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Sharon Henry, the towns librarian walked up the stairs from her basement into the kitchen. She was wearing a heavy plastic apron and long plastic gloves. She was carrying some type of meat to the butcher block on the island. Mozart was playing in the background. There was a little boy sitting on the opposite side of the island facing Sharon. But he wasn't just sitting there, he was chained there. He was wearing a blue and white striped shirt and khaki pants.
"When am I gonna get to go home?" said the little boy.
"Oh, soon enough. And you know what? Remember your friend Matty? I think he moved away a couple months ago, well I'm gonna take you to see him." Sharon said with a smile on her face while chopping the meat with a butcher’s knife covered in blood. The little boy didn't respond. As he looked at Sharon chopping, a single tear rolled down his pale pink cheek. Sharon giggled. After seasoning the meat she placed it into the oven.
Sharon began to clean up the kitchen. Then carefully took off her apron and gloves. Underneath we're blue jeans and a blue button down shirt. She walked right pass the playing stereo and headed for the front door, leaving the kid at the island still strapped. She walked two houses down, passing the two parked cop cars and knocked on the neighbors’ front door. Lucy Tate answered.
"Hey, Sharon." Lucy said in a crackling, low voice.
"What's going on at the Marches? I just got done preparing my dish for tomorrow's pot-luck and I saw all the cops. Is everything okay?" Sharon said concernedly.
"Did you not get the neighborhood message?"
"Neighborhood message? I've had my music on all day. It's probably on the machi-"
"Jacob's gone! There's not much clear talking going on out there but I guess Jake was out playing and never came home today." Lucy blurted out. Sharon's eyes started to water and she said, "Oh my god. What is happening? Little Matty was just taken, what, six, seven months ago?" She rubbed her forehead. "You know I had to move from my old neighborhood because kidnappings seemed to be on rise there too. Shame." Sharon said speaking low.
"You're telling me. I have two kids of my own. This is the second kid missing here, they're freaking out. I'm freaking out!" Lucy said tearing up.
"I know, I know. I can't even imagine." Sharon put her hand on Lucy's shoulder.
"It's just so scary. You know?" Lucy said while trying to hold back tears.
"Yeah. Well I guess no potluck tomorrow."
"Nope I don’t think so.."
"Alright. Thanks for keeping me updated. I’ll see you." Sharon started to head down the porch steps.
"Oh and by the way,” Lucy called out, “Jacob was last seen wearing a blue and white stripped tee shirt with khaki short."
"Okay I'll keep that in mind." Sharon continued home.
Sharon walked in the door and ran to the oven to check on her meat. "This is a special dish I've got here. Ya hungry?" Sharon said to the boy. He just shook his head yes. She took the steaming hot pot to the countertop to let it sit to cool.
Once the stew was done, she unhooked the boys arms from the bar stool and led him downstairs to the basement. She sat him down on a built-in cement bench and hooked his teeny ankles to it. Sharon ran back upstairs and returned with a bowl full of the stew she prepared and a glass of milk for the boy. He began to eat and she watched him with a blank look on her face. She slowly walked towards the boy and asked, "Do you like it?" He shook his head up and down indicating yes.
"I've had it down here in the deep freezer for six, seven months now. I thought it was time to finish it up and prepare some more fresher meat for the stew." The boy in the striped shirt didn't respond and continued eating until all the components where gone for the bowl. Sharon took the bowl back upstairs and came back down with a heavy blanket for the boy. The boy was sitting there in silence when she grabbed his two little wrists and locked them together with a zip tie that she was carrying in her mouth. Then she reached for the duck tape behind him that was sitting on the alcove of the basement walls foundation. She tore off a piece and gently placed it on the boys’ mouth. She adjusted him to a laying position on the concrete bench, covered him with the blanket and headed for the stairs.
Only twenty minutes later, Sharon got a knock at the door. She got up from the floral print love seat, adjusted her shirt collar in the mirror in the foyer and opened the door. There were two forty something year old police officers. Without dismay, Sharon remand perfectly calm and said, “Oh why hello there Officer Simpkins and Grand. How may I help you this evening?”
“Hi there. Sorry to bug you this hour but I’m sure you’ve heard the news about Jacob March.” said Officer Simpkins.
“Yes sir I have.” Sharon said.
“Well we’re going door to door asking the neighborhood folks questions. We’d like to ask you a couple things if you don’t mind.”
“Sure. Why don’t you boys come on in?” Sharon said and ushered them into the living room. She put Wheel of Fortune on mute and Officer Simpkins sat down while Officer Grand walked the basis of the first floor.
“Alright Ms. Henry, so did you see or hear anything outside your house around one p.m. this afternoon?” Simpkins said with his notepad and pen in hand.
“One o’clock? I think I was at the grocery store getting a few things for tomorrow’s potluck. Then I came home from that and got right to cooking up my stew.”
“Oh is that what I smell in here?” Officer Grand called from the kitchen.
“Sure is. My own secret recipe” Sharon called back and got up and started walking towards the kitchen, gesturing Simpkins to follow.
“It smells amazing in here.” Simpkins said. Both Simpkins and Grand took a seat at the island and Sharon reached for the cabinet, grabbing two bowls and two spoons. She set it down in front of the men and began to scoop stew into the bowls. “Hear, go for it. Just taste a little bite and go on your way.” Sharon said then pushed the bowls closer to them and smiled. Both men shrugged to each other saying yes and dug in. With of meat hanging out of his mouth, Officer Grand said, “Wow this is really good. It has such an interesting taste.”
“Yeah, like something I’ve never tasted before. It’s great.” Simpkins agreed.
“I’m glad you think so, boys.” Sharon said while watching them eat.
Once they were done, Sharon walked them to the door and shook the hands of the officer.
“Thank you for your time and cooperation this evening Ms. Henry.” Officer Simpkins said.
“And the stew.” Officer Grand added. The three of them laughed and Sharon Henry shut the door.