Chapter Two Hundred and Sixty-five
Weird phone call
Friday night — 10:25 p.m. MST
“I just got the weirdest call,” Bumpy said into his cell phone.
“Oh yeah?” Seth asked. “Are you spreading the love?”
Bumpy laughed. He heard a machine whirring in the background.
“Where are you?” Bumpy asked.
“Getting my blood filtered,” Seth said. Bumpy didn’t say anything, so Seth said, “Where are you?”
Bumpy laughed again.
“What’s …?” Seth said at the same moment Bumpy said, “I don’t …”
“What’s going on?” Seth asked.
“I got this weird phone call,” Bumpy said.
“You said that,” Seth laughed.
“Yeah,” Bumpy said.
“What was weird about the call?” Seth asked.
“It was s’posed to be my son, you know, Jeraine?” Bumpy’s voice was vague.
“I do know Jeraine,” Seth laughed.
Bumpy didn’t respond.
“Okay, you’re weirding me out,” Seth said.
“Weirder than having your blood filtered?” Bumpy asked.
Seth laughed, and Bumpy chuckled.
“Lay it out for me, step by step. Don’t leave anything out.”
“My phone rang,” Bumpy said. “I’ve been working on this gang rape thing with the police and the kids and the mothers and the community leaders — hell, everybody breathing, practically. We’re getting up at the crack of dawn and going to bed late. I was worn out, so I went to bed after dinner and … Anyway, I was asleep.”
“Dionne there?” Seth asked.
“No,” Bumpy said. “I was with my hot, young girlfriend.”
“Your girlfriend?” Dionne’s voice came from the background. “What are you talking about?”
“Who else gonna be in my bed?” Bumpy asked.
“If you want to live,” Dionne said.
“Anyway, I’m sound asleep,” Bumpy said. “The damned-fool cellphone rings. I pick it up and there’s a voice on the phone.”
“It sounded like Jeraine,” Bumpy said. “But it wasn’t.”
“How do you know it wasn’t Jer?” Seth asked.
“I don’t know,” Bumpy said. “It just wasn’t. The voice said that he was at Jacob’s house. Jill was in labor, and some men were holding them hostage. He thought they’d been gassed.”
“Gassed?” Seth asked.
“Yeah,” Bumpy said. “He said he just woke up and his hands were tied behind his back. Jill was in labor, but the men were going to steal the babies.”
Seth didn’t respond.
“You’re not saying anything,” Bumpy said.
“I’m thinking,” Seth said. “He said, ‘Jacob’s house’?”
“Right,” Bumpy said. “I’ve never heard anyone call it anything other than the Castle. Plus, doesn’t Delphie own that thing?”
“Yes,” Seth said. “Technically, it’s Delphie’s house.”
“See what I mean?” Bumpy asked.
“Do you think someone was monitoring the call?” Seth asked.
“No,” Bumpy said. “Just a sec.”
Seth heard Bumpy move through the house.
“You think our boy’s in trouble?” Bumpy asked in the background. He turned back to the phone. “I’m asking Dionne.”
“I do,” Dionne said. “Our boy’s in trouble.”
“You know anything about this, O’Malley?” Bumpy asked.
“I talked to Jake a couple hours ago,” Seth said. “We walked through a dilemma he was having.”
“Which was?” Bumpy asked.
“It’s going to sound stupid,” Seth said.
“Stupid I can do,” Bumpy said. “But my boy … He’s just starting his life again, and Tanesha’s by his side, and I see all these boys caught up in this rape crap, and … I’m going to help him, whatever it takes.”
“Of course,” Seth said.
“So what’s your stupid-sounding thing?” Bumpy said.
“You ever hear the story of the kingdom of Marle?” Seth asked.
“Actually, I have,” Bumpy said. “It’s a children’s book. We have it.”
“You do?” Seth asked.
“It was in a stack of old children’s books someone gave us when we were first starting out,” Bumpy said. “Some of them are old spirituals; that book is hand drawn … ”
“Can you ask Dionne to go get it?” Seth asked.
“Sure.” Bumpy started walking again. Seth heard water running in the background. “Dionne wants to know if it’s crucial.”
“It’s at the very center of what’s going on,” Seth said.
Bumpy and Dionne talked back and forth.
“How are you feeling?” Bumpy asked.
“Pissed off,” Seth said. “I can’t believe I still have to do this.”
“I bet,” Bumpy said. “How are the other men?”
“Same shape,” Seth said. “Saint Jude really screwed us.”
