things become complicated for Wendy Harris.
| “Wendy Harris, please report to the principle’s office, Wendy Harris to the principle’s office.” The loud speaker called her name but she couldn’t figure out why. She hadn’t done anything worth a trip to Van Bramer’s office since the time she’d been caught smoking in freshman year.
The office seemed abandoned, no one to tell her to go right in like last time. She took the liberty and found herself standing between two tall men in dark suits, each putting a hand heavily on her shoulder. Instead of her principle, another man in a dark suit sat behind the desk, the only one not wearing lame shades. He did, however, have the fakest smile she had ever seen.
“Well hello, Miss Wendy Harris. I’m Agent Wilson. Sorry to take you from class but you seem to have raised some eyebrows around the office.”
“Uhm, I don’t see how I could have. I haven’t done anything illegal in my whole life, let alone worth the.. Wait, which agency did you say you were from?”
“We didn’t. It’s really unimportant, as we won’t be keeping you long. Why did you post this picture on several missing persons websites and multiple social media?”
“I don’t see how it’s important. He’s some guy my mom knew and I was curious about her past.”
“Now isn’t that nice? More children should be interested in their parents like that. But I’m afraid that you’re gonna have to cease all inquisitions into him this moment.”
“Why? I don’t understand.”
“That’s okay, not really your business to understand. What you do need to know is that if he makes any kind of contact with you, you should let us know. He is dangerous and not to be trifled with. Your principle was kind enough to allows to use his office, though he made us call in a social worker to bring you home and make sure you are okay. As if we are the big bad, trying to peel away your innocence. We just want all our citizens to be safe and, trust me Miss Harris, there is no safety with this man.” A knock at the door and his expression changes, friendly to business. “That’ll be the worker now. Come.”
He was tall and fat, olive skin wet with sweat and thinning black hair that was almost a crown on his broad head. There was an odd smell of spice to him, no body odor despite the excessive sweating. The smile on his face was warm and honest.
“Hello, everyone. Gotten started without me? I don’t think that’s ok, nor that her parents would approve.” His voice was a little nasally and a bead of sweat drooped off his nose with every word.
“No problem, started and finished. The young lady is all yours. We were just on our way out.”
To her surprise, he had a really nice car. A 1966 mustang, red and silver, plush leather interior and a nice sound system that played hard rock with gusto as they drove at a very conservative speed.
“Do you want to talk about what the government agents wanted? Did they tell you which agency they were from, cause they told me I wasn’t in the need to know.” She smiled slightly, unsure of this sweaty man who seems to have a tender disposition. Still, anything was better than being back in that office.
“What’s the point? Can you change the fact that they just told me to stop looking for the only lead I have ever had on my father? Can you stop the government from spying and ordering people around?”
“No, I’m sorry. They do as they please and we can’t always stop them. But I think that it is a good thing, you taking their advice in this case.” He gave a sweet grin to her. She almost hated to argue with him. Almost.
“Oh, I don’t care what they say. Threaten me all they want, I have to find out.”
He fell silent. The expression on his face was blank, his hands white knuckled on the wheel as if they were speeding instead of doing thirty. His eyes seemed to watch the road but be seeing nothing at the same time.
“Did they say he was dangerous?”
“Did they say they would come back?”
“I doubt they have left. Just cause I can’t see them doesn’t mean they aren’t watching me.”
“You are very bright. Why waste time on someone who might not live up to your expectations? A parent is a very influential figure in your life, especially as a young lady searching for a father.”
“Yeah, many a stripper made. My mom is always saying that I’ll end up hooking if I’m not careful.”
He laughs before he can catch himself, a sourness coming to his face.
“What a truly awful thing to say to a child.”
“Hey, tons of fun, I am not a child. No one asked for your input and I sure as hell don’t need therapy. I just want to go home.” She lay her face against the window. “So my mom can kill me.”
“Oh I doubt they called your mother, otherwise I wouldn’t have been called in. I’m what they call an intermediary. We can go in and talk to your mother together or I can just drop you off outside, no report filed.”
“I have to tell my mother, though I am sure she all ready saw the ad. She’s always snooping. She worries. I would like you to be there for it though. She will be nicer in front of someone who can back up my story.”
“Really? I could just drop you off, no muss, no fuss, she never finds out.”
“No, it’s okay. It would really help.” She cries out when he skids to the side of the road, pulling off into a fenced off deserted lot. They sat there for a second before she could react. “What the hell?!”
“Why couldn’t you just be a kid? Shameful and secretive.” His voice was softer, no longer nasal. He slowly got out of the car, circling slowly to her door and opening it. “Out, please.”
Fear gripping her stomach, Wendy slid out of the car, gripping her bag like club. He stayed about three feet from her, never approaching any closer without something between them. He looked very sad.
“This is not easy and is going to be much worse once it begins but you need to not interrupt me or freak out.” Wendy pulled recoiled farther from him, fear gripping her.
