This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
This story is copyrighted by Parker Sheaffer, all rights reserved. Distribution, including but not limited to: posting on internet sites, newsgroups, or message boards, or in book form (either as a whole or part of a compilation), or on CD, DVD or any other electronic media, is expressly prohibited without the author's written consent.
A week later, at school, Simon heard a group of kids talking and one asked, "Where's Jake Whitman? I haven't seen him at school this week."
"Haven't you heard? He got kidnapped. He was on his way home after school last Friday and he never got there. The police and everybody's looking for him but nobody saw anything. It's like he just vanished. I think he got took and they probably killed him by now."
"Why do you think that?"
"'cause that's the way it is on the news all the time. Some kid gets took and they find them dead. Sometimes they get took right out their bedrooms at night. Somebody climbs through the window and that's it."
"God, I hope not. Poor Jake."
Simon knew he had a job to do. He talked to Alex after lunch and said, "We have to find him. Let's walk the neighborhood between here and his house and maybe I'll find something."
"Yeah, great. Poor Jake. But you... we'll find him. Just let me get something, okay?" Alex went to his locker and took out a white tee shirt and held it up for Simon to see. Across the front of it he had drawn a thin straight line with a red laundry marker.
"Like it?" he asked.
"I don't get it. What does it mean?"
"It's a laser beam. See, a straight red line."
Simon laughed and said, "I see it now. It's pretty subtle, though."
"Well, I didn't want to just write 'Laser' in big letters." He put on the shirt, proud to be Captain Justice's sidekick.
It was ten blocks to Jake's house. The streets in that part of the neighborhood were normal, tree lined residential streets with sidewalks and people were outside mowing their lawns or watering flowers. It was hardly a sinister looking place so it seemed odd that Jake could get snatched from here. He didn't think Jake was the kind to just get in a car with a stranger because they had heard the lectures at school about being careful and Jake wasn't dumb. Retracing their steps back toward the school Simon stopped and closed his eyes and let his thoughts go free. A moment later an image flashed in his mind, a picture of a white van and a drug store that looked familiar. It looked like Watson's.
"Come on, Alex, I mean Laser. I think we have to go this way." They took off down a side street for three blocks and then they turned the corner to Watson's drug store. They went inside and looked around. It was an older store and not very big inside. There were no customers, only an elderly man standing behind the counter reading a book.
"Excuse us, sir. We're looking for our friend who's missing. I think he might have come in here last Friday. Have you seen this boy?"
Alex held out a flier with Jake's picture on it.
The man looked at the picture and said, "Looks familiar. I think he comes in sometimes to buy candy. Yes, that's him. I never really talked to him, just sold him Snickers bars. He missing, you say? Run away?"
"We don't think so. Everyone thinks he got kidnapped."
"Kidnapped? In our neighborhood? That's hard to believe. It's never happened before."
Simon asked, "What about a white van. Have you seen one lately?"
"Well now, that I have seen. There's a couple of fellows that come in here to buy cigarettes and they drive a white van. It's an older model, kinda beat up."
"Do you know where they live?"
"I saw them go down the street that way. It can't be far 'cause I think they live in the area. You know, they're pretty scruffy looking young fellas, too. Maybe dangerous. You think they had something to do with it?"
"Maybe. Thanks Mister."
The boys took off in the direction the man had indicated and a half dozen blocks later Simon stopped in front of a run down old two story house. He could see the end of a white van sticking out from behind the house.
"Alex, I want you to wait here. I have to check this out. It could be dangerous."
"I'm not afraid. It's dangerous for you, too."
"Not as much. They won't see me."
Simon vanished and Alex jumped. It was still a surprise to see him (or not see him) do it.
"Rats," Alex thought again, "I wish I could do that."
Simon stood outside a basement window, trying to feel who might be inside the house but he wasn't getting anything. First he peeked through the dirty little basement window, but didn't see anything helpful. He was going to have to go in so he pushed on the window and it swung open easily. He crawled through and dropped into the dusty, junk filled room. It was mainly occupied by a big old furnace that sat looking cold and rusty. He climbed the stairs and opened the door which led into the hallway upstairs. The sound of voices caused him to pause. They were coming from the kitchen.
"You can chop the carrots, just be careful with that knife and don't cut yourself. Watch your fingers."
"I will." That was Jake's voice. "What time will dinner be ready?"
"The stew will take about an hour to cook. Why, is my little brother getting hungry?"
"You bet I am. You don't know how hard it's been to get enough food these past few years."
"I know it's been hard on you Jake. Mom was never a very good mother to either of us. I figured you would run away like I did, sooner or later."
Simon sighed with relief and snuck back out of the house. There were obviously problems in Jake's family that were too complex for his abilities. He was wise enough to know when to let others take care of things. This was obviously not a job for Captain Justice and Laser.