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- Story Listed as: Fiction For Kids
- Theme: Science fiction stories
- Subject: Novels
- Published: 03/06/2019
Running GirlBorn 1947, M, from Oceanside, United States
He told me not to call her, or write to her, or try to remind her of what she was. But he didn’t say anything about me not reminding her of what I was. Which was why, even before I got back from the Stellar Building, I had decided I was going to write a comic book. I would use words and pictures to tell the story of how I had come to have super powers. Afterwards, I’d give it to Rickie Conners to read. Maybe it would help her remember something about herself. Maybe it wouldn’t. Either way, I was still trying to decide when and how I should start my story when mom came home early from work. I wondered why?
“Did you come by St. Michael’s today?” she asked me in Spanish, after she dropped her keys on the table by the door.
Standing in the doorway of my room, I felt my stomach lurch as I asked her in Spanish, “Why do you want to know?”
Mom stopped in the middle of our apartment’s living room, and looked at me as if she was confused. “Because I could swear I remember you coming by, but I’m not sure.”
Looking down at the rug, I said to her, “No, Benny and I came straight home from school.” I felt funny lying to her, but I couldn’t think of what else to say. Father Carmel would probably have been mad had he heard me lie like that, but then I wondered if he was also confused about my having been there?
“Okay, well, I guess I’d better start getting supper ready,” she said and headed for the kitchen. That’s when I went back inside my room.
Standing next to my bed, I dropped to a crouch then pictured the inside of mom’s office at St. Michael’s. Instantly, I found myself there.
I was surprised to see my schoolbooks still sitting where I had left them—on the chair next to mom’s desk. How could she have been confused about my having been there if my books were right where she could see them?
Oh, well, I thought then while still crouched, I crabbed-walked over to the chair and grabbed my books. I didn’t know whether or not Father Carmel was still in his office next to mom’s, but, just in case, I didn’t want him to see me.
Once I had my books, I teleported back to my room.
I had decided to start sketching out ideas for my comic book right after supper, but before I could do anything, the lights in our apartment building went out again. Almost without thinking, I turned on the glow in my head and hands.
“David!” I heard my mother call. It sounded as if she had come into the living room from the kitchen.
Oh, God! I thought, as I immediately turned off my body’s lights. Had she seen me? I hoped not. I didn’t want to freak her out. I had decided that since she and Father Carmel had been made to forget about my super powers, that maybe it should stay that way—at least, for now, anyway. So, with no light to guide me, I felt my way towards the doorway.
“I’m okay,” I assured her when I got there. That’s when the beam from her flashlight hit me in the face. I had to squint and put my hands up to block it.
“Sorry,” she replied, then angled her flashlight down at the rug.
“That’s okay,” I told her. “It probably won’t last long.”
But it did. In fact, it took the super of our building almost two hours to get the lights back on. What was he doing all that time? At least, it gave me a little while to think about my comic book, but not much. That’s because mostly during the two hours mom and I sat in the dark, we listened to our one portable radio. The flashlight she kept mostly off. She didn’t want to use up the batteries, since we didn’t have any more. Nor did we have any candles. (Figures) And, of course, I couldn’t turn on the lights anywhere in my body, so I never got a chance to finish my homework, which was why, the next day, I had to stay after school.
It was bad enough staring at Mrs. Prouse all day, and thinking it was her fault that mom and Father Carmel couldn’t remember (even though I knew it wasn’t), but it was worse when Rickie Conners showed up and walked right passed me as if I wasn’t even there. I watched her as she went up to Mrs. Prouse and handed her some sheets of paper.
“Wow, these are really good!” she said to Rickie, as she glanced at each one of the sheets separately.
They must have been pictures Rickie had drawn. Maybe that’s why she hadn’t been on the playground earlier during recess. She must have been somewhere else drawing. I wondered where?
I felt a funny feeling in my stomach as the thought went through my mind those should have been my pictures they’re were looking at. Maybe later after I finish my comic book.
In the mean time, as I watched Rickie and her aunt, I thought about Frank, the chauffeur. I wondered what he would think if I suddenly teleported from my desk to the back seat of his car? I bet that would surprise him.
While I was still thinking about Frank, I heard Mrs. Prouse say to Rickie, “These are nice, but now, I think, you should be getting home.”
“I know,” Rickie said, as she took back the pictures and turned to leave.
“Tell your mom I’ll be over later around six.’
“I will,” Rickie replied over her shoulder.
For a moment, as she turned her head back to face forward, her blue eyes swept passed mine, but didn’t stop. Once again, I felt as if my stomach was in an elevator going up and down. “Rickie!” I wanted to shout at her. “Don’t go! I have to talk to you about something!” But I didn’t. Instead, I watched her leave.
Afterwards, I felt really sad as I let my eyes drop back down to my math paper on the desk in front of me. Mrs. Prouse said I could go home once I had finished it, which I did quickly; but instead of teleporting home, I walked all the way back, just like any normal kid would.
Not me, I thought, and not the other ghost I saw on Halloween.
I was going to go Trick or Treating as a ghost. Benny was going to be a bum. Benny’s father had volunteered to go with us. So covered with a sheet that had the eyes and mouth cut out, I joined Benny and his father as we started out in our building then went to two other apartment buildings on the next block. Afterwards, we crossed over to a street where there were some regular houses. It was there I saw the other ghost.
There was a small group of kids (some short, some tall) at a house just as all three of us showed up. I was walking up the steps passing a pirate and an angel when I felt a familiar buzzing in my wrist.
You guessed it—I was wearing my bracelet. I had taken it back from mom’s dresser drawer. I didn’t want her finding it and not remembering what it was. She might give it away, or worse, throw it away!
Anyway, the moment I felt the buzzing, I did the same thing I had done in the past. I began rubbing my wrist just above where I was wearing the bracelet. At the same time, I noticed the other ghost rubbing his or her wrist, too. Astonished, my eyes went to the holes in the other ghost’s head, but he or she was too busy looking down at their own wrist to notice me.
Suddenly, I heard a woman’s voice next to me ask, “And what are you supposed to be?”
Reluctantly, I turned and saw it was an elderly lady who kind of reminded me of Mrs. Hanover a little. It was really a dumb question, I thought. After all, it was obvious what both Benny and I were, but when a grownup asks you a question like that, you answer, so I replied, “A ghost.” Then Benny told her he was a bum. Then we both held open our pillowcases so she could dump candy into them.
Afterwards, I turned and saw that the other ghost had already reached the sidewalk, and was walking away with the other kids. I really wanted to run after it, but Benny’s father picked that moment to say, “Come on, it’s getting late. We’d better head back.”
“Do we have to?” Benny moaned.
“Yes,” replied his father sounding a little annoyed. “Besides, I think you two have enough candy already.”
Was he kidding? You could never have enough candy, but since he was the grownup, we had to do what he said. So, feeling as disappointed as if I had been told I had to give up all my candy, I started to follow him and Benny back down the steps.
Just as we got to the sidewalk, I turned to see what the other ghost was doing. That’s when I caught sight of its sneakers in the light from the street lamp. They were red with what looked like a yellow lightening bolt drawn on the sides.
The next thought that went through my mind was I have to find those sneakers again. I did, but not for several weeks.
It was the day after Thanksgiving. I was still filling stuffed from the day before. We had had both Mrs. Hanover and Father Carmel over for dinner and desserts. Afterwards, I was so full, I actually walked around the block a couple of times, to try and get rid of my full stomach.
Anyway, the next day, since we were off from school, Benny and I took a bus ride across town to go see a movie. The newspapers said it was a monster movie about a scientist who turns into a shark. As I read the description, I couldn’t help but wonder if he was part of the same experiment as Rickie Conners and I. Of course, that was dumb.
According to the papers, there was also a girl scientist who was the fish man’s girlfriend, and who was trying to stop him from killing people. The papers called it “A love story with gills and teeth.” Normally, I wouldn’t have gone for all that mushy stuff, but since it was supposed to be a monster movie, I figured it would be okay. During the picture, I couldn’t stop thinking about Rickie Conners. I couldn’t help it. The girl in the movie had the same curly blond hair and blue eyes.
After the movie was over, I told Benny I had to use the mens’ room. He said he’d wait for me in the lobby. Just as I got to the bathroom door, I saw a tall skinny girl with long black hair and jeans going into the girls’ room. I couldn’t see her face; I only saw her from the back.
Just before the door closed though, I caught sight of her sneakers. They were red and I could have sworn I saw a yellow lightening bolt on the side.
Almost without thinking, my finger jumped up and pointed at the door, while my mouth hung open like a busted mailbox. A desperate feeling grabbed me, and I wanted to run into the girls’ room and go after her, but other people were going in, too. I decided I’d better wait outside for her to come out, but I really had to go. So after standing there a couple of minutes and doing what mom calls the St. Vitas dance, I reluctantly went inside to do my thing.
As soon as I was finished, I made a beeline for the door. I didn’t even bother to wash my hands. But wouldn’t you know it, the moment I got outside, Benny grabbed me and said, “Come on, let’s go over to the mall. I want to hit Hardy’s for some onion rings.”
For a moment, I almost forgot why I was still outside the girls’ bathroom. “Are you kidding?” I said to him, my eyes popping. “You want to eat onion rings after all the stuff you ate yesterday?”
“That was yesterday,” he replied.
Yeah, and it was also only a half hour since you finished eating an entire tub of popcorn. I didn’t say that to him, but I thought it.
Reluctantly, I went with him. But even as we were walking away, I kept looking over my shoulder hoping I’d see her.
Of course, I didn’t—at least not until we got inside the mall.
Benny and I were in the area where they sell all the food. We were sitting at a table that overlooked the floor below us. Benny was scarfing down a plate of onion rings and drinking a large coke. I was sipping on a hot chocolate. That was all I could afford after paying for the roundtrip bus ride, movie, and popcorn.
Suddenly, I saw her below me. I recognized the sneakers first, then her black hair. She was with three other girls. One I think I recognized as the angel I saw on Halloween.
Like before in the theater, I couldn’t see her face. All I could see was the top of her head. This frustrated me, so I craned my neck to try and get a better look.
“What are you looking at?” I heard Benny ask me.
Without turning around, I replied, “Someone I think I know.”
