Things to do in Freehold

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Chapter Five:

Patrick Mackenzie (Evening of August 31, 1994)

After I had finished unpacking, I asked Ma if I could explore the neighborhood for a bit.

“Don’t go too far and be back before nightfall,” she responded as she chopped chives she’d be using later in our dinner.

I knew I wouldn’t be gone for that long, especially since I had made a trail of M&M’s® to find my way back home. Although, I do think some sort of animal may have started eating some of them because there was a fairly large gap between the hard-shell candies when I began walking back. Thankfully, I could still see where the rest of the trail had been left.

However, as I followed it, I had noticed that it started taking me down a noticeably unfamiliar path. I couldn’t recognize any of the houses I had passed or the turns I had taken. I quickly came to a halt as soon as I saw that it had turned right, into a dirt route, leading to a dark and frightening forest. Someone has to be messing with me, I instantly thought. There’s no way I came from this way. I looked around to see if anything had looked the least bit familiar, but still, nothing. It was almost as if I was in a completely different neighborhood than my own. My heart started racing rapidly. I began to grow worried and was on the verge of tears, but then I decided to follow the M&M® trail once more. I had no clue where it would take me, but hopefully, it’d be somewhere I can at least recognize from the drive-in.

Twigs and fallen leaves crunched beneath my feet with every step I took. The path had led me down to a running stream at which it had ended and picked back up again on the other side. Luckily, it had been a hot and dry summer here in Jersey, so the water had not been that deep. Still, I had used a few stepping stones nearby to get across, knowing well that Ma would kill me if I got my new shoes wet.

Once I was across, I could hear the sound of windchimes in the distance. As I wandered, the noise had gotten louder and louder, as if the trail had been leading me right to them. I originally thought that the chimes meant that I’d be heading for the next neighborhood over, in hopes that it’d be my neighborhood. Instead, they hung outside on the porch of an old shack. Why would the trail lead me here? I thought, seeing that the trail stopped at its door.

Walking closer to it, I examined the shack. All of the windows had been boarded up with both lumber and old newspapers. The wooden porch looked to be infested with termites and had been for years. Moss grew on the entire side of the deteriorating building. At first, I thought it had been abandoned, but then I heard the front door creak open. Instantly, I hid behind a relatively tall oak tree and watched as a large, bearded man with a neck tattoo walked out.

The man wore a muscle shirt with some sort of motorcycle graphic on it, paired with some baggy, ripped jeans. He had pulled out a cigarette from one back pocket and a lighter from the other. He inhaled the smoke through his mouth and exhaled it through his nose. Jacob once told me that that meant they had been at it for awhile, the smoking.

Crunch! I accidentally snapped another twig while trying to get a closer look at the man. It looked as though he had heard me too because quickly, he had turned his bald head in my direction. Without any hesitation, I ran for the hills and kept running until I ended up back in another neighborhood. Fortunately, it was my neighborhood. I could tell because I could see a moving truck, parked across the way. I then saw my dearest brother, Jacob, come out to grab what looked to be the very last box. Never in my life had I been more excited to see him.

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