hit him again. Rhett tried to swing again, but Ben grabbed ahold of his throat and pulled his gun from his holster. He put it to Rhett’s head.
“I could give two shits whether you live or die. I am only going to ask you once, where is Rachel?”
Rhett spit blood in Ben’s face. Ben pulled the hammer back on the gun and stared Rhett down.
“They’re taking her back to the city. I don’t know where I swear to God I don’t know where.”
“What’s the plan?” Ben pushed the gun against Rhett’s skull a little harder
“I don’t know whatever Derek wanted to do with her. I swear, I don’t know. The boys weren’t supposed to be involved. It was only Rachel.”
There was a knock at the door. Both men stayed frozen as Detective Snyder and Chief Sanders walked in.
“This asshole is an animal, he attacked me. Arrest him!” Rhett called out, still in Ben’s grasp.
“Detective Carter, can I have a word please,” the chief asked.
Ben held his ground.
“Seriously get this crazy fucker off of me!” Rhett shouted.
“Detective Carter.” The Chief said more sternly.
Ben released his grip on Rhett and moved like he was stepping away, but turned and hit Rhett with the butt of his gun. Rhett stumbled again back into the wall and fell down. Ben turned and walked out of the room. Chief Snyder followed him.
“Was that necessary son?” The chief asked.
“I have to go back; I was close.”
“We spotted a blue car. It’s a blue Infinity with Illinois plates. We have a plate number.”
Ben swallowed hard as he felt bile rising in his stomach. Ben sunk down his knees, feeling like the breath had been sucked out of him. The chief knelt down to look Ben in the eye. They stopped for gas in Indiana; we have the car on camera.
“Rhett said they were headed back to the city. He didn’t know where. I have to go back in.”
“I can’t let you do that. His attorney will be here soon. Snyder is going to take over. He’s good; he’s been at it for a long time.”
“I have to do something. I can’t just sit here and wait. Did we pinpoint Andrew Lawson’s phone?”
“Yes, but the phone that he called Rhett on was a burner, he left in the car. Probably by mistake. Was there anything else in the car? Can I see the car?”
“No, I don’t want a contaminated crime scene.”
“Please, I have to do something.”
“Why don’t we go sit down in my office?”
“I want to see the car.”
“Go back to the hospital to the boys; they need you right now.”
“I need to be helping to find Rachel.”
“The boys are asking for you; you need to let us do our job, and go see you’re soon to be sons. They need you. You aren’t going back in the cage with Rhett.”