I heard his chair scrape. “Oh, yeah, who?” Suddenly, Benny was standing beside me, also looking over the railing at the people below us.
“Someone I think I saw on Halloween,” I said to him.
“Rickie Conners?” he said. It was definitely a question.
“No,” I replied, then realized why he had said her name as a question. “Why, is she here?” I asked, taking my eyes off the girl with the long hair and looking around for Rickie.
Finally, I saw her, along with her mother, and her father walking amongst the rest of the people on the floor below us. All kinds of feelings went through me as I shifted my gaze from Rickie Conners to the girl with the red sneakers and back again. It felt weird, especially seeing both of them here in the mall at the same time. A sudden intense desire filled me. I wanted to go talk to them both, but with Benny beside me, I knew that was impossible.
For a moment, I was almost tempted to tell him to go get lost, but then I’d have to explain why. Instead, I kept switching my eyes back and forth from the Conners to the girl.
Eventually, the Conners disappeared under the overhang where we were sitting, so I turned my attention back to the girl. That’s when she finally turned around and I got a chance to see her face.
She was oriental-looking. That’s why her hair was long and straight. I looked closely, but didn’t recognize her. She did look like she might be slightly older than me or Rickie. That’s when a random thought hit me. I wondered if this girl also had powers? That was silly, I thought. But as it turned out, not so silly after all.
It had been a while since I’d been out roof hopping, as I called it. It had been even longer since I tried feeding the bums on First Avenue. That’s because the second time I tried, I could feel that weird crawling ant sensation on the back of my neck, and just knew that Frank, the chauffeur, was somewhere nearby watching me. I even spoke to him.
“You satisfied,” I said to the empty air above me after I put down the basket of food and blankets on the sidewalk next to the sleeping bums. Of course he didn’t answer me.
This night, I just kind of felt like roof hopping, and didn’t care if Frank was going to watch me or not. Of course, I still couldn’t figure out how he kept finding me. Either way, I made sure of one thing. I didn’t go anywhere near Rickie’s house. In fact, I went in the opposite direction.
I had made it to the outskirts of the city when something caught my eye. It was a red and blue streak moving very fast along the sidewalks below me, and going in the same direction towards where I lived.
Immediately, I realized it was a person . . . probably someone like me—a S.E.E.K.! He or she must have been moving at least a hundred miles an hour, if not a lot faster. And that’s when the other thought hit me. I bet it was the girl from the mall! Her jacket had been red and her pants blue.
Excitement filled me as I almost forgot to follow her. When I finally remembered again, I had to hop to several rooftops to keep up with her. She seemed to be going even faster than before.
As I watched, she turned a corner then started down a side street, then stopped at the other corner. Now that I could see her more clearly, I saw for sure it was her. I saw her look both ways up and down the street, as if checking for traffic. Then she took off again.
I was almost tempted to teleport down to the sidewalk in front of her, but I knew she’d probably pass me right by before I could get even one syllable out. So instead, I just kept watching her from nearby rooftops.
Finally, she came to the same street I saw her on the night of Halloween. This time, she was at the other end of the street in front of one of the houses there. I saw her stop then bend over slightly, as if she was trying to catch her breath then she straightened up and stepped between two bushes at the corner of the house.
I waited, and waited, and waited, but she didn’t come out again. Was she doing her own bathroom thing in the bushes or something?
More time past and when she didn’t show up, my happy mood turned to disappointment. She must have gone inside somehow, but why hadn’t I seen her? Finally, I decided it was time to get home myself, so I teleported straight into my bedroom, and was almost caught by my mother.
“David!” I heard her call from the living room. “Are you alright?”
“Yeah, why?” I asked in Spanish, as I scrambled underneath the covers to hide the fact that I was wearing a jacket and sneakers.
“I don’t know. I was just going to use the bathroom when I thought I heard you moving around. Are you feeling okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” I replied in Spanish. “I just tripped over one of my sneakers on the way back from the bathroom.”
“Okay, then, I’ll let you go to sleep. See you in the morning,” she said.
“See you,” I called to her then relaxed once I heard the bathroom door close.
As I lay there in the dark, I couldn’t help but wonder whom the girl was, and where she had disappeared to? Either way, at least now I was sure I knew where she lived.
But that didn’t make it any easier for me to find her. I tried teleporting outside her house a few times, but it was always in the middle of the night, and she must have been asleep each time, because no one was around and no lights were on. A couple of times, I even made several hops across rooftops hoping I’d spot her running, but no luck.
In the meantime, I continued to work on my comic book, while trying to ignore Rickie Conners on the playground. It was hard. Even though I was only a kid, I had feelings and they were strong for Rickie. I wanted so much to go up to her, and teleport her off somewhere, and tell her all about us, but I didn’t dare. Somehow, I just knew Frank, the chauffeur, would be watching me if I tried. So I didn’t.
In the weeks that followed, as the weather turned colder and more stormy, we stayed indoors a lot more instead of going outside during recess. More than once, I found myself on the same team as Rickie during volleyball and also dodge ball. Especially with dodge ball, watching her throw the ball at some of the other kids made me cringe. What if she threw it too hard? Would she hurt them?
Somehow she never did. Had her parents taken away her strength along with her memory?
One day, Benny asked me why I wasn’t talking to her anymore? I had to make up an excuse.
“Because,” I told him, “she showed me one of her pictures and when I said I didn’t like it, she got mad at me.” I hoped he wouldn’t try to ask her any questions about it.
Besides the change in weather, the stores also began putting out their Christmas decorations. Once again, Benny and I took a bus ride across town to the mall to look around for Christmas gifts. (He also wanted more onion rings.) Mom had given me money to buy her and Benny a gift, but he didn’t know that. Instead, I just told him all the money was for my mom’s gift.
While we were walking around the mall, I spotted “Running Girl,” as I had begun thinking of her, also walking with the other younger girl I had seen her with before. I wanted to jump into the air, I was so excited. I watched as the both of them went into the mall’s bookstore.
“I think I’ll take a look inside the bookstore a moment,” I said to Benny, as I began heading towards its entrance. I didn’t even bother to look and see if he was following me.
“Okay,” I heard him say behind me. “I’ll be in Sears checking on what tools they have.” I knew he was looking for something to buy his father. He’d already gotten his mother a present.
While continuing to head towards the bookstore, I watched through the store’s front windows as Running Girl and her younger companion began looking at a comic book that they had gotten off a revolving rack near the front entrance.
Just as I walked into the store, I heard the younger girl say, “She’s just like you, Kim!” She was pointing at the comic and seemed really excited.
As I passed them, I caught a glimpse of the cover of the comic they were both looking at. It was a new one. It had just come out: Lightening Fast.
I was told it was about a high school girl who had been caught in a deadly explosion that left her with super powers. Like the original Flash, she could run as fast as lightening.
I felt both excitement and dread at the same time. The young girl must know about Running Girl’s secret! But how? And why would Running Girl have told her?
While I was still trying to figure this out, it dawned on me that this was the perfect time to try and meet her, but what was I going to say?
While I was trying to think of something, I stopped in front of the other racks of magazines, and made believe I was checking out their covers. Slowly, I inched my way toward the revolving racks where the comics were being displayed. Once I got within reach of the nearest rack, I nudged it around until the Lightening Fast comics were facing me. Then I slipped one off the rack and began scanning its pages.
“This is new,” I said to Running Girl, while I continued to flip through the comic.
“Yeah, it is,” I heard her say beside me.
At first I didn’t look at her, but then after a while, I looked up and said, “It’s not that often I run across a girl who’s interested in comics.”
Running Girl frowned. “Why wouldn’t a girl be interested in comics?” she asked.
Whatever I wanted to say wouldn’t come out. All I could think to do was stare at her brown, almond-shaped eyes and shrug.
Suddenly, the younger girl beside her spoke up. “Kimmie has a lot of comics, don’t you, Kim?”
Running Girl nodded. “I do.”
“You have the Flash?” I asked.
“He’s my favorite,” she replied, this time with a little smile.
“Figures he would be,” I said before I could stop myself.
She frowned again. But before she could ask me why I had said that, I heard Benny’s voice loud and clear say, “I found something for my father.”
I turned and saw that he had come into the bookstore carrying a small shopping bag with the word Sears on it.
“What did you get him?” I asked.
Benny was all smiles. “I got him a screwdriver with a built-in flashlight.”
“Sounds expensive,” I said.
Benny shook his head. “No, it wasn’t. They had a whole bin of them on sale. I got it real cheap.”
Suddenly, I saw him look at something over my shoulder, and realized he was staring at Running Girl behind me.
“This is Kim,” I told him. “She likes the Flash.”
“The Flash is a wimp,” said Benny. “Superman’s much better.”
I looked at him, my eyes popping. How could he say that, especially in front of Running Girl?
I turned to her and said, “Don’t listen to him. The Flash is fun. I mean who wouldn’t want to be able to run as fast as he can? It would be neat!”
“I’d rather be able to fly,” said Benny.
At this point, the young girl spoke up again. “Kim can run as fast as the Flash,” she said, sounding almost proud of the fact.
Once again, a little sliver of fear sliced through me. Benny didn’t know anything about S.E.E.K.s, or their super powers, yet here was this little girl talking about them as if everyone had them. One of us needed to change the subject and quick!
That’s when Running Girl spoke up and said, “What Jenny means is I can run real fast, but not that fast.”
“Yes you can”—the younger girl started to say. But Running Girl cut her off when she told her to go look through the rest of the comics and see which ones she wanted.
Thank you, I thought silently to myself.
“Jenny’s my little sister,” said Running Girl. “She’s always exaggerating things.”
Little sister! So, that was how she knew about Running Girl’s special ability. Gee, I wondered what it would have been like to have had a brother or a sister? Would I have had to share my secret with them?
Benny broke into my thoughts when he said, “Come on; let’s hit Hardy’s. I want to get my hands on some of those onion rings before you start looking for your mother’s present.”
“You like the onion rings?” Running Girl asked him smiling.
“They’re delicious!” exclaimed Benny.
“Then I’ll have to tell my uncle.”
“Why, what does he have to do with anything?” asked Benny.
“He runs Hardy’s,” said Running Girl.
“Oh, Yeah!” said Benny, his eyes lighting up. “Does that mean I can get some for free?”
