A Storm Is Coming
Chapter Eight: Home Again
Minutes after the zodiac was out of sight, Shirley and Keith clung to each other. Keith was torn. He already missed his father but he had his mother...his mother...the person whom he thought was dead yet...she was there...right beside him. Wiping the tears from his eyes, Keith turned to Shirley and hugged her, resting his head on her shoulder.
When the chopper came and touched down on the beach, Shirley and Keith exited the Vendetta and splashed through the water, both staying low because of the rotor blades. They saw Officer Modine there in the co pilot's seat; he was obviously watching them.
Of course Officer Modine would want to know where Louis was. What could they tell him? The truth...that they had just let him go? No...that would be aiding and abetting...
Climbing in to the chopper, Keith sat on the far side while Shirley closed the door behind them and grabbed a set of headphones, placing them over her ears; in her peripheral vision she saw Keith do the same thing.
Shirley looked up at Officer Modine who had spoken through the headset. Glancing at Keith, Shirley swallowed and said, "I don't know. He took the zodiac shortly after I arrived at the Vendetta."
Ahh a lie with a grain of truth. Because of Titan, Officer Modine couldn't just order Air/Sea Rescue to go looking for Louis; especially if he was in a zodiac. It was just too risky.
Nodding his head, Officer Modine gave the go ahead to the pilot to return to Santa Alicia.
Two days slowly passed for Shirley and Keith. Titan had hit the island, but thankfully because everyone had been prepared, the damage was minimal and within twenty four hours the damaged areas were all patched up.
On the second day the airport was reopened and now for the first time, Shirley was ready to go home. She had Keith who had agreed to return to the United States with her.
Bags in hand, Shirley watched Keith say goodbye and hug some of his friends before he shouldered a black backpack and reached down to pick up a dark guitar case; the same guitar case Shirley remembered seeing from the home movie video.
Standing where she was, Shirley smiled as Keith came over to her.
"So um...I hope you don't mind. I gave your San Pueblo number to some of my friends. Just in case anything...you know." Keith said, blushing a little.
Shirley smiled and nodded her head in understanding. "You didn't give it to Paul, did you?" she asked, slightly fearful, but Keith's smile and chuckle seconds later told Shirley that he didn't.
"No! no..." Keith said, to which Shirley replied, "Good."
Together they started walking, entering in to the airline terminal where Officer Modine was waiting at the gate. As per protocol since Shirley was now being 'deported' he had to make sure she got on the plane.
"It's really going to be so different...America." Keith said, following along beside his mother who stopped to shake Officer Modine's hand.
"It's your home." Shirley replied, watching as Keith followed suit; shaking Officer Modine's hand and bidding the man goodbye.
"Goodbye Chuck..." Keith said, hugging the officer.
Officer Modine smiled and hugged Keith back. "Good bye Tyler...uh...Keith." he replied, releasing the younger man. Keith chuckled and continued on his way.
Looking at his mother, Keith asked "Your husband..."
"Jacob?" Shirley asked
"Yeah. Do you think he'll like..." Keith said
"A beach bum like you? You know," Shirley said as she gently took hold of Keith shoulder, "He has honestly been wanting to learn how to surf since we met. Did I tell you how we met?"
Seeing Keith shake his head, Shirley smiled. They arrived at the small plane and stowed their luggage before climbing on board and taking their seats.
As the plane's engines started up and it began to roll down the runway, Shirley took Keith's hand in hers and began her story. "Once upon a time..." she paused, "You are in for a long ride home!"
Ahh, America! The good US of A! Shirley and Keith exited the plane and stepped in to the air terminal in San Pueblo California. Almost immediately Shirley spotted Jacob waiting for her. Her heart jumped with joy because she had missed him terribly.
"Jacob!" She called out, rushing in to the older man's arms, feeling Jacob's strong arms wrap around her moments later. Showers of kisses rained down on her cheek and neck as she heard Jacob mumble, "I missed you darling."
