Science Fiction

Finding Their Way

by John Meiners, Jr.

Pamela and Bob leave Community, LA around nine o'clock in the morning traveling down I-12 heading to San Antonio. It's snowing for the first time in almost ten years, and Samantha had called earlier warning them to be careful. Good news though, it wasn't snowing much past Baton Rouge. Both look forward to getting to know one another better. Pamela asks Bob about singing Blues on Jackson Square. She realizes it's a subject dear to his heart that he loves to talk about. He sings a little Sinatra to let her know he doesn't just sing the Blues. Pamela refers to his music as a good hobby, but he tells her performing is much more than a hobby... Pamela tells Bob she used to sing and enjoyed it, but it was a long time ago. That was enough for Bob to invite her to sing with him in the Deer Run Lodge. He told her, partly in jest, partly serious, it was a long trip, and they had time to work up some songs. She laughed, but actually part of her liked the idea. Bob never did get her to commit, but he'll keep trying. Bob knows this coming year will be different. He has accepted a request and promised to help with an investigation in Community. Community, a place he has stayed away from for years, will now be his home as long as he is needed. He last saw Pamela Lawton 60 years ago, but he realizes his attraction to her which makes it easy for him to make the promise. Long lost but now found, you could say, with 60 years of living to talk about. The railings on the bridge fly by as they cross the Atchafalaya Swamp. Cypress trees rise in the background, creatures lurk under the water's surface, and shallows no doubt with unseen dangers rest on the mud. Bob thinks better not to be out there...

"Why did you stay away, Bob?" Pamela breaks the silence.

"Fear... of what was out there."

"We were out there... I was out there. Those from your planet were there."

"Pamela, I was twelve and designated guardian to four younger children. We didn't fit in. Not on this planet and not with you and your kind. I already failed three of the children. I thought they were dead. I was scared and thought it best to live in this world..."

"Was I so bad to you?"

"No,... no, Pamela. If I ever had doubts about leaving, it was because of you. You were wonderful. It's just after the incident with the wolves there were no second chances. It was done."

"You thought it an omen?"

"Looking back now, maybe. "

"Hard to tell if the decisions we make are the right ones. Some are, some aren't. Never can be sure."

"I can't complain... loved my job. Now I'm retired and singing and playing on street corners in New Orleans. Even have a gig at Deer Run Lodge. Who could ask for more? Life is good."

"You were married, right? Did you mean to omit your wife from your good life?"

Bob laughs and shakes his head, "I did, didn't I? Well, I try to forget nightmares. We're divorced."

"I see... Did you tell her you were a Draakar?... Was she human?"

"No, to the first and yes, to the second. Now, to the first question, I must admit I gave her a hint."

"A hint?"

Bob laughs and wonders if he should share this bit of information with Pamela. After all he likes her, and the last thing he wants is to give her a bad impression of himself. He decides the truth will set you free. "I was conflicted about telling her. I knew it would be best not to keep secrets, but I slowly but surely began to notice she wasn't a nice person. She was prejudiced against Blacks, Asians. You name it. Anyway two years after we were married, we went swimming."

Pamela looks at him, shakes her head, smiles and says, "The hint? You didn't..."

"I did... It scared her to death. I never did it again."

"I hope not."

"I never got the chance."

"You're terrible."

"We were divorced shortly after. I figured if she didn't accept other races, what were the chances she'd accept a man who turns into a creature from another planet."

"You may be right, but making her think she was about to be killed by an unknown sea creature might not be the right way to find out."

"You're right. I was young. Now that I'm older, I can look back now and just say, "I was young."

Pamela nods, "And when you're in your seventies, there's ample opportunity to say it."

"There is."

"You never married again?"

"I didn't. The first was such a disaster"...


Bob always missed having children. At twelve he was an acting father for four and ended up continuing that role with Stefan until he was almost twenty. Bob thinks to himself, 'I'd have made a good father' but says, "Children?"... Not wanting to focus on himself, he tells her, "Enough about me."

"Well, I married Frederick. He passed eleven years ago. I have two children Claudia and Claire and five grandchildren.

"That's nice... the children and grandchildren I mean."

"I know"... Community is close knit, and this is the first time Pamela can remember telling anyone about her late husband Frederick, her children, and grandchildren . Everyone already knows . Being on a trip with Bob reminds her of trips she and Frederick took. She smiles with a twinge of guilt over how she feels being with Bob because Pamela loved Frederick very much. Strangely at this moment she decides to share a memory. "Oh, I have a 'I was young' story. When I was 23, I entered a half marathon that had staggered start times. I thought I'd start running as a person then change into a deer when no one was looking. I did and was well ahead of everyone. I stopped maybe a mile or two before the finish line but never got the chance to get back in the race after I changed back to a person. I would have won, but the medal would have been meaningless."