Running Girl looked as if she was trying to make up her mind about something. “I don’t think my uncle would give them to you for free, but he might give you a discount if I asked him.”
“Would you?” said Benny, continuing to sound excited.
“Sure,” she replied.
Benny’s face broke into a wide grin. “Well, let’s go!” he said, taking several steps forward.
He stopped short when Running Girl said, “First my sister has to pick herself out some comics for Christmas. Why don’t you go on ahead and wait for us.”
Benny’s expression fell. He was definitely disappointed that he was going to have to wait.
“We’ll do that,” I said to Running Girl. Then I turned to Benny and said, “Come on, let’s go.” So Benny and I left the bookstore and headed for the food area and Hardy’s.
While we were walking, I thought about Running Girl’s little sister, Jenny. She didn’t look like Running Girl. She looked more American. She was much shorter and had curly brown hair and her eyes were more round looking. Was she adopted, too? And how much did her parents know about Running Girl’s super powers?
I’d have to find out, but first, I’d have to find a way to let her know I also had super powers. As it turned out, that would come soon enough.
When we got to Hardy’s, I saw a grownup behind the counter instead of a teenager like the last time. He looked to be about as old as Father Carmel. What hair I could see peeking out from under his white cook’s hat was a mixture of both black and gray.
Once again, I was reminded of the fact that Running Girl must have been adopted, because if this was her uncle, he looked more American than oriental. He had a fat face and a fat body. He also kind of reminded me a little of Mr. McCallister, our principal at school. He looked really serious, even though he was smiling at the kid who he had just given some French Fries to.
“Do you think we should go up to him and ask for the onion rings yet?” said Benny beside me.
Looking around quickly, I said to him, “I don’t see Kim or her sister anywhere yet. Why don’t we wait for them to get here? Besides, don’t you want to try and get the onion rings for free?”
Benny’s eyes dropped. “Yeah, I guess so.”
“Good,” I said, as I kept him company while we waited for the girls to show up, which they finally did about five minutes later.
“It’s about time,” Benny said when he spotted them coming.
I cringed inside. I hoped Running Girl hadn’t heard him.
“There you are,” I said as she and her sister came up to us. “Benny is still hoping he can get his onion rings for free.”
Kim made a slight face, but said, “I’ll see what my uncle says.”
While we watched, Running Girl went up to the man behind the counter and began asking him about the onion rings. He looked in our direction, his mouth twisted as if in deep thought then he said, “I’ll give him the onion rings for free if he promises to wipe down the tables first.”
I heard Benny make a noise beside me. “Which tables?” he asked. “There’s a lot them.”
And there were. The food area had tables for people to use whether they ate at Hardy’s, or the ice cream place next door, or the Chinese place, or the salad and sandwich joint, or any of the other places.
Running Girl’s uncle pointed in our direction. “Just those five tables where you’re standing.” Then he held out a damp rag for Benny to take.
I could tell by the hunched-over way Benny was walking, he wasn’t too excited about wiping tables.
“And what do you want?” Running Girl’s uncle asked me after the girls and I walked over to the counter.
I looked at the menu on the wall behind him. “I’ll have a slice of pineapple pizza and a small root beer, but…” I pulled out the bills I had in my jacket. “I have the money to pay for them.”
He waved his hand at me. “That’s okay,” he said, “they’re on me this time.”
For a moment, I could feel my cheeks getting warm. I knew I should be paying for my food, but if he wanted to give it to me for free . . .
Running Girl and Jenny put in their orders, then we all sat down to wait.
“So what comics did you get?” I asked Jenny after we all sat down.
Smiling like it was Christmas already, she reached into the black paper bag she was carrying and pulled out a small stack of comics. “I got two Wonder Woman’s, four Archie’s and one Lightening Fast,” she said proudly.
“Archie’s!” exclaimed Benny.
Uh, oh, I thought, here it comes.
“What’s wrong with Archie’s?” Running Girl asked him. “I used to read them all the time.”
I could see by Benny’s expression, he wasn’t sure he should answer her.
He was saved when Running Girl’s uncle called, “Orders number thirty-six and thirty-seven are up.” Those were Benny’s onion rings and the large order of French fries the two girls were sharing.
I glanced at my ticket while Benny and the girls got up to get their orders. My ticket said thirty-eight, which was why I didn’t react at first when I heard Running Girl’s uncle call out number twenty-three.
I continued to stare at the piece of paper in my hand as he called again, “Number twenty-three,” then added, “your order’s up!”
Still I didn’t move until I heard him say, “A slice of pineapple pizza and a root beer.”
Then I stood up and went over to the counter, passing the two girls and Benny as they were returning to the table with their orders and drinks.
“This is mine?” I asked him pointing.
“Your number is twenty-three, isn’t it?” he asked me.
Still confused, I glanced once more at the number on the receipt. “If you say so,” I said to him.
He looked at me smiling and nodded, “I do.”
Finally deciding that he was just mistaken and that everything was alright, I grabbed my order and headed back to our table.
For the first few minutes, we didn’t say much. All of us were too busy munchn’ away on our food, especially Benny. Then, I asked Running Girl what grade she was in?
“I’m in fourth grade,” she replied. She motioned to her sister. “Jenny’s in second grade. Both of us go to Henry Jackson Elementary.”
I knew about Henry Jackson. It was a grade school on the opposite side of town. It was pretty far away.
“You take a bus, or do you run all the way?” I said half joking, but I was curious to see what her answer would be.
Instead of Running Girl replying, Jenny spoke up. “Kim could run it if she wanted to,” she said, stuffing at least four ketchup covered French fries in her mouth at once.
I bet she could.
Benny must have thought she was joking, because he laughed.
“It would be a little far to run,” replied Running Girl also eating a fry.
“Not if you’re as fast as lightening,” I said, looking directly at her.
She stared back at me a moment. I could see she was wondering if I meant it or not.
Before she could say anything, I heard her uncle ask, “You kids done yet?”
Heck, we had barely begun.
Running Girl turned to him and said, “Not yet.”
“Well, don’t take too long. I might need those tables for paying customers.”
I looked in his direction, thinking that wasn’t a nice thing to say, but when I saw him smiling, I realized he was only joking and went back to eating my food.
It didn’t take me long to finish my slice of pizza and soda. Then, I started worrying that maybe Running Girl’s uncle really did want us to leave, so I said to Benny, “We’d better get going. I still have to look for something for my mom.”
“You leaving already?” asked Running Girl. She seemed really disappointed. I didn’t blame her; so was I.
I said to her, “I have to; my mom needs me to do something for her.” It was a lie, but I didn’t know what else to say, especially with Benny around.
Benny pointed to his plate. “Let me finish these first.” He still had a couple of onion rings left.
I nodded then waited until he was through. Then we both stood up. “Nice meeting the both of you,” I said to Running Girl, as well as Jenny.
“Same,” replied Running Girl, smiling.
Then, I added, “Thanks for the free food.”
“Hope I see you again out running some night,” I said.
She looked at me with a curious expression. Instead of trying to explain what I meant, I turned to leave. So did Benny.
While we were walking back toward the stores, I thought about Running Girl and wondered if I really would get a chance to see her running again. As it turned out, I did; but first, I really did have to help out my mother.
After I dropped Benny off at his apartment, I went upstairs to my own. The moment I walked in, mom said she’d been waiting for me to get back. She asked me if I would go with her to the grocery store. She needed me to help her carry the groceries back. I really wanted to teleport over to the mall and buy Benny’s gift, but I told her I would.
After she bought her groceries, we started back with me carrying two of the four bags. Of course, it would have been a whole lot easier if I had been able to teleport back and fourth, but since mom couldn’t remember anymore about my super powers, I figured I’d have to do it the hard way and carry the groceries all the way. Lucky me.
Then, after we got back from the store, she asked if I would help her peel potatoes for supper. Once again, I felt my stomach drop, but I told her I would, especially after she said she was making her famous chicken and cheese casserole. I really liked her casserole. It had potatoes with fried onions and peppers, and pieces of shredded chicken, and all sitting under a thick layer of melted cheese. Really delicious!
Usually, she made this only when we were having company, so I asked, “Who’s coming over?”
“No one special,” she replied. “Just Mrs. Hanover and Father Carmel.”
For some reason, the idea that Father Carmel was coming over for dinner made me a little nervous. I don’t know why. He’d been here on Thanksgiving, but I couldn’t stop thinking that if one of them started remembering stuff, the other would too, and then I thought, how stupid of me! They worked together. If they haven’t remembered anything by now, they probably never will. So, I began peeling potatoes and thinking of rooftops I wanted to visit.
The dinner went okay, no one seemed to remember anything. The only time, I had to worry was when Mrs. Hanover asked me how my girlfriend was doing? I knew she was asking about Rickie Conners.
“He has a girlfriend?” mom asked surprised.
Looking from Mrs. Hanover to mom and back again, I said quickly, “Not any more. She’s mad at me.”
Mom frowned, “Oh, that’s too bad.” Then added, “But that’s okay; you’re too young to be thinking about girls, anyway.”
“I’ll agree to that,” said Father Carmel.
I would have agreed with them too if it wasn’t for the fact that Rickie Conners was no ordinary doll-playing, talking on the phone type of girl—and neither was Running Girl.
Like Thanksgiving, I found myself stuffed after we were done eating, except, this time, I didn’t take a walk around the block. For one thing, it was already dark and mom wouldn’t have wanted me out there alone.
So, I stayed inside and watched television while the grownups had their coffee and doughnuts. Of course, I had a few doughnuts myself, not to mention some of Mrs. Hanover’s cracker snacks. Afterwards, I helped mom clean up then went to my room to work on my comic book for a little while before going to bed.
After getting into my pajamas, I set my alarm clock for three-thirty, then put it under my pillow so mom wouldn’t hear it when it went off.
For some reason, I found between three-thirty and four was the best time to go roof-hopping. Not too many people around, and also very few cars. I could teleport down to the sidewalks in case I wanted to sneak into a store for a candy bar or a bag of chips, and almost never see a car come by.
This night, I guess Running Girl had the same idea, because I had just started roof-hopping when I spotted her streaking along the sidewalks below me. I watched her for a second or two before realizing she was headed in the direction of the mall.
