In my cedar house in the rolling hills of Emerald Oaks, I sat flipping through the TV channels in the living room. I glanced at the clock—8:00 at last, time to put the brownies in the oven so they’d be done at the exact moment Thaddeus would arrive. White chocolate and macadamia nut brownies to be exact, with the recipe altered to make them extra moist and gooey. Paired with the mint chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream I’d picked up from a local Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shoppe earlier today, Thaddeus would be enjoying a delectable mix of all his favorite sweet flavors.
Finding America’s Funniest Home Videos on the television, I smiled as a little boy played daredevil on his toy motorcycle, almost succeeding at a big jump across a shallow plastic pool, but then failing epically as the bike crashed into the edge of the pool. The father beside the miniature pool rushed over to check on his son, just as the dark-haired child plopped his bike back on the grass and gleamed from ear to ear as he exclaimed “Did you see me? Did you get it? I got so much air! I’ll get it next time!” The father picked up his soaken wet son and smiled in return. I smiled too. Something about the cute little boy reminded me of my Thaddeus…The same bright, joyful eyes and brave, determined spirit, I thought to myself. Everything reminds me of him. And today he was all I could think about. I’d been waiting all in anticipation and subdued exuberance to finally get to see him.
Today was Friday, June fourth, which was the three years and five months anniversary of our first date, thus the reason for the special dessert. All I wanted to do was look into his dazzling cobalt eyes, embrace him, and feel the deep love radiating between us. My wait is finally almost over, I reminded myself. Except for the announcer’s comments about the quirky videos and the audience’s laughter in between sets, the house was completely silent. My parents had left about an hour ago to attend a couple’s group dinner at our church a few miles away in Tibbston. Thaddeus told me he would be meeting with long-time friend and assistant pastor from our church, Bruce McKinnon, somewhere in Blue Falls after he got off work at 6:00 PM, and that he’d drive over to my house sometime between 8 and 9 after that. I trotted to the kitchen, tripping across my cat sprawling across the middle of the floor. I caught myself, and laughed at my complete lack of observance. I really can’t think of anything but Thaddeus right now, can I? I wondered to myself. I stared anxiously at the clock again. 8:05 PM. Yup, this is going to be a torturously long half hour.
A pair of dull lights in the distance behind him awakened Thaddeus out of his pensive mood. He disregarded it, figuring that he was driving fast enough to not have to worry about the vehicle passing him anyways. After all, he was maintaining 70 miles per hour in a 60 mile per hour zone, clearly enjoying the adroitness of working in unison with the well-handling motorcycle. The thick helmet and rumbling engine cut out any sound of the automobile behind him, and the lights soon vanished. Assuming they were just traveling a bit more leisurely than he was, Thaddeus forgot about the fellow driver and lost himself once again in his cheerful mind.
All of a sudden, two rows of tall, blindingly intense lights glared into his two tiny mirrors as a heavy metal bumper collided into the back of his Ninja. Thaddeus swerved, desperately attempting to stay balanced and upright, but in an instant the entire right side of his body and motorcycle smashed into the front of the large vehicle. In an instant he repositioned himself to roll as soon as he hit the ground. He fell with a heavy grunt, and his bike screeched as the metal scoured the pavement. The tall vehicle straddled both Thaddeus and his Ninja, and came to a squealing stop as soon as it passed over. Thaddeus rolled to a stop and slowly sat up, dizzy and slightly bruised, but otherwise unharmed. He sat on the pavement for a moment, confused at what had happened, and very concerned about the condition of his bike. Looking over, he saw a dirty old van, the same one that he had just seen a few minutes before at the gas station. Odd. The men approached, the taller, blonde one asking frantically if he was OK, while the other gently picked up his Ninja, helmet, and backpack.
“What happened? I saw you approach at first but then it seemed like you came out of nowhere. I’m sorry; I guess I really wasn’t paying attention.” Thaddeus said.
“Naw it was my fault. Sorry kid, we was havin’ trouble with our lights not coming on the whole ways. We got the parkin’ lights on but then they turned off completely, then all of a sudden all of the lights came on. Gotta get this thing looked at I reckon,” The blonde man responded.
“Ya all right there? Looked like ya hit the ground pretty hard,” The shorter man added.
“Oh I see. It’s OK, really. Just want to make sure my motorcycle isn’t damaged. Yeah, I think I’m completely fine actually,” said Thaddeus.
Drawing closer, the tall blonde gave a relieved smile, and said “Good. Glad to see you ain’t hurt. We got all your stuff; here, lemme help ya up.” Thaddeus smiled at his hospitality and concern, and turned to examine the road to see if any of his belongings had fallen out, when the man slammed his shoe into Thaddeus’s unsuspecting head. His skull hit the black pavement with a sickening thud, and everything went black.
I stood on the deck outside, staring across the long driveway for any sign of lights from Thaddeus’s motorcycle. It was 9:30 PM, and I could no longer conceal my alarm. Thaddeus simply doesn’t drive that slowly. There’s no way Blue Falls to Tibbston could have taken him this long. No texts, Nothing. Something’s wrong…I thought to myself as I paced back and forth in the darkness. I turned my phone off and back off, just in case I missed a call or a text somehow. To my disappointment, my refreshed phone showed no unnoticed messages. I sent yet another fretful text, and dialed his cell phone again. Still no answer. Hit redial five more times, still nothing. Maybe he’s still out with Bruce. Maybe he forgot to turn his phone on. I bet I’m just over-reacting. Being the over-obsessive girlfriend, I tried to tell myself. Still…
Minutes passed, and the evening was still dead quiet. My heartbeat was the loudest resonance in the utter silence, quickened and heavy from my extreme unease. The brownies were getting cold inside, and a chilling breeze was creeping into the nighttime air. I shivered, truly worried out of my mind and scared for Thaddeus. I know I shouldn’t jump to conclusions, but it really isn’t like him to take this long and not answer or text. What’s going on?
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