My Secret Identity
© by Ryan Bartlett
Four years later…
He opened his eyes with an infant's curiosity, as if he were seeing the world for the first time. His first fascination was with his hands. He was in awe of the dexterity of his fingers and the discovery of their tactile nature made him eager to explore. He reached out to stroke the leaves of a large fern and giggled as it tickled his palm. Next he felt the bark of a pine and decided as interesting as it felt on his fingers he just had to try it with his cheek. It was scratchy and abrasive. His first brush with pain caused him to rub his cheek to sooth the irritation.
Something wet began to fall from the sky. It came down harder as he looked to the clouds for the source of the moisture. By the time he grew bored his blond hair was plastered to his forehead. Sudden rainstorms are a part of life in the Tacoma area, particularly in winter. As the water soaked the naked boy he felt no discomfort. Though his breath fogged in the 40 degree weather, he wasn't even cold.
The world was a new place for him. Each step he took brought new discoveries. He stared in awe at the splendor as he meandered down a well-worn path. The path was familiar though he had no idea why. All he knew was the path would take him where he wanted to go; wherever that was.
Of all the things he could've been doing on a Saturday morning, hunting wasn't remotely close to anything he would have picked. Spencer hated the woods and always had. His parents thought it had to do with his friend, Bobby, disappearing there when the boys were ten but it went deeper. The woods were dark and gave off a creepy vibe. Something told Spencer he didn't belong there and he was happy to steer clear. Now he found himself trudging through the forest with a rifle slung over his shoulder and the rain dripping off his slicker.
This outing was his father's idea and Spencer suspected it had a lot to do with coming out to his parents last summer. It was a hard choice. He didn't know how his parents would react but he felt like he had to get it off his chest. Much to his relief, both parents hugged him, told him they loved him and it wouldn't change their relationship.
That being said, Spencer found himself spending a lot more time with his dad. They went to ball games, took in movies and the latest adventure, these hunting trips in the woods bordering their neighborhood. Maybe his dad thought killing a deer would make Spencer more of a man but Spencer suspected it was guilt. He knew his father loved him, there was never any doubt about it, but Danny didn't have a lot of time for Spencer before. Maybe these father son bonding moments were dad's way of saying, "sorry for abandoning you to your mother and sister's all those years."
Spencer trudged down the muddy path. He was supposed to be helping his dad flank a deer they'd been tracking all morning but Spencer suspected this would be a waste of time. His dad, for all the effort he put into it, was just as bad a hunter as his son. Spencer wasn't made for the outdoors. He enjoyed comic books, video games, sci-fi movies and other things which marked him as total geek. You would think that, combined with his open homosexuality, would make him an outcast at school but it wasn't the case. Everyone liked Spencer; he had an easy going manner and was always quick to make you laugh. These qualities endeared him to his fellow students and made him popular as the school mascot, Tommy the Tacoma Timberwolf.
He would have given anything to have been home that Saturday, particularly when the rain started. He was just rounding a corner when he tripped over a root and landed face first in the mud.
"God damn it!" he swore.
His curse was met with a boyish giggle. Spencer wiped the mud from his eyes and found himself face to face with a pair of pale white feet. His eyes traveled up over coltish legs, a lean, toned torso and came to rest on a pair of eyes that sparkled like sapphires. The naked boy grinned at him, clearly amused by Spencer's prone form sprawled out in the mud.
"Um, hi," said Spencer, when he pulled himself to his feet. "Where are your clothes?"
The boy just stared at him with that amused grin.
"Are you lost? It's freezing out here," said Spencer as the rain pelted the naked boy. He looked like he was soaked through.
When the boy failed to answer, Spencer figured something must be wrong with him. Maybe he'd been hurt or got lost, who knew? He decided the best thing he could do was get his dad, get help.
"I'm gonna get some help. Wait here while I get my dad, ok?"
The boy continued to stare at him. Spencer wasn't sure if anything he said was getting through so he tried body language and nodded his head, "ok?"
