Tuesday, November 2, 2004
The day started as it usually did, getting ready for school and breakfast. What was unusual was that Jackie was very irritable. It wasn't anything Jackie said; he was just withdrawn into himself and very quiet. This bothered his brother's as they both looked up to Jackie and wanted to make him feel better, which is what he would do for them. Love, protect, nurture and stand by their side.
So, with that in mind, Talon snuggled up to his big brother on the way to school. Not saying a word, Talon just hugged and cuddled into his big brother. Jackie, not even thinking about it, wrapped his arm around his younger brother and pulled him closer.
When they got to school and said their byes and waved to their mom, the boys started walking to the building. Talon was still holding onto Jackie with his arm around his waist. Ulee did the same from the other side. None of them said a word. Finally they had to separate and go to their classes.
Talon stopped and watched Jackie round the corner. Talon ran back to Ulee and placed his hand on Ulee's elbow to let him know that he was there. When Ulee turned, Talon did a quick come over here motion with his head. With a confused look on his face, Ulee followed.
"We need to keep a real close watch over Jackie. He is going to do something and we need to be there for him Ulee." Talon whispered into Ulee's ear when Ulee caught up to him.
Ulee frowned for a moment in thought. Looking up at Talon, Ulee nodded, "No prob bro. Of course we're going to watch him. He'd do that for us, we gotta do it for him."
Looking down at the floor, a real sad Talon softly said, "Yeah, and we know what's eating him. He isn't going to wait much longer and we gotta be ready when he acts. I don't know what he's going to do yet, but we gotta be at the ready."
Ulee got his usual stubborn look on his face that said 'Duh, do I look dumb or something, don't insult me', he stopped short of puffing out his chest and placing his hands just above his hips since he wasn't mad yet and said "I got it the first time Talon. I know what we gotta do!"
Talon couldn't help it, his face lit up and he flashed his deep dimples at Ulee, then grabbed him and hugged him while he rubbed his knuckles on the top of Ulee's head and said, "No, you don't." Then he quickly gave Ulee a quick hug and still smiling dashed away, he rushed to get to his classroom in the next hallway.
Ulee stood there, with a frustrated look on his face as he rubbed his hand over the top of his head where Talon rubbed his knuckles. He heard the bell, let out a deep breath and walked into his classroom to start his day.
Talon just barely made it to class and as he sat down his teacher looked at him with a question on her face and Talon just shrugged and flashed his famous smile. His teacher just shook her head and started roll call.
Later in the day, during Talon's computer class, he put in his CD with all the information he compiled over the last two years and began to look it over again. He re-read all the reports, looked at his charts and graphs, re-evaluated all the evidence and couldn't shake the feeling he was missing something important. 'Why can't I see what I'm missing? It's here, I am just not seeing it.' He continued to read again. 'I have to find it.'
Still reading, he made a note: 'Was there, entering the building, then he was gone.' Talon sat back in his chair and thought, 'How could he be there, in sight and then gone, just disappear? That is the key but how do I find the lock it fits into.' Shaking his head, it didn't make any sense. People don't just disappear into thin air. As he was reading again, he noted that no one made mention of it appearing like a transport beam, nothing, just vanished. He also noted that a man that no one ever saw before was approaching just before he disappeared. 'Who was the man?' No note was ever made and it appeared as if though it wasn't investigated.
Class was ending so he gathered his CD and got ready to leave. He quickly noted the class work on the board so he could quickly do it at home. Shaking his head, he couldn't help but think 'this class is too easy; I can't wait until I can get into more advanced classes. Oh well, just gotta wait it out.'
In the front of the building Ulee was doing his own speculation. Since he was staring out the window his teacher, Mr. Gaska, stated, "Ulysses, would you like to re-join the class. I do believe that you are supposed to be here, not looking out the window."
Ulee scowled at his teacher and said, "It's Ulee, don't call me Ulysses!"
