Jumping in his big rig, Abel could barely contain his excitement. His parents were alive! He wasn’t quite sure how someone could have given him false information regarding their deaths, but at this point, he really did not care. All that mattered was he was going to find them. With the check and leather diary in the seat next to him, he put the key in the ignition, hesitating, not quite knowing where he was headed, and realizing this big truck wasn’t going to be turning down any residential streets. He knew, from the address on the check, he had to get to Logan Avenue. Running back into the diner — they must truly think he’s crazy now — he stopped in his tracks, looking desperately for Donna; seeking her calm, loving face. Knowing she was off work, he was praying she could drive him to their home. At that moment, Donna walked out of the women’s restroom, with her car keys in hand. “Donna! Please can you help me?” She sensed Abel’s urgency and nodded her head. Read more
After leaving the lawyer’s office where the final divorce papers were signed ending his marriage with Kathy and before heading out of Kansas City for the last time, Abel wanted one last look at the site of the fiery crash that killed Justin and Seth. It was a gentle curve on The Paseo, an otherwise nondescript piece of roadway not particularly known for crashes. But when one adds alcohol to the mix, things happen.
Right about here…they swerved and hit this outcropping…and… Abel had pulled over to the side in his grief and curiosity, cars blazing past him and following the same path as those two precious boys did just a few months ago. I wonder what it would be like if I opened the door and stepped out in the path of a passing semi? Would he stop in time? No, of course not. I’d be my luck though that the driver would swerve in time or miss me or jack knife right over me…killing himself or others and then I’d be responsible for that too. No. Read more
“Dad! It’s my 20th birthday! I should get to stay out late!” Justin plead with his dad. Abel, having just pulled into the old homestead from another long day at the office, stepped into the entryway, hoping for a kiss from his wife, Kathy. Instead his visiting son screamed about staying out late. He scratched his head, set down his briefcase, and asked Justin to sit down. His outburst would not be tolerated in his home. Justin’s mom, Rebecca, called Abel a month ago asking if Justin could come stay for awhile. Things were not going well with her and her husband and Justin needed a break from the fighting. He had driven his old Chevy truck from Elk City to Kansas City, Missouri, escaping the bitterness that surrounded his mom’s home. Justin didn’t know his dad that well, but anywhere was better than there.
Abel sat, aged face in hands at another of a series of cheap, roadside motels as rain positively pelted against a pane glass window that appeared – at least to his judgment – to be straining a bit too much under the pressure.
Twenty years had passed since that June night when Rebecca drove back to Oklahoma. He had fired up the Mustang and drove down the highway that pointed in the general direction of Elk City, trying to follow her in a logical direction of travel but she had disappeared into the night seemingly as fast as she had entered his life. Doubling back, he checked her apartment. Nothing. The neighbors either knew nothing or were covering for her. Buying the ring had left him flat broke and there was no chance he’d pawn the ring off to raise money to follow her. It was her ring, after all. He had no choice but to wait until payday – two days away – to get enough to start out on the road towards Oklahoma. Read more
Friday night, and Halloween at that, his very first date with Rebecca. She took the part-time waitressing job Chuckie had open in September. From the moment she stepped into the diner, Abel knew he was going to ask her out. Long, thin legs, silky brown hair, and those big brown eyes. The look of a goddess if you asked him. Abel didn’t date very often, never had found anyone who measured up to Casey. But, Rebecca, yes she did. He was running late, having spent too much time getting ready. He wanted this night to be special. They planned to eat at the fancy steak place down on Grand Avenue, then take in a haunted house. Read more
“So, it was a drug deal gone bad?”
“Seems so. I never knew Gary was into any of that. I mean, I had no clue. All we ever did was shoot hoops after school, hang out with girls, work…there was never any of that other stuff, you know?”
“I understand, Abel. Believe me I do. I saw things like that all the time when I counseled youth in some ramshackle after school youth program in Carolina that the government set up thinking it would help. Bull. All it did was give the kids a chance to swap stories and compare notes. Did we do some good? Being honest, I suppose so. I know after I graduated from Bowling Green it paid the bills for a few months while I figured out what I was going to do next. More coffee?” Read more
Lakewood High School’s “Ranger” marching band performed at the Cleveland Brown’s first home game in the fall of 1987. Abel, first chair trombonist, proudly made his way onto the field, following closely behind his fellow band members. After the move last year from Memphis, Abel needed a hobby to help him erase the memory of Casey. All he could think of was the way she smelled, the way her lips turned up at the corners, the look of her hair with those tiny flecks of gold shimmering in the sun, and the way she walked and the way she talked. Everything about her. He needed to forget. Making friends was fairly easy for Abel, he just didn’t want to get attached to people and have his heart ripped apart, again. Any day now, dad could lose his job, and the suitcases would be pulled down from the closet. He could not handle another move. The last one still hurt. Read more
Ann Carlson was not the world’s greatest mother. Oh, she had love in spades but it takes a bit of practical knowledge to make the world go ’round when kids are sick and have thrown up everywhere, or are scared in the night and just need the right word pulled out of nothing to make the demons go far, far away. She got better at raising little Abel as the years went by, but her method of child raising at first was a combination of Lucy Ricardo, a well-worn copy of Dr. Spock, and whatever bits of self-help she could glean from neighbors and the odd passers-by. Walter did his part – when he was around – but his work called him, and the never-ending chase of the almighty dollar in order to provide for a family was a hard and relentless taskmaster. Read more
In May of 1972, Ann hosted her little sister, Arlene’s, baby shower. Ann was so excited about becoming a first time auntie, she could hardly stand the anticipation. She and her sister were very close, just two years apart in age, and had been best friends their entire lives. What was difficult, as was told to her and Walter just days before, the words, “you will never be able to get pregnant.” Ann was devastated, inconsolable, truth be told, but here she was hosting her sister’s shower and doing her best to keep her chin up and a smile on her face. It wasn’t that she was jealous; it was the pain of knowing she could never carry a child in her womb. Life would bring her blessings, “sure” she thought, just not a baby. Ann would be the best aunt she could possibly be to this little one due in June. Many friends and family attended the shower, all enjoying the time spent together. Now they would count the days until their new bundle of joy came into the world. Read more