"Why don't we just have a nice little chat?" He steered me towards a waiting car that had not been there a second ago.
Wilkes knows where I am, I thought. All I had to do was get to my phone -
"But my parents - " I tried.
"Not to worry," said Lockley, opening the car door. "This won't take long."
"So how do you like our little town?"
It was like a movie interrogation, and a bad one. The drive back to the mayor's mansion was the longest fifteen minutes of my life. Any thoughts of a whispered conversation with Wilkes were dashed when Lockely sat with me in the back seat. He didn't say a word, just looked at me with that preacher's smile. I couldn't even leave an open line for Wilkes to listen in on.
"Oh, I love it here," I replied. The same old, the same old. In the car, any attempt by me to ask where we were going, and what the mayor wanted to see me about at this late hour, was deferred with a casual wave of the hand.
He knows, I thought. I don't know how much he knows, and how he knows, but he knows.
"Good, good," he beamed.
Time to dance. "Mayor Lockley, can I ask why you brought me here? My parents will be -"
"Do you want to know what I thought of you when I first saw you?"
Still with the charade, evidently. But I had to do something. "Mayor Lockely, I - "
"Now THERE'S a woman, I thought to myself. There's a woman who's bright, and courageous, and ambitious. There's a woman who knows her world."
He smiled that vapid smile.
"Oh, I hate being wrong, Ms. B. Oh, I do so hate being wrong."
"I'm afraid I don't understand."
"Ah, I think you do, I think you do." His beaming was starting to get on my nerves. Was he doing it intentionally? Was he waiting for me to crack?
He continued: "I think you do understand what I mean when I say that you knew your world. And then you tried to bring that world here."
I began to think that I might not make it to Monday.
"I thought you were smart enough to stay in your world, and leave us ours. But oh no, Ms. B. You just brought your world right in. Made yourself all comfortable, didn't you?"
I ran through replies in my head, casting aside ones which were either useless, or ones which would push the wrong button.
The explosion made me jump. Wilkes, for the love of God, where are you?
"You think we didn't know about your friends?", Lockley asked. The friendly preacher was gone. This was Reverend Fire & Brimstone. "You think we didn't smell you the second you walked in here? Drank our water, ate our food, TAUGHT OUR CHILDREN?" Beads of sweat had broken out above his dinnerplate eyes. And his eyes were black. Not dark brown, but the pure, oily, black of night.
And then it clicked in my head. The children.
"The children," I said.
I could see he knew that I knew. The smile returned, but the eyes did not lose their fire. Or their darkness.
"Yes, Ms. B. The children."
I drew my breath to speak. And then my phone rang.