C H A P T E R     T W E N T Y - E I G H T
CALLED OFF*

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       Everyone at the lake was getting exhausted from all of their plexing. The air was hot leaving the people sweaty and agitated. Still nothing had been found.

       Cassandra was emotionally drained. She blamed herself for everything that happened. Everything was happening all at once, her life was pummeling down on top of her.

       “Cassandra, do you want me to drive you home? Jake can drive your car home.” Marlon asked.

       They had found a new place to sit. It was farther away from the reporters and closer to the lake. They sat under a big oak tree in its shade. The tree reminded her of Isaac and her tree behind the school. She leaned up against its thick trunk and reminisced of their frequent visits to ‘Their Tree’.

       “Cassandra?” Marlon waved his hand in front of her.

       Cassandra jumped and looked over at Marlon. “Huh?”

       “We should go home. The police will call us if they find him.”

       Cassandra shook her head.

       “Come on.”

       “No, you can go I’ll stay here.” Cassandra shrugged off Marlon’s hand to help her up.

       “We’re not going to leave you here alone. We all need to get some rest. There’s nothing we can do here now.”

       Cassandra looked into the lake ignoring Marlon. He took the hint and sat back down twirling his thumbs.

       “Cassandra!”

       Cassandra turned around when she heard her name being called. For an instant she thought it was Isaac but then it dawned on her that it was a female voice.

       “Cassandra, oh my gosh. I saw you on the news.” Helen jogged over to her.

       “Helen.” Cassandra stood up. “I’m sorry I left without telling you.” She started to explain.

       “Its no big deal. I’m just glad I found you. How are you doing?” Helen placed her hand on Cassandra shoulder.

       Cassandra shrugged. “I.. I.”

       “Why don’t we sit down?” Helen sat followed by Cassandra.

       “Helen its all my fault. I told him to go away, that I never wanted to see him again. It I hadn’t said that, then he would still be alive.” Cassandra started to sob again.

       “Cassandra, it isn’t your fault.” Helen pulled her into a hug.

       “I just can’t believe this. I came to tell him that he was right all along and that I love him and then... then find out that he got drunk, which he never does, and drowns. What’s going to happen next? And why is it happening to me?”

       Helen pulled her into a tighter hug as she cried into her shirt.

       “Its not your fault Cassandra. He took a wrong turn. He decided to drink, its his own fault and his friends too for letting him do it.” Helen glared at the three boys as they looked to the ground ashamed.

       Soon Cassandra dried her eyes. Helen stayed with the four just sitting and waiting.

*****

       Two police officers were sent to the Hanson house to inform Isaac’s parents of his whereabouts. They had gotten no answer from knocking on the door so they went to Mrs. Hanson work place, Electric Tee’s.

       “Mrs. Hanson?” The officer had asked the bartender where she was and Steve pointed toward a woman waiting a table.

       “Yes?”

       “Can we please talk with you? Its about your son, Isaac?” The officer questioned.

       “Sure, what did he do wrong?” Mrs. Hanson was sure he had gotten in some kind of trouble. She walked them over to an empty corner table.

       “No ma’am, he didn’t do anything wrong.” They assured. “When is the last time you saw your son?”

       “I think it has been three days now.” Mrs. Hanson answered. “What’s all this about.”

       “Well, we have a suspicion that your son drowned late last night in Turtle Rock Lake.” One officer explained.

       “What? Drowned?” Mrs. Hanson worried.

       “Isaac and a few of his friends went camping and last night he and a friend went out on the lake. Isaac’s friend woke up in the boat without Isaac. The police and divers have been searching for him all day.”

       “I can’t believe this. Why didn’t you contact me earlier?” Mrs. Hanson sniffled.

       “We tried your house earlier but no one answered. We had to ask your sons friends where we could find you.”

       “I have to go there.” She choked on her words as she started to take off her half apron.

       “Ma’am, by the time you get up there they would have called off the search for tonight. There’s nothing you can do up there now. Tomorrow they’re going to start over, you should go up then.” The officer informed.

       “Okay, but I can’t stay here.” Mrs. Hanson dropped her apron on the table and walked to the back of the bar, getting her purse and keys. She had to get home and tell her husband, as little as he cared.

