Samuel Takes a Trip – Part V

One week later, David and Tyler Beans were busy fiddling with their new security system at the backdoor. They were running back and forth testing the box and yelling commands at each other. Jeremy and Samuel were in the kitchen doing dishes. It was early Indian summer and the weather had not made up its mind for the day. Heavy clouds hung in the air, threatening rain. Bits of blue sky kept peeking through as the clouds moved lazily across the sky. The cicadas had stopped their summer hum, monsoon season was definitely upon Arizona.

Alice Beans was finishing her coffee, reading the Sunday paper. There was a knock on the door leading to the garage. The garage door was open and people frequently came into the house that way instead of through the front door.

“I’ll get it,” Samuel raced around the counter top to the door. He pushed the door open and Jane Symthers, Sean’s mother, from down the street was standing there.

“Samuel, is your mom home?” she asked. Samuel pointed inside.

Alice looked up and put down her cup. “Jane?”

Jane came in looking frazzled. Her eyes were red rimmed and she had a handkerchief stuck in one hand. She kept dabbing at her eyes with the soggy thing. In the other hand, a copy of the Tucson News! could be seen.

“What is it, Darling? Oh, come have a seat.” Alice showed Jane to a kitchen chair and sat her down. “Jer, would you get Jane a cup of coffee?” The boy raced to comply.

Putting an arm around her friend’s shoulder, she gave her a little pat. “What the heck….?”

Jane started to cry. “I know I shouldn’t…it’s too early…it’s just…”

Alice Beans looked confused but waited. The woman accepted the hot cup and took a sip and seemed to collect herself a bit. She pushed the paper over to Alice and tapped a photo. “It’s Alex.”

Alice read and her eyes got wide. The article read ‘Alex Symthers, of Tucson, Arizona, has been captured by the army in Syria. The young man, twenty years old and a student at the U of A, had gone to help assist the Kurd forces in that country who are fighting for their independence. He had gotten into the country on a humanitarian mission for Kurdish refugees and apparently decided to join the fight. It is unknown at this time…’

Alice had a finger on the article and said “Oh, my,” and looked up at Jane. “So, what…”

“Oh, it’s so stupid.” Jane took a big gulp of air. “He was only supposed to be there for two weeks, humanitarian thing for the refugees, you know. ‘I’ll be back before you know it, mom. You won’t even miss me.’ And Jim encouraged him.” She started to weep again. By this time Jeremy and Samuel had both put down the dishes and had drifted over to the table. They sat, staring at Jane, mouths open. Even David and Tyler had slowed down their mechanical endeavors to glance over.

“What happens now?” Alice made some frantic ‘come here’ motions to her husband.

David meandered over, grabbed another cup of coffee and took a seat.

“We contacted the State Department. They told us he was on a temporary visa and was only supposed to be there a short while and the visa has expired.”

“So, what does that mean?” Alice asked, a hand over her friend’s hand.

“It means he is now there illegally. Plus, he was told over and over not to go there to begin with, to stick to his group and come right back. They’re saying there’s nothing they can do. He is not military, he was not there for them or any American group. So, they won’t try to find him.”

“The humanitarian group?” Alice asked.

“It was a group out of Scotland, Alex got involved with when he was there last summer taking some classes. You remember that, right?”

Alice nodded. She had been a little jealous that her friend and her university professor husband could afford to send their kid on such a great trip.

“It’s just a group of do-gooders. They don’t have any money. And now, the Syrians wont even let us into the country. They say we’re a risk.” Jane started crying again.

Alice looked over at her husband. He raised his eyebrows and gave a shrug.

“I’ve got to get back,” Jane took another big breath. “Jim’s at home waiting to get a phone call. He is trying to get help from some friends he knows in the Middle East. I just don’t…”

Alice got up with Jane and smoothed her back. “I’ll talk to David and see if there is anything…”

“Oh, thanks, Alice. You two have always been such good friends. This is just so stupid.” The women continued out the garage door and on outside.

“Wow,” said Tyler in an understatement. “That really sucks. For him, I mean,” he looked at his father.

“Yeah, it really does suck, for him,” David Beans took another sip of coffee, “and them. Let’s get this darn thing finished, okay Ty, wanted to get to the park and toss a few.”

“Yeah!” Tyler jumped up and ran to get the security system fully armed.

Jeremy got up and went to finish the dishes. “Too bad for him, I guess. Wow, and I always thought Alex was the smart one.” His head bent over the dishwasher.

