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D's Table
Elixir of Flesh
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The Aresan Clan

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D's Table

Chapter 1

On a cool autumn day, amidst the curving streets and uniform homes of a quiet suburban neighborhood, a black cadillac rolled forward at a slow and gradual speed. The neighborhood around it was almost brand new—the paint on the houses still bright, the sod on the lawns still showing its seems, the freshly planted trees still short and lean, and many of the houses yet to be filled.

The cadillac came to a stop on a rather empty stretch of street. Though the street was lined up and down with houses, not a single person was at present visible and no other cars but the black cadillac used its roads. One of the back doors was opened and a boy was gently nudged out of the car by a man in a suit and a hat, hiding in the shadows. Once the boy was standing outside the car, his eyes staring in the distance, the door to the cadillac closed, and the car pulled away with considerably more speed than it had arrived.

The boy’s eyes stared blankly out into the distance, oblivious and uncomprehending, as if he didn’t know where he was. His face was round and boyish, with a sprinkling of freckles on the tops of his cheeks. The boy began to walk in the direction his feet were pointed, sauntering along the edge of the road at a slow and steady pace, with no apparent direction, aimless, wandering.


Out in front of a grocery story near downtown Hicksville, a woman, Ruth, picked up a sheet of paper from a stack of identical sheets. She posted it on a board on the front of store where community notices were supposed to be put. Before doing this, she pulled down an old and faded copy of the same sheet and stuffed the crumpled piece of paper into her purse.

It was a white piece of paper, covered in the distinctive purple ink of a ditto machine. At the top of the paper, was the word, “Missing,” in bold letters. Below it was a description of the missing boy, named Wendell, what he was wearing and what he looked like, along with contact details where Ruth could be reached. And at the bottom were two pictures of Wendell, reproduction of photos of him rendered as line drawings. They showed a cheerful teenager with lively, expressive eyes that looked into the camera, a smile on his round, boyish face.

The whole process was done by Ruth with a practiced efficiency. This was clearly something she had done before, many times before. Enough times that she’d lost the enthusiasm for it. It was an action that had long ago passed the point where it was done as a meaningful, deliberate act. It had become a habit. It no longer even saddened her to post her son’s picture up and look at his happy face. She had looked at so many copies of it that she was able to see it for what it was, mere lines on a paper.

She returned to her home, a pleasant, new suburban home. It had brick walls and white trim, complete with flowers in a window box in the front. Green grass surrounded it on all sides and a driveway led up into a small garage at the end.

Ruth stepped inside and set herself down on the couch, a bright, flowery dress splaying out across the cushions. She kicked off her shoes and looked around the house at the cleaning that she had been putting off. “After I rest,” she thought to herself, stretching herself out and reaching behind her to click on the radio.

She was startled out a state of consciousness that was drifting dangerously close to a nap by the sound of the phone ringing. She leapt from her seat and raced to the telephone, located in her and her husband’s bedroom.

She picked it up and said, “Hello.” In her mind, she immediately saw the image of her husband Frank sitting in his office and expected to hear his voice at the other end of the line lifting her out her doldrums.

But instead it was a woman and she said, “Hello, this is the Nassau County Police Department, am I speaking with Mrs. Davidson?”

“Yes, I am Mrs. Davidson.”

“Mrs. Davidson, we have a young male who matches the description of your missing son. Would you be able to come down to the station and confirm his identity for us?”

Ruth had to confirm that she was in fact hearing the words that she thought she’d heard, the words that she’d been so long yearning to hear. “You have my son at the police station?” she asked.

“We believe we have your son, and we need you to confirm that he is your son,” the woman said.

“Put him on,” Ruth asked, “I need to hear his voice. You don’t know how long I’ve been waiting for this. Just a quick ‘hello’ and I’ll be right over in a jiffy.”

“We have not been able to get him to speak, I am afraid,” the woman said, “You are able to get down here to the second precinct, are you not?”

“Yes, of course. I’ll be right over,” Ruth said and hung up the phone.

She started to dial a new number, and after a ring, a woman’s voice on the other end of the line, answered, “Westmore Insurance, how may I direct your call?”

“Sue, this is is Ruth. I need to speak to Frank.”

“One moment please.”

After another few rings, her husband was on the line announcing in a coarse, forceful voice, “Frank Davidson.”

“Frank, it’s Ruth,” she said, “I just heard from the Nassau County Police. They said they have our son. We have to go down there.”

“What?” he shouted, “Our son? They have him? How? That’s not possible.”

“I couldn’t believe it either,” Ruth said, “Even after dreaming of this for so long, part of me is still convinced this is some misunderstanding and that when I get there, it’ll be some other mother’s child. I’m still shaking from the news. You have to get home and give me a ride to the police station.”

