by Grasshopper

Chapter 12

"Hello, Father."

Charles Taylor leaned against the doorjam, the long knife still shining with the trooper's blood and smiled at his.........no, smiled at the young man sitting at the table.

"Don't call me that. Never that."

Cody finally turned and looked at the man he had called father for all these years.

"Why?" It was all Cody could think to ask but as he looked into his father's eyes, he only saw madness.

"I was searching," Charles said, "Searching for perfection."

"You killed all those girls?" Cody watched as a mask seemed to slip over Charles Taylor's face. The man he thought he had known was gone, lost in a morass of wicked dreams and violent action.

"Yes! They were whoring sluts and worth nothing. Lied to me but I knew. I could tell. I needed a woman pure of heart and pure of body. I wanted my own child."

"I was your child," Cody cried, his voice choked.

"You were not; you or that sniveling brother of yours. She'll tell you. Ask your mother," he sniped, making the word sound dirty.

"I will," Cody said softly. "What do you want from me?"

"Just for you to be gone. You remind me of all the lies and the cheating. I want you gone."

"All these years, how have you kept this inside?"

Charles laughed. "Good, wasn't I? No one ever suspected. The great world renowned archeologist Charles Taylor will speak tonight in the lecture hall. Oh, it was easy. No one ever suspected. I searched and I finally found the perfect woman. She bore my child and I watched over them."

"You had Grandpa ask them to live here. Didn't you?"

"Oh yes. I wanted to know where my son was."

"Father?" Cody couldn't make sense out of what his father was saying. "You did all this to have a son? I don't understand."

"I don't care what you don't understand. In a few minutes, it won't matter what you never understood. I've waited a long time to do this. All those times I hurt you, your grandpa would mend you, take you to the doctor and no one saw."

"You'll never take Davy away from Jase."

"He'll come with me. He already calls me Father."

"But..........," Cody trailed off. There was no way to get through. His mind was sick with the knowledge that his own father had killed so many people, but especially, this man had killed Tommy....Charity. There would be no forgiveness, no way to pay it back. Jase would never forgive his father....... or him. Part of him wanted to just yield to that sharp knife; let it do its job. But Cody knew that his father wouldn't stop with him. He'd hurt Jase. He'd take Davy. There was no way that was going to happen.

"There's a state trooper right outside. You can't get away with any more of this."

"No," Charles smiled, "There's not...at least not one that can do me any harm."

Cody's mind flew to the gentle officer, who had only stayed to protect him. Grief rushed through him. "What the fuck is wrong with you?" he spit out. "You can't just kill anyone who gets in the way."

"Oh, but I can," Charles laughed. "I do."

"How many?" Cody groaned. "Do you even know?"

Grinning, his father said slyly, 'Of course I know. I keep a very permanent count. Here, let me show you." He held the knife loosely but Cody knew he couldn't get past it and slowly unbuttoned the shirt he wore. "See, I can tell you the feelings, the way their eyes pleaded, the way the blood gushed." He rubbed his fingers up and down the puckered scars. "Here, let me show you."

He raised the knife and slashed another mark along side the eight already cut obscenely on his chest. "Mr. Trooper makes nine." The blood trickled down his chest but he didn't even seem to feel the pain, his eyes were glazed over and his hand didn't even shake. "My son will let me stop. We will live happily ever after." He began to hum, just a soft little tune, but one Cody had come to know well. "One little, two little, three little Indians...."

Cody knew this had to stop. His father would end up hurting Davy; probably killing him when he realized that the boy would never be his. There was no one to stop him.......no one except his own son.

"Father," he said quietly, "I can't let you do this anymore."

"You can't stop me," Charles smiled, his voice a singsong.

"Yes, I'm sorry, but I can." Cody stood slowly, lifted the 38 special Jase had handed him that had been resting in his lap, held it firmly in his good hand, steadying it with his left and fired. Fired the gun at his father. Fired the gun for all the lost young lives that had been stolen. Fired it for Davy and for Jase, for Charity and Tommy.

His father's eyes widened as the bullet slammed into his shoulder just above the bloody tallymark he had just carved. The sound of the gun reverberated in the kitchen then silence. Cody stood frozen, staring at the gun and at the man who had brought him to this. "I'm sorry," was all he could say.

Davy ran. He hoped he was headed in the right direction. He was tracking the sun. Rises in the east/sets in the west. He needed to go west, so his eyes gauged the angle of the sun and he ran. He'd been here in the Chaco Forest with his Daddy lots of times and it had been fun and pretty but now, all by himself, it seemed dark and dense, forbidding and scary. He had to get to Daddy. He needed to help Cody. Where was that man? Davy's young legs pistoned as he ran through the gloomy woods.

