Samuel Takes a Trip – Part V – Conclusion
“Hum,” Jeremy looked thoughtful. “That might give us enough time. Now get your dumb tiger and let’s take a walk.” Jeremy scribbled a note to his mom to stick on the fridge. Eagerly Samuel jumped up and grabbed his tiger. He stuffed it into his backpack and the two boys slipped out the back door.
Over the next few hours, the boys took turns practicing with the tiger and trying to transport various items like the hardball and the mitt from place to place. They discovered that the tiger only responded to Samuel but that he could pull Jeremy along with him if they were touching. Samuel had to clearly visualize where they were going to go and pop! They were there. The tiger was not as sophisticated as the portal created by their Uncle Al. The one he was using to transport garbage in the Pacific Ocean.
Tired but satisfied with their results, the two boys got home in time to help set the table for dinner.
“Where have you been?” Alice Beans asked them with a slight frown.
“I left you a note, Mom. On the fridge, said we were at the park.”
Alice stepped over the notepad on the refrigerator. “So, you did,” she nodded. “Please go wash your hands first and then help me.”
Jeremy and Samuel scooted into their bedroom, dropped their backpacks. Samuel carefully placed the tiger back in the bedside drawer and closed it. The two did a knuckle bump and headed to wash up.
Later, as they were turning in, Samuel turned to his brother. “Jer, when do you want to do it?”
“Do what, Samuel?” Jeremy was perplexed.
“Go get Alex.”
“Yeah, go get Alex. That was what we were practicing for, right?” Samuel asked, screwing his face up.
“Well, I guess so.” Jeremy settled back into his twin bed and pulled up the covers. “I just didn’t know you wanted to do it so soon. I mean…Jeeze.”
“Ah, Jeremy,” Samuel whined.
“Come one, let me think on it a little, will you?” Jeremy’s muffled voice came from under his pillow followed by a snore.
Samuel gave a little sigh. He pulled open the drawer where the tiger lay and stroked its side. “Night ‘ol thing,” he whispered and soon, he too was asleep.
Things were to unfold rapidly that would change their minds.
The following day, Jeremy and Samuel rode their bikes home from school as usual and walked into the kitchen to find Jane sitting at the kitchen table. She was being comforted by their mother and once again was crying. The boys tiptoed past and went put their backpacks down. Reversing direction, they both came back to get drinks out of the fridge and stopped, leaning against the kitchen counter.
“…and they are going to move him and won’t tell us where. The State Department won’t agree to their demands. I don’t know what….” more sobbing.
“Jane, I am sure they are doing everything…”
“They are doing nothing!” Jane exclaimed. “They don’t care a bit. I heard one man call him a liberal loony.”
Alice Beans looked shocked.
“He did, he did. I heard him.” Jane’s head was down and her shoulders shook with emotion.
Jeremy sipped his Gatorade and jerked his head at Samuel. Samuel followed him out of the kitchen and back into their room.
“Well, I guess we are going to have to do this thing,” Jeremy said with some resignation.
“What does that mean, ‘they are going to move him’? Samuel asked.
“It means they are moving him from that prison that he has been in, the one in the photograph.”
“Oh,” Samuel said his eyes getting big.
“And, if I get this right, to use your little tiger, you have to be able to see the location in your head, pretty much.”
“Yeah,” Samuel said, “that’s right.”
“So, in short, they move him to someplace else, no photo, we don’t know where he is and you won’t be able to see the new place in your head.”
“Ah,” Samuel said, understanding.
“So, tonight or nothing right?”
Samuel nodded and they did another knuckle bump.
That evening Samuel and Jeremy both turned in early. “To be ready for soccer practice tomorrow,” Jeremy told their parents with a little finger wave. Alice and David nodded and went back to watching their TV show.
They went into their room and got ready for bed but left their street clothes on. Jeremy turned off the bedroom light. In about an hour, Dad came by and opened the door to check on them, then closed the door. They both jumped up.
