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Date Posted: 13:19:42 04/16/05 Sat
Author: Diane
Subject: Chapter 3 - Alternate Version
In reply to: Diane 's message, "Okay - Chapter 3" on 11:09:59 04/04/05 Mon

Does this work better?

Okay – Chapter 3

For the first time ever, Michael let Adam drink a large Pepsi. He was counting on the caffeine to keep him awake long enough for them to talk. So far, it seemed to be working. Adam had never been in a bar before, and the rows of bottles behind the counter fascinated him. Michael explained how the bartender kept the foam from overflowing the beer mugs, hoping to start a dialogue. It worked. Adam started to ask another question when Michael leaned back in his chair and said nonchalantly, “I quit my job the other day.”

“You did?” Adam seemed marginally interested.

“Yes. That’s why we’re moving to Canada.”

“Are you going to sell things there instead of Europe?” Adam asked, becoming bored. He yawned.

Michael looked around the room dramatically, leaned forward, whispered conspiratorially, “Can you keep a secret?”

That piqued Adam’s interest. “Yes,” he answered hesitantly.

“I mean it Adam. This is a really big secret.”

Adam looked at him and snapped, “I’m not a kid anymore, Dad. I’m six. I know how to keep a secret.”

Michael kept his face a blank mask, though he wanted to burst out laughing. Adam reminded him so much of Nikita at that moment. “Okay,” he agreed, beckoning Adam closer. “I never was a business man. I never sold stuff. I was just pretending.”

“What did you do really?” asked Adam, taking the bait.

“I was a Super-cop,” Michael said solemnly.

“Dad-dy!” Adam said, irritated, pushing back from the table.

“I’m totally serious, Adam. I worked for a place that caught the baddest of the bad guys.”

“Do you have super powers?” asked Adam skeptically.

“No,” said Michael, shaking his head. “I’m a real person. Just like you.”

“But you do,” Adam reminded him. “You came back from Heaven!”

Michael took a deep breath. This was where it was going to get dicey. “I need you to pay close attention, Adam.” The boy nodded. “I never went to Heaven. I just pretended.”

Adam was adamant on this point. “No. I saw you in the ground. Me and Mommy and Nikita said prayers and everything.”

“That wasn’t me, Adam. That was an empty box.” Adam shook his head. Michael took his hands. “I need you to be very grown up Adam, and listen to every word I say. Can you do that?”

Adam nodded his head, brown eyes locked into green.

“Grandpa died in the hospital, Adam. Not me. Another super-cop shot Grandpa because he was one of those really, really bad guys.”

“But they shot you, too!” Adam protested. “Mommy said you got real sick and died, but I saw it on the news. It said you and Grandpa both got shot!”

“It looked like we did,” Michael confirmed, stroking Adam’s black hair, trying to calm the agitated boy, “but the bullet that shot me wasn’t real. It was just pretend. We had to play make-believe so that no bad guys would hurt you or Mommy if they came to look for me.

“But if you’re a super-cop, why didn’t you stay and protect us?” cried Adam plaintively. “Why did you make me and Mommy think you died? Mommy cried every day! She didn’t think I knew, but I did. She said I was the man of the house and I had to be strong and be a big boy. But it was a lie! YOU lied! You went away and didn’t come back, but you were hiding from us the whole time! I hate you!”

Adam climbed down from his chair and tried to slip away. Michael grasped him around the waist and waited till he had stopped struggling before pulling Adam firmly against him. He wouldn’t sit in Michael’s lap, but he wasn’t squirming to get away anymore, so Michael took that as a sign to continue.

“I had to go away, Adam. The bad guys knew I was a super-cop now, and if I came home, they might have tried to come after me and accidentally hurt you and Mommy.” His voice grew softer, and Adam leaned against Michael’s chest. “It broke my heart, Adam, not seeing you and Mommy, but I had to go away and hide to keep you safe. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do.”

“Did Mommy know Grandpa was bad?” Adam asked softly, finally buying into the story.

“No, she didn’t. It would have been dangerous if she knew.”

Michael pulled Adam slowly onto his lap. The boy was weeping openly now. “Was-was Mommy a Super-cop, too?” has asked hesitantly, already knowing the answer.

“No, Adam. Mommy really died in a car accident. She really is in heaven. He ordered another coffee and another Pepsi from the bar. He and Adam were far from finished.

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