Things happened too fast for Benny to think right. They lost Grace and the Black Pearl had a flat tire and the bad man kept shooting at them. Dad pushed him toward a pile of big rocks and yelled at him to "Hide!" The look in his eyes told Benny not to argue, just do it. He squatted behind the rocks and heard his dad shout, "I'll be back!"
Just like the Terminator.
Benny peeked out from his hiding place and saw his dad run away with the bag, his long legs flying like the wind blows. Benny never saw him run so fast before. He heard the silver car coming and ducked low. He held his breath so the bad man wouldn't hear him. It had to be the man named Johnny. He must have bought a new car after the red one got shot up. Benny worried that Johnny might try to hurt him because of what he did. He heard the car stop and the door open. It sounded like Johnny was messing with the Black Pearl, probably looking for his money. But Benny knew he wouldn't find it.
Johnny said a bad word – said it three times – then got back into his new car and drove away fast, spinning his wheels in the dirt. Small pebbles flew over to Benny's hiding spot and bounced off his helmet. When it got quiet, Benny snuck around the rocks, keeping low in case Johnny tried to trick him.
"Oh, man." Johnny threw their clothes all over the place. One of Grace's pretty blouses was wadded up on the ground, getting dirty. Benny shook it off and put it back in the saddlebag. Everything needed to be folded again. They might have to find another Laundromat.
A sharp sound echoed off the rock walls and made him jump. A gunshot.
Johnny's shooting at Dad! I need to save him!
But Dad told him to stay put. He might get in trouble and make things worse if he didn't do the right thing.
Don't be a stupid boy! Think!
Then he remembered how he could sometimes make his thoughts happen. Sometimes. If he thought hard enough. A long time ago he saw somebody in a movie, a boy younger than him, send messages that way. He couldn't remember the name of the movie, but he understood about sending. He tried it before, with easy things mostly. One time he really, really wanted pizza for dinner and Mama said, "It's too hot to cook. Let's order pizza!" Another time a mean boy at the Country Buffet made Benny trip and drop his food and called him a dummy. Benny hated him. He couldn't stop thinking about how much he hated the mean boy sitting two tables away. He stared at him while they ate. And then it happened. The boy grabbed his throat like he couldn't breathe. The boy's father shouted and squeezed his son hard from the back and the boy barfed all over the table. At first it made Benny happy. But after awhile it gave him an icky feeling. He decided he didn't like being mean, even when he had a good reason.
The bad man shooting at Dad was a good reason, but Benny had a better idea.
He would have to take off his motorcycle helmet so his thoughts could get out. He struggled to unbuckle the strap. Usually Dad or Grace helped him. The harder he tried, the clumsier his fingers got. The heat made him feel weak and he wanted to give up. Tears pushed at the corners of his eyes.
You can't cry! Dad needs you! Stop being a baby!
Benny made himself concentrate and slow down, like Dad always told him to do, and the buckle let go. He pulled the helmet off and ran his fingers through his short, damp hair. The air felt good. He hung his helmet off the motorcycle's handlebar. The sun burned the top of his head so he untied his pirate hat from its place above the headlight and put it on, making sure it rested low in front to shade his eyes. It wasn't as thick as the helmet so his thoughts would be able to get through okay.
He sat cross-legged in the shade of the bike, closed his eyes tight and pictured his dad in his mind. Tall and strong. Not strong like the Terminator, but strong like rope. He had short brown hair, like Benny's, but with lots of gray. His blue eyes were smart and true and had the knowing of a lot of things. His smile warmed Benny's insides like hot rolls fresh from the oven.
Mama called him handsome.
Benny's mind wandered at the thought of his mama. He missed her. He missed her hugs. He missed her "nighty night, sleep tight." He missed her fried chicken. He hurt inside sometimes, he missed her so bad.
But he didn't have time to think about Mama right now. He had to help Dad. He imagined a movie screen in his head and saw Dad running. Faster and faster, Benny pictured his long legs flying like he had wings on his feet.
Run, Dad! Run like the wind blows!
He repeated it. Run, Dad! But it didn't feel right. Benny remembered how fast the car moved and he knew his dad couldn't run fast enough, no matter how hard he wanted it to be so. He might not be the smartest boy in town, but he knew that much. He changed his message.
Get down, Dad! He's coming! Get small!
Benny heard another shot. He squeezed his eyes so tight it made his face hurt. He sent the message again and again.
Get down! Get small!
A giant bird – an eagle – flew into his thoughts. He didn't know where it came from. It dived, then went up high, its wings spread wide. Benny felt its strength. Its courage. He felt the wind on its face. It turned its head to look down and Benny realized he could see what it saw, like he was inside the eagle, looking through its big yellow eyes. He saw a man staring up at them. Daddy. The eagle told Benny it would keep his daddy safe. Then it gave a squeaky cackle, and Benny opened his eyes. He felt calm inside because he knew he did all he could.
He rolled to his hands and knees, then straightened his stiff legs and pushed his butt into the air. He popped off a fart that sounded funny through his leather pants. A popcorn fart, his dad would call it. Benny giggled.
He stood and a shiver went through him. He'd seen this place before, in the movies. Thelma and Louise drove through here. John Wayne. The Lone Ranger. It made him feel small, but not in a bad way. If he listened really hard, he could hear the rock walls sing to him. Soft, beautiful words he didn't know, over and over. Chanting. He remembered watching a TV show with Mama about Indians that lived in cliffs just like these years and years ago. He heard the beat of a drum. Then many drums. This place is magic. He looked to the ridges, expecting to see Indians watching, but that only happened in the movies.
When he looked back down, he saw something a ways away that didn't seem like it should be there. He squinted at it for a long time. It looked like the roof of a house.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish