“So, what on earth is going on in there, Bufe?” Judge Mathers asked of his nephew. “Where’s Lance? Are the boys okay? Where have they been? It’s been hours. How long do you expect us to stay inside our homes wondering what the hell’s going on?” Buford put his hands up to calm the crowd which had gathered outside on the Green. “Calm down and I’ll fill you in on the details. Is Floyd out here?” Buford glanced around at the faces but didn’t see him.
Abigail frowned in very obvious disapproval at the mere mention of Floyd’s name; her brother an embarrassment to the family as far as she was concerned. “No. We weren’t about to wake that old fool. Not until we knew what was going on. It’s bad enough being left in the dark without him out here ranting and roaring and trying to bust his way inside the clinic.”
Buford let loose an audible sigh of relief as he too didn’t want to deal with Floyd just yet. “Okay, well as you all know Mike, Luke and Wade walked out of the woods this morning. They were in dire condition–half-starved and injured. Doc has them sedated and he’s cleaned them up and has tended to their injuries as best he could for the time being. Luke and Wade had a bit to eat, but Mike was put under before he had a chance, but he’s got them all on IV drips for nourishment while they sleep. So, for the moment, no one is being allowed in the clinic… For any reason.” Buford glanced around at the group with a serious, determined expression to make his point very clear.
“Those boys have been through hell and back and they need rest, not a bunch of people asking them questions and bothering them. Not that you could right now anyway because they’re out cold solid, and are staying that way until morning. As for what happened to them; from what we have gathered so far is that Lloyd kidnapped them. When that woman came saying she was from social services and threatening to report Floyd, Floyd told the boys to go hide in that cave they used to play in and Lloyd apparently disguising himself as his brother lured them away on an ATV. Where exactly, I don’t know, but the Sheriff and Aberly are backtracking the boys’ scent with some dogs on a pair of ATVs’ right now to find out.”
Buford paused a moment. “Lloyd hurt those boys. He abused and tortured and… raped them. Starved them from what it appears, as they aren’t barely bigger than when they were taken, and that was five years ago. I swear I don’t know how they managed to make it back to town. Mike said it took them three days walking, and with the condition they were in, it’s a miracle they made it.”
The Judge cut in, “Is your father walking into danger out there?” Buford shook his head. “I don’t think so. Mike… Lloyd’s dead according to the boys.” Buford paused a moment again but decided to share the truth. “The story is that Luke tried to kill Lloyd in his sleep but was caught at it. Lloyd broke his wrist and then tied him to a table and was going to cut him to pieces. Doc’s not even sure he can save the leg he cut into. Well, apparently, it was too much and Mike finally struck back and stabbed Lloyd to death. He came into town with the bloody knife in hand, but the Sheriff took custody of it. So, it’s not likely Lloyd’s still alive. Luke said he stabbed him many times and he wasn’t moving when they ran off, but they didn’t stick around to find out for sure, and I can’t exactly blame them for that. So, we’ll just have to wait to get the rest of the story when my dad and Aberly get back. And that’s the long and short of it for now. I don’t have anything else to tell, other than for you all to go back to your normal business. My dad and Aberly are both armed and they got three bloodhounds with them. So, I don’t see them walking into any danger. Lloyd, even if he were alive, would be gravely injured and they know what they’re heading into. They’re not traveling blind.”