Mr. Gaska gave his gentle, patient smile and said, "Well, then pay attention in class and I wouldn't have to use your given name to get your attention." Mr. Gaska then raised his eyebrow, clearly waiting for Ulee.
Ulee looked at him with a question on his face while still scowling at Mr. Gaska.
Finally, Mr. Gaska said, "I asked you to please come to the front of the room and show us how to work this math problem on the board. Are you ready to precede Mr. Sabre, now that I have your attention?"
Ulee rolled his eyes, getting up out of his chair and mumbling, "Great, just great, he goes from Ulysses to Mr. Sabre. Funny, real funny."
"What was that Mr. Sabre?" Mr. Gaska asked as Ulee got to the front of the room.
"Uh, nothing Mr. Gaska. Just thinking of how to do the math problem." Ulee flashed a smile at his teacher that definitely said "Not" and started to work the problem.
Meanwhile Jackie wasn't doing much better. He couldn't concentrate at all. Steven was trying real hard to keep nudging him back to class when they were in the same classes but it wasn't working.
Finally, at lunch where they could talk, Steven asked, "Man what is wrong with you dude? You don't lose yourself like this. You didn't last year."
Jackie grimaced, "Last year I still had hope that they would find something about what happened to our dad. It was only one year. Now it is two and no new news, nothing, nada, zip, nothing." His voice raised slightly near the end.
Just then Lily walked up and asked "Nothing, nada, zip about what?" She looked back and forth between the two while she sat down.
Jackie snapped his head to look at her and clenched his teeth together, "Nothing, and not any of your business, this is between friends."
Steven slapped him upside the head as Lily looked down at her tray and whispered, "I thought you forgave me and we were still friends?" Taking a deep breath she looked up, eyes wet, and added, "I won't pry but don't snap at me either. I didn't know it was private and I won't be your punching bag Jackie. I got enough of that before and I won't take it from someone I thought I could trust!"
Just as she was getting ready to grab her tray and leave Jackie placed his hand over hers and said, "I'm sorry Lily. I'm really sorry. It's just that, as you know, at this time two years ago someone I love dearly disappeared and it tears me up that no one knows anything." Looking down, he added, "I feel lost Lily and Steven has always been there." Looking back up, "You left for a while and I'm touchy and I don't take things out on people. This isn't me; you know that, I'm sorry."
Lily stayed seated and nodded her head, "OK. I can accept that. So, what are we going to do to find this someone you love? As if I don't know who you are talking about."
Jackie looked at her shocked, "What do you mean by we?"
Flicking her light brown hair over her shoulder she looked right at Jackie with her light, oak brown eyes and stated, "We, meaning you, Steven and I. Friends stick together."
Just then a hand slammed into the back of Jackie's head. When Jackie's head came back up you could almost see the calm settle over Jackie as he turned in his chair.
Lily quickly moved over to the other side of the table while Steven moved closer to Jackie. Steven stood just behind and slightly to the side of Jackie. Jackie slowly stood. His motions seemed as if they were in slow motion.
"Well, well, well. What do we have here? Moving in on my territory Jackie?" Bruno said with a sneer. When he said Jackie's name he said it in a slightly higher tone of voice attempting to make it sound more feminine.
"Territory?" Jackie asked sarcastically.
"Yes, you swamp rat! My territory! No one messes with my girl." Bruno stated, with what almost sounded like a growl, while leaning into Jackie's face.
"Hmm, if you get any closer I'd have to deck you because I'd have to think you were trying to kiss me Bruno." Jackie said with a calm smile.
Steven could see Jackie watching everyone and everything all at the same time. He knew that Jackie was ready for an attack. He also knew that Jackie wouldn't strike first, so he watched and waited. Ready to jump in if Jackie needed help.
Just as Bruno was getting ready to take a swing Mr. Thatcher, who was lunch room monitor, walked up and asked, "Is there a problem here boys?"
Jackie smiled, his eyes never leaving Bruno, "No, I don't have a problem. But it appears that Bruno does."
