The Abduction

By: Mark Gimenez

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


My sincere thanks to everyone at the Little, Brown Book Group in the UK, as well as everyone at Hachette Livre and Little, Brown in Australia and New Zealand and Penguin Books in South Africa, for making my books best sellers around the world. Also, a special thanks to Joel Tarver at T Squared Design in Houston for my website and email blasts to my readers. And thanks to all the readers who have emailed me about my books. Your thoughts and comments are greatly appreciated. I look forward to hearing from you.

www.markgimenez.com





“At first—I cried. Every night. For a long time. I cried to you—come and get me. Take me home. You didn’t come.”

“I’ve come now.”

- From The Searchers by Alan LeMay





DAY ONE





4:59 A.M.


Ben Brice opened his eyes to a dog needing to pee.

“Don’t worry, Buddy. I’m still alive.”

This man’s best friend slapped a wet tongue across Ben’s face once more just to make sure. Ben wiped the golden retriever’s saliva on the sheet then pushed himself to a sitting position. He groaned. Each beat of his pulse through the veins in his head felt like a ball-peen hammer pounding the inside of his skull. He didn’t remember finishing off the empty whiskey bottle sitting on the night table. But then, he never did.

He rubbed his bare arms against the chill of an April dawn and stood, but he had to grab the door to stay standing. He leaned against the wall until the world stood still, then he rode a hand-hewn pine log into the main room of the small cabin. He let Buddy out the back door and dropped down to the floor.

Lying face down on the coarse wool rug in his long underwear bottoms, he inhaled the Navajo scent that would forever inhabit the native weave. He closed his eyes and considered trying to sleep again, but he knew it would be in vain: a lifetime of reveille at 0500 wouldn’t allow it. Resigned to his fate, he brought his legs together, placed his hands palms down under his chest, inhaled deeply, and exhaled as he pushed. His triceps trembled as his rigid body rose from the rug. One. He dropped down hard and felt as if he might pass out. But he inhaled and exhaled and pushed his body up again. Two. Down to the rug. Pushed up. Three. Down. Up. Four. He reached a rhythm at twenty-five and finished at fifty.

He rolled over onto his back. He locked his hands behind his head, lifted his knees to a ninety-degree angle to his spine, contracted his abdominal muscles until his shoulders lifted off the rug, and twisted his torso to touch his left elbow to his right knee then his right elbow to his left knee. Then down. And up again and twist right then left and down. And up. Right. Left. And down. Fifty times.

He stood, steadied himself, and walked over to the kitchen sink. He stuck his head under the gooseneck faucet and turned the cold water on full; he braced himself as the well water traveled four hundred feet from inside the earth’s gut and sputtered then gushed out of the pipe. His body shivered; it felt as if he had plunged his head into a bucket of ice water. He dried off with a dishtowel then opened the refrigerator and drank orange juice out of the carton. He closed the door and paused to look at her—the blonde hair, the blue eyes, the bright smile. The refrigerator door was covered with photos of her, alone and with her family, the only blonde in the bunch.

Ben walked out the back door of the cabin and without looking dropped the empty whiskey bottle into the recycling bin filled with empty whiskey bottles. His breath fogged in the cold air. He was now wearing jogging shoes, sweats, and a baseball cap pulled down low to shield his blue eyes from the bright morning sun. The endless sky was empty except for a vulture circling breakfast in the distance. He went over to the garden, picked a few weeds, and watered the neat rows with the sprinkler bucket. Buddy was barking, ready to get it on.

“Okay, boy, let’s go.”

They ran into the rugged terrain surrounding the cabin, Buddy leading the way, Ben lagging behind; his body ached from sixty years of life and thirty years of Jim Beam. He soon lost sight of Buddy in the sagebrush. But Ben knew he’d find his four-legged friend at the rock outcropping two miles out; and when Ben arrived, Buddy was there, sitting and waiting patiently for him to run up, bend over, and throw up, a morning ritual.

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