This is a sequel to "Superman's Cape, and I'd recommend reading that
first, as there would be spoilers in this.
Summary: It's thirteen years in the future and Gary Matthew Hobson Jr. is trying to find out all he can about the father he never knew. From Gary Jr's P.O.V.
Disclaimers: I don't own any characters or anything. I'm still trying to figure out if I own Gary Jr. I wish. Well, almost everybody belongs to CBS and Sony TriStar. A few are my own creation, but if for some odd reason, any of you ever wants to use them, just ask.
Spoilers: None, really. Except if you don't know who Brigatti and Armstrong are.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Uncovering the Past
by Mary Hobson
My name is Gary Matthew Hobson Jr, and today, I am thirteen. My girlfriend,
Rachel got me tickits to a Bear's game, my best friend Chuck, got me a White
Sox hat, my mom got me a CD player, and my father is dead.
I never knew my father, he died before I was born. Mom doesn't like to talk about him much. I know he's a great man though. My godfather, my best friend's dad Chuck Fishman was my dad's best friend. My godmother, Marissa Brown, was also good friends with my dad. They tell me really cool stories. I've watched dozens of home videos and looked at hudreds of pictures of him, I got from his parents, Grandpa Bernie, and Grandma Lois. All I came up with, is that I look like him. We
both have short, dark, brown, hair, and puppy dog, muddy green eyes. I inherited his smile, and his height. I wish I knew more, I wish I knew him.
So, today's my birthday, and I still have to go to school. My party had been last Saturday, at a laser tag place, but today's the real day. I guess you could say I'm popular. I got alot of 'Happy Birthdays' as I cruised the halls. I approached my girlfriend at her locker.
Rachel's beutiful, smart, strong, athletic, and funny. She has long, blonde hair, and blue eyes. She's a little shorter than me, and she's the prettiest girl in school. I was lucky to have her. I kissed her on the cheek.
She truned around and smiled. "Happy birthday, Gary," she said, smiling sweetlly.
"Thanks Rach," I said, and kissed her on the lips. She then grabbed her math notebook out of her locker, and we started to walk to class.
"Hey, Gar," my best friend Chuck called to me. His real name is Charles Fishman Jr, but everyone calls him Chuck. He has short, dirty blonde hair, and blue eyes. He's on the short side. Him and me are the two biggest pranksters in Kennedy Junior High. His mom, and my mom seem to be holding a grudge over something, but neither of them will talk about it.
His father has a long running TV show, and they used to live in Hollywood, but the show got moved to Chicago, so now we're best buds.
"Hi, Chuck," I said, giving him the pounds.
"You do the homework?" Chuck asked.
"It's me we're talking about here, no, of course not," I said. Chuck shook his head.
"Dude, you are so lucky. You're the best athlete in Chicago, like your dad was, you're the most popular, like you dad, and you've got every girl in school falling at your feet, like your dad, and yet you still have the teachers wrapped around your little finger, like your dad."
"My dad? How do you know?" I asked, eyebrow raised.
"My dad told me, told me alot of stuff. You didn't know."
I shrugged. Like I said, Mom doesn't like to talk about him much. "I dunno," I said. "And I don't have the teachers wrapped around my finger," I said.
"Yeah, what about his detention a day system?" Rachel asked.
"Hey, it's one a week," I said, blushing over Chuck's comments. I don't think I'm anything special, I guess you could say I'm good-looking, but it's embarrassing with Chuck always talking about it.
As for sports well, he may be right there. I play every sport there is. My favorites though, are baseball, football, and hockey. Both my godparents wanted me to play hockey. When I asked why, they said my father would want it that way, so I suppose that means he likes hockey.
I walked into math class, and as usual, spaced out. Hey, it's last period. Mom wants me to come home right after school. She's taking time off her work at the police station to give me a little birthday party, just the two of us. I decided yesterday, I was going to ask her about Dad. I wanted to know everything about him. From his favorite food, to his shoe size, whatever. I want to know everything there is to know about Gary Matthew Hobson Sr, everything.
"Hey, Hero Boy," someone yelled. Marco McCain, another of my best friends.
"Quit callin' me Hero Boy, Short Stuff," I said, giving him the pounds.
A few months ago, I was hit by a car saving a little girl, and I was in a coma for awhile. Ever since I woke up, Mom's been more protective, and Marco's calling me Hero Boy.
Marco's cool anyway. He's on the short side, and Hispanic, with black hair, and an accent nobody can quite place. He wore basketball shorts, and a black t-shirt. I wore blue jeans, and a light blue button down shirt. Under it was an orange t-shirt that said, "wassup." I had been walking home when he came up to me.
"So, Hobbers, hows about we pick up a slice or two at Gino's, celebrate your b-day?" I shook my head. "C'mon, Dogg, pineapple, your favorite," he tempted me.
"Sorry man. My mom's taking time off work to spend time with me. Besides, she's making me her homemade pineapple pizza." I shrugged. Marco nodded.
"I can respect that," he said. "But, don't think I didn't get you somethin,' he said.
"I know. On Saturday you got me a football," I replied pulling on my t-shirt.
Marco jammed a wrapped package into my hands. "That's not all." He looked around. "Hey, where's Fishman, and Cov?" Cov is my girlfriend. Her last name is Coventry but everyone calls her "Cov."
"Rachel's got softball practice, and Chuck's got detention. My baseball practice was canceled."
"Hey, the best catcher in the league doesn't need practice anyway. Now open the gift."
I slowly unwrapped the present. A Whoopee Coushin. Awesome. "Thanks dude," I said, punching his shoulder.
"Hours of fun," he replied, grinning. He checked his watch. "Oh, man, gotta jet. Forgot, I gotta have dinner with my dad's new girlfriend," he sneered. He gave a little smile. "See ya, Hero Boy."
"Keep your nose clean, Short Stuff," I replied. Corny, but that's always how we say bye.
I reached my house. I live in Chicago. Usually I take the El to and from school but today I decided to walk. I pushed open the door, and I could smell my mom's cooking. Mom's pretty cool. She's a detective for the Chicago PD. She spends so much time at work, we hardly have time to do anything together.
"Hi, honey," Mom said. "Happy birthday," she smiled. There were a few wrapped packages on the table.