A smile on her face, Shirley kissed him back and replied, "I missed you too."
Beside her, Shirley saw that Keith looked a little lost, so she pulled away from Jacob and gestured for Keith to come closer, which he did.
"Jacob, I'd like you to meet my son Keith." Shirley said. She desperately wanted to say 'our son' but because the loss of his real father Louis still had to be fresh in Keith's mind, Shirley let it slide for now.
Putting his guitar case down, Keith held out and hand and shook Jacob's open hand. "Sir." Keith greeted respectfully.
"It's nice to finally meet you Keith. Your mother has told me quite a lot about you!" Jacob said. Okay...that was technically true. He knew everything up to the point when Keith was taken; presumed dead...after that and what he learned from the home movie...he knew nothing.
Jacob saw Keith smile and blush before replying, "Mom's told me quite a lot about you too...sir."
Jacob shook his head. "Keith it's okay you don't have to call me sir. You can call me Jacob and..." he paused, "If you ever want to or if you ever need to...you can call me dad. I know I am not your father, and I promise you I won't try to replace him. All I want to be is your friend...okay?"
Keith was grateful for that. The man wasn't pushing the whole 'dad' thing on him. But even so, Keith liked the man; liked him better than he thought he would. Perhaps...he could see this man as being a sort of father figure to him.
"Thank you sir...er..." he paused and licked suddenly dry lips. Should he say the word now? He knew it would make his mother happy but...would he really mean it. Deciding to give it a try he said, "dad."
Taking a deep breath he waited. The word felt right as it rolled off his tongue. Keith saw both Shirley and Jacob smile and nod their heads at that. Yes...dad...Keith could get used to calling Jacob that.
Picking up his guitar case, Keith followed his mother and Jacob out of the air terminal.
Home...the house where he had spent the first four years of his life. Funny...Keith didn't remember it at all. Getting out of the car, Keith grabbed his backpack and guitar case before following his mother towards the house, however he stopped when he heard something coming from the garage.
"What's that?" he asked his mother.
It was Jacob who turned to him and smiled. "That'll be the kids. Would you like to meet them or do you want to get settled in first?"
Ahh a choice. Keith didn't have to meet his siblings yet if he didn't want to; Jacob was trying to give him space, which Keith really appreciated. Sighing, Keith nodded his head towards the garage, saying, "I'd like to meet them."
"Alrighty then, follow me." Jacob said. He and Shirley led the way to the garage, opening the side screen door and entering in to the cool garage interior. When he entered the garage Keith was surprised at what he saw. Besides the regular garage things like bikes and lawn chairs he saw amplifiers, speakers, a set of drums...even a piano and a keyboard...and mic's! Real, working microphones!
The music stopped as soon as Shirley entered the room and seconds later screams of 'Mom!' and 'Mommy's home!' filled the room.
Keith put his guitar case down, followed by his backpack as he watched his mother embrace four children. Two were rather young, probably no more than eight or nine. The other; a red haired boy was probably around ten or eleven and the girl...Keith stared and stared...images of a baby girl flooding his mind.
"Kids...I'd like you to meet someone special," Shirley began, turning and holding out a hand to Keith. Swallowing nervously, Keith stepped forward, feeling the reassuring hand of his mother land on his shoulder moments later.
"Kids...this is your brother Keith. Keith, that is Tracy and Chris," Shirley began, pointing out the youngest of her children, "Danny, and Laurie."
"Laurie?" Keith asked, looking at her mother.
The name struck a chord with him but he didn't know why. Upon seeing Shirley nod her head, Keith took another look at Laurie, but still he didn't know why she looked familiar to him.
The other children stepped up and looked Keith over, almost as if sizing him up or something. Finally it was Laurie who came up and first embraced Keith, followed by Danny, Chris and Tracy.
"Your our big brother?" Tracy asked. She never knew she had an older brother that was older than Danny. It was obvious that she didn't remember the stories that her mother had told her about her first son whom she thought had died.