"It would be 'ill gotten gains' as we used to say."

"Indeed." Pamela went to bed last night wondering about Stefan and very excited to learn of his life while on this San Antonio trip with Bob. What happened in the following days after Bob and he escaped wolves and swam away? How did Stefan end up in San Antonio as a Marine biologist? Pamela sighs to herself and remembers Stefan's mother. She was her dear friend. The friend she could always count on. Pamela imagines a phone call to her, 'He's fine, your son is fine. He's married, has children... happy. I'm going to see him today. I'll have him call you.' Pamela is filled with emotion anticipating meeting Stefan for the first time in so many years. "Bob, I have so many questions... The day you left... swam away... Where did you go?"

Bob sees the excitement in Pamela's eyes, gives her a big smile and says, "Well, young lady, I think you're in luck. We have about five hundred miles to go. Guess we have time for a story or two... You know about the wolves. I'll start there... The wolves were nipping at our heels. Trying to escape, we jumped into green scum covered water. I changed quickly then turned on the wolves snarling. I was so upset and angry about, so I thought, losing the other three children, I came up out of the water and attacked. I managed to hurt two, but there were five maybe six. I grabbed a wide-eyed worried Stefan and just swam. I didn't know it at the time, but we headed southwest. We had no plan. You'd told us about snakes and alligators and other dangers. It wasn't long before two eyes rose slightly above the surface, watched us then went under. I knew he was headed toward us, but I was in no mood. I gathered Stefan close to my side. The green slimy water had poor visibility, but it was shallow, and I saw the gator's movement. I attacked him first. I killed him then we swam on for hours before we stopped for the night. We were so tired and hungry. The next day in a small town, we stole clothes hanging on a line. We learned as we went. I only knew about these humans from what you had taught us, but we'd had such a short time together. And we didn't know the language and I knew so little of what to expect in this world."

Pamela is attracted to Bob's fierce protective nature. She knows the Draakar's almost borderline vindictiveness is born out of a protective nature not a predatory one. Still, whatever the reason, she finds it appealing. She listens as he continues.

"I soon learned most humans were as caring and protective as we were on our own planet, but me being twelve and Stefan eight, those people who showed love were the very ones we had to keep away from. At first we didn't know, but we soon learned. Since we had clothes now, we traveled in sight of the road. We came across another small town and along the road there were fruits and vegetables of all kinds. It was as if we were in Osteo. Though none of the fruits and vegetables were any we'd seen before, we were happy to find them. In two days, we'd eaten only berries in fields by the road. They were blackberries. I still hold a special place in my heart for blackberries. We joined others in the quest for fruit and had our hands slapped more than once. We were asked the same question over and over by some who appeared concerned, but also by those who slapped our hands. It was the first sentence we learned from the humans."

"What was it?"

"Sometime later we learned they were asking, 'Where is your Mother and Father?' What we did understand is the ones who didn't slap our hands gave us apples, oranges and more and cared about us. We walked off with more to eat than we'd seen in four days... The trouble came when we noticed a man on the side of the road put his thumb out hitchhiking then a car stopped and sped off with him in their car. Walking had become tiring, but even less appealing was the shallow, snake infested green slime water. We decided we'd try to get picked up so we stuck out our thumb and stood there. Most people just kept going until a policeman stopped. Guess what he asked us?"

Pamela laughs, "Where is your Mother and Father?"

"Exactly, and he wasn't interested in where we might want to go. He thought we were foreigners and took us to the police station. I believe he thought we stole the two bags of fruit and vegetables we had. One of the policemen took my bag, but when he took Stefan's bag, Stefan gave the policeman his pitiful look, the one I had seen so many times. The policeman gave his bag back to him and walked off. When no one was around we slipped off and hid in the woods. From then on we stayed away from policemen. "

"You were afraid they would split you up."