Without really thinking about what might happen if someone saw me, I teleported down to the sidewalk about two blocks in front of her. I knew she’d be going by me like a rocket, so I stayed close to the building, but made sure she’d see me by waving to her way before she got to me. Then, I turned and teleported to another spot down the street. Once more, I waved to her as she went by.
This time, she must have realized I wasn’t just a statue or something, because after she passed me, she seemed to slow down a little. It took her longer to reach me at the next spot I hopped to. Then, she came to a stop, and barely out of breath, stared at me as if I was an elephant standing in the middle of the street wearing a pair of pajamas.
“Who are you?” she asked me, her oriental eyes almost round with surprise.
Realizing I hadn’t told her my name before at the mall, I said, “My name is David Sanchez and I’m a S.E.E.K. like you.”
“What’s a S.E.E.K.?” she asked frowning.
“It means we are Super, Enhanced, Experimental, Kids.” And then I told her about what Frank, the chauffeur, had told me about Roswell, and the space ships, and the scientists, and creating the S.E.E.K.s.
Running Girl’s eyes got big for a second, then suddenly, her expression changed, and she looked like she was in deep thought about something. She asked me, “How did you find out about all this?”
“Frank, the chauffeur, told me,” I explained to her.
“Frank, the chauffeur? Who’s he?”
“He was the first of us S.E.E.K.s.”
She frowned. “The first?” I nodded. “Why, how many are there?”
“Thirty,” I told her.
“Thirty?” she repeated like she couldn’t quite believe it. “Do they all live here in the city?”
That was a good question. I hadn’t really thought about it, but could be. After all, I already knew about Rickie Conners, Running Girl, Frank, the chauffeur, and myself. That was four out of thirty. Who knew how many others were around.
While I was thinking about the answer to her question, a loud rumble made both of us turn and look in the direction of the noise. A huge truck was barreling down the street towards us. I felt my stomach clench, especially after I saw what was following behind the truck—a police car!
I turned to Running Girl. “We have to get out of here and fast!”
“Because the police are coming! If they see us, they’re gonna want to know why we’re standing here alone on the sidewalk in the middle of the night.”
I reached for her hand. I must have startled her, because she flinched and stepped back.
“Don’t worry,” I told her, as I reached for her hand again. “This won’t hurt.” Then wrapping my hand around her warm, slender fingers, I pictured the area inside the mall’s bookstore where the magazine racks were.
The next instant, we were gone.
“This is the bookstore,” Running Girl said, as she let go of my hand and looked around.
“Yeah, it’s where I wanted to come in the first place.”
I turned toward the racks where the comics were kept. I didn’t need to turn on any lights in my body to be able to see. There were several small ceiling lights on. I guess that was so the security guards could see inside the store and make sure everything was okay.
I turned the rack of comics until I was looking at the Lightening Fast comics. I pulled one from the rack along with the newest Superman, Batman and Spiderman. “I would have come earlier,” I said to Running Girl, who was standing next to me looking at the other rack of comics, “but I had to help my mother.”
“That’s nice,” she replied, as she pulled a G.I. Joe comic off the rack next to mine.
“You like G.I. Joe?” I asked her surprised.
“Not really,” she said, as she turned from the comics and headed over to the wall where the new paperbacks were displayed. “This is for my father. He likes to read a lot.”
I saw her take two books off the wall racks, but couldn’t see what they were. “You gonna have enough money to pay for those?” I asked her.
She turned to me and smiled. “Who said anything about paying?”
A feeling like a rock dropping into a puddle of mud settled in my stomach.
“I’m paying for these,” I said to her holding up the comics I had picked. “I’m going to leave money and a note saying what I took by the cash register.”
Her eyebrows shot up. “You always pay for what you take?” she asked.
I could feel my cheeks turning red. I looked down. “No,” I mumbled.
“What was that?” she asked.
“No,” I repeated a little louder. And then it hit me. “Wait a minute!” I said. “If you were planning on stealing those books in the first place, how were you planning on getting into the store?”
She smiled. “The same way I was going to get into the mall.” She came over to me and grabbed my free hand. “Come on, I’ll show you.”
I allowed her to guide me toward the store’s front entrance. Outside the doors, a metal gate with huge slats went across the entire front of the store. That meant there was both glass and metal protecting the inside of the store from anyone who might want to get in. “Now, just relax,” she said, “and don’t let go.”
We stopped just in front of the doors. “You ready?” she asked. I nodded. “Now, step forward.”
“But . . .” I started to say as she tugged me toward the doors. I took a big step and stumbled. I would have fallen if it hadn’t been for her holding me up.
“What just happened?” I asked her as I realized we were now outside in the hallway in front of the bookstore.
“We went through the glass doors and the gate,” she said, smiling at me.
I blinked once as I realized what she was saying.
“So that’s your other power besides speed?” I said to her.
“Yep!” She was still smiling.
“Can you walk through other things as well?”
“Yep! I can walk through any wall or counter I want to.”
“Does your parents know about this?” I asked her.
She replied. “Who do you think sends me out to get stuff?”
My mouth dropped open like a broken door. “Your parents send you out to steal?” I asked her astonished.
“Not the both of them,” she replied. “Just my father.”
The feeling of a rock in mud grew heavier in my stomach.
“Why?” I asked her.
Her expression changed. It became more serious. “A couple of years ago, he was hurt really bad in a car accident. He can’t walk any more. He has to use a wheelchair to get around. He likes to read, so I get him books and magazines.”
“And you steal them?” I asked, realizing that what she was doing was no different than when I took the food and blankets to give to the bums on First Avenue.
“Why not?” she asked.
“Because . . .” I started to say, but realized I couldn’t come up with any answer that made sense, so I just shrugged.
“You could do the same with those comics,” she said pointing to the magazines in my hand.
For the first time I remembered that I was still holding them, but before I could say or do anything, I heard a grownup’s voice shout, “Hey, what are you kids doing here?”
Startled, I looked toward the voice. A security guard was standing not more than twenty feet away. Where had he come from?
“I’m outta here,” I heard Running Girl say beside me, then felt a breeze as I looked to see she was gone.
“Hey, kid,” said the security guard, “where’d your friend go?”
I looked at him and shrugged. The next instant, I was gone, too.
I’d almost forgotten that I had not paid for the comics until after mom woke me up and I heard her say, “Come on, get up; we have to go to church.”
Church! Oh, God, I thought, as I suddenly remembered the comic books.
I looked towards my little desk. The comics were still where I had left them earlier. Good thing mom hadn’t noticed.
Slipping out of bed, I headed for the bathroom to do my thing and take a shower. After drying off, I wrapped the towel around my waist and shuffled back to my room to get dressed. To be safe, I put the comics in my closet along with the rest of my magazines and mom’s Christmas gift.
Like with a lot of Sundays, mom made me pancakes to go along with my eggs. She really likes taking good care of me I thought, and I do her—well, as much as an eight-year-old can take care of a grownup.
“Today,” mom said to me in Spanish, “Jesus is bringing over our Christmas tree. Are you going to help us decorate it?” Jesus Ramirez was a janitor who worked at St. Michael’s.
I nodded, but didn’t say anything. I was too busy enjoying my pancakes, while thinking about what had happened at the mall. Running Girl was a bigger thief than even me, but she said she was doing it for her father. Did her mother know? What about her sister, Jenny? And would I do the same if it was mom and she couldn’t get around and needed things? Something told me I would. And what would Father Carmel say about that? I knew what he’d say. He’d say it was stealing, no matter what the reason, and that it was a sin.
Right after mom and I got back from church, Jesus showed up with our tree. It wasn’t very big, but even so, it was tall enough so that if mom or I wanted to reach the top, we’d have to stand on our stool.
While mom made coffee, I helped Jesus get it straight in its stand then all three of us began to put decorations on the tree.
An hour after Jesus left, I heard a knock on the door.
“David, would you get that,” mom called to me in Spanish from the kitchen.
Putting down the pencil I had been sketching with, I left my room and headed toward our apartment door. When I looked through the peephole, I saw Father Carmel. He looked really cold in his heavy black priest’s coat, especially since it was buttoned all the way to his chin. I had to admit it had gotten a lot colder lately, which was why both Running Girl and I had been wearing our own heavy jackets when we were out last night, but this was too much. Grownups are such wimps sometimes, I thought.
I opened the door, and he came in carrying a shopping bag.
“I’ve brought the both of you Christmas presents,” he said, as he took off his hat. He was still wearing his thin black leather gloves.
“Mom!” I called. “It’s Father Carmel!”
Mom came out of the kitchen, and Father Carmel told her the same thing he told me about bringing us Christmas presents.
“You didn’t really have to,” she said as she took the shopping bag from him and put it on the floor by the tree.
Are you kidding! I thought. It’s Christmas! I’ll take any present anyone wants to give me, even clothes.
Father Carmel took off his gloves and said to mom, “I already put the present you gave me under the tree at church.
Then mom said, “Would you like a cup of tea? I just heated up some water?”
Father Carmel said, “Only for a minute or two. I still have to visit some other people.”
I followed them into the kitchen, where Father Carmel sat in a chair at the table, while mom fixed him a cup of tea. Then she too sat in a chair opposite him, while I stood nearby leaning against the counter.
Father Carmel spoke first. “I’ve just had the most curious conversation with one of my closest friends,” he said after taking a sip of his tea. “He’s a night guard over at the mall, and he told me about the most amazing thing that happened to him.”
“What was that?” mom asked, as my face began to prickle as if I had a million ants crawling all over it.
“He said he was on patrol when he came across two young kids (a boy and a girl) in the mall.” My whole body went stiff as a board. “It was four o’clock in the morning! He couldn’t imagine what they were doing there or how they had gotten in. He said when he saw them, he yelled at them, and then the girl just disappeared. He thinks she ran away, but he’s not sure, because no normal person could have run that fast.”
I’ll agree to that, I thought.
“Next, the boy disappeared, too, but my friend says he just vanished like a magician.”
“Imagine that!” said mom.
Yeah, imagine that, I thought, as my underarms began to sweat.
Father Carmel said, “My friend asked me if I thought magic really existed?”
“And what did you say?” I asked him.
Turning to me, Father Carmel said, “I think some of the stuff scientists do seems like magic, but I’m skeptical the real thing could ever exist.” Good, I thought. “What do you think, David?” he asked, looking directly into my eyes. Suddenly, I felt even more sweat dripping.