"Hi, Mom." I gave her a kiss on the cheek, and dumped my backapck on the floor.
"Grandpa Bernie, and Grandma Lois's birthday present came today." My father's parents. Maybe they could tell me about Dad. I do want to know everything about him.
"Mmm-hmm," I muttered. Mom held up two plates.
"Pizza, just add pineapples," she said, smiling. "Can you get me the can opener?"
"Sure, Mom." I rummaged around the drawers until I found the can opener."
She put two plates on the table, and opened up the can of pineapples. She spread them across the pizza. She knows I perfer the pineapples to be cold.
"Mom?" I asked, mustering up all my courage.
"Yes, sweetie?" Mom asked.
"You-you, uh, you know how you, um, said..." I trailed off. I always stutter when I'm nervous. I took a deep breath. "You know how you said that when I'm old enough you'd tell me all about Dad? Can you tell me about him?"
Mom sighed. "Honey, not today, okay? Soon, I promise." I sighed. The usual vague answer. She touched my arm gently. "The times just not right. Now let's go open your gifts."
I nodded glumly. Then I had an idea. If nobody would tell me, then I'd find out myself. It wasn't impossible. I could go to the Chicago Sun-Times, do a search on his name. I'm into journalism and even took a class at the Sun-Times, so I know my way around. I'd ditch school, and find out whatever I could.
I opend my gifts. Grandma and Grandpa got me a skateboard, Mom got me a CD player, I had peeked in her closet, and my godparents got me a brand new hockey stick. I had gotten alot mor presents at my birthday party, but then I wasn't thinking about presents. I sat down to eat, thinking.
I wanted a new ball glove, and a father to play catch with. I remebered what I wished for when I blew out my candles. I wished that for one day, just one, I could meet my father, and spend time with him. I still wish it. I sighed. If only wishes like that could come true.
"So, Gary, how's school?" Mom asked.
"Fine," I replied, sipping my rootbeer. "Creative writing is okay," I said. That and journalism are the only subjects I like. Grandpa said Dad liked to write too, when he was my age.
"Math's still..." I stopped.
"Oh, my God," I said softly. It couldn't be, but it was right in front of me, clear as day. It was Dad. I knew it. I was getting my wish. It was a ghost or something. He was shimmery, and see-through but he was there. I'd seen enough pictures to know. Mom looked almost right at him, but didn't even see him.
"... Gary," he said.
"D-D-D- ad?" I asked, softly, and fainted to the floor.
I felt a stinging under my nose. My blurred vision cleared slowly. Mom stood over me, a concerned expression on her face. She held smelling salts. That's my mother for you, the fullest first aid kit in all of Chicago.
"Gary, honey, are you okay?"
I nodded weakly. I know what I saw, it was him. I looked around. Darn, he wasn't there. Maybe he's come back. I wasn't imagining it either.
"What happened?" Mom asked.
I knew what not to say. I'd seen enough movies to know. If I told her that I had seen my dead father's ghost, she would get teary eyed, and tell me I'm just imagining it. Then she'd send me to a quack who would talk to me like I was either a baby, or stupid.
It's not that I'm afraid of doctors, I'm not. I'm afraid of heights. I just don't trust doctors. Dr. Kavorkian, that's all I gotta say. And they find every possible excuse to stick you with a needle. No thanks, I'll pass.
"Nothing," I muttered. "Real smooth, Hobson," I thought to myself.
"You-you said 'Dad' before you fainted. What's that about." She stroked my hair, and spoke softly.
I was cornered. "I dunno," I replied. Let's just say I'm a man of very few words.
"Well, I'm sending you to bed." She put her hand to my forehead and frowned. "I'd better get the thermometer." She left the room. I groaned. I hate being made a fuss over. Mom returned.
"Okay," she said. Her lower lip trembled, like she was going to cry, and her eyes looked a little red, but I didn't press the topic.
"Let's go, sweetie." We went up to my domain, also known as my room. Rock band posters, sports equipment, ultimate sound system, dude paradise.
I flopped down on my bed, and pulled my orange comforter around me. I took off my jeans under the covers, and took off my button down shirt. I was wearing blue boxers and my orange t-shirt. My mom nodded in approval.
"Good, you know the drill." She put the dreaded thermometer
in my mouth. When I was little she told me it took two hours to register so
she could get some peace and quiet in the house. Then five minutes later,
I'd be so bored, I'd take out the thermometer and go outside and climb a
tree. I'd hang out there, then be too scared to climb down, so she ended up
my scam. Hey, I was four years old.
She took the thermometer out of my mouth and her eyes widened, but she didn't say anything. "Looks like you're not going to school tomorrow, you feel hot," she said.
"But, I'm not sick," I insisted.
"You're too stubborn," Mom said. She looked at me lovingly. "That'a exactly what your father would say when he was sick." She stared into space, and sighed.
So, Dad was stubborn. I should keep a record of this stuff. At least if I was home from school, it would be easier to go to the newspaper office, while Mom's at work.
Mom's beeper went off. "Hmm, it's Paul." She kissed my forehead, and headed to the phone. She came back a few minutes later. She opened her mouth to speak but I held up my hand.
"Don't tell me. Detective Armstrong needs you down at the station right now, to.. oh, don't tell me, work on a new, seemingly impossible case, that can only be solved by Antonia Hobson?"
She sighed. "Honey, I'm sorry. I know it's your birthday, and I promised to spend time with you.."
"Go, Mom, it's okay. I was just kidding."
She looked unsure, but kissed my cheek, and left after more persuasion.
I rummaged around under my bed, until I found what I was looking for. An unused spiral bound notebook. I opened it to the first page, grabbed a pencil off my dresser, and began to write.
Gary Matthew Hobson Sr.
-Stubborn, hates to admit when sick.
-Looks like me
-Was Prom King
-Best football and baseball player in Hickory High
-Made All-State baseball
-Major prankster in school
-Divorced, then married Mom]
-Likes pineapple pizza
-Was a stockbroker, quit, then had a bar, McGinty's
-Had a cat, named Cat
Wait a minute. I don't even know how my parents met, or how Dad dies. I know I asked those quesions before. I guess nobody answered. I'd have to find out for myself. I don't even know how he died.
