In the morning, Henry was once again in our kitchen, but this time he sat down and ate a big breakfast—three eggs, bacon, sausage, and two English muffins. No wonder he was growing so fast!
It was a beautiful day out, so after breakfast we rode our bikes to the park, where we sat on a bench watching the ducks in the pond. The baby ones were nearly full grown now, but the mothers were still protective of them.
We sat in silence for a while until Henry said, “I got in trouble last night, Max.”
“Oh no, what did you do?”
“I searched Chad’s room for his camera. I found his phone and stuffed it in my pocket, but then Mom caught me. She was really mad because she had told me not to go in there.”
“Ouch! What did she say?”
“She said I was lucky she wasn’t gonna ground me, but then she gave me a big hug and we were fine after that. Only I promised not to go in there again without her permission. Anyway, I had pretty much finished searching, and I’m sure the camera’s not in his room.”
“So where do you think it is?”
“I haven’t any idea. It couldn’t be at school because school doesn’t open for two weeks and he’ll have a new locker and desk this year. I went through all his school stuff and through his desk and dresser. I searched his closet and even under his bed and under the mattress, but I didn’t find anything except a couple of porn magazines under the mattress. I can’t imagine where it could be, except that, unless he gave it to somebody else, which I don’t think he would’ve done, it has to be in the house some place.”
“What did you do with the magazines?”
“I left them under the mattress. I wasn't really interested in them.”
Hum, I thought, I wonder why he wasn’t interested in them. Aloud I said, “So do you wanna search the rest of the house?”
“Yeah, but we have to wait until Mom goes out. She has a hair appointment at 11:00, so that would be a good time.”
“What about Robbie?”
“We’ll get him to look too. He can get into places we can’t.”
As we continued to sit watching the ducks, Henry said, “We’re going away tomorrow.”
“Oh no! Really? Why?”
“My folks just wanna get away for a while before school starts. Dad has a friend who has a big house on the Cape, right on the beach, and he’s invited us to stay with him and his wife.”
“Well, your parents may be right. You probably need a change of scene for a while where not everything you see reminds you of Chad.”
“I guess so, but I’d much rather stay here with you. I asked if I could, but they said no. They said the family really needs to be together.”
I nodded, looked at my watch, and said, “It’s after ten thirty.” We rode our bikes back to the houses. Henry’s mom was just getting ready to leave and was glad Henry had returned so that she didn’t have to take Robbie to the hairdresser.
When we went in the house, Robbie told us that he was glad too. He hated going to the hairdresser, “’Cause there’s nothing to do.” We explained to him about looking for the camera, telling him it was like a treasure hunt without a map. He loved the idea.
Robbie was a cute kid. He had a pug nose, freckles, and mousy brown hair. In a way he looked more like my brother than Henry’s. He was wearing overalls held up by one strap with no shirt under it. He was barefoot like me and Henry. All of us went barefoot as much as we could in the summer, enjoying the feeling of the grass under our feet poking up between our toes.
We began searching in the living room, opening cabinets, pulling out books, lifting up cushions, even looking in the piano, while Robbie checked under all the furniture. From there we went to the kitchen. There were a lot of places to search – the refrigerator, cupboards, boxes, canisters, even the garbage. Nothing. Then we checked the dining room, which didn’t have many good hiding places, before moving to the two workshops in the basement. There was a lot of stuff to go through in Chad’s workshop but no sign of a camera. Finally, we went out and checked the garage. Again, nothing.
“What now?” I asked.
“I can’t think of anywhere else to look. Can you, Robbie?”
Having nothing better to do, we decided to have lunch and then go swimming at the lake. After lunch, I went to my house for my bathing suit, and then we rode our bikes up over the hills to the lake. It was a long haul, but we enjoyed the exercise, although we had to wait for Robbie a few times when the hills got too long for him and he had to walk. That was OK. We weren’t in any hurry.
We arrived at the lake, sweating and happy, knowing that much of the ride home would be downhill.
While we called it “The Lake,” it was actually more of a glorified pond. It had no dock, but somebody had built a float where we could swim and dive. Although we knew that Robbie was a good swimmer, Henry and I both kept a careful eye on him. Three years before, a little girl had drowned in the lake, and we didn’t want to take any chances.
I swam around while Henry picked up his little brother and tossed him in the water over and over. They were both laughing and giggling. I was happy to see them beginning to enjoy good times again. Eventually, I joined in. It gave me a good chance to touch Henry, skin to skin, without him really knowing what I was doing.
When we finished swimming, Henry and I spread our towels on the grass and lay there, just talking, while Robbie ran around chasing butterflies.
Around 5:00 o’clock, we rode back to the house, enjoying the wind in our hair as we sped downhill.
Henry came to my house for dinner as he and his family were leaving the next morning.
Sitting on the back porch after dinner, I asked, “Has it occurred to you that this has been a dangerous summer?”
“Yeah,” he answered. “I was thinking about that last night. There were those two high school kids who died of drug overdoses and another one who’s in the hospital and not expected to ever be right again. Together with Chad that’s a lot of kids dying in a little place like Millway. I wonder where the drugs came from.”
“I don’t know. I haven’t seen anybody lurking around anywhere like they were trying to sell. Maybe they came from Greenfield, or even Pittsfield.” Greenfield and Pittsfield were my ideas of big cities, although, I learned later, of course, that they really weren’t all that big.
Lying in bed that night, I said a little prayer for Henry and his family, asking that they could find some peace on Cape Cod. I’m not religious, although my folks make me go to church with them every Sunday. That’s OK, because the church, especially in the summer, is like a community center where you can see your friends and neighbors.
I guess Millway is a pretty friendly town. We do have tourists go through who are there not only for the scenery but also for the shops. We have a number of artisans living around, and there’s always art work for sale. I usually just ignore the tourists, but I always try to be polite and, if they have a question, I always stop and try to answer. The most often asked question, of course, is, “Where is there a restroom?” I’ve gotten expert at giving directions for that as well as for the shops, sometimes directing people to shops that aren’t on the main street.
I let my mind wander, but as usual, my last thought before dropping off to sleep, was of Henry.