Colin surged to his feet and strode toward the front desk just as Ray, the desk sergeant entered. He grabbed Colin’s arm and drew him toward the door. “A friend of yours found Joshua’s car by the Culbreth.” He shoved Colin toward the door where several uniformed officers waited. “Go with the guys!”
Without uttering a sound he moved through the station house door and into the darkness beyond. He felt the cool night air touch his face and as he lurched to a halt his heart jackhammered against his chest. “Oh, sweet Jesus, no!” he whispered, feeling his insides twist with horror. “NO!” As he reached the squad car, he felt a strong hand grab his arm and guide him into the vehicle.
“Just take it easy, Colin. We’ll find him.”
When the squad car approached the street where the Culbreth Theater was located they were nearly blinded by the spinning flash of police and ambulance lights. The area was already surrounded by law enforcement and Colin spotted both campus and city police cars parked at random angles, blocking off the street forcing them to stop where they were.
He bolted from the car and ran to where several police officers were gathered. Some were bending to examine the ground, and the beam from various flashlights darted here and there as others examined every inch of ground, sidewalk, bushes, and street.
“Colin!” a voice called, and he spun to see Lenny striding toward him. “Ray called me,” Lenny said, grabbing Colin in a tight embrace. “We’ll find him, Colin. I promise you. We’ll find him.”
He saw flashing police lights in the parking lot across the street and sprinted across the busy avenue to join them. He spotted Joshua’s car at once, surrounded by several uniformed police and moved toward it. As he approached, one of the officers grabbed his arm. “Colin, don’t touch it! We want to check it for prints or other evidence.”
Colin nodded but gave no response. He turned away and blindly stumbled back across the street to the theater. For a moment he stood, surrounded by the flashing lights, hearing the murmur of somber voices, feeling himself teetering on the edge of collapse. “Josh,” he moaned. “Oh god, this can’t be happening.”
He felt Lenny take his arm and lead him to one side. “Take it easy, buddy. Just let the guys work. They’ll figure it out. We’ll find him, Colin. We’re searching his car now, looking for anything that might help us. We can’t find his cellphone anywhere.”
Colin lowered his head and nodded without fully understanding, then spun as the sound of heartbroken sobbing reached his ears. He saw David kneeling on the ground, embracing someone who was bent over, clutching a cloth garment, rocking back and forth as if in pain. He moved to where David knelt and fell to the ground beside him. The voice was Nate’s.
“I heard him!” Nate choked out, shaking with sobs. “I heard him cry out, but I ignored it. Thought I was imagining things! It’s my fault! He brought me my jacket and it’s my fault! Oh god, oh god, oh god! Josh!” He lifted his head and his tear-streaked face twisted in pain when he saw Colin kneeling beside him. “Oh god, Colin, forgive me!”