Conference At Night
By Jeff Baker
The mid-afternoon light streaming in through the big windows behind them made the white floors and the minimalist furniture look even brighter, but to Stephen it felt like the middle of the night. He wished he was wearing something warmer than a t-shirt. Augie, wearing a flannel shirt, jeans and boots was dressed like he was ready to go into the woods. Stephen shuddered.
Augie was explaining what the three of them already knew; nobody had missed Joey, everybody believed that he’d started his long weekend early. Stephen stared at Rich, in his flannel shirt, matching Augie’s. How could Rich have helped Augie do this? How could he just sit there and drink coffee?
Stephen shut his eyes tight. He had helped the two of them clean up. He’d volunteered the freezer he had in the building’s basement. He’d helped them carry Joey down to the basement in the private elevator. He was in this as deep as either of them were.
Augie’s plan was simple; put Joey in his own sleeping bag (which he kept in his office), put Joey in the car, drive down the back roads that Augie knew so well, weigh the sleeping bag down with some bricks, make sure it was zipped up and dump Joey in the lake.
Weigh the sleeping bag down. Stephen shuddered again.
No one would find Joey. The lake was deep and miles away from any town or farm.
Rich finished his coffee. Stephen noticed Rich’s hands were shaking as he set the cup down. Nonetheless, Rich grinned and nodded at Augie. Stephen wanted to run, but in the last two days he’d learned just how dangerous Augie really was. So he grinned and nodded too.
The freezer key was still in Stephen’s pocket. Somehow, it felt cold.
In the bright sunlight, Stephen felt the stifling darkness closing in around him.