“Braids, are you going to sit there staring at your phone all day, or are you going to come to the show with us?” Theo sat down on the bed next to Brady and reached for the phone, but Brady was quick to snatch it away and shoot Theo a dirty look.
“He said he would call this morning, and it’s almost one,” Brady growled. “You can’t blame me for worrying.”
“Sure we can,” Stacey said with a roll of her eyes. “Especially since you’re lagging behind and are going to make us miss the show; a show that you got us psyched up for I remind you. Remember, Japanese drummers?”
“Yeah, it’s not like they come to Wyoming for the hell of it,” Jack offered, throwing down his magazine. “We’ve got to get going if we’re going to make it in time. They’re only doing the one show for the cultural festival.”
“I know,” Brady said with a sigh. “I realize I’ve been a total party pooper for our day off, but I’ve kind of gotten used to him being punctual. He’s never missed a . . .” He stopped as the phone went off in his hand and he quickly put it up to his ear. “Hello?”
“Hey, did you recognize the number?” Silas asked on the other end of the line. “You answered that pretty quickly.”
“No, I just knew it was you,” Brady said with a contented sigh.
“Good, because the number is completely new, so I would have known you were lying,” Silas replied with a giggle. “Man, I must have you completely under my spell.”
“Hey now, it’s not nice to play with someone like that,” Brady scolded. “Now come on, you’ve got to tell me why you didn’t call earlier.”
“I was hassling a fisherman,” Silas said dismissively. “Nothing new, that’s for certain. Nothing to worry about, either.”
“Hey, ask him about that news report we saw,” Jack interrupted. “The one about the priest getting arrested for hitting his daughter.”
“Jackie, I’m a little busy here,” Brady said with an annoyed glance at Jack. “Besides, I doubt he knows anything.”
“Know anything about what?” Silas asked.
“Oh, we saw something on the news about something in Crow’s Lake. Some priest hit his daughter and got arrested or something like that,” Brady explained with a shrug. “Seriously, I’m sure it was only reported because the news station didn’t have any other stories to talk about.”
“Actually I was there for the whole thing,” Silas said quietly. “That’s largely what made me stay. I was friend with the girl who got hurt, and she’s living with my brother’s mother-in-law. The pastor is out on bail right now, and he’s back to leading his congregation.”
“That’s jacked up,” Brady snarled. He looked up at the others and said, “Seems that priest got off easy. Apparently he’s still leading his church.”
“Yeah, but he won’t be for long if I have anything to say about it,” Silas replied. “Seems that the pastor has a lot of dirt in his past that we’re sorting through.”
“You’re not going to do anything stupid, are you?” Brady asked.
“Hey now, have you ever known me to do something stupid?” Silas returned.
“Well, if you count abandoning me at a gas station when I was hoping we’d have your company for a lot longer, then yes,” Brady replied with a laugh. “But seriously, don’t do something too dangerous, all right?”
“I’ll see what I can do,” Silas said noncommittally. “Trust me, this one is worth a little danger.”
“All right, but be careful. I . . .” Brady paused and then looked up at Jack, Stacy, and Theo who were watching him with concern. “I just got you back in my life and I really don’t want to lose you again.”
“Brady . . .” Silas started, but then he seemed at a loss for words.
“It’s all right, you don’t have to say anything,” Brady said with a laugh. “I know I’m being overly sentimental.”
“No you’re not. You’re being every bit the deep person you’ve always been,” Silas replied. “The first person that ever made me want to stay more than I wanted to leave.”
“Then why did you leave?” Brady whispered.
“I had to find myself first,” Silas answered just as quietly. “Listen, Brady, I have to go, but you should keep this number. It’s my cell, and you’re the first person I put in my contacts. Jack was the second, but you can tell him he was first if it makes him feel better.”
“Will do,” Brady said with a chuckle. “You’ll call me if you need help, won’t you?”
Silas hesitated before he answered, “Of course. You’ll be the first one I tell.”
“You’re not going to, are you?” Brady mused.
“Probably not, but I’ll call you when I’m all right,” Silas chuckled.
Brady sighed. “I suppose that will have to do.”
“Thanks for looking out for me, Brady,” Silas said. “I’m glad someone is.”
Brady sighed again and replied, “I always will. Now, it seems I’ve been keeping the others waiting, so I’m going to have to hang up and go with them.”
“Brady, you don’t have to do that,” Jack insisted.
“Seriously, we can wait,” Theo added. “No rush.”