The social worker pulled a knife from a hidden sheath, twisting it back on himself. With a quick motion, he drove the blade into his stomach, casting it aside quickly and plunged his hands into the hole. Grunting with strain, he began to tear his countenance away. In a moment, the social worker had been shed and a well dressed man that resembled the boy she had been searching for, wiping a thin layer of sweat away.
“Ok. That was the worst thing I have ever seen. Could you never do that again?” He laughs and leans against the car. “Why were you disguised? What the hell was that thing?”
“That’s way to complicated for me to explain. What it is anyway. You heard what they said about me, couldn’t very well just walk in and take you from them without killing a whole mess of people, maybe you included. So, ya found me, what do you want?”
“I guess I didn’t fully realize what this might be like. Figured you were just some drug addict or an asshole who bailed on my mom when I was on my way. Wasn’t prepared for the whole ‘shed my skin’ thing.”
“So you think I’m your father. And Violet has nothing to say about this?” Looking at her, he felt something odd grip him. Her face was a spitting image of Violet’s but her hair and eyes. Dark and so unlike her mother.
“She won’t say anything other than he was someone she knew when she was younger but he wasn’t up to the task of being a father. I have to know.”
“Well, I can pretty much guarantee I’m not him. I knew your mother years ago.” His eyes seemed to darken even further. “We were very close. But all of us were.
The first day I met your mom was actually the very same day I met Barry and Max. I was a foster kid, my parents disappearing around the time I was 8. I got lucky, the Gabriel’s were a really nice pair of people, taking in a teenager. Five years in the system and I found a home right around here, going to that same high school. I made it to lunch without incident but, being the new kid, I did find myself sitting alone until a tray was set softly across from me.
‘Hi. Do you mind if I sit here?’ He was skinny, shaggy hair and thick glasses that magnified his green eyes. I smiled at him quickly. Always wanted a friend and this kid reeked of desperation.
‘Not at all. Sit down. I’m Mike.’
‘Barry. But everybody calls me Baron.’ Odd nickname but I didn’t want to say anything.
‘Which do you prefer?’
His eyes widened.
“No one has ever asked me that before. My name is Barry, like I said. I just don’t care what people call me.’ He stared down at his lunch, playing with his tatter totts.
‘You should. Means a lot, the name people use for you. Has power over you. Don’t worry. Barry it is.’
His smile was brief as the inspiration for his desperation made himself known. Maximus Tailor was big, mean and had terrible halitosis, a poor student who took out his frustrations on the weaker of the herd. He was a bully and I’ve never liked bullies. The first impression I got from him came in the spray of milk that washed over me when he slapped Barry’s tray away, grabbing the skinny boy by the collar.
‘Hey, Baron Von Wimp. What did I tell you about having your faggy dates at my table?’
‘I’ve told you, I’m not gay, Max.’ That was as far as Barry got.
Red overcame my vision, the smell of the milk driving me into a fury. Thirteen isn’t much of a graceful age, puberty screwing us all up on so many levels. But in those moments, I moved as if swimming.
The inner curve between my forefinger and thumb strikes just beneath his adams apple, seizing the trachea. My fist hit his cheek, spinning him away from me. I kicked him in the lower back, launching him into the aisle. I would have gone farther, attacked him harder and longer if not for the lunch monitor. She lifted me off my feet and threw me backwards onto the floor.”
“Wait. I thought this was about my mom. And didn’t you say you four were close? Sounds like you hated one another.”
“You have your mothers impatience. If you give it a little longer, I will get to that. If I tell you this, you stop looking for me, right? Those men weren’t wrong about me. Children don’t belong anywhere near me.”
“I’m not a child. Hell, I’m probably on a list for the F.B.I. or something. Kids don’t get on those lists.”
“I was on one of those lists at eight years old. But we aren’t talking about that. No one talks about that.” His voice seemed to raise slightly, wrestled back into it’s depth after a moment. “You want something I just can’t give you.”
“What, you don’t have time in your secret life to have a conversation with me and your ex?”
“No. You don’t understand. She’s not my ex. She once knew a boy named Mike. My name is Dietrich and I doubt she will have much to say to me.”
“What are you talking about? What, was he your twin or something?”
“Something like that but infinitely more complicated. I can’t.. No, I won’t go home with you and talk to a woman who is going to want something I don’t have to offer.”
“But the story.”
“The story is true but it happened to him, not me. I just happen to know it and I thought it would help.”
“Fine. This is gonna end two ways.”
“Oh really? I was going say the same thing. You go first.” He smiled warmly at her.
“Well, either you go home with me and convince my mom that she has to tell me the truth or you drop me off and I make that picture go viral, with your name all over it. Dietrich.” She has the smuggest smile he has ever laid eyes on. He returns it in kind.
“Well, Wendy. You leave me with very little choice then. There are indeed two ways this can go and you even got the first one.”
“Oh? What’s your other one then? You wipe my memory?”
“No. I put a bullet in your brain and drop you off a building somewhere in the seedier neighborhoods, a nice fat sack of one illegal substance or another.” Her smile vanishes when the gun slides from it’s holster, a nickel plated forty five caliber mechanism of death staring at her in cyclopean judgment. “Not a joke now, is it?”