I closed my notebook, and vowed to fill it up. I would do whatever it takes, to really know who Dad was.
"Dad," I said outloud. "If you can hear me, please come back. I
won't faint this time, I just wanna know you." I sighed, and played some N64,
thinking about my father the whole time.
The phone rang, just as I was about to beat Zelda 5. I checked my caller ID box. A stupid courtesy call. I ran into my room and got a ballon and needle. I grabbed the phone.
"Hobson residence, may I take your order?" I asked.
"Hi, son. Is your mother or father home?" The man asked ignoring what I had said.
"Would you like fries with that?" I asked.
"Just get your mom, kid," the guy said.
"Sure, hold on," I said. I put the phone gently down on the table. I blew the balloon up half way. I held it close to the phone, and poked it with the needle. 'Pop!'
"Ahh, I've been shot!" I yelled, and slammed down the phone. I snickered. Too easy. Picked up that little trick from two people known as Calvin and Hobbes. My godfather gave me thier comic books, saying I could relate to Calvin. It sure helped me out alot. The phone rang again. Figuring it would be the same caller, I didn't bother with any fancy hellos.
"City morgue," I said.
"Gar?" Someone asked.
"Oh, hi Grandpa," I said, passively.
"Happy birthday kiddo. What's with the morgue thing?"
"Courtesy call," I said.
"Don't tell me, you've been shot," he groaned. He knew all my tricks.
"You guessed it," I said, grinning.
"Is your mom home?" Grandpa asked.
"Nah, she's at work right now," I replied. I swallowed thickly. "Say, Grandpa. Uh, can you tell me about my dad?" There was a brief silence.
"Maybe some other time champ. I gotta go right now." I knew he was lying. I'm a bad liar, and so is he.
"Yeah, okay, thanks," I said glumly.
"If you see your cousin Ryan, tell him I said hello."
"Will do, Grandpa," I said.
"Bye." I sighed, and hung up. Why wouldn't anyone tell me about my father? I deserve to know, as I am related to him.
Why did Grandpa want to say hi to cousin Ryan anyway? He's kinda weird. He runs all around Chicago, trying to be this big hero. And he has this odd obsession with a newspaper. Mom, and my grandparents seem to like him alot though. Mom came home soon after, looking really tired.
"Grandpa Bernie called," I said. My other grandparents are on a cruise, so I didn't expect them to call anyway. Mom nodded, and went to the phone.
I know I shouldn't do it. Too late, I did. I picked up the extension. Both my grandparents were on the phone. They were talking about me. I came in the middle of thier talk, so nothing really made sense.
"You've got to tell the boy sometime," Grandma said.
"He deserves to know," Grandpa said.
"I just can't, not right now. How can I explain everything to him?" Mom seemed insistant.
"Well, we can help, and so can Chuck," suggested Grandpa. "Toni, Gary's a smart kid. Tell him before he finds out for himself. If he doesn't know about the paper what's he going to think when he hears about his father's ahem, other job. It's not like it's a bad thing."
"I know, but how can I get him to believe me, when the truth is so hard to believer myself?"
"Just try," Grandma said. "You never know. Kids can surprise you."
"He deserves to know about his father, and the paper."
I hung up, feeling guilty. What's all this about the paper? What wouldn't I understand or believe? It couldn't be anything bad, Grandpa said so. Why would I get the wrong idea about Dad. I don't know, but I plan to find out. I have to know.
That night, amongst other dreams, I had the oddest one about a
cat and a newspaper.
I was having lunch, with my father. He was telling me all kinds of neat stories.
"This is fun, Dad," I said, smiling.
"Yeah, son it is," Dad said. Suddenly, he keeled over.
"Dad!" I screamed. "Dad, no!"
"Gary, Gary, Gary, wake up!"
I sat up staright as a bored. I sighed. Just a dream. I thought of my odd dream about the cat and the newspaper, and sighed. My mom sat on my bed, looking worried.
"Honey, are you alright?" She asked. I nodded weakly, running a hand through my sweaty head.
"Just a dream," I said outloud.
"Was it about your father?" She asked, handing me a glass of water. I took a sip, and nodded slightly. I couldn't lie, I had just screamed 'Dad.' She stroked my hair, and looked thoughtful.
"I dream about him sometimes too," she said.
"You do?" I asked, surprised.
She nodded. "Usually good dreams though," she said, kissing my forehead. I looked at the clock, it was six-thirty.
"I have to go to work now. Call me if you need anything. I called the school already. Bye. Love you."
"Love you too, Mom," I said, and played the innocent little boy, and grinned weakly, flashing my puppy dog eyes.
"Don't use the oven, and try to get some sleep, you look kinda tired."
"I'll be okay," I assured her. She kissed my forehead again, and left.
Once I heard her car pull out of the driveway, I hopped out of bed. and ran to my closet. I pulled on a new pair of blue jeans, a black, skateboarding hoodie, and a Shorty's t-shirt. I stuffed my new White Sox hat on my head. I was almost ready. I was going to need a while, so I had to make good use of time.
I put my notebook about Dad in my black backpack, and grabbed a bagel. I live a few blocks from the Sun-Times. I threw on my leather jacket, grabbed my new skateboard, locked the door, and left.
It took me about ten minutes to reach the newspaper office. I was running the risk of being caught by Mom, my godparents, Marissa Brown, and Chuck Fishman, their husband and wife, Emmit, and Jade, and numerous other people I knew.
Marissa and Emmit own a bar, McGinty's that used to belong to Dad, and my cousin Ryan lives in a loft above the bar. Chuck is a TV producer, and Jade is a model and actress. My cousin Ryan is unemployed, and I have no idea how he can make a living. He's my mom's sister's son, and I suppose he might get money from his mom, or my mom, or even from the bar. Marissa seems to like him alot too. I don't even know him that well. I didn't mind the risk, it was worth it to know.
"Can I help you?" A lady asked, eyeing my skateboard, and probably thinking of me as a criminal as most adults think of teens. She was a petite brunette, with brown eyes, and black glasses. She looked about in her thirties.
"Hi, I'm uh, Gary. Um, can you tell me how I can find articles relating to a certain person?" I asked flashing my puppy dog eyes, and a big, reassuring smile. She seemed to soften up to me.