“Hmm,” Bumpy said. “How’s Ava?”
“Oh Lord,” Seth said. “Gorgeous, strong, devastated about her father.”
“I bet,” Bumpy said.
“How’s the case going?” Seth asked.
“Hard, sad,” Bumpy said. “Most of the boys had the tape. Their mothers are distraught. The police haven’t figured out what to do with them. Those stuffed shirts from the government are specific about what they want to happen. It’s just a mess. Okay, Dionne’s back. I have the book.”
“Jake’s in the Isle of Man trying to reverse the curse set upon the Marles by the Celts,” Seth said.
“You mean the book is factual?” Bumpy asked.
“Sort of,” Seth said. “You don’t happen to have the last ten pages, do you?”
“Sure,” Bumpy said. “What’s this got to do with my boy?”
“I’d guess he went to be with Tanesha,” Seth said. “Jill must be in labor. Something happened and he’s trying to get our help.”
“Why the funny voice?” Bumpy asked.
“I’d guess the fairies intervened,” Seth said.
“The fairies?” Bumpy’s voice betrayed his disbelief.
“The queen of Marle is Fand, the fairy queen,” Seth said.
“Dionne, can you look up Fand the fairy queen?” Bumpy asked. “It’s for this.”
“Jake is trying to save Fand the fairy queen,” Seth said. “Jeraine probably asked the fairies to call you for help, knowing you’d call me. But the fairies made the call because they want help.”
“So we have to figure out how to help my son,” Bumpy said. “Do we have to help the fairies?”
“If we don’t, we won’t be able to save Jeraine,” Seth said. “And you know, if Jer’s there, Tanesha, Sandy, their friends, Sandy’s kids …”
“They’re in danger too,” Bumpy said. “So what do we do?”
“Can you read me the rest of the book?” Seth asked.
“I’ll get Dionne to do it,” Bumpy said. “She’s better at it, and I have to pee.”
Seth heard Bumpy talking in the background.
“Here she is,” Bumpy said.
“Seth?” Dionne asked. “Is my son okay?”
“I think he needs our help,” Seth said.
“And this will help?”
“I sure hope so,” Seth said.
“I heard my husband tell you we got these books when we started his practice,” Dionne said. “These books are from Yvonne’s Aunt Ne Ne. They’re worth a small fortune, that’s why we have some of them at home. Ne Ne gave them to Yvonne when she married Rodney. Yvonne could have bought a house by selling them, but you know Yvie, she wanted us to have them. She doesn’t trust anything she didn’t earn with her own hands.”
“Rodney’s at the job site,” Seth said. “Tanesha would have gone to get Yvonne. She must be with Jeraine.”
“Then we’ll use Aunt Ne Ne’s books to save her,” Dionne said. “Where would you like me to start?”
“Near the back,” Seth said. “When the Celts attack.”
“Ok,” Dionne said. “The queen of Marle raised the veil and …”
Friday night — 10:45 p.m. MST
“What are you doing?” the man in wool slacks asked the young man who was standing in the middle of the medical office waiting room.
The young man glanced at the man in wool slacks, and then went back to staring at Yvonne.
“That’s the hottest woman I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” the young man said. “Ever.”
“You’ve been staring at her for fifteen minutes,” the man in wool slacks said.
“Ain’t nothin’ else to do,” the young man said.
“You could help in there,” the man in wool slacks said.
“Help do what?” the young man asked. “Ain’t nothing going on.”
The young man hadn’t stopped staring at Yvonne. The man in wool slacks looked at the young man and then at the woman sitting on the ground.
“You think I could …” The young man looked at the man in wool slacks. “She makes me hot; every time I look away, I want her even more.”
“You’re asking my permission to rape this woman while she’s unconscious?” the man in wool slacks asked. He spat at the young man. “You disgust me.”
“Yeah, but you didn’t say no.” The young man pointed at the man in wool slacks. “You thought the same damned thing.”
The man in wool slacks punched the young man in the face. The young man stumbled back. Regaining his footing, the young man rushed the man in wool slacks.
“She’s mine,” the young man said. “I saw her first.”
The man in wool slacks fell back against the wall before kneeing the young man in the groin. The men traded punches.
“What the hell are you doing?” Rubén asked.
“He wants to rape that woman,” the man in wool slacks said.
“Get rid of him,” Rubén said. “We have come too far to get sidetracked now.”
Before the young man could react, the man in wool slacks pulled out a silenced handgun and shot the young man in the forehead. Blood splattered the wall behind him and sprayed the teenagers sitting below. The man in wool slacks spat on the young man.