I stared back at him, my stomach going up and down like an elevator. Finally, I said, “Comic books are filled with people who do all kinds of magic-like things.”
Father Carmel nodded. “Yes, but there’s usually a scientific explanation for what they can do.”
I almost forgot he knew a lot about what went on in comics.
Finally, he turned away from me and went back to facing mom, but I saw him glance sideways in my direction as he said, “I can’t imagine what would make a young boy or girl hang out at the mall that early in the morning.”
This time, I was sure he was talking to me and about me.
After he left, I couldn’t help but wonder if he was remembering stuff about me again. I had to know.
Grabbing my jacket, I told mom I was going over to the Boys & Girls Club. She knew there were people working there even on Sundays. Instead, as soon as I got outside our apartment door, I teleported over to Father Carmel’s office in St. Michael’s. I figured I could wait for him as long as it took since mom thought I was at the club.
One thing that made it easier; I didn’t have to make up any stories to tell Benny about where I was going. He was with his parents over at his aunt’s house. They were having a pre-Christmas party. Christmas Eve was on Tuesday, but his aunt was going to be out of town for Christmas, so they decided to get together today.
About half an hour later, Father Carmel showed up. He took one look at me sitting behind his desk, and said, “Oh, David, I thought you might come looking for me.”
I could feel the excitement begin to grow inside of me as I asked him, “Why’s that?”
“That was you my friend saw in the mall, wasn’t it?”
I wanted to shout and jump up and down! He was remembering again! Instead, I just looked at him and nodded.
“And that was your friend Rickie Conners, too?”
This time, I shook my head. “No, it was someone else.”
Father Carmel frowned, but before he could ask me anything else, I said, “You’re remembering again about my super powers, aren’t you?” He nodded. “How? Why?”
Father Carmel came over by the desk. “Get out of there,” he said to me. “Let me sit down.”
I got up out of his chair, and came around to the front of his desk, and just stood there.
After Father Carmel sat down, he rested his forearms on his desk and said to me, “What you probably don’t know is I keep a journal, and have been for years. I write in it almost every week. I’ve been writing about you and your friend ever since I found out about you two. Then suddenly, the entries about you stopped.”
Yeah, that was probably after you’d been made to forget about how special I was, I thought.
Father Carmel continued, “Then one night a couple of weeks ago, while I was writing in my journal, I accidentally knocked it off my desk. When it landed on the floor, it opened up to the pages where I first wrote about your power to teleport. After that, I read all the entries right up until you told me about Rickie Conners not remembering who you were. It was shortly after that the entries changed. But once I started reading again, it all came back to me.”
“Does mom know?” I asked him.
He shook his head. “I made a few discreet inquires, but it seems she still isn’t aware of your abilities.”
I wasn’t sure what discreet inquires meant, but I asked him, “Why haven’t you told her yet?”
Father Carmel looked thoughtful. “Once I was able to remember everything, I figured out what must have happened, and thought that maybe it was safer just to leave her in the dark for now.” Then he said to me real serious-like, “What about you? Have you told her yet?”
I shook my head.
Then he asked me the question I knew was coming, “What were you and that girl doing in the mall so early in the morning?”
What could I say? We were hiding from the police? That she was there to steal books for her father? Instead, I said, “We were just having fun.”
“Fun,” replied Father Carmel, his eyebrows rising. “At four o’clock in the morning!” I nodded. “Doing what?”
I felt my cheeks getting red as I said to him, “Showing each other our powers.”
“So she’s another one like you?” he asked. I nodded. “I wonder how many others there are around here?”
“That’s what I’ve been wondering, too,” I told him.
He looked at me and asked, “So what kind of powers does she have?”
“She can run really fast, like the Flash and …” I hesitated… “walk through walls.”
Once again, his eyebrows shot up. “That’s an incredible ability. Does she use it for good or evil?”
At first, I thought about all the sermons Father Carmel had given on the subject of making choices. Then, I thought about Running Girl’s father being stuck in a wheelchair, and her bringing him books and magazines to read. “Good,” I said at last.
“And what about you? What have you been using your powers for lately?”
I could feel my face becoming even redder as I thought about the food and blankets I had given the bums on First Avenue. “Only good,” I said to him, even though I knew he would disagree.
Father Carmel smiled and nodded. “That’s fine,” he said. “But you still haven’t told me what you were doing in the mall in the middle of the night?”
I hesitated while I tried to come up with a really good excuse, but nothing I could think of seemed right, so finally, I just decided to tell him the truth. “I was getting some comic books for Benny for Christmas.”
“And were you planning to pay for these comic books?” he asked me.
“I had the money,” I told him.
“But did you leave the money?”
I lowered my eyes. “Not yet,” I confessed.
Even without seeing his face, I knew he was disappointed, so I said to him real fast like, “I was going to leave money and a note saying what I had taken, but the security guard surprised us before I could do so.” He continued to look at me like I had just talked back to mom or something, which was why I said, “I’ll go back tonight and leave the money. I promise!”
“You promise?” he asked.
“Yes, I promise.”
His expression changed. “Good,” he replied smiling. “That’s what I wanted to hear.” Then he stood up and came around the front of the desk. He placed a hand on my shoulder. It felt huge.
“You’re a good boy, David,” he said, looking down at me. “But with a power such as yours, it’s easy to become corrupted. Let’s hope I never have to visit you in jail.”
“I don’t think they could keep me in jail,” I replied without thinking.
When I saw him frown again, I realized what I had said.
“I didn’t mean it that way,” I replied quickly.
He smiled again. “I know you didn’t. Then he crossed his arms in front of his chest and asked, “So where are you going now?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe over to the Boys and Girl’s Club?”
He smiled nodding. “That’s a good idea. Go out and play some games. Hang around with normal kids for a change. Try to forget about all this super power stuff for a while.”
How could I do that, I thought with Rickie Conners on one side of me, Running Girl on the other, and me in the middle, but I said to him, “I will.”
And that’s exactly what I tried to do . . . at least for the rest of the afternoon.
As soon as I got home, mom made supper. Afterwards, I wrapped her present, then Benny’s comic books then I watched TV for a while. Between programs, I checked the present Father Carmel had brought me. Whatever it was, the box was really heavy. Good, I thought. That meant it couldn’t be clothes.
Then after TV, I went into my room to draw some more pictures in the comic book I was creating for Rickie Conners, but just as I picked up my pencil, I changed my mind. Instead, I put it down, then pulled out some of my old G. I. Joe figures, and other army men, and sitting on the floor, began to play with them the way I used to.
Father Carmel had been right. Hanging out with some of the other kids at the Boys & Girls Club kind of did make me feel like a normal person again. I was enjoying the feeling until mom told me it was time to get ready for bed. Then I remembered my promise to Father Carmel about leaving the money for Benny’s comics.
After putting on my pajamas, I set my alarm clock for 3:30 and put it under my pillow. This time, I didn’t bother getting dressed, or putting on my heavy jacket—just my sweatshirt with the hood up. I had planned to hop directly into the bookstore and leave the money and note, and not go roof hopping. At least, that was my plan.
But wouldn’t you know it, as soon as I dropped the money and note on the counter by the cash register, I heard someone knock on the store’s front window. Without turning around, and almost without thinking about it, I suddenly found myself standing in the cold on top of my favorite building.
I could see my breath as I stood on top of the Stellar Building, shivering from both the cold and the fact that I had been seen again. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that it was the same security guard as the last time. If so, I bet he was wondering for sure whether or not magic was real.
In the mean time, I looked around a little at the city below me, all decorated for Christmas then teleported back to my room where it was warm and safe again, at least for now.
The next morning, Benny called me. He wanted to show me what his aunt and uncle had gotten him for Christmas. So, putting on my sneakers, I headed down to his apartment. Even though it was Monday, it was the day before Christmas Eve. We were off from school until after New Years. Great, I thought! At least, I wouldn’t have to look at Mrs. Prouse all day and think about Rickie’s mother, but I was going to miss seeing Rickie on the playground.
When I got to Benny’s apartment, he was sitting on his couch waiting for me, and holding his present. It turned out to be a riffle! A pellet riffle shaped to look like a real Winchester riffle, like the cowboys use. Neat, I thought, until his mother reminded the both of us that it wasn’t just a toy.
“You have to be careful with that thing. You could shoot someone’s eye out.”
“Ah, mom!” Benny moaned. “You’ve already said that twice.”
“Well, just remember it,” she said again.
“Come on,” said Benny getting up off the couch. “Let’s go down to the lot and shoot some targets.” Which is what we did.
The lot was just that—a big empty lot behind our building. Well, it wasn’t really empty. The dirt and weeds were filled with sparkling bits of broken glass, pieces of wood both small and large, a couple of old stinky mattresses, a broken refrigerator, beer and soda cans everywhere, and a bunch of other junk. I didn’t know if there had ever been anything on that lot, like a building, but it was a good place to practice shooting targets.
“You set up the target,” Benny said to me. “And I’ll take the first shots.”
So, that’s what I did, slipping a paper target inside the metal circle on the end of the metal stake which we had stuck in the ground.
Lucky for the both of us, it was actually pretty warm this day. In fact, it was warmer than it had been even the day before, which meant we didn’t have to wear our gloves. But that didn’t make Benny’s aim any better. Out of ten shots, he hit the target only three times, and none of them in the middle.
“Here, why don’t you try it,” he said, sounding a little bit annoyed as he handed me the riffle.
I cocked it the way I had seen him do it, then took aim. My first shot was close to the center circle. My next one hit the center circle, but on its edge. My third hit close to the top edge of the target, and my fourth was in between the first and third.
“Give me that back!” demanded Benny as he reached for his rifle, practically ripping it from my hands. I might have said something about the way he had grabbed it, but it was his gun, after all. And could I help it if I was a better shot than him?
The next few shots he took were all over the place. A couple actually hit the target.
“Let’s get closer,” he said. So we got within ten feet of the target. At least, that helped him hit it several times.
After my next turn, I handed Benny back the riffle. Instead of aiming it at the new target we had put in the ring, he swung around and aimed at a pigeon that had landed several yards away.
