SUNSHINE ON HIGHWAY 14 PART ONE
THE LONG WALK HOME
Driving down highway 14 is always a pleasant sight. The waving rows of John Stout’s cornfield are just purely mesmerizing. I always hoped to retire from the force someday and live by the beach. I’d sit in my chair day and night watching the waves crash against the shore. That’s the only high I’ve ever needed.
As I drive down highway 14, I notice school children being let out. One in particular is standing by the highway, waiting for the chance to cross over to the other side. As I pass him up he waves with a delightful smile on his face. It’s nice to see not everyone in this world is so miserable. Maybe the little innocence left in this world will survive after all. I hear a call come in over the radio.
“Officer Davis in route.” I answer.
Jack Hebert is a very happy child. Full of innocence and glee. He never wanted to harm anyone, he loved everyone and everything. Jack enjoyed school on this particular day. It was show and tell, isn’t that lovely. As Jack left school and approached what he called “the very big road” a policeman drove by. He gave the brave policeman a big smile and a delightful wave. He wants to be a policeman when he grows up.
He wants to help people, that’s all little Jack ever wanted to do. More than anything in this big old world, Jack loved to walk. He could walk for days. His favorite part of school is leaving and walking home. Everyday he’d leave the school grounds and head to the highway. From there he would walk through the Stout’s cornfield. He loved the sound of crunching corn underneath his feet. It made him giggle. Crunch, crunch, crunch. He couldn’t wait to begin his long walk home. He finally got the chance to cross the big road. He rejoiced as he entered the cornfield. He awaited those familiar sounds.
Crunch, crunch, crunch. Oh what a lovely day. Jack couldn’t wait to get home and see his mommy. She would have snacks and a soda waiting for him. Crunch, crunch, crunch. Then his dad would get home and play. His daddy would always get on the floor and put Jack on his back. He would pretend to be a horsey. Mommy would laugh and Jack would fall off. Then everyone would laugh. Crunch, crunch, pop. Jack fell to the ground in pain. All he could see was red. His whole stomach was full of red, and it really hurt. He started to cry. “Mommy!” Jack screamed. He hoped she’d hear. She had to. She was his mommy.
John Stout was the youngest son of Andrew Stout, crop farmer and owner of Stout’s Grocery. His father made a lot of money and was very important in town. He had two older brothers, both athletes. John didn’t like sports, he liked video games. He always felt out of place in his family, and his father was to blame. He always put John down. He wanted John to be more like his brothers. So today John would start. He came home early from school faking a stomach ache.
He snuck into his brother’s room and took his brother’s hunting rifle. His father was always complaining about vermin eating his crops. Today he will prove to his father that he his just as good as his brothers. He crept through the back door so no one would see. He headed into the cornfield. He heard noises about 25 feet away. He panicked and took a shot. All was quiet. Then a cry broke though the silence.
Mary Hebert is a simple lady. She works nights sitting with the elderly. Comes home to see her husband and son leave and start their days. She sleeps until two o’clock, and then prepares snacks for little Jack. She has been married to her husband for eight years. They were high school sweethearts. She had Jack when she was twenty-one, now she is twenty-six.
She couldn’t be happier with how her life turned out. She loved her little family. Speaking of, Jack should be home any minute. He normally gets out of school at 2:15. It takes him thirty minutes to walk home, right through the cornfield. The time is 2:43. She always counted down the minutes until her baby was back at her side. She was skeptical about letting him walk home from school at such a young age, but this was a safe town. What could go wrong with just a highway and a cornfield between them?
Christopher Hebert was having an interesting day. He arrived at work on time, and wide awake. He was even informed that he was to be given a promotion. Nothing could have compared to what happened to him at lunch. You see, two weeks ago the company hired a young female co-worker. She was very beautiful. Chris loved his wife, but it’s been a long time since a woman gave him such feelings.
They flirted with each other every chance they got. It all lead up to this day. A day in which the town of Sunshine would never forget. Two hours before he left work, Chris found himself having sex with a young beautiful woman. He knew he should be ashamed, but lust outweighs all other feelings. Just like a drug, when the high is gone reality sets in. After he had his slice of heaven, he went into the restroom.
He walked to the sink and splashed cold water onto his face. And just like that, a wave of grief washed over him. How could he betray the woman he loves? The mother of his child. He looked at his watch and saw that it was fifteen after two. His son would be home within the hour. Emotions ran through his head like a river in a hurricane. He let his rage out by slamming his hand into the bathroom mirror. Glass shards fell into the sink. Along with bright red blood.
Jack could barely keep his eyes open. He was in so much pain. He cried and cried. Why didn’t his mommy come? Suddenly he heard footsteps. Someone was running to him. Mommy was finally coming! His heart began to race, he only wanted to see his mommy’s face. He knew he’d be okay. An older boy busted through the corn stocks. He was holding a gun. He looked at Jack in horror.
“What have I done?” The boy whispered.
He looked around in panic.
“Help me please, it hurts!” Jack cried.
The boy stood still, frozen to the ground like he was rooted in the soil.
“You’re alive?” The boy asked amazed.
“Yes please help!” Jack begged.
The boy ran back into the cornfield leaving Jack to die. Jack screamed after him, but his voice was beginning to strain. He started tasting warm liquid. It tasted like the time he swallowed a penny. His body was weak. Suddenly the boy returned with a rag and a bottle of water. He applied pressure to Jack’s wound. He uncapped the bottle of water and gave Jack a sip.
“Here drink as much as you can. I’m so sorry. I’m going to get some help, I promise.” The boy said with tears in his eyes.
“You’re a big boy, daddy said big boys don’t cry.” Jack said weakly.
The boy smirked. “I’m not a big boy.”
“You’re bigger than me” Jack said almost laughing.
Jack closed his eyes. Mommy had to be coming.
Stout’s Grocery was in the center of town. It was the center of town. Andrew Stout held a great amount of capital and authority in Sunshine. He sponsored the football team and even helped with hurricane relief efforts. He helped put sunshine on the map.
This morning he decided to promote an employee to replace his assistant store director. He found the perfect candidate. The head of grocery, Chris Hebert. He had been with the company since he was in high school. He started out as a bagger and worked his way up. He has a loving wife and a cute kid. The town would approve. Andrew loved his town, and there is nothing he wouldn’t do to protect it.
I arrive to Stout’s Grocery, following a 911 call reporting a possible suicide attempt. I walk into the store to find the staff in complete disarray. I looked to my right to see Mr. Stout himself walking towards me.
“I’m sorry to trouble you Alan, this has been one big misunderstanding.” Mr. Stout claimed.
“How’s that Mr. Stout?” I asked.
“Well my new assistant store manager, Mr. Hebert, let the pressure of his new job get the better of him. You see, he punched the mirror in the employer restroom. He shattered the glass and damn near cut off his hand. He has said that he will pay for damages. So all is well.”
“But Mr. Hebert, does he need medical attention? I was called here on an attempted suicide.” I said in shock.
“Officer Davis I apologize sincerely about that. One of our co-workers got a little hasty and called 911. For some reason she thought he tried to kill himself when she saw blood on his wrist. But like I said all is well. He will not need medical attention. Luckily his wounds were not severe. We were able to patch him up quick and easy. We do have necessary first-aid kits around the store.”
After we finished talking I returned to my vehicle and received another call on my radio. It was a Mrs. Mary Hebert reporting sounds of gunfire coming from Stout’s Cornfield. I put the cherry on top and set off back onto highway 14.
© 2017, Zachary Rhoads. All rights reserved.
The author has granted WritersCarnival.ca, its affiliates and syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.