The boy copied his head movement but when Spencer turned to head back down the path, the boy followed.
"No, no, wait here, ok?" Spencer nodded again. The boy nodded too but sure enough, when Spencer left, the boy followed.
"Look, there's pinecones all over the place. If you step on one, it's going to hurt. You know, hurt? Owie?"
"Owwwwie," the boy mimicked.
"Right, good, ok then," said Spencer. He thought he'd gotten through but his blond shadow followed him all the way to the edge of the woods.
"Spence, what are you doing here? You're supposed to be…uh, who is this?" said Mr. McCoy when the boys found him.
"I found him in the woods," said Spencer. "He doesn't say anything. I think he's hurt or something."
"Son, did something happen out in the woods?" asked Mr. McCoy as he took off his rain coat and wrapped it around the boy.
The boy smiled at him and snuggled into the warm coat. Mr. McCoy asked him a number of questions but the only answer he got was that amused grin.
"Told you, he doesn't talk."
"You have any idea how long he's been out here?"
"It's freezing, He could have hypothermia."
"He's not blue or anything," said Spencer.
"Still, I better go get the truck. We should take him to the emergency room and let them call the police. Spence, you wait here with him, I'll be back in a minute."
Spencer didn't argue, he waited with the boy while his dad went to get his truck. It wasn't exactly an unpleasant experience. The naked boy was slightly taller than Spencer, he had lovely eyes and a beautiful face. Spencer found himself wishing he'd gotten a better look at the guy's equipment when he had the chance but then admonished himself for having naughty thoughts about the poor kid. That didn't stop him from checking out the boys legs though and he almost stopped breathing when he saw a small birthmark on the boy's inner thigh. He recognized the mark, he knew he'd seen it before and racked his brain to remember where.
His train of thought was interrupted when his dad honked the horn. Spencer led the boy over to the truck and helped him climb in. The boy wanted to look at and touch everything. It was a distraction for Mr. McCoy, especially with Spencer sitting there, not helping.
"Spence, geez, can you help me with him?" asked Mr. McCoy, as he recovered from drifting into the next lane while taking the boy's hand off the gear shift.
"Huh?" said Spencer. He'd been deep in thought, that birthmark was important. He had to remember where he'd seen it before.
"Help me with him or you and I are going to need doctors as much as he does!"
"Right, sorry dad."
The boy continued to fidget and only stopped when Spencer held his hand. Spencer couldn't help but notice the glances his dad gave him. He blushed profusely but then so did his dad. When they reached the hospital, the doctors took the boy straight into the emergency room. Mr. McCoy explained how they'd found him in the woods and the medical staff came to the same conclusion, potential hypothermia. Spencer and his dad sat in the waiting room while the boy was examined.
The first thing the nurses did was get the boy in bed and under blankets that were stored in a warmer for situations just like this. Next they checked his vitals, temperature, blood pressure, heart rate. While that was being done, the doctor, Dr. Anderson, finished his conversation with Mr. McCoy and headed into the exam room.
"How are his vitals?"
"BP is 110/75, heart rate is normal, temp is 98.6," a nurse reported.
"Hmmm, I was worried about exposure but I guess he wasn't in the woods long."
"No doctor," the nurse agreed as she toweled the boy's hair dry.
The doctor examined the boy's eyes and ears, looked down his throat and checked his reflexes. Everything looked normal but the exam took double the time because the boy wanted to inspect every instrument and repeat the procedures on Dr. Anderson. The doctor laughed when the boy eagerly depressed his tongue and examined his throat. Next the doctor examined his head, there was no sign of injury. The boy seemed to be in good spirits, so why was he acting so strange and why wasn't he talking?
"What would you like me to do next doctor?"