“No, don’t!” I said, too late as the gun made a popping, snit-like sound. Lucky for the pigeon, Benny was such a bad shot. I saw a bit of dirt kick up in front of the bird and then it flew off.
“You shouldn’t shoot at pigeons I said to him.
“Why not?” he asked me, sounding annoyed again.
I said the only thing I could think of. “Because, if your mother saw you shooting at birds, she’d probably take the gun away from you.”
Benny’s brown eyes dropped for a second. “Yeah, I guess you’re right.” Then he looked up at me and smiled saying, “Come on, let’s go and get some ice cream.”
I couldn’t help but be surprised. “It’s only ten o’clock in the morning!” I said.
“So?” he replied.
Since I couldn’t think of a good excuse not to, I shrugged and said, “Why not?”
We brought his riffle and the targets back upstairs, then began walking toward the ice cream shop which was around the block from St. Michael’s.
We were just approaching the church, when I thought I saw someone I knew going up the steps.
“Wait a minute!” I said, stopping short. “Isn’t that the guy from Hardy’s?” I said.
Benny tried to see where I was looking. “Where?” he asked, having stopped beside me.
I pointed. “Going into St. Michael’s.”
Benny looked toward the church, but it was too late. The fat man in the heavy gray parka had already gone inside.
The door to the church was still in the process of closing when Benny said, “I didn’t see anyone.”
I shrugged. “He already went inside.” We started walking again. “But I’m sure it was him”
Then Benny said exactly what I was thinking. “I wonder what he want’s inside of St. Michael’s?”
I shrugged again. “Maybe he’s going to see Father Carmel.”
“Maybe,” Benny said, not sounding too interested. But I sure was; something in the back of my mind was telling me that there was a reason he was going inside of St. Michael’s, and I would bet my sketchpad it had something to do with me.
That night after supper, mom said to me she was going over to Mrs. Hanover’s apartment to give her her gift.
“Are you going to be alright by yourself?” she asked me in Spanish before she left.
“Of course,” I replied, also in Spanish. “Don’t worry about me.”
“I won’t be too long,” mom said as she grabbed her keys. “And don’t open the door for anyone.”
Rolling my eyes, I said to her, “I won’t,” then watched as she walked out the door.
As soon as she left, I went into my bedroom and put on my heavy jacket. Then after appearing on the roof of the Stellar Building, I scoped out a spot on the roof of a building next to the park near where Rickie lived. Once there, I looked around the area below me.
At one end of the park was a really tall Christmas tree, which had been all decorated with lights. In front of the tree were some bleachers on which a group of people, both young and old, were standing and singing Christmas songs. Big floodlights lit up the area. While off to the side closest to the road, small rolling carts were offering hot chocolate and coffee to a small crowd that had gathered to watch and listen to the singers.
I had known about the singing from a commercial on TV, but what I was really here to see was the tree. Where we lived, you don’t get to see too many Christmas trees that are almost as tall as your building.
Along side of the park, and behind the crowd of people who had gathered to listen to the singers, was a small bunch of trees. I figured that would be a good spot to teleport down to. No one would see me arrive.
Teleporting down to the spot I had picked, I started to step around one of the trees when someone else suddenly appeared before me. Startled, I gasped, then realized who it was.
“What are you doing here?” I asked Frank, the chauffeur. Like Father Carmel, he had on a heavy-looking long dark coat, either black or blue (I couldn’t tell for sure), but his wasn’t buttoned all the way to his chin.
“I thought you might be trying to see Rickie,” he said to me.
“No, I was just going to see the tree,” I said pointing.
“Good,” he said, sounding satisfied. We both started walking toward the crowd of people.
After a moment, I asked him, “So how did you know I was here?”
“I have my ways,” he replied. Then he said something that made me stop dead in my tracks. “I see you’ve been hanging around with number seven lately.”
I stared up at him, my eyes popping out of my head. “How did you know?” I asked. I knew he was talking about Running Girl.
He smiled at me. “I told you, I have my ways.”
I started walking again. So did he.
“Are you going to make her forget, like you did Rickie and my mother?” I asked him. I tried sounding really mad.
“No need to,” he replied while still walking. “She’s not that important.”
“What does that mean?” I asked him confused.
Instead of answering me, he became transparent, then completely disappeared. I stopped and stared at the spot where he had been. “What does that mean?” I said louder to the empty air in front of me.
“What does what mean?” a woman asked at the edge of the crowd. She had heard me.
“Nothing,” I said not looking at her. Then slowly, I made my way to the right side of the crowd and kept on walking until I was in front of the people and could see all of the tree.
It was very beautiful, but I was still wondering about what Frank had meant when he said she wasn’t important. I don’t know about him, but she was to me.
When I got home, mom asked me why I was wearing my jacket, and why my cheeks looked red? She had walked in the door a few seconds after I had reappeared in the living room.
“The TV said it was starting to snow, so I went up to the roof to see for myself.”
“What snow?” she asked in Spanish.
“Go look for yourself,” I told her.
Mom went to the kitchen window and peeked out.
“You’re right!” she said, sounding surprised.
I was right, but not because of the TV. While I had still been in the park, it had started snowing. Not much, just a few flurries, but it kept me from lying to her totally. The weird part was it had started just as the singers began the song Frosty The Snowman. A lot of the people in the crowd watching had laughed. So did I.
“Well, say your prayers and get ready for bed. And no more going out tonight.”
Actually, that’s what I already had planned. I was tired, and just wanted to go to sleep.
The next evening, Christmas Eve, mom had Mrs. Hanover for supper. Father Carmel had gone out of town. Mom made her usual Christmas Eve dinner—fish along with other stuff and then we all snacked on doughnuts and ice cream. Afterwards, we sat around and watched part of It’s A Wonderful Life on TV.
Later, before going to sleep, mom brought me a wrapped package she said was from Mrs. Hanover.
“You want to open it now or wait till tomorrow morning?” she asked.
My mind did a flip-flop as I tried to decide which I wanted most. Finally, I said, “I’ll wait until morning, so we can open our presents together.”
“Okay,” she nodded, then closed my light, and partially shut my door.
The only problem was I was too busy thinking about my presents to fall asleep right away. Also, I kept thinking about Running girl and Rickie Conners. I wondered if they had already opened their presents, or were they also waiting until tomorrow morning?
Mom woke me by saying, “Get up sleepyhead and see what Santa Clause brought you.”
I rolled my eyes, but didn’t say anything. Then after I got up, we headed for our Christmas tree in the living room.
Mom opened her present from me first. I had gotten her a clear plastic message holder. It had a flat base, then a center piece that stood straight up, both sides of which had a frosted white picture of the Blessed Mother on it. There was a slot in the middle of the stand up part where you could put a message, or maybe an envelope.
“I love it,” said mom, brushing my hair with her fingers.
Next, I opened mom’s present to me. It was an entire drawing set: pads, pencils, colored pencils, pieces of charcoal, colored chalk, even a small tin of water colors and some brushes.
“Wow! Neat!” I said to her. She smiled at me like I had just given her a report card filled with all As.
Next, I opened Father Carmel’s gift. I was right. It wasn’t clothes. It was a box filled with comics, both old and new. “I wonder where he got all these?” I said, as I flipped through the stack. There must have been at least 25 comics, plus a soft cover book that was titled: How To Draw Like A Comic Book Artist. “Wow!” I said again.
After that, I opened my gift from Mrs. Hanover. It was a very expensive-looking pair of binoculars. “Wow!” I said for a third time.
I plastered the binoculars to my eyes and adjusted the knobs. “I can’t wait until I can use these outside,” I said to mom.
“Well, right now, you have to eat your breakfast and we have to get ready for church.”
“Didn’t you get anything else?” I asked mom in Spanish.
“Yeah,” she replied in Spanish. “Father Carmel gave me a really nice heavy-knit sweater to wear at work, and Mrs. Hanover gave me a Sears’ gift certificate.”
“Okay,” I said nodding, but couldn’t help but think that maybe mom should have had more gifts under the tree. I thought about it. Maybe, one day she will.
After church, we went down to Benny’s for Christmas day dinner. I brought Benny’s comics with me. After I gave him my present, he gave me one from him and his family. It was a thin, light box. Inside was a pair of leather gloves and a bunch of gift certificates from Hardy’s. I bet I knew whose idea those were. Mom also got some gift certificates in a card. These were also for Sears. At least, she was going to be able to do a lot of shopping.
Once the presents were open, Benny and I played with some of his Legos and the train set, which he had gotten the year before. Then we all ate.
After dinner, Benny and I went downstairs to use his pellet gun again while I brought along my new binoculars. They were really strong. I could see really far away. In fact, while Benny shot at a target, I watched through my binoculars and told him whether or not he hit the target and where.
The next day, while mom went to work, I hung out with Benny. About ten o’clock, he suggested we head over to the mall.
“I know, you want me to use some of the gift certificates you gave me for Hardy’s, don’t you?”
Benny looked a little embarrassed. “Maybe,” he said, not looking at me directly.
“Okay,” I told him.
He smiled. “Great! And maybe we can check out a movie while we’re there.” Which we did, but none of the movies that were playing that day really looked all that interesting, at least, not to two eight year olds. So, we headed next door to the mall and up to the food area section.
Running Girl’s uncle was behind the counter. While Benny ordered his onion rings, I kept glancing at Kim’s uncle. He must have noticed because after Benny walked over to a table to sit down, and while I was still trying to decide what I wanted, he said to me, “Yes, that was me you saw going into St. Michael’s.”
My eyes popped open and my mouth dropped like an oven door. But before I could say anything, he said, “I’ll tell you about it later.”
Except later never came; at least, not that day.
For the rest of the day, I hung out with Benny then around supper, I went over to Mrs. Hanover’s apartment with mom and we all ate together. It was only after I went to bed that I had a chance to be on my own.
At about 3:30 in the morning, I put on my winter clothes, then hung my binoculars around my neck and teleported to the top of the Stellar Building. The binoculars were great, even in the dark! That’s when I noticed something off in the distance moving really fast.
Teleporting to a couple of rooftops I knew about, I tried locating her. Once I did spot her, I teleported down to the sidewalk several blocks in front of her. Only this time, I didn’t stand next to the building. Instead, I stood in the middle of the sidewalk. I just hoped she saw me in time.