Mr. Thatcher saw everything that was happening while he approached and looked over at Bruno.
"Got no problem, just letting the swamp rat know that I don't like him poaching in on my territory." Bruno stated matter of factly.
Mr. Thatcher raised his eyebrows and seeing Lily shaking realized what was going on. He calmly said, "Last I knew women were neither property nor territory. Also, derogatory names are not acceptable in this school. Come with me to the office young man. I do believe this, conversation, is over."
Mr. Thatcher then looked over at Jackie, Steven and Lily and said "Lunch is almost over, start heading to your next class." He turned and escorted Bruno from the lunch room while everyone that had gathered around started to move off to their next classes.
As Bruno was walking away, he turned and yelled, "This isn't over rat."
You could hear Mr. Thatcher tell him to keep moving as his words were just getting him into more trouble.
Jackie turned and looked at Lily. Shaking his head, he had to ask, "Whatever possessed you to date that jerk?"
While trying to stop shaking, she looked at Jackie and simply said, "Peer pressure. Notice I don't have many friends anymore. They all deserted me when I broke up with that jerk."
Jackie really looked at her for the first time. He saw a petite little thing that reminded him of the fairies in stories that his mom read to him. He saw her shaking so he gently put his arm over her shoulder to calm her. He then lowered his voice as he asked, "Why, what happened Lily?"
She looked up and with tears pooling up in her eyes she whispered, "He got mad when I wouldn't sleep with him. He hit me and when I got away and ran to my so called friends they just told me that that is what I get for being such a goody two shoes. See, now that we are in high school, they think we should just give it away and I don't. I want to wait until I'm married and that is a long way off. They said I let them down and I could just get lost if I was going to be a wet blanket and not put out."
Jackie hugged her then and told her, "Well, I don't see you that way. You got two friends here that'll watch you and protect you from now on Lily. Don't worry, you're not alone anymore."
Steven pulled her into a three way hug and let her know that what Jackie said, he agreed with.
She smiled up at them and the three friends walked out of the lunch room with Lily in the middle being shielded by her two friends.
After school, Jackie asked them if they wanted to come over and go out on the pirogue with him. They both told him that they had to go home first and ask but would call to let him know if they could or not.
As they got into the Jeep to head home, Jackie let his mom know that Steven and Lily might come over and go out in the pirogue with him. Talon and Ulee looked at each other and smiled, knowing that if Jackie was with his friends that he would be alright out of their sight for a little while.
Katie smiled and couldn't resist, "Lily? I haven't seen her in a while; I thought you were mad at her?" She asked with a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye.
"She's still a friend mom. Don't get any ideas! She is just a friend." Jackie stated with force.
Katie just smiled and reached over a patted his knee, "Of course! Just a friend."
Jackie sighed and looked out the window. How was he going to tell them? He didn't even understand his feelings and had no one to talk to.
Talon and Ulee looked at each other with questions in their eyes. The look they both gave each other said "Later" and they kept quiet.
Bruno headed to the locker room after school. He was furious that Mr. Thatcher escorted him to the office. All he did was speak the truth. Lily was his girl and Jackie was nothing more than a swamp rat that needed to be sent back to the swamps where he belonged. That is what his father always said about the people from the swamps anyway.
Their coach, Mr. Lewis, stopped him just as he entered the locker room. "Bruno, I need to see you in my office, now."
Bruno didn't want to deal with this so he stomped into the office and heard, "Have a seat Bruno and drop the attitude right this instant young man."
Bruno slumped into the chair by the coach's desk. He always collapsed into a shell inside of himself whenever an adult he respected enforced their authority. Even though he knew they wouldn't hit him, he cringed; it was the tone his father used. With his father he knew a beating was coming, with others he never knew what to expect.
Coach Lewis noticed this and sighed. He felt that Bruno was being abused at home but couldn't get the boy to talk to him about it. Without any proof, and without Bruno talking, he felt his hands were tied.
