The Search (Part 1)
Galveston Island, Texas, January, 2008
Brian stood on the balcony of the Commodore watching waves roll gently into shore. A seagull perched atop the light pole as if searching for something or someone, too. Two lone silhouettes came into view through his binocular lens as they strolled leisurely along the quiet beach on Seawall Blvd. He adjusted his lens to get a better look, but could see nothing in them that looked familiar.
He’d taken a leave from the company to continue his search. Faces in crowds, shops and hangouts, news reports, phone and address directories, Internet records: all produced nothing that led Brian to believe Jed was still alive, but nothing either had proven him dead. Showing strangers a picture of his son, leaving flyers, talking to those who knew their local clientele came up empty too. Hope diminished each day as time dragged on. Still, he gave every contact his business card with his cell phone number.
It had been months since hurricane Ike hit the gulf coast on September 13. Galveston received the worst damage with the largest number of reported deaths and missing. At times the surf washed up debris on shore that had been swept out to sea during the storm, even the remains of a body as the sea gave up its dead. He’d given the authorities all the information he could, even recent pictures of Jed that would aid them in the search, or identifying his remains if it came to that. One photo showed Jed standing beside his surfboard with the image of a huge orange sun hovering over a turquoise sea and a shark fin protruding up from its depths. Was there one waiting for Jed that day? Or was it the tenacious, unrelenting jaws of the sea that swallowed him, instead?
According to Jed’s friends at Texas A&M he went out alone in the water that night before it came to shore. There had been hurricane warnings and alerts posted for the entire gulf coast days earlier. Jed didn’t have the sense to get out when evacuations had begun. No one saw him after that day. He was always chasing after the next big wave or adventure. His friends knew when to quit, find shelter or evacuate. But, not Jed. He would swim out, climb the swells to surging, frothy whitecaps, and ride them back to shore. It was to him, “the perfect ride.”
Brian’s thoughts drifted like the incoming tide when his cell phone rang, and he realized he was still holding the binoculars staring at nothing now but the open sea. The sun had risen to its place in the sky, the darkness less pervading. “Hello?”
“Mr. Mathews?” the voice said.
“Yes. Who’s this?”
“My name is Walt Gibbons. I’m a bartender at O’Reilly’s Grill on Seawall Blvd. I wasn’t working when you were in, but saw the flyer you left here. I have a friend who rooms with a guy that looks like the one in the photo of your son…”
“Yes, go on. Do you know him? Where can I find him?”
“I met him once, Billy’s roommate, that is. But don’t know him well. He came in here with Billy when I was working. He said his name was Paul, or something like that. I called Billy and told him about the photo of your son, and asked if it could be him.”
“What did he say?”
“Billy said Paul doesn’t talk much about that day, can’t remember it, or anything before that, where he lived, or what he did; says he doesn’t talk about his past, or having any family. Kind of weird. I have to admit at first I was kind of suspicious of you when I heard that. I mean, who would just forget things about themselves like that, you know? I wondered if he was running from someone or scared. But, then Billy told me something else about Paul…”
“What? What did he say?”
“Well, it was about him having suffered some kind of amnesia or concussion during the storm.”
“How did Billy meet him?”
“Billy has an apartment in Houston, but came down after the hurricane as a volunteer to help with recovery and locate the missing. Paul was one of those found after the storm.”
Brian hurriedly scribbled down the address and phone number Walt gave him. When he called the number, “Billy” answered. Brian identified himself, told him about the search for his missing son, and a meeting was arranged.
He pulled into a parking lot at the address given him. He knew better than to get his hopes up, and be disappointed again. He had photos, even some sentimental things of Jed’s with him. He picked up the backpack and walked up a flight of steps to the second floor entrance of the apartment building and walked down to # 9, and buzzed the apartment.
Billy answered the door. “Come in Mr. Matthews. I don’t know if Paul is your son, but when you told me a little about him and his obsession for surfing, things made more sense. He’s in his room watching TV. But, before I get him I think you should know some things, first. Have a seat.”
To be continued…
Joyce E. Johnson (2014)
Note: I am breaking up my usual posting schedule for the continued story, The Informant’s Agenda to introduce this new fiction story I have recently completed which will be posted in three parts. It gives readers an opportunity to read some newly created material. This story, ‘The Search’ is fiction, my characters and plot all fiction as well. But Hurricane Ike was real, one of the costliest ones to hit the Gulf Coast in lives and property lost, next of course to Katrina. The above photo is one I took while on a vacation to Galveston Island, Texas in October, 2009.
The Informant’s Agenda will return with the next chapter following the postings of the story, The Search. I welcome all feedback and comments on either and all my fiction and posts and helps me to know what my readers are enjoying, what they are not, what kinds of posts they like best, whether it be fiction, poetry, photos or prose, or any other comments to things posted on my blog. Thanks all for reading, commenting and following. All is appreciated.