She did. I breathed a sigh of relief when she came to a stop three feet in front of me.
“You shouldn’t stand in my way,” she said as she took a couple of deep breaths. “I might have run into you.”
I smiled, even though I was still shaking inside. “I don’t think you would have,” I said.
“Because you don’t run into stuff now. Something tells me you can see things even though you’re running really fast.”
Running Girl nodded. “You’re right,” she said.
For some reason, I looked down at her shoes. They were blue. “You got new sneakers!” I said pointing.
Again, she nodded. “Yeah, they’re a present from my uncle.”
I looked at her. “Speaking of your uncle. Does he know anyone in my church?”
“What’s your church?”
Running Girl shrugged. “You’d have to ask him.”
Which is what I was thinking about doing when I heard a really loud voice say, “What are you kids doing there?”
When I looked, I saw a cop car coming towards us a short ways down the street. The policeman must have used his loudspeaker.
Not again, I thought as I looked at Running Girl. She didn’t even say goodbye. She just ran away, which is what I should have done in my own way, but instead, I hopped to a spot on the sidewalk a little ways in front of the approaching police car. As it passed me, I waved. I could see the eyes of the policeman next to the driver get really big. I giggled all the way from down deep inside my stomach then teleported to my room.
Later that morning, I got a telephone call from Benny’s mother. She said Benny wasn’t feeling too good, so we wouldn’t be able to hang out together. She asked me if I wanted to come down to their apartment anyway?
I thanked her, but told her I was going to be hanging out at Mrs. Hanover’s place. “She invited me for lunch.”
Yes, it was a lie, but it would give me a chance to do what I really wanted to, and that was visit Running Girl’s uncle at the mall.
After about ten o’clock, I put down the charcoal sticks I had been sketching with, and teleported over to one of the stalls in the bathroom at the mall. I lucked out; no one was in the bathroom, or in the stall. Once I left the bathroom, I headed straight for the food area and Hardy’s.
You know, it hadn’t really occurred to me until that moment, but I couldn’t help but wonder, what would happen if I teleported to a spot where someone already was? Maybe the next time I saw Frank, the chauffeur, I’d ask him about it.
Running Girl’s uncle was behind the counter by himself. No one else seemed to be around.
As I walked up to the counter, he smiled at me and asked, “So where’s your onion ring-loving friend?”
“He’s sick,” I said, looking Running Girl’s uncle directly in the eyes.
For a couple of seconds, neither of us said anything, but while I was staring at him, I felt something strange—like ants crawling around inside my head. I shivered.
Finally, her uncle said to me, “You’re wondering why I was going into St. Michael’s?” How did he know what I was thinking? I nodded. “To steal the collection money, of course,” he said real serious-like.
My eyebrows shot up and he laughed a deep rumbling laugh. “Only joking, but I was there for a reason.”
“To see your priest friend, Father Carmel.”
For some reason, I found myself getting excited. “Why?” I asked him, stepping closer to the counter.
“To let him know we had met.”
“Why?” I asked again.
I think he was about to tell me, when I saw him look at someone or something over my shoulder.
“And what would you like?” he asked whoever was behind me.
When I turned around, I saw it was a woman with two teenage girls. They were looking up at the menu on the wall above the grill. I stepped to the side so they could get closer. Then, I looked at Running Girl’s uncle. He had already grabbed a pad and pencil to write down their orders. That’s when it dawned on me, I was probably going to have to wait until he finished serving them before I could talk to him again, if at all.
I started to back up until I was standing directly behind the woman and the girls. Would anyone else show up, I wondered? Sure enough, off in the distance, I saw a black woman holding the hand of a young black boy, who looked about my age coming toward the restaurant. (He should have been walking on his own, I thought.)
Backing up even further, I stopped when I came to the wall next to one of the square trash containers. Then turning around so that it would look like I was dumping something in the trash, I looked over my shoulder, and watched the woman and boy as they entered the restaurant area and got in line behind the other woman and the teens. Then after making sure no one was watching me, I teleported back to my room.
Since Running Girl’s uncle was busy, there was one other person I could talk to, but how to do it without mom finding out. Then I got an idea. It was something I had seen done recently on a TV show.
I took my handkerchief out of my pocket. Then picking up the phone, I covered the mouthpiece with the handkerchief and dialed the number for the church. Mom answered.
Lowering my voice to try and sound like a grownup, I asked if Father Carmel was there? Mom said he was, then asked who was calling?
For a moment, I felt panic. What should I say? As the seconds ticked by, I suddenly thought of Running Girl’s uncle. Finally, I said to her, “A friend.”
She put me through and I heard Father Carmel’s voice come on the phone.
“Father,” I said in a hurry. “This is David, but don’t say anything. I need to talk to you right away; it’s important.”
There was a moment or two of silence, then I heard him say, “I understand.” I waited some more. Then he said, “I’ll meet you in my private room in twenty minutes.”
I felt relieved. “Thank you,” I said forgetting to disguise my voice.
After going to the bathroom and grabbing one of the comics Father Carmel had gotten me for Christmas, I teleported over to his private room at the church. About ten minutes later, he showed up.
“So, David,” said Father Carmel, as he came over to sit on the side of his bed. I was sitting on one of his chairs facing him. “What’s so important?” Before I could answer, he asked, “Did someone else come down with amnesia?”
I smiled slightly and shook my head. “No, nothing like that.”
“So what’s on your mind?”
I looked at him and said, “I’ve met my new friend’s uncle. He works at Hardy’s in the mall. I saw him coming into St. Michael’s the other day.” Father Carmel’s expression changed. Suddenly, he looked much more serious than before. I said to him, “He was coming here to talk to you about me, wasn’t he?”
Father Carmel looked down at the floor for a moment. Then his eyes met mine and he nodded.
I knew it! “Why?” I asked him.
He hesitated, then said, “He came here because he knew that once you two met, the truth would eventually come out.”
“The truth about what?”
“The truth about his involvement in your adoption.”
My eyebrows shot up. “My adoption!” I exclaimed. “What did he have to do with it? Don’t tell me he’s my uncle, too?”
“No, but the truth is that without his help, you might not have been adopted . . . at least, not by your mother, anyway.”
My mouth dropped open and my eyes bugged out. “Why not?” I asked him stunned.
“Because,” he said, “even with me vouching for her, your mother didn’t fit all the criteria for adoption.”
“Why not?” I asked again, still feeling weirded out.
“There were several reasons, but none of those are important now. Max—that’s his name, by the way—knew people who could make it happen where I couldn’t. And your mother really, really wanted it to happen.”
To know that my mom wanted me so much made me feel good, but I wondered aloud, “Who were these people?”
“Just people,” he said.
I hate it when grownups refuse to answer your questions, so, instead, I asked him, “Does mom know?”
Father Carmel shook his head. “No, and you must never tell her.”
I frowned. “Why not?”
“Because I don’t want her worrying that some day the authorities might come and take you away.”
“Could they?” I asked, my stomach suddenly feeling like it had rocks in it.
Father Carmel shook his head real hard. “No, no way! Max assured me that would never happen.”
That’s what he thought.
It started with a man with dark, scary eyes, driving a big blue car that kept showing up around our neighborhood. It ended with a knock on our apartment door.
“David,” mom called from the kitchen, “would you see who that is?”
When I looked through the peephole, I recognized the man from the car. At that moment, my stomach did a flip-flop.
Mom came out of the kitchen. “So, who is it?” she asked me in Spanish.
I looked at her; I wanted to answer, but the words refused to come out.
She frowned and asked, “What’s the matter with you?” Then leaned over and looked through the peephole herself. “Who’s that?” she wondered aloud, as she reached for the doorknob.
“No, don’t!” I said to her real loud like. Somehow, I just knew this guy meant trouble.
I must have scared her, because she flinched and snatched her hand back. “What’s wrong with you?” she asked as the man in the hallway knocked one more time.
This time, mom did turn the knob and opened the door.
“No-o-o-o-o!” my eight-year-old brain screamed silently, as I watched the door swing wide.
The man standing in the hallway reminded me a lot of Frank, the chauffeur, mostly because of the way he was dressed. He had on a dark suite and tie, and was wearing a long dark coat that was unbuttoned. He was also carrying what grownups call a briefcase.
A chill ran up and down my spine as I stared at his face. Not because he wasn’t smiling, which was bad enough, but because of the skin of his face. It reminded me of stone or cement—it was that cold and rough looking.
“Can I help you?” mom asked from behind me. She sounded only slightly worried.
“Are you Maria Sanchez?” he asked.
“Yes,” mom replied.
“And this is your son David Sanchez?” he asked, kind of nodding his head in my direction.
“Yes,” said mom again.
The man continued to remind me of stone as he said, “I’m with Child Services.” When I heard that, my stomach felt like it dropped ten stories. From TV, I knew that one of the things Child Services did was sometimes take back kids who had been adopted, but I knew that could never happen to me. Father Carmel said so. Still though, I was worried.
“May I come in and talk to you for a moment?” the man asked.
Mom hesitated, but eventually let him in.
As he stepped inside, I backed out of the way, then mom closed the door. “Would you like some tea or coffee?” she asked, sounding kind of timid-like, which was unusual for her.
“No, thanks,” he said, shaking his head. “This won’t take very long.”
I hoped not.
“Our records show that eight years ago you applied for adoption of this youngster here.” Once again, he gestured toward me.
Mom nodded, but didn’t say anything. “Well, it seems,” said the man, “that your adoption of this child was not entirely legal.”
“What do you mean?” mom asked, sounding both scared and angry at the same time. “My priest, Father Carmel, said it was completely legal.”
The man shook his head. “Well, it wasn’t. That’s why I’m going to have to take the child into protective custody until this matter can be cleared up.”
“WHAT!” both mom and I said at the same time.
Then mom began pleading with the man in Spanish not to take me away. He must have understood most of what she said, because he replied, “I’m sorry, lady, I have to.” Then he reached for my arm.
Shaking my head, I backed away.
That’s when I saw his expression go from stone-faced to angry. “Don’t give me any problems, kid,” he said in a voice that didn’t sound very principal or teacher-like. Instead, he sounded more like one of the teenage bullies from our neighborhood. “You’re coming with me!”