“Yeah, too bad.” Samuel still sat at the table and slid his hand over to the newspaper article Jane had left. He pulled the black and white picture toward himself and looked at it more closely.  It was clearly a picture of Alex Symthers. He was holding up a newspaper and the writing was in

Arabic. The date on the paper was from a few days ago. “Yeah…” Samuel got up slowly and took the picture back to his bedroom. Alex was the older brother to Sean, Samuel’s best friend. Yeah, it was really too bad.


For several days, Samuel got up, got dressed and went to school on his bike with his two brothers as he always did. He had started putting his special gold tiger into the drawer of the table next to his bed. Since he had realized the tiger was another portal, he decided to handle it with more care. He discovered that he didn’t have as many bad dreams this way. He couldn’t understand why in the world this was, but as much as he loved the tiger, he liked to sleep too.

On the third day after Jane’s visit, he was riding home. Sean was next to him on his bike and Jeremy had pulled far in front.

“…and my mom is so upset and my dad too. They won’t even go to work now. Just sit around at home, waiting for phone calls. My mom never stops crying.”

Samuel nodded his head sympathetically.

“My brother is such an idiot!” Sean finally said in a resentful tone. “He is always going off and doing something dumb, like this. I hate him!”

Samuel jerked his head around and almost tipped his bike over. He had never heard his friend talk like this.  

“Always thinks he is so special. Top grades, top classes, top everything and now this!” Sean’s eyes were angry narrow slits.

Samuel was surprised again. He had always thought Sean was proud of his big brother. This was something new. They got to their street. Samuel had planned to ask Sean in to finish homework and watch TV. But now…

“Ah, got to go, Sean. Mom wants me to do some stuff. See you tomorrow, ‘kay?”

“Sure,” Sean responded with a surly tone.  The kid yanked his bike in the direction of home.

A thoughtful Samuel rode into the driveway and got off his bike. He walked it into the garage. He was thinking. “Mom, I’m home,” he yelled as he came in and dropped his pack. There was no response.

He immediately went to the fridge to pull out a drink and a snack. A little post-it note read ‘Back by dinner time, XOXO, Mom.’

“Humpt,” he intoned and opened the green Gatorade and started to slurp it down. Tearing open a package of rolled fruit, he started to stuff the Berry Delight! into his mouth. He meandered down the hall to his bedroom and flopped on his bed. The newspaper article was still there. He stared at it a long time. An idea started to form in his brain. What if? He pulled the tiger out of the drawer and stared at it and then back at the picture. What if it really works, all the time?

Samuel wanted to test out his new theory but was afraid to do it by himself. What if something went wrong? Where was Jeremy?

Impatiently he waited for his older brother to come home. Soon, he heard shouting from the drive and Jeremy was yelling goodbye to his friends. The back door opened and closed and Samuel could hear the sound of the fridge opening again. He got up and went to the door.

“Jeremy? That you?”

“Who else would it be, Freddie Kreuger?” Jeremy appeared around the corner of the hall, also gulping Gatorade and eating nuts. He saw his brother’s face. “What?”

Jeremy motioned him into the bedroom and then closed the door behind them.

“You won’t believe this.” Samuel told his brother all about the tiger, the dreams and what he now thought the tiger really was. “See, that is why those guys, in the dream, wanted it so badly. They knew what it could do and they were willing to do anything to get it.”

Jeremy nodded his head slowly. “Okay, I’m seeing your point. Now…?”

Samuel grabbed the article about Alex and tapped it with his finger. “What if, what if …we can get him back?” He was almost breathless with excitement.

It took Jeremy a moment to comprehend what Samuel was saying. Then, “Oh, no, Samuel. Not the portal again! I thought we were done with all that, since the last time on the boat, with Uncle Al and all that…” He swigged his drink. Jeremy was referring to the adventure on Uncle Al’s ocean rig where a so-called employee tried to steal Uncle Al’s working portal.

“Jeremy,” Samuel kept tapping the picture. “You heard what Sean’s mom said. They won’t let him out. Who knows what will happen. They might ki…”

“Hold on, Partner. I doubt very much anyone will do that. They probably want to ransom him or something.”

“I know, Jer, but he’s…our friend.” Samuel stared at the picture again.

Jeremy swigged more Gatorade and thought. “You don’t even know if this tiger of yours really works. It was just a dream, right?”

“But it so, so real, Jer. So, real.”

“Tell you what.” Jeremy sat his drink down. “Why don’t we do like real scientists and run an experiment? That’s all. Just an experiment.”

Samuel nodded his head eagerly.

“Where’s Mom?” Jeremy asked.

“She left a note. She’ll be back for dinner.”

“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.

Continues to VI

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