"Just how are we supposed to find his body? It has been missing for almost forty years, hasn't it? I mean, it's not just gonna sit up and tell us where it is, will it?" asked Kyle, sarcasm creeping into his voice.
"Testy, aren't you? Maybe you need some time to process a few things. Maybe I need time to plan that next move, huh? So, whaddya say Mr. Wizard, you want to back off?" Julius asked, voice growing louder as he spoke.
"Man, fuck this shit!" Kyle exclaimed. "This is bullshit anyway. Maybe I believe this shit first thing in the morning, or maybe it sounds almost like you could believe it, but in the light of day you see what it really is-bullshit!" Kyle stated vehemently, and stalked out the front door.
"Well, some friend you got there, Justin. Hope you had a spare buddy to replace him with," Julius drawled.
"Man, you have to admit it is hard to believe. And so what if he doesn't understand it all? He doesn't know the whole story anyway. And then you get pissed when he gets sarcastic? C'mon, Julius, what is up with you?" I asked.
Julius sat motionless for a few moments, and then shuddered. He stood slowly, painfully, and made his way towards his barren kitchen. Over his shoulder he called to me.
"You best get him back, we are gonna need him, understanding or not." And with that he ambled into the kitchen.
I left the house more than a little confused. This was all wrong; I really thought this was about to play out the right way. Man, it went wrong since this morning. Seriously wrong. And what the hell was eating Kyle, anyway? He never swears, never. This was getting too weird. The thought struck me funny, and a severe case of the giggles began to set in. Weird? Gee, what was weird? In the last month I had been shifted cross country, been outed by someone I was interested in, obviously he enjoyed teasing me about that by the clothes he chose to wear, and lets not forget the spirit in my house! I got Casper in my walls! And some potential lunatic that wants to kill himself in order to join his long lost love! Boy, I passed weird a long time ago. I sat down on the sidewalk with a thump and began huge bellows of laughter that just wouldn't seem to stop; it was just so damn funny! My life was so screwed up!
"Hey man, have you seen Kyle?" came a voice suddenly stifling my giggles. I think now that I stopped laughing for two reasons. Firstly because I looked like a loon sitting on the sidewalk laughing at nothing, with no one near me. The second was because I recognized the voice. I looked up. Oops.
I tried to stand, really I did. Running was the next thing on my mind, but the standing thing didn't happen so running was just a sweet dream. I believe the term used for the punch I took is 'haymaker', a country term to be sure, meant for people who work in the fields, have ungodly amounts of muscle mass, and then wrap that package into a punch. Of course it was the fellow I had helped Kyle get away from. And, oh my, didn't he look even taller now?
The first shot landed squarely on my mouth and the issuance of blood was immediate. The second shot was the real killer, though. I swear it landed on the bridge of my nose with surgical precision, and blood fairly burst from my nostrils. I tried to roll away, dazed as I was by the suddenness and the ferocity of the attack, but I was too slow. All I managed was a ball, and all I got for my efforts was a Nike to the ribs. 'That's goin' to hurt' I thought dimly as my mind tried to retreat from reality. It was stopped in its traitorous tracks by the wrenching of my arm behind my back, and the voice at my ear.
"Tell him it's too bad I didn't find him first, but he's next. Tell him for me, won't you?" he panted.
Good, at least he was out of breath. So was I, and the world went black.
I don't think I was out very long, momentarily would be most likely. I stood slowly and began moving home. The few people I saw on the way home showed no trace of being interested in what had happened to me, which was ok since I didn't feel like discussing it. I entered through the front door and went directly to the bathroom upstairs. I could dimly hear my father calling to me from the kitchen, and I yelled something about having to use the bathroom. Once I was safely ensconced, I went to the mirror to survey the damage. Well, it could have been worse, like Hiroshima. But it could have been a lot better too. The good news was that my nose wasn't broken, although it was tender. My lip was split and I was gonna have some shading around my eyes. Oh, and I was gonna get sore as the muscles in my back tightened, but other than that I was ok. I gingerly washed my face, and headed down to meet my dad.
"I was wondering if...what the hell happened to you?" he exclaimed.
"Got into a fight," I replied tonelessly.
