The Captive Boy II - Chapter 3
"I almost made a slip of the tongue just now," Joey said while driving. Edwin laughed.
Edwin was sitting in the passenger's seat while looking at Johnny's data. He replied, "Yeah, Your slip almost made my heart jump out of my body, especially in front of Mrs. Katie!"
"I really didn't expect to see you there."
"Me either. I thought that you'd been killed in Vietnam. You didn't even show up at your own father's funeral. Mrs. Katie was a bit upset with you for this."
"Yeah, I know. Mrs. Katie told me the same thing just now," said Joey, still with a wry smile.
Edwin laughed out. "She is still as strict as before. It's really not easy to work under her."
"Well, I'm so happy that you realized your dream to be a teacher,” said Joey.
"Yeah, I realized my dream. And you? You gave up your dream of being a professional baseball player and joined the army, didn't you?" asked Edwin. He seemed to have so many things to say. He didn't wait for Joey's answer and continued. "What were you doing all these years? I tried to contact you via the military when your father died. But nobody wanted to help me. They just told me that it was impossible to contact you. What on earth happened?"
"Well, I can't tell you too much. Simply speaking, I was working for our country. I was on a secret mission at the time."
"All right, all right, don't tell me if you don't want to." Edwin seemed to be a bit upset, but he still changed the topic. "How long have you been back here?"
"I've been back for a year."
"A year?" Edwin was very surprised. "You've been back for a year, and during this long year I never met you in this small town? And you didn't try to contact me, did you?"
"I brought Johnny back here with me. But of course we were keeping a low profile because of Johnny's special condition. I tried to help him adapt to the life here all this year."
"Mrs. Katie said that this boy needs special help. But I didn't see anything in the data. Who is the boy? Why is he with you? What's your relationship with him?"
Joey didn't answer right away. Instead, he turned the car into a small alley, parked it and switched off the motor. Then he started to speak.
"I think that I should tell you something before meeting Johnny."
"Johnny is a special boy."
"He grew up in a guerrilla army which was fighting in a civil war of an African country. He started to participate in the civil war and even began killing people at age five. When he was eight he was captured and imprisoned in a concentration camp. When he was about ten I found him during a secret mission and rescued him."
Edwin's mouth fell open, down to his chin. The answer shocked him very much.
Joey briefly told Edwin about his conversation with Katie. Edwin frowned.
"He really had a difficult childhood, didn't he?"
"He's a very brave boy," said Joey. "He was abused a lot in the concentration camp. Really a lot. I can't say that I could have hung on in that condition, but he made it. However, it's really a very big shadow in his mind. He doesn't trust anyone here, except me.
"During the past year, I would take him to exercise, swim, or try to let him play with other kids. He had never been with any other kids before. I just tried to let him have more chances to interact with other kids. However, the other kids could easily notice the scars on his body and that made Johnny self-conscious very much."
"I know what you mean. The fundamental problem would be if he could trust other people or not. If he couldn't, he would find it difficult to make friends with anyone, not to mention with other kids."
"I thought that a kid would find it easier to make friends with other kids."
Edwin shook his head. "That's under normal conditions. Two normal kids can play with each other very naturally, because they don't have the problem of any other issues between them. However, it's different for abused kids. Abused kids would fear that they might be hurt again. They would hate the differences between them and other people. Also, other kids would be curious about their differences and such curiosity would hurt the abused kids even more."
Joey sighed. "Yeah, that's what Johnny faced. He's actually a very talented boy. I think he can catch up very soon in his school work. What I'm worried about is his mental barrier."
"You really care about him, don't you?" teased Edwin. "Did you care about me like that before?"
Joey smiled. "You weren't eleven years old then."
"Do you know? I was so depressed after losing contact with you." Edwin put down the data and held Joey's hands. "My only lover just disappeared. It was impossible to contact him. Nobody wanted to help me. Every night I would just sit there, looking at our photos and sigh. Do you know the feeling?"
Joey could sense the hurt in Edwin, even as his friend tried to smile and be strong.