"Call Tacoma PD. Tell them we have an unidentified male, approximately 14-15 years old, hair blond, eyes blue, roughly 5'9" 135 pounds. Found in the forest next to the Woodhaven development. No signs of injury but uncommunicative. Get a tech down here to draw some blood. I'll go speak with the gentleman who brought him in and we'll go from there," said Dr. Anderson.
Out in the waiting room, Danny McCoy paced nervously. The boy was nothing to him but he was a caring and compassionate man. He hoped the kid wasn't hurt and that they'd be able to find his parents quickly. Hospitals tend to make people nervous and since Spencer wasn't in the mood to talk, Danny paced.
For his part, Spencer couldn't take his mind off the boy's birthmark. He closed his eyes and tried to think back to where he'd seen it and suddenly he was ten years old again. It was Cory Wagner's birthday and he was having a huge bar-be-que and pool party. The whole class was there and as the boys changed out of their shorts and into their swim suits, Spencer's eyes were drawn to his best buddy, Bobby Fixx.
Bobby and Spencer were both summer babies and in fact were only a few days apart. They lived in the same neighborhood and quickly gravitated towards each other, forming a friendship they thought would last forever. Things are so simple when you're little, you don't think about what's going to happen when everyone finds out you like boys or worry about disappearing and never being seen again. Every problem can be solved by mommy and daddy. It was three months before Bobby's disappearance, it was a beautiful summer day and as the boys changed, Spencer was entranced by a tiny birthmark on Bobby's naked thigh.
"Of course!" Spencer exclaimed.
"Jesus, Spence!" Mr. McCoy jumped. "What's the matter with you?"
"Dad, you've gotta call Mr. and Mrs. Fixx!"
"It's Bobby. That kid, he's Bobby!"
"It's him dad, I'm sure of it!"
"Ok, slow down. I admit, the blond hair and the blue eyes made me think of Bobby too but lots of kid's have blond hair and blue eyes. I'm not going to call Patrick and Miranda without some kind of proof. They've been through too much to get their hopes up after all these years."
"Dad, its Bobby and I can prove it."
"Ok son, I'm listening."
"On his inner thigh. I saw it when we were waiting for you to get the truck. I've been racking my brain trying to figure out where I'd seen it before and then I remembered, Bobby had a birthmark on his inner thigh."
"Uh, Spence, how do you know that?"
"Oh brother, dad, I wasn't checking him out, we were just kids. I saw it when we changed to go swimming. The summer before he vanished we spent almost every day in one pool or another. I saw him change a bunch. Ask the doctor, dad. That kid has a tiny birthmark on his inner thigh!"
"Alright, I'll ask. If the doctor confirms it, then I'll call Pat, ok?"
"That's fair," Spencer agreed.
A moment later, Dr. Anderson came through the swinging doors. He spoke with Mr. McCoy, explained the boy seemed to be a perfectly healthy teenager and that the Tacoma police had been called. Mr. McCoy was just about to ask Dr. Anderson about the birthmark when a thundering crash came from the emergency room.
"What the hell?" Dr. Anderson blurted out. "Excuse me please."
Mr. McCoy followed after the doctor and Spencer followed his dad. They ran into the boy's room and were shocked by their discovery.
Hank Long was tired. He was working a double shift meaning it had been over sixteen hours since he'd last slept. Fortunately time was ticking away and in an hour he'd clock out. He was looking forward to two days off and was thinking about what he'd do with his stolen time when he was called down to the ER. He was the only phlebotomy technician on duty and Dr. Anderson needed him to draw blood from a young patient, possibly a missing person. He took the elevator to the first floor, zipped his keycard through the security system and was directed to the boy's room by the duty nurse.
He found the boy sitting up in bed. The kid greeted him with a happy smile but didn't say a word. He quickly tied a tourniquet around the boy's arm and then mumbled something incoherent about, "this might hurt a little." When he pricked the boy's arm with the needle the boy let out an ear splitting shriek. Hank pulled away and tried to apologize but the boy had never experienced anything like the pain the needle caused him. The little prick might have been no big deal if you knew it was coming but the experience frightened the boy. Scared and panicked, the boy grabbed Hank by his collar, lifted the 6'4" 290 pound technician off his feet and threw him through the closet door.
