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Riddles

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Riddles

“What’s that in your hand?”

The question catches Declan off guard. He hadn’t heard Lori open the door to Kyle’s room. His mind had been racing, turning over and over the implications of the items he’d found in the box. The box Kyle had made such a point of leaving for him. Declan resists the impulse to shove the sailboat back into the box. He doesn’t want to make Lori suspicious. He relaxes when he realizes that her face shows only curiosity.

“A sailboat,” He answers matter-of-factly as he returns it to the box.

“Why would Kyle give you a toy boat?” Lori muses as she walks up beside him and the mystery box. She leans forward to get a better look at what else might be in the box but Declan is already folding the lid panels in on themselves, cutting off her view.

“Who knows? Why does an ‘alien’ do anything?” He asks with a shrug.

Lori rolls her eyes and punches him in the arm – hard. “Since when did you start paying attention to my brain dead brother’s alien conspiracy theories? I thought you and Kyle were friends.” She stares at him thoughtfully. “Since we got back from Seattle, you two have gone all mysterious. You thought I didn’t notice all the whispered conversations, glaringly obvious changes of topic, and sudden silences when I entered a room. Remember, I’m the girl in this relationship. I notice things like that.”

“So we’re in a relationship?” Declan asks in surprise. “You do sound like a jealous girlfriend. Don’t you trust me, Lori?” The tone of injured innocence in his voice is accompanied by an appropriately downcast face.

His performance does not impress Lori. “First, the issue of whether you are my boyfriend or just a boy friend is not settled yet.” She announces. “And as to whether or not I trust you…” She pauses and smiles cryptically. “…that’s also still undecided.” Cocking her head, she gives him an appraising look. “I do trust Kyle, however. If I didn’t we’d be having a very different conversation.”

Putting her arm through his, Lori says, “So, Declan, until I get those issues settled to my satisfaction, at which point I will inform you of my decision, consider yourself off the market.” She tugs on his arm. “Come on, please. Let’s go back to my room.” Her mood has grown sober. “This place is too empty.”

“Lori, just let me put this junk in my truck. Then…” He gives her his best libidinous, male, teenager smirk. “…we’ll see about finding a way to console each other.”

“Boys!” She groans. With a toss of her hair she walks toward the door. Pausing in the doorway she looks back at him. “Declan, don’t take too long. I need someone to give me a hug.” Her mood takes another abrupt shift and she says with a mischievous smile, “And you’re elected, stud.”

Declan smiles as he watches Lori walk down the hall. Then he hurriedly turns back to the box. There isn’t much time. Pulling the sailboat and the issue of National Geographic out of the box, there is one last item left for him by Kyle. He picks it up and examines it. It’s a small electronic device of some kind. Wires protrude from its smashed face. It looks as though someone had stomped on it. Declan slowly turns it over in his hand.

Thoughtfully he scans the wall and ceiling facing Kyle’s tub. The thought strikes him: God, how did my best friend get to be someone who slept in a bath tub. No, he corrects himself, sleeps. He isn’t going to think about Kyle in the past tense. That isn’t how this story is going to end. Declan forces his mind back to the issue at hand.

The view of Kyle’s room that they had seen on the surveillance screen in Tom Foss’s room had been from a point that looked down on the tub. His eyes stop on a spot above the door. There is a small, circular discoloration on the wall. He grips the device between the thumb and forefinger of his right hand and holds it out at arm’s length, comparing it to the spot on the wall. A smile spreads across his face as he nods his head slowly. Who knew Kyle had a temper.

Declan quickly repacks the box and seals it with tape from Kyle’s desk. He carries the box slowly out to his truck as he considers the meaning of the message Kyle has tried to leave him. The box has to have been meant as a message for him. He is sure of that. But what is Kyle trying to tell him? What does he want from him?

He knows now that every “memory” Kyle had claimed of the trip to Hawaii had been fabricated from the contents of the article in the magazine he’d left behind. It was all a lie and yet the Petterson’s, his supposed parents, had gone along with it. That could only mean that everything they had said about being Kyle’s parents was also a lie and yet Kyle had still gone with them - had apparently wanted to go with them.

Declan slams the hatch of his truck. He leans against the truck, trying to puzzle it all out. The first part of the puzzle is simple enough, really. Kyle had done it this way to make it easy for everyone to let him go. With two perfect, adoring parents and the return of his memory, it was impossible for anyone to object to him leaving. But why did Kyle want to go with the Petersons and why did he want Declan to know it was all a lie?

Two possibilities occur to Declan: Kyle was going away in order to protect the Tregars; (Foss had warned Kyle that the people around him would be in danger if he continued to search for answers about his past); or he was doing it because he thought the Peterson’s could lead him to the answers he wanted.

Declan gnaws on his lower lip. Both of these possibilities have the potential to place Kyle in danger. Kyle is no innocent anymore. He would surely realize this. The box and its message are Kyle’s way of trying to ask him to have his back in case the worst happens.

But how did Kyle expect him do that - to use this information? What can he do? He knows instinctively that Kyle wouldn’t want him to tell the Tregars. That would only expose them to the danger Kyle was trying to shield them from. Besides, what could a suburban couple and their two kids do against what seems like a very dangerous group of people? Real life doesn’t work like the movies.

If you’re up against pros, you need professional help. To Declan’s mind, professional is not an adjective he’d use to describe the local police. They had bought the Peterson’s story without question. If he is going to find Kyle help, he needs to go to Tom Foss. Declan pushes away from the truck.

First though, Lori, who needs his support, is waiting for him. As he walks up the driveway he is surprised to realize that that is all he is going to give her - support. She needs a hug and a friendly shoulder to cry on. He needs to bury the old Declan who would have pushed to see just how far her vulnerability could get him. I am turning into such a boy scout. He thinks shaking his head. It must be the company I’m keeping.

Then, he’ll take a trip to Foss’s apartment for information and help. As he walks down the hall to Lori’s room he pauses in the doorway of Kyle’s room. I’ll find you buddy. Hold on! Declan rubs the back of his hand across his eyes. Foss will help me. He’s got to. He's the only hope I have.