Jase's truck screeched to a halt, kicking up a stream of dust followed closely by the FBI agents at the base of the low cliffs that held the Chaco Canyon caves. Jase jumped out, grabbing the shotgun without skipping a step.

"DAVY!!!" he yelled, his voice echoing off the high rocks. Nothing but silence answered him. "Davy!! He yelled again.

Lifting his cell phone, he called out, 'Davy! Where are you?" He heard static.

He turned to the agents. "I had him on the cell. He got through. Told me that fucker had left him there. I told him to run."

They climbed the steep path and began searching quickly for any sign of the boy or the killer. The caves weren't deep and a glance could answer their questions.

"Here! Over here!" Agent Parsons called. "They were in here."

Jase and Agent Crisp followed his voice and found themselves in the gloom of a dark cave, the remains of a campfire smelling of soot and ash. Jase saw no sign of Davy. "He ran. He's out there in the woods."

"We'll stay and try to find out what's going on here," the agents said.

"I'm going for my boy." Jase ran down the slope and stood still at the base of the cliffs. "Okay, Davy Boy, what did I teach you?" he looked up at the sun and found it nearly overhead. 'He'd head west. Home is west,' Jase murmured and began to jog across the small parking area and into the dark woods that quickly enveloped him. "Davy!!" he called.

Davy sat down to catch his breath on a lichen-covered old log lying across the path. He'd been running for hours.......well, maybe not hours, but it felt like it. He tried the cell phone but it just kept saying 'searching for signal'. He'd keep it on but right now he needed to figure out where he was.

He dug in his backpack and pulled out the map. Spreading it out and finding Chaco Canyon and Drifter, he used what Mrs. Bailey had taught them with the miles measurement thingie at the bottom. Using his fingers, he measured how far from where he had been to where he was trying to go. His eyes widened when his fingers measured 60 miles. He tried again.........hmm, 50 miles. That was a little better but he couldn't walk 50 miles! He tried to remember the rules for being lost.

K, he had a map. He knew where he was. He knew his daddy was coming for him. It was daytime. He wasn't scared...much. Maybe he'd just wait here.

He had, he scrambled through his backpack, matches, water, a squished sandwich, a flashlight and his jacket. He could stay here at night....if he had to. His head jerked at every sound, every whisper of the wind, every snap of a twig.

Cody felt the weight of the gun as his arm dropped. He saw the widening pool of blood under his father's body where he had fallen to the tile floor. He was trying to think......he had shot his own father. He would go to prison. He was no better than the man lying on the floor. The same blood ran through his veins.

Walking slowly over to the fallen man, he tried to feel the crushing blow that should come when your parent dies but all he felt was shame and despair. His father! His own father had murdered people. Murdered strangers and people that the man he loved had cared deeply for. There was no going back. Cody knelt beside the body and reached out his hand.

His wrist was slammed into a vice-like grip and the sound of childish laughter sounded in the silent kitchen. Cody gasped as his father sat up and grabbed the wrist of his hurt arm in the other hand. Eyes not quite sane stared back at him and the pain in his shoulder was intense. Blood ran down Charles Taylor's chest and washed over the hideous scars and the newly gashed mark. He seemed not to feel the bullet wound in his shoulder.

"You shot me!" he marveled. "I didn't think you had the guts. Maybe you're not as spineless as I thought, you and your haughty airs and your painting and all that hogwash writing crap. You're your mother's son."

Cody bit back the pain and let his hands fall loose in his father's tight grip. "I thought I was your son too."

"My son!" he spit out. "My son is waiting for me back in the cave. All I have to do is take care of you and that bastard McBride."

Cody tried to make his brain work. He frantically tried to remember where the knife had fallen when his father fell.

"Davy will never choose you......not over Jase."

"Oh yes he will. He has my blood in him. He knows who he belongs to."

Cody thought quickly. Logic wasn't needed here. Challenge might work. He remembered that his father had always taken dares and gone for bait.

"Davy won't pick you. I know it."

"Shut the fuck up!"

"What if he won't go with you?"

Charles frowned. "Then," he sighed, "He isn't my son. He's just another tally mark."

Cody felt a cold shiver. "He has to make a choice then, doesn't he?"

Charles twisted his face into a grimace, "I suppose so, though it's such an easy choice to make.......me and the world or dead." He began to laugh, the sound brittle and empty.

