The Travelers, Chapter 2: His Story II

“Alright, now choke up on it a little. Good, now get ready to swing, eye on the ball Raynor, eye on the ball.”

Danny prepared the throw, it was an overhead throw but it was tossed lightly instead of hurled just so he wouldn’t get hurt. Raynor was five or maybe six, it was his first time holding a baseball bat. He wasn’t afraid though, he knew he could do it. Dad was right behind him, and finally Danny let go of the ball.

On the first try, Raynor hit it. It smacked against the wooden bat like a gunshot or the crack of a whip, and bounced along the ground behind Danny. For a six year old, it was a good hit. “Thataboy Ray, nice hit!” his dad said, enthusiastically, patting him on the head.

“First try too dad, think he’s ready for something a little stronger?” Danny asked, almost grinning at the thought of that. Boys will be boys afterall, but dad stopped him. “Nah, lets just keep it simple for’em for now, your mother would kill me if he came home with a black eye.”

“But…but…I can still try out for the little league right dad?” Raynor asked, half dejectedly.

“Ya gotta be eight years old to try out, but I promise, first thing the day you turn eight we’ll start looking for a team.”

This was the strongest happy memory he had of his family. He didn’t even like baseball, but it didn’t matter. Having Danny and his dad teach him the game, just to have fun and play around was enough. Andrea took that photograph of his dad teaching him how to hold a bat, with Danny doing some goofy pose in the background. They never did make it to a little league tryout, Raynor lost an interest soon after Danny got into high school and stopped paying attention to his little brother.

He walked out the door of his house for the last time that day, two framed pictures in hand. One of the baseball scene, another of just his mother. She was beautiful, right up until the day she died.

His dad started to lose interest in the family after a while though, around the time Raynor was nine or ten. One day, Raynor had a half-day from his elementary school, and since everyone else had to work or attend a full day of school, he arrived home to an empty house. It was a dream come true, finally he could do whatever he wanted without worry. Like some other boys with overly-religious mothers, he started by shouting every profanity he could think of. He ran around the house without a care what happened, he was lucky to not break anything.

Though, before long, he grew bored and decided to try something…different. It was an idea in the back of his mind, he had no idea why it was there. It definitely wasn’t normal to him, but for some reason, he just felt compelled to do it.

He snuck into his sister’s room. It didn’t make much sense for him to be sneaking around considering he was the only one home. He started shuffling around the room, it was purple with a small banner sized wallpaper of generic flowers. The bed was kind of plain but the desk donned with a large three way rectangular mirror was a little more decorated.

He didn’t want to mess up the room and make it obvious he was here, but eventually he did find his way to the desk. He started shuffling through the drawers, they weren’t neatly organized anyway. On one, he stumbled across a small second drawer within the first, and pulled out a small bag of what looked like lawn clippings to him; that or some of the spices his mother uses to make certain dishes. There was also a small white, circular shaped pill. He didn’t think much of it at the time, only that it reeked something foul.

He found a make up drawer, and against his better judgment, his curiosity compelled him to take a few things out and try them. He’d seen his sister apply this stuff numerous times, and take it off as well, so he figured he could apply it and get rid of the evidence with no problems.

He was a little too rough at first, smearing a bit of lipstick on his cheek. After wiping it off, he tried again, a little more delicately. A little blush, the lipstick, and a black hairband with a bow on top he found in another drawer; as Maria of West Side Story might say, he felt pretty.

“She hasn’t worn this bow in forever, wonder if she’d notice it’s missing?” he mumbled, contemplating stealing it.

He picked up a stuffed animal laying on the bed and just gazed upon it, a feeling of bliss washed over him for some reason. He knew not why he liked this room, only that he did like it. It was still only half past noon, he lied back in Andrea’s bed and began daydreaming what it would be like to be his sister, or rather just what it would be like to be a girl. He imagined his jet black hair, short and spiked like his dear old dad’s turning into a softer brunette color, his already deepening voice to be lighter and sweeter sounding and his body to be shaped as hers. Time passed by as he drifted into his own little world, and soon he fell asleep.

His dad came home early that day. Raynor was still fast asleep as his father pulled in the driveway, completely oblivious to what happened next. “Ray, you home?” His father hollered. “I’m gonna boil up a couple of hot dogs, you want one?”

Raynor was indeed a heavy sleeper, as he was still quite out of it. He was dreaming peacefully while his father prodded around the house looking for him, eventually noticing Andrea’s bedroom door opened and a light on inside. After peering inside, a mixture of disgust and shock washed over his dad’s face.

Ray had already begun to wake up at this point, and the creaking sound of the door jolted his whole body up. Embarrassment, humiliation, and most importantly, fear emanated from him like an aura. The tension could have been cut with a knife, he wasn’t sure if his dad was just going to stare or start yelling or worse, beat him. Raynor knew his dad to be a no-nonsense type of guy; he and Dan have both had their fair share of belt whippings, but it seemed this was far past the point of anger. His dad just walked away; no words were spoken, no glares or threats were made, he just left.

Raynor moved on from this point a few months later, and everything seemed to go back to normal for him, but his father was never the same from then on. Even when the war on terror started and Dan decided to join the Marines, his mother threw a fit, trying to convince him not to go but his dad just sat there, no sign of dissent, no approval, nothing.

Six years later, Danny and a few other Marines were helping out a few refugees trapped inside a collapsing building in Baghdad when a suicide bomber ran up to them while they had their guard down. In a miraculous yet ironic twist of events, the explosion not only missed the refugees but dislodged a few stones and piles of debris, allowing the refugees to escape, despite the debris piercing one of Dan’s lungs.

Daniel Alexander Hughes was given the Congressional Medal of Honor for his sacrifice. However, at the ceremony, Ray’s father showed no pride or affection, and at the funeral, he couldn’t display any sadness or regret. He knew, Raynor knew what was going through his dad’s head. “My first son is dead, my second is a freak, and god only knows where Andrea is or if she’s even sober,” Raynor imagined his father exclaiming.

Raynor didn’t say anything that day, he could only watch his father’s ill placed silence and his mother’s inconsolable breakdown. At the burial site, many placed roses on his casket, but Ray placed a baseball on it, the first baseball his brother bought him.

His dad placed a hand on his shoulder, and gave a slight nod. It was the first, and last time he saw any emotion from his father in years.

A year and some odd weeks later, Ray sat in his beat up Bentely, motor still running and foot on the brakes. He stared at the two pictures he took, and the little black bow Andrea never proclaimed missing. He looked back at his house one last time, “Goodbye Andrea,” and he drove off.

Re: The Travelers, Chapter 2: His Story II

seems interesting, curious to see where it goes keep up the good work