Continuing to shake my head, I managed to keep away from his reach long enough to form a clear image inside my head. The next instant, I found myself standing in the dark and cold on top of the Stellar Building.
What did I do, I wondered as I stood there shivering from both the cold and fear? I had just teleported in front of mom! Even worse, I had teleported in front of the man from Child Services!
The only part that made it worth while was imagining him trying to find me in our apartment. I’d love to have seen that. Unfortunately, mom was also probably freaking out. She didn’t know about my abilities, at least, not any more, not since she’d been made to forget.
. . . Forget!
The word hit me like a dodge ball to the head. Frank, the chauffeur! Get him to make the man from Child Services forget about my adoption.
Picturing Rickie’s balcony, I suddenly found myself standing on its small square platform still in the cold and dark, but not completely in the dark. The lights were on inside her bedroom; and even though the curtains were closed, some of the light was seeping through the curtains onto the balcony.
For a moment, I had to remind myself not to try and teleport inside her room. Frank wouldn’t like that—not at all. Besides, I didn’t know for sure whether or not she was in her room. All I could do was stand there and wait for Frank to show up. I knew he would. He always seemed to know where I was. How did he know that, I wondered for the umpteenth time?
Standing there and still shivering from the cold that was creeping further into my chest and back, I kept staring at the closed doors to Rickie’s room. After a while, I whispered, “Frank, where are you? Speak to me.”
When I didn’t get an answer and he didn’t show up, I looked behind me at the house across the way. No Frank. I even went as far as to go over to the white wooden railing and look down. Still no Frank.
“Come on,” I whispered again to the empty air in front of me. “I’m here. Come and yell at me.”
First the seconds, then the minutes ticked by. Still no Frank. That’s when it dawned on me that maybe he wasn’t coming, after all. If not, then who else could I go to? I couldn’t go to Father Carmel. He had gone out of town. That meant there was only one other grownup who might be able to help me. This time, I didn’t hesitate, or even think about what might happen if someone saw me.
I teleported straight over to Hardy’s.
Luckily, no one there saw me appear. At least, none of the customers, anyway. There were two teenage girls having French fries and sodas, but they were too busy talking to each other to notice me. There was also a man, but he was sitting with his back to me. The only one who did notice me was Running Girl’s uncle. When he saw me, he motioned for me to come over to him.
As I approached, I saw him reach under the counter and come up with a sign that read, “Be back in five minutes.” Then after placing the sign on top of the counter, he motioned again for me to follow him through a door that led into the back room where he kept all the stuff for his restaurant. Running Girl was there putting paper napkins inside those metal boxes that you pull them out of. I was more than a little surprised to see her.
“What are you doing here?” I asked.
Her brown eyes looked at me as if I’d just asked her the stupidest question in the world. “I’m helping out my uncle,” she replied, “What does it look like?”
Embarrassed, I nodded, then turned back to her uncle. But before I could tell him why I was there, he held up a hand and said to me, “Whoa, slow down a minute! I can’t read your mind if you’re going to think so fast in Spanish.”
For a moment, I stared at him, my mouth hanging open.
He nodded, “Yes, that is how I’ve known all this time what you’ve been thinking.”
Shocked, I glanced at Running Girl, but she didn’t seem even the slightest bit surprised. “You knew?” I said to her. She nodded.
It took me a moment, but finally I turned back to her uncle, and that’s when I told him all about the man from Child Services.
“He’s not from Child Services,” Running Girl’s uncle said after I finished telling him what had happened.
I was both relieved and confused at the same time. “Then who is he?” I asked.
“From the image I see in your mind, I’d say he’s one of the men I used to work for.”
“But what does he want with me?” I asked, still confused.
Running Girl’s uncle shrugged. “I’m not completely sure, but that’s not important right now.”
“Then what is?”
“You said you left him alone with your mom.”
Suddenly, a funny feeling began to grow inside my stomach. “Is that bad?” I asked him, as the feeling got stronger.
He replied, “Could be.”
“Because, he’s not a very nice person.”
Remembering how he acted when he tried to grab me, I thought, you’re right about that.
“So what do we do now?” I asked, as the fear in my stomach continued to turn like melted cheeze.
“You take me back to your apartment and I have a talk with him.”
“Can I come?” asked Running Girl. Both of us looked at her. She seemed like she really wanted to. “I could help you find him, especially if he’s already left.” I wasn’t completely sure about that idea, but then she added, “Remember, if he has left, I can cover a lot more ground a lot faster than either of you.”
I didn’t know about her uncle, but it made sense to me.
Nodding, her uncle said okay. Then he turned to me and asked, “Can you teleport two people at once?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know for sure, but I could try.”
Stepping forward, her uncle grabbed one of my hands. His felt big and rough. Running Girl grabbed the other. Hers felt small and strong. Then with the both of them holding me tight, I concentrated hard on my bedroom. The feeling that followed was really strong and really weird—like I was being tugged in two directions at once.
Somehow, we made it.
The light was still on in my room when we arrived. So was the light in the living room.
“Mom!” I called a little unsure of how loud I should be, especially if the man was still here.
“Mom!” I called again a little louder. Still no answer.
This time, I stepped into the living room. Running Girl and her uncle followed me.
“Mom!” I called once more. When she still didn’t answer, I went into the kitchen.
As I came back through the living room, I said to her uncle, “She’s not here.” Then, I went into her bedroom. Still no mom.
Now, I was becoming really scared. “Where is she?” I asked Running Girl’s uncle.
He looked at me, his eyes having a hard time try meeting mine. “I think my former colleague has taken your mother with him?”
“Why?” I asked, feeling as if my stomach was being squeezed by a giant fist.
“I’m sorry, David,” he said, looking even more like he’d done something wrong. “It’s probably my fault.”
“Why?” I asked him again.
“I’ll explain later, but right now, we have to try and find your mother.” Then turning to his niece, he said, “I’m glad you came after all. I want you to go down stairs and run around the streets. See if you can spot his car anywhere. If I know this guy, he’ll be driving a big blue Chrysler with a license plate that says S-T-R-Y-K-R on it.”
Running Girl started to head toward our apartment door.
“You want my jacket to wear?” I asked her.
She stopped and looked back at me, shaking her head. “I’ll be alright,” she said, then stepped through the door like it was made of melted butter.
“Do you think he’ll try and hurt my mom?” I asked Running Girl’s uncle after she left. Both of us were still in the living room.
He shook his head. “I don’ think he’ll do anything to your mom.” I wasn’t so sure.
Which is why I was just about to ask him why the man had wanted me to come with him in the first place, when Running Girl came back through the closed door to our apartment. That was fast, I thought; she’d only been gone a couple of minutes.
“I found him!” she said, not even sounding out of breath. Relief exploded in me. “He’s stuck in traffic on Hamilton Avenue.”
“I know of a rooftop near there!” I said to her uncle in a hurry.
He turned to his niece. “Good! You go back there and keep an eye on him. We’ll meet you there.”
Running Girl nodded, then passed back through the door like a ghost. Her uncle came over and tried to grab my hand. I pulled back. “Wait a minute,” I said to him. “Let me get my jacket first.”
“Okay,” he said, “but don’t take too long.”
I looked at him and frowned thinking, like I was really going to dilly-dally with mom in trouble.
After zipping up my winter jacket. I reached for Running Girl’s uncle’s hand. This time, the sideways pull when we teleported felt less weird.
As soon as we arrived on the rooftop of the building on Hamilton Avenue, I went over to the edge and looked down. Running Girl was right. There were a lot of cars that weren’t moving very fast. That’s because the car in front was sitting almost in the middle of the street with its hood up. On Hamilton Avenue, this could be a real problem. The street was a one way street with cars parked at angles on both sides. With this car stuck in the middle, all the other cars had to drive really carefully around it.
Looking up and down the street, I finally spotted Running Girl on the sidewalk near the last car. She was motioning toward it as if she knew we were there. How could she know? Whatever? The one she was pointing to looked a lot like the one I’d been seeing around our neighborhood.
“I think that’s it!” I said to her uncle pointing.
“I think you’re right,” he agreed, then grabbed my hand again and asked, “How close do you think you can get us?”
I’d already picked out a spot on the sidewalk.
Once we arrived, Running Girl’s uncle hurried over to the driver’s side of the big, blue Chrysler. I ran over to the passenger side. When Running Girl saw what we were doing, she planted herself in front of the car in case it decided to drive away. By now, all the other cars had driven around the one that had stalled.
Even with Running Girl standing in front of it, the Chrysler’s driver tried to move the car forward. When he realized she wasn’t going to get out of the way, he stopped the car. That’s when I thought I heard the engine die.
Immediately, I tried the door handle. The door was locked, so I tried peering inside the heavily tinted window. I could just make out the shape of someone inside.
“Mom, is that you?” I called to the person in the front seat.
When they heard my voice, the person turned and that’s when I saw it was mom.
“It’s her!” I shouted to both Running Girl and her uncle.
“Well, get her out of there!” Running Girl ordered me.
“I can’t!” I told her as frustration filled me. “The doors are locked.”
“Let me try,” she said as she suddenly appeared beside me.
I backed out of the way, then watched in fascination as she reached her hand and part of her arm through the door like it wasn’t there. The next instant, I heard the car’s locks click.
After that, both Running Girl’s uncle and I grabbed our doors and yanked them open. I didn’t even wait to see what he was going to do to the man. I just reached inside and grabbed hold of mom’s arm where it was covered by her housedress. She’d been dragged out of our apartment without a coat on.
“You’re safe now,” I said to her, as Running Girl flashed back to stand in front of the car again.
Mom must have realized I was right because she nodded and started to climb out of the car. When the man saw this, he tried to pull her back.
“I wouldn’t do that, if I was you,” Running Girl’s uncle said to him, as he grabbed the man’s other arm and held him.
This gave me a chance to get mom away from the car and over by the other parked cars. Then I asked her, “Did he hurt you?”
She shook her heard, but then looked at me almost as if she wasn’t completely sure who I was. “David,” she said with a frown, “where did you go before?”
“I’ll explain later,” I said, as I gently took hold of her hand, then formed the clear image of our living room inside my head. In the blink of an eye, we were standing there warm and safe again, thanks to Running Girl and her uncle.
For now, at least, it seemed mom’s problems were over, but not necessarily mine.