The Nineteenth Year by Jevic, The Tarheel Writer    The Nineteenth Year
by Jevic
The Tarheel Writer
Chapter Seventeen
"Mustering the Troops"

Back to Chapter Sixteen
"The Devil's Snare"
On to Chapter Eighteen
"One Bounce Thud"
Chapter Index

Jevic's Story Page

The Nineteenth Year by Jevic, The Tarheel Writer

Action Adventure
Violence
Sexual Situations
Rated Teen 13+

Proudly presented by The Tarheel Writer - On the Web since 24 February 2003. Celebrating 21 Years on the Internet!
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Sergeant Howard Brown sipped his coffee as he casually looked around the cafeteria of the hospital. From the time the plane landed, everything seemed to be a dream … no, it was really a nightmare. The hotel the agency put him up in was fine, but he couldn't sleep. He knew something was wrong. The phone call from Teri confirmed that. Mark had been reluctant, but eventually gave in and drove Howard to the hospital. While Mark waited in the car, Howard had walked in, grabbed a cup of coffee, sat down at a table in the cafeteria and waited. He carelessly sat his coffee cup down, slopping some onto the table in the process. Before he even had time to think about grabbing a napkin, someone else was doing it for him. Howard looked up and almost gasped out loud.

"You," he exclaimed.

"Yes, it's me, Sergeant," Teri said as she quickly sat down. "And we have a problem." Howard started to speak, but was quickly shut down. "I am totally serious and don't have time to listen to you." She hesitated a moment. "Sorry. Didn't mean to be a bitch, but we don't have a whole lot of time." Howard nodded. Teri took a deep breath. "Daniel has been taken. We don't know that for sure, but we're ninety-nine percent sure. And we're a hundred percent sure that it was Stan."

"Who's Stan?" Howard asked, uttering his first words since Teri sat down.

"He's the one that everybody should be looking for. He's the one that killed Timmy. He's the one that's gonna kill Daniel!" Teri's frustration level was on the rise and it was beginning to show.

"Wait a minute. Wait a minute," Howard said quickly. "Who's Timmy?" Teri rolled her eyes in frustration.

"Timmy was killed in a gay snuff film eight years ago. The man that did it has Daniel. His name is Stan Bouchard. He's the one that's been doing all this shit! The dam and all the water, the Internet, Charlie and God knows what else."

"Who's Charlie?"

"God Damn it!" Teri shrieked. Several people in the cafeteria turned to look in their direction. She took a deep breath. "Look, Sergeant. I'll explain everything … later. Right now, we need you. We've got to locate Daniel and only you can help."

"This is very confusing."

"No, this is a waste of time. Goodbye!" Teri abruptly stood and started toward the door. Stomping down the hall in frustration, Teri was suddenly grabbed and spun around.

"Why is that you headstrong women have to be so uppity?" Howard seethed.

"Uppity? Uppity!?! You asshole! My best friend in the whole world has been kidnapped by an evil, murdering, kidnapping, monstrous, pedophilic bastard!"

"Pedophilic bastard?" Howard said in surprise.

"The fucker likes to have sex with kids and then kill them. Just how plainly do I need to spell it out!?!" Sergeant Brown stumbled back. Realization struck him like a locomotive. Hundreds of memories flashed through his mind. Case after case and then … Daniel. His mind worked like a computer, quickly shuffling through countless case files, interviews and crime scenes. Like a steel trap, his mind locked onto the case. A dozen boys had been involved. Hours upon hours of video had been confiscated along with thousands of still photographs. Three men had been arrested, but the main perpetrator had escaped. There was blood found at the scene, but no body was every found. The three men were sentenced to years in prison. The boys were returned to their parents. Case closed.

Teri spun on her heels and headed for the door. Daniel's safety was paramount, but Sergeant Brown was a dead end. She took a deep breath, pushed the door open and walked into the fresh air. Her frustration was just about to boil over when she heard her name.

"Teri! He went by Danny back then!" Teri turned to see Sergeant Brown running up to her. "That's why I didn't make the connection."

"What connection?"

"I worked Danny's, ah, Daniel's case back then. Now I know who Daniel really is!" the sergeant announced with a smile.

"That's really great news, Sergeant Brown. And how is that supposed to help him?" Teri said tersely.

