The DEA watched from the woods as a “customer” walked up to their suspect’s door; a man that the locals called Wolf, though his real name was Lyle Carmichael.
The head agent slapped at his neck for the hundredth time. “Damned swamp mosquitoes. I’m being eaten alive.” His partner chuckled not being afflicted as he had sprayed himself thoroughly with Off before the job. Having been born and raised in the bayou, he knew better, though he had left for college and the big city right out of high school, and become a law enforcement officer–drug control.
Inside the house, a small boy–four years old–played with the random beer cans strewn about the living room, stacking them and rolling them around, wearing only a pair of boxer shorts way too large for him, cinched tight at the waist with a cord wrapped around a chunk of the material from behind. The right side of his face was bruised with his eye swelled shut and he had bruises and cuts all over his body and bright red welts across his back and legs from a recent beating with his father’s strap and belt buckle. Travis wasn’t even sure what the beating had been for, but he rarely did know. He just knew that his daddy got angry sometimes and then hurt him.
Wolf looked around outside but not seeing anyone handed the man a bag of homegrown weed; the best in the County. Buford grinned as he handed over the cash. “Thanks, Wolf.” Wolf nodded and shut the door after the man walked off and went and flopped down on the couch, popped open another can of beer and took a long swig, completely unaware that DEA agents were arresting his friend outside; one holding a hand over Buford’s mouth to prevent him from giving Wolf any warning of their presence.
Wolf looked over at his son playing and sighed at seeing the bruises. He loved his son and didn’t mean to hurt him but sometimes his temper would just come up. “Boy, put those cans down and come over here. Daddy’s sorry for hitting on you.”
Travis looked over and bit his lip. He was generally wary of his father, but he could tell from his father’s tone that he wasn’t angry anymore. So, he went over and climbed into his father’s lap. Wolf put an arm around his son and kissed the top of his head. “You know I love you, boy. Don’t ever doubt that.”
Wolf startled suddenly when his door was bust open and he instinctively shoved Travis away from him; prepared to fight if need be.
The first agents inside took the scene in with disgust; at the conditions that this young child was being raised in, and the bruises, welts, and cuts all over his body.
Travis trembled in fear at the sudden intrusion, shouting, and guns being pointed at his father. The cops ignored the boy, however, and focused on Wolf who was now trying to run for the back door, but he didn’t make it when a couple more agents came in through the back, and he was taken down in the kitchen.
Travis watched through the door, biting his lip again as his father struggled and was being beaten by the cops for resisting, and ultimately cuffed.
One of the agents looked over at Travis and pointed toward him. “We’ll need social services in here for the kid. No one said he had a kid in here.”
Wolf looked over at his son. “Run, boy!”
Travis was up like a jackrabbit and out the front door running for the swamps.
The agent swore as he took off after him, but when he got outside, he didn’t see a sign of the boy. The foliage was thick this far out from town and he could have gone anywhere. The agent shone a flashlight around the yard, looking under the porch and continuing to swear to himself. “Dammit! Where did he go?” The agent then called out. “Boy! Come on out! No one’s going to hurt you! It’s dangerous out here alone!”
Though Travis heard him, he kept running; running for the hiding place his daddy had shown him, deep in the swamps. His daddy had told him to go there if there was ever any trouble.