Monday, August 6, 2012


Ernie's eyes snapped open in the darkness, jolted back into the reality of keeping his long-time friend's family safe until the election. The digital clock glowed 2:44, had a noise awakened him? Ernie slipped into his jeans and moved like a shadow until he reached Wes's room. "Wes, it's Ernie. Just checking on you." No reply. Ernie stepped fully into the room.

The bedside lamp, still illuminated, was on the floor where it apparently had fallen. Items from the bureau and nightstand littered the floor. Wes Bellardi was gone. Ernie was on the radio in an instant. "Have any of you guys seen Wes?" Six masculine voices replied, "negative." With urgency in his voice, Ernie said, "The kid's not in his room. He's not in the house, at least that I could see. Jerry get in here on the double to help me look. The rest of you guys stay sharp." Ernie returned to survey Wes' room. Part of the top sheet appeared to have been torn into strips. Bonds to tie wrists and ankles. He noticed small dark spots and smears on the rumpled fitted sheet. Dried blood. On the pillowcase the smear formed a distinct  “A”--no doubt meaning AntiCrist.

Kidnapping. Impossible. Kidnappers couldn't get in and out of the house without being seen—not unless they somehow got in and haven't yet escaped. Ernie was on the radio to his men outside. "We have a possible kidnapping in here, but the kidnappers and the victim may still be on the scene. Close in on the house from all sides and stay alert.”

Six county patrol cars arrived in time to head up the search of the crawl space, attic, garage, and outbuildings. At daybreak, Ernie returned to the house and collapsed in the family room, disheartened. For the second time in a month he had failed to protect Wes from attack. He had also betrayed the trust of his old friend Daniel Bellardi. Someone had stolen the senator's son right out from under Ernie's nose. He had no idea what he was going to say to his friend. Exhausted, Ernie found a quiet corner and wept.

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