- Text Size +
~ 13 ~

Max




He had me by my shoulder, squeezing tightly as he clung onto my shirt. I’m not sure how he even did that with the pizza and the bag in his hand, but still he managed. None of them were looking my way at all. They all were so consumed in their poker game, the guy could have dragged me away if he wanted to and not a single one of them would have even noticed.

The guy who was holding on to me placed the pizza boxes on the bed and said, “Surprise!” that’s when they FINALLY looked up.

“What the hell!” Kevin said jumping up to his feet and grabbing the Bible off of the desk. The other three also jumped to their feet and moved to face us.

“Let him go!” Kevin said holding the Bible in his hand. I’m not exactly sure why.

“Or what? You’re going to bore me to death by reading the Bible?”

I can’t believe I actually laughed. I’m sure it was nerves but I laughed at the guy’s joke, because if anyone could bore anyone to death it would be Kevin. What the hell is wrong with me? This guy was holding me against my will for Christ’s sake! He forced his way into our hotel room! He was probably going to friggin’ kill us! Okay not laughing anymore. Now I’m panicking!

Kevin just stood there with a ridiculous look on his face. “What do you want?”

The guy let out a sigh, “Put your, uh…’weapon’ down first and I’ll tell you.” He said sounding amused as he pointed at the Bible.

Kevin slowly placed the Bible back on the desk, “Let him go.” He said once more.

“Fine...” The guy pushed me away from him and towards Kevin as he sat down on the bed and opened one of the pizza boxes. “You don’t mind, do you? I’m starving. I haven’t eaten anything all day.”

That was unexpected.

“Go ahead.” Howie answered as he looked over at me perplexed.

“Thanks… you guys have a seat. We need to talk about some things.”

“Yeah, why don’t you start with why you’ve been following me everywhere?” I yelled now that I was safely standing in-between Kevin and Brian who were staring at the guy with a mixture of awe and anxiety.

“I said sit, you’re making me nervous just standing there staring like that.” The intense look on his face as he was mid chew made us all follow his orders, even though he didn’t have a weapon in sight. We could have just run at him, tackled him to the ground and called the cops. It’s funny how brains work when this stuff happens. Instead, we just let the guy eat our pizza as we all sat across from him on the floor and watched.

He rolled his eyes at us and handed the pizza over, “Aren’t you hungry? I mean you’re the ones that ordered it. Eat it before it gets cold.”

AJ was closest to where the guy sat so he grabbed the box. “What do you want from us?” Kevin finally asked since it was apparent that the man had no intention of answering my question.

He waited until he was done with his pizza, cleaned his face with a napkin and then let out a huge burp, “Excuse me. Pizza always makes me burp. Do you guys happen to have beer in here?”

When no one moved to help him out, instead just staring at him with annoyance, he finally continued, “Okay fine…why I’m here. You need to stop telling people about me.” He said that looking at me.

“You’re following me all over the place. How am I not supposed to tell anybody? That was you on the plane too, wasn’t it?”

He nodded at me, “The less people that know about me, the better. I wanted to make sure you didn’t do anything dumb like tell the police.”

“I didn’t.”

“Good.” He opened the second pizza box and took out another slice, “Because the last thing we need are cops.”

“What did you do to my father?” I asked him as calmly as possible while walking over and pushing his new piece of pizza out of his hands and on to the floor.

He shook his head, keeping it down, “I don’t know what happened to your father, Nick.” He then looked up at me. “I’m afraid he might be dead.”

He might as well have shot me because it had the same effect. I fell back onto the bed feeling like I was about to die. “What kind of game are you playing mister?” Brian said as he placed a loving hand on my back and started rubbing.

“I wish this were a game Brian, but it’s not.”

“How do you know all of us?” Howie asked.

“You’re kind of famous.” He answered, picking up the pizza from the floor and throwing it in the trash.

“Not here in America.” Kevin answered. “No one knows we exist here.”

“I have been following you around for quite a while. Let’s leave it at that.”

“No, we can’t leave it at that. You just told me my father might be dead. You better start explaining or I am calling the police right now! I don’t care if you try to shoot me down in the process!”

He smiled at me, “You’re just like your father. You both have the same stubborn determination.”

“So, you know his dad then?” Kevin asked.

The guy nodded, “I work for him.”

“I’ve never seen you at the Bed and Breakfast.” I answered.

“Not there.”

“I don’t understand!” I was really confused now.

He looked over at Kevin, “Beer?”

“Sorry, we have some Coke though.”

He sighed, “That’ll do.”

Kevin walked over to the fridge and took out a can of Coke. He handed it to the man as he continued, “The less you know the better Nick.”

“I don’t know ANYTHING!” I screamed.

“Tell me about your memories. Your father said you were starting to remember things.”

“I’m not telling you anything. I have no idea who you are. For all I know you could have killed my father!”

“My name’s Max, okay? Now tell me what you remember.”

I couldn’t believe this guy. He had the nerve to just walk in here and start asking me all kinds of questions as if I was supposed to trust him or something. “I’m not telling you shit!”

