They left me on the side of the road where the guy found me. I laid there for awhile before cursing that a part of me still thought my friends would come for me. Grinding my teeth together until my jaw ached; I got to my feet and limped in the direction I guessed was the way I had come.
The weather was brutal with the wind knocking from side to side like a game of ping pong. The chill of coming season settled into my bones as I limped not even sure I was going the right way. Every few minutes I spat up blood onto the ground until I thought I was going to hack up a lunge. My stomach growled hungrily for food making me too dizzy to walk after a while.
It was too easy to ignore my emotionless feeling with everything bad clung to me while I made my way across the neighborhood. I didn't make it far when I collapsed for the last time spitting up blood then hurling my guts up into the gutter. I propped myself up against the fence in someone's front yard, wondering what time tomorrow I would be able to move again.
I drove all around town hoping for my youngest son to be waiting somewhere. The station hadn't heard from or of him yet and Conner hadn't seen him all day. I knew something must have happened with that group of kids that just wanted attention good or not but I wanted to hope my son would return.
I distantly remember when everything was close perfect when I played catch with my sons and could make my wife laugh. When I didn't have to drive around concerned that my son could be dead or have to be disappointed in my boys for not telling me what was happening. That part of our lives had long passed us by without any of us noticing.
I turned on my blinker, turning left onto the next street. Being trained specially by the best in the military helped me spot the body lying on the ground not moving an inch when I put the truck in park. Climbing out I realized it was the girl John, Conner and their friend Nathan had grown fond of over the weeks. Ignoring the puddle of the puke and blood next to her I searched for a pulse. I relaxed when I realized she wasn't dead but quickly placed her in the truck gently feeling she wasn't well.
The sight of her and my father grim with concern was enough for me to punch a hole in the wall. John had gone missing with Nathan and Proserpina had ended up on the side of the road hours after. I wanted to break something but I kept my composure pushing my anger down expertly. I took her from father and set her down in the guest bedroom not sure where else to put her.
"Sir this is has gone too far," I told my father respectfully.
"I know Conner. I don't like this either, your brother and Nathan have been gone for too long but we have nowhere to start the search."
"Maybe Proserpina will know," Desperation made my voice come with a whine.
"Conner, she is in no shape to be of help. No one was with her and it's obvious she has been through enough for now. Do you really want her to relive it again?"
"Don't you care that John is gone?!" My respect was gone and my anger replaced it. John could be dead with Nathan somewhere and my father would rather sit back. I knew I was pushing my limits when he turned completely towards me.
"You know I care deeply for you and your brother but I must think of what she might have gone through. Have you ever wondered why her only friends have been you, John and Nathan? Do you care if you cause her more harm than good by making her live it? I love you and your bother more than you know but I also care for the girl in the other room like she was my own. I do not wish to see if reliving that will do to her and neither will when you hear about it. Conner I know you are worried beyond belief for our family but we cannot risk hurting other people. Hopefully one day you will understand but until then please just drop the subject son, it's just too much."
"Father you are weak! You are a chief of a whole station of policemen, your son is missing and you do nothing!! It's hard to believe I ever looked up to you as a leader. If you won't at least try then I will and I won't stop until he is back where he belongs!!"
"Conner!! I am your father, you do get to speak to me like that!!" he went on more gently this time, "I know it may seem that way but I promise you I'm trying the best I can to keep it together. Can't you just lend me a little faith? When have I not given all I had for you boys?"
"You had my faith father but now you have officially lost it. You haven't given all you had for us now or possibly ever so I will."
"I'll return by midnight then start again in the morning. Feel free to do whatever, I will find him." I sped walked out the door before I acknowledge the regret that came with my words, I slammed the door behind me.
That night Rebecca tried to comfort me when we headed for bed but the sound of door echoed in my ears blocking all other thoughts. With the sound came the memory of long ago when I was innocent and knew very little about people leaving.
"Rich? Are you listening to what I'm trying to say?"
"Yes but I can't get it out of my head; it feels like I had lost both Conner and John."
"You didn't lose them but you aren't bringing them any closer either."
"I can't keep going in this pattern with the people closest to me; I want them apart of my life. They're my children, I'm glad Conner wants to find his brother but how can he think I have done nothing for them? I want to know where I had gone wrong; where did I start to lose my boys?"
"What is one regret you wish you could go back and redo?" Kaden grinned a devilish smile like a crazed man wanting to rule the world. He brought me up from the basement and into another room mostly likely a bedroom but nothing was in the room except the chair Jack sat cross legged in. Kaden sat across from me where a plaid button up shirt with a collar and dark blue jeans.
"I couldn't say I have one."
"Really? That's a curious answer it's almost like you already forgot about the girl you were defending at the airport. Don't you remember you left her alone unaware that I'm here and haven't forgotten what she did to me?"
"Why would I? She's just another foolish girl that thinks she's tough. Why even waste a thought on her?" I rolled my eyes as I pleaded in my thoughts that nobody found out and told her how I talked about my friend.
"Interesting then why defend her in the airport? Why make a scene?"