Standing, dragging Cody up by his sore arm, Charles kicked the gun away and picked up the knife. The point held tightly against Cody's cheek, he pulled off his belt and then secured Cody's wrists behind his back. Lacing his fingers through the long strands of Cody's hair, he pulled roughly, jerking the younger man's face up. Knife pressed to the throbbing pulse in Cody's neck, he said slyly, "I have exactly what I need to bring my son to me...my son and the man who had everything I wanted. Oh yes, they'll come willingly to me. I have what they love." He laughed and cut a ribbon of blood down the side of Cody's face, laughing at the soft whimper of pain. "You'll saddle the horses. It's only fitting that Davy join his father at Wild Horse Ravine. After all, I killed his mother there."

Jase was twisted around and called Davy's name. "Davy! Davy Boy!" Only the echo of his voice and the slight twittering of birds answered him. How could Davy have gotten this far? Had he run in the wrong direction? Surely he isn't running deeper into the woods. There was nothing for miles and miles in any direction. He tried the cell phone again but there was no signal.

He was frantic to hear Cody's voice. He knew Cody was safe because he'd left him with the state trooper but he didn't know what was happening. Surely the agents had headed back to the house. Oh God! He turned in full circles......Davy! His mind filled with images he couldn't control.

Jase thought of Tommy...Charity...who the fuck was doing this? It was someone familiar. He should be able to figure it out but his mind wouldn't stay on track. All he wanted was his son. All he wanted was to find his son and take him home.........to Cody.

Cody felt every jolt of the horse, every stab of pain in his shoulder. There was blood in his eye from the slice and he could feel the sting of salty sweat. None of that mattered.

Charles hummed softly to himself, his pain-delirious eyes glazed over. He might be hurt but he would finish this. He could feel the burning in his shoulder from the bullet that 'boy' had shot into him. It was exactly what he should have suspected from her son. This would end it all once and for all. The message he left for Jase McBride would push the man over the edge.

Agent Parsons stayed at the cave with Jase's truck and Agent Crisp headed back to the ranch house. He drove slowly up into the barnyard, noting that the state trooper was asleep in the rocker. The angle of his head, the uncomfortable slouch of his body set Crisp's radar screaming. Slipping out of the car, crouching behind the open door, gun ready, he called out, "Trooper! Higgins! John Higgins!" There was no answer.

Crisp listened for a sound....any sound. The farmhouse was silent. He knew Cody had been in the farmhouse when they left but he wasn't acknowledging the agent's presence now. He was either dead, silenced or gone. Working on instinct; assuming the killer wouldn't be able to just stay silent; he called out, "Cody! You okay? What's happening?" Nothing.

Taking a deep breath, touching the St. Christopher medal hanging around his neck, Agent Gary Crisp straightened up and began to walk slowly toward the house.

He reached the porch and climbed the steps. There was a feeling of emptiness about the house. He reached for the screen door and brought his fingers away from the door handle when they felt stickiness. Looking down, he saw blood smeared across his fingertips. Oh shit !! Pulling the door open quickly, he squinted into the soft gloom of the darkened kitchen.

One of the chairs was over-turned, a gun lay across the floor near the refrigerator, he could smell the acrid flash of gunfire hanging in the air and a pool of red-black blood was congealing here nearly under his feet. Crisp felt the silence of the empty house in his bones. He walked from room to room, checking for Cody but he knew he wasn't here. A gun had been fired; someone had been shot. He stuck his head in Davy's room and blinked back the shock.

Across the soft robin's egg blue wall, the beautiful Navajo paintings ripped from their hangers to lay broken on the floor, was scrawled one word. Crisp walked gingerly across the room to touch the "paint".

Blood! The single word had been written in blood!


Davy watched as the sun traveled across the sky towards the west. It was close to 4:00 or 5:00. His stomach was growling but he was afraid to eat his squished sandwich that Cody had (he sniffed back tears) made for him just yesterday. Oh Cody! Davy was afraid to think too much. Where was his daddy? How was Cody? Who was that crazy man? Why did he want him to call him Father?

Davy had never felt so alone. There was still plenty of day left but the gloom of the thick forest was creating deep shadows and the trees were creaking with the wind.

He heard a soft huffing sound and the snap of a twig behind him. Straightening up from his position lying against the old log, He turned his head very slowly. He couldn't see anything but the hair on the back of his neck tingled. He knew there were wolves and coyotes and mountain lions and snakes and................his mind raced. He was 10 years old but he really wanted his daddy right now.

