Voyager Shadows: Jaiden's Tale
Chapter 6: Jeffrey's kid
November 13th, 2011
Pamela Williams lowered her glasses and closed her checkbook satisfied that her bills went through on time. Her sons tried to convince her to pay online but she wouldn't hear of it. She knew the convenience, but didn't trust it. She glanced at the grandfather clock in her dining room. It was near 5:00pm and Jaiden hadn't returned home from school at his usual time of 4:00. He considerately called her when he expected to run late.
"I'll give that boy 'till 5:30 before I start fretting. He told me there were after school programs." She thought.
She looked around the old house and frowned at the faded wallpaper and scuffed floors. She raised her family for thirty-odd years, but it was high time to leave. The neighborhood turned rotten but she managed to keep a clean home and pretty yard. Her late husband Rodney bent over backwards to keep their boys out of trouble. They always talked of moving, but Rodney preferred to save. He always said, "You never know what could happen. Our boys need the money, you need it, Pammy. We're fine where we are."
Pamela made definite plans to move into her brownstone in downtown Williamsburg by the end of the month. She wanted to for Jaiden. She refused to suffer another tragedy like Kevin. Jaiden demonstrated promise for a successful future and she intended to make that happen.
Pamela glanced at the mantle where she kept current family photos. Jaiden's picture stood out stark against the others. She and her family and the last three foster children all had dark complexions. Her sons liked to tease Jaiden and call him little blondie, but they were very fond of him. Pamela was glad. She prepared to officially adopt Jaiden once they moved.
She leaned down to pick up her gray and white terrier, Bruno, when he rubbed against her leg.
"Who's a good boy? Are you good? I know you are! Jaiden wasn't home to feed you and Kiki today. You're still hungry after those treats I gave you? Come on, I'll get you some real food."
Pamela appeased Bruno with a dog biscuit while she opened up a can of meaty dog food and poured it in his red dish. She rummaged through her cabinets for parrot food. She approached the cage the parrot squawked and shook her tail feathers.
"Pam. Pam. Hello. Pam."
"Hello, dear Kiki, how are you this afternoon?" She stuck her hand in to pet her feathers and change the dishes.
"Sqwakk! Kikikikiki. Pam. Hello. Hello. Jai. Jai."
"I know, Kiki, I'm worried about him too. He has some explaining to do when…"
Pamela heard a low rustling near the back door to the house. Home invasions plagued the neighborhood as the holidays drew closer. Pamela picked up the closest thing next to her – a frying pan, and held it tight to her chest.
"Who's there? You want to come in you ring my front bell!" She said sharply.
The rustling stopped and she edged closer. She heard a smattering of young, male voices right at the doorstep and saw their shadows hover behind the curtains. Pamela ran for the phone.
"Y'all don't get away from my door, I'm calling the police! I'm dialing right now!"
Two of the shadows fled and glass shattered from her bedroom. Bruno barked furiously and ran around. Kiki flapped and cawed. Pamela ran to the commotion, someone threw a large rock and it smashed her grandmother's vanity mirror. A wave of fear washed over her and she ran out of the bedroom and smack into three teenage boys standing in her dining room. The oldest held a gun out. Pamela froze and couldn't make a sound.
"Yo, where's the safe?" He asked coldly, then repeated his demands with profanities toward her when she couldn't answer him.
"Are you deaf? Where is it!" He motioned for his cronies to grab her.
Pamela found her voice. "Who do you think you are coming in my house and demanding my property? You punk! I remember you, Antoine, I know you're the one who shot my Kevin!"
A flicker of fear passed his black eyes. "You can't prove that! But I'm gonna shoot you down and that little brat Jaiden if you don't tell me where it is! Yo, Quami, check behind the painting!"
Pamela pointed sharply at the short kid."Don't you touch nothing in this house! You're in Jaiden's class! Where is Jaiden? What have you done with my boy?" She demanded.
The gang looked at each other uneasily. All day they couldn't get over how Jaiden and the man vanished into thin air. One of them ran away from the scene that morning and never came back.
"Who the hell knows where that kid is at…maybe his guardian angel took him." Antoine grinned maliciously, implying the worst.
Tears streamed out of Pamela's eyes and she weakly fell to her knees. "No! No, you didn't!"
"Yeah, I did!" He snickered. "Now you gonna open that safe, or do I have to tear this place up and blow you up?" He clicked the gun near her head.
A low whistle broke through the sound barrier and everyone looked up confused. Pamela crawled away from the gun muzzle and toward the kitchen. Antoine couldn't duck fast enough before Jeffrey landed on top of him and forced him to the floor. He dropped the gun. Jaiden fell between the other two boys. Quami yelped and wet his pants. He grabbed his crotch embarrassed and ran out of the house as if on wings. Pamela backed against the wall and covered her heart in shock. Jeffrey pulled Antoine up by the collar and shoved him into the table.