"Sure. I'm Kathy." She led me to a computer. "Okay, what's the person's name?"
"My dad, Gary Hobson." She froze up.
"Gary Hobson?" I nodded slightly, raising my eyebrows. "Miguel, go see Miguel."
"Who?" I asked.
"Miguel Diaz. Photographer, lucky to still be working here. Almost got fired about a dozen times. Over there. He can be of more help than this computer can." She pointed to a Hispanic man, late thirties, early forties. He had dark hair, and from a distance I could see, brown eyes. He had a camera slung around his neck.
"Thanks, Kathy," I said, and started to walk towards him, growing nervous and shy.
"Hi, Miguel Diaz, right?" I asked him.
He didn't glance up. "That's right. Hey, kid."
"Um, I talked to someone, and she told me you could help me."
"That so, how?" He asked, shuffling through a large pile of papers.
"Well, she said you knew my father," I continued. The guy didn't even look at me.
"Yeah, so what's the guy's name?"
"Gary Hobson," I said, and he stopped and looked up at me, wide-eyed.
"You, you, you're Hobson's kid?" I nodded. What was all this about. "One minute," he said. "I got something you might be interested in." He buried himself in the file cabinet, until he retrieved, one incredibly large file.
"What is it?" I asked him, as I took it with trembling fingers. I was finally getting somewhere, I realized with shock.
"It's all about your dad. You look alot like him, you know that?" I nodded, and he continued. "Yeah, I practically had to pull teeth to get that file back after the Scanlon case," he sighed.
"Scanlon, who's Scanlon," I asked. He ruffled my hair. "Soon kiddo. Your father was a great man. We were friends, in an odd type way."
"So, you can tell me about him?" I asked, stuffing the bulging file in my backpack.
"Sure, anytime. Here's my card. Call me if you have any questions about anything." He handed me a small business card. 'Miguel Diaz, Photo journalist,' it said. I stuffed it in my pocket.
"Excuse me fellas, did I just hear you mention Gary Hobson?"
I turned around. An old man with a cane, and glasses was the speaker. His brown eyes widened at the sight of me. He was skinny and Africa-American. He had a snowy white beard, and twinkling brown eyes.
"Yes sir, I'm his son. I'm trying to find out all I can about him. Can you help me?" I was hopeful, today seemed to be my lucky day.
"I'm Morris, from the newspaper archives, and I think I can help." He held out his hadn.
I shook it a good one. "The name's Gary, and I'd like your help." I waved to Miguel. "See ya. Thanks, man."
"No prob, man," was his reply.
Morris lead me past the press room, and towards the archives. Something about the place seemed familiar, like I should know it, and a funny feeling of recognition passed over me, though I've never been down here. Odd.
He led me to a small wooden table in the archive room, and he sat down on a wooden chair. Taking it as a cue, I sat down on one directly across from it.
"So, what do you want to know?" He asked, stroking his beard and looking thoughtful.
"Everything," I replied, eagerly.
The old man chuckled. "You sound just like your father did."
"How did you know him?" I asked, curiousity getting the better of me.
"Around maybe, seventeen, or eighteen years ago, maybe, your dad came to me, asking about an old typesetter, by the name of Loucious Snow. I was pretty surprised at the time. Snow basically kept to himself, and had no relatives that I knew of. He was a sort of odd, secretive type guy.."
I scribbled furiously, trying to keep up. I was enchanted
by the man's story. As he kept talking, my eyes widened. He spoke of things
I never would have thought of. He told a fascinating story the Feds, J.T.
Marley. and some dude, Dobbs. Of Harry Hawkes, and old employee of the times,
who was murdered. My jaw dropped down when I heard my father had been framed
for that murder. As he continued I began to think maybe the old man was crazy. The whole thing sounded more like one of Mr. Fishman's TV show plot lines, than the truth. When he finished his long story, I had about five pages filled up.
"This is all true?" I asked, raising my eyebrows skeptically. Is this what everybody never wanted me to know?
"Swear on the Bible," Morris replied, and I don't know why, maybe it was the look in his eyes, but I believed every single word.
"Thank you, Mr. Morris," I said politely, standing up. Morris held out his hand, and I shook it.
"The pleasure's all mine, son. You remind me of your father, he sure was a great guy." He chuckled a deep, throaty chuckle, as if remembering Dad. "It's been fun. You know, I never told anybody any of what I told you today." He paused. "You have a trusting face, like your old man had," he said, smiling sadly.
"Thanks. Bye, Morris," I said.
"You take care now, son," he called after me.
I headed out, not knowing quite where to go. Then I decided to go to my favorite place to think, a bench facing the lake. I read over my notes, trying to make sense of it all. I knew it was true, but where can I go from here? I read it over again. So, my dad was involved with the Feds. What's next, the mob? I sure hope not. Anything about Al Capone, or any other mobster, and I can forget about finding out anything about him.
Every person who ever even mentioned my father, in conversation or just an off-hand comment, always says what a great guy he was. I've always wondered why. What if they were covering up for him? What if... well, what if he wasn't this great man everyone said he was? Well, there was only one real way to find out.
I took a deep breath and opened the bluging file. On top was, an obituary. I brushed away a tear. I had tried to prepare myself for it, but it was no use. Nothing helped. There was a smiling photo of my father, and the usual. Name, age, occupation.. blah, blah, blah. Wait, what's this?
'Hobson died of leukemia. The doctors could not find a bone marrow match.'
My eyes almost popped out of my head. Leukemia! How could nobody tell me? How could I not know? Why? I replaced the obit on the top, and jammed the file in my backpack.
I started to board down by the lake's edge, the sound of the wheels rolling across the pavement drowning out my thoughts, and blocking my tears.
The lake's edge is quite a popular place for any riders, rollar skaters, bikers, etc, and unfortunatly for me, the cyclists were coming right at me. I tried to get out of the way, but it was no use. At the last moment, before I became road pizza, I felt strong arms grab my shirt, and pull me to safety. As the bikes passed by, I glanced up at the hero, and gasped.
Ryan, He looked steamed, no, ready to blow up. At who? Well, as usual, me. He picked up my board, and handed it to me wordlessly.