"I don't know what happened in the lunch room today." Holding up his hands to stop Bruno from responding he continued, "Since there was no violence, you aren't kicked off the team. You got lucky there. But, due to the derogatory names you threw around, you are suspended from the next game. You can practice like usual. Today, I don't want you on the field. I want you to head over to the dance instructor and work on your flexibility and agility today with him."
Bruno looked up at the coach; he couldn't believe what he just heard. Head over to the dance instructor. Inside he was jumping for joy, but wouldn't show it on the outside. Bruno knew if his father ever found out how much he loved ballet that the man would kill him. The only reason he even got to take the dance lessons was because Mr. Lewis showed his father that several of the professional players took the lessons and convinced him that it would help prepare him for a career in football, should he get picked up in the draft.
What Bruno didn't know was that the dance instructor, Mr. Taylor, informed Mr. Lewis of the enthusiasm that Bruno tried to hide, yet it showed in his dance with precision. Mr. Lewis knew that Bruno needed to do something to work out his frustration of the day, and that dance was it. If he let Bruno practice, he knew several players would end up getting hurt.
Bruno stood and sounding dejected grumbled, "Yeah, if I have to, I'll head over there. See ya tomorrow Mr. Lewis." He turned and walked out of the coach's office, smiling inside the whole time and yelling at everyone the get the hell out of his way on the outside.
Coach Lewis just smiled. 'Yep,' he thought to himself, 'This is exactly what Bruno needs today. Better call Phil and let him know I am sending Bruno over and to work the anger out of him.'
When they got home, the boys headed to their room to change. Jackie changed into clothes that he could wear out in the swamp. Jeans, long sleeved white shirt and hiking boots. Talon and Ulee put on jeans and t-shirts with their tennis shoes.
Just as they got downstairs the doorbell rang and Ulee ran to answer it.
"Hey lil' buddy, how's it hanging?" Steven laughed as he saw Ulee.
"You know, a little to the left Steven. How you doin'? Jackie's in the kitchen." Ulee stated with a twinkle of mischief in his eyes.
Steven didn't expect that answer and stood there with his mouth hanging open.
Ulee laughed and said "Well, you gonna come in or stand there with your mouth open for the flies ta go into. I mean, if you wanna eat flies that's fine by me but I don't particularly care for them myself," and he turned and started to walk away.
Steven closed his mouth and shook his head. He still couldn't believe that was Ulee talking to him. As he entered the house and he shut the door behind him, he could hear the phone ring. He heard Mrs. Sabre answer and then tell Jackie there was a young lady on the phone for him. Steven had to hide a chuckle as he knew his best friend would never be anything but friends with Lily. He couldn't help but hope his friend would talk to him.
Just as Jackie hung up, Steven entered the kitchen. "Oh good, you're here. That was Lily on the phone and she's on her way over."
Steven walked up and bumped fists with Jackie while saying, "Great, how long will she be?" Steven asked while trying to snitch a cookie while Mrs. Sabre wasn't looking. It never worked because he got his hand smacked.
"Steven, have a seat and I will make you a quick sandwich and you can eat with the boys," Katie said with a smile.
Steven, slightly blushing, smiled and said, "OK, thanks Mrs. Sabre."
Jackie smiled, and as they sat down he told them, "Lily said to give her about half an hour as her mother was making her eat before she could come over."
"Ah, that's cool. Then we should be done eating and ready to go when she gets here," Steven responded with a few nods of his head.
They had just finished eating when the doorbell rang and Ulee jumped up to run and answer the door.
All of a sudden you heard, "Hi Lily, did anyone ever tell you look just like one of those fairies in the books that mom used to read to us? Your tiny, you're just a little taller than me!" Ulee exclaimed in shock as he knew that she was five years older than him and looked his age due to her height.
Jackie groaned and ran to save Lily from his brother. He found her laughing and telling Ulee, "I get that a lot, but I've never been compared to a fairy before. Thank you for the compliment, I think."