"I'm sorry, Edwin," said Joey, with great regret. "I understand. I admit that the decision to join the military was due to my willfulness against my father. However, the following developments were totally out of my control. They trained me to execute secret missions. They trained me to lead a mercenary team to fight all over the world. Then my father was dead and I didn't know it at all. They told me after one of my missions was completed, and it had been half a year after my father's death. I was so upset by not being able to be there... That made me think of retiring. Then in my last mission I met Johnny. I decided to really retire, and bring him back here.”
Edwin sighed deeply. He released Joey's hands. Joey switched on the motor again and drove onto the road. They both didn't talk anymore.
"Kiddie, I'd like you to meet Edwin Grey. He's my good friend, and he will be your teacher in the school."
Edwin reached out his hand to Johnny. Johnny looked at him, then looked at Joey. Joey nodded to Johnny. Johnny shook hands with Edwin slightly and drew back his hand again quickly. He kept his poker face.
"Don't act like that, Kiddie," said Joey. "Edwin was my best friend in my teen age years. He's here to help you."
Edwin waved to Joey to hint to him to stop talking. He smiled to Johnny.
"Kiddie? Is that your nickname?"
Johnny didn't answer Edwin.
"Joey's wrong. No, I'm not here to help you." Edwin squatted down and looked at Johnny. "I'm here to make friends with you."
Johnny still kept silent. Edwin could see distrust and nervousness in Johnny's eyes. He kept smiling at Johnny.
"I know that you won't accept me that soon. That's okay. Let's take it step by step. I just want to tell you that Joey told me something about you. I know that you are a very marvelous and great boy. Joey even thinks that he's not as good as you. You don't need to feel that you are different from others. Even if you are different, that means you are much, much greater than others.
"Now what we want to do is to let you experience a different life style. We also hope to let you know that, besides Joey, there are still many people caring about you and loving you. Okay?"
Edwin looked at Johnny. Johnny still kept his poker face. However, there was something in Edwin's voice that made Johnny feel easy. Johnny felt more relaxed, and his eyes and face became a bit milder. Edwin knew that his words had some effect in Johnny's mind. He didn't expect Johnny to answer him, so he stood up.
"See you next week at school." Edwin waved to Johnny.
Joey looked at Johnny. Johnny was still with his poker face, but in Johnny's eyes Joey was relieved to see that Johnny wasn't as resistant to Edwin as when they'd met minutes before. He sighed with relief, nodded to Johnny and walked with Edwin out of the door.
"Hurry up, grandpa!" The boy turned his head and shouted to the old man.
"It's still very early. Why hurry?" smiled the old man.
The boy ran back to the old man. "I'd like to go to the station early."
The old man patted on the boy's shoulder. "The train will arrive in half an hour. Even if you go there now, you won't see your mom one minute early, will you? It's such a beautiful day. We have enough time to walk there slowly and enjoy the sunshine."
The boy pouted. The old man smiled and hugged him. He held the boy's hand and kept walking, staying in a good mood.
"Grandpa, see that van. It's so huge," the boy said, pointing to a black van in front of them.
The old man felt strange. In this small and peaceful town, he had never seen such a van there before.
At that moment, the door opened. Four men with military uniforms got out of the van and stood beside the boy and the old man. The next moment, they grabbed the old man's and the boy's arms.
"What are you doing? Don't touch me!" The boy struggled and yelled.
"Get away, or I'll call the police!" the old man yelled too.
The four men didn't answer. They just grabbed the old man and the boy tightly. Then came the fifth man from the van. The man walked to the old man and the boy. He put his fingers on the boy's chin and looked at the boy carefully. Then he started to speak.
"Our general wants to see you."
"I don't know your general!" shouted the old man. "You must have identified the wrong persons. Let us go!"
"I know that you don't know our general; that's okay," smiled the man. He handcuffed the old man and the boy behind their backs, and put blindfolds on their eyes. Then he put rags into their mouths. The old man and the boy felt that they were carried and thrown into the van. The door closed.
"Go," the last man's voice commanded.
The old man and the boy felt the van moving. They could only twist their bodies helplessly.
-- To be continued.