"We're going to pay a little visit to your mother," he finally said, and led me to the El train.
I swallowed hard. I was dead meat.
We must have made it to the station in a record time. Ryan chewed me out, badly, telling me how stupid I was. I was feeling dizzy, and maybe I really was sick. I could barely stand upright, and it was more than just the butterflies dancing around inside me.
Uncle Ryan. Unmarried, unemployed, uninteresting. Tall guy with black hair, and a handlebar mustache. He hardly visits or anything, and I don't know much about him. Not that I really want to anyway.
Ryan grabbed me by the collar, and led me to the first desk he saw. Officer Winslow's. He's a big jokester, and pretty cool.
"Toni Briggati, please," Ryan said, glaring icy daggers at me.
"One minute." Looking over at me, and noticing the threating voice Ryan's voice had taken on, he gave me a look of the deepest sympathies, and winced, knowing I was going to get it soon. "Good luck, kid," Winslow said under his breath.
"Brigatti, you have visitors," he called to Mom.
"Send them in," I heard Mom yell.
"Go with the puppy dog eyes," Winslow advised, as we walked past him. I gave him a shaky grin. I was toast.
Mom sat behind her desk. Her eyes widened when she saw me with Ryan.
"Look who I found skateboarding by the lake," was all Ryan said. And then, the bomb dropped, and the other shoe fell.
"What? I thoght you were at home, sick," Mom said.
"I, um, I, well, I told you I wasn't sick," I replied lamely.
"That's it, young man. You are grounded, birthday or not. How could you do something like that?"
"Uhh," I groaned. The floor seemed to spin around me, like the tilt-a-whirl at Six Flags. I felt a wave of diziness and nausea, barely hearing Mom reeming me. I felt my legs buckle, and I sank to the floor. With that, I made the colorful rug a little more colorful by losing my lunch all over it.
Lucky for me, Mom then seemed to soften up to me after my little
show. "Poor baby," she offered, voice thick with sympathy. With a gentle,
motherly hand, she brushed the stary hair away from my face. I turned on my
"poor, sweet, innocent, boy smile."
Let's get some things straight. I hate pity, and sympathy and all that, but better fussed over than grounded for life. I figured if I play my cards right, I'll be in the clear. It would be cool, except that now I really am sick. Typical. Mom's right and I'm wrong. Go figure.
Ryan looked as out of place as a clown at a funeral. He looked quite sickened at my, ahem, projectile. Mom soaked a towel, and had me lie on a green cot she found. She then put the towel on the back of my neck, then called my doctor.
Crap. I hate doctors,as I believe I mentioned a few dozen times. All doctors, but mostly mine. He doesn't know the difference between left and right, seriously.
"Does this mean I'm not grounded?" I asked weakly. Mom gave a little chuckle, and put her hand to my cheek.
"No, honey, I guess not. Sorry for yelling. Why didn't you stay at home? You're too sick to be skateboarding." Mom didn't seem very angry anymore. Maybe now was the time to ask. Officer Winslow had already pulled up the rug in her office.
"Mom, why didn't you tell me?" I asked softly.
"Tell you what, sweetie?" Mom asked.
"That my father died of cancer," I replied, swallowing thickly. I could swear her face turned fifty shades paler.
Ryan, who was looking intently at his stupid newspaper, closed the paper quickly. "Uh, well, looks like you two have alot to talk about. Gotta go," he called back. What a flake.
"We do have to talk soon," Mom said, slowly. "When you feel better. Then Grandma and Grandpa, and Chuck and Marissa can help, 'kay." I nodded, but it was now or never. I'd find out, one way or another.
"Sorry for leaving today. I don't know where my head was," I said, meekly.
"it's okay, honey. But, remember, you're sick. Don't go pushing it, and making yourself worse." She frowned."I'll go call Paul and see if he can take you to your doctor. I'm booked up all afternoon, but it is his off day, and Courtney's sick, so he'll be there anyway."
I nodded, and sank my head into the stupid green cot. Mom left. Sometimes I hate being the only child. With all Mom's attention and worry, I wonder how I get away with any of my scams. Somehow, though, I do, even though Mom's on me like a blanket. Sickness or health.
Ever seen the old movie "Ferris Bueller's Day Off?" I'm like Ferris, in a way. And I cut school last month and did the type stuff he did in the movie. My Mom thinks I'm this totally innocent kid, like Ferris's parents thought about him. The only real difference is that the teachers think I'm not so bad. They see me as a pretty good, with a short attention span, and a head more for sports and writing than for numbers and fractions.
Mom returned, and sat on the edge of the cot, anfd gave me a little smile. I wondered what she was thinking about. Probably Dad, as tears glistened in hre eyes.
"Paul will be here soon, with Courtney. He said it would be no problem. Then after the doctors, he'll take you back to his house, until I can come and pick you up. Okay?" I nodded. Some obvious mistrust going on here. Armstrong's okay. Kinda strict, but okay. I used to date his daughter, Courtney, who's about a year older than me, but now we're just friends.
"They'll be here in a bout fifteen minutes," Mom said. She started
fussing over me, like I was two years old. Her eyes looked sad, like she was
trying her hardest not to cry. Sometimes she visits Dad's grave. She's never
taken me, and I can't go myself.
He's buried in his hometown of Hickory, Indiana, and whenever I visit my grandparents she distracts me from even thinking about going. Armstrong arrived quickly, with Courtney in tow.
"Dr. Katz," Mom said to him. "Thanks Paul. I'll pick up the bill." She smiled. "Thanks Paul."
"Okay, no problem Toni. C'mon Champ," he said.
"Okay, I'm ready," I said to Paul. He gave a little smile. You should have seen him when I used to date Courtney. Let's just say he likes me a whole lot more now, than then.
"Thanks Paul. I really owe you one." Mom said.
"Really, it's okay. Courtney's got a cold, so I have to take her anyway."
Courtney rolled her eyes, and smiled at me. "Hey, Gary," she said.
"Hi, Court," I replied. Courtney's pretty. She has long black hair, and brown eyes. When we dated, she got all these racist letters because she's black and I'm white. She kept her cool about it, but I totally exploded on the guys who did it.
"Bye, honey. Feel better," Mom said. She brushed my hair back, and kissed my forehead. I got up shakily.