"For one you shot her, and you wouldn't stop being an inconsiderate jerk to her while she was bleeding out."
"She didn't bleed out, that girl was smart enough to apply pressure to the wound and besides no one ever speaks to me like that in front anyone. I don't need rumor spreading that I let a girl tell me how to behave and ruining my image."
"No one can ruin your sorry ass image of a want to be thug," I commented a smirk of my own spilling across my face like a taunt. Kaden almost leaped from his chair for me but seemed to remember he had all the power in the room anyway.
"Nate, can I call you Nate? You can think of me however you want but remember this the next time I don't like what comes out of your mouth next I'll have your tongue." Kaden stopped at the door long enough to listen to my last comment.
"Oh you're a big tongue collector too. I am too, I just have them model different tongue gages; what do you do with yours?" He left the room ignoring me entirely using a lot of concentration and left me alone in the empty, sad room with my thoughts.
Before I even opened my eyes to become fully awake I could smell of puke on my breath and possibly on me. The room I was in was similar to John's living room in his house with its twin sized bed, eggshell white walls and beige colored carpet. I didn't need to guess where I was when the feeling of home relaxed my posture.
I was in the clothes I was in before; they were covered in blood, sweat and puke from that night. I felt hot but cold at the same time letting me know I probably wasn't going to be able to do anything for at least a day. Despite the dizziness that came with I quickly jumped out of the bed and stumbled out the door into the living room.
Richard sat on the couch with his head in trying to get ready for the day ahead. He motioned me over to him but I didn't move from my spot knowing how revolting I was. Sighing he nodded then spoke, "So did you sleep well?"
"Yes thank you for letting John take me in sir."
"John didn't find you, I did. You were lying on the side of the road in your puke, passed out. I took you here to recover. You are not here because of John; he didn't mention you or anything."
"Oh," I folded my lips inward hiding my disappointment while I ignored the sting from his words. His eyes held sympathy but he showed no sign of knowledge that his words held a message that caused me pain.
"I'll get you a new pair of clothes and you can stay here for the day to attempt to recover but after work I'll take you home. I'm sure your parents are worried about you."
"Yes sir," was all I replied when he rose from the couch. I held in my complaints and comments about my home, not wanting to see the same pitied look in his face. He gave me a new t-shirt that was a little baggy and slacks to relax in. Richard told me what number to call when I need help then left leaving me to my own devices.
That day I was too weak to do much so I stayed inside and used his laundry room to clean my clothes. I ate very little from their cupboards though I was sure I was allowed to eat anything in their house. That whole day I rested or watched the news so I could fall asleep but by 4 o'clock I had enough energy to get dressed in my own clothes and start my journey back home.
The walk took longer than usual without being able to run but eventually I made to my front door regretting leaving John's house weak and not fully recovered. Everyone was inside on the couch their faces revealing a grim look when their gazes found mine. My mom stood in the doorway of the kitchen directly across from me. Corbin was on the couch with his elbows on his knees bent over, staring at the floor. Dad was pacing behind the couch near the desk. All at once they found me in their sights and their grim faces cleared.
"Where have you been?" Corbin asked holding in his anger in front of our parents.
"What do you mean? I have been here every day," my voice came out in monotone.
"No you haven't; you haven't been here for days."
"Have I now? Then where have I been Corbin? You see me every day after school doing my work then you leave with your buddies! I have been here every day since I have been born; it's a wonder how you remembered me when I was an infant!"
"Don't you dare talk to us like that young lady!" Mom cut in her anger starting to show on her face.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to snap."
"What had been going on? What has been taking up your time that you could be spent with your family? You are gone every day running around doing; god knows what, where have you been?"
"No, where have you been all this time? You have missed family nights and we don't even know what's going on with you anymore. Who are you always with? Are these people in your school, are they good people? What do you with them when you guys go off running?"
"That's what you're so upset about? Missing family movie night is what it takes to be acknowledged around here! I have been here doing my chores and my homework. Did you guys know I'm in a high school level of schooling now or that I have been having fun?!! That's all I do around here is work and now finally I'm having some fun! Is it forbidden?"
"It's like you're not a part of this family anymore!" Corbin continued, "Did you forget not everything revolves around you? We have our own lives too; we can't always give you the attention you want! I bet you didn't know I'm doing sports and band now! I have made new friends and been doing stuff that is important!"
"Corbin!! You apologize to your sister right now!! Not everything is about you either and your sister is important too!"
"No. No, he's right everything he is doing now over weighs what I do around here. Thank you for clearing that up for me. I know not everything revolves around me but I thought you should know all last night and on my way here I have been puking up my guts and bleeding but that doesn't concern you." Dizzily I turned to leave, my parents screamed at me to come back while they lectured me on how important I was to them. I couldn't listen to it, after all this time in the dark I didn't want to be notice if this was what I got.
I didn't need to be in the spotlight; I had no need or want to be in it anymore. I was done with everything with wanting what I wasn't going to get and stuff I didn't work for. The light are for suckers that don't know what's best for them, the dark was for me.