Debbie Poucher was halfway in the car, trying to buckle a little toddler into their car seat. Abel leaned against the back bumper of his car, dragging on a cigarette, while their daughter looked up at him.
She was six, only two years older than her little sister who was currently putting up a fight about leaving Knott’s Berry Farm. The little girl, Diana Poucher, looked down and gasped. “Oh, no! Where’s Ruddy?” she cried.
Diana turned to look at the rollercoasters that peaked out of the theme park, and boy, were they ugly. They seemed to leer at her and mock her for being too short to ride them. Ruddy was the name of a doll that Diana took everywhere she went.
Abel looked down and shrugged at his daughter. “Debbie? Is Ruddy in the car?” he asked. Debbie’s response was a loud ow! “Everything okay?”
Debbie appeared, in full, to the two of them and rubbed her cheek. Debbie watched as wraiths of smoke rise from her husband’s cancer stick. “Yeah, Ruby just kicks harder now that she’s born,” she groaned, over Ruby’s unmerciful cries. “So, what were you asking, Abel?”
“Is Ruddy in the car, mama?” asked Diana.
“No, sweetie, I haven’t seen her,” sighed Debbie. She looked up at Knott’s Berry Farm. Ooh, boy. Debbie caught Abel’s gaze and Abel got the same expression upon his face. Ooh, boy.
“Listen, princess, on the way home, daddy will stop at a Toys R Us and buy you a new Ruddy,” said Abel.
“No!” screamed Diana, stomping her feet and huffing like an asthmatic. “I want MY Ruddy!”
“Alright, alright, calm down Princess. If you promise to behave for mama and Ruby, daddy will ask the information people,” said Abel.
The two girls watched as Abel walked back towards the park they had just been at. He shoved his hands into his pockets as he walked, thinking back to the day that Diana had been born; Debbie had wanted some Boysenberry doughnuts, and so, to Knott’s Berry Farm they went, while Abel was inside grabbing the doughnuts, Debbie’s water had broken. And twelve hours later, they were proud parents to Diana Phoenix Poucher.
When she was about two, they brought her to Knott’s Berry Farm, and she loved it. It’s her favorite place in the world. An employee put their hand on his shoulder. “Abel, Abel, people lose things all the time,” he chuckled. Had Abel even spoken to this man? He hadn’t even remembered seeing this man in the first place. Abel shook his head. That cigarette must’ve been laced with something.
He looked at the man. “Where was the last place you remember seeing her Ruddy doll?”