"Bye, Mom," I said.
"Love you sweetie," she called after me.
"Love you too," I called back. Armstrong led us to his car. Courtney sat up front. She didn't seem to be as sick as she let on. I buckled my seat belt, after all, I was riding with a cop, and tried to calm my stomach. To Armstrong's and my despair, we ended up listening to Courtney's favorite boy band all the way to the hospital.
"Gary Hobson," I heard, almost as soon as I sat down in the waiting room.
I got up slowly. Courtney was still waiting, reading a magazine, and Armstrong was reading a book. The nurse led me down the hall, in room 5, to wait for the dreaded doctor.
Hey, I've seen all the news shows, and read all the articles about faulty doctors, so can you blame me? Sometimes paranoia is a good thing.
"Hey, Champ," Doctor Katz said brightly. "So how ya feeling?" He gave me that fake, plastic, "the doctor is your best friend" smiles.
"Like I'm fine," I said.
"Well, your mother seems to think different. Now we're going to find out what's wrong with you."
I sighed. "Let's not, and say we did."
He shook his head. "You, uh, fainted yesterday, I see. Do you know why?"
"I thought I saw Elvis at the Quike Mart," I said sarcastically. He didn't seem to notice.
"And you threw up today?" I nodded. "Okay, well, I'll ask you to take off your sweatshirt so I can check our heartbeat."
"Hold on one second," I said. I narrowed my eyes. "Where's your ID? How do I know you're really a doctor?"
"Gary, we've been through this since you first came here," he sighed.
"I know. Just keeping you on your toes."
He smiled. "You're one funny kid," he said, shaking his head. I took off my sweatshirt.
He put the stethoscope up my shirt, and felt a few spots. He checked down my throat, and in my ears. He muttered a bit to himself. He took a penlight out of his coat pocket, and shined it in my eyes.
"Don't tell me," I said dramatically. "I have.. mad cow disease." He rolled his eyes. "What? I'm just trying to make your day a little more interesting."
"This is a case of stress overload. It explains the fainting, dizziness, and throwing up. It can be caused by excessive lying, grief, problems at home, anything like that." He scribbled on a note pad. "I recommend some medication and a few days in bed." I nodded.
Out of plain curiosity, I asked a question. "How old is this place?" I asked, looking around.
"Oh, about eighteen years old. Almost didn't make it past the opening. Big fire."
A weird chill came over me, and I had this.. vision, you could say.
I saw my father. He was inside the hospital, and flames raged around him. He was coughing and choking. He helped this other dude get a lady I didn't know out of the building. It was obviously my father. He was wearing a tux, and soot covered his face, but it was like looking at an older version of me.
I saw him get out, and then, well, then I snapped out of it.
I felt sick, really sick. What was going on? What was that? Dr. Katz, seeing my greenish face, quickly put a bucket under my mouth, just in time too. Let's just say I got a viewing of my guts in the bucket, and it was not pretty.
"I'll, uh, go now," I said softly, after having a small glass of water the doctor handed to me.
"Remember, get some rest," he called after me.
I felt weak. I had a vision.. of my father. What is going on? This
had never happened before. What in the world is going on?
I walked out of the doctor's office in numb shock. Was I going insane? What was the image? I got into the car with Courtney and Armstrong.
"So, kiddo, what did the doctor say?" Armstrong asked.
"Uh, not much," I replied shortly. I wasn't in the mood to talk much. Armstrong just nodded. I suppose he's gotten used to my quiet side.
He pulled into the driveway of his house. "Okay, let's go."
Courtney and I walked into the house, me wobbly, and unsteady, I was feeling dizzy.
"Wanna watch some TV?" Courtney asked.
"Sure," I replied. Nothing better to do.
She flicked on the TV. "What do you want to watch?"
"I dunno," I said. So, she flicked through the stations. She stopped for a brief moment on "The Flinstones."
I saw my father diving in a pool, rescuing a woman. On closer inspection, I saw it was Merideth, Armstrong's wife. Another flash, and I saw the kitchen Of Armstrong's house. My father was helping him wash dishes.
Finally, I could hear them speaking. Armstrong accused him of being like some cartoon character from "The Flinstones."
My father made some joke about being a "Jetson's" fan, and the vision stopped abruptly.
"Gary, are you okay? You look like you just saw a ghost."
"What if I did?" I asked softly. The character Armstrong had referred to.. could my father be like that? I, myself had always been more of a Jetson type guy, but I had seen a few episodes.
"I think I'll go lie down," I said softly.
"Whatever," Courtney said. She turned on Saturday Night Live, one of my favorite shows. But, just then, I didn't quite feel like laughing. Crying, yes, laughing, no.
I managed to fall asleep, despite everything. When I woke up, Mom was ready to take me home.
"Are you feeling alright, sweetheart?" She asked me.
"Um, okay," I replied, lying through my teeth. I felt like a huge pile of dog droppings.
"Well, when we get home I'll make you some soup. How would you like that?"
"Good," I replied. Just the thought of the soup made me feel a little better. I was confused about everything. The visions, my father, why nobody would tell me about him. Mostly the visions though. They had never happened before. Why now? Was my birthday wish coming true? Was it possible.
Mom pulled into the driveway. "Alright, Gary. Let's go. How does a hot bath sound, then some soup?"
"Fine by me," I replied.
"Good. It might make you feel better." I gave a weak smile.
We walked into the house slowly. I wasn't exactly in in shape to run a marathon or anything.
"Hey, Gar," came a voice. "Your girlfriend called," he said in a teasing voice.
I froze. Grandpa, and Grandma stood in the hallway.
"So," Grandpa said. "What do you want to know about your dad?" He asked, his tone solemn, and serious.
"What will you tell me?" I asked quietly.
I was finally going to get somewhere. All sickness forgotten, I sat down on the couch. I really was nervous.
"So, um, how did Mom and Dad meet?" I asked. I figured I should start off simply, then later I'd ask the question that weighed heaviest in my mind.
"Well, um, your father was a witness to an attempted murder, and I was his bodyguard," Mom said. "Then he was dating someone else. About a year or so later, we started dating."
"He died of cancer, didn't he?"
