The University of Tulane - New Orleans

Paterson House. Jaiden had moved in last year; Owen remembered barely lifting a finger as Jaiden's friends from band did all the heavy lifting. Owen was assigned a single box.

"Don't break this one," his son chided.

"Oh yeah, what's in here?"

"It's very important," Jaiden said with a pat on his father's arm before disappearing upstairs. The upperclassmen resided on the top floor.

Owen folded one side open to see pillows and blankets. A single stuffed animal, Motley, was cradled within--a terrifying, but endearing gift from the boy's grandmother when he was a child.

He sighed, "Well that's great. I can only handle blankets and pillows."

The smile vanished from his face as the building loomed into view.

Owen watched as a young woman approached the hall, her key card releasing a chirp from the door.

"Hold that please," his hand was already in the door. The student brushed passed him, visibly perturbed.

Taking the stairs two at a time, Owen was at the door to Jaiden's single room. On the outside there were pictures of him and his friends, grinning madly at the lens. A concert here, a trip to the river there. His finger brushed one as his brows furrowed. The key stuck at first, but a gentle push gained him entrance.

He stood in the center of Jaiden's room. It looked like a whirlwind had ripped through. Unmade bed, drawers askew, chair on its side, but, honestly, Owen couldn't tell if this was unusual or the status quo for his son. The last few months had seen him drifting from Jaiden, preoccupied with wandering the streets of New Orleans looking for his wife, Ebele. The first time he found her he breathed a sigh of relief: she could come home and everything would be fine. But something wasn't right. She spoke with apathy, uncaring when he entreated on behalf of their son for her to come home.

"I have no home. Leave me be."

Then she was gone again. And it played out like that at least half a dozen times more.

Absently, Owen lifted the chair to set it on its legs. Beneath it, in a pile, was what looked like a library slip for a book entitled "Voodoo: A Mambo's Oral History and Practical Guide," and "Wanga, Gris-Gris, and the Loa" among others. Obviously his son had put more stock in the cause for his mother's abandon than he did. Owen rose from the floor, stuffing the slips of paper into the pocket of his worn leather jacket.

He glanced at his watch. The Tulane library was still open.

Striding out of Paterson Hall, Owen noticed a security guard talking with the young lady he'd met on his way in. His hand instinctively felt for the shape of the Colt 1911 in his jacket as he ducked down the street.

In his car, the Volvo sputtered to life, the radio buzzing into tune.

"Hey Joe, where you goin' with that gun in your hand?
Hey Joe, I said where you goin' with that gun in your hand?
I'm going out to shoot my old lady,
You know I caught her messing around with another man.
Yeah, I'm goin' down to shoot my old lady,
You know I caught her messing around with another man.
Huh, and that ain't too cool."

Owen's palm beat the dashboard until the music relented, content with silence. After a few minutes the tall, brooding man stood over the circulation desk waving the paper with his son's name.

"Look, my name is Owen Walker--Jaiden Walker is my son. I just need to see these books. He's missing and I need them to find out where he is."

The librarian, a petite Spanic woman, was unphased, arms crossed against her chest. Her requests for him to lower his voice had been flatly ignored and Owen's temper was beginning to flare.

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