Skeeter pulled his car into the parking lot of Sid’s Pizzeria, he was the last to arrive by the looks of things, but his spot up front was left empty. The wipers of his early 90’s Ford Taurus were working overtime as the rain came down in sheets, yet he managed to pull into the parking space without hitting the curb.
Inside the pizzeria were the sounds of a little league team that had not only just won another game, but also the additional buzz that went along with being part of something special. As Skeeter made his way through the clumps of children and congratulating adults, he could hear the only topic of conversation was his son’s perfect game, a needed change from the recent regular topic of late, which Skeeter knew would pick up soon enough. The extra curricular driving allowed the detective to clear his head and now he could play the role of proud father.
Skeeter saw his wife sitting off in a corner with a group of other mothers. By the way she was smiling, he could tell that the role of proud mother was as equally rewarding. As he made his way over, he could imaging the things his wife was saying: “Shawn pitched a perfect game because he’s such a healthy young man. Of course I have to make him eat all his vegetables.” “He’s so disciplined because I make him clean his room and do his share of household chores.” Skeeter chuckled to himself. His wife might be saying such things, but only he could say, “my son is so strong because he takes after his old man. It’s a genetic trait passed from father to son, you know.”
“Hey, Skeet,” Angie greeted as her husband sat down. “We were just talking about you. So where’s the boy of the hour.”
Skeeter shrugged. “I don’t know. I haven’t seen him since I came in.”
Angie cocked her head and looked at her husband peculiarly. “Skeeter,” she said in a tone she often used to correct the young children at her daycare center. “You are the one who brought Shawn here with you, aren’t you?” This wouldn’t have been the first time her husband tried to play this particular joke on her. But, in light of recent and current events, it would’ve been in extremely bad taste for him to be playing the trick on her now.
“Of course not,” Skeeter answered defensively. “I was the first one out. I figured since you’re the one who brought him to the game that you’d bring him here.”
Angie narrowed her eyes. “Now isn’t the time to be placing blame,” she said in a stern but low tone. “Poor Shawn is probably still at the field waiting in the dugout or something; expecting one of us to realize that he isn’t here.”
Skeeter huffed. “Okay, I’ll go get him,” he said as if it was a duty he didn’t want to do. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to retrieve his son or spend time with the boy, Skeeter just didn’t like that the rain hadn’t let up and he didn’t enjoy the prospect of driving in weather like this again so soon.
“I’ll go with you,” Angie offered. “Boy, if you thought he was mad when he was on the pitching hill, you just wait until he sees us after leaving him in the rain for half an hour. I’ll tell you, he’s not going to be a happy camper.”
Skeeter didn’t answer as he headed for the door with his wife closely behind. As soon as she couldn’t see, he rolled his eyes and mimicked her chastising under his breath. It wasn’t either of their fault for the mix up and at the same time it was both their fault for leaving their son behind in a storm. For the eleventh year running, Skeeter felt he had disqualified himself for father of the year.
As soon as the door closed behind them, Angie cuffed her husband lightly on the back of the head. “Don’t roll your eyes at me either,” she said. “You know it’s a pet peeve of mine and I always know,” she added jokingly, “always.”
Skeeter momentarily relaxed as he opened the car door for his wife. Shawn was going to be upset and rightfully so, but he’ll get over it and sometime in the future they’ll look back at this day and have a good laugh about the whole fine mess.
Rain often makes short trips take longer, but with the steady downpour, it took Skeeter what seemed like forever to find his way back to the little league baseball field. With only about five feet of useful visibility, the car crept along until finally it came to rest as near the entrance to the field as Skeeter dared to place it. He honked the horn in two long, loud blast.
We should’ve taken the minivan,” Angie started conversationally as she looked around the small confines of her husband’s car, looking for things not there.
“Why’s that?” Skeeter asked and honked the horn again. “Afraid he’s going to ruin my upholstery?”
“No. But he’s going to be drenched. At least in the minivan I’m prepared. I’ve got towels and blankets and I even have a change of clothes for emergencies.”
“I’m prepared too,” Skeeter answered as he gazed through the rain at phantom shapes that turned out to be everything but his son. “I got riot gear in the trunk, fingerprint dust in the glove box and I even have a body bag stashed around just in case of emergency. If Shawn’s that cold, we’ll put him in there.”
“Oh,” Angie scrunched up her face and turned red. “You think you’re so smart,” she said, feigning anger. “I don’t think he hears the horn.”
“Well,” Skeeter said as he reached under the dash and pulled out a handheld microphone. “There’s always this,” he displayed the gadget to his wife and then hit the ‘talk’ button. “Shawn Sweet,” he said as his voice was amplified by a speaker the was concealed behind the front bumper. “This is your father speaking, come out with your hands up and get into a dry car.
Angie looked at her husband and shook her head. “You’re such a techno-dork.”
Skeeter looked at her questioningly “Techno-dork?”
“It’s a word that the kids in daycare use for people who always have to have little electronic toys that they think are cool. Get out and go get him. He probably can’t hear anything over this rain hitting that metal roof of the dugout.”
