The body had been in the water since midnight, riding the waves as they repeatedly slammed it against huge black boulders. Lake water had invaded its now bloodless gashes. By the time the sun's first rays caught the remains, the cadaver looked as white as the upturned belly of a very dead fish.
The rattle of the hooked screen door, as the figure tried to gain entry, brought Jay fully awake. "Who is it?" he said, quickly sitting up in bed. "Who's there?"
He blinked. The figure had gone.
He was across the room in three steps, unlatched the door, and stepped onto the sharp gravel. Nobody was in sight. Not a sound, except for the crickets. And, in the air, the faint, but unmistakable, odor of gasoline.
"Barnett?" The thin, raspy voice on the other end of the line sent a chill through Jay. It was straight out of the Boris Karloff films that had scared him as a child.
"Who is this?"
"We got your son," the voice continued. "If you ever want to see him alive again, you'll do what I say."
"What are you talking about?" Jay replied, an anxious titter invading his tone. "He's right across the street."
He glanced out the bank's picture window, but the Skylark and a gray Buick parked in front blocked his view. "Hold on a minute," Jay set the receiver down. "Please don't touch that phone," he shouted at the girl. "I'll be right back."
Barreling out of the bank, Jay couldn't believe this was happening. It was like some lousy movie. He'd left David not five minutes ago out in plain sight for the world to see. How could he have been kidnapped? This was some sort of joke. But, then, where was his son?
The play yard looked empty.
Jay raced across the street, his eyes desperately searching the slide, swings, sandbox, every corner of the fenced facility. Perhaps Dave was playing a trick on him, hiding behind the slide.
Once inside the fence, Jay knew this was a hollow hope. Nobody was in the yard except himself.
His son was gone.