April 3rd, 2002
It had been a year and four months since that horrific evening in Miami Florida. For Richard Baxter, it had been the longest and hardest year and four months of his life. In the year 2000, he had lost his brother Jeremy, his nephew little James and his best friend in the whole world, Tom Logan. The death of Tom was the hardest for Richard to live with. Even though his wife and father had told him repeatedly that it wasn’t his fault and that there was nothing he could’ve done to prevent his best friend’s death, Richard blamed himself none the less.
‘If he just hadn’t told Tom about the demon, then maybe he would still be alive,’ Richard kept thinking. No matter how much Richard punished himself, there was no way of ever bringing Tom back. Richard would have to accept this truth and move on, no matter how hard it might be.
He decided to dedicate his book to the memory of all that he had lost. First Born Son was written with the memory still fresh in his mind. Every time he opened the book’s cover, he would be able to see his loved ones’ names in print on the very first page - the dedication page.
Richard had completed his book three months prior and had already received great reviews for his work. First Born Son was doing well on the market and would continue to climb until it reached the bestseller list.
For Richard’s wife Tina, it was their finances that most worried her. Richard hadn’t worked anywhere since losing his job at the Bureau. Other than writing his book, he’d not accomplished much of anything, and this had Tina extremely worried. The money he’d has spent in his search for the killer had been a terrible blow. Richard took complete responsibility for his spending, siting that it was something that had to be done, and in his opinion there was just no getting around it. Now, Tina would have to just have accept that fact.
Still living with George, Richard’s father, in Harrisburg Pennsylvania, he was sitting in his father’s study with his book opened up to the dedication page. Even now, it brought tears to his eyes as he read what he’d written just months earlier. His words quickly brought back the memories, and, just like that, it was as if he were still back there – fighting an evil force to save the lives of those he loved.
He jumped, startled a bit, as Tina snuck up behind him. He was so caught up in the past, that she could have made all the noise in the world, and he still wouldn’t have known she was there.
Tina saw the tears running down her husband’s cheeks, so she approached with caution. “Are you reading that page again?” she asked, knowing the answer already.
Her husband glanced up at her and returned a sad nod.
She looked into his eyes and knew that she needed to get him away from that book - if only for a while.
“You look hungry sweetheart. Why don’t you let me cook something up for you?” She suggested.
Richard looked back down at the page.
“Come on, babe. You’ve to stop punishing yourself this way. There’s nothing you could have done. Now, it’s time for you to move on, because, if you don’t, it’s going to tear you apart,” She said with a tone of serious concern.
Richard acknowledged her concern, closed the book, and slowly stood.
“Okay, let’s go get some food in you before you collapse,” she said as she took him by the hand, and escorted him back toward the kitchen.
At 3:30 that afternoon, Robert, the couple’s second eldest son, walked through the front door. With basketball season over, he no longer had to stay late for practice. He was free to now put his full concentration toward his grades, which were had been slipping. Since this was his junior year, his parents had been reminding him just how important grades were if he wanted to attend the university like his brother Jake, who was now at Penn State and doing very well. Robert wasn’t like his older brother. He was a jock, not an academic.
Robert noticed his father sitting on the couch staring at him. He tried to ignore his father’s gaze and walk on by, but, it didn’t work.
“Come on over here son” his father said, motioning to the couch, “let’s chat a while.”
As the boy headed toward the couch, he put his head down, knowing another lecture was coming.
“Have a seat son,” Richard patted the sofa cushion beside him.
The boy opted for a nearby chair instead, and taking his seat, turned to look at his father.
“You’re almost 17 now Rob. It’s time you started thinking about your future. I know you have your own plans, but, you’ve got to get serious about this. If you don’t, you’ll completely unprepared for life after graduation.”
“I’ve already told you what I’m going to do, Dad. Once I walk out of that school’s doors, graduated, I’m heading straight to the recruiting office and enlisting in the Army. I told you this before!” Robert insisted, getting frustrated with these constant reminders.