“Okay, okay,” Skeeter caved in. He unfastened his seatbelt, mentally counted to three and then swung the door open. The way he positioned the car meant that he would have to run around it just to make it to the entrance gate. A man with less chivalry would’ve made the woman get out just because she was closer. As he sprinted through the deluge, he cursed himself for having such good manners. In no time flat he was under the coverage of a completely empty dugout.’
“Shawn,” Skeeter yelled out to the field for no other reason than that’s what his instincts told him to do. There was, of course, no reply.
Skeeter schlepped into the rain again and made his way to the outfield fence that eventually led to his son’s short cut route to the pizzeria. He came to the drainage ditch and peered at the torrent of water that hastily made it’s way to the town’s mostly dried up creek. It was hardly likely that Shawn would’ve taken this route, but Skeeter looked for evidence that his son might’ve come that way.
Even if Shawn did leave tell-tale signs of walking along the drainage ditch, the rain would’ve washed it away almost as quickly as it was made. Skeeter realized he was participating in an exercise of futility and decided to make a mad dash back to the car.
“No luck, huh,” Angie said to her drenched and panting husband. She knew it was a ludicrous thing to state the obvious, but sometimes a person has the need to simply speak instead of letting a situation wash over them.
“No. He must’ve got tired of waiting. I don’t think he took the back route to Sid’s either, not with this storm.”
“Think we passed him on the way and just didn’t notice.”
“Maybe, but I don’t think so. I mean, there was not one person out. Perhaps he just headed home or to one of his friends’ houses that lives nearby.
“So what do we do now?” Angie asked with concern written all over her face.
“I say we go home, he might’ve already called and left a message if he’s not there waiting on us. If not, we can call around, but don’t worry, he’ll be alright. Worst thing is he might get a cold out of all of this.”
“You better be right,” Angie answered, obviously annoyed at the situation, but also worried, thinking about the last time Shawn was left at the field without her.
Despite his wife’s previous warnings not to, Skeeter rolled his eyes as he put his car into gear. Driving home he seemed to go even slower than when he drove to the little league field, if that was possible. He kept one eye on the road and another looking to see if Shawn was somewhere on the way. Skeeter even took the route that was most likely the one his son would walk.
To be on the safe side, Angie called the pizzeria to check if Shawn showed up there while they were away. The mother was more than a little embarrassed as she explained the situation to the cashier, but if Shawn did show up there, the whole world would know that they had left him behind any way.
Skeeter pulled into his driveway at a forty-five degree angle. With his wife’s van still at the pizzeria, he didn’t have to worry about blocking anyone in. He left the vehicle in haste, once again parking so he’d have a longer distance to run, and made his way through the unlocked front door.
“Shawn,” Skeeter yelled out from the entrance way. “You home?”
Only silence replied as his wife came into the house after him. He checked the answering machine and saw that there were no recorded messages waiting for him. “He hasn’t called,” Skeeter stated as he looked up.
“He knows the cell number,” Angie pointed out. “He would’ve called me on it if he had access to a phone.”
Skeeter shifted his eyes off of his wife to a small wooden cabinet that was behind her and off to the side. He eyed the open cabinet door suspiciously as he tried to peer inside of it. The thing that caught his attention was that this particular cabinet was open because not only was it suppose to be closed, but locked as well. He swiftly made his way to it and opened it’s door completely. Just as he feared, the cabinet was empty. “He’s been home, and he has my pistol.”
The look on Angie’s face far surpassed worry and concern.
Skeeter remembered how his son looked when he pitched. The boy was so angry at the world, so angry at himself. There comes a time in every man’s life when he suspects the worse and the terror grips them. Skeeter’s trick knee went weak and he almost fell to the ground. The father quickly recovered and sprinted to his son’s room with images playing out in his mind of finding his son sprawled out on the floor with a trickle of blood flowing from a fresh hole in his forehead.
Skeeter crashed through the boy’s bedroom door and found it empty and clean. The man breathed a temporary sigh of relief and joined his wife in the living room. What started out so promising, as far as days went despite recent events, was disintegrating rapidly and things didn’t promise to get any better any time soon by him just standing there.
Angie remembered how the boy looked. The anger and frustration on her son’s face. She actually mimicked him to the amusement of her friends as they waited for his arrival. Now the reality of the situation was made all too well and clear to her. A ten year old boy who was very angry at life and had recently been severely traumatized had his father’s gun and was God knows where. “Well, what are we doing here? Let’s go find him,” Angie demanded.
“You stay here in case he comes home. I’ll find him. Make a round of calls to the usual suspect and keep me posted if you find him before I do.” Skeeter took his wife’s phone and left as fast as he had entered.
Author's note: Things certainly don't seem to be getting any better as the story goes along. Now we got Shawn running away with his father's gun mad at the world. Maybe he figured out where Jenny is? Maybe he doesn't want to go on with all that hurt going on inside of him? But, this thing I can say for sure, I am a real nasty author for putting such a cliff hanger right near the end of the story. You will find out what happens with Shawn and the gun in the very next chapter (so I'm not really all that nasty)
If you liked this post, you can leave a comment and/or a kudo!
Click the Good Story! button above to leave the author a kudo:
And please, remember to comment, too! Thanks.