"Just let me get a couple of things straight in my mind and I'll do everything in my power to help find Daniel." Relief washed over Teri. She had to grab Howard's arm to help from stumbling. "Easy there, Teri. I know you're all worked up, but just bear with me a second." Teri nodded. "So you think Daniel's been taken by the same guy that got away all those years ago?" Once again, Teri nodded.

"Yeah, his name is Stan Bouchard." Howard furrowed his eyebrows as he searched his memories again.

"Never heard of him," Howard said softly after a moment of thought.

"I didn't think you would have. He's a crafty bastard. He even hid a bug in one of my rings so he'd know where we were." Howard's eyebrows rose at that comment. "But the important part is to find Daniel. I just know Stan is going to hurt him. He, he … he might even kill him," she added softly.

"Not on my watch! Come on!" Sergeant Brown grabbed Teri by the arm and headed over toward Mark Adkins. The agent was conferring with another man. "Mark!" Sergeant Brown called out. Mark and the other agent turned to watch them approach. "We've got a problem."

"Damn right we do," the other agent replied coldly. Howard Brown stopped abruptly, pulling Teri to a stop as well. "You stormed into a hospital like fuckin' Rambo. And then a gun goes off. In a fuckin' hospital!" The agent turned to Mark. "And you! You were supposed to bring the Sergeant," nodding at Howard, "straight to the embassy. It was a simple task, but you fucked it up!" Then the agent turned to Sergeant Brown. "And just who the fuck do you think you are? We're in a foreign country for Christ's sake! You can't run around like you own the place! This ain't the wild west, Sergeant! You're on the next plane outta here!" Teri was literally shaking with anger.

"You've got some mighty fuckin' big balls to chastise these two when you don't seem to have all the fuckin' facts!" she screamed at the still unknown agent.

"Shut up, ya little bitch! Or you'll be in a jail cell before you can say sorry," the agent snapped.

"Bitch? Oh you didn't really call me a bitch, 'cause you're about a half second from havin' your balls kicked right up your asshole!" Teri screamed as she lunged at the agent. The struggle that ensued ended quickly as yet another agent pulled them apart. Sergeant Brown held Teri and the new agent just glared at Mark and the other agent. Then he turned to Sergeant Brown.

"I'm Special Agent Brodenheimer. Please allow me to correct this situation." Sergeant Brown nodded. Agent Brodenheimer turned back to Mark and the other agent. "Agent Renick, you're relieved from duty. Report back to the embassy."

"This is bullshit!"

"You will do as I say or you'll be on the next plane back home!"

"Yes sir." Renick stomped off toward a government car and squealed tires as he left the parking lot.

"Sorry, he's a good agent. He just takes things a bit to literally." Agent Brodenheimer turned to Teri. "I sincerely apologize for his behavior. He never should have talked to you like that." Teri nodded. Then he turned to Mark. "Fine bit of work last night, Agent Adkins. From what I hear, you're due for a citation." Mark beamed at the words and smiled back. Then he turned to Howard Brown. "Sergeant, I can't tell you how sorry I am. Seems we've got so many gun hoe agents here I can't keep them in check."

"Thanks, but we do have a pressing problem, Agent, ah, Broden …"

"Arnie. Please call me Arnie." Sergeant Brown nodded and then filled Arnie in on everything he knew and on everything Teri had told him.

"Looks like we need to get to the embassy. Mark, you drive. Howard, you and Teri come with us. Daniel is in imminent danger and we're gonna do all we can to find him!"

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Timmy was just about to go crazy. Teri had insisted on going to the hospital and meeting with Sergeant Brown. Now it was three hours later and he had heard nothing. Timmy paced back and forth in the hotel suite. Casey and Dillon sat on the couch and watched. There was nothing they could say or do to calm Timmy down, so they gave up and resolved to watch their friend pace back and forth.

"Why the hell hasn't she called?" he would say as he paced. "Something must have happened. This isn't like her. She would have called if something was up." He paced a bit more. "Maybe she can't call. Maybe she's in trouble. Maybe she needs my help. She could be in trouble. She might even be hurt and all I'm doing is sitting here doing nothing!" The phone rang out and Timmy headed for it like a bolt of greased lightning.

"Hello, Teri?" he said into the phone.

"No, it's Cody."

"Where the hell is Teri?" Timmy screamed into the phone.

