This story is for entertainment purposes only.
Marah gathered her wind ravaged hair behind her head and secured it with a clip. “While I appreciate you picking me up from the airport, would it have killed you to bring the truck with the air conditioning? I probably look like a big fuzz ball!”
Her father glanced over and laughed. “You look fine honey”.
“You sweet charmer you. I think you’re a bit biased but thank you anyway.” Marah quipped back before turning her head to study the scenery.
Not much had changed in the three years she’d been gone. It was like Springfield existed in its own bubble untouched by time. There were a few new homes, a few new families, but the important things stayed the same. People still shopped main street, people still piled into Len’s Ice Cream Parlor on hot summer days, and the lighthouse still stood its lighting guiding the lost back home again. How appropriate.
“What made you come back dad? From pictures it looked like you and mom were having a good time.”
“This past year with Collin and your mother has been amazing. But Collin is ready to start school and we both agreed that Springfield was where we should be.”
Guess all roads led back to Springfield eventually….
Tony left like he had been walking for days. Every vehicle that passed filled him with equal parts hope and fear. Hope that the next car would be the one driver to look past the black eyes, battered body, and matted hair to the man he used to be. And fear that the next car would be his captors ready to take him back to hell. He still had his makeshift weapon. It had done the job with the guard he’d caught unaware but his odds were stacked against him on it working again. They’d be prepared, there would be more than one, and they’d be pissed that he’d caused them trouble. No he wouldn’t stand a chance if they got their hands on him this time.
He heard the approaching vehicle before he saw it. An old beat up pickup truck came rambling up the hill on his left then miracle of miracles it stopped and reversed. The window rolled down to reveal a short hispanic man. He looked like a rancher, right down to the cowboy hat.
“Hey friend. Need a ride somewhere?”
Tony swallowed his fear. This wasn’t any of the dozen or so men he’d encountered over the previous years. After years of living “in the family” he could spot mafia enforcers a mile away. This man wasn’t it.
“That would be great. Thank you.” He may be half dead but he still had some manners left.
“Everyone needs a hand now and then, ” the man looked him up and down, “from the looks of it, you need it more than most.”
Tony let out a harsh laugh, “You could say that again.”
It took some effort but Tony finally hefted himself into the cab. As the truck continues its course down the road Tony let out the breath he’d been holding.
“Haven’t seen you around these parts before and I know everyone in Carlotta, California.”
Carlotta, California? He searched his brain but he didn’t think he knew anyone in California. Certainly not anyone involved in mafia activities.
“Oh just passing through.”
The man eyed him with skepticism but thankfully didn’t call him out on the lie. He was glad of it, he was too tired to come up with a better cover story.
“Name is Rafael Santiago. Where you headed?”
“Tony Santos. And I’m going home.”
“Marah!” Collin cried out as he raced to greet the newcomers.
Marah had never met her younger brother, he’d been born while she was living in Paris. But she’d seen him grow up in pictures and they’d talked during their fer and far between conversations on Skype.
“Hey little man!” She called back as she caught him up in her arms. She breathed in his fresh scent. He smelled like sunshine and the innocence of youth.
“Mommy said you were coming back but I didn’t believe it! She made brownies and I couldn’t eat one. Now you’re here and we can eats them all!” He chattered on excitedly.
“Hey sport”, Josh interjected, “Let’s let Marah settle in before we subject her to your mom’s cooking.”
Marah burst out laughing. Reva Shayne Lewis was a lot of things but Betty Crocker she was not.
“I heard that Joshua!” Reva called from the front porch.
Marah’s breath caught at the sight of her mother. They came so close to loosing her. But there she stood, happy and healthy.
Josh stepped onto the porch and wrapped his arms around his wife, “Aw Reva you know we love you. Even if your brownies could break glass.”
Reva playfully slapped his arm. And just like that Marah knew she was officially home.