Home > A Different Blue(14)

A Different Blue(14)
Author: Amy Harmon

At the mention of Jimmy's name, my heart lurched and the smarting in my eyes intensified. The moisture escaped and started sliding down my cheeks. I swiped at the water and tried to pretend it was the heat.

“Shoot! It sure is a hot day! Look at me, sweating all over the place.”

“What's your name, kid?” The skinny officer had a deep voice totally at odds with his appearance. He almost sounded like a frog.

“Blue,” I replied, my bluster fading fast.


“Yes. Blue . . . Echohawk,” I mumbled. My lips trembled.

“All right, uh, Blue. Does your dad know you've got his truck?”

“I can't find him.”

The officers looked at each other and then back at me.

“What do you mean?”

“I can't find him,” I repeated angrily. “We were camping, and he said he would be back. Icas came home, but he didn't. He's been gone for a lot of days and Icas is acting all sick and the water is almost gone in the tank, and I'm scared he isn't coming back.”

“Icas is the dog, right?” The sandy-haired, muscley policeman pointed at Icas, who had yet to even open an eye.

“Yes,” I whispered, trying desperately not to cry. Saying the words out loud made them real and terrible. Jimmy was missing. He was gone. What in the world would happen to me? I was a kid. I couldn't help it if worry for myself was equally as terrifying as worry for Jimmy.

They coaxed me out of the truck, although at the last minute I remembered the duffel bag I had filled with tools. I ran back to the truck and dragged it out from behind the front seat. It was extremely heavy, and I ended up dragging it behind me. The muscle-bound police officer had lifted Icas from the passenger side, and was looking at him with a furrowed brow. He looked at me as if he wanted to speak, thought better of it, and laid the dog gently in the back of his cruiser.

“What in the world . . .” The skinny officer, whose name I learned was Izzard – like lizard without the L – tried to lift the duffel and didn't put enough heft into his effort. “What've you got in here?”

“Tools,” I clipped. “And I'm not leavin' 'em.”

“Okaaaaay,” he hedged, looking at the other officer.

“Come on Iz. Just put them back here with the killer dog.”

They both laughed, like it was a big funny game. I stopped and stared at them, glaring from one man to the other, thrusting my chin up and out, daring them to continue. Amazingly, their laughter died off, and Izzard lifted the tools in beside Icas.

I rode in the front of the car with Mr. Muscles, also known as Officer Bowles, and Officer Izzard followed behind us. Officer Bowles radioed a message to someone, telling them about the vehicle and saying some numbers I didn't understand. It was obviously a code for “what do I do with this crazy kid?”

I was able to show them where our camper was. It was just a straight shot back up into the hills. I hadn't turned right or left coming down from the canyon because I was afraid I wouldn't remember how to get back. But Jimmy had not miraculously returned in my absence. My note lay on the table where I had left it.

They ended up calling in some guys they called search and rescue. That sounded good to me – searching and rescuing – and I felt hopeful for the first time in days. They asked me for a description of my dad. I told them he wasn't as tall as Izzard but was probably a little taller than Officer Bowles, just not as “thick.” Officer Izzard thought it was funny that I called Officer Bowles thick. Officer Bowles and I just ignored him. I told them he had black and grey hair that he always wore in two braids. When I reminded them that his name was Jimmy and asked them if they would please find him, I had to stop talking for fear that I would cry. Jimmy never cried, so I wouldn't either.

They did search. They searched for about a week. I stayed at a house where there were six other kids. The parents were nice, and I got to eat pizza for the first time. I went to church three Sundays in a row and sang songs about a guy named Jesus, which I rather enjoyed. I asked the lady who led us in singing if she knew any songs by Willie Nelson. She didn't. It was probably good that she didn't. Singing Willie songs might have made me miss Jimmy too much. The house where I stayed was a foster home, a house for kids who didn't have anywhere else to go. And that was me. I didn't have anywhere else to go. I'd been questioned by a social worker, trying to figure out who I was. I hadn't known Jimmy wasn't my father at that point. He had never explained it to me. Apparently, my identity was a mystery.

“Can you tell me anything about your mother?” The social worker had asked me. The question was gentle, but I wasn't fooled into thinking I didn't have to answer it.

“She's dead.” I knew that much.

“Do you remember her name?”

I had asked Jimmy once what my mother's name was. He had said he didn't know. He said I had called her Mama, like most two-year-olds do. It sounds unbelievable. But I was just a kid, accepting and unsuspicious. Jimmy had a little black and white TV with rabbit ears that I watched in the trailer. It picked up whatever the local PBS station was, and that was about it. That was my exposure to the outside world. Sesame Street, Arthur, and the Antiques Roadshow. I didn't understand the nature of relations between men and women. I knew nothing of babies. Babies were hatched, delivered by storks, purchased at the hospitals. I had no concept that my father not knowing my mother's name was beyond odd.

“I called her Mama.”

The lady's eyes squinted, and she got a meanish look on her face. “You know that's not what I meant. Surely your father knew her name and would have told you.”

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