“I know what you told me, and I don’t blame you. After 9/11, most of the young men in this country are thinking that way. Hell, if I were your age, that’s what I’d be doing. But, my patriotism aside, I’m your father, and I’m worried about you.” Richard said, with a furrowed brow.
Robert’s gaze fell to the floor. “Dad, really, you don’t have to worry. I can take care of myself, I promise. I mean, hell, I may even decide to make the Army my career.
Richard couldn’t help but smile proudly. “If you do son, make sure it’s what you really, really, want. Okay, son?”
“I will, Dad,” Robert continued. “I’ve still got an entire year to think about it. By then, they might have gotten Ben Laden and the war might be over.”
“For your sake son, I sure to God hope so.” his father replied.
Robert nodded as he stood and straightened himself. “Well,” he sighed, “I’ve got a ton of homework to do. I’ll talk to you later, okay, Dad?” he said as he headed for the living room door.
Richard returned a nod and watched as his second oldest son left the room. Once his son was out of sight, he stood up and made his way toward the front door. He stood there, gazing outside aimlessly, not really noticing the front yard because his mind had gone back in time once agai
When George got home from work, Tina looked through the house for her husband. She searched every room downstairs, then assumed that he must have gone up to their bedroom for a nap or something. She was a bit relieved because George was the person she really needed to speak with. She followed him all the way to his study.
“George, do you have a moment? There’s something I need to talk to you about.” She asked.
George took a seat behind his desk. “Sure, come on in and have a seat.” He said, motioning to the chair across from his.
Closing the door behind her, Tina came and sat across from her father-in-law.
Once Tina closed that door, George knew exactly what and who this conversation was going to be about. “It’s about Richard, isn’t it?” he asked.
Tina slowly nodded, “Yes, it is.”
“Okay, what do you want to say about him this time. Other than the obvious of course,” George replied, referring to his son’s obvious depression.
Tina nodded again.
“Who can blame him, Tina? After all that he went through it’s a wonder he was sane at all.” George said.
“What he needs is a job. Maybe then he could start putting all this behind him. At least he’d have something to occupy his time and his mind.” She said earnestly.
“What do you want me to do about it?” George said.
“Have a talk with him,” Tina suggested. “I’ve tried, but he won’t listen to me anymore. It’s like it goes in one ear and out the other. Especially when it comes to this.”
George looked away, deep in thought. Finally, he sighed and said, “Okay, I’ll have a talk with him. But, he probably won’t listen to me either.”
“He’ll listen to you George. I know he will.” She said. “Thank you.”
George smiled back and nodded.
As she left the room she said, “I’ll have dinner ready in an hour”.
“Okay, thank you Tina, and don’t you worry. I’m going up to talk to Richard right now,” George replied, as he stood up and followed Tina out of his study heading for the stairs as Tina made her way to the kitchen.
Richard was lying on their bed staring aimlessly at the ceiling when he heard his father’s knock at the door.
“Son? Have you got a minute?” George called out from the other side of the bedroom door.
“Come in Dad,” Richard called, not moving from his spot.
George opened the bedroom door and walked in, noticing Richard lying on the bed staring at the ceiling.
“I know why you’re here Dad.” Richard sighed.” It’s Tina, isn’t it? I told her not to go worrying about me so much. I’ll get through this. I always do.” Richard stated matter-of-factly.
“Tina’s not the only one worried about you son,” George replied, as he pulled the wooden chair from beneath the desk and swung it around, then sat down. “I’m worried about you too.”
“Why? Why are you worried about me, Dad? We’ve both have been through this before, and we pulled through that, didn’t we?” he said.
George started to remember all those years ago, and the death of his wife, mother of his children. He quickly shook the memory off. “But this is different, son,” George said.
Richard looked at his father.
“How is this different Dad?” he asked.
“Because, son, you were so young back when your mother died. You were still too young to really understand.” George answered.