“I said get rid of him!” Rubén said.
The man in wool slacks scowled at Rubén. He picked up the young man’s feet and dragged him out into the hallway. He had to step over the blood smear on the floor to get back into the waiting room. He was checking the bottom of his shoes when he caught a glimpse of Yvonne. He stared at her.
She was gorgeous. Her full breasts pressed against the buttons of her blouse. His eyes ran from her breasts to the curve of her hip and down the length of her body. The young man was right. This was the most alluring woman he’d ever seen. She was every fantasy he’d ever had wrapped up into one woman. He licked his lips.
“Get in here,” Rubén said.
The man in wool slacks glanced into the room where Jill was in labor, and then back at Yvonne. The boss had said he didn’t care what they did with these people. They hadn’t harmed them because he didn’t want to get charged with murder. Now that he’d killed the young man, he didn’t have to hold back. The man in wool slacks nodded to himself.
He’d be a fool not to pluck this plush peach from this waiting room. He’d bide his time until the moment was just exactly right. The anticipation made him all the more aroused.
“Are you coming?” Rubén looked into the waiting room. He gestured to the man’s wool slacks, “Jeez, really?”
The man in wool slacks sneered at Rubén and followed him into the room.
Friday night — 10:45 p.m. MST
Construction site near airport
Lying face down, Rodney had no idea where he was.
The ground was hard and cold, and it was pitch black. He was bone tired and his body hurt all over. His head felt like it had met the business end of a guard’s baton.
His stomach turned over. Somehow, some way, he was back in solitary at Cañon City.
He felt a tightening around his heart. Yvonne was in trouble. He tried to get up, but his head split open with pain. His precious Yvonne was in terrible danger, and there wasn’t a damned thing he could do about it. Again.
He wanted to scream. He wanted to cry. But he was too defeated to do anything but pat the ground with his hand.
“Hey!” a tiny voice said.
Rodney opened his eyes. Standing near the end of his middle finger was a tiny, pink, shining … something. Insect? Rodney squinted.
“Fairy,” the little voice said. “I’m Abi. At your service.”
The tiny pink insect curtsied. Rodney groaned. He’d had some weird hallucinations, but nothing like this.
“You are at the job site, Rodney Smith,” Abi said. “Your team needs you.”
“My what?” Rodney squinted.
The tiny pink insect raised a long, thin metal stick with a bright light on the end and swung it around. Rodney’s head stopped hurting. He closed his eyes and rested his forehead on the ground.
“Time to get up,” the pink insect said. “Stop calling me that.”
“What?” Rodney asked without moving.
“Insect,” Abi said. “I’m a fairy, a loyal subject of Queen Fand, and your personal fairy — at least for tonight.”
“And I need a personal fairy?” Rodney asked.
“Everyone needs a personal fairy,” Abi said.
“Mmm,” Rodney said. “Well, tell me, fairy, why is my wife in danger?”
“She’s quite safe,” Abi said. Surprised, Rodney lifted his head to look at the creature. “Her sexual draw has already eliminated one of the men.”
“They are fighting amongst themselves,” Abi said.
Abi nodded. Rodney chuckled. He rolled over and sat up.
“Where am I?” Rodney asked.
“Job site,” Abi said.
“Why can’t I see anything?” Rodney asked.
“The last tremor took out the generators,” Abi said. “It’s very dark, and your people are scared.”
“The military people!” Rodney jumped to his feet. “They were buried by the quake.”
“Don’t worry.” Abi flew up and landed on his shoulder. She spoke in his ear so he could hear her. “They were wearing beacons and oxygen tanks. Their fellow soldiers have almost dug them out. Take a look.”
Rodney walked to the edge of the sinkhole. The methane fire burned near one end and ten or so headlamps moved around the hole. The helicopter flew above casting a bright spotlight for the military people digging their team members out.
“Headlamps,” Rodney said.
“That’s what they call them,” Abi said.
“My team?” Rodney asked.
“Scared,” Abi said. “I was asked to wake you. They need your leadership.”
“If we don’t get those men out of the trailers soon, they will die,” Abi said. “The medics were knocked off the ends of the trailers. They’ve fallen between the trailers and are trapped in the mud. Do you know what to do?”
“Yes.” Rodney nodded.
His walkie talkie flew in the air to him.
“Where’s that ugly dude?” Rodney asked. “Looked like something off Notre Dame.”