"How the hell should I know!?!" Cody yelled back. "Tell me where Daniel is!"

"That's what we're trying to figure out!" Timmy snapped. Before he could say anything else, Casey grabbed the phone from his hand. The two boys glared at each other. Dillon thought for a moment that they were going to come to blows.

"Sit the fuck down!" Dillon yelled. Both Casey and Timmy turned to look at him. "Timmy, sit down. You are way too emotional. Let Casey handle this." Before Timmy had time to fire back an angry rebuttal, Dillon stood up and put his hands on his hips. "Teri would not be very proud of the way you're acting. So, calm down and sit down. Now!" The tone of Dillon's voice left no question and Timmy reluctantly sat down on the couch, but not after first giving Casey a look that could cut pure steel.

"What the hell's going on?" Cody yelled into the phone.

"We're just worried about Daniel … and about Teri. She left over three hours ago to go to the hospital and we haven't heard from her since."

"I haven't seen her," Cody said calmly. "But I've kinda been in and out of it."

"I'm sure everything is just fine," Casey said. "She probably ran into someone and forgot to call."

"So, you've heard nothing about Daniel?" Cody asked.

"No, nothing."

"I'm so worried about him. I've been having some really bad dreams and I'm worried."

"Cody, we're doing everything we can to locate Daniel. I'm sure he's just being careful not to be caught."

"Thanks, Casey. I feel so helpless lying in this damn hospital bed."

"You've been through the ringer, Cody. Just take it easy and we'll take care of everything else. I promise we'll call as soon as we hear anything. OK?"

"OK and thanks, Casey. You're being a real friend here and I really do appreciate it."

"It's no problem. Your job is to start feeling better. And our job is to take care of Daniel and Teri. So you just get some rest."

"Only if you promise to call me when you hear something. I don't think I can really rest not knowing if Daniel is safe."

"I promise. I'll call as soon as I hear something."

"Thanks, Casey. You're a real friend."

"No problem. Talk to you soon."

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Daniel woke up slowly. His body screamed out in pain. His thoughts immediately turned to Cody and the pain he must be going through from being shot. Daniel groaned and slowly lifted his head. His eyes blinked quickly. What he thought to be a nightmare was in reality, laid out before him. The camera was still pointed at him. He was still securely strapped to the X frame and Stan was still holding the whip and grinning.

"Danny, boy. You are certainly giving the paying customers their money's worth. I just offered the audio for triple the fee and every single one of my customers gladly forked over the cash. They want to hear your screams and right now, they're getting the playback of the opening scene." Stan stood up and walked over to Daniel. When he was just a foot away, he continued. "They're enjoying your screams as I whipped you." Daniel looked down. He didn't want to see Stan, but his eyes took in his chest. It was raw and bleeding. The whip marks crisscrossed his chest and bright crimson blood was spattered all around his torso.

"Fuck you!" was all Daniel could croak out of his parched throat. His comment was replied with by a strong slap across the face.

"You miserable little shit! You cost me thousands if not millions of dollars and now it's payback time." Stan grabbed Daniel roughly by the balls and squeezed tightly. Daniel whimpered under the pain. "You're gonna wish you were dead a thousand times over before I'm finished with you. Despite the pain, Daniel spit in Stan's face. Expecting the worst, Daniel was surprised when Stan laughed. But the words that followed sent a chill up his spine.

"The last thing you're gonna remember in your life is me shoving my big cock up and your ass. Then I'm gonna wrap my hands around your throat and squeeze your very life out of existence."

"And you'll burn in hell forever," Daniel's raspy voice called out.

"Maybe so, but I'll do it with the satisfaction that your death made me millions of dollars," Stan smirked as he stepped back from Daniel. Once again the whip found its mark and slashed across Daniel's chest. Then it slashed across his legs. The slashes alternated until once again, Daniel escaped the pain and humiliation by slipping into unconsciousness.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Teri rushed into the American Embassy with Sergeant Brown, Agent Mark Adkins and Special Agent Arnie Brodenheimer. Arnie took control immediately and started barking out orders. Uniformed guards snapped to attention. The group made their way down a corridor. Stopping at a guarded room, Arnie showed his ID to the guard on duty. The guard looked at the ID and nodded. Arnie quickly punched numbers in to the keypad and the door's lock clicked open. Before the door closed behind Sergeant Brown, the last in line, Arnie yelled out his orders. Technicians quickly scrambled to their terminals.