"With who? Never mind, are you ok?" He ran a hand along my swelling nose and lip.
"Yeah, I'll live. An ice pack would help the swelling though." I tried to smile a bit, but not too much.
"Yeah, jeez. Who did this?" he asked as he prepared the makeshift ice pack.
"That kid that I helped Kyle out with a few days ago." I dimly thought I should call and warn him that gorilla boy was looking for him, but I pushed it away. Just didn't feel like dealing with it right now.
"Maybe we should call the police," he said.
"No, dad, it's not that big a deal," I pleaded. "If that happens before I get into school it'll just make things harder for me. Please, just let it go."
"Well," he considered, "No stitches, so ok this time. For you. But if it happens again...." He left the statement unfinished.
We ate dinner and I headed to my room, intending to lie down and sleep. Once again sleep proved to be too elusive for me and my mind turned relentlessly to the days events. What was going on with Kyle? And why was Julius short tempered? Maybe people who planned to off themselves got pissed towards the end? Who knew?
Anyway, answers were not forthcoming from my own mind, but I did have an idea. Maybe I could find Jake myself. After all, he does like me right? So maybe he will lead me there? I sat up and glanced around the room expecting him to appear, I guess. No such luck. I got up and put on some sweatpants and sat in the window. I looked out on the park and considered. What was Julius planning? I thought he was planning to kill himself, but why would he need Jakes body then? And Kyle was right, just how were we supposed to find it? Corpses don't have 'little black boxes' to tell where they are hidden or detail their last moments like airplanes.
And then a thought occurred to me. What if Julius was wrong? Or lying? What if Jake hadn't died here, but was living somewhere else even now? But then who was the spirit in the house if it wasn't Jake?
The muscles in my back slowly began to relax as the knots worked out, the gentle kneading undoing the damage from the beating I took. I rolled my neck and it cracked audibly, releasing tension and relieving some discomfort. If I could just get in touch with the spirit again maybe I could stay intelligent long enough to ask it a few questions.
Warmth radiated through my back and I twisted side-to-side listening to my back adjusting. I suddenly stiffened as I realized that my back was undergoing a massage. I turned slowly to see...nothing.
This was frustrating to say the least. The heat from my back had faded, and even though it felt worlds better, I need to talk to it.
"Jake? If that is your name, I need to talk to you. Please, it's important," I whispered. At first there was no response, then the world began to gain new and wondrous hues. Colors no rainbow had ever imagined. The sight was slightly sickening, but the figure that issued from it was anything but. He was clad in jeans, sneakers that looked suspiciously like Converse All Stars, you know the canvas ones. A NY Mets jersey fit loosely over a white tee shirt, the jersey unbuttoned and the tee untucked, spilling over the waist of the jeans. Perched on his head was a NY Mets baseball cap, and a crooked grin.
The lights began to fade, but he didn't go with it. He seemed substantial, but I had the feeling that he was weightless, or damn close to it.
"Jake?" I asked.
He didn't reply, just grinned. He walked over to me slowly, as if I were some wild animal that he musn't spook. Slowly he lifted his left hand and placed it on the middle of my chest. The touch was everything and nothing all in one. Physically there was no hand, but spiritually my skin was in another dimension. And then his hand moved forward and into my chest. In case I failed to mention that my heart was nothing more than a mindlessly fast drumbeat galloping in my chest, let me state it now. As his hand settled in my chest warmth spread, that familiar warmth that comes with seeing someone you care for deeply, and the weightlessness that goes hand in hand with that warmth. My heart rate slowed and seemed normal to me again. His hand moved to my neck, and I felt the muscles easing at the touch, and finally his hand was in my face, passing over my bruised face that suddenly felt better, not so sore. Then his hand rested on my forehead. It must have been quite a sight, me with this other fellow in front of me and his left hand buried wrist deep in my head.
Understanding crept over my face as Jake's melodious voice filled my head, indeed my being as I heard his tale. His voice rippled through me much as a stone disturbing a pond's surface, and I noticed that my vision seemed to ripple with his voice. The room changed, subtly at first, and then more obvious to reveal a room that existed out of time, my room, as it had been so long ago, and then Jake's story began.Previous Chapter Next Chapter