“Don’t be a ridiculous. Get a bus, or a cab. Whichever,” Frank said.

“But are you…” she began to ask.

“I’ll be home as soon as I can,” Frank said, cutting her off, “I can probably catch a train in twenty minutes. I should be at the Hicksville station by 2:35, and then I can meet you down at the police station. Hanson isn’t going to like it. He wouldn’t care if it was Eisenhower himself waiting to see me. He doesn’t want us to ever leave work early. I’ll talk him into it.”

“Aren’t you happy to hear it?” she asked, “Isn’t it good news?”

“Of course, of course,” he said, “I may not sound it, but I’m happy. See you soon.”

“Bye. I love you,” she said.

Ruth was soon at the police station being led into an interrogation room where Wendell was waiting. The boy sat in a chair staring at the blank walls of the room. His mother recognized him as soon as she saw him, and she ran forward and grabbed him her arms.

“Oh Wendell, my son,” she said with overflowing emotion, “It’s so great to see you. I thought I’d never see you again. I thought you were dead. I imagined the worst. I’m so glad to see you. I’m so glad you’re okay. I never thought this day would come. I dreamed of it, but just couldn’t imagine it would ever happen.”

She looked into his face and into his eyes, grabbing his cheeks in her hands and looking at him with tears streaming down her cheeks. But he didn’t look back at her. He didn’t seem to even notice that she was in the room.

“What’s wrong with him?” she asked to the detective that was standing in the room with her.

“He’s been like this since he got here,” the detective answered.

His name was Detective Olmstead, and he spoke with a thick Long Island accent. His silver hair was cropped in a military-style cut and he stood in his shirtsleeves, exposing a pair of black suspenders.

“He was dropped off by a woman named Claudia Naismith. She lives in your neighborhood, I believe. She found him wandering the streets aimlessly less than a mile north of where you live. She couldn’t get a word out of him. We couldn’t get a word out of him. We had a devil of a time figuring out who he was. If you hadn’t filed that missing persons report, we’d probably still be looking.”

“Is he going to be okay?” she asked.

“Give it time,” the detective said, “He must have gone through a harrowing experience. If he’d seen some action in the war, I’d call it shell shock. It’s something like that. He needs time to recover.”

“You make it seem rather ominous,” Ruth said, “Has he really seen such horrors?” She grabbed him and pulled him close against him, saying, “My poor little child.” Tears poured out of her eyes again as she tried to imagine the mysterious ordeals he’d experienced and been scarred by. “He’s too young for things like that. He’s was always such a sensitive boy.”

“When he does start speaking, you’ll give us a call,” Detective Olmstead said.

“Why?”

“A crime was committed,” Detective Olmstead said, “He was kidnaped. And he is a witness. Our only witness so far. When he first disappeared we searched everywhere, as you know. Out roving these streets is the monster or monsters responsible and I’m eager to put that person or persons behind bars, so that they don’t do it again.”

“I understand,” she said.

“One more thing I want to tell you,” Detective Olmstead said, “I hope you don’t mind, but we searched his pockets. We were looking for identification. I’m going to show you what we found.”

The detective carefully set down on the table a few coins, a black, metal Parker pen a generic bronze-colored key and a piece of paper.

“First, we found some change, eighty-three cents,” he said, pointing to it, “Then we found this pen. Do you recognize it?”

“It looks brand new,” she said, “My son didn’t have anything like that.”

“What about the key. Do you recognize it?” he asked.

“We don’t use a key like that,” she said.

“And we found this piece of paper. Do these letters mean anything to you?” he said.

It was section of plain white paper, a small section that had been torn off a larger sheet. On it were a series of unfamiliar letters, pictographic in style, but very simple. Ruth didn’t recognize the letters.

“It doesn’t mean anything to me,” she said.

“Is it your son’s handwriting?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” she said, “If he was writing in English, I could tell you, but not this. I’ve never seen writing like this before. I’ve never seen my son writing like this before.”

“It appears to be the same ink as the pen,” he said, “I did a comparison. We think that pen wrote these letters and since we found the pen on your son’s person, we think he wrote it. When your son starts speaking, we’ll need to ask him, what these things mean. That’s all for no. You’re free to take him home. I wish you well. And keep in contact.”

“Thank you,” she said. She reached down and took Wendell’s hand in hers. She tugged at it slightly and he rose out of the chair. “This coat must belong to you,” she said, noticing the light, zippered coat he wore over his shirt, “I should return it now. All the rest of his clothes belong to him. In fact, he must’ve grown a little, since these pants are definitely short on him. But not this coat. I assumed you lent it to him.”

“Not me,” the detective said.

He grabbed the coat and removed it from the boy. He looked inside and there he saw the price tag attached by a string with a price of $8.95 handwritten on it.

