(Catch up on the story, here)
We're sitting in the car in absolute silence. I think both of us are afraid to breathe. I honestly didn't think it'd take this long to find him.
Barrett clears his throat. "Look, you'll find him."
He's actually turned out to be a pretty decent guy. Asking people as many questions as I did. It actually seemed like he might care a little.
"I felt that way this morning," I say, rubbing my forehead. "But now I don't think so. He's never been missing for this long."
Barrett takes my hand and pulls it away from my face. I turn and look into his face, creased with concern. "I'll help you until he does, alright?"
I nod and try to give a weak smile. My cell phone buzzes to life. I glance at the obnoxiously grinning face of my older brother. "I gotta take this." I tap the screen. "Hey, Jack…no, not yet…yup…yup…tried there, too. He's not at any of the usual places…yeah," I say with a sigh, "that's where we were headed next…Barrett…he's Grampy's—nevermind, it doesn't matter….it's a long shot, but I think that might be the best place to look…you got an address….great—hold, hold on." I snap at Barrett and wave my hand, mouthing the word pen and point to the glove box. "Hang on, Jack." Barrett fumbles with the contents and pulls out a pen. "Okay," I say into the phone, "ready." I jot down the address Jack rattles off. "Thanks….love you, too…yes, I promise to call if we don't find Grampy by tonight…bye."
"How come Jack didn't come, too?" Barrett asks, putting the pen back in the glove box.
"He's got other priorities right now. Mainly blonde, leggy ones."
"Aaaah. I see." There's a slightly awkward pause. "So where to next?"
"It has to do with what Jack found in that box a couple years ago."
Barrett straightens up. I hadn't told him anything about Grampy since I first brought it up, and for some reason, he wasn't pushing me to tell him. But I could tell he wanted to know.
"It was a photo. Of Grampy and some woman. Her name and address were scribbled on the back."
"So?" Barrett sounds disappointed. "What's the big deal?"
"The woman in the picture wasn't his wife."
"Again, not an entirely big deal."
"Maybe not to you, but for us—in our family—it was a huge deal. Still is. Not to mention the documents the photo was wrapped in."
"Documents?" Barrett says.
"Listen, I know I'd tell you everything, but can you give me a few more minutes? This is harder than I thought." I grip the steering wheel a little tighter. Confiding in Barrett means that part of me believes all this. And believing it means accepting it—and everything that comes with it. I don't know if I can do that until I absolutely have to.
"Sure. No problem. Let me think…when you were little, what would have been the perfect bedroom for you?"
"Random question," I say, but I'm appreciative of the distraction.
"Mine would've been G.I. Joe all the way. Camo motif and everything."
"I had an obsession with Funfetti."
"Is that legal?"
"Funfetti. It was like confetti but…funner." I can't help but laugh. "Lame now, but back then, life wasn't worth living if there wasn't Funfetti involved. I had it at all my birthdays, everything. My mom even made me a little giraffe stuffed animal filled with the stuff. I was spoiled," I add when I get a funny look from Barrett. "Anyway, a blue room filled with Funfetti wouldn've been perfect. One year, for my birthday, I told mom and Grampy that all I wanted was a Funfetti piñata. My birthday came around, but no piñata. I started to cry. When Grampy asked what was wrong, I told him all I wanted was my piñata. That it was my dream."
"What'd he say?"
"Grampy said people in our family aren't allowed to have dreams."