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Darrin was startled when Mitch exploded out their back door yelling.
“Darrin! Darrin! Where the hell are you?”
He leaned against the hoe he had been using and then answered. “I’m here. Calm down.”
He raced toward Darrin, who still wasn’t certain if this was good news or not. He skidded to a stop waving his phone in front of them.
“It was Jim. They found him. In Lawton. They found him.”
Darrin let his excitement build a little, but refused more than that until he knew more. “Who? Who’d they find?”
“Ben’s father. They found him in Lawton.”
“Are they sure?
Jim cocked an eyebrow and glanced at Darrin. “Are they sure about which, whether it was Ben’s dad, or that it was Lawton?”
Darrin took a moment to collect his thoughts before going on. “Sorry. I’m a little worked up about all this. So you have Ben’s dad in jail?”
“He’s cooling his heels in the county jail. I’m sending a few people to pick him up once they let me know he’s ready.”
Mitch walked over and rested his hand on Darrin’s shoulder. He glanced back and Mitch picked up the questions.
“What is he charged with? Do you have enough evidence from Ben’s murder?”
The sheriff gave them a grim smile. “Drunk driving. Just outside Ft. Sill. The MP’s called the local police.”
“Evidence?” Mitch persisted.
Jim lifted an eyebrow and stared at Mitch for a moment before answering. “Not yet. There are still a few things to tie him to the murder–and Danny’s kidnapping.”
Darrin snapped to attention. “Danny? Danny doesn’t have to testify does he?”
“He might. It’s hard to tell at this point. Let’s trust the system for now.”
Anger surged through Darrin. “Trust the system? Trust the fucking system? You must be kidding me!”
“Darrin, calm down. Jim hasn’t exactly spent his days at the diner drinking coffee. They have him now. We want to make sure he doesn’t get out on a technicality.”
He bristled at the idea. “He gets loose and I’ll kill him myself. I’ll hunt the bastard down like a sheep-killing coyote.”
Darrin thought he’d detected a slight smirk from the sheriff, but thought it would be better if he didn’t pursue it. After a few moments of quiet, he turned to the pair.
“It might be a few days, so be patient. I’ll let you know if anything happens.”
Mitch tipped his hat. “Thanks, Jim. We appreciate that you are keeping us updated.”
Darrin was chagrin at how he’d reacted. “Mitch is right. Sorry I lost it. We appreciate your help.”
“Okay. Just remember it might take awhile.”
They nodded as the sheriff walked back to his car and drove off. Once the dust had settled, Darrin turned to Mitch. “You better run. I feel a whole house cleaning coming on.”
“Oh, shit. I’ll be working on the fence in the calves pens.”
Darrin stood outside beating a rug to within an inch of its life. Three days of waiting had become three days of cleaning and his mood had deteriorated. He actually didn’t think Mitch was doing any better as he heard the crackling sound of a welder as he worked on a few long overdue repairs in the horse stalls.
He wiped the sweat from his eyes and checked the western horizon as he had every few minutes for the past several days. Only this time he saw the sheriff’s car barreling down the road. His gut tied itself in knots at what news the sheriff might bring. The seconds seems to crawl past as the vehicle moved closer and closer.
“Calm down. You look like a thirteen-year-old who just got caught in the hay barn with his pants down around his ankles.”
He glared at his husband. “Good God, Mitch! Don’t mess with me. This is all bad enough as it is.”
Mitch smirked at him, completely unrepentant. Before another word could be spoken, the sheriff had parked and was making his way to them. Darrin couldn’t read his expression this time, which was pretty unusual. His typical cheerful demeanor was missing, but there was an air of satisfaction too. Baffled, Darrin waited calmly.
The sheriff stopped a few feet from them, tucked his notebook under one arm and nodded at the two men.
“Afternoon, how are things?”
“Jim, can we cut through the Oklahoma pleasantries and you just tell us what’s going on,” Mitch asked.
Slightly surprised, Darrin glanced over to see an equally stern expression on his husband’s face. He turned back, dreading the sheriff’s news even further than before.
“Well I definitely have news. Ben’s dad escaped from the Comanche county jail.”
Darrin roared forward, his entire being engulf in his fury. “What the hell? Did you have Barney Fife watching him or something? It took a fucking year to find the bastard. How long do you think it’ll take this time? That’s about the dumbest–”
Jim motioned him into silence before his tirade could build. “We found him…mostly.”
“What do you mean you mostly found him? That doesn’t make any sense.”
Mitch grabbed his arm and gave him a squeeze of warning. “Let Jim talk. I have a feeling he has something important he needs to tell us.”
The sheriff nodded and continued. “Like I was saying, he escaped the county jail. They’re still investigating that, biggest mystery in a long time.” He paused for a moment and looked from one to another.
“But we did find him. On the wildlife refuge. Or at least what was left of him.”
“What happened?” Mitch asked.
“Looks like he was attacked by one of the buffalo. The body was pretty tore up. Looks like it took him a while to die too.”
Darrin stood in shock for a moment before blurting out, “Who found him?”
“One of the Dog Soldiers…”
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