Looking in the Right Place

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Looking in the Right Place

There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man.
It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity.
It is the middle ground between light and shadow.
And it lies between the pit of man’s feats and the summit of his knowledge.
This is the dimension of imagination.
It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone

Le Roy, New York, early August…

Marty pulled up to the pump and waited. A young man leaned against the front window of the mini-mart looking disinterested. Marty waved and the fellow walked slowly to the car; talking and pointing at the store, but unheard over the noise of the passing cars.

“Sorry… I couldn’t hear you.” Marty got out of his 330i Wagon and waited for the young man who continued to gesticulate

“I said, you pay at the pump or inside… pump it yourself,” the fellow said with a slight eastern European accent. While not terribly large, he still ‘loomed’ over Marty’s 5’6” frame. Marty pulled one of his credit cards from his wallet and followed the instructions on the pump.

“Sorry, but I’ve been living in Jersey the past few years,” Marty said, but the young man had already retreated to the front of the mini-mart. He finished pumping the gas and retrieved his receipt before getting back in his car.

He sighed heavily. The drive up the interstate had been long and unbroken by design. He promised himself to spend as much time as possible visiting his old haunts and even with a long weekend, he needed to be at the office first thing Tuesday morning. But the long drive weighed less heavily than the emotions that accompanied him on the trip. Regrets and disappointment were companions he only allowed to tag along on rare occasions although they seemed to travel with him even when uninvited.

A few minutes later he pulled off to the side of the road. Of course it had been a long time since he’d left home the second time after college. With both parents gone and no siblings, home had become wherever he landed in his pursuit of happiness. He realized after a few minutes that his old neighborhood had been re-configured somewhat owing to the presence of a Walgreens where his street had emptied onto 5 & 20. He pulled into the lot and drove around back and parked.

The security fence obscured his view, but he could see the roofline of his childhood home. It seemed silly… shameful, in fact as the change overwhelmed him as he began to sob After a few minutes, he collected himself and got out of the car. He noticed a gap in the fence where a tree had fallen; likely due to a recent storm. He limped over. Sure enough, his house was still there. He could hear music coming from the open window in the back of the house.

“What could it hurt?” he asked himself as he stepped over the fallen tree and through the gap into the back yard. As his left foot touched ground the music seemed to get louder.

“Would you just stop playing that ….junk?” The voice came from to his left. He turned and hot the shock of his life as his father… his decades-past deceased father stood in the driveway shaking his head. A moment later the side door opened and a petite woman walked to the man…. Marty’s long dead mother Maeve put her hand gently on the man’s arm.

“Terry? Please?” She turned her attention to the back window and frowned sadly.

“I just don’t understand.” Terry replied. Where did we go wrong? Pastor Dave says it must be our fault.” He sighed. A moment later another figure emerged from the garage door.

“Get in the car, Marty.” The man said. Marty went to respond when the figure turned and faced Terry and Maeve. About 5’6” and reedy, the boy was about fourteen or so His hair was long, brown with rainbow streaks. He wore plain blue jeans but his tee shirt was lilac. Marty noticed even from a distance the pinkish brown scars that adorned the boy’s right wrist like bracelets. Marty’s eyes moved as he glanced down at his own wrist as he winced from a long-forgotten pain.

“No…please, Daddy?” the boy pleaded as Terry urged him toward the mini-van parked at the edge of the driveway.

“Terry…please?” Maeve cried out.

“I’m sorry,” Terry called back. The memories of that day came back to Marty like a flood. He screamed out “No!” even as the boy pulled away from his father. All three turned to face Marty in shock.

“What? Who the hell are you?” Terry yelled as he ran up to Marty. He grabbed Marty by the shoulders.

“Dad? It’s me… Marty…. Martin O’Hearn…your… son.” It made no sense and made complete sense at the same time. The urgency of the trip. The pressing need to retrieve the past in some way.