*****

       A police officer came up to Helen and Cassandra. His sun glasses were perched high on his nose blocking out the disappearing sun in the distance.

       “Folks, I think you should head home before it gets too late. I wouldn’t want anymore casualties here today.” The officer stated.

       “I don’t want to go.” Cassandra pleaded. “I want to see him. I can’t go until I see his body.”

       “We haven’t found anything yet and the search is about to be called off for tonight.” The officer explained.

       “Called off? Your just going to quit?” Marlon questioned.

       “I’m sorry, there’s nothing I can do about it. We’ve searched almost everywhere.”

       “And what about the places you didn’t search?”

       “We’ll start back up tomorrow morning. I really don’t have a say Miss. If my chief wants to cut it off then that’s what we do.”

       Cassandra gulped back her thoughts and dirty words she wanted to inflict on the officer. She calmly nodded her head.

       The officer convinced them all to go home.

       Marlon offered to drive Cassandras car home because she was in no shape to drive. Helen would have to take her in her car.

       Jake was going to get a ride home from Manny so they both hopped into Manny’s truck. The ride had gone silent for about an hour until Manny couldn’t hold his anger in anymore.

       “You should have been watching him.” Manny spoke irritated.

       “What? I can’t believe you said that. I was drunk, I passed out. How was I supposed to keep an eye on him?” Jake sputtered.

       “You knew her never drank before, you should have just been more careful.”

       “Its not my fault. Marlon pressured him into drinking. I’m not his babysitter for cryin’ out loud.” Jake reminded.

       “Whatever, you should have thought before inviting him on the boat ride to hell.” Manny grumbled.

       “Whatever yourself. I didn’t invite him he invited himself. If I knew he was going to go crazy and jump off and drown I wouldn’t have gone at all.”

       “Did you push him off?” Manny accused.

       “What? Oh yeah, I was so jealous of him I just had to get rid of him. I pushed him off and held his head under the water while I was passed out, dead on my back.” Jake sneered.

       “It could of happened.” Manny snarled at him.

       “Uh huh, right.” Jake mumbled. “Listen Manny, he was my friend too, don’t you think I feel bad enough?”

       “Yeah, your right, its not your fault. I just can’t believe he’s gone.”

       The boys fell back into silence the rest of the ride to Jake’s house.

       “Thanks for the ride man.” Jake muttered as he hoped out of the truck and headed inside his house.

*****

       Helen and Cassandra quietly walked in the house. It was pretty late, Helen was sure that all the kids would be asleep. As Helen switched on the light she saw Brandy laying on the couch, sound asleep. Helen continued to go to the other kids rooms as Cassandra went straight to hers, exhausted. All she could think about was collapsing in her bed and crying.

       Cassandra stopped at her door way. It was a new house to her and she still didn’t feel quite safe. She flicked on the light and peered around her room. After looking around she closed the door behind her and shut off the light. She didn’t even bother to change into her pajamas before plopping down on top of her bed and crying herself to sleep.

*****

       Isaac woke to the sun reaching over the mountain top. He stretched his aching body and gazed at his surroundings. His head throbbed as he began to remember the course of events that lead him here.

       Last night he and Jake had paddled themselves out into the lake. The two teased and laughed at each other until Jake finally passed out. Jake had been so out of it he didn’t tie the oars up and they floated off. Having no way to get to shore but swim, Isaac jumped out of the boat, leaving Jake to sleep it off, and headed to land. He ended up at the wrong end of shore, away from camp and soon passed out in the woods.

       Isaac stumbled his way through the woods and hitch hiked his way back into Tulsa. He didn’t want to see or talk to anyone, he was tired and hung over. He knew he couldn’t go home like that. The only place he could think of going was Cassandra old house. He knew it was empty and no one would bother him there. He got a ride there and broke into the house through a window.

       Too depressed to do anything he climbed up the stairs and into Cassandra’s room. He carefully removed the gown from Cassandra’s bed and laid down. He smelled Cassandra’s blankets and pillows breathing in her strong hypnotic scent. He curled himself up in the blankets and lay his head on her pillows falling into a deep asleep.

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[Chapter 29] [Index] [My Stories]
[Green Eggs And Hanson]


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© 1999 Alana Gustafson