"Yes," Grandma said. "Leukemia. Everyone missed him so much. The funeral was huge. More people than you could count."
I swallowed a lump in my throat. It wasn't time yet. I couldn't ask then. Later I would.
"So, um, what was he like as a kid."
"He was a sweet boy," Grandma said.
"Yeah, all the girls in town would have died for his attention. Alot like you kid," Grandpa said, winking, and causing me to blush.
"He was a shy boy too. And everyone liked him. He was nice, and polite. He'd mow lawns for the whole neighborhood. He was so into sports like you are. His favorite was baseball, then football," Grandma said.
It was now or never. "Um, was my father.. I mean, was he a psychic?"
The room went silent. I looked around. Had I said something wrong. Both Morris, and Miguel had pretty much hinted that he was a psychic.
"Should we tell him?" Bernie asked Mom.
Mom nodded slowly. "I suppose he deserves to know." She sighed. "Honey, we're going to tell you a story and you have to believe what we say. It's the absolute truth. Just listen, okay?"
I nodded. "Your dad, he um, he got tomorrow's newspaper today, delivered by his cat. He'd read the headlines that said bad stuff was going to happen, and go out and prevent it. Even the paper couldn't predict cancer, and he died before Lindsey, who was supposed to take over for him was old enough. We asked your cousin Ryan to take on the responsibility, and he agreed."
Mom searched my eyes expectantly. "Yeah, sure," I said dryly. "Why can't you just tell the truth? Why do you have to make up such dumb stories?" I stormed to my room. I was mad, real mad. Tomorrow's newspaper? Rubbish. They might as well tell me that he was an alien, that might have been even a little more believable.
Nobody tried to talk to me. I was glad of that. I've never been one for "Full House" moments. Yes, that show is still on rerun, even though it started so long ago. I fell asleep, angry. Right then, I just wanted to die. Was everything else a lie? Did I really even have a father?
I woke up at six 'o clock. I groaned. The past night's events came rushing back at me, and I sighed. I knew I'd have to face them. I heard a weird noise outside my door. Like a cat meowing and a loud 'thunp.'
I rolled out of bed, and opened my door. There was an orange tabby cat on top a newspaper. Checking the date, I sighed. Tomorrow's date.
"You'll have to do better than this, Mom," I shouted. I looked up, and gasped. I was no longer in the hall, I was in a hospital. A hospital room. Looking at the bed, I almost fainted. Dad.
He looked at me. "You okay, kid?" he asked weakly.
It took everything I had not to faint. Was I dreaming?
I pinched myself. It hurt. I wasn't dreaming. I was with my father.
Birthday wishes can come true.
"Kid... you okay?" Dad asked again. He didn't know who I was.
"Dad?" I asked.
"Sorry, kid. I'm not your father. I'm going to be a father soon though," he said. His smile died. "Should I ever get out of this stupid bed."
"Um, sorry. What year is it?" I asked suddenly.
"Year two thousand. Um, why?" Dad asked. Of course, I wasn't born yet.
I sank into a chair by the bed. "This is so "Back to the Future," I groaned. I looked up at my father. He was pale and weak, and looked confused at my display. "Uh, I was uh, just um, reciting lines for my school play."
He nodded in understanding. "Good acting. What brings you to the hospital anyway?" He didn't seem to notice our close resemblance. If he did, he didn't say anything. He looked very sick, close to death. Then, he asked a question I'd never be prepared for.
"Are you an angel? Are you coming to take me to heaven?" He swallowed. "I'm ready, you know? Nobody thinks I know, but you can tell. Nurses are extra nice to you when you're going to die, even if they used to think you're cranky. Are you? An angel?"
I shook my head. He nodded in acceptance. "Sorry, then. Must be the meds talking, not me." He smiled. "I've been a little loopy with the stuff they're giving me. Sometimes it seems like they're getting me drunk with the thoughts I get sometimes."
I smiled. He was perfectly sane. Just too many meds. I really like my dad. "I don't blame you. I was hit by a car once. Those meds got me thinking my best friend was the devil coming to take me to hell. Of course he is the devil, just not in that way."
Dad grinned. "You're a pretty cool kid. By the way, I' m Gary Hobson."
"Well, I'm um, Gary too. Gary, uh, McFly." I grinned. Too many movies for me.
"Nice to meet you. Hey, I'm going to be a father."
"Really?" I asked.
"Yeah. My wife Toni's pregnant. Don't tell her but I want a boy. A guy to play catch with, and go camping. Take him to the Boy Scouts, do a bunch of fun stuff. I want to watch him grow up and get married. And play hockey, he's gotta play hockey. That's what I want, but I think my wife's heart is set on a girl. But, I want a boy to play catch with."
I resisted the tears that came to my eyes. That's what I wanted too. "Sounds like a good thing to want."
"Yeah." He sighed. "I just wish I could find a bone marrow match. I know so many people, but none of them match me. My friends, my family, nobody."
There was a knock on the door. A nurse peeked her head in. "Excuse me, but visiting hours are over. You'll have to go home young man."
"Where's that?" I asked out loud.
"You got anywhere to stay?" Dad asked. I shook my head. "You can stay at my place." He gave me the address to McGinty's, though I already knew where it was.
"Thanks, D- I mean, Mr. Hobson."
"No problem, Gary. Just make sure not to steal my wife."
"I won't," I assured him. Ew, that's my mother. Ew! I wanted to hug him good bye, but he'd think I was weird or something so I didn't. So, I waved goodbye and left.
Time travel must do something to a guy's appetite because I was extremely starving. I picked up some doughnuts, and sat down at the bench by the lake, trying to think everything over.
An oldish man came and sat down near me. "You look like you got alot on your mind, kid," he said to me. "You okay?" He wasn't really old or anything, but not young. He wore a brown trench coat, and a gray cap.
"I'm okay. Just got alot to think about," I said.
"Wanna tell me about it?"
"You wouldn't believe it." The guy had a trusting face though.
"Why don't you try me. You can call me Snow," he said.
"Okay, I'll tell you the story, but don't go getting me a straightjacket or anything," I said. I was going to leave out some details though.
"I'm Gary... McFly," I said, trying not to burst out laughing.
"..and I don't know if I'll ever get home," I finished. I never actually said I was from thirteen years in the future, I just said I was lost. The old man looked at me.
