Over the next few days at home after school, Chris worked on the art assignment for a little while each day. Friday was the Fall Dance that they were planning to attend with their 'dates'.
Chris was in his room working on the drawing when he was interrupted by Travis calling to him as he climbed the stairs to his room, "Chris are you up here?"
Chris replied, "Yeah, I'm here."
As Travis entered the room, Chris put the picture he was working on in his art portfolio and started putting his drawing supplies away.
"Hey Bud," Travis gave a little wave as he entered the room, "What're you working on?" he asked.
Chris shrugged as continued putting his drawing supplies away, "Nothing much, just an art assignment the teacher gave us."
That piqued Travis' interest, "Can I see it?"
Chris just shook his head, "No. Not until it's done."
Travis put a little whine in his voice, "Aw c'mon, just a peek."
Chris smiled at him and shook his head, "I don't want anyone to see it until it's done."
Travis tried to use the puppy dog look, but Chris just folded his arms and looked at him with one eyebrow cocked. "Okay, okay, I'll quit bugging you and wait," Travis changed the subject with a smile, "So are you all ready for the dance?"
Chris nodded, "Yeah, I guess."
Travis noticed the way Chris answered him and frowned with concern, "What's the matter? Don't you want to go?"
Chris shrugged, "Yeah, sure. I guess it'll be fun. I'm just a little nervous about going. You know, it's the first dance I've been too."
Travis agreed, "Me too, but you just listen to the music and move with it."
Travis started to dance around, like he was a hip hop artist. Chris started laughing at the way he was dancing.
Travis smiled at him, "See, to some of us it just comes naturally. The rest of you will have to work on it, to look as good as me."
Chris just leaned back in his chair, "Ooohhh, yeeaaah. I can see that. Maybe you should send a video into one of those Dance show people. They wouldn't want to miss out on such fine dancer."
Travis took on a superior look, "Maybe I will. I'd like to share my awesomeness with others when I can."
They both started laughing, Travis sat down on the bed, "Anyway I came over to ask if you want to ride with me to the dance. My parents are taking me and I thought we could go together. No sense both our parents driving since we live right next door. Your parents already said it was a good idea."
Chris agreed, "Sounds good. When are you leaving?"
"Right after dinner. Hey, why don't you eat dinner with us and then we can go right afterward? I know we have enough. My mom's making spaghetti, and there's always plenty," Travis replied.
Chris nodded, "Cool, I'll ask my folks."
Travis got up and held out his fist, "See ya later."
They bumped fists and Travis left. Chris went back over to his portfolio and opened it to look at the picture he was working on once more before he closed and snapped it shut. He quickly got cleaned up and dressed for the dance. He went downstairs and got permission to eat next door. He gave his parents a hug and said goodbye to Tyler and Jessie. Chris went next door and knocked before he opened it. Troy and Travis were sitting in the living room watching a baseball playoff game. Troy greeted him, and Chris sat down next to Travis to watch with them. They talked about how it looked like it was going to be Philadelphia and Tampa Bay for the World Series. Meredith called the boys to dinner and they shut the TV off. After dinner, they left for the dance. Once they got to the dance, they found that Bryce had already gotten there and was standing outside with Cheryl waiting for them.
"There you guys are," Bryce said as he walked over to them.
"Hey Bryce, Cheryl," they both replied. The three friends bumped fists.
"Hi guys. Wendy and Jeannie should be here in just a few minutes. I talked to them on my cell and they said they were on their way." Cheryl told them.
"Okay, cool," they answered.
The four of them made small talk for a few minutes before Wendy and Jeannie's parents dropped them off. Everyone said hi and the girls joined their dates. The three couples went to the door and showed their dance tickets. They heard the music as they entered. Several couples were already out on the dance floor. They found some chairs together and sat down. Bryce and Cheryl were the first to get up and head to the dance floor. Travis got up with Wendy and Jeannie grabbed Chris' hand. They joined Bryce and Cheryl and the group of them started dancing together as a group.
Chris was a little nervous, but he watched what others did and tried to copy them. He found it wasn't as hard as he thought it was. Soon he was enjoying himself and smiling like everyone else.
They danced for a little while before grabbing some water and sitting down. Jeannie excused herself and went to go talk to some friends of hers. One of them gave her a hug in greeting.
"Hi Jeannie," the girl greeted her.
"Madison, you look good tonight," Jeannie said.
"Thanks, you too. I especially like your eye candy," Madison said.
Jeannie glanced over to the table where the others were sitting, "Yeah, isn't he cute?" she agreed.
Another friend of hers, Emily nodded, "Oh yeah, and those eyes of his. I'm in Algebra with him and he has beautiful eyes."
Jeannie nodded in agreement, "I know and with that black hair, it makes him look even cuter."
"So, have you convinced him to be your boyfriend yet?" Madison asked.
Jeannie shook her head, "Not yet, but I'm working on it."
She looked over at Chris again, "He's a little shy, but it just makes him adorable."
Madison smiled at that, "Well, good luck."
Jeannie thanked her as she sat down to visit with them.
While Jeannie was visiting with her friends, Bryce took Cheryl back out to the dance floor and Travis and Wendy went with them.
Chris looked around to see who was there that he knew. He saw several that were friends of his from his classes. A few greeted him as they walked by. He saw Jerry, the asshole from PE, out dancing on the floor with his date. They were dancing next to Mark, Jerry's friend, and his date. The four of them were talking as they danced.
The music changed to a slow tempo and Chris looked around until he found Bryce and Travis with their dates. They were all smiling and looked like they were talking as they danced. Chris' eyes followed Travis as he danced with Wendy. When Wendy moved closer to Travis and put her arms around his neck as they danced, Chris frowned a little. He was interrupted by Jeannie returning to the table.
"Hey, what are you scowling about?" she asked.
Chris gave her a curious look, "Huh, what….I mean, scowling? What do you mean scowling?" he replied.
Jeannie continued, "When I walked up you were scowling and looked like you were mad or something. Who are you looking at?" she asked.
"Oh, uh…yeah," he stammered a little a bit before coming up with a quick answer, "I just uh, saw Jerry Latham and his buddy Mark on the dance floor."
Jeannie followed his gaze and spotted them, "Oh yeah. Cheryl said something about him being a jerk in PE," she said
"Yeah, sorry. I try not to let it bother me. He hasn't really done anything much, he's just an annoyance really," he said.
"Okay, you want to dance some more," she asked.
"Huh, oh…yeah," he agreed.
He stood up and joined the others as the music changed to a faster beat. They danced together and would change partners within their group so that each of the guys danced with each of the girls.
Cheryl noticed something when she danced with Chris that intrigued her. As they continued to dance and switch partners, she watched Chris. They headed back to the chairs to sit and get a drink of water. They were talking when Jeannie got their attention.
"God, why do they have to be here?" she said with disgust.
"Who?" Chris asked as he turned from talking to Travis to look at her.
She pointed toward the entrance. They all turned to look. Coming in the door we're four couples at least that was what it looked like as they were all holding hands. The couples started for the dance floor. Some people greeted them, although there were some that moved away.
The couples moved out to the dance floor. Chris' mouth dropped open a little bit when he saw who it was; David the guy from his PE class was dancing with another guy. Chris had seen him before but didn't know his name. Two of the other couples were also boys and the fourth couple was two girls. One of the couples looked like they were freshmen or sophomores. Chris recognized one of them as Alex from his art class and he knew he was a sophomore. His staring was interrupted by Jeannie.
"How can they just parade around like that?" Jeannie said with the distaste.
"They're not parading around. They're just dancing," Chris replied.
"But they're…together, ugh," she said. She looked at Chris with a little shock that he was defending them.
Chris saw the look on her face as if she had smelled something gross. He looked away to watch the gay couples once again. They were dancing and seemed to be having a good time. He noticed that many of the people dancing nearby were friendly with them. Chris knew that David was popular, he always had people around him and he could now remember seeing the boy who was with him a lot of the time, when he saw David. He guessed that they were probably boyfriends. Alex and his date had looked a little tentative at first as they nervously looked around the room, but when they saw that the people around them were not doing or saying anything they relaxed a little and started to enjoy themselves. Chris smiled a little as he watched them having fun together.
"I mean they shouldn't be allowed to dance together, it isn't right. I'm so glad the leaders of my church helped get that law passed during the election last year?" she stated.
Chris' smile faded away and turned his attention back to her, "Which law?" he asked.
She looked at him with surprise, "You know, Proposition 8. The Defense of Marriage act. Our church leaders really helped with getting the word out," she said.
"Oh yeah, that one," he said.
"Well, at least they can't get married in this state," she said with a superior air.
Chris looked at her for a moment with a furrowed brow, "But why does it matter?" He pointed to the four couples on the dance floor, "Look at them, they're not hurting anyone. Why does it even matter that they're dancing? In fact, they seem to be having fun," he said.
"But it's a sin before God, don't you know that?" she said with shock that he would even think such a thing was okay.
"I've heard people say that, but I don't believe that," he continued.
"Well it's in the bible that…" she sniffed.
"Jean, c'mon forget about that. We're here to have a good time, not talk about religion," Cheryl interrupted her before she could continue what she was going to say as she tried to diffuse the situation. She could see that Jeannie was starting to get a little upset and Chris' eyes had narrowed a little as he looked at her. Jeannie frowned at Chris and then turned away.
"Fine! Excuse me, I'm going to go talk to Madison, I forgot to ask her something," she got up and stomped away.
Chris was scowling at her as he watched her walk away. His attention was brought back to the group by a touch on his arm, it was Cheryl. She gave him an apologetic look.
"Sorry. She's Mormon and they are kinda uptight about gay people," she apologized.
"I'm sorry, I know she's your friend, but I've never seen a problem with the issue. No one should have to worry about what other people think about who they like to be with. I mean if I had a friend who said he was gay, I'd say 'so what' and we'd still be friends. I know it doesn't happen that way a lot of the time, but it's not that important an issue," he stated emphatically.
"Yeah me too. I mean I don't know anybody that is, but Chris is right. It shouldn't matter to anyone else," Travis agreed.
Cheryl nodded, "I agree, but she's always been like that. She's still my friend, but that is the one small thing that we don't agree on. Anyway, sorry that you guys had to hear that. C'mon, let's all go dance," as changed the subject.
The remaining couples got up while Chris sat there, but Cheryl was having none of it. She grabbed Chris' hand pulled him out of the chair, dragging him along. The five of them danced together. They got back into the good mood they were in before Jeannie's little tirade.
While they were dancing Chris stumbled against someone and the person grabbed him before he fell. He looked to see who had saved him from falling and saw it was David. David smiled at him, causing Chris to blush a little.
"Hey Chris," David said.
"Hi David. Uh, thanks for catching me. I kinda tripped," Chris thanked him.
David nodded, "Yeah I saw." David pointed to the guy he was with, "Chris, this is Loren Jeffords, my boyfriend."
Chris nodded, "Uh….nice to meet you."
He looked at the boy with David. He was about as tall as David, about 5'10", but he was a little more slender. He wore his brown hair short and spiky on top where David's brown hair was medium length. Chris took Loren's hand and they shook.
"Nice to meet you Chris," Loren smiled.
"Chris is in PE with me. He's fast and agile, contrary to what you just witnessed." David said as Loren and Chris chuckled a little.
The three of them continued to talk as they danced. He found out that Loren was in the Concert Choir. They continued to talk for a little bit as they danced until he felt someone tapping him on the back. He turned with a smile and saw it was Travis who was motioning for him to follow them. Chris nodded and turned back to David and Loren.
"I'll see you guys later," he said as he left.
David nodded, "See you in school," he said.
Loren gave him a little wave, "It was nice meeting you Chris."
Chris nodded, "You too Loren. Bye guys."
He hurried after his friends. They waited for him to join them. "You ready to go bro. My dad's going to be here in a few minutes to pick us up," Travis said.
"Sound okay," Chris agreed.
The five of them walked outside to wait for their parents. Wendy's Mom drove up after a few minutes. She gave Travis a quick peck on the cheek and a hug before she got in her mom's car. Travis blushed as Bryce punched him on the arm. Cheryl's mom showed up next. Cheryl gave Bryce a quick kiss goodbye. She hugged Travis and Chris. She hugged Chris a little longer.
"Sorry about Jean," she said softly.
Chris gave her a gentle squeeze in answer, "Don't worry about it. I'm not."
Cheryl stepped back, "Okay. Well see you guys at school."
She got into her Dad's car and they left. Right behind them came Travis' Dad. He rolled down the passenger window, "Get in Bryce. Your Dad asked me if I could give you a ride home, since I already had two of the three musketeers."
Bryce smiled in thanks, "Thanks Mr. Grayson."
Bryce sat in the front seat while Chris and Travis got in the back. When they got to Bryce's house he turned around and they bumped fists. When they got to the Grayson's, Chris said goodbye and went home. His parents were in the living room and looked up when he came in.
"Hi honey. How was it?" his mom asked.
"It was okay Mom," he answered.
"Just okay? How about your date?" she said with a little teasing in her voice.
"She's….well, not really my type," Chris stated.
"Why, did something happen?" she asked.
Chris shrugged, "We kinda got into a little argument," he said.
"About what?" she asked.
"Nothing really. We just don't agree on something that's all. I'm going to go to my room and work on an art assignment for a little while before I go to bed," he said.
"Okay, night honey," she said.
He went upstairs, toed off his shoes and got his portfolio out. He removed the picture he was working on and placed it on his art table. The table was a Christmas gift a couple of years ago. It had a glass top and could be tilted to different degrees. There was a light that was part of it that could be put underneath the glass so that it became a tracing table when he wanted to trace things. There were drawers for storage of his drawing supplies. It was his pride and joy. He used it for most of his drawings when he was home. He looked at the picture for a few moments and then grabbed a pencil and started working on it. He kept at it, until he was interrupted by a knock on his door.
"Chris, it's eleven, time for bed," his dad said as he poked his head in the room.
Chris looked up, "Oh, hey Dad. Sorry, lost track of time," he said.
Michael came into the room and Chris flipped the picture face down before his dad could see it. "What are you working on?" he asked with interest.
"An assignment for art class," Chris answered.
"Can I see it," Michael asked.
"No. I mean, I don't want anyone to see it until it's finished," Chris said while shaking of his head.
"Okay, fair enough," Michael agreed.
"Thanks, Dad," Chris said.
"Soooo, you had an argument with this girl you were going with?" he asked.
"I wasn't going with her. We just went to the dance together," Chris frowned.
"Oh, I understand. You weren't going with her, you just went with her," Michael said.
"Shut up Dad," Chris replied.
Michael chuckled as he took a seat on the bed, while Chris was putting his supplies away and turning off the light. Chris turned around and sat on the bed next to Michael.
Michael put his arm across his shoulders. "So what was the argument about?" Michael asked.
"It was just a difference of opinion, that's all," Chris shrugged.
"About what?" Michael asked.
Chris looked at his dad with some suspicion, "Okay. Did Mom send you up here?" he asked.
Michael shook his head, "No. She was a little concerned though," he admitted.
"Yeah, I'm sure. Okay, okay. She made a comment about some kids who were at the dance and I thought it was wrong what she said and I said so. I wasn't nasty or mean or anything like that, but she didn't agree with me." Chris stated.
"That's it?" Michael asked.
"Yep, just a difference of opinion," Chris replied.
"So there were no problems? No fathers coming after you with a shotgun," Michael teased him.
"No, definitely not," Chris giggled a little.
"Okay, well goodnight. See you in the morning. Remember you have yard work to do in the morning before you do anything else. Jessie and Tyler will be helping you," Michael said as he gave him a quick hug.
"Kay Dad, night," Chris said.
Michael kissed him on the top of his head and then tickled his side until he giggled and squirmed away. Michael got up and left the room. Chris went to the bathroom and shut his bedroom door when he returned before stripping down to his underwear and getting in bed. He read a book for a little while before going to sleep.
The next morning after breakfast, Chris led his sister and brother outside to start on the yard work that their dad had in store for them. While he was working in the backyard he heard a whistle behind him. He turned around and saw Travis looking over their adjoining fences and waving a gloved hand at him.
"Mornin' fellow yard slave," Travis said with a smile.
"Hey Travis. You working in the yard too," Chris asked.
"Yeah, Dad said he had some stuff for me to do. So me and Troy are cleaning up the backyard," Travis answered, "When we finish you want to go to the mall?" he asked.
Chris smiled and nodded, "Yeah that sounds cool. I'll talk to you later."
Travis waved before returning to his own work, "Cool, see ya."
They went back to work and by noon Chris, Tyler and Jessie were done. Their mom had lunch set out for them. He told his mom that he and Travis were going to the mall after lunch. He said his goodbyes and then he went next door to get Travis. It did not take them long to ride to the mall. They locked their bikes at the rack and went inside. They stopped at Game Stop to check out any new games, to see if there was anything new coming out soon that they could put on their Christmas lists. After getting a snack at the food court they went to the arcade to play some games. Chris was playing DDR and was focused on watching the patterns as he danced when suddenly he felt someone kick his ankle, which caught him off balance and he fell heavily to the ground, striking his head against the machine.
"Owww, shit," he put his hand up to his head and felt something wet. He pulled it away and there was some blood on his hand. He heard someone laugh and started to look around. Some of the people who were nearby had heard the crash and had turned to look at him. He saw a teenager run over to one of the attendants. A couple of other people came and knelt down next to him. The teenager returned in a few moments with the attendant. The attendant had a first aid box with him. He knelt down next to Chris and took a gauze pad out of its wrapper and put it in Chris' hand, guiding it to the cut on his forehead.
Travis, who was on a game at the other side of the arcade, came running over when he caught a glimpse of Chris sitting on the ground. He dropped down beside Chris. The attendant was speaking to Chris when Travis got there.
"Hi, my name is Hal, the Paramedics are on the way," the attendant introduced himself.
"I don't need Paramedics," Chris protested.
"I had to call them. You were hurt and we have to make sure you are okay," Hal apologized.
"But…" Chris protest.
"Chris, bro, they have to, just chill," Travis interrupted him.
"Your friend is right, I have to do this. Besides you might have a concussion, you did hit your head," Hal agreed.
"Okay," Chris nodded.
"Did you trip or something?" Hal asked.
"More like 'or something'. I was dancing along with the game and someone kicked my ankle hard and I lost my balance and fell," Chris said.
"Did you see who did it?" Hal asked.
"No, by the time I sat up, I couldn't see anyone," Chris shook his head.
They were suddenly interrupted by a loud yell from nearby, "Aww, fuck!"
Everyone turned around and they saw a teenager stumble back holding his nose, from which blood had already dripped onto his t-shirt. There was also some blood dripping through his fingers.
"Now what!" Hal asked with exasperation.
He signaled for another attendant to see to the injured teenager. Chris and Travis realized it was Jerry Latham. The attendant reached him. He started guiding him to where Chris was. Hal reached into the first aid box and pulled a package of gauze from it and handed it Jerry. He quickly put it against his nose. Hal turned his attention to Jerry.
"Now what happened to you?" Hal asked Jerry.
"I don't know, some guy just slugged me in the nose," Jerry answered.
"Did you get a look at him?" Hal asked.
"Not really. I know he was wearing a black hoodie or something. He blindsided me and then left," Jerry answered.
"Maybe he's the cause of both incidents. Andy, I think we need to call the sheriff's too," Hal said.
When Hal said that about both incidents, Travis noticed Jerry's gaze flick at Chris for a few moments and Travis narrowed his eyes as he studied Jerry. Jerry felt his gaze upon him and turned back to see Travis glaring at him.
"Sure Hal, I'll make the call," Andy nodded and went to the counter to make the call.
"Okay you two, stay right here and don't move until the paramedics get here. The rest of you, back away and give them some room," Hal said to Chris and Jerry.
As the crowd started to move away, one older teenager stayed behind standing near Jerry.
"I saw you," he said.
"What the fuck are you talking about?" Jerry said to him with a scowl.
"Well I didn't exactly see you do it, but I saw you walk away quickly and laugh over your shoulder at this kid here who was on the ground," the guy said has he pointed toward Chris.
"What? Latham you're an asshole!" Travis exploded.
"Fuck you Grayson. I didn't do anything. Your boyfriend is just clumsy," Jerry yelled back.
"Fuck you Latham!" his voice got louder.
Hal came running back over to them as their voices had started to get louder, "Hey! What's with all the yelling?"
Travis pointed at Jerry, "This asshole is the one who tripped my friend while he was playing this game."
Hal looked at Jerry, "Is this true?" he asked.
"Hell no! Why would I do anything like that? That's dangerous, someone could get hurt," Jerry protested his innocence.
The older teenager stepped up, "Sir, I can't prove it, but I think he did it. I saw him walking away after this boy fell and he was looking at him and smiling."
"Did you see him trip him?" Hal looked at Jerry with suspicion as he asked.
"No sir, it just seemed convenient that he seemed to be enjoying this kid's fall if he didn't have something to do with it," the guy answered.
"Okay, what's your name?" Hal asked Jerry.
"I don't have to tell you that," Jerry said.
"It's Jerry Latham," Travis said.
Jerry looked at him, "Shut up Grayson," he threatened.
"I would keep a cool head young man. If you had something to do with this boy's injuries, you could be in a lot of trouble," Hal ordered.
"Fuck this. I'm outta here," Jerry jumped up and ran from the arcade.
Hal tried to grab him, but Jerry was too fast and was gone in no time. Hal turned back to the three boys.
"I'll give his name to the sheriff's when they get here and they'll probably want to talk to him. You guys know him?" Hal said.
"He goes to our school. He's been a little bit of a jerk to my friend Chris here in PE class. I believe he would do something like this. He doesn't like Chris for some childish reason," Travis said.
"Chris is it?" Hal asked.
"Chris did you see the other kid trip you?" Hal asked.
Chris shook his head, "No, I was concentrating on the game and just felt someone kick me on the ankle when I was off balance which caused me to fall," he replied to the man.
"Have you been having trouble with him in the past?" Hal continued.
"I guess a little bit, but I just shrug it off. He sometimes puts a little extra force in what he does around me, like in flag football, he'll sometimes accidentally trip me when he grabs the flag. He's careful so that the coaches don't catch him," Chris answered.
At that time, the paramedics came in pulling a gurney with their equipment on it. They knelt down next to Chris and one of them gently moved Travis out of the way.
"Hi, I'm Jim, this is my partner Ari. We're going to take a look at you," the first paramedic said. He reached up and moved Chris' hand away from the cut, while Ari put a blood pressure cuff on his arm. Jim probed all around the cut, causing Chris to wince a little. Jim smiled his apology. Ari continued taking his vital signs.
"What's your name?" Jim asked.
"Chris Elkins," was the reply.
"What happened?" Jim asked.
"Someone kicked my leg out from under me and I fell," he replied.
"What did you hit your head on?" was the next question.
"The game machine," Chris answered
Jim made notes while he talked, "Does your head hurt?" he asked.
"Yeah a little," Chris nodded.
"Understandable," Jim agreed.
"How many fingers am I holding up?" he asked.
"Two," Chris answered.
"Is your vision blurry or anything like that?" Jim asked.
"Nope." Chris shook his head.
"Were you unconscious at all?" Jim asked.
"No." Chris shook his head again. Jim held up one finger.
"Okay keep your head straight and follow my finger with your eyes and just your eyes."
Chris nodded and Jim moved his finger back and forth up and down before he nodded with satisfaction. He then pulled a pen light from his pocket and shined it into each of Chris' eyes before putting it back. He smiled at Chris and patted his shoulder, "I think you're going to be okay. Everything looks normal. However, because you did hit your head, we have to take you to the hospital to be sure. Sometimes head injuries can be deceiving, so we have to make sure."
Travis put his hand on Chris' shoulder, "I'll call your mom and dad Chris and let them know what happened."
Chris nodded, "Thanks Travis."
A sheriff's deputy walked up at that moment, with his notepad in his hand. Jim was putting gauze pad over the cut and taping it in place, while Ari readied the gurney for their patient.
"So what happened here?" the sheriff's deputy asked.
"Hi officer, my name is Hal Linder, I'm the manager here. One of the other kids here came and got me and told me that some kid had fallen and was bleeding. I came over and found this young man sitting on the ground and he had a cut on his forehead." Hal said as he introduced himself.
"So was there a fight or something? The call that came in said there were two injured boys," the officer asked.
"No there was no fight that I know of. The other boy ran off just a few minutes ago. According to this young man here, the boy who ran off may have caused this boy to fall and get hurt," Hal answered pointing to the other teenager.
"Then why was there a report of an assault here," the officer said with some confusion.
"Someone bloodied the other boy's nose," Hal stated.
"One of these boys here?" the officer said as he pointed at Chris and Travis.
Hal shook his head, "No. The other kid said that someone in a black hooded sweatshirt hit him in the nose and took off. He didn't know who it was and didn't get a clear look at him."
The officer looked at the two boys, "Do you know the name of the other kid?" he asked Hal.
"Jerry…." Hal started.
"Latham," Travis supplied.
The deputy looked at Travis, "He a friend of yours, young man?" he asked.
"No way. Chris and I know him from school. He's been kind of a jerk to Chris," Travis said with distaste.
"What is your name?" the officer asked.
"Travis Grayson," he replied.
"Travis, so you saw this other kid…Latham, knock your friend down?" he asked.
"No sir. No one saw him do it, but it would be just like him to do it. He doesn't seem to like Chris," Travis said shaking his head.
"Sir, I was the one who said I thought that Jerry had caused him to trip," the other teenager interrupted.
"And you are?" the officer asked.
"Mike Jefferson, sir," the teen answered.
"So you saw this Jerry, knock him down?" the officer continued.
"Not exactly. I didn't see what caused Chris here to fall, but I saw Jerry walk away quickly after Chris fell and he had kind of a malicious look of satisfaction," the teen said.
"No real proof without a witness. So no one saw this Latham kid knock him down," the officer asked as he looked around seeing only shaking heads. "Okay let me get everyone's name," he said.
He took down all of the boys names, when he finished writing Chris' name down he stopped for a moment.
"Christopher Elkins, that's your name?", the officer asked.
"Yes sir," Chris answered him.
The officer had a puzzled look as he tried to recall. "Your name is familiar. You haven't been in trouble before have you?" the officer asked.
Chris shook his head, "No sir," he replied.
The officer glanced at Chris again for a moment, and then his eyes widened slightly and he nodded as if confirming something to himself, "I remember now, it's been a few years."
Chris was puzzled, but the officer waved it off, "Forget it, son. Let's just say I remember now and I'm glad to see you doing okay. I'm going to track down this Latham kid and see what he has to say, but other than that he probably won't be charged with anything as there were no witnesses to what happened. Besides, I need to find out what happened to him. Give me a few minutes and I'll give you a copy of the paperwork to give to your parents. Have they been contacted yet?"
Chris shook his head, "No sir, my friend Travis, was going to use the pay phone to let them know."
The officer reached to one of his pouches and took out a cell phone, "Here use my cell while I finish the paperwork."
Travis took the phone and Chris grabbed it from him, "I'll call 'em, Travis. If you call them, and tell them, it might freak them out."
Travis nodded, "Yeah, you're prolly right."
Chris dialed the number and waited for someone to answer. "Hi Jessie, could you get mom or dad on the phone…okay….Hi Dad….no, well yeah…Me and Travis were at the arcade and someone tripped me and I hit my head on one of the machines and cut it….no it's not too bad, but the paramedics have to take me to the hospital to make sure I'm okay…no, no, no, I'm fine don't worry. They said it was just a precaution….yeah….okay, I'll see you there…bye."
The officer finished with the paperwork for Chris and Travis handed the phone back to him.
"I talked to my dad and he said he'd meet me at the hospital. Can Travis ride with us?" Chris asked.
"I guess that will be okay," the paramedic answered.
The deputy handed the paperwork to Chris as Jim helped him up on the gurney and Ari secured him. The deputy leaned down close when he handed him the paperwork, "It's been five years, but I recognized you Chris. I'm glad to see you're okay. I was working on your case when you disappeared, so you probably don't remember me."
Chris nodded his thanks to the deputy for not saying anything. His kidnapping when he was nine, was not something he advertised and most kids had forgotten about it, since it was so long ago in a kid's life that no one said anything about it anymore. The deputy patted his shoulder as he stood up to let the paramedics wheel Chris out to their truck.
The two boys said goodbye and thanked Hal and Mike as they left. Travis followed behind the gurney. Once Chris was secured in back, Ari had Travis got in the front seat, while Jim sat in back with Chris. In no time they were at the hospital emergency room. Michael arrived and found Travis in the waiting room. Travis got up and went over to stand with him while Michael let the emergency desk know he was there. They were escorted back to the room Chris was in. Soon after they got there, the orderly came to take Chris to the CT scan room. Michael sat with Travis while Chris went to get a CT scan of his head. While waiting for him to return, Michael asked Travis about what happened and he told him everything he could. Chris returned a few minutes later and they had to wait until the doctor came to see them.