Blushing, Keith slowly nodded his head at the question presented to him. "I...I guess I am...Tracy." he replied.
"Cool!" Chris said. He always wanted another brother besides Danny. While Danny was cool in some ways, he was still annoying; him and his money making schemes!
Eying the guitar case, Laurie gestured to it. "So...Keith...do you play?" she asked.
Keith looked down at his guitar case for a minute, nodding his head moments later. "Yep sure do. My father taught me everything about guitar playing." he replied.
"Would...would you like to join us?" Laurie then asked, pointing to the other instruments. At that Keith had to grin. He never passed up an opportunity to play; especially when he wouldn't be the only one playing!
"Sure!" he replied. Going to his guitar case he opened it up and pulled out his acoustic/electric guitar. It was a glossy, pine finish with shiny steel strings and a black shoulder strap; the specialized top of the guitar let everyone know that it was an Ovation guitar.
Taking the offered amp cord from Laurie, Keith plugged it in and adjusted the levels.
"What would you like to play?" Laurie asked as she took a seat at the keyboard, while Danny grabbed his bass, Chris took his seat at the drums and Tracy grabbed her tambourine.
Well...that was a good question. Keith didn't know what the others knew but perhaps...perhaps they'd like to learn something new.
"Well..." Keith said. He put his guitar down on the ground for a moment, returning to his guitar case . Reaching in to the built in slot in the case, he pulled out some hand written sheet music, passing it to Laurie who took it and looked it over; Danny also coming in close so he could see it as well.
Grabbing his guitar, Keith slipped it back over his shoulders, reaching in to his pocket to take out his guitar pick.
"It's called Together (Havin' a Ball). I wrote it several weeks ago." Keith explained. He always dreamed of hearing a real band preform his song; not just himself on his guitar. This was probably the closest he'd get to that dream.
"Well...let's give it a shot then." Laurie said.
Studying the music, Laurie paused before giving Keith his eight count intro. She was fully expecting him to just play the guitar melody; not expecting him to sing at all, but when she heard his voice...his beautiful voice she stared at him in shock!
"Everybody's going places...doing things. Look at all the smilin' faces sing!" Keith sang. He then looked at the others who joined in for the chorus. "Havin' a ball!" they all sang in unison.
"Doing their number!" Keith sang while the others took the background with "Havin' a Ball."
"Gettin' it on!" Keith continued.
He paused a half beat and nodded for everyone else to come in, "Together...together...together!" they all sang.
They all continued to play until the song ended, but once it did, everyone ran over to Keith. They all loved it; the song, his voice...everything.
At first they hadn't been to sure of him, but with the smiles on their faces and the hugs they gave him, Keith knew now that he had been accepted in to their family. He was glad and gracious to them all and he was happy to be there but deep in his mind he still wondered about his father Louis...where was he? What was he doing? And more importantly...did he survive the storm? With a sigh, Keith surmised that he would never know the answer to that question.
The sun was setting, cooling the salty air. Water leapt up on the small fifty foot reef that was only five feet about sea level. On the side of the reef a small zodiac was there; the zodiac totally deflated and useless; a life jacket just inches away from it. On top of the reef, glancing first left then right was the shirtless form of Louis Collins. He had grazed Titan who had been gracious enough not to kill him but his zodiac hadn't been so lucky. He had been slammed in to the reef and was now trapped there.
The reef was a good fifty miles from any shore so it was unlikely that he'd be found in a timely manner...if at all. Boats rarely passed by that area because of the shallow rocky inlet nearby, yet Louis held out hope. He had survived worse situations before.
As he gazed in to the sunset, he thought of his son Keith...now in the hands of his mother. While he wished that none of it had happened; that Shirley hadn't found them, he knew that he couldn't change back time; he had to roll with the punches. He had been beaten but he wasn't down for the count.
Shirley had won that round but Louis would return...he would return for Keith. The only question was...when.