“Can’t you tell by now that I’m on your side?” He asked as if it should have been crystal clear.

“What? No, I can’t tell that. For all I know you came here to kill me!”

“If I did, you’d already be dead.” He said it so matter of factly that chills ran down my spine. He spoke with a confidence, like someone who has killed before, more than once. How did my father know this man? Why were they working together? He had to be lying.

“If you are one of the good guys, why can’t we tell the police about you?” Kevin asked, trying to get me to calm down by giving me his look.

“I never said I was a good guy. I just said I was on your side. Look, I don’t have much time. I really need to know what the last thing you told your dad was. If we have any hope of finding him alive.”

“I don’t know if I should tell you anything.”

“You’re going to have to trust me.” He looked me straight in the eyes, “Like I said before, if I wanted to hurt or kill any of you, you’d be dead already. I could have killed you at least a thousand times over by now and if you don’t tell me what you told your dad, someone else will be coming to do just that!”

I took a few deep breaths and then looked over at my friends for guidance. I had no idea what to do. From the time I was a child, I never trusted anyone. They all looked at me with a great amount of sympathy in their eyes but a nod from both Kevin and Brian made me finally speak up.

“Okay fine…I’m having dreams.”

“I know, but what do you remember?”

“I don’t know the difference between memories and dreams…” I then proceeded to tell him everything including the very last dream I had which ended with me on the balcony.

He sat there in silence for a little bit, taking it all in. “I knew those memories would come back. Your dad said they wouldn’t but I knew.”

“He saw someone murdered, didn’t he?” Kevin asked. “He witnessed it and now the murderer wants revenge.”

“Someone watches too much Law and Order…” Max said shaking his head and grabbing yet another piece of pizza out of the box. “The less you know the better.”

“Why would anyone want my dad and I? I mean if I did see a murder, it happened so long ago. Why all the sudden would they care now?”

He stood up and walked over to the balcony, glancing at all the other hotels in the distance, “Because now you are remembering.”

“How would they even know that?”

“That’s the million dollar question. Who have you told besides these guys and your dad?” He closed the shades, turned away from the balcony and looked at my four friends one by one. It was one of those looks that went right through you, not meant as warm and friendly by any means.

“Just my therapist.”

“Therapist, so that’s what your dad was talking about.” He went to the desk, opening the drawer, he started searching for something. “What’s the name?” He asked me as he finally found the official hotel stationary and a pen.

“Jane.”

“I need a little more information than that.”

Kevin stood up and moved to his luggage, “I have her card.” He said handing it over to Max and then sitting back down.

“You don’t think she would have anything to do with this, do you?” I asked.

“Not sure, but I plan on checking it out. Is there anything else you remember about your last conversation with your father, anything that stuck out at all?”

I tried my best to think of anything odd and then I remembered, “He told me he loved me. He almost never says stuff like that but he told me I should remember he loved me.” I was suddenly overcome with sadness. Was he saying goodbye to me right then and there and I just didn’t realize it?

He nodded, “Okay…I’m going to go and check out this Jane woman. No matter what, do not open the door for anyone and no leaving the hotel room. Also, stay away from the windows, just in case.” Max stood up and walked towards the door. “I will check in with you again soon.”

Kevin followed him, “So, that’s it? You just come in here lay all this crap on us and then leave?”

Max nodded, “Yeah, that about sums it up nicely.” He opened the door, stopped then turned around, “Try not to keep bugging the police about things. You do not want to attract attention to yourselves or Bob.”

Max handed Kevin a small piece of paper, “Bob trusts you to watch out for the boy, not sure why unless you also carry around a copy of War and Peace when you don’t have your Bible handy. Anyway, I’m giving you my number. Call if you need me but ONLY if you need me! I’ll be in touch.”

And just like that, he walked out of the door and was gone. Leaving us all with more questions than answers and making me wonder for the first time, who the hell my father was.

“That was weird.” Brian said after we all just kind of stood around not saying anything.

“Weird seems to be the new normal.” AJ said, now allowing himself to take a piece of pizza and in three big bites, he managed to finish it.

“Do you think he really works for my father?” I asked anyone in the room.

Howie shrugged, “Nicky, does your dad have a side business?”

“I didn’t think so.”

“That guy isn’t just a businessman. No, this is something more.” Kevin said as he safely tucked the phone number into his wallet.

“You think my dad is a bad guy, don’t you?” I asked the entire room. “I mean, I heard you talking about his past problems last night Howie. You think he’s gone off the grid because he did something wrong.”

If you asked anyone who knew my dad as a teenager what they thought he was going to be doing twenty years from now, they would probably say the same thing to you. “He’d either be dead or in jail.”

My dad was a real trouble maker as a kid. He enjoyed telling us stories about his past around our fireplace at the Carter House. He was on that road to being a homeless drunk. He used to steal from grocery stores and gas stations all the time. Never actually robbed them or anything like that, but shoplifted a lot. That’s how he got by after his parents kicked him out of their house. My mom would get embarrassed by these stories, but I always thought there was something cool about the way he was able to get past his demons and move on to a better life. Maybe he didn’t get past it though? Maybe I’ve just been na´ve.

