Aberly, seeing Buford’s discomfort, put a comforting hand on his shoulder before heading out of the station and over to the Sheriff’s home which he shared with his son. Buford’s mother had died in the same car accident that had claimed Angie Carmichael’s life, leaving Floyd crippled with a limp and both him and Lance having to raise their sons alone. And in Buford’s case, he hadn’t had the heart to abandon his father to move out on his own.
After a courtesy knock, Aberly let himself into the Sheriff’s home, catching the man watching the evening news. The Sheriff spoke after a quick glance to see who had come in, his eyes back on the television. “Well, Montavier and Peter managed to keep this whole affair low key, at least in regards to Land’s End and the boys. The media is just focusing on the serial killer aspect with no mention of children’s involvement in all that. Hopefully, we can keep it that way. Montavier had the boys transported to a private hospital at his expense, and he’s going to get them the best medical and psychological care available.”
Aberly paused, taking the information in, and though he knew Lance was pleased on his own account, Aberly decided that it was probably best for the boys as well. They had been through enough without being drawn into a media circus and suffering the stigma of having been raised by a serial killer.
“So, what can I do for you, Abe?” The Sheriff asked after a moment. Aberly quickly switched gears back to the business at hand. “I brought Craven some dinner… Buford too.” In seeing the sheriff’s frown of disapproval, Aberly switched to a sterner tone. “You know neither of those boys did anything wrong to be punished, let alone beaten.”
The Sheriff’s frown turned to a scowl, and he cut Aberly off. “Craven is on a supervised emancipation program. That means he has to reside at Land’s End.”
Aberly was just as quick to cut the sheriff off, as his own anger was increasing. “One night spent over in the City does not constitute a residence change, Lance. Now knock this rationalization shit off because though it may fly for the majority of people in town, it’s not flying by me. Don’t forget who owns this land this town sits on, so I’m going to have my say here, and you’re going to listen. I fed those boys, and when I leave here I’m going to let Craven go home. I already released him from the cuffs and tie wraps so he could eat and relieve himself. I won’t stand by and watch anyone in this town being abused. And what you did to Craven was nothing short of abuse, and Buford too. I’m sending him home to bed as well. You know damn well nothing is going to happen in this town before morning, and if you’re really concerned it will, I will stand watch. Buford needs some rest. He isn’t going to be any good to you or this town if he’s hurting, hungry, and exhausted. So, I better not hear that you’ve beaten on that boy again. He’s a full-grown man, Lance, and he has a right to hold an opinion contrary to yours.”
Aberly pointed toward the door. “Now if I find out that you’ve beaten on Buford over any of this or Craven. I’m going to high tail it to the City and tell the truth of what really is going on here. I agreed to keep silent on this matter, but I will break that agreement if you continue to hurt those boys. Now you get out of whatever panic this situation has put you in to cause you to behave like you’ve lost your fucking mind, and get your head back on straight and serve and protect like you’re sworn to do. You hear me, Lance Mathers?”
Lance scowled, furious that Buford had told Aberly that he had beaten him, but Aberly’s threat held sway. So, he gave a curt nod. “I hear you, old man, but you keep watch then. I’m shorthanded with Hank having given his resignation.”
Aberly sadly shook his head. “You lost a good man.”
Lance sighed, “I know. I fucked up. Five years ago, and this morning. Is that what you want to hear, old man?” Aberly went over to the sheriff and leaned down over his shoulder from behind. “No. I just want to know that you’re not going to continue fucking up, Lance. I know there’s a good man under there. I know, because I can see it reflected in the son you raised. You’d do well to take a good look at that reflection from time to time, and start treating him with the respect he deserves. Now I’ll keep watch until morning. Let that boy rest and heal up, and he can start night shift tomorrow, while you patrol days, until you can find a replacement for Hank.”