"I need a cell phone location grid up and running and I need it now," Arnie snapped.

"What's going on here?" screamed a man in a dark suit.

"Kidnapping," Arnie said quickly as he turned back to look at a technician's screen. Teri and Sergeant Brown looked over his shoulder while Mark explained the situation to the command center supervisor.

"OK, the grid's set. It'll take about thirty seconds to triangulate the signal once he answers," the technician said.

"What if he doesn't answer?" Teri asked.

"Then we won't have a signal to work with. The phone must be in active use to locate it." Teri looked at Sergeant Brown.

"We've tried calling and there's no answer," she said softly. Sergeant Brown frowned, but he also saw the concern written all over Teri's face.

"Then we'll just have to keep calling. Won't we?" he said with a forced smile.

"Arnie, is there anything else we can be doing?" Sergeant Brown asked.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Timmy abruptly stood up from the couch. He looked intently at Dillon and then at Casey. Not being able to do anything was beyond frustrating. Timmy had to do something and no one was going to stop him.

"I'm going to the hospital," he said matter-of-factly. Dillon took a deep breath and slowly stood up. Just as he was about to start his speech about sitting still, he took in the look of determination on Timmy's face. He took a deep breath then started what he knew was a losing battle.

"If we leave here and Teri calls …"

"Then you'll be here to answer her call," Timmy interrupted.

"If you go, we all go," Dillon argued as he nodded his head toward Casey.

"Fine, let's go." Timmy started toward the door. Dillon looked at Casey who shrug his shoulders. Timmy stopped at the door and turned back toward Dillon. "Well?" Dillon sighed in defeat and started toward the door with Casey on his heels.

As the door clicked shut and locked, the boys started down the hall. None of them heard the phone ringing in their room.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

The atmosphere in the embassy intelligence control room had taken on a wait and see attitude. One sole operator sat at the telephone and repeatedly dialed Daniel's cell phone. Agent Brodenheimer and Agent Adkins were in a quite conversation. Sergeant Brown idly sipped at his coffee while his mind ran over the details of a case long since thought closed. Teri has explained about Timmy. She explained about Daniel finding the bloody underwear and then the terrifying night that followed. The sergeant was wracked with guilt. How could the death of a young boy be so callously swept aside? Sure, they found blood evidence. Sure, all the signs were there, but there was no body and no evidence that would lead to a crime. Sergeant Brown took another sip of his coffee as he thought about the long list of missing children that was posted in the squad room; a list that was updated almost daily. Thousands upon thousands of missing kids were on the list; kids that may have been or still are in a situation like Daniel was in. The sergeant shuddered at the thought. Through all his years of experience, he had seen numerous examples of the criminal mind, but no example of the twisted kind of person that exploited children in sex movies. That someone was alive and actually killing children for his sexual pleasure caused another shudder. He shifted quietly in his seat. Glancing over at Teri, he saw the worry written on her face. She looked up at him with a look of desperation. All he could offer was a small understanding smile.

Sergeant Brown thought back to the day he first met Teri. She had been beside herself with worry about Daniel. He remembered the dogs growling and Teri's determined look. She sure was a strong person, he thought. Then his thoughts turned to Daniel. If Teri was strong, then Daniel must be Superman.

The case facts had been pretty much open and closed. All the facts were there, along with all the witnesses. It was another case of child pornography. Even as rare as the case was, it wasn't unheard of. To have that kind of activity happening in his jurisdiction sickened the sergeant. The neighbors had all testified about the unusual activity, about the strange group of men and boys and about the way they all kept to themselves. Some even testified that they thought something strange was going on, but no one every bothered to call the police. One woman testified that she didn't want to get involved. The memories of the case and the trial were slowly starting to come back. The more the memories made their way to the surface, the angrier the sergeant got. How could people just sit by, plainly seeing that something was amiss, and do nothing? It just didn't make sense. Howard Brown thought back to the statements he had taken from the young boys involved. The descriptions almost made him nauseous. It wasn't the actually sexual acts that were described in full detail; it was the fact that eleven, twelve and thirteen year old boys were made to do it.