Ten minutes later the doctor came in, "Well young man, everything looks good, so we're going to let you go home. However, if your vision gets blurry or you get dizzy or have a bad headache or anything like that, you come right back here immediately," said the doctor
The doctor glanced at the chart paperwork he had before him.
"Do I need to pick up any medicine?" Michael asked.
The doctor shook his head as he looked at the chart, "No I shouldn't think so Mr. Elkins. He can have something like Tylenol, if he has a headache," he said as he signed a form on the chart.
"Okay, thanks doc," Michael said.
"I'll have the nurse get your discharge papers and you can be on your way," the doctor said as he handed him the discharge forms.
They nodded and the doctor left the room. A nurse came in a few minutes later and took the forms that Michael had signed and they were on their way out of there. In the van, Travis and Chris were sitting in the backseat. Travis caught Michael's eyes in the rear view mirror.
"Mr. Hale, how come you didn't say anything when the doctor said your name wrong?" he asked.
Michael shrugged, "It wasn't important. So why bother."
Travis nodded, "Yeah I guess."
Everyone was silent as they drove home. When they got home, Travis went into the house with them.
Heather looked worried as they came in, but was relieved when she saw that Chris seemed to be okay, except for the bandage on his forehead. She hugged him. "Are you okay honey?" she asked worriedly.
"Yeah Mom, I'm fine, just a little bump on the head," he replied.
She put her hand up and gently touched the side of his head near the bandage, "Does it hurt?" she asked.
"Not too much, a little bit maybe, but it seems to be getting better," he replied.
"Can I get you something?" she asked.
Chris shook his head, "They said I didn't need any special medicine, but I think I'm going to lie down, I'm a little tired."
Travis stepped up next to Chris, "I'll go with you Chris."
He smiled at Travis, "Thanks Travis."
The two boys went up to Chris' room. Chris kicked off his shoes and lay back against the headboard of the bed.
Travis sat on the bed next to him for a moment and then he jumped up and hit his hand against his forehead, "Our bikes, I forgot! You rest here, I'll get someone to take me to get 'em from the mall."
Chris gave him a sheepish smile, "Yeah, I forgot too. Thanks bro."
Travis smiled back, "Anything for my best bud. I'll be back later, glad you're okay."
Travis leaned down and hugged Chris, holding it for a few moments. As Travis left the room, Chris watched him with a smile. He settled down into the bed and closed his eyes. As he closed his eyes a pair of gentle hazel eyes floated in his mind before they changed to some bright almost glowing blue eyes and then he was out.
Chris slowly came awake when he felt someone shaking him. He opened his eyes and saw his little brother standing next to the bed, he smiled, "Hey Ty, what's up."
"Mom sent me to get you up for dinner," he answered.
"Okay, tell Mom I'm getting up." Tyler smiled and nodded before scampering out the door.
Tyler left the room and Chris went to wash the sleep out of his eyes before he went downstairs. His parents greeted him when he sat down at the table. "How are you feeling Chris?" Michael asked.
"Fine Dad, better since I took a nap," he answered with a small smile.
His Dad nodded and they went back to eating. Chris helped clean up afterwards. While they cleaned up his parents asked him more about what happened.
"So what all happened? Travis told me about that other kid," his dad asked.
"I don't know for sure. I only know that I was playing DDR and someone tripped me and I hit my head. There was this other guy, Mike, who said he saw this guy we know from school, Jerry Latham, walk away like he had done it, but no one saw him do it, so there is no proof," he answered with a shrug.
"Travis said that the police were going to talk to this kid."
Chris nodded, "Yeah."
"Well I hope that takes care of it," Michael said.
"Me too. Did Travis tell you about Jerry getting hit by someone?" Chris said.
"He did mention that someone broke his nose or something?" Michael nodded.
"I guess. Someone hit him in the nose and caused it to bleed, so if he was the one who tripped me, then I guess he got what he deserved," Chris admitted.
"Maybe, but just be careful," Michael said.
"Kay Dad, I will. I'm going to go up to my room for awhile before I go to bed," Chris said and hugged his mom goodnight.
"Okay honey," she said.
He went up to his room and watched some TV until it was time to go to sleep. He stripped down and got into bed, it was only a matter of moments before he was out, dreaming about those hazel eyes and sandy hair again.