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And Tyler Too

by O.W. Hammond

About the Author: O.W. Hammond has published over a dozen novels and story collections. One honored by the American Academy of Arts and Letters and another long-listed for the National Book Award. He is the founding editor of Hitchcock Annual.


I thought about the ransom note all day before I phoned Tate. If I wanted to see my son again, I needed to pay ten thousand. I would have gladly paid that and more, but the funeral flowers had long since faded and the grass on my son’s grave didn’t need watering anymore.

Tate rode the private elevator to the penthouse and tapped so gently on the door that Thornton, asleep on the couch, didn’t bark. I was surprised I heard the knock at all. Since I turned sixty, my hearing has diminished year by year. I’m sixty-three now. Tyler, my son, was forty.

When Tyler and detective Reeves Cunningham Tate were in school together, their classmates called him R. C., but professionally he uses his surname only, something he started doing after he dropped out of law school. He read the note while I poured him a whiskey.

Thornton shook himself and leaned against Tate’s knee, staring up as if expecting a treat or an explanation why there wasn’t one. “Forgot,” Tate said and stroked Thornton’s floppy ear.

When Tate found Tyler’s body, his pockets were empty. No wallet, no driver’s license. I pointed to the note. “What now?”

“Someone could be passing himself off as Tyler, using his personal identification. Let’s play along. Might help us find out what happened to him.”

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