"You know, sometimes you have to follow your heart. It may just lead you to where you want to go." That answer took me by surprise. The man seemed to know more than he let on.
"My heart?" I asked. How did he know?
"Yes, what's inside. It can help."
"You mean like, my personality, inside?" I asked.
"No, like what you have inside," the man replied.
"What I have inside. A heart, muscles, bones.." I trailed off. Then, it hit me. Bone marrow. That's why I was sent here. To save my father.
"Thank you mister," I told him. He smiled, and walked away. I looked towards ths sky. "And thank you, God." I scanned the newspaper I had found outside my door. Sure enough, my father's obituray was there. A smiling face, and a brief article. I shuddered. I didn't have too much time.
I looked in my pocket. I had some change, and a few crumpled dollar bills. I hoped it was enough cab fare for a ride to the hospital. I headed onto the sidewalk.
"Taxi, taxi!" I shouted. I had become a master at hailing cabs from being in the big city so much. I put two fingers in my mouth, and made a loud, earsplitting whistle my godfather taught me. I stood in the middle of the road and held up my hand. Needless to say, I got the guy to stop.
The cab driver didn't speak English at all, but he understood 'hospital,' and 'step on it.' The ride almost killed me, but I didn't say anything. I paid, and ended up with ten cents to spare.
I ran into the hospital. I saw my grandparents, my mom, my godparents, and a bunch of other people in the waiting room. I stopped, breathless at my grandma.
"I... wanna... do it," I said. Then I realized, she had no idea who the heck I was.
"Excuse me, son. What did you say?"
"I want to give my bone marrow, to my d- I mean to Gary Hobson."
Grandma's eyes widened. "Are you a match?"
"I don't know yet."
Quicker then I thought possible, the doctors were all over me. Everyone must have really liked my dad. The whole group waiting for him went to the hospital chapel to pray for a match. I was doing my own silent praying.
A little while later, I received word. I was a match. I would save my father.
"Thank you so much," Chuck said, smiling at me.
"We really appreciate it," said Marissa. They had learned of me and Dad's past meeting in his room. They all thought I was so considerate and kind to go through a painful surgery to save an almost complete stranger. Little did they know.
My grandpa slapped me on the back, grandma hugged me, and my mom hugged me even harder. Of course, they had no idea of their relation to me, but it made me feel better to have a few familiar faces around. The doctors hadn't even tried to lie to me, I knew the surgery was going to be painful, no fun, and really unenjoyable. But, for the sake of my dad, I'd walk across a field of hot coals, barefoot, if it meant that I could spend just one day with him.
I got my hospital gown, and believe me it's not at all flattering. I took a few shaky breaths as I got on the gurney. I was ready. It took every power in my body not to run and hug my father when I saw him being prepared for surgery. He was pale, and shaking, but he seemed happy.
"Thank you," he said. "I can never repay you for this."
"You already have. Just help people," I said after more thought. I leaned in closer. "I know about the paper."
Dad's eyes widened, but he just smiled. He didn't even know who I really was, but I saw he trusted me.
"Well, then. I'll carry your words on 'til death." Seeing everone's head turn towards him, he held up a weak hand. "Which won't be for awhile." Everyone laughed a little bit. They knew it wasn't over.
"And I think this belongs to you," I said. I found the paper next
to me. I handed it to him. Nobody was around but me and him. He grinned instantly.
He held up the paper so I could read. 'SUCCESSFUL SURGERY SAVES LOCAL BAR
I was being rolled into surgery, my father by my side. I smiled at him. It was time.
"Thank you, Gary," he said. "Gary... Gary... Gary.."
I woke up with a start. I was in my desk, in the back of my class. Detention. Chuck was the one who woke me. "I hate to wake you buddy, but Mrs. Casertano looks like she's going to kill you," he said.
Of course, detention. The noodle incident. Don't ask. So that meant everything was a dream, my father was still dead, what could I do?
"You can go now," Mrs. Casertano said. "But I advise next time that you not fall asleep."
"Oh, don't worry m'am. There will not be a next time," Chuck assured her. I was too shocked to say anything. We walked out together. We met Rachel as she came out of her swim team practice.
"Hey," I said shortly. I kissed her on the lips. She smiled.
"So, you finally did your time for the noodles?"
I mananged a smile. "Nobody can really prove I did it," I complained.
"It has Gary Hobson written all over it, babe," Rachel said. I sighed.
It was true.
"Have a happy birthday, besides detention?" Chuck asked. Oh, it was still my birthday, which meant Mom was waiting to have dinner.
"Yeah, a great one. I gotta go. Now." I kissed Rachel one last time, and high-fived Chuck.
"See ya around," Chuck said.
"Bye," Rachel said sweetly. I waved as I ran out, heading for home. I reached it in about ten minutes, huffing and puffing.
I pushed open the door. "I'm home!" I called. Mom walked in.
"Oh, hi Gary. How was school?" She raised her eyebrows. "And detention?"
I heard a laugh from the next room. "Thatta boy. Finally get caught red handed with the noodles?" It was.. Dad. It wasn't a dream. I had done it. I ran into the living room, and there he was, smiling.
I ran to him, not able to restrain myself at all, and wrapped him in a huge hug.
"Whoa, Big Guy."
"I missed you," I said softly, not breaking apart. I could smell his cologne, a fresh, woodsy scent.
"Yeah, I missed you too. Long time, no see. Just before you left for school." He rolled his eyes.
"It seems like a lifetime," I said. He hugged me back.
"I'm not going anywhere, buddy," he said. And I got you something." He tossed me a package.
I opened it, and almost cried with happiness. It was a baseball glove. More importantly it was my father, a guy to play catch with. Of course, he didn't know he was *supposed* to be dead. He didn't know anything about what I did, he thought it was Gary McFly who gave himself up.
Mom didn't know either. Only I did. And I could keep the secret.
My name is Gary Matthew Hobson Jr, and today I am thirteen. My girlfriend, Rachel, got me tickits to a Bear's game, my best friend, Chuck, got me a White Sox hat, my mom got me a CD player, and my dad got me a baseball glove, which by the way- is exactly what I wanted.
Email the author: Mary Hobson