"You're not shooting anybody! Mrs. Williams, hurry and call the police!"
Pamela quickly obeyed. Jaiden blocked the other kid from leaving and called for Bruno. Though small, the dog leaped and attacked the boy's leg. He thrashed around and begged for Jaiden to call him off then slid into a corner and stayed motionless. Jeffrey shoved Antoine in the chair.
"You're not going anywhere, Antoine." He threatened as the kid cursed and struggled. Jeffrey's rock-like hold tightened on his collar bone and pained him. "Move or speak again and I'll send you out of time so far you'll be dodging a T-Rex instead of bullets."
Jeffrey spoke the truth. He installed open-time calibration on the omni. Antoine looked at him like he was insane but obeyed him and sulked.
Pamela finished up the call and stared at Jeffrey. "Thank…Thank you! Thank you!" She cried.
"Pamela! We made it just in time! You're right Jeffrey, the omni takes you exactly where you need to be!" Jaiden ran to her arms.
Pamela shouted happily as they embraced. "Boy, I don't know what mess of trouble you got yourself into, but you better tell me all about it!"
Jeffrey smiled at her. "Once we get the trash out of here, we'll talk, uhh, Mrs. Williams, please don't tell the cops exactly how we came in."
Pamela grinned. "Absolutely not…but maybe this little punk was right, maybe you are Jaiden's guardian angel."
Within the next half-hour the police arrived and took statements from everyone. They handcuffed Antoine and his friend out the door and put an APB out on the kid who ran away. They attempted to catch Antoine for a number of offenses over the year. Pamela insisted they re-open Kevin's cold case. After the police cleared out, Pamela bade Jeffrey and Jaiden to sit on the couch and made them a pitcher of lemonade.
"Now, Mr. Jones, you better start from the beginning, because I know you aren't his new Guidance Counselor like you told the cops!" She said.
"No, I'm not. I'm something even better." He smiled.
Jeffrey calmly told them as much as he could about Voyager Headquarters and his mission in Jaiden's life. Pamela had trouble believing it all but she couldn't doubt what she saw with her own eyes when they fell into the room. Jeffrey stayed for dinner and made plans to move Pamela and Jaiden out of the neighborhood as soon as possible. When he disappeared in a flash, Pamela became a true believer.
Two weeks later, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Jeffrey came by almost every day and they spent the last two weeks cleaning out Pamela's old house and the Brownstone. They painted, packed, and unpacked. All of Pamela's nicknacks and baubles made Jeffrey's head spin and she had a story for everything. With Pamela's permission, Jeffrey and Jaiden spent time hanging out around the city just having fun.
On Jaiden's moving day, Jeffrey reported to the Omni Control Center at Headquarters to check on his status. His time-line turned green straight through. The Tribunal decided that Jaiden's Academy education would start at twenty-years old, and he could major in Specialized Medicine and emergency care just as he wanted. They always needed good Medical personnel.
Jeffrey agonized the night before his last visit to Jaiden. He allowed himself a long cry and downed a few hard drinks, but he didn't go through with his request to take Jaiden as a partner. Bogg's wisdom triumphed again.
They stood proudly on the front stoop of the new Brownstone building.
"So, Jeff, am I gonna see you soon? I know you're busy, and you gotta get a new mission, but you'll visit me, right?" Jaiden asked.
Jeffrey fought back tears, and for the first time he outright lied to the boy. "Sure! We'll hang out on a weekend. You know I haven't been to an arcade in fifteen years! And it's winter, we can go to the ice skating rink at Rockefeller center and see all those amazing new movies coming out. It'll be awesome."
Jaiden grinned and clutched the omni. "Maybe we can go back in time and fix history again! Yo, I forgot to tell you! I got a hundred plus on my book report on *Garrett Morgan!"
"That's hot!" Jeffrey beamed. "Did your teacher like how you wrote it as a reporter on the scene when he saved those guys in the tunnels with his new respiratory gas masks?"
"Yeah! She said it sounded like I was actually there!" Jaiden giggled. "I wish I could have tol' her I was. Thanks for taking me, Jeffrey."
"Any time, kiddo." Jeffrey's composure waned and Jaiden noticed. Jeffrey slid down to the first step and put his face in his hands. Jaiden sat next to him.
"What's the matter, J? You sick?"
"No, Jaiden…It's just…just that I can't…"
Jaiden forced his gaze and clutched his shoulders. He already knew the truth. There would be no movies or ice skating and arcades in his near future.