“The men are looking into something,” Abi said. “You’re stuck with me. Oh, and the blue fairy. She’s over there.”
Abi gestured to where the military people were digging out their team member. Now that Abi mentioned it, he could see a distinctive blue glow under the helicopter’s spotlight.
“Blue fairy?” Rodney asked.
“She always does whatever she wants,” Abi said. “There’s no reasoning with her.”
Abi smiled. Rodney scowled at her and tried the walkie talkie. He wasn’t surprised when it didn’t work.
“Doesn’t work,” Rodney showed the walkie talkie to Abi. She waved her bright wand, and the walkie-talkie squawked with static. Rodney smiled his thanks and adjusted the channel.
“Get to work!” Abi commanded.
She laughed at her own efforts. Rodney smiled at the tiny peel of laughter.
“This is Rodney,” he said. “Who’s on the line?”
“Rodney!” Jerry yelled. Rodney heard a cheer come up from behind him. “We’re going in after MJ and Colin.”
“Nah,” Rodney said. “Let’s pull them out.”
“We have no idea where they are,” Jerry said.
“They’re wearing beacons,” Rodney said.
Jerry laughed. After a few minutes, Jerry yelled, “Let’s pull ‘em out, boys!”
Feeling movement on his shoulder, Rodney glanced around for little pink Abi. She was cheering.
“What’s next?” Rodney asked.
“I’m so glad you asked,” Abi said. “How would you like to save some men?”
“You sure my Yvie doesn’t need saving?”
“Positive,” Abi said. “I’m incapable of lying.”
“Fairies can’t lie?” Rodney asked.
“Not us wee ones,” Abi said. “Lying is too heavy of a weight. We couldn’t fly.”
“So the big ones are liars?” Rodney scowled. “I knew it.”
“Oh no,” Abi said.
“What?” Rodney scowled at the fairy.
“Fairies pay a heavy price for lying — big or small.” Abi nodded for emphasis. “It disrupts our powers and our ability to fly. It’s happened once or twice in our long history that a fairy gave up his or her powers and wings to lie and cheat. They always regretted it. But fairy-kind is part human.”
Abi’s tiny face screwed up with anger.
“They are liars, cheaters, cruel, and …” With every word her pink glow became darker and darker. She shook herself like a dog and until all of the dark light was gone. She gave Rodney a bright pink smile. “Some of them are not very nice.”
“You don’t have to tell me that,” Rodney said.
“Yes,” Abi said. “Are you ready?”
“Ready for …” Rodney started.
Abi pushed him off the edge and into the dark sink hole below.
Jacob was sitting in a white quartz box in the back of a cairn on the west coast of the Isle of Man. He could hear the ocean waves crash against the beach and the rain tap on the ground outside. Delphie must have said something funny, because everyone outside the box laughed.
He was supposed to find the fourth section of Queen Fand’s human body. His mother, Celia, was confident it was in this cairn. Jacob had crawled through a two-foot hole to get to this white quartz chamber. The chamber was just big enough for him to sit with his knees bent and his back against the wall. So far, he’d found nothing, and intuited less than that. He was using the time in the box to rest.
Much to his surprise, a phone rang. He looked around the small compartment until he noticed that one of the white quartz walls had a new feature—a 1950s-era wall phone hung on the wall.
“Hello?” Jacob asked.
“Jake? It’s Seth,” Seth said. “Where are you?”
“I’m sitting in a cairn trying to find some bones,” Jacob said.
“Queen Fand’s human body, by any chance?” Seth asked.
“That’s right,” Jacob said. “How did you know?”
“Dionne read me the rest of the kingdom of Marle book,” Seth said.
“The gargoyles told me the rest,” Jacob said. “It didn’t help.”
“The gargoyles could only tell you what happened,” Seth said. “The book was written to pass down clues to your task.”
“A lot of old books were written not only to pass down what happened, but also to convey how to fix it,” Seth said. “The monks and storytellers trusted that there would come a time when someone would be able to right the wrongs of this world. They left details in the books, and in this case, they left them in the images in the books.”
“Images?” Jacob asked.
“Dionne’s book is an original copy of the kingdom of Marle picture book,” Seth said. “She scanned the books and emailed them to me.”
“Are you still getting your blood done?” Jacob asked.
“Just finished,” Seth said. “The story tells of the defilement of the queen of Marle—meaning rape—but the drawings show Celtic people burying pieces of her corpse around an oblong island.”
“The Isle of Man,” Jacob said.
“Exactly,” Seth said.
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