"I was. All we had was each other. Funny. I believe it was then the idea of being a policeman started appealing to me. We moved on always staying out of view until we came to the Sabine River, we'll cross it shortly going into Texas. There were times we stayed in the river for what seemed like days, coming out only to sleep. It was big, wide, no green scum, and the current made travel easy. Time passed and staying always close to water, we encountered bigger and bigger bodies of water. I was still leery of what lay beneath the surface that I couldn't see. Large fish at one point circled us, could have been 5 or 10, but I soon saw they meant us no harm. They were as curious about us as we were about them, but then just as quickly they disappeared. We stopped on an island with so many animals and birds that were nesting. They were not happy to share their island, but it was dusk so we slept there that night and were awakened by the sound of a ship's horn. We saw one ship then another. We followed one and came upon a very small town named Morgan's Point. We were immediately picked up by police and taken to Boy's Harbor. I feared the worse but was happy when we were fed and given a place to sleep. We didn't know it then, but we were home."

"Was it an orphanage?" "No, just a home for children who had no parents or home.

We enrolled in school and lived there, both of us, until we graduated from La Porte High School. La Porte was a slightly larger town next to Morgan's Point. I graduated, then attended peace officer's training, and finally got a job in law enforcement. Stefan is a smart boy. He graduated in '71 and received a scholarship to Southwest University in St. Marcus. Stefan lived with me his last two years of high school."

Pamela asks him, "But he went away to college?"

"Yes." Bob notices Pamela seems tired. He hopes he didn't bore her but knows better. Her excitement is obvious, but she did mention she had trouble falling asleep last night. Bob suggests she take a nap. Pamela takes him up on it and is out like a light. Pamela is an attractive lady, and he wonders if she wears false eyelashes then laughs at his thoughts. I-10 is a familiar drive for Bob, but it's been a few years. Bob stays in close contact with Stefan, but at times, years have gone by without actually seeing each other. They definitely have a father son relationship, though Bob is only five years older. His empty nest syndrome was real, however, and the Fall Stefan left for college was a depressing few months for him although a Christmas visit helped. A month into the new year brought a job offer from the Big Easy, and that Spring Bob moved to New Orleans as a new NOLA policeman. So close all this time to Community and to Pamela. Orange, Texas lies just ahead as they cross the Sabine River. Bob wants to point the Sabine out, but Pamela is sleeping soundly, and there's always the trip back. He lets her sleep. In all the excitement, Bob has not told Pamela, that Clarice, Stefan's wife, does not know his past. He hopes she's not disappointed. He and Pamela will need to have a story. Bob drives in silence for the next hour until Pamela stirs, opens her eyes, and apologizes for not being good company. There is no time to waste; Bob must tell her. He takes a deep breath which turns into a sigh of relief when he hears Pamela.

"Bob... I was wondering does Stefan's wife know about him?"

Bob answers, "No, I'm sorry, I meant to tell you sooner."

"I'm not surprised so... Who are we?"

"Well, she knows I have no relatives so you can't be my sister."

"Has to be wife, then."

"Hope you don't mind."

"No... not at all. When did we get married?"

"It has to be recent. Last month or so?"

"Stefan will be unhappy you didn't tell him until now, otherwise."

"Right, I'll tell him you sing with me."

Pamela laughs, says, "Well, as long as we're telling stories."

"Stefan is not that good an actor. Better let him think you're my wife until Clarice is not around."

Hours later Pamela and Bob pull into Stefan's driveway just outside of San Antonio. Stefan answers the door. They hug.

"Stefan, I'd like you to meet my wife, Pamela."

"Your... wife?" Stefan is all but speechless. "Come in, come in. Have a seat when did you get married?"

Pamela says, "September 21."

"Welcome to the family. Clarice is in New Braunfels staying with her mother who's a bit under the weather, nothing serious. She'll be sorry she missed you."

Bob notices Pamela staring at Stefan and wonders if after shocking him with the marriage, it would be too soon for the ultimate shocker. "I'm sorry we missed her."

"When do you have to leave?"


"Quick trip. Clarice won't be back until Friday."

"I've got a case, I'm investigating."

Pamela looks at Stefan, remembering his mother and how they studied at school together and spent school vacations in Osteo. Here is her son... alive and well. She is very emotional.

Stefan tells them, "Sit down... Sit down. Let me get you a drink."

Bob notices tears in Pamela's eyes and realizes it's time for the ultimate shocker.

"Stefan sit down. I have to tell you something."

Stefan concerned, sits and says, "Sounds serious."

"Pamela brought us to this world. She knows who I am, and who you are. She knew your mother." Pamela and Stefan look at one another.

Stefan turns to Bob, says, "The letter you told me about... Mother wrote down the name of her friend and said if I had any problems to go see her. You found her, when... our world was coming to an end, and she saved us. Stefan pauses, turns to Pamela and says, "It's you?"

Pamela says, "Yes, it's me."

The End

January 28, 2021 00:58

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in Reedsy Studio. 100% free.