An Ohio teenager is facing life in prison for his alleged role in a series of killings stemming from a bogus Craigslist ad.” – Bellingham Herald

The window was open and he drove his old car down a dusty road. The road sat on top of a hill which overlooked a long yellow field on the left. To the right, the hill sloped down to a small stream that ran around the perimeter of the forest.

He drove slow and squinted his eyes to see something through the dust.

He thought about the email he had gotten the night before. “Left at the diner then right at the fork.  A long dirt road, maybe about a mile and a half. There will be a sign…”

“I must have passed it,” he thought.

He was about to turn around when he saw a boy standing in the road waving his arms. He pulled up beside him and rolled down his window.

“You Bradley?”

The boy stuck out his hand and they shook through the car window. He was wearing overalls and smoking a cigarette. The man couldn’t tell if the boy was 14 or 25. He had a baby face, massive shoulders and a handshake that was cold and lifeless.

“I thought you might have some trouble finding it,” the boy said. “Might as well park it here. Got to do the rest by foot.”

The man turned off the engine and stepped out of the car. He brushed the dust off from his shirt and followed the boy as he walked down the hill.

“This your father’s farm?” the man asked. “I’ve never done too much farm work. But you’re just looking for bodies, right? Well that I can do. I can provide as much man power as you need.”

He waited for the boy to say something.

There was a rickety wood bridge at the bottom of the hill and they made their way over the water and into the forest.

“I’ve always been good at that. Grunt work that is. I know it isn’t something to brag about. But hey, a job’s a job. And well, I’m thankful for the opportunity. It’s been a long time since I worked.”

The boy moved quickly through the forest. It was clear that he knew the path and the man had trouble keeping up.

“Where is it?”

The boy never looked back. The trees were moving closer together and the man struggled to keep the boy in his sights.

“‘Scuse me, son,” he said. “Would you mind, waiting, just, one sec.”

The man tripped and when he looked up the boy was gone. He panicked and rose to his feet. He sprinted, as much as one could, through the trees, and in another 25 feet he emerged into a large clearing.

The boy was standing in the middle of a circle of trees.

“I thought I lost you,” he said.

He stepped forward. Then fell to his knees.

A gun had fired and the man’s hands grasped at the gaping whole in his stomach. Another shot rang out and this time it hit the man between his shoulder blades. He fell face forward, and hit the ground just a few yards from the boy’s feet.

It was quiet then. The boy stood alone in the circle. He knelt down above the body, closed his eyes, and crossed himself. He heard the sound of twigs snapping but he didn’t look up until a shadow moved across the body.

When he opened his eyes he saw a tall man holding a rifle standing next to the body.

“Piece of cake,” he said.

The boy turned the body over and grabbed the car keys out of the dead man’s pockets.

“I’ll move the car,” he said.

“Good, good,” the man said. “They never expect it. Do they. Not when they’re desperate. They’ll do anything. It’s sick. With all the evil in the world, how can you go for one second without looking over your shoulder?”

The boy was walking back into the woods but he could still hear the old man talking to himself.

“Makes you almost feel bad. For the weak. But then you remember why they’re weak. And why you’re holding the gun. I’ll be the first to tell you that it isn’t fair. But that’s the world we live in.”

The old man tried to see the boy through the woods but he was too far away now.

He reached into the dead man’s pocket and pulled out his wallet.

“Timothy Kern,” the man said. “It’s nice to meet you.”

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