The horrid memories didn't stop, but it was the ones that didn't make it into trial that had Howard frowning over his cup of coffee. The evidence had been clear. The testimony of the boys was overwhelming, but there was a link that was missing. None of the confiscated tapes showed an actual murder. None of the boys had actually seen Timmy be murdered. They had only testified to hearing screams. Even with the bloody underwear, there was not enough evidence to prove a crime had been committed. DNA analysis on the blood turned up nothing. Whoever the blood belonged to had never been entered into the DNA database. And, sadly, the testimony of an eleven year old boy didn't quite hold enough credence in a court of law.

To actually know that it happened, sickened Sergeant Brown. He took a deep breath and roused from his seat. Teri glanced up and immediately noticed the pallor on his face. The sergeant slowly made his way toward the door. Teri rose from her seat and stood in the sergeant's path. He stopped in front of her, but could not muster the strength to look her in the eyes. He knew there would be pain there. He finally knew the whole truth and it was strangling him. He felt sick to his stomach and desperately needed the solitude of a bathroom, but Teri stood in his way. Timidly, he looked up into her face. She saw the anguish, the guilt, the horror and the single tear that rolled down the sergeant's face. In an instant, she knew that he understood the whole picture. The memory of the emotions at her own realization overwhelmed her and she instinctively wrapped her arms around the huge man that stood in front of her. Her own tears were a mixture of concern over Daniel and comradery in understanding. They held each other in the middle of the embassy intelligence control room. The concern, compassion and realization flowed between them.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

As the taxi came to a complete stop, hopelessly snarled in traffic, Timmy's frustration reached DEFCON One. Dillon noticed the suddenly flushed face of his friend. He took in the tightly clenched jaw, the narrowed eyes and the vein on his forehead that pulsed with each heartbeat. Dillon immediately sensed a meltdown.

"Timmy," he said quietly and calmly. There was no reaction. "Timmy," Dillon repeated slowly. "Try to clam down. It's just a traffic jam. We'll be at the hospital in no time, so please try and relax." To Timmy, the word 'relax' washed over him like an out of control wildfire driven by relentless Santa Anna winds.

"Relax?" Timmy questioned in a dangerously low voice. He turned his wild eyes to look at Dillon. "Relax?" he repeated the question. "Just exactly how am I supposed to relax when the woman I love is missing and there's a killer on the loose?"

"Timmy," Dillon said calmly. "Get control of yourself. I know you're worried, but …"

"Worried?" Timmy laughed a quick laugh. "That does not even begin to describe how I feel," he said, once again in a menacingly low voice. "You do realize what's happening here, don't you? We've all been dragged into something so bad, so evil, so, so disgusting that mere words can't describe it." Timmy's eyes suddenly brightened. "For the first time in my life, I actually feel a connection with someone. It's a connection I can't describe, but I know that it's coursing through my very veins." Timmy suddenly relaxed and sat back in the seat. "I honestly love her, Dillon. I really do. And I'm so worried that I don't know what to do. Somehow I feel responsible. It's me that's put her in harm's way and it's me that has got to get her out."

"Timmy, you're not to blame for what's going on," Dillon said as he put his arm around Timmy and pulled him close. "Everything we're dealing with was put into motion a long time ago. Pure evil did that. Not you. All we can do now is try to look out for the ones we care about and hope that the evil will be stopped."

"That's just it, Dillon. Stan is so evil that there's nothing beyond his touch. Just ask Casey!" Casey winced at the sound of his name and the implication of the statement. Vivid memories of Charlie assaulted his mind … Charlie's easy laugh, his relentless drive to make things perfect, his beautiful hazel eyes and his unwavering dedication to his friends; and then his body on the stretcher … the body bag … the physical trauma … the obvious pain Charlie had endured before his life, and the pain, had been mercifully brought to and end. "I'm sorry, Casey," Timmy said softly. "But we've all been touched by this evil man in one way or the other. I just want to see him stopped before anyone else is hurt."

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Cody's vitals were being monitored at the nurses' station. Any variance from the norm would set off an alarm, alerting them to a problem. Cody glanced around his room, taking it all in. His chest was still sore, but not nearly as bad as it had been when he was brought in. Breathing was much easier as well. There was no longer any pain associated with inhaling or exhaling. Cody looked up to the IV bag that hung beside his bed. He read the writing on the bag and determined that he was being given Ringers Lactose along with an antibiotic. Other than that, all the other wires were just for monitoring his vitals.

