When Buford stepped away for a few moments to use the bathroom, Jarrel smiled and said in a whispery tone, “Now that the grownup is gone…” He then grinned and pulled out three lollipops and held them up for the boys to see. “My favorite color is teal, but they didn’t have teal lollipops in the bag I bought, so I’ll have the green. Who wants the yellow, and who the orange?” He asked Luke and Wade, whose eyes went wide as saucers at the treat they hadn’t seen in five years, both remembering lollipops if nothing else of their life before they had been kidnapped by their uncle. Not that they had the treat often with their father, but lollipops weren’t the sort of thing a kid forgot, no matter what trauma they’ve been through. “I’ll take the yellow.” Luke piped up immediately, leaving Wade to taking the orange, which he was more than happy to have.
All three took a few moments of silence to unwrap the plastic off their lollipops and a couple licks of appreciation before Jarrel spoke again, this time in a casual tone. “So where were you guys anyways? I bet if we were ever to play hide and seek you’d win. They looked everywhere for you.” Luke smiled a little at the hide-and-seek reference and compliment, