Castle Roland

Shadow of a Soul

by MultiMapper

In Progress

Chapter 17

Posted: 10 Oct 16

The Shadow of a Soul

By MultiMapper
Copyright © 2002-2016 MultiMapper
All Rights Reserved.

Know From Whence You Came

"Such a grand building is beyond my imagining. How does it not collapse in on itself?" Enoch asked in wonder as they walked into the airport.

"I don't really know anything about that. But it is pretty impressive, isn't it?" Mark asked as he took a moment to admire the architecture.

"I think that there have been some improvements in building materials over the years." Derek offered as he led them through the main lobby.

"Can I show Enoch around while you do your stuff?" Mark asked hopefully.

"I'll be right over there, at the rental desk. Don't wander too far off. I don't want to have to go looking for you." Derek said seriously.

"I just want to show Enoch the planes and maybe he can get to see one take off." Mark said excitedly.

Derek smiled at the idea and said, "Go ahead. Just check back here in about ten minutes."

"It is beyond anything I could have dreamed." Enoch said in wonder as he looked out the window at all the activity on the tarmac.

"Yeah. There's lots of crazy things that you're going to need to learn about." Mark said honestly.

"I am concerned. How will we explain that I am unaware of such things?" Enoch asked anxiously.

"I don't know. Maybe we can say that you're Amish or something." Mark said thoughtfully.

"I am aware of the Amish people from my time! They still exist?" Enoch asked with surprise.

"Yeah. I guess. I really don't know too much about them except that they live like... well, probably a lot like you're used to." Mark said simply.

"I will not offer it as an explanation, but if pressed, I will keep it in mind." Enoch said thoughtfully.

"Yeah. It's best to let people think what they're going to think. Whenever you try to explain things, you usually end up making them worse." Mark said frankly, then pointed as he said, "Watch this, it looks like that one is about to take off!"

"I was just about to come looking for you." Derek said as Mark and Enoch approached.

"Were you able to get a car?" Mark asked hopefully.

"Yes. If you two are ready, we can go out to the lot and get it now." Derek said easily.

"Does it have air conditioning?" Mark asked cautiously.

"I double checked. Yes. It does." Derek assured his son.

"Okay. I'm ready, then." Mark said decisively.

Even though the sun was bright and it was hot, Mark had to admit that it wasn't as bad as when he'd first arrived.

Enoch looked around the lot of rental cars and seemed to be on the verge of sensory overload.

"All these... automotives... are waiting for someone to hire them?" Enoch finally asked.

"Yeah. This is an airport, so people show up all the time and rent cars so that they can get around while they're here. Then, when it's time for them to go back to where they came from, they drop the car off here and fly back." Mark explained with a smile.

"This is ours." Derek said as he veered off in a different direction.

The boys followed, then waited as Derek unlocked the car.

"It is good that I was able to go riding with you before... this. I might have been overwhelmed if I didn't have some inkling of what was in store." Enoch said as he got into the back seat.

"I didn't think about that. Everything was dark for you, wasn't it?" Mark asked curiously as he turned so that he could talk to Enoch comfortably.

"Yes. Although it didn't seem so at the time. With your cousins in the car, each emitting their own light, I felt 'normal' for the first time in longer than I can remember." Enoch said thoughtfully.

"What was it like, on the other side?" Derek asked curiously as he pulled the car out of the parking space.

"It was dark." Enoch said simply.

Derek puzzled over the vague statement and glanced at his son with question.

"The only light there was spiritual light. So we could see each other, and we could see people when they walked into the room in the real world, but we couldn't see the door or the furniture or anything like that." Mark explained.

"Except for those things which are beloved. They absorb some of the spiritual light of those that cherished them." Enoch added.

"That's hard to imagine." Derek said honestly.

"Without light or dark, heat or cold, it is difficult to perceive the passage of time in that place." Enoch added quietly.

"I'm surprised that you didn't go crazy, being there, like that, for all those years." Mark said honestly.

"I have had much time to consider such things. I believe that from the time I entered that place, that I was unchanging. Not only did I not eat or drink, but I also didn't... grow, within myself. As I was upon entering, so I was when I left." Enoch said carefully.

"I wonder if it's like that for ghosts, too." Mark asked speculatively.

"How do you mean?" Enoch asked curiously.

"You said that the guys who lured you into limbo eventually faded away. If spirits didn't change, then that wouldn't happen." Mark said thoughtfully.

"I hadn't considered that." Enoch slowly admitted.

"Maybe they didn't stop existing, maybe they just moved on to another place, you know, maybe they were pulled from limbo into the realm that they belonged in." Mark said seriously.

"If the light comes to claim the souls of the righteous, then perhaps the dark slowly claims those who have other destinies." Enoch said carefully.

"I guess it doesn't matter. We're alive. We should probably focus on living." Mark said with a smile.

"Yes. I have much to learn. I should begin." Enoch agreed.

"This wasn't here the last time I was in town." Derek said as he pulled into the Wal*Mart parking lot.

"Are you sure you want to do this now? This place is huge." Mark asked his father, to be sure.

"Yes. This seems like the best place for us to go to get everything that Enoch might need." Derek said honestly.

"Not down here, this is the food side. Park over there." Mark said as he pointed.

"While I appreciate your generous nature, I will say once again that you need not spend your money purchasing things for me." Enoch said anxiously.

"Enoch, did you see what I had when I showed up at the house?" Mark asked seriously.

"I recall some luggage and a few boxes of personal belongings." Enoch said cautiously.

"Yeah. It wasn't a ton of stuff. All we're talking about is getting you some stuff of your own." Mark said seriously.

After pulling the car into a parking space, Derek turned to Enoch and said, "Before we go in, I need for you to promise me something."

"What would you like for me to promise?" Enoch asked cautiously.

"We're probably going to be looking at a lot of things in there. What I need for you to promise me is that you'll be honest and tell us if there's something you do or don't like. If you aren't honest and say you like something that you don't, because you're trying to make us happy, then you're going to end up with things that you don't want and won't use." Derek said seriously.

"Yes. I will promise to be honest." Enoch said earnestly.

"Good. Then let's do this." Derek said with a smile, then opened his car door.

The front doors spread open automatically as they approached.

Enoch froze in place and stared in wonder.

"I'll explain it later. Come on." Mark said to him quietly.

It took a moment, but Enoch was finally able to force himself to start walking again.

As they walked into the lobby of the store, Mark smiled at Enoch's awestruck state.

"Is this some sort of a festival?" Enoch asked breathlessly.

"No. It's like this all the time." Mark said warmly, then turned to his father and asked, "What do you want to look at first?"

Derek seemed to be trying to get his bearings as he looked around.

"Dad, you're not from the eighteen hundreds. What are we looking for?" Mark chuckled.

"Clothes, I think." Derek said uncertainly.

"I know where that is." Mark said simply, then walked to the cart corral and took a shopping cart.

"Mark!" Enoch whispered.

"What is it?" Mark asked as he let go of the shirt he was looking at.

"Is it now acceptable for a woman to expose herself in such a manner?" Enoch asked cautiously.

Mark looked down the aisle and spotted what had caught Enoch's attention.

"It's summertime in West Texas. People sometimes wear short cutoffs and midriffs like that to stay cool." Mark said seriously, then added, "If it bothers you, you don't have to look at it."

"I had not considered that attitudes regarding social propriety might have changed so..." Enoch trailed off as his mouth fell open.

Mark followed his gaze and was actually surprised when he saw that the person that Enoch had been watching wasn't a woman.

After a moment for the shock to wear off, Mark quietly said, "Welcome to Wal*Mart."

It turned out that buying pants and shirts was the easiest part of their shopping. Enoch's tastes were fairly simple.

The first real obstacle was to convince Enoch that he didn't need a 'union suit'. That took a few minutes.

Then Mark had to walk Enoch through each of the options of briefs, boxers and boxer briefs, then outline the advantages and drawbacks of each. He didn't even bother going near the 'bikini' briefs, since he wouldn't consider wearing those himself.

After that, he got to do the same thing with t-shirts, outlining the benefits of tank top, round neck and v-neck styles. He actually had to call upon his father to help him with that, never having thought too much about it.

Socks were easy.

Shoes weren't.

Enoch actually didn't have much of an opinion. But Mark and Derek went back and forth for a few minutes, talking about the relationship of price versus quality. Finally, Derek reluctantly gave in to his son's insistence that Enoch simply needed something to cover his feet at the moment. When they had the time to do so, they could go to an actual 'shoe' store to get something of quality for Enoch.

As far as Mark was concerned, they were ready to go. They had Enoch outfitted from head to toe. But Derek decided that there was another stop that they needed to make.

Mark couldn't help but smile as Enoch carefully examined all the accessories on offer, such as wallets, belts, tie clips, handkerchiefs and the like.

After that, Derek made sure to show Enoch the manicure sets. Once Enoch had selected the kit that he wanted, Derek made a point of asking Mark if he needed one, too.

Although Mark had nail clippers at home, he didn't have the rest of the tools, so he picked one similar to Enoch's, in a different color carrying case.

Derek asked if either of them needed any shaving supplies.

Mark and Enoch had to shyly admit that neither of them needed anything like that, yet.

Much to Mark's surprise, Derek then took them to the electronics department.

Enoch froze with an expression equal parts wonder and terror when he saw all the large flat screen televisions showing the same program at the same time.

"Are you okay, E?" Mark asked quietly.

"What are these miraculous things?" Enoch asked in a whisper.

"That's a lot to explain." Mark said slowly, then thought about how he could best describe what Enoch was seeing.

Finally, Mark cautiously asked, "Have you ever seen pictures move in a flip book?"

"Yes. Back when I was in Boston, with my aunt, she had a kineograph book that she showed me just before I left for Texas. Before that, she had a zoetrope that I enjoyed many times." Enoch said seriously.

"I don't know what those things are, but I get that you know what I'm talking about." Mark said carefully, then continued, "Well, you know how when you looked at those pictures and flipped through the pages, it looked like they were moving. Televisions do just about the same thing. They show a bunch of pictures on the screen so fast that it seems that you're seeing something that's alive, right outside your window."

"It seems like magic." Enoch said in awe.

Mark smiled, then said, "Remember where we were this morning? That was magic. This is just a hundred years of scientists, one after another, figuring out how to improve on what the one before did."

"But how does it work?" Enoch asked cautiously.

"Actually, I have no idea. But if you figure it out, maybe you can be the one who comes up with whatever's next." Mark said with a tender smile.

After looking around the department, Derek walked up to the boys and quietly asked, "Do you think you'll be needing anything to keep you entertained on the trip?"

Mark considered for a moment, then said, "I think E's probably going to have enough questions to keep both of us busy."

"I apologize if my ignorance is causing you any inconvenience." Enoch said shyly.

"Dad just asked if we wanted something else to do to keep us busy. And I told him 'no'. That's because I like answering your questions." Mark said frankly.

"Thank you. But please let me know if you tire of answering my questions and I will refrain." Enoch said seriously.

"You got it, E." Mark said easily.

"Can you guys think of anything else that you're going to need for the trip?" Derek asked cautiously.

Mark looked at the basket, which was nearly full of clothes, then quickly said, "Suitcases."

"Great idea! I think I remember seeing luggage." Derek said and took off before the boys could even consider responding.

Mark and Enoch shared a smile, then hurried to follow.

After paying at the checkout, they went back out to the car and packed their purchases away.

"Mark, do you remember where the LGBT resource center is?" Derek asked as he started the car.

"Not really. I mean, I've been there a couple of times, but I don't remember the street address or anything." Mark said cautiously.

"I think that I can get us there, but I may need your help." Derek said seriously.

"Why do you want to go there?" Mark asked his father quietly.

"Because I talked to them earlier today and told them that you were missing. I just thought that while we're out and about, it might be nice to drop in and let them know that you've been found." Derek said honestly.

"Yeah." Mark quietly mumbled.

"Face it, you've got a lot of people who care about you. That's not a bad thing." Derek told his son with a smile.

"It's just uncomfortable." Mark said honestly.

"Some things are. But if you care about your friends at all, then you want to let them know that you'realright." Derek said seriously.

"Yeah. I know you're right." Mark reluctantly agreed.

"Hey guys! I'm Zyker. Let me know if you need help finding anything." The young man at the cash register said pleasantly as Derek and the boys walked in.

"Actually, I was wanting to talk to Boyce, if he's available." Derek said hopefully.

"He's left for the day. Is it something I can help you with?" Zyker asked hesitantly.

"I had talked to him earlier about my missing son." Derek said frankly, then pointed at Mark before continuing, "I found him."

"Oh! Well, I'm not sure if Boyce and Hugh have left the building, yet. Give me a second and I'll see if they're still in back." Zyker said, then dashed away before Derek could respond.

As they waited, Derek looked back at the boys and found Enoch frozen, wide eyed, looking at a poster of two hunky shirtless men, snuggled together.

"I bet that this is quite a bit for you to take in." Derek said to Enoch gently.

Enoch was barely able to nod as his eyes seemed to be unable to look elsewhere.

"Detective Taylor, what can I do for you?" Boyce asked pleasantly as he walked out of the back room, with Hugh following a step behind.

"I found Mark, so I thought I'd stop by and let you know that he's alright." Derek said with a smile.

"Thank you so much for that. I really appreciate you thinking of us." Boyce said sincerely.

"Since you were so helpful, it only seemed right." Derek said timidly.

"How are you doing, Mark?" Boyce asked gently.

"I'm okay." Mark said simply, then quietly added, "I didn't mean to make people worry."

"I'm just glad that you're safe and sound." Boyce said with a sincere smile.

"Dad, do you mind if I buy a few things while we're here?" Mark asked suddenly.

"Like what?" Derek asked cautiously.

Mark rolled his eyes, then picked up a box of condoms and showed it to his father.

"We'll leave you to your shopping. Have a good day." Boyce said warmly, then walked with Hugh, into the back room.

"LDS?" Zyker asked when Mark placed his selections by the cash register.

"What's that?" Mark asked cautiously.

"Oh, I'm sorry. I thought from the way you and your friend were dressed, that you might be from the church." Zyker said quietly.

Mark glanced at Enoch, then realized the assumption that Zyker had made, based on their style of dress.

"No. We're not Mormons. But Enoch was raised kinda like that and isn't comfortable wearing regular clothes, yet. So we're dressed this way to make him comfortable." Mark explained.

Zyker smiled at the statement, then quietly said, "If you need any help with that, I know some people, kind of a support group, who help ex-Mormons get settled into outside life."

"Did you used to be a Mormon?" Mark asked cautiously. It seemed wrong to ask, but since Zyker had introduced the subject, he suspected that he might be open to talking about it.

"Yes. I was raised in a closed community of fundamentalists. I was one of the lucky ones who escaped." Zyker said frankly.

"I think Enoch's going to be okay. But if he's having a problem, I'll be sure to ask for help." Mark assured him.

Zyker smiled at the answer, then started ringing up Mark's purchases.

"Are you guys hungry?" Derek asked as they got back into the car.

"Yeah!" Mark answered immediately.

Enoch seemed to be carefully considering the question and finally quietly said, "Yes, Sir... Father."

"Good. I think I remember how to get there from here." Derek said before pulling out of the parking lot.

Mark looked into the back seat with concern at Enoch's pensive expression.

"Are you alright, E?" Mark asked cautiously.

"Everything is so unfamiliar and... strange. I do not know if I will be able to adapt to this new world of yours." Enoch said quietly.

"Sure you will." Mark said with a smile. "You've just got to give it some time. And I'll be there with you to help you until you get the hang of things."

"It's been less than a day, Enoch. It'll get easier." Derek assured him.

"Did you notice that guy back at the resource center?" Mark asked seriously.

Enoch tentatively nodded.

"His name is Zyker. While I was checking out, he told me that he was raised in a closed fundamentalist Mormon community. When he got away from there, he probably felt just like you do, now. So that means that you're not the only one who's going through something like this." Mark said seriously.

"He's right. Even though other people might not be going through exactly the same thing that you are, a lot of people are going through their own things and feeling every bit as out of place as you." Derek assured him.

After a moment to consider, Enoch quietly said, "Thank you. It helps me to know that there are others who are facing similar circumstances."

"They're not just facing them, E. Look at Zyker. He faced it and got past it. Now he's working at the LGBT resource center and helping other people who are just starting to deal with things." Mark implored him to understand.

"Yes. Knowing someone who has been able to overcome and put the past behind him gives me hope." Enoch said with a slight smile.

"We're here." Derek said as he pulled the car to a stop.

"Excuse me, do you know if Greg is here?" Derek asked at the food service counter.

"No. He's already left for the day." The girl behind the counter said simply.

Derek nodded, then looked at the boys and asked, "Do you know what you want?"

"A Big Mac combo." Mark said immediately.

"What about you, Enoch?" Derek asked cautiously.

"I have no idea what these things are." Enoch said honestly.

Derek nodded, then said, "I'll have three Big Mac combos."

The cashier rang up their order, then placed three empty cups on the counter.

Mark grabbed two of them and walked away as Derek paid for their meals.

"Come on." Mark said from a few steps away, encouraging Enoch to follow.

"Have you ever had sodas before?" Mark asked cautiously.

"Yes, but they were usually prepared by the pharmacist at the drugstore." Enoch said carefully.

"Oh, good. Well this is probably about the same, except that these machines mix it for you. Just pick out the flavor that you want." Mark said simply, then went about filling his own cup.

"May I just have water?" Enoch asked cautiously.

"Sure." Mark said, then started looking around curiously.

Enoch watched and waited.

"There it is! Just go ahead and get your ice, then put your cup under that spout and press that little button, there." Mark said as he pointed.

Although he was a little uncertain as he dispensed ice into his cup, Enoch was able to get the water for himself.

By the time the boys were done filling their drinks, Derek was walking away from the service counter with their food.

Once they had selected a table, Derek went back to get his own drink while Mark divided the food amongst them.

Enoch sat and watched for a moment as Mark opened the box and picked up his Big Mac.

After taking a bite, Mark noticed Enoch watching him.

"It's really good." Mark fought to say past a mouthful of food.

Enoch watched for a moment longer, then did his best to pick up the sandwich without making a mess.

Mark watched and waited for Enoch's reaction.

A look of surprise crossed Enoch's face as the taste registered.

"Do you like it?" Mark asked hopefully.

"It is very good." Enoch said in astonishment.

"Do you guys need any ketchup or napkins?" Derek asked as he placed his drink on the table.

"Oh, yeah. I forgot." Mark said quickly.

Derek turned and left as Mark said, "From the way you're holding that, I guess that you didn't eat many hamburgers, back where you're from."

"Not precisely." Enoch said carefully, then explained, "My aunt would be appalled to see me eat a meal such as this. In her opinion, food was to be eaten off plates, with cutlery. To do otherwise was uncivilized. This is reminiscent of the 'street food' that one could purchase in the city from street vendors or at festivals."

"Is everything alright?" Derek asked as he returned.

"Yeah. Enoch was just saying how this food reminds him of the food they used to sell at festivals." Mark said simply.

"We'll have to see if we can find a festival to visit while we're driving, so you can compare it to what you're used to." Derek said before taking a bite of his hamburger.

"Are we really going to be able to stop on the way back to Michigan?" Mark asked curiously.

"We won't be able to stop in every town and village along the way. But I think that we'll be able to make a few extra stops if we find something interesting." Derek said consideringly.

"This is very good!" Enoch said suddenly.

"What's that, E?" Mark asked curiously.

Enoch pointed to the sleeve of french fries.

"Oh, yeah. They're really good. But you've got to eat them before they get cold. If they get cold, they're nasty." Mark said seriously.

Derek nodded his agreement.

"Where are we going next?" Mark asked curiously.

"I was thinking that we could go back to the house and get Enoch's new clothes washed. I really don't know what your mother has planned, but we might be going over to your grandparents' house, later this evening." Derek said thoughtfully.

"When do you think that we'll be leaving for Michigan?" Mark asked cautiously.

"Again, I don't know what your mother has planned. She was looking into some legal matters, so I don't know what's going to come of that. But I suppose that we could conceivably leave as soon as tomorrow morning." Derek said honestly.

Mark slowly nodded as he thought about his father's words.

"Was there something else that you wanted to do?" Derek asked curiously.

"I was just hoping that we could visit with Joe Bob, Jim Bob and Beau before we left." Mark said quietly.

"I already promised to call them when we knew that we were going to be at the house." Derek said seriously, then added, "Let's see what your mother has going on, then we can call them and see when you'll be able to visit with them." Derek finished with a smile at his son.

"Thanks, Dad." Mark said quietly.

After enjoying their meal, they got back into the car and started the drive back to the house.

"I guess I didn't think to ask, is there anything that you were wanting to do?" Mark asked into the back seat.

When he didn't get an immediate response, he looked at Enoch with concern.

Although Enoch's eyes were closed, he was sitting with his usual perfect posture.

"I think he's asleep." Mark said more quietly to his father.

"I suppose that it's been a long day for him. Combine that with a full belly and a warm car and I suppose that it was bound to happen." Derek said consideringly.

"Should I wake him up?" Mark asked uncertainly.

"No. Let him sleep until we get back to the house." Derek said gently.

"What then? Do you still want to go out to grandpa's house?" Mark asked cautiously.

"We'll still have to see what your mother has planned, but if she doesn't need for us to go anywhere, we could spend the evening washing clothes and packing for our trip." Derek said consideringly.

After a long moment of staring at Enoch, Mark quietly said, "I love him."

"I can tell." Derek said with a smile.

"Do you really think that everything's going to be alright?" Mark asked with concern.

"You're probably going to have all kinds of challenges, getting Enoch up-to-date and feeling like he fits in here." Derek said honestly.

Mark slowly nodded his agreement.

"But that's life. We all have things to face every day, both good and bad. We just have to try to make the best decisions that we can as the situation changes." Derek said frankly.

"I know you're right, but I just feel like Enoch has so much more to face than anyone else." Mark said honestly.

"Mark, during my years with the police department, I've met countless people who feel exactly the same way. Trust me. It happens every single day to people everywhere. Enoch's situation may be unique, but the fact that he has challenges to face isn't." Derek said seriously.

"I guess so." Mark reluctantly admitted.

"But Enoch's going to have us there to help him. He'll get through it, and he'll be stronger after he's faced his challenges and overcome them." Derek added.

"Yeah." Mark agreed, then added, "I just want him to be happy. He deserves to be happy."

"So do you. So do I. So does your mother." Derek said frankly, then continued, "I don't mean to minimize Enoch's situation, but I think it's important for you to realize that what Enoch's facing doesn't set him apart from everyone else. It makes him one of us."

Mark thought about his father's words for a moment, then quietly said, "Thanks, Dad."

When they arrived back at the house, Mark looked at his father, silently asking what they should do.

"Go ahead and wake him up. Then take him up to your room and lie down with him. If he falls right back to sleep, then you can come downstairs and help me get us ready for the trip." Derek said decisively.

