The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 25

the-man-who-wasnt-thereBrian gets angry because the boy playing Romeo to Jordan’s Juliet, gets fresh. He’s uneasy even after he calms down, which worries Chase and his mother.

“Me too. I thought it was just me.”

“What do you think it is?”

“No idea,” she replied. “But I’ll bet it has something to do with that.” She pointed at a dark cloud low on the horizon. It moved quickly toward them.

Dora Finley pulled out her phone and dialed 9-1-1 reporting a tornado.

“Our emergency system hasn’t registered it,” the dispatcher said.

“Look out the window,” Dora said, leading the boys inside.

“Oh, my God!” the dispatcher said before hanging up.

The town warning siren went off. Students and adults ran for cover. The cloud moved quickly toward the school, specifically toward Brian and Chase. Glad to be inside, they followed Chase’s mother down the hall to her office.

“Go inside and wait. These are all interior walls and there’s only the window in the door. Go!”

“Where are you going?” Chase asked.

“To help with the drama kids and the choir.” She took off.

Brian and Chase exchanged a look. Their girlfriends were in drama and choir.

“No way I’m sitting in here,” Chase said.

Brian was already out the door and down the hall, running toward the fine arts building. Fortunately, it wasn’t far. Wind wailed around the building. Windows shuddered, walls shook. Screaming people tried to find a safe place to ride out the storm. By the time the boys had reached the theatre, the students had taken refuge in the dressing room. Brian determined that Jordan was safe and followed Chase to the choir room.

This room was in chaos. Three large windows sat high in the wall. Two had burst, showering the room with broken glass. High winds circled, flinging glass in razor-like shards. A clutch of people tried to hide under the risers in one corner. Another two hunkered under the baby grand piano. Sheet music whirled around, slicing through the air. The wind increased when they opened the door. By some miracle, the flying glass missed both boys. Their clothing whipped around them as they assessed the situation.

“Chase!” Marissa screeched.

“I told you to wait,” his mother called, fear tinging her voice.

They huddled under the risers, not far from the supply cupboard.

“Get in the supply room,” Chase ordered.

The door popped open. The chorus members rushed toward the open door. When they were inside with the door shut, Brian and Chase faced down the wind. Though it whipped their clothing, the debris didn’t touch them. Concentrating on the source, Brian filled himself with calm, sending it forth like a wave. The wind stopped howling, paper and glass dropped safely to the ground.

Chase ran to the supply room door. Brian headed back to the theatre. White faced and trembling, the cast and crew members left their hiding places. Jordan ran to Brian, flinging her arms around him.

“Was that you?” she whispered.

“No, I swear. I don’t know what that was.”

“How are the others?”

“They’re fine. Don’t worry. Shh.” He held her close, stroking her hair. “Shh. Chase and I took care of it. You’re all right.” He gave her a quick kiss. “I need to go. The people outside might need help.”

“I’m coming too.”

He couldn’t stop her and didn’t try. Jordan grabbed her jacket and backpack.

“I’m going to help look for injured people,” she told Mrs. Faust.

Several of the other students did the same. They followed Jordan and Brian.

Romeo trotted up beside Brian. “Dude, about earlier. That was a dick move. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t tell me, tell Jordan. She will bite you.”

“Yeah.” He hesitated. “I just wanted you to know.”

“Do it again, we’ll have trouble,” Brian said in a matter of fact tone. “No harm, no foul—this time.”

The boy nodded and ran off toward the cheerleaders who were hiding under the bleachers. Brian headed toward the equipment storage on the other side of the field. Partially collapsed, the roof had fallen in. People could be trapped in there. As he approached, he heard voices.

“Help! Please, help!” a young woman called.

“I’m here,” he called. “I’m getting help. Hang on!”

“No, don’t leave!” she yelled. “My boyfriend is holding the roof up on his back, but he’s hurt. I’m trapped. The wall collapsed on us.”

Brian called 9-1-1, but the line was busy. Yelling at Romeo, he finally got the other boy’s attention. “There are people trapped in here. They’re hurt. Find help!”

Romeo dashed off. Some of the boys on the cheerleading squad ran over. Brian activated the flashlight app on his phone and led them into the dilapidated shed.

“We’re in here,” the girl called. “Please, help.”

“Coming!” He turned to the boys. “Okay, the roof collapsed and the wall caved in. There are people trapped. Can you handle this?”

The boys shrugged, nodding.

“People need help,” one of them replied. “I can handle anything.”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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