“Ever think that’s why your father did it? I know of someone named Lawyer and he makes tackles and interceptions, and he’s pretty tough at that.”

“Not until now, sir. Is there any way I can help you? I can make a report or hold it up. The only one who’d get upset about any delay would be the captain, and he takes enough time off so it won’t matter.”

“Just let me be around here. Whatever it is, it’s very strong. I have to check it out.”
“Where? In a particular store? Nearby?”

“I don’t know. If I knew I’d be there now. I’d have you by the collar pulling you with me. I just don’t know.”

“Well, sir, I’ll sit on it for awhile. My sister was crying

about Shag the other day, saying how sad it was. She has two of her own. Father named her Cameron. Never hurt her. She’s a fighter too. But gets sad.” He walked to his patrol car. “I’ll be around. Good hunting, sir.” The car slipped out of the mall like a small animal passing through the brush.

***

A few hours after the patrol car had departed the parking lot, his neck stiff, an old injury talking through his knee, he woke with a start. Now it was stronger, that call of Shag, that disruption on the air. He shook his head, looked for the patrol car, walked toward the mall. It came again, stronger, not a voice, not words, not his name, but a humming, a vibration, near electrical. Twice he went past one store, only to come back and feel the announcement again.

This was it. Again he looked for Sawyer Billings or his car and saw neither.

He entered the store, an open building that seemed to spread as wide as three football fields. He could smell popcorn, flowers, and the burnt skin of chicken frying. Should he stay by the door? Was it the only way out of the store? Would he be here for hours? No, he would be active. He would pursue the feeling, the sensation, that vibrating hum still coming at him.

Scanning the store for the silhouette of someone carrying a child, he picked an aisle and started down it. Back over his shoulder he looked, afraid he might miss something, and looked down side aisles. A hum of voices came to him, a caustic static that intruded on the vibrating hum. A wife arguing with her husband.

A father calling for his son to hurry. A brother teasing a younger sister. Then, from another aisle, the next one over, beyond the display of electric cords and lamps and shades and rows of batteries and bulbs in blue and white boxes, he felt his grandson. He felt Shag.

Back he went to the main aisle, crossed over, looked down the aisle. The silhouette was exclusive; a woman holding a child. A man near her was looking at a display of security alarms, a big man, wide across the shoulders, in worn dungarees and work boots. The woman was in her late thirties, dark hair, red lips. She hummed to the infant in her arms.

The eyes of Brittan Courvalais met the eyes of his grandson Shag. The boy’s head came up off the woman’s shoulder.
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