He reached over slowly and dragged his backpack to him. Listing the contents in his head, he knew there was nothing in there to protect him; matches, a sandwich, water, a flashlight, and his old blue jacket. 'Maybe whateveritis is hungry,' he thought almost giggling with nerves. 'I hope for a pb&j sandwich and not a skinny boy'.

He felt the difference in the clearing. The birds stopped chirping, there was a feeling that he wasn't the only breathing thing right here. Then, he heard the sound.........a soft panting. Sheeeeeeeeeit! He knew he had to turn around again and face whatever was behind him.

Cody tried to lick the drying blood away from his mouth. He couldn't see out of one eye, the swelling from the cut aching. 'Oh, Jase,' he sighed, 'I never meant to bring you harm. I wish I could change this......but I can't.' As they neared the high crags of Wild Horse Ravine, he knew someone would die today. He knew he would die for Jase, for Davy. It was only right. After all, it was his own father who had ruined Jase's life; taken Davy's mother away.

Charles Taylor pulled in the reins and climbed off his horse, tugging the rope he had tied to Cody's wrists and laughing when Cody fell onto the hard rocky ground, opening the shoulder wound again.

"Why don't you cry? You always cried when you were little. What a whiny little brat you were, always running to your grandfather. Oh, and he would pick you up and hug you like you were special. He never did that for me. Oh no, I was nothing! Well, now he's not here and you're nothing. Nothing, you hear me!" He kicked at Cody's shoulder, laughing when a flicker of pain shot across the younger man's face.

"We'll wait here. Jase McBride will come. He'll watch me do the same thing to you that I did to Charity. He'll watch your body bounce off the cliffs as it falls."

Cody fought his way through the pain. "Grandfather? Is this about Grandfather?"

Charles waved the knife in the air in front of Cody's face. "He thought he was better than me. He was pure blooded. Married that slut Indian woman, my mother," he said with a sneer. "Gave me her blood. You can't be mine. Look at you. All black hair and brown skin. I want a son with pure blood."

Cody lay still. His father was insane. Had he never even looked at Davy? Davy's blood shone like a beacon. He knew he had to be very careful of the words he used.

"Father," he started quietly, "I'm confused. If you want a white skinned son, what's wrong with Elijah?"

"Elijah...hah! Neither of you are mine. I searched and searched for a pure girl to carry my son. I would ask and they would say, 'Oh yes', they were virgins and 'Oh no', they didn't have any Indian blood but then, when they realized what was happening, they would change their story. I had to kill them, don't you see?"

Cody didn't see anything. He wanted to ask so many questions......nothing made any sense but, looking at his father's glassy stare, listening to the jumbled thoughts, he knew he'd get no straight answers. Perhaps all this horror had been caused by Grandfather Edgar, by his mother, or even by Cody himself just for being alive.


His father jerked then ignored him.

"Um, Charles?"

"That's much better. What?"

Cody climbed past the pain, pressed his eyes shut for a second and then asked softly, "Has all this been worth it?"

Charles rocked back and forth, from the balls of his feet to his heels, hugging his body. "Oh, yes. I have what I was searching for."

"But, all the killing. Why?"

His father grinned, and in that moment, watching the older man's face turn from slack empty-eyed dullness into a predator's evil grimace, Cody knew his father was lost. Lost to reality and lost to him.

"Oh, yes," he singsonged. "I liked the blood; the blood and the power. I can still hear them begging. Shouldn't have lied to me. Shouldn't have."

"Why did you kill Tommy?"

Charles blinked. "Who?"

Cody wanted to cry. He had killed Tommy, Jase's reason for living, and he didn't even remember. "The Indian boy at college with Charity......with Jase."

"Oh, him. He was interfering. He came to warn me away from her. I slapped him down like a bug. POW!!." He made the sound of a gun firing as he pointed his index finger toward Cody's head. "Dumped him out in the desert."

Tears burned the backs of Cody's eyes. Poor Tommy.

"Did you...............?"

"Shut the fuck up! I'm going up the path. No more questions. You'll be dead soon, then all these answers will be silent." Cody watched as his father climbed the steep path up toward the top of the cliffs. He wriggled and tugged, but the leather belt held his hands securely behind his back. Sighing, he lay still trying to imagine what Jase would think, would do.

