"Like a baby stillborn, like a beast with his horn, I have torn everyone who reached out for me"
hummed as he stocked the Coke machine in Glendale Elementary. He was
feeling much better, or much worse. Dr. Adler had driven him out to the
building that had housed Emily's toothpaste ad.
you like something to calm you?" offered Dr. Adler as the two men
stared at a fifty foot high advertisement for Oreo cookies.
thanks", responded Adam, unaware that he'd already been dosed. "I know
it was here, I saw it. They must have changed it. She was there", his
voice trailed off. The tall man's broad shoulders slouched forward,
hands in his pockets, dejected.
"Well, I'm certain you're certain, Adam. This has been a long day for you, and you're tired."
"I am tired." Adam agreed, nodding his head up and down.
two men drove back to the center with the radio playing, "Like a worm
on a hook, like a knight from some old fashioned book, I have saved all
my ribbons for thee"
Adam had fallen asleep at the
center, this was allowed and even encouraged when the Dr. felt he had
been working too hard. He was vaguely aware of Dr. Adler and male
nurses checking on him periodically. Adam's blurry eyes would open to
two fingers resting gently on his wrist, checking his pulse. "Shhhhh,
get some rest, Mr. Savage", Adam closed his eyes and fell back into
the billowy murk.
When he finally awoke, Adam lay with
his eyes closed and his breathing steady for a long while, he felt the
shadows in the room grow longer and a chill setting in as the streaks of
sun from the windows retreated into the twilight. This laying still and
quiet was a habit he'd developed as a child in the orphanage, a way to
He could only hear snippets from the next room,
Dr. Adler on the phone. "Minor setback", in a hoarse but forceful
whisper came through to Adam's straining ears, and then "three year
contract", and finally "Yes, no, he doesn't know, I moved too quickly,
this was bound to happen."
Adam had learned so long ago
to watch and wait, and wait and watch, this furtiveness was second
nature to him. After the voice in the next room stopped, Adam slowly
sat up and yawned loudly to alert the good Doctor to his awakening.
Adam wasn't sure what Dr. Adler had been speaking about in his sharp
whisper over the phone, or who he had been talking to. For all Adam
knew, Dr. Adler was speaking of another patient. It was in Adam's
nature to be suspicious, but not paranoid. He was a listener and a
planner and a doer.
"I saw a beggar leaning on his
wooden crutch, he said to me you must not ask for so much" Adam turned
off the radio and sang softly on the way home. "I saw a woman leaning
in her darkened door, she cried to me, hey why not ask for more"
And so Adam was methodically filling the coke machine when he heard a
man's voice behind him. "The boy, Ethan Frame, went to this school, it
would have been two years ago..." Adam was unable to make out the
quieter voice of the mousy secretary the man was addressing. "I just
need a record of his teachers and if you can remember anyone who might
have had cause to speak to the boy or deal with him in anyway", another
long pause for the quiet secretary and then "I'm not at liberty to
discuss the specifics as it isn't a single case at this time, we're
treating it as a possible serial."
The secretary gasped loudly enough
for Adam to hear. "Well I think I remember him, only because he was in
the office quite a bit for absences, The children need a note from a
parent or guardian in order to attend class after an absence."
I see Ethan's notes?" Adam paused, suddenly interested, though he
could not think why. Poor thing, poor little boy, poor Ethan. Somebody
hadn't paid attention and poof, away he'd gone.
turned slightly to view the small dark man leafing through a series of
half crumpled sticky notes. "These notes are all exactly the same, same
excuse, same wording, same everything, and if this handwriting is from
an adult I'll eat my socks" said the handsome detective, flashing a
"Let me see those", the secretary
puzzled over the yellow slips briefly, "Well I suppose when we get so
many it's hard to pay attention to any patterns from one particular
"I suppose it must be." replied the detective in a noncommittal fashion.
The man flipped open a phone and began speaking almost as soon as
he'd turned to walk away. Adam kept his head down and followed along
behind the small figure with his cola rack.
one, I'm telling you it's a pattern, and the hooker", he heard before
the man turned around abruptly, "Say, you think I can swindle a Coke?
I'll get you next time" The man flashed his million dollar smile, sharp
dimples forming on either side of his Cheshire cat grin.
"Sure" Adam replied, deftly prying a can from his dispenser with his great calloused paw and passing it to the small dark man.
a bird on a wire, like a drunk in a midnight choir, I have tried in my
way to be free" Adam stood and hummed as the man pushed through the
front doors into the bright sunlight.