Mark nodded, happy that his father had a plan, since he felt uncertain about what they were doing.

"Wake up, E." Mark said gently.

"Mark? Did I fall asleep?" Enoch asked in confusion.

"Yeah. I guess that you've been awake for a hundred years, so you were overdue for a nap." Mark said with a gentle smile.

"Please forgive me. I didn't mean to..." Enoch began to say, but was interrupted.

"Come on. Get out of the car and let's get you to bed." Mark said with a smile.

"Don't you and your father have a number of things planned for this evening?" Enoch asked as he undid his seat belt.

"Plans change." Mark said with a smile, then quietly added, "All you have to do right now is sleep. We'll take care of everything else in the morning."

Enoch seemed reluctant, but finally said, "If you are certain that we have no other, more pressing commitments."

"Don't worry. Dad's got it all under control. He'll let us know if we need to be doing something." Mark said as he was finally able to get Enoch out of the car and onto his feet.

"If you say that it is so, I will believe you." Enoch said as he walked with Mark toward the house.

"How did things go?" Pat asked as she walked into the kitchen.

"I got the rental car and we went shopping for some clothes for Enoch." Derek said simply.

"What are you cooking?" Pat asked curiously as she walked up beside her ex-husband.

"I just thought I'd make us a nice goulash for dinner." Derek said easily.

"That doesn't look like very much. Are the boys going to be joining us?" Pat asked cautiously.

"I don't think so. The last time I checked on them, they were both fast asleep." Derek said simply.

"Are you sure that taking in this boy is the right thing to do?" Pat asked with concern.

"Yes. That's one of the few things that I am certain of." Derek said frankly.

"Where did he come from?" Pat asked as she went to the cupboard to start setting the table.

"Boston, I think." Derek said quietly.

"No. I mean, how did he end up here with Mark?" Pat asked seriously.

"Enoch was in trouble and Mark helped him. That's really all there is to it." Derek said simply as he stirred the pan on the stove, then thought to ask, "How did your errands go?"

"It wasn't as much trouble as I thought. I have some forms for you to sign in front of a notary, then they'll need to be filed. That's really about it." Pat said frankly.

"Good. We can do that tomorrow, before we leave." Derek said thoughtfully.

"I talked to Mom and she wants us to go over to their house tomorrow afternoon. They want to see Mark." Pat said hesitantly.

"Yes. That's probably best. If it's at all possible, we should see if we can arrange for Joe Bob's kids to be there. Mark's been wanting to talk with them." Derek said seriously.

"Is that going to throw your travel plans behind?" Pat asked cautiously.

"No. We can just leave Saturday morning. I'm on family leave time, so I don't have to hurry right back. And since we sold the house, I have a little extra cash to be able to do this right." Derek said frankly.

"I think that I have everything taken care of that I need to. All that's really left for me to do is pack. I suppose that I could leave Saturday morning, too." Pat said thoughtfully.

"Dinner is served." Derek said with a smile as he moved the pan from the stove to a trivet on the table.

"It looks good. Thank you for thinking of this." Pat said warmly.

"I've got some laundry going right now, but I really don't have much else to do. Could you use some help packing?" Derek asked casually as he waited for Pat to serve herself a portion of the goulash.

"I think I'll probably do the packing for myself, so I'll know where everything is. But I wouldn't mind it if you tagged along to keep me company." Pat finished with a smile.

"I'll do that." Derek said as he served himself.

To Be Continued...

Editor's Notes:

Oh, wow! That Wal*Mart visit must have been quite a shock for Enoch. Hell, going into that place can often be a shock to me, and I have been living in this timeframe for all my life.

Derek is doing a really good job of helping Mark and Enoch learn to cope with the situation they will both be facing. I suspect that his being a police detective has helped him understand a lot of the hurdles the boys will have to get over.

It certainly is nice to see this story unfolding more and more.

I can hardly wait for the next chapter.

Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher

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