Steven

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Bradley stared at the tv in disbelief. It was always on. Marie didn’t work and spent nearly all of her time watching Headline News. Nancy Grace was her favorite.

He’d heard the name of his small town roll shrilly off of Grace’s southern tongue. His blood had turned to ice.

God, no. Please no. Not another one. Not again.

“Another girl missing? After all this time?” Bradley whispered as he struggled to draw air into his lungs.

“This little ten year old girl was stolen out of her home on the evening of the 12th as she slept in her pink, princess bed. Beautiful, slight, she stands about 4 feet, 9 inches. Can we get a picture up, Jonathan?”

Bradley’s heart dropped as the image of innocence filled the screen. A little girl leading a horse around a paddock. Blonde haired. Blue eyed. Just like he’d liked them.

“Is it Steven? Marie, tell me it’s not Steven. Tell me it’s not him! How could it have been 25 years already? Please, God, no, not again.”

Bradley’s wife sat weeping on the couch. She didn’t need to answer him. He knew she believed it was his son.

Bradley waited a few days to call the prison. He hoped the girl would turn up, safe and sound, but the search for her had only widened. By the 10th day he knew he needed to tell someone to look at Steven.

When he called, he asked to speak with the District Attorney who had prosecuted his son so long ago.

“I’m sorry Mr. Schow, I would have thought you’d been contacted. Steven was given a new trial six years ago due to ineffective council. He was acquitted.”

Bradley hung up and finally accepted the truth. He knew his son had taken the missing girl and he knew if he didn’t say something soon, others would follow.

That night he broke the news to his wife. They enjoyed one last quiet night together before their lives descended into Hell. Bradley dreaded the circus that he was to endure once again. His first wife had left him during Steven’s trial out of shame. He wondered if Marie would do the same.

Bradley called the city police department the next morning. They arrived at his house later that afternoon. Bradley didn’t like it when they separated him from his wife and took him to the station for questioning. He spent hours with them, repeating himself over and over.

Around eight o’clock Bradley broke down and screamed for Marie into the dark hours of the night. She sat 2 floors below him in the morgue where a medical examiner tried his hardest to feel nothing as he autopsied the decaying body of the ten year old girl.

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