“Do you mind if I keep this?” the detective asked.

“It’s not ours,” Ruth said, shrugging her shoulders.

She took Wendell’s hand and she led him out of the room and through the station to the parking lot in front. They waited for a short time, Wendell sitting in still silence while Ruth looked worryingly down at him.

Soon Frank arrived in his green Buick Special and parked. Ruth sat Wendell in the backseat, and she sat in front, scooting close to her husband on the bench seat, so that she have as much physical contact with him as possible.

Frank looked at Wendell in the rearview mirror as they drove, asking him, “How you feeling, tiger? We’re glad to have you back. We’d given up on you. It’s a danged miracle you’re still alive.”

“He doesn’t talk,” Ruth whispered to her husband.

“Why not?” he asked.

“Whatever happened to him has affected him so deeply that he can’t speak about it. He can’t speak about anything,” Ruth said.

“Well, how long will that last? He needs to get back to school and see his friends,” he said.

“I don’t know,” she said, “All I know is we’re going to have to be supportive. Make him feel comfortable. Remind him that he’s back home where he belongs.”

They arrived home, and Frank pulled the car into their garage, while Ruth went inside and began to prepare the dinner. Before doing so, she set Wendell down on the couch in the living room.

“Do you want to watch television?” she said, “Lots of brand new shows since you’ve been away. Did you get to watch television wherever you were? A new Flash Gordon show just started. You still like Flash Gordon don’t you? You used to love the comics when you were younger. Maybe you’ve outgrown it. Nowadays they’re selling color televisions. The Clarks down the street just bought one. Looks stunning. Frank won’t get us one. Yet. Someday soon, though.”

She turned the channel knob until she settled on something that looked appealing and stopped it there, turning to Wendell to see his reaction. He stared blankly at the television, no expression on his face, his eyes fixed on the television.

She went to the kitchen to prepare the food while Frank sat in in arm chair with a newspaper in front of him and a pipe in his mouth.

According to the tongues of most impartial judges, Ruth was a mediocre cook. Frank— either because he lacked judgement, wasn’t a picky eater, or enshrouded everything that his wife did or produced in the glow of love—was not an impartial judge, and he greedily devoured the chicken, potatoes and cooked vegetables that were presented before him for an early dinner.

Wendell sat at the table, looking at his food without interest, without even comprehension showing on his face.

His mother urged him to eat, but he didn’t respond. She had to put the fork in his hand and tear off a piece of the breaded chicken breast and then actually guide him through the process of stabbing the meat and placing it in his mouth. After the success of this demonstration, he seemed to be able to perform the action himself.

“You getting excited to get yourself back in school, tiger?” Frank said between bites of food, “It’s the start of a new school year.”

“Please Frank, we’re not going to pressure him to go back to school until he’s ready. He’s had a horrible experience,” Ruth said, placing her hand on top of Frank’s to emphasize the point.

“I’m not pressuring him,” Frank said, “The boy might be genuinely excited about going back to school. That’s just the type of thing to snap him out of it. When I was young, whenever I was feeling down, I’d just bury my nose in my schoolbooks, and sure enough I’d soon forgotten all about it because my head was too busy doing sums and memorizing facts.”

“Please, it’s not that simple,” Ruth said, “He’s not going to snap out of it. And he’s not a boy.” She turned to to Wendell and she said, “I’m really sorry Wendell. We’ll do everything we can to help.”

“It may be simple, it may not. We don’t know anything about what ‘it’ is at all. All I’m saying is that he needs to transition back to his normal life, and the faster he does it, the better it’ll be for all of us.”

After Ruth had cleaned the dishes and placed them in the dishwasher, she heard the ring of the phone in the bedroom. She looked at her husband, immersed in a book and smoking a pipe. He appeared willing to ignore it. She walked across the house to the bedroom and picked up the phone, saying, “Hello?”

“Hello, Dennis Fitzsimmons from the Long Islander here. Am I speaking with Mrs. Ruth Davidson?” She replied in the affirmative and he said, “Wonderful, Mrs. Davidson. I was wondering if I could speak with you about the recent return of your lost son, Wendell. We here in the newsroom were immensely grieved when we first heard about his disappearance two year ago, and it warms our hearts to hear of his safe return. Our readers too, I think, would love to hear a happy ending to this tragic tale. I know it’s late now, but do you have time for an interview tomorrow in the morning?”

“Yes, I can make time,” she wonderful.

“Wonderful, do you have any comment that you’d like to contribute to our morning edition tomorrow. Perhaps about how your son is doing. He is uninjured I hope.”

“He is, but he hasn’t been talking since he returned. I think he’s depressed.”

“Understandable, understandable. He must’ve endured a harrowing ordeal at the hands of his kidnappers. But until tomorrow, Mrs. Davidson.”

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