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He looks like he might be. Terry picked up the photograph, pretended to consider it. "Nice young kid, though. I'd hate to see the cops get hold of him."

Terry suspected that psychedelic drugs affected the body chemistry of gay men differently than straights. He could never eat greasy diner food on 'shrooms, and though he'd enjoyed Ecstasy the couple of times he'd done it, he hadn't felt remotely like dancing to disco music all night. Or techno, or rave, or whatever was the current noise of choice. Calvin and David had kept wanting to drive to Raleigh where they imagined they could find' some glamorous after-hours club and do just that.

Because Zach's a freak, Eddy said simply, "and freaks tend to frequent record stores."

We're looking for this boy, she said. "His name is Zachary. He's a good friend of ours, and he's in a lot of trouble."

How 'bout we all relax a little firs', said Dougal, and pulled out a straw pouch and a package of rolling papers. As soon as he opened the pouch, the sweet sticky reek of absolute primo weed filled the store. Terry saw a double handful of tightly packed bright green bud bristling with tiny red hairs. Dougal pinched off a generous amount and started rolling a huge spliff right there on the counter.

Whatever Zach's morals (or lack thereof), Terry genuinely liked him. If there was even a slim chance that feds were heading for Missing Mile to nab him, Terry knew he had to help Zach get away.

R.J., who still preferred to live like an eleven-year-old kid most of the time, had just said no and gone home to bed. Terry tripped with Victoria, Calvin, and David, the redheaded boy Calvin had met at the show. David turned out to be a brilliant twenty-year-old exchange student from London who entertained them all with witty banter until Calvin dragged him off into one of the bedrooms. Terry and Victoria took the other one. There was nothing quite like sex on hallucinogens to strengthen a relationship.

We come in peace, he said, holding out a large slender hand. "We are his brudda an' sista. My name is Dougal. The lady is Edwina. Eddy."

He hit the joint, which tasted even better than it smelled, and held the smoke in for a long time. He didn't think so much of theft, but it was hard to feel sorry for vast bloated corporate entities like Citibank and Southern Bell. They loved to talk about how the cost of such theft was passed on to the consumer, Terry reflected, but when was any cost of big business not passed on to the little guy at the bottom of the ladder?

How 'bout we all relax a little firs', said Dougal, and pulled out a straw pouch and a package of rolling papers. As soon as he opened the pouch, the sweet sticky reek of absolute primo weed filled the store. Terry saw a double handful of tightly packed bright green bud bristling with tiny red hairs. Dougal pinched off a generous amount and started rolling a huge spliff right there on the counter.

He didn't know if it had been a group hallucination or what. He doubted so, because it didn't seem to have anything to do with the murders. Terry had seen a city street around him, a boarded-up slum, wavering like a mirage but definitely there. R.J. had seen a dark deserted bar with shattered glass on the floor and cracked mirrors on the walls so dusty that he could not see his face in them. And Steve would never say what he had seen, except that it had legs like a bug.

Okay, he said. "Truth. Zach's in town."

Terry couldn't argue with that. "Well-look-you understand I want to be sure you're cool. Give me something I can trust."

Because Zach's a freak, Eddy said simply, "and freaks tend to frequent record stores."

They had run out yelling, slapping high-fives but not fooling each other for a second. They had tumbled off the porch and across the weed-choked yard, toward the small stubborn figure of Ghost far away on the other side of the road. None of them had ever gone back. But Terry had dreamed of it, that strange seductive slum. And he would be willing to bet Steve and R.J. had had dreams of their own.

He looks like he might be. Terry picked up the photograph, pretended to consider it. "Nice young kid, though. I'd hate to see the cops get hold of him."

We're looking for this boy, she said. "His name is Zachary. He's a good friend of ours, and he's in a lot of trouble."

Around four-thirty A.M. they'd all met back up in the kitchen, bedraggled and happy, and managed to make a batch of popcorn. Then they put Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory on Terry's VCR, snuggled up on the couch, and thrilled to the sinister tale until dawn, rewinding it again and again at the part where Gene Wilder said "WE are the music makers, and WE are the dreamers of dreams." After that Terry and Victoria crashed while Calvin and David went zooming off to breakfast, still full of crazed fungal energy.

He didn't know if it had been a group hallucination or what. He doubted so, because it didn't seem to have anything to do with the murders. Terry had seen a city street around him, a boarded-up slum, wavering like a mirage but definitely there. R.J. had seen a dark deserted bar with shattered glass on the floor and cracked mirrors on the walls so dusty that he could not see his face in them. And Steve would never say what he had seen, except that it had legs like a bug.

Around four-thirty A.M. they'd all met back up in the kitchen, bedraggled and happy, and managed to make a batch of popcorn. Then they put Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory on Terry's VCR, snuggled up on the couch, and thrilled to the sinister tale until dawn, rewinding it again and again at the part where Gene Wilder said "WE are the music makers, and WE are the dreamers of dreams." After that Terry and Victoria crashed while Calvin and David went zooming off to breakfast, still full of crazed fungal energy.

Eddy's face lit up with a beautiful, delighted smile. She was obviously crazy for Zach-along with half the world, it was beginning to seem. Terry refused to be responsible for breaking the news of Trevor to her. It wasn't his damn business anyway. But he had a hunch that the plane out of the country was going to be carrying an extra passenger, and not the one Eddy probably hoped it would be, either.

Eventually, of course, they had. At first it had just looked like any old abandoned house, all sagging wood and ancient dust and shadow. But as they approached the bloodstained doorway to the hall, the shadows had seemed to shift around them, to change, and for a moment they were no longer in the house at all.

Terry took the hand and shook it. Dougal spoke with a thick Jamaican accent, and his eyes were sharp, kind, stoned. The girl's burned like embers. Terry believed they were Zach's friends, though probably not his actual brudda an' sista. They smelled faintly sweaty, as if they had been driving all night. And the photo was worn, rubbed around the edges. Someone had spent a lot of time looking at it, and Terry was willing to bet that someone was Edwina. Eddy.

Eventually, of course, they had. At first it had just looked like any old abandoned house, all sagging wood and ancient dust and shadow. But as they approached the bloodstained doorway to the hall, the shadows had seemed to shift around them, to change, and for a moment they were no longer in the house at all.

We're not cops We're trying to warn him about- The girl shut her mouth as if she thought she'd already said too much. Her companion approached the counter.

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