He always said the turning point in his life was when he met my mother. She didn’t scare him straight, she loved him straight. I know… I want to vomit too. There’s no way someone who could say something that corny could be a bad guy, right?

I looked at them all again, knowing that the silence was my answer. “He’s not a bad guy.” I said taking a deep breath and wishing they would all go away so I could be alone. Yeah I know…I whined and complained about not wanting to be alone and now suddenly that’s all I wanted. Would you want to be around a bunch of people who thought your father was a no good, rotten criminal?

“No one said he was, little man. We’re all just trying to figure this out like you are. Maybe we should eat. I know I’m kind of hungry and we need to keep our energy up.”

We all nodded in agreement.

“Well, one thing’s for sure. This Christmas is going to suck spectacularly!” AJ added chugging down a Coke like it was a beer. I’m glad he’s not old enough to drink sometimes because I have a feeling he’d be an alcoholic. Kevin always has to cut him off when we go overseas. See? Like he can judge my father, like any of them can!

I felt myself getting really anxious and decided it was time for a pill. When I went to go pop them in my mouth though, Kevin grabbed the bottle out of my hands. “What the hell are you doing? I need those!”

“Maybe that’s not a good idea. If Max suspects Jane of doing anything wrong, she’s the one that gave you these pills.”

Brian nodded, “Wow, Frack…Kevin is right. I mean it’s after you took those things that you started to sleepwalk, right?”

I thought about it for a second, and he was right. I mean I have had the dreams long before Jane came into my life but I didn’t start with the near sleep death walking until after I started with the pills. “Yeah, maybe…”

Kevin took the pills and put them off to the side. “I’m going to call Max and tell him about the pills.”

“He said to call only if you need to.” Howie said kind of looking anxious.

“I think this is pretty important. I totally forgot about the pills and maybe there’s a way he can get them checked out or something.”

Kevin moved from our room to AJ and Brian’s, leaving the adjoining door opened just so he wouldn’t be all alone. He wasn’t gone for very long, coming back in and sighing. “He didn’t answer his phone but I left him a message and told him about the pills.”

“Well, maybe we should hit the hay then?” AJ suggested, “It’s been a really long day. Or at least it’s felt like one!”

They all nodded but I wasn’t pleased. I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep. Let’s add that on to my new list of phobias. That’s one fear that I never thought I would have, the fear of going to bed. Oh sleep, why must you let me down?

*sigh*

“Don’t worry Frack, I’ll stay awake with you.” Brian said as if reading my mind. “I’m not really that tired yet.”

“Thanks Brian.”

“And think about it this way, tomorrow starts Christmas! I love Christmas! Maybe we should go around the hotel and carol!” He joked.

“Yeah, that’s a great idea! I’m sure Lou would love the idea of us singing for all of these people for free. Not to mention Max loving us leaving the room and going door to door.” Howie answered.

“I know it’s not really even Christmas yet, but I have a present for you.” Brian said making his way over to AJ.

“What is it? Did you buy me a porno mag or something?”

“Even better!”

“Okay, what?”

Brian went into his backpack and brought out a pair of reindeer antlers. The same ones the clowns were wearing earlier in the day. “I figured you’d want a pair of these to remember our clown experience.” He said as he placed the antlers on AJ’s head.

We all started laughing uncontrollably again. It felt good and well needed.

We decided it was best to stay together again, but this time there was no camp on the floor. Kevin took one bed while AJ and Howie took the other one. Brian and I volunteered to sleep on the floor because I knew I wasn’t even going to sleep and Brian decided it was best to sleep with me rather than his cousin who always ended up kicking anyone he ever shared a bed with, right off of it.

Howie fell asleep first, much to no one’s surprise. AJ went next about an hour and a few discussions about boob sizes later. Kevin wanted to sleep pretty badly but I could tell he kept fighting the urge. I’m pretty sure he was afraid that I might sleep walk into the bathtub and electrocute myself to death or something, but eventually at around 4 in the morning, he dosed off as well.

That just left Brian and I. Alone in the dark with the TV on very quietly.

“Frick, can I ask you a question?” I said after a few moments of us just watching HBO hoping for some nudity of any kind to pop up on screen.

“Yup.”

“Answer me honestly, okay?”

“Okay.”

“Do you think my dad’s alive?”

I could tell by looking at him, that he didn’t’ want to answer honestly at all which in fact was the only answer I needed. “I hope so Nick.”

“That’s not an answer.”

“He might just be hurt or unable to get to a phone, but I think if he was okay, he would have called you by now.”

I let out a sigh, “Me too.”

And with that being said, neither of us spoke again until the sun rose.


Chapter End Notes:
Thanks for reading! I'll be back on Sunday with another update! I might even be a little bit earlier on it. We shall see :O)