Ulee blushed, realizing what he said. Jackie saved him by introducing them and escorting Lily to the kitchen and introduced her to the rest of the family, starting with his mom and then to Talon. "I know it's been a year since all of you saw Lily, but she's still the same girl you knew a year ago." Jackie was laughing as everyone was treating her as though they just met her.
Katie gave her a hug and welcomed her while Talon stared at her, mesmerized and couldn't look away. Talon thought to himself, 'This is not the same girl that was here a year ago, she's hot!'
Jackie and Steven smiled at each other and Steven leaned over and whispered, "Looks like your little bro has his first crush." Jackie just smile and nodded.
Lily smiled at Talon and blushed when he was finally able to move and give her a hug. She then looked over at Jackie and Steven and said, "Ready? The sooner we get going the more time we have since we still have school tomorrow and my parents want me home by eight." She then turned and said, "That is if you could give me a ride home Mrs. Sabre."
Katie smiled and said "Oh course, go on, get out there, have fun and be careful."
Jackie smiled, gave his mom and quick hug and said, "Of course." They headed out the door and toward the pirogue tied at a small dock at the back of the yard.
Talon and Ulee excused themselves and headed toward the tree house.
When they got to the tree house, Talon and Ulee climbed up and sat next to each other and watched the swamp.
"Talon? What are we gonna do? We gotta help Jackie but I just don't know how?" Ulee looked down at his hands.
Talon put his arm around Ulee and pulled him close. "I've been doing some research Ulee. I've read all the reports, entered all the data and still can't find an answer. There's a lot of data missing, information that I can't get and neither can anyone else it seems. When we head back to the house, I will show you all the information I have and may-be we can come up with something." Talon stopped talking and gave his brother a gentle squeeze.
Ulee looked up and asked, "Why don't you go get your laptop and we can look it over while waiting for Jackie and his friends to get back?"
Talon smiled, gave Ulee another hug and said, "Will do. Be right back." He got up and climbed out of the tree house and headed to get his laptop and the CD with all the information on it.
Ulee watched the swamp; wishing that he could do something to help. He wanted their dad back also. Ulee smiled and knew that they all did but someone or something was blocking them from learning anything. They needed to find out what happened and bring him home.
Out on the swamp, Jackie was using a long pole to push and guide the pirogue along the water. The three friends were quiet and listening to the sounds of the swamp. Also, they were watching for alligators and other problems that could arise.
Jackie found the spot he was looking for and started to guide the pirogue over to land. He guided the small craft onto land and his friends looked at him questioningly. Jackie looked at them and with a hint of uncertainly he said, "I want to tell you something. I thought this would be the best place to tell the both of you." He looked up at Steven and saw a smile on his face.
Steven just smiled and nodded at Jackie, letting him know that he didn't expect anything less than that from his friend.
As they were exiting the pirogue, Talon was entering the tree house with his laptop. "Here we are Ulee, let's go over this together and see if you notice something that I might of missed." Talon smiled at his little brother.
Ulee got a very serious look on his face and nodded, "Yep, let's do something to find him. We love him too Talon."
Talon smiled and said, "Yeah, I know. Let's get to work."
Bruno entered the dance studio and since he was the only student he shyly waved at Mr. Taylor. When it was just the two of them, Bruno would let his guard down some. Mr. Taylor always tried to set up private lessons so the other boys couldn't discourage Bruno of his love of dance and ballet.
"Hello Bruno, I hear that we have some work to do." Mr. Taylor smiled at Bruno.
Bruno looked down at the floor, "Yeah, guess we do. I let my temper get the better of me."
Mr. Taylor nodded in understanding, "Go change into you tights, shirt and shoes and we will begin with the barre warm up and move to center floor. Chop, chop, time is wasting."
Bruno nodded and headed to the dressing room. They all kept their clothes there and Mr. Taylor had them cleaned for the guys between classes. Male ballet dancers still were not widely accepted in the younger years and were often ridiculed, harassed and often beaten by peers that didn't understand the art. Many were still under the impression that you must be gay, feminine, fragile or weak if you took dance.
