Deeply concerned about Claire, Craig calls Jose. He, Gabe and Luis arrive along with most of the boys from the group, as well as the men of the church. Two boys tell them that Claire had approached them, asking for drugs to plant on Maddie. They make it clear that they didn’t do it.
“Did you say anything else? Tell her where to go?” Jose asked.
“No, sir. We didn’t even tell her where not to go, if you get my meaning.”
“Understood. Okay, we go in pairs and we start beating on doors. I don’t wanna call the police. Some of these people are our friends. We talk to friends and family first,” Jose advised. “Nobody goes alone, we clear?”
“Yes, Reverend Joe,” they chorused.
“I want to go,” Craig insisted.
“I dunno, man. You’re not a familiar face. These people are violent and clannish. They gonna think you’re a cop being all white,” Jose replied. “You don’t speak Spanish.”
“I do,” Maddie said. “Could I go? I’m not threatening to anyone.” She smiled, looking like a little girl.
“Which is all the more reason why you shouldn’t go,” Gabe stated flatly. “I don’t think it’s a good idea, Dad.”
“I agree. I’m sorry, folks. This is our home, our people.” He shook his head. “We’ll find her.”
Craig reluctantly agreed. Clayton cleared his throat, stepping forward. “Could I go? I’m fluent in Spanish and I kinda look the part.” He smiled, dark brown eyes dancing in his tanned face. “My mom is from Peru. These aren’t my people, exactly, but—I don’t even like Claire, but there should be a familiar face when you find her.”
Jose and Gabe exchanged a look and nodded. “He can come,” Jose said. “You got balls, kid.”
“More than brains,” Clayton said with a chuckle.
The men divided into teams. Clayton went with Gabe and Luis. The others watched them drive off into the town, their tail lights fading in the dark. Unable to sleep, they gathered in the kitchen. Leslie made a pot of coffee and hauled another cake out of the refrigerator.
“It was going to be for lunch tomorrow, but I think we need it now,” he stated. “I can always make another.”
Those who drank coffee, imbibed. Those who didn’t enjoyed the icy cold milk from the dispenser—and tried not to think.
Claire was in a state. Angry and peevish, she decided to go looking for drugs to plant on Maddie. She had the notion that if she could defame her character enough, everyone would believe that Claire was the innocent party and let her stay. It was important to stay and be center of attention. She was always the center of attention. All the boys always wanted her, flirted with her, did nice things for her.
Maddie suddenly sprouts a chest and no one has a thing to do with me. Not anymore!
When it became apparent that no one was going to check on her, she found a way out of the building. It was easy. The place was huge and rambling. She found an exit and slipped out.
© 2015 Dellani Oakes