Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Story 18

[NOTE: This is part of a progressive story. The first entry is here. Check the blog label 2007Story for all entries]

     A soft breeze blew leaves against the leg of the picnic table. Blake sat on the bench staring idly into space, trying to hide his anxiety. On the table in front of him, held down from the breeze with a rock, was the letter from Arnold. The letter raised far to many questions without giving enough answers. Why did Arnold send a letter to Blake? Why did he send it to the school? What was the meaning of the postage stamps? And what would be happening Monday night that Blake needed to be aware of?

     "You there Blake?"

     A voice at his side pulled Blake out of his thoughts. Turning his head, he watched as Sam sat down on the bench beside him.

     "Sam, I'm glad to see you. Is everything all right? I'm really sorry about last night." Blake put his hand on his friend's shoulder as he spoke, feeling Sam's large shoulder's shrug before replying.

     "It's all good man. My dad's got it all taken care of as far as the police are concerned. It's been kind of an awkward day today with kids treating me like a criminal or something. Mark Jones actually came up to me, slugged my shoulder and said 'nice work.' It's a weird feeling."

     Mark Jones was one of the school's many delinquents. He'd been in and out of juvenile court a half dozen times. Rumor has it he was kicked out of his last high school for taking the Principal's car for a joy ride and dumping it in the lake. From the little bit Blake had gotten to know him, Blake felt that Mark was more talk than anything, but there was definitely a hard edge to him.

     "That has to feel weird for sure. I truly am sorry that it happened like that. I was reluctant to bring any of you in to help me to begin with, for this very reason. I never wanted anything to happen to any of you."

     "Don't sweat it man. Really. I wanted to help and I'd do it again even knowing what I know now. It was worth it."

     Sam grinned from ear to ear and nodded to Blake. Blake still felt bad, but he was glad his friend was taking it so well. He truly hoped this didn't have any lasting affects on Sam. Before he could find out more about the interrogation with the cops he heard voices. Paul, Tami and James were approaching, laughing loudly about something.

     "Blake! Sam! How's it goin' guys?" Paul held his fist up to knock knuckles with his friends.

     "You certainly seem happy." Blake watched as the three sat down with smiles bigger than their faces.

     "We've just been laughing at you and all your 'cloak and dagger' mystery work there buddy. You always get so worked up over things. We shoulda knowed that this was just another of your crazy bouts of paranoia."

     Blake stared at Paul, a bit confused.

     "Haven't you heard Blake?" Tami picked up on Blake's confusion. "You either Sam? The Johnsons just went back east. I guess Mr. Johnson's mother got hit by a car or something and the whole family went out to see her. It's pretty sad actually. She's not doing so well."

     "What are you talking about?" Blake was dumbfounded.

     "Mr. York got a letter today from Mr. Johnson explainin' all of it." Paul leaned forward as he spoke. "I was down in the office buyin' Homecomin' tickets. I heard Mr. York tellin' Mr. Call about it. He said that Mr. Johnson would be back a week from today. I guess yer off the hook for the kidnappin' Sam, but Meg's gonna be pissed when she hears you were bustin' into her house. Her dad's gonna kill ya. We'll see if you'll be a starter after he gets through with ya." Paul slapped Sam on the back and laughed.

     Blake just stared. He looked from Paul to Tami and back to Paul. The whole thing was absolutely surreal.

     "And what do you think about this news James? You've been awfully quiet." Blake turned to look at the small boy as he fiddled in his pockets.

     "I don't buy it at all. Something bad's happened. I know it."

     James reached deep into his pockets and pulled out a cell phone. The group leaned forward as he put it on the table.

     A short breath escaped Tami’s lips with a gasp. "That's Arnold's phone. He'd never leave it behind. Where did you get it?"

     "It gets worse." James tapped the keys of the phone and brought up a saved text message.

     Huddling over the readout, they read


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