They grabbed backpacks that already had water, snacks and sweaters inside. Each boy stuffed pillows under the blankets to look like bodies. Jeremy got the tiger out of the drawer. Samuel had the newspaper article and stared at it hard. Jeremy held onto Samuel’s backpack strap and Samuel said “Take me to Alex.”
There was a whirling, sucking sound and both boys could feel themselves spinning. It lasted a few moments and they landed hard on concrete flooring. They staggered up. The area was dark and felt cool and almost damp, like something underground. The floor and walls were dark green cement, peeling in places. There were old halogen lights placed every few feet that flickered dimly. Distant sounds of conversation could be heard. Samuel had the tiger tightly held in one hand. Jeremy began to creep toward the sound and motioned Samuel to follow.
The conversations they heard were coming from jail cells around the corner from where they landed. There were dozens of cells with men in each. The men talked to each other in Arabic.
Samuel felt panic. How were they going to know which was which? His mind raced.
They hung back and just listened.
Then they heard “How many times do I have to ask you butt heads for water? I’m thirsty here!”
Jeremy turned to Samuel and smiled. They nodded to each other. Jeremy peeked around the corner. There was a guard at the far cell, pouring some water into a little bowl the man held out. “Alex,” he mouthed to Samuel.
Looking again, Jeremy saw the guard leave. He motioned to Samuel. They crept around the corner and then ran together toward the last cell.
“Alex, Alex,” they both whispered at the same time.
An incredibly dirty Alex Smithers turned toward them. “Jeremy, Samuel? What the hell? How did you…?” The men in the other cells started to yell at them.
Jeremy grabbed Samuel’s wrist with the tiger and said “Grab the tiger.”
“What? I don’t understand…” Alex was stuttering.
There were sounds of boots running toward them.
Samuel looked over his shoulder. “Jeremy, they’re coming.”
Jeremy took a quick look back and blanched. He looked forward “Grab the tiger.”
“Grab the tiger!” Jeremy screamed. Alex reached out and grabbed hold of the tiger. Samuel pressed his eyes together tightly just as a bullet whizzed past his ear.
There was the sucking sound and spinning feeling and the boys landed on white linoleum. It was early evening and they were in Uncle Al’s laboratory.
Uncle Al’s assistant, James, was sitting at a lab table staring at them.
“Jeremy, Samuel….what? And who’s that?” the young man looked stunned.
“James, great!” Jeremy tugged on Alex’s dirty jacket and pulled him over the mystified lab assistant.
“Where did you…?” James was still staring at them.
“James, this is Alex. Alex this is James.” The two young men nodded to each other. “James, he will tell you all about it. The only thing is,” Jeremy whispered in James’ ear, “this has to be all Uncle Al’s doing. Not us. Kay?”
James was open mouthed but slowly nodded up and down.
“Alright then. We got to get home before…” he looked at Samuel. “You know.”
Samuel nodded. He held the tiger out, Jeremy grabbed the tail and Samuel pressed his eyes together and imagined a house in the suburbs and two twin beds.
A week later, Samuel and Jeremy were out in the front drive of their house. The garage door was closed and they were practicing a little pick-up with the baseball hoop. As the orange ball did a rat-ta-tat on the cement, Alex Smithers casually strolled down the street and into their drive.
“Can I watch?”
“Alex!” Samuel ran over and gave him a hug. “You’re back!”
“I am and in one piece. Thanks guys. Don’t know what you did or how you did it…”
Jeremy passed the baseball over to Alex. “Our little secret Alex, ‘kay?”
“Okay by me. And, for the record,” Alex made a basket. “What I did was pretty stupid. Scared my mother half to death.”
Samuel and Jeremy exchanged glances.
“How ‘bout this, Alex,” Jeremy grabbed the ball, “maybe you don’t do it again.”
“You are on buddy!” Alex gave them a lopsided grin and ran for the ball.
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