When Dr. Anderson and the McCoy's burst into the room, they found Hank sitting in the ruined closet. The phlebotomy tech was in a daze and mumbling to himself. There was no sign of the boy; his bed was empty and it was Spencer who found him.
"Dad, over here," said Spencer. The boy was huddled in a corner with his knees up to his chest and his arms wrapped tightly around them. He looked up at Spencer with his big blue eyes and that's when Spencer noticed the needle still in the boy's arm. "What's that doing in his arm?"
"We were trying to get a blood sample, I don't know what happened," said Dr. Anderson.
"Well look at him, whatever happened scared him," said Mr. McCoy.
"Let me get him back in bed then we'll figure out what happened," said Dr. Anderson.
He approached the boy but when he reached out his hand, the boy pulled away and hid his face in his knees. Mr. McCoy got the same reaction when he tried to help. The doctor and Mr. McCoy were talking about bringing in orderlies and using force to get him back in bed. While Anderson tried to convince Mr. McCoy they would be as gentle as they could, Spencer knelt beside the boy.
The boy responded to Spencer's voice and looked him in the eye.
"Bobby, you remember Bobby? That's your name, isn't it?"
The boy stared blankly back at him but the sound of Spencer's voice soothed him. He remembered Spencer from the woods and from the car ride; he knew Spencer would help him. He took Spencer's hand and while the adults argued about how best to subdue the boy, he meekly followed Spencer and let the teen put him in bed.
"How did you do that?" asked Dr. Anderson, when he noticed what had taken place.
"Bobby was scared, that's all," said Spencer.
"Bobby?" asked Dr. Anderson.
"Yeah, about that, there's something we should talk about," said Mr. McCoy.
"Ok, let me get his blood sample and then we'll talk outside," said the doctor.
Spencer held the boy's hand while the doctor prepared to take the sample.
"This is gonna hurt a little," said Spencer. "You remember owie? This is a little owie."
"Owwwwie," the boy repeated.
"That's right," Spencer smiled.
The doctor watched the boys for a moment and smiled to himself. All his training and all his medical skills and he couldn't get the boy to say a word but a few soothing words from Spencer and he wasn't exactly talking a mile a minute but at least he'd said something! The doctor approached and the boy tensed but Spencer held his hand and Anderson was able to draw the sample with little more than a timid, "Owwwie," from his young patient.
While Dr. Anderson had been taking the blood sample, a couple of orderlies had come in and helped Hank to his feet and out into the hall. When he joined them, Anderson thought Hank must be delirious because he was going on and on about how the boy had lifted him and literally thrown him through the door. He figured he'd talk to the technician when he came back to his senses and instead found Mr. McCoy.
"Tell me about "Bobby," said Anderson.
"Doc, four years ago my son's friend disappeared in the woods near our home. The woods where we found this boy. I know it sounds far-fetched but this kid does look like Bobby and my son's sure it's him. He recognized a birthmark," Mr. McCoy explained.
Doctor Anderson listened to everything Mr. McCoy had to say. He explained that the police had been called and were on their way. They would take fingerprints and the blood sample that had just been taken could be used to confirm the boy's identity via DNA testing if need be. While they waited for the police to arrive, Danny McCoy called Patrick Fixx. This boy might be Patrick's son; he had a right to know what was going on. Danny pulled out his cell and dialed the number. Patrick picked up on the third ring.
"Hey Pat, its Danny McCoy."
"Hi Danny, what can I do for you?"
"Listen, I know this is going to sound crazy but I'm down at the emergency room with Spence and well…Pat, I think we found Bobby."
"I know, like I said, it sounds crazy but I'm pretty sure it's him."
"It's a long story. The police are on their way over here, I think you need to get down here right away."
"You said you're in the emergency room. Is he…"
"He's ok. He hasn't said anything yet, he might have amnesia but he looks healthy."
"We're on our way," said Pat, before hitting the end button.
Pat grabbed his keys and told Miranda to get in the car. They were pulling out of the driveway when he explained where they were going. He waited until they were on their way because he was afraid she might not come. In the years since Bobby had gone missing, the Fixx's had been called down to various hospital's on a number of occasion's to identify the bodies of boys who were found and matched Bobby's description. Thankfully none of the children had ever been their son but they'd been someone's and the memory left behind by those poor dead boys haunted Miranda Fixx.
Miranda was also having a tough year at school. Bobby would have been fourteen now, a freshman in high school. He might have been in her English class. She tried not to think about it, tried not to dwell on it but it was hard with Connor Wayne in her class. With his blond hair and blue eyes, Conner and Bobby could have been twins. Every time she looked at him it was a harsh reminder of what could have been, what should have been.
It took half an hour to get downtown. Pat parked the car but before getting out, he took his wife's hand and squeezed it.
"Are you ready for this?"
"At least it's a live boy this time," Miranda sighed.
Patrick stroked his wife's hand with his thumb then kissed it, "I love you."
"I'll be ok." She smiled weakly.
In the time it took Patrick and Miranda Fixx to drive downtown, the police had arrived. The boy was moved to a regular room on the third floor. The only thing that differentiated it from the rest was the two way mirror that would allow him to be observed without his knowledge. A police detective sat with him. He'd taken the boys fingerprints and faxed them to his precinct. He tried to ask questions but wasn't getting anywhere. The boy gave him the same blank smiling expression he'd given everyone else. In the third floor lobby, Danny and Spencer McCoy sat with another police officer, explaining how they'd found the boy in the woods and brought him to the ER.
Patrick and Miranda checked in at the ER and were directed to the third floor. They took the elevator up and found the McCoy's relaying their story.
"Pat, you made it," said Danny.
"Yeah, can someone tell me what's going on?"
Danny began to tell the story for what felt like the hundredth time and Pat listened attentively. Miranda was distracted. The how and why didn't really matter, at least not right now. What mattered was somewhere on that floor there was a boy who might be her child. She could worry about where he'd been and how he'd been found later, in the present, she needed to know if it was him.
While the men spoke, Miranda casually slipped her hand out of Patrick's and walked over to the nurse's station. She told the nurse on duty she'd been asked to come down and see the teenaged John Doe they were treating and try to confirm his identity. She was very convincing and gestured over her shoulder to where her husband stood with Danny and the police officer. In the end, the nurse gave her the room number and buzzed her through the secure door.
Spencer wasn't oblivious to what was taking place. He was bored with talking to the police. He'd given them all the information he could and when Mrs. Fixx moved away, he suspected he knew what she was up too. He slipped through the secure door just before it closed and followed her down the hall.
Miranda found the room and took a deep breath before entering the observation area. There was a curtain over the two way mirror and when she opened it, she put her fingers to her lips and gasped as tears formed in the corner of her eyes.
"It's him Mrs. Fixx. It's Bobby. I saw his birthmark," said Spencer, startling her.
"Spencer, you found him?"
"He kinda found me, but yeah."
Miranda hugged him and kissed the top of his head, then went back into the hall. She pushed the door to the boy's room open. It was quiet on its hinges and neither the boy nor the police officer heard her tiptoe inside.
The boy's head snapped up, his blue eyes locked on Miranda's. His name, his full name, it was like a key that unlocked his consciousness. Memories flooded into his mind. There were so many he was nearly overwhelmed. His name was Robin Neal Fixx, he was fourteen years old, he lived at 1552 Willow Road, Tacoma Washington. That woman, the woman who called his name, she was mom!
He leapt from his bed and threw his arms around her neck.
"It's you, it's really you, isn't it baby?"
"I missed you mom, I missed you so much." He sniffled.