A rather robust woman interrupted his thoughts as she came into the room with his lunch tray. She carried on in a language Cody couldn't understand, but he recognized the tone of the voice as caring. He smiled as she placed the tray in front of him. She smiled and said something as she uncovered the entrée. Then she pointed a finger at Cody, said something that hinged on a demand and then smiled. Cody picked up his fork and stabbed at the mystery meat on the plate. The woman frowned. Cody cut a bite and put it in his mouth. Then the woman smiled and patted him on the arm before quickly leaving the room.

Cody spat the bite of mystery meat on his plate. It was awful; too soft to be real meat and too tasteless to be anything but cardboard. He glanced at the mystery vegetable and dismissed it immediately. Eyeing the small bowl of internationally known Jello, he quickly stabbed a square and popped it into his mouth. Orange flavor. Not bad. He eyed the cookie on the small side dish and deftly snatched it up.

"I guess all hospital food is the same no matter where you are," he mused to himself. Cody munched on the cookie between bites of Jello and sipped on the weak tea. At least it had a slice of lemon.

The carte du jour of the day at Na Homolce Hospital left a lot to be desired, so Cody took the time to observe the routine of the nurses on the ward. He carefully made mental note as each nurse made rounds. Feeling stronger than he had since being admitted, Cody resolved himself to sneak out and find Daniel. He knew the boy he loved was in grave danger. He couldn't explain it, but he just … knew. It was a gut feeling that scared Cody. The feeling actually surprised and frightened him. His feelings for Daniel had developed faster than he thought possible. At their first meeting, Cody had felt the indescribable waves of passion … of want … of need. He knew, as a matter of fact, right then and right there, that he was in love with the boy called Daniel. It was a feeling he could never describe verbally. He just knew that his life would forevermore be connected with the boy with the golden hair and the deep ocean blue eyes.

The connection between them was ethereal. It was alive. The connection lived and breathed a life of its own. Cody had never before experienced such a desire, a want, a need so primal that it exceeded everything he had ever known. The feeling was primal, yes, but at the same time, it was so timeless that it evaded definition. Something had clicked that day they met. And every day that passed caused that connection to solidify into something the great poets of the centuries wrote about. Soul mates came to mind as Cody drifted through his memories.

"You are my other half, Daniel," Cody whispered to himself. "You make me complete. You make me whole. And I'm not about to lose you. Not today."

Cody watched as the nurses at the station left one by one to attend to other patients. He could do this. The pain wasn't that bad. Yes, he could and would do this, for himself and for Daniel. Finally the station was empty. This was his chance. He quickly pulled the IV from his arm. Wincing, he covered his arm. Moving with more dexterity he would have thought possible, Cody grabbed his clothes from the closet and pulled them on. He was careful to keep the monitoring probes in tack so they wouldn't set off an alarm. Once fully clothed, he jerked the wires from his body and slipped into the corridor. The audible alarms at the nurses' station were immediate.

In the seconds that followed, Cody moved swiftly down the hallway and slid into a janitor's closet. As he pulled the door closed, he saw several nurses headed for their station to see where the alarms were coming from. As soon as they found him missing, everyone would be searching. The time to move was now. Cody exited the closet and headed for the elevator. He punched the down button and the elevator door immediately opened.

"Thank God for small miracles," he muttered under his breath as he stepped inside and pressed the ground floor button. He watched two nurses head for his room as the door closed and the elevator started down. Several minutes later, Cody found himself standing in front of the hospital. He quickly hailed a cab. Cody jumped in the backseat and was immediately assaulted with what sounded like a question from the driver.

"Fuck! Can't anybody speak English?" he called out in frustration.

"Sure, I speak English." Cody's head snapped up and looked into the slightly bloodshot eyes of the extremely ugly man in the driver's seat. "Where you go?" Cody sighed and slumped back into the seat. He had no idea where to go.

"Just drive for now. I'm trying to figure it out." The driver shrugged, shifted into drive and headed out of the parking lot. Cody mind turned to mush. He couldn't think of where to start looking. Maybe he should just go back to the hotel. He was sure that his friends knew something.