Richard looked away in anger. “I was old enough. I was plenty old enough Dad!” Richard almost shouted.
“You were,” George admitted. “But this is about now, son, and what you’re going through now. Son, you really need something to... well, to occupy your mind. A job! Why don’t you come on down to my company and talk to my boss, Mr. Anderson? I’ve known him for years, he’ll have a job for you, I’m sure of it.”
“I’m not going to do that, Dad.” Richard sighed, “Besides, I’ve got something else in mind.”
George’s eyes widened. “Ya, what’s that son?” George asked curiously.
Richard sat up and said, “Well, I’ve been thinking seriously about starting my own Private Investigating business. I mean I’d have to get certified first, of course, but with my background, that shouldn’t be difficult. Then maybe I could find a nice little office space, downtown maybe.”
“You do have the experience, that’s for sure,” George replied. “When do you plan on doing all of this?”
“I was thinking about investigating it further tomorrow morning if you’ll pardon the pun,” Richard answered.
George thought about it for a moment, then looked at Richard and asked, “When were you planning on telling Tina all of this?”
“I guess I could bring it up at dinner tonight,” Richard answered.
George stood up, then put his chair back under the desk. “Okay son, I’ll see you at dinner then,” he said, as he headed for the door.
“Tell Tina that I’ll be right down, okay Dad?”
“I will son. Hurry down.” George answered.
Richard sat in contemplation for a moment before making his own way down to the kitchen.
Richard decided to wait until after George said grace before he would disclose the information about his plans. Once his father had finished, Richard said, “I’ve got something to say to everybody, before we start eating, okay.”
Everyone looked at Richard with curiosity, wondering what he was going to say.
“Now that I have your attention, I want to start off by saying…thank you. Thank you for being there for me through this very tough time. I want you to know that it is very much appreciated.” Richard started. “Now, for the reason, I really wanted your attention. I’ve figured out what I want to do now. I want to become a full-time private investigator and run my own firm.”
Looks of both excitement and shock were staring back at him from around the table.
“Are you sure that’s what you want to do Richard?” Tina asked skeptically.
Richard nodded, “Yes Tina. I’ve been thinking about this for a while now and I do want to pursue this.”
“That’s great Dad!” Robert said excitedly.
“I agree with you, son! I think that’s a great idea!” his father added with an approving smile.
“At least I’ll be my own boss this time. No more answering to that jerk, Mr. Jones.” Richard said happily.
“When do you plan on starting this honey?” Tina asked curiously.
“Well,” he said as he took his seat, “I was thinking about finding out what’s involved in getting my certification tomorrow. Once I have that taken care of, I’ll start looking for an office space.” Richard answered.
As the family ate their dinner that evening, Tina couldn’t help but give lovingly concerned glances toward her husband occasionally. Richard would return an understanding smile each time.
Later that night, as they got ready for bed, Tina turned to her husband with a worried look on her face.
“What’s bothering you, hon?” Richard asked.
“I don’t know.” She shrugged. “I thought that maybe - just maybe - you might be past all of this excitement and craziness, and find a boring desk job somewhere,” she confessed.
“You know,” he grinned, “I was thinking seriously about doing just that. But then… I pictured myself behind a computer eight hours a day and I thought ’No way! That’s just not me…and it never will be.”
“I know,” she shrugged, “but that doesn’t help me. I worry about you, honey.”
Richard moved closer to his wife and pulled her next to him. “I know you worry babe, and I’m sorry. But, PI work isn’t the same as the bureau or police work.” He said attempting to ease her mind. “I’ll most likely be doing missing person cases, or taking pictures of a cheating husband – you know, things of that nature. No more chaos and craziness, okay?”
Tina was torn between pride and fear as she hugged her husband tightly.
“I hope not Richard. I hope not.” Tina said quietly, as she squeezed her husband tight.
Richard’s smile was the biggest had been since before his brother and nephew’s deaths. Maybe it was time to get on with his life.