Davy heard the snuffling noise again. He turned his head to the right and watched as the big gray coyote walked quietly into the clearing. Oh, dang! With wide eyes, Davy sat frozen watching the big animal stalk to the opposite side of the cleared space and turn, standing still, watching him. They stared for what seemed hours, neither blinking. Davy swallowed, gulping down the spit that gushed into his mouth with the first feeling of fear.

The coyote's eyes squinted into his. Davy looked deeply, searching for comfort, a sense of some kind of knowledge. 'Why isn't he jumping on me? Eating me?' He watched as the coyote leaned on his left legs as if to balance himself and suddenly realized that he was missing his back right paw. Holy Shit!! This was Ole Three Paws. Davy remembered what his daddy had told him when Davy had said that the coyote was their friend:

"Never trust a wild animal, Davy. You know that. They can turn on you out of fear or hunger. Remember what I've taught you."

He watched Ole Three Paws as the coyote stared at him with those yellow eyes. Davy cleared his throat. "Hi," his soft voice wavered.

Then a bit stronger, "Hi, Mr. Three Paws."

The coyote cocked his head and listened to the young voice. Seeming to accept Davy's words, he settled his strong body down into a sitting position, never letting his eyes leave the boy's face.

'K,' Davy thought, 'This is not so great. Maybe he's waiting for dinnertime. Maybe if I give him some sandwich, he'll go away.' Davy realized that he was wishful thinking but, not knowing what else to do, he said softly, "I'm gonna reach in my backpack for something good to eat. I'll give you half if you don't chomp me. Deal?"

He slid the satchel closer and slowly eased his hand inside to grab the PB&J. Tearing it in half, he showed the coyote, "See, half for you and half for me." He took aim and, holding his breath, he tossed the gooey bread toward the big gray animal.

Nosing it, Ole Three Paws sniffed and licked. Davy sat still, not at all hungry for his half. The coyote tasted and then gobbled the bit of food, settling back into his watchful position, just staring at Davy.

"I'd give you the other half but I might get hungry and, well, I need to have some too, don't ya think?" He almost giggled out loud because he was talking to a coyote. His daddy would freak if he could see this.

Just as quickly as he had arrived, the coyote stood and slipped back into the dense forest.

'Well,' Davy sighed, 'That was weird.' He knew it was dumb, but he'd almost felt safer with Ole Three Paws there with him. He started to bite into the sandwich when he saw the coyote reappear at the edge of the clearing.

This time, he felt calmer. "Hey there," he said.

The coyote turned and disappeared.

This happened three times. Each time, Ole Three Paws would stand just at the edge of the treeline, then turn and disappear.

Davy thought. Was it better to stay right here and wait for daddy? Was Ole Three Paws trying to tell him something? This was kinda like a movie they saw in school one time. Should he trust this wild animal? What did his daddy say?

"Never trust a wild animal............fear or hunger..............."

Well, he'd shared his sandwich and Ole Three Paws sure wasn't scared of him ........................so, maybe he could just follow along, way back, just to see where he was going. The coyote was a long way from home too.

Davy looked up just as the animal appeared beside the huge old tree again. "Okay, Mr. Three Paws, wait for me." Davy grabbed his backpack and, letting the coyote lead the way, set off through the deep woods.

Jase saw the tracks. Coyote. Shit! "Davy!" he yelled, the sound muted from his hoarse throat. He decided to round one more bend in the trail and then go back to enlist the FBI's help with copters and dogs. He strode another fifteen yards and, turning the bend, he saw what was a totally unsuspected sight. Davy sat on a tree stump, a huge gray coyote sprawled on the ground a few feet away.

At Jase's approach, the coyote sprang up and stood, stiff-legged, between Davy and his father, his muzzle snarling.

"Whoa, Mr. Three Paws," Davy soothed, "That's my daddy."

"What the hell, Davy?" Jase spluttered, keeping all his attention on the animal.

"I don't know, Daddy. He just appeared and led me here. I've been waiting for you." Davy started to climb down off the stump and Ole Three Paws growled deep down in his chest. "It's okay, old boy. This is my daddy. Remember him? He fixed your leg." Davy edged around the coyote and moved quickly to his daddy. Jase grabbed him up and hugged him tight.

One eye on the coyote and one on Davy, he asked, "Are you okay? Did that man hurt you?"

"Not much."

Jase felt the anger at those little words. "He hurt you at all?"

"He just kinda twisted my arms and slapped me once but I was brave, Daddy."

Jase wanted to kill this sadistic creep. He kept his voice low and calm, "We better get back. Cody is waiting for us and you know he'll be worried sick."

"Cody is okay?"

"Yeah, absolutely. He's at the house waiting for us."

Jase and Davy turned to check on the coyote only to find that he had disappeared back into the heavy foliage.

"Unbelievable," Jase muttered to himself.

"Daddy, I remembered what you said, about wild animals, but , Daddy, he wasn't hungry cause I gave him some of my sandwich and he wasn't scared of me cause, well............he's a coyote, so I followed him. Are you mad, Daddy?" Davy's bottom lip trembled.

"Oh God, no," Jase laughed. "I don't know what just happened here but he might have saved your life. He'll be getting lots of big piles of food from now on."

"Good," Davy grinned. "He's my friend."

Jase stood Davy on the tree stump and crouched over. "Climb on, Davy Boy. We need to get back and get on home."

Davy climbed up on his daddy's strong back and snugged his legs around Jase's waist. "Go, Daddy!"

As Jase strode quickly through the forest, his thoughts were all on Cody. The killer was loose. Cody was at home. He was safe because the trooper was with him but Jase wouldn't feel good till he had his little Indian snug up against his side.

Cody watched the tiny figure in the distance, high up on the rocks. How could one person be responsible for so much pain? It had to stop now. This had to be the end of it.

He knew whatever he had had with Jase was over. Jase could never look at him the same once he knew that this man's blood ran in Cody's veins. That the man who had killed Tommy, Charity, was his father. He felt the burning of heavy tears but he pushed them back.

Jase would be here soon. He knew as soon as he saw the writing on the wall, he would know where they were. He would be frantic when he saw all the blood. Cody had to stop his father.

Jase ignored Agent Parsons' request to drive and floored the gas all the way home. He had this niggling feeling on the back of his neck that something was bad wrong. He could almost taste someone's fear. He had to get to Cody to make sure he was okay.

He pulled out the cell phone and punched in #1. There was no response. Handing it to Davy, he said, "Keep trying." He gunned the engine and the speedometer climbed.

Roaring into the barnyard, he jumped out of the truck and ran for the screen door.

"Whoa!" Agent Crisp yelled as he grabbed Jase by the arm before he could touch the door handle.

"What? It's my house. Where's Cody? What the fuck's going on?" Jase raised his fist to punch away the arm that held him tight.

"Wait, Jase. Cody's not here. Hold on."

Jase registered the words. "Not here? Where the fuck is he? Cody!!!!" he yelled. The house was silent.

"Jase, listen. Calm down and listen. There's blood in the kitchen, on the floor. There's a gun and there's something written on the wall in Davy's room. I need you to calm down, so you can help me."

Jase breathed deeply. He turned to Davy, who was standing right behind him, tears shimmering in his eyes. "Davy, go out there with Agent Parsons." He nodded his head toward the other agent and Parsons came to take Davy's hand.

"But Daddy.......where's Cody?"

"We''ll find him, Davy Boy." He turned back to Crisp and they entered the house, carefully stepping over the spilled blood. Was it Cody's blood? Jase felt his stomach fall and tried to call out to Cody. He had lost Tommy. He couldn't lose Cody too.

"Do you recognize this gun?" He felt Agent Crisp tap his arm and he looked down at the 38 Special lying on the floor.

"Yes, that's mine. I gave it to Cody before we left."

"Come see if you can tell me what this means," the agent said quietly. He led Jase down the hall and into Davy's room. Jase staggered back when he saw the crude writing on the wall. Just seven letters but it tore at his heart.

"There is no one here. I've searched the entire property. It looks as if the killer took Cody. Does this mean something to you?" He looked at Jase, needing answers.

Jase thought quickly. Just the one word......Charity. He killed Charity. He means to kill Cody, kill me, take Davy. Well, by God, none of that would happen.

"He obviously wants you to find them."

Charity...Charity. Where would.....................Oh, hell. "I know where they are," Jase exploded. "I know where the son of a bitch went. Back to Wild Horse Ravine. He's got Cody. I'll kill him." Jase turned to go and Agent Crisp grabbed his arm.

"I can't let you do that."

"The hell you can't," Jase growled, rared back and popped the FBI agent in the jaw, knocking him flat. "Sorry," he said as he ran from the room.

"Davy, stay with Agent Parsons. I have something I have to do," Jase called as he threw Sazi's saddle on and, grabbing his shotgun from the truck, he jumped in the saddle and headed toward the Ravine, the high rocks where Charity had died....where he had loved Tommy. It was only fitting that he killed the man who had taken their lives there, on the rocks, high above the hot desert sand.

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