Bruno came back and they started his dance class. By the time they were done, Bruno was exhausted. As he downed a bottle of water and was walking around the room, Mr. Taylor motioned for him to come and sit next to him.
"Bruno," Mr. Taylor softly said, "I wish to tell you something. I just want you to think about what I say."
Bruno looked at Mr. Taylor, not sure where this was going, he agreed to listen with a quick nod.
Mr. Taylor smiled and began, "I know of your father and did some research. I know that your father broke your mother. She was a beautiful woman and he broke her wings. He slowly killed her with his abuse. That is all you know, the way you have been raised."
Bruno was getting agitated so Mr. Taylor added, "Please, just hear me out."
Bruno frowned, "I'll listen. Go on."
"I see in you something majestic, something powerful. Right now your father has broken one of your wings. He has made you fear him, made you dependent on him, and made you feel week. I want you to know you are not a sparrow with a broken wing Bruno. If you will trust me, if you will allow me to continue to train you, I will help you heal Bruno. But, you need to believe in who you are."
Water pooled in Bruno's eyes, he refused to let the tears fall while he asked, ''What do you see Mr. Taylor?"
Mr. Taylor smiled, "I see the ferruginous hawk Bruno. They are powerful and independent. They are also majestic and wild. In the way you move, you show the power and wildness which just makes you that much more graceful. I can help you become powerful and independent. Don't be the sparrow with the broken wing, be the hawk, powerful and free."
Whispering, Bruno asked, "How do I do that Mr. Taylor?"
"With dance, and also, a time will come when you are given a choice. Make the right one. You will know when the time is right." Mr. Taylor placed his hand on Bruno's shoulder and gave it a squeeze. "Just think about what I said and remember when the time comes, all you have to do is say you need the help and it will be there."
Bruno nodded, "I need to get changed and head for home. Thank you Mr. Taylor and I will think about what you said."
Mr. Taylor watched Bruno walk away and said a prayer for Bruno to get the help he needed so he could heal. He headed over to the stereo and found the song by Martina McBride that he wanted to listen to. When he found it, he pressed play and "A Broken Wing" started to play. Bruno stopped on his way out and watched Mr. Taylor dance to the song. He listened to the words and had to fight the tears from falling. He didn't want to be the sparrow, he wanted to fly and be free. He left the building and headed for home.
Just as Bruno was leaving his dance session and as Talon and Ulee got to work, Jackie finished setting out a blanket that they kept in the pirogue. The three friends sat down and Jackie said, "First I want you to know why I brought you here."
Gosh, were do you start? This story is really getting interesting. We finally have an idea what is causing Jackie's mood. Bruno is really coming to life. I am not sure if I dislike him or feel sorry for him. He is really messed up. I don't think he really wants to mess with Jackie though. The quiet ones are the dangerous ones.
Ulee and Talon are killing me. They just want everything to be better so bad they can't stand it. They are trying so hard; you just want to hug them. It has to be hard on all of them but Cynaira has done a great job of showing us so much into each of these boys that you can't help but like them. She is really starting to bring this story and these boys alive!
I can't wait to see what happens with Jackie and his friends now that he wants to tell them something. I wonder if it is what we think or if it is something completely different. Who knows but I hope we do soon!!
Till next time, this is your friendly neighborhood editing puppy!
I just wanted to take a moment to thank Roland for hosting this story and giving me the encouragement to even write it. Without his encouragement, the Sabres would not have come to life on the page.
I also need to thank ACFan for allowing me to write in his universe, and for all the help that all the authors' in CSU have given me to help make each chapter better.
And most importantly, thank you to everyone who is reading this story and giving it a chance. Seeing the numbers of reads puts a smile on my face. Thank you for taking the time to get to know this wonderful family and following their adventures.
Finally, thank you Boxerdude for being my editor. Your advice is appreciated and you are a wonderful person to work with. Without your editing expertise this would be a completely different story. Big hug for all you help!!