“Are you some sort of pervert?” Terry would have added the word ‘demonic’ but for the fact that he wasn’t convinced like some in his church. Marty pulled out his wallet and handed Terry his driver’s license.

Martin O’Hearn 1450 Garden St, Hoboken, NJ 07030; Expires 07/18

Terry handed the license back to Marty.

“Is this some sort of sick joke?” Marty shook his head no as Maeve walked up.

“Mom? Mommy?” He went to hand her the license and she pushed it away, slapping his face. He dropped the license and his wallet to the ground. He tried to remain calm, but a gasping sob escaped his lips and Maeve’s eyes widened in sad recognition before she ran toward the house. Marty shouted after her. The boy stood in the driveway shaking in a mixture of fear and confusion; unable to hear what had transpired.

“Is he here to help? One of our church friends?” He turned quickly and ran past the van into the street;; his glance backward preventing him from seeing the NYSEG utility truck. He caromed off the truck, landing on the front law. His cries were echoed as Marty yelled out in pain.

“Marty! Marty?” He heard Maeve yelling, but it was for the boy and not him. Slowly he rose to his feet; sad and alone as Terry ran with his wife to their only child. A few minutes later the ambulance had come and gone and Marty was left alone in grief and shock. He found himself limping around the neighborhood; lost in thought until daylight turned to dusk. Looking up, he found himself standing on the front landing of the house… his house. He knocked on the door and it opened; revealing a much less unwelcoming Terry O’Hearn. His father stepped out; closing the front door behind him.

“The boy?”

“Marty? His ankle… he’s okay, but the doctor said he might have a limp.” Terry frowned and sighed as he recalled hos own pain.

"Oh…okay…” Marty’s ankle had been throbbing from his walk, and he half-smiled; almost in vindication. Terry handed him the wallet.

“It says….a lot about you. The dates on the money…Where you live… what you do?”

“Dad…Daddy?” The endearment fit; even more so with Terry’s welcoming expression.

“Marty? Why are you here? What are you searching for?”

“Daddy?” he repeated. “I’m tired and afraid… like life just pushed me into a corner. I keep looking back, maybe to find some answers? I don’t know.” Marty looked into his father’s eyes and beheld something he had never seen before; something that his father would voice.

“I’m so sorry Marty. We both are. But also? I think what you’re looking for isn’t here in the past… your past? I think it’s looking in the right place...ahead of here.” For the first time in his life Marty felt that his father… his Daddy… cared about who he was…. Who he was. He nodded and turned to go but found himself looking into his father's tear-filled eyes and then wrapped in his father’s warm embrace.

A moment later he was alone but feeling safe and loved. He limped into the back yard. Turning around, he sighed as he bade goodbye to the past before stepping once again through the gap in the fence…..

* * *

“Marty?” The voice spoke softly as Marty approached the car.

“Terry says the GMC dealership is just up the road here in town. They don’t have an Acadia,” she said as she patted the door frame of the car.

“But they’ll give us a new Denali as a loaner.” Terry laughed at her mother's words as Marty got in and smiled. Denise grinned.

“See…. You were worried, but three women on a quest willing to get directions? Works every time”. Denise turned around to face their teenage daughter in acknowledgement.

“Have I told you how much I love you, Denise Annette O’Hearn?”

“Every day, Martina Theresa O’Hearn…. Every day!”

Martina O’Hearn, Age 37 once vice-president in charge of some successful media agency; currently co-director of Trans-Youth Services, Scotch Plains, New Jersey; once estranged but long reunited with wife Denise and daughter Terry. Once successful in many things but unfulfilled but now filled with hope; Once seeking the past but renewed now by the present. Smiling since the past proved to be less than forever but also more than a wisp of memory… voices from the ghosts of the past that no longer ruled from ignorance but finally guided from love…. Love that is a part of the Twilight Zone….

Based on characters from the original teleplay, Walking Distance, from the television series, The Twilight Zone. Teleplay and original story by the show’s creator, Rod Serling

Original score by Bernard Hermann

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This story is 1675 words long.