Elijah looked at the red rectangular game Drake had handed to him. He wasn’t sure he could do this, but he had to try. Along with clothes and underwear and other personal stuff, Drake had bought him a video game. Drake had bought one for himself, too, plus several games for each system.
“Have you ever played a video game, Buddy?”
Frowning, Elijah shook his head. He wanted Drake to quit calling him Buddy. He had a name. Buddy was the name you’d give a dog or, maybe, a horse. He wanted to tell Drake his real name, but his father had trained him to stay silent in front of strangers. He’d gotten so good at staying quiet that he even quit talking to his father. His father talked and he listened. It was just easier that way. He never knew if a mistimed question or remark would set his father off, so he learned to stay quiet. It was a hard habit to break.
He looked around the living room. It was quiet and peaceful with pale yellow walls and furniture. Blue and yellow throw pillows dotted the couch and the arm chair by the fireplace. He felt safe here. He cleared his throat. Drake was opening one of the video games, but paused when he heard Elijah clear his throat. He looked at Elijah expectantly.
Elijah cleared his throat again. He hadn’t spoken in so long he couldn’t find his voice. He decided to whisper.
Drake leaned closer.
“I’m listening, Buddy.”
Elijah took a deep breath.
“My name is…is…Elijah.”
Drake smiled. “Elijah? Your name is Elijah?”
“Good job, Bu…Elijah. I’m sorry I was calling you Buddy. I could have called you Honey or Sweetie, instead, but I thought Buddy would be a good nickname.”
Elijah looked at Drake’s smiling face and realized that Drake was teasing him. For the first time in a long time, Elijah smiled.
He drove the lady’s Honda into the hills outside of Fruita. The county was rocky and desolate, but he needed to get away from the town and think. He needed a place to hide, preferably a place with food and water, so he could hunker down and come up with a plan. The woman had finally told him what he had needed to know before she died. He admired her. She had held out a long time before she gave in to the fear and pain. Most women would have cracked long before she did, but she was a woman after all. She had finally submitted to him.
If he could trust her, the man found out that the boy was staying with the Sheriff. He was relieved to hear that. He didn’t want his boy locked up behind bars, but he wasn’t too pleased to have him live with the Sheriff, either. Why hadn’t they sent him to some foster home or a group home? He could get the boy away from people like that. Most foster parents didn’t give a damn about the children they took in. They just wanted the money. They would leave the boy alone eventually or let him outside unsupervised and he could’ve taken him. Not the Sheriff, though. She was going to keep her eye on the boy. She wasn’t trying to help him. She just wanted him to tell her what he knew. He knew his boy, though. His boy would never talk to the likes of her. He had trained him too well. He would remember his lessons and stay silent.
He came to a gravel road. It looked like someone maintained it. Maybe, there was a cabin he could break into. He turned down the road. The road was lined with evergreen trees and grassy fields stretched to either side of the rode. He could see the outcroppings of red rock behind the property. The road ended in the front yard of a small cabin. A pick-up truck was parked in front of the cabin and the front door was open. Someone was home, but he could deal with that. This was his lucky day. A shelter with running water and food. He would be all right now. After parking the silver car to the side of the cabin, he grabbed a tire iron out of the trunk. Silently, he stepped into the front door of his new cabin.