the videotape for the seventeenth time. His belly was simmering. He had
recognized that face instantly the first time he played the security films
from the hospital where Zoe had died.
Sauntering in as if he belonged, Dr. Cox came in the same door all the employees used, paused briefly at the time clock as if searching for his card, then wandered inside. Jarod had no doubt now who had hastened Zoe’s end. And he knew who Cox worked for under the aegis of the Centre.
Only through someone involved in the efforts to catch him could Cox have found out about Onysius, the bent-winged god of retribution, that he left in his room the night he escaped. Cox had left a smaller origami figurine on the morphine pump beside Zoe’s bed for Jarod to find.
Cox had no personal score to settle with him, which pointed to Lyle as the one who had given the order, with Cox to carry it out. It would have been easy, especially with the Centre’s resources behind him. He looked like a doctor in his white lab coat, stethoscope draped around his neck. He was a doctor, after all, but the Hippocratic oath meant nothing to him.
The pathology report lay on the table under his elbow. Her death had been quick and painless, but that gave him no comfort. It was unnecessary, and undeserved. She might still have beaten the cancer, with him at her side. But now he would never know.
Cox and Lyle owed him, and the debt could never be repaid. Still, he would have his many pounds of flesh from them… an ounce or so at a time. He knew plenty about Lyle, but not nearly enough about Cox.
He watched the tape one more time, playing the simulation in his mind as he studied the clean lines of Cox’s face, the creepy, cold eyes, and the smugness of his smile. This would take a long time to bring to completion, but Cox would never be as sure of himself again. Not after Jarod got through with him.
The doctor would be forever looking over his shoulder, uncertain of the footsteps behind him in the dark, uncertain of the sanctity of the place he called home. Not even the Centre could protect him now. Jarod hit the rewind button.
He wanted to smile, but there was no satisfaction in his thoughts.
Jarod reached for the small box on the far side of the table. He hand lettered the address label to Cox via the Centre and pushed it to one side. From around his neck he retrieved the little figurine that had so intrigued him some weeks earlier, and laid it on the table on top of a page of newsprint. His eyes scanned the old, yellowed paper, re-reading the article on the murders in Slade. He had been at the mill where, several decades before, the bodies were found -- and he had saved the life of a mother and daughter there. He had learned about home movies and homecomings, and he had put a family back together again where another had been lost.
The little doll was made of dried corn husks, tied together in strategic places with lengths of yarn. Cox wouldn’t understand its significance unless he traveled to the village personally, which was unlikely. That wasn’t the point of the exercise.
This act had meaning only for Jarod.
The hair stood up on the back of his neck as he wrapped the little doll up in the sheet of newsprint, packed it into the box, sealed it and affixed the label that would take it to Zoe’s murderer.
“Corn man a’ comin,’ “ he murmured aloud.
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