“I’ll see Danny room now,” I said, abruptly standing up. Kayla got up as well, dashing her eyes with her arm. I followed her down a hallway until we reached the very last door.
“Here it is,” she said, opening the door. I blinked in amazement at what I saw. There was a big-screen television as well as a DVD player and a CD player, more expensive than the ones I had. Every toy known to kidkind seemed to be on the floor while there were very few books on the bookshelf. Not even two rows were filled, which was sad to me as I was an avid reader. A three-foot long stuffed pig sat in the corner of the room. “That’s Reggie,” Kayla said, pointing at the gigantic pig which looked as if it was about to jump up and play. “That’s Beans,” she added, pointing to another pig which was slightly smaller but just as spry. “And that’s Corkscrew.” Another pig. Unlike the other two, this pig was brown with a white stomach. “Danny liked—likes pigs.” That was obvious as there were roughly fifty pigs in the room—made of all kinds of material—including clay, porcelain. and plastic. I recalled the pig I saw Danny holding while in captivity, and it made sense seeing his room. I also noted that Kayla had used the past tense when talking about Danny—not a good sign.
“I need a few minutes alone,” I said, not glancing at Kayla. I was too busy scanning the room to pay her any attention.
“Ok,” Kayla said meekly, stepping out of the room. Immediately, the air around me expanded so I could breathe freely again. I looked at the pigs, wondering how a boy of two came about a pig-obsession. Perhaps he saw Babe one too many times; it certainly wasn’t because Kayla read Charlotte’s Web to him. The walls were a light green which gave a cozy feeling to the room. There was a crib—what the hell was Kayla thinking leaving her boy outside alone? He’s hardly more than a baby—certainly too young to be alone even for a few minutes. A scene flashed before my eyes, but it went by too quickly for me to grab it. I vaguely recalled Kayla looking at her watch, but that was it. Wait, what was she looking at her watch for? It happened while she was outside with Danny, right before she went back in. Chances were, she was just checking to see how long it’d been since her last fix. Even junkies had rules, as fucked up as those rules might be.
The room had a welcoming feeling, but there was also a tinge of despair. It was as if it knew its owner was missing and perhaps in danger and was worried. I sent out silent but positive vibes, trying to reassure the room that Danny would be back soon, safe and sound. Since I wasn’t so sure of this myself, I couldn’t be very confident in my approach. I looked at Danny’s toy box which was speaking to me. It was a huge thing, able to hold at least twenty stuffed pigs. I opened it up and rooted through it, not knowing what I was trying to find. True to what I suspected, there were more pigs in there, including Hamlet and Luau, two Beanie Baby pigs. There were a few GI Joes as well which looked as if they’d never been played with—unlike the pigs.
As I grabbed a rather largish blue-colored stuffed pig with a sappy grin on its face, I felt something sharp inside of it. I frowned because a toy such as this wouldn’t be safe for a toddler to play with. Looking more closely, I noticed that there was a thin seam on the belly where it should have been smooth. I pulled out a pair of nail clippers from my bag and carefully snipped away at the seam. Inside the pig was a heavily-taped manila envelope which I tried to pick open with my stubby nails, but it wouldn’t budge. I didn’t want to seriously try to open the envelope while Kayla was probably right outside with her ear pasted to the door, so I put the whole folder in my bag and replaced the pig in the toy box.
Once I had rearranged everything so it appeared as it had before, I sat down on the floor and closed my eyes. The room was definitely trying to tell me something, and I made a point to listen. I cleared my mind and silently asked Danny to talk to me, to let me know where he was. A sense of urgency passed over me as I breathed, almost causing me to choke. A steel band was pressing around my head, but I valiantly fought back the nausea to stay connected with Danny. I sensed that he was close to here, but I couldn’t tell if it was in flesh or just in spirit. He loved this room, that was clear. I reached over and grabbed the shabbiest pig I could find, cuddling it in my arms. Suddenly, I could see Danny as clearly as if he were standing in front of me, that impish grin on his chubby face. God, his face looked like Matt’s! Why hadn’t I seen it before?
I reached out, convinced I could touch him. The grin on his face melted away as the lights dimmed. Soon, he was in complete darkness again, and he was curled up in a ball. He was whimpering softly to himself, his hands still clutching the little pig that I had seen earlier. There were voices outside the door, the closet door, and I strained to hear what they were saying. The volume decreased, so I forced myself to relax. The sound went up again, and I could make out snatches of a conversation. One person—I couldn’t tell if it was a man or woman as the voice was in the indeterminate range—was whining about just doing his—or her—job while the other, definitely male, berated the first for fucking up. Mumble, mumble, mumble, whine, whine, whine. Number Two telling Number One to just fucking think once in awhile. Number One was just supposed to watch, not…mumble, mumble, mumble.
I opened my eyes, realizing that my hypothesis of a spur-of-the-moment taking was correct. The room seemed to be trying to tell me something else, so I closed my eyes again and waited. I didn’t have to wait long as I saw Danny being taken from the closet. Whoever it was held him tightly, but without malice. This was definitely a job to the captors, which didn’t necessarily mean it wasn’t personal. As I watched the captor—male, the Number Two guy—carry Danny, there was a tightening in my stomach. I had thought the two guys weren’t pedophiles, but who knew what they might do? Number Two plunked Danny down on a chair, making sure Danny didn’t try to bolt. There was a taper recorder set up on the table next to Danny’s chair. Number Two said something to Danny, but I couldn’t hear what he was saying. What a time for the audio to go out. Number One pressed a button on the tape recorder and Number Two started talking. After he talked for a while, he reached over and slapped Danny across the face. Hard. When Danny didn’t respond as hoped, Number Two slapped him harder while digging the fingers of his other hand into Danny’s upper arm.
I lost the rest of the scene and tuned back in to Number Two yanking Danny’s shirt off his body. It was a light-blue shirt with a pink pig on it. Since I still didn’t get the pedophile vibe from the captors, I could only surmise that he had another reason for taking Danny’s shirt from him. I still couldn’t tell the gender of Number One, and it was irking me to no end. I waited to see what else would unfold in front of my eyes, but nothing came. I gave it five more minutes before giving up and standing up. I had gotten more than I’d expected, anyway, so it was only greed and wishful thinking on my part to think I’d get more. I set the pig back where I got him, patting him on the head to thank him for his help. I looked around the room one more time, but the room refused to say any more. As I opened the door, Kayla almost fell into the room.
“Well, what did you find out?” Kayla asked eagerly, her eyes fixed on mine. She didn’t even notice that my bag was bulging in a way it hadn’t before.
“Give me Alexander’s number, Kayla,” I said, wanting to make sure I didn’t forget that.
“What? No! He’d kill me!”
“He might do that, anyway, since you took his stuff,” I said. I restrained a sigh as I thought about how difficult she was being. “I’m not playing, Kayla. You give me that fucking number right now.” Kayla made a face, but she found a piece of paper and a pen in the living room and wrote down the number for me. “Now will you tell me what you found?” Kayla whined, her voice grating on my nerves.
“Who’s Digger, Kayla?” I asked, the name popping into my head. I was doing this on my own timetable, damn it, not one she wanted to force upon me.
“Jamie Digs,” Kayla replied, immediately looking as if she’d wished she hadn’t.
“Who’s Jamie Digs, Kayla?” I asked, my voice hardened. I was not the most patient person to begin with, and she was past getting on my nerves.
“Um, my boss at the club,” Kayla replied, not quite able to look in my eyes. “How did you know about Digger? Nobody but us girls call him that.”
“Did he know about Danny?” I asked, ignoring her question. If she was too stupid to connect how I knew his nickname, well, I wasn’t going to bother to respond. “Did he know you had a son?”
“Of course he did,” Kayla said. “Why?”
“I think he might be involved,” I replied, watching her carefully to see her reaction. I didn’t have to look closely to know that she’d gone dead pale at my words, though she tried to hide it.
