It was only late January but yet I found myself day dreaming of summer. I was ready to back outdoors, running around the lake, and seeing Brady and Jackson shirtless around the village.
Brady hadn’t been in contact since he’d canceled our dinner date nor had he returned any texts in the last couple of weeks.
I’d been pouring myself into getting the area incorporated as a town and did all I could to keep from thinking about Brady.
It was after the third week of silence that I finally decided I would text Jackson to see if he knew anything.
“No, sorry Mr. Ramhart. Brady hasn’t mentioned anything to me at all. He’s been unusually quiet and distant though. I was hoping maybe you knew what was going on.”
“No Jackson, I don’t. I’ve not seen him since the snowstorm and you guys were working over here.”
“Wait, you haven’t seen him either?” Jackson pondered.
“I’ve not seen or heard from him since the snowstorm. We were supposed to have dinner and then he canceled in the morning. I assumed that he was needed at the farm more and so he was there. As the days have dragged on, he’s not answered any of my texts or returned calls.” I said hoping I didn’t sound as desperate as I did to myself.
“Mr. Ramhart, I’ve not heard from him in two weeks myself. I had assumed he was over at your place. He’s a big boy, I didn’t feel the need to check on him but knowing neither of us have heard from him in two weeks is terrifying.”
“Jackson, when was the last time you had spoken to him? Have you talked to Aaron? Has Aaron heard from him?”
It wasn’t more than 20 minutes later that Aaron and Jackson were standing in my kitchen and we started comparing notes. Aaron had heard from Brady more recently than either Jackson or myself. Brady has spoken to him about taking some time off during the winter since it was the relative slow season for work. He said he’d be back no later than the beginning of March.
“March?!” Jackson shouted.
“Aaron, do you have any idea where Brady might have gone?” I asked, struggling to remain calm.
“Vince, Jackson; if I had any idea where he might have gone, I’d have already told you.” Aaron slumped down into his chair.
“Well, FUCK! He told Aaron that he was leaving, so he’s not really a missing person. He just didn’t tell anyone where he was going, just when he would be back.” Jackson paced the floor, barely containing his rage.
“He did mention it was the slow season for work. Maybe he went south to find work for a couple of months and he’ll be back here in March. Jackson, do you guys have any family in the South?”
Jackson stopped pacing but his eyes drilled into the Aaron’s soul, “Dad’s brother Larry has a rice farm somewhere in northeast Arkansas.
Aaron pulled out his phone and I started frantically typing on my computer, both of us trying to find a Larry Larson in Arkansas.
Jackson beat us both to it, “Lawrence Larson in Rector, Arkansas…”
“Uncle Larry? This is Jackson Larson up in Minnesota. My dad Jake is your brother. Has my little brother Brady showed up down there?” Jackson pleaded.
Aaron and I were on the edges of our seats waiting for more news.
“No? Damnit. Sorry Uncle Larry. Brady disappeared a few days ago. Just said he’d be back up here in Minnesota by March. We thought maybe he’d gone down there for some work for a couple of months.”
“Yeah, I’ll let Dad know Uncle Larry. It has been too long since we were down to visit. If Brady shows up down there, please let us know. If you have to, call us collect. Wait a second Uncle Larry, I didn’t ask, have you talked to Brady recently?”
That was enough to all but push us of our seats…
“WHAT?! You had a missed call from Minnesota? What was the number?” Jackson demanded.
“Yeah, ” Jackson turned pale, “that’s Brady’s number. When did he call?…” and there was a long pause, “Two weeks ago?” Aaron looked at me and then at Jackson.
“Jackson,” Aaron broke in, “Brady talked to me a week ago.”
It all got to be too much and Jackson crumpled, dropping his phone which shattered into several pieces, while I ran over and caught Jackson and got him up onto the couch.
Jackson came around after a long minute that seemed to last twenty minutes.
“Mr. Ramhart, I’m sorry. I thought you had ran Brady off or had pushed him away.”
“Jackson, it’s okay. I have been keeping him a bit distant as I didn’t want to rush into anything and I don’t feel completely comfortable seeing someone as young as you and Brady. I’m just hoping he didn’t feel like I was trying to brush him off or diminish his feelings towards men. Far from it, I just wanted to make sure he was ready for something serious or not.”
“I know Mr. Ramhart. I just love that little fuck. He’s an ornery little shit but he’s my brother and I’d do anything for him. I’m fighting down the urge to drive straight through to Arkansas. I don’t care how far it is.”
I tapped on my laptop again, “About 17 hours.” I said with a note of finality, “Let’s wait and see what Aaron may find in Brady’s email.”
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