"Wait a minute!" Cody said out loud. The driver looked at him through the rear view mirror. "Remik!"

"What?" the driver asked. A quick plan formed in Cody's head.

"I want you to take me to where I can pick up a boy."

"Boy? Don't understand."

"I want a boy for, ah …" Cody held up one hand and pressed his forefinger to his thumb. Then he took his other forefinger and pushed it through the circle, making the international sign for fucking. The driver immediately got mad and pulled the cab to the side of the street.

"Out!" the driver yelled. "Out!"

"Wait, you don't understand!"

"Out now!"

"I'm trying to find a boy that may have been hurt," Cody plead. It wasn't a total lie, but it wasn't exactly the truth, given the context of the screaming match. The driver raised an eyebrow in question. "It's the truth. Please believe me. The boy's name is Remik. He's gotten mixed up with the wrong kind of person."

"You tell truth?" the driver asked.

"Yes. I'm telling the truth. Please take me where evil men would pick up a boy for, ah, company." The driver sighed, then pulled the cab back on the street.

"You lie I call police."

"Deal." Cody relaxed back into his seat and watched the Prague scenery pass by. The cab slowly left he metropolitan area of downtown and entered a rather run down part of town. Cody sat up in his seat and watched intently out the window. The cab made a turn onto a particularly bad looking street that ran by an even worse looking park before pulling over to the curb.

"Here where you find boy," the driver said with a slight hint of aversion in his voice.

"Thank you." Cody handed the driver two American twenty-dollar bills. The driver was grinning as Cody got out of the door. Seconds after closing the door, the taxi raced off down the street and disappeared around a corner. The reality of the situation that he had put himself in slowly started to make itself known as Cody glanced around. Two, no three disheveled old men lay on the ground near a park bench, obviously passed out drunk. Several broken down cars were parked along the street. Large thick bushes grew along the sidewalk completely blocking the path in some places. The storefront on the corner was boarded up and graffiti was painted on the plywood covering the windows. Looking up the sidewalk, Cody saw two boys sitting on a stone wall. He started toward them knowing that one of those boys might be his key to finding Daniel. As he made his way up the sidewalk, the two boys turned and watched him with keen interest. As he got closer, he saw that they were no more than twelve or thirteen years old. Their clothes were ragged and worn, but their faces shone with the innocence of pubescence. The boy on the left was blond haired while his friend was dark haired.

"Hi," Cody timidly called out. "Do you speak English?" The boys whispered to one another before turning back to Cody.

"Yeah, what you want?" the dark haired boy asked.

"Do either of you know Remik?" At the sound of the name, both boys jumped down from the wall and eyed Cody with suspicion. They started to back up slowly, then turned and ran. "Remik is a friend of mine!" Cody shouted. One boy kept running while the dark haired boy stopped. "He was about to be hurt by a very bad man, but my friend saved him."

"Remik. He ok?" the boy asked timidly, still looking like be was about to run again.

"Yes, he's fine."

"Where?"

"With his mama, at least that's what my friends tell me." The dark haired boy, who was absolutely irresistibly cute, nodded.

"What you want?" Cody slowly walked toward the boy, trying to be as casual, open and non-threatening as possible.

"I want to know about a man, a bad man, a man who hurts boys. He's the one that tried to hurt Remik." The dark haired boy looked intrigued, but he was still wary. Cody pulled his shirt back so the boy could see his wound. "The bad man did this to me. Now he wants to do this to … to other people," Cody choked on the last few words.

"My friend, Sebastian, he went with man last night, but he don't come back."

"Tell me about his man."

"He in a silver auto, Audi I think. He was strange."

"How do you mean, strange?" asked Cody.

"Most men are scared of us, but this man, he know what he want. That be a bad thing. I tell Sebastian let him pass, but he need work for his family," the dark haired boy said sadly.

"Oh God," Cody choked as he thought of what might have become of Sebastian.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *


On to Chapter Eighteen
"One Bounce Thud"

Back to Chapter Sixteen
"The Devil's Snare"

Chapter Index

Jevic's Story Page


The Nineteenth Year is © 2008 by The Tarheel Writer.
    This work may not be duplicated in any form – physical, electronic, audio, or otherwise – without the author's written permission. All applicable copyright laws apply. All individuals depicted are fictional with any resemblance to real persons being purely coincidental.


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