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Chapter 16 - Goodbye Friend

The months following Bryan’s disappearance were not a fun time. I couldn’t believe how his disappearance was the top story on all the local news stations, night after night after night. They had candlelight vigils over and over and all the churches had posted on their signs on how they were praying for his safe return. Those are some prayers that definitely went unanswered.

This got old and it got old fast. I did get a lot of candles though to use when camping out in my tree house so that was a positive. I think most everyone at some point helped search the entire neighborhood over and over. They even searched in the woods where Bryan actually was hiding, I mean buried. It was still super dry out and the mud stayed hard as a rock. They ended up draining the lake I told them I had seen Bryan skipping rocks at the day he disappeared and found several bikes, an old car and a few tires but that was it. The officers told Mark’s parents that it could have been a random abduction as abductions actually do happen from time to time. I think the thought of their baby boy being abducted made it worse for Mark’s mom and I am sure his dad. Every time I went over to their house, she was crying and drinking and her husband was drinking and in the other room watching sports. Mark had completely changed too.

Mark no longer wanted to play video games like we used to all the time. He had the best video games and had gotten an Atari set before anyone else. Hell, he even had a full size pinball machine in his bedroom. Mark didn’t want to talk, and he didn’t want to ride bikes either and we would always ride bikes together up until Bryan went missing. Mark would let me ride his mongoose now all the time since he never wanted to go outside anymore so that was cool. I mean, I missed riding side by side with him all over the neighborhood but if he wasn’t going to ride, what a waste to let that mongoose bike just sit there. I would constantly go over to the house and he would be just sitting in his brothers room looking sad and all.

Get over it I thought.

I would try to talk to him but he just didn’t seem to be there anymore. He wasn’t the Mark that had been my best friend and he just wasn’t fun anymore. Nothing I did would bring him out of his funk. Usually, I could get him laughing on something but nothing I did would work anymore. I stopped going over there as much and then I didn’t go over there at all.

My dad ended up getting transferred within six months of Bryan dying (I mean disappearing), but Mark and I had grown apart by that time. We hardly saw each other or talked. His parents had put him in therapy three times a week or something while I was still there so I never saw him

much once he started his therapy. Mark ended up dropping out of school and was being home schooled whatever the hell that meant. It didn’t matter. I moved away.

My mom called me to the kitchen and sat me down one night after we had been living in Nashville for just a little while and told me that she had some bad news to tell me.

What kind of bad news? Are we moving back to Greensboro?” I said laughing.

My mom didn’t laugh and said “No, no, no son. It’s really bad news. It’s your friend Mark from Greensboro. I’m sorry to have to tell you this son, but he’s dead. He committed suicide.”

“He committed Suicide? Well why would he go and do that?” I asked my mom not really realizing the magnitude of what she was saying.

“I’m not sure son. Maybe he felt somewhat responsible for his little brother Bryan disappearing.” My mom said in a sure of herself way.

“Responsible? Responsible for what mom?” I immediately asked.

“Well honey, maybe he realized it was his responsibility to protect his little brother and didn’t do as a big brother should.” She said and believed every word she had just said.

“Mom, you sound like you think he was responsible too for Bryan’s disappearance. That doesn’t seem really fair. There is no way Mark could protect his little brother all the time. That’s just impossible for anyone to do, especially a teenager!”

“Well son, If you had disappeared I would have expected Mike to protect you at all times. That’s what big brothers are supposed to do Daniel!”

Mike was my older brother by two years and two months. We didn’t talk much. He was the golden child. I, well, I wasn’t.

“How did Mark kill himself? I asked.

Do you really need to know that son?” My mom asked concerned.

Yes mom, I do.” I said and gave my mom the look of “tell me.”

He hung himself son. He used a tie and hung himself in Bryan’s closet. I’m sorry.

“Maybe Bryan will show up,” I quickly said in a semi hopeful voice.

“Maybe so,” she said as she turned and left me sitting at the kitchen table. I thought to myself, no, he won’t turn up. Ain’t no way he is going to turn up, well, not alive anyway.

I sat there and went back over what my mom had just said to me. That was pretty harsh I thought. My mom sitting there and telling me that poor Mark should have protected his little brother. It was the harshest thing my mom ever said to me and she completely believed what she was saying. Sounds like Mark obviously didn’t’ share my feelings of despise and hate for Bryan after all.

I sat at the kitchen table a little bit longer and pictured my old best friend hanging. I wonder if he kept his eyes opened the entire time he was tying that tie around his neck and then started hanging there and slowly losing consciousness. Yea, I bet he did. I can picture it clearly. Just like his little brother died. Eyes open till the end.

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