"Hey, Jeffrey, promise you won't forget about me? You're my best friend."
Jeffrey couldn't hold back the sob in his throat. He clutched Jaiden for the last time and kissed the top of his head. Jaiden's tears stung his cheek.
"Do you really have to leave me?" Jaiden cried. "Please don't go too long."
"You're very special to me, Jaiden. I love you and I'll never forget that. Be good to Pamela, stay in school and get high grades. I promise we'll see each other again very soon."
Jeffrey couldn't drag out the painful goodbye. He pulled away and stood up. "I have to go back to work now. And you have a parrot to feed." They looked at the window and Kiki called Jeffrey's name and hello. They laughed.
Jeffrey pulled the omni off his belt and Jaiden stepped back sadly. "I love you too, Jeffrey. I'll never forget anything."
Jeffrey recalled telling Bogg the same thing as a child. He mussed his wild curls. "I don't want you to…sometimes, writing events down help us to remember." He hinted.
Jeffrey hit the omni and disappeared. Jaiden cried the entire night and wrote some diary entries about his adventures. But the next morning neither Jaiden nor Pamela remembered Jeffrey or the Voyagers. Through the years Jaiden looked at his diary and wondered when in the world those events happened and what made him conjure up that story.
The Voyagers plucked Jaiden out of time one humid summer night in 2019. Now a rookie EMS worker, he and his partner made an emergency call to a shoot-out victim. As they tried to revive him the shooters came back to finish the job. The police pulled in fast, but one shooter had Jaiden in the line of fire. Jeffrey grabbed him in time and the bullets struck air.
Once situated, Jaiden's memories of Jeffrey flooded back and he eagerly accepted his new assignment. Jaiden visited Pamela for the last time and the Tribunal granted Jeffrey's request to have her memories restored. As hard as it was to let him go, Pamela proudly accepted that her last son would go on to universal success.
With Bogg on assignment, Jaiden became Jeffrey's roommate and they re-established their friendship. Jeffrey still felt a fatherly bond toward him and Jaiden looked up to him like a big brother.
A week after coming to Headquarters, Jeffrey escorted Jaiden to his first class.
"Jeffrey, I thought nobody was allowed to know that Voyagers existed. How come they let me visit Pamela?"
Jeffrey smiled. "After a lot of open cases and consideration, the Tribunal decided it was cruel to let the families of the ones they plucked suffer so much. It's really a case by case basis. Not everyone is seen fit to know the Voyager secret. We do have contacts in many time zones that help us out when needed. They're called Voyager Aides. You'll learn about them. I assured them Pamela won't betray us."
Jaiden was content with that answer. The first bell rang. "This is it, man. I'm glad you convinced them to lighten my class load, I mean, I went through two years of college already."
"They know that. These classes will be even better than the ones you'd be taking on earth. They're designed to help you with Voyager missions first and foremost, so you'll be prepared for the field work."
Jaiden stared at the enormous school building apprehensively. "I bet there's nothing better than hands on learning like you had with Bogg. I still wish it could have been like that for us, Jeff. I never forgot those voyages. And I can't eat potato chips without laughing."
Jeffrey laughed and patted his back. "Me too. Jaiden, I have to learn to trust the Tribunal. They know exactly when the time is right. Pamela needed you and you needed her, it wouldn't have been fair to take you, no matter how strongly I felt about it."
Jaiden smiled with renewed confidence as he entered the doorway. He felt warm inside knowing that Jeffrey always wanted to be a father-figure.
"Oh, yo, did you ever get in touch with Bogg?"
"I sent him an apology. He said he knows I never mean what I say when I get stubborn like that. I hope he's okay out there."
Jaiden chuckled. "How bad can it be in the sixties Midwest? Homeboy's probably living it up doing the twist and hanging out in malt shops with that girl."
"You're right! Peaches and cream. Don't be late for class, Jay. I'll catch you tonight."
"Yeah, it's Pizza night. See ya!"
Jeffrey strolled down the Academy hall and grinned from ear to ear. Two new case files sat on his desk at the Omni Control Center. But he felt his biggest mission as a Voyager Shadow was accomplished.
Just as he would always be Phineas Bogg's kid, in a different and extraordinary way, Jaiden would always be his.
*Garrett Augustus Morgan, Sr. (March 4, 1877 – August 27, 1963) was an African American inventor who invented a type of respiratory protective hood (similar to the modern gas masks), credited with having a patent for a type of traffic signal, and invented a hair-straightening preparation. He is renowned for a heroic rescue in which he used his hood to save workers trapped in a tunnel system filled with fumes. He is credited as the first African-American in Cleveland to own an automobile.
Up next: Bogg's Shadow adventures in Poor little rich girl