“Okay. Talk to you tomorrow? I’ll try to not be so late,” Silas replied sweetly.
“Sounds perfect,” Brady replied. “And if you’re going to be late, just text me.”
Silas laughed and said, “Will do. Talk to you soon. Bye.”
And then he was gone, and Brady was ending the call and looking up at the others with a frown. “I guess I’m ready to go. Sorry to keep you all waiting.”
“It’s fine, Braids,” Stacey said with a smile. “Next time keep talking to your boy.”
“I’ll talk to him soon,” Brady said with a shrug and a half-hearted grin. “Let’s go.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The Japanese drummers were incredibly skilled at their craft, but Brady found that he was unable to concentrate on the music. He had never had that experience before, as music was always the thing that he had used to distract himself from other things, but this time even the thunderous beat of the large drums couldn’t draw his thoughts away from Silas. His own heartbeat was too loud and drowned out even the approaching thunder of the storm which threatened to rain out the festival.
The gathering around him was small, but they were all enamored with the performers and didn’t seem to notice the darkening sky, but it seemed to draw him in and away from the festival. His mood was quickly becoming as dark as the clouds, and he couldn’t determine why. He had everything he had ever wanted; they were being paid to make music for a living, his friends were happy, and he had love in his life.
But that last one still seemed tentative, and indeed it seemed fleeting still, despite the depth of emotion he felt for Silas and the amount of emotion he seemed to receive in return. Something seemed amiss, and he knew that it wasn’t just because of the fact that they were still hundreds of miles apart. There was a sickening feeling in his stomach that something was about to go horribly wrong.
And the crowd seemed oblivious to it. Everyone around him was wrapped up in their own lives and lost to the music; lost to the rain and the weather and ignoring the plight of the world around him. He knew now that Silas was about to face off against a priest that had apparently found it morally sound for him to abuse his own daughter. Silas had always been on the lookout for others, even when it had seemed that he was only trying to help himself. That made him different from the crowd; from the people who were there merely as spectators.
But that left Brady with a question he wasn’t sure he’d ever find an answer to. Did Silas leave in the first place in order to find himself as he said, or had he left because he saw the needs of the band and thought that he was dragging them down? Brady could hear the hesitation in Silas’ voice every time they talked, and it felt like every moment there was a chance that Silas was going to run away from him again. It still felt like Silas was thinking that Brady was better off without him.
A drop of rain fell from the sky and landed on his forehead, and he glanced up to see that more were coming. The drummers continued to play, but now the crowd was distracted and began to disperse, seeking shelter in the awnings of nearby canopies that had been erected by various cultural merchants who were offering wares at the festival. They continued to watch the performance, and suddenly Brady found his answer.
Everyone watched the performance; everyone heard the sound of the drums, even if some ignored it momentarily. Silas hadn’t been running from him specifically, he had been running until he found a safe place to call home, and then and only then was he able to return his focus to other things. That’s why he had left, and why he had called.
But then it hit him harder than he expected, and Brady wasn’t able to listen to the sound of the drums anymore, as he stood up and let the rain pour over him. He knew what was distracting him from the music, and it was an even louder symphony. Something terrible was about to happen with Silas, and all of his senses and all of the energies in the world were coming together to tell him that he needed to get to Colorado as fast as he could, before it was too late.
“What is it, Brady?” Jack asked as he walked up with his plate of Japanese pan noodles and then pushed some of them into his mouth with his chopsticks.
“We need to go to Colorado, now,” Brady replied as he turned and started walking toward the parking lot of the college. “Or at least I do.”
“Where are we going?” Theo asked as he joined them with Stacey in tow.
“Brady says we’re going to Colorado. That means we’ll have to cancel the gig tomorrow night, but we were only opening so it should me all right,” Jack explained as they continued walking. “Did you get some more news on Drake or something?”
“No, I just have a bad feeling,” Brady said with a shake of his head. “How long do you think it’s going to take to get there?”
“A day at least,” Jack replied. “But we’ll see what we can do to cut down the trip. Weather report this morning says that this storm is hitting the Rockies as well. We might be driving through snow.”
“If that’s what it takes to get down there, we need to,” Brady said through gritted teeth. “Dammit, we should have left three hours ago.”
“What’s so urgent, Braids?” Stacey asked as she laid a hand on his arm to slow him down. “You didn’t tell us that anything was wrong.”“I don’t know, I can just feel it,” Brady replied with a shake of his head. “Everything is telling me that he’s in danger. I just hope we’re not going to be too late.”
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