“No, no way. Digger is the sweetest guy in the world. No way he’d do something like this.” Kayla said, backing away from me. As we were in a hallway, she didn’t have far to go and thumped into the wall with her back. I was mean enough to enjoy watching her wince as he shoulder blades hit the wall, but I didn’t let it show on my face.
“I need to talk to him,” I said, taking a step closer to Kayla. I assumed my ‘witchiest’ expression and waved my hands in the air to emphasize my point.
“No, no, no way. Um, he’s shy. He doesn’t like to talk to strangers.” As that was patently ridiculous, I didn’t bother to respond. I didn’t need her approval to talk to Digger, however, so I let it drop.
“You’re going to get a package in the mail tomorrow,” I said instead, eager to tell her what I knew and get away from there. “It will contain Danny’s shirt and a tape. That’s all I can tell you at this point.” Well, I could have told her more, but two could play her little game. No, I wasn’t that petty, but I didn’t want to give anything away until I’d looked through her manila envelope.
“A package?” Kayla parroted, looking as if she was going to faint. “What’s on the tape?”
“Most likely further instructions,” I said calmly. I withheld the bit about the captor slapping Danny—and maybe worse—to get him to scream because I wanted someone to witness the expression on her face when she received it. “Don’t open it until you call the cops. Or Matt.” I added Matt’s name as if it were an afterthought, but I would bet every cent I had that she would call Matt before she called the cops. “Make sure there’s someone there when you open it. For support.” The last was pure bullshit as the only reason I wanted her there was to see her expression when she opened the package. While I didn’t think she had kidnapped her own son, she still knew more than she was saying. Suddenly, I had to get the hell out of there. Just as I was about to say so, the doorbell rang. It was the cops.
“Ma’am,” one of the cops said, nodding at Kayla. I looked twice at the cop as he was six-two, lean, had dark brown hair slicked back and eyes almost as black as my own. If I had to guess, he was Latino, which was one of my favorite races. Other than my own, of course. He looked a little like Enrique Murciano from Without a Trace, who was hot as hell. This guy was easy on the eyes as well The other cop was a dumpy female who didn’t merit a second glance. “We just have a few—hello, who are you?” He had the slightest of accents which was incredibly sexy. The last was directed at me, along with a piercing stare. If I had met him in a bar, I would have said that he was checking me out. As this was a vastly different situation, I wasn’t quite sure what the stare was for.
“I’m Scar Hsu,” I said, holding out my hand. His handshake was firm but not crushing. I liked that in a man. “I’m a friend of a friend helping Kayla with her son’s disappearance. You know, the one who has some psychic powers.” I blushed as I said the last statement because it sounded like that high-falutin’ New Age mumbo-jumbo, but there was no other term for what I did. I certainly wasn’t going to call it my thing to a cop. “And you are?”
“Detective Martinez,” the cop said, looking even harder at me. “Ms. Richardson? What is she talking about?” I had a sinking feeling in my gut as the female cop glared suspiciously at me, looking as if she’d love nothing more than to bring me in.
“I’m somewhat psychic,” I repeated, wishing I hadn’t opened my big mouth. “Kayla was supposed to tell you about me.” I gave Kayla a glare of my own, but she studiously avoided my eyes. “Well, I’ll let her explain. I must be leaving.” Without seeming to, Detective Martinez stepped in front of me, impeding my progress.
“I’ll need your full name, your phone number and your address,” Detective Martinez said, his face implacable. He had a firm chin that looked as it could be obstinate on occasion, and I didn’t want to test his limits. I recited the information to the detectives, not wanting to open my bag with its confiscated booty to grab a pen and some paper. “We’ll be in touch with you after we talk to Ms. Richardson here.” Now, he turned his stare on Kayla who seemed to find the door infinitely interesting. “Good day for now.” Ms. Detective sneered as she walked by me, her hand lightly touching her gun. I surmised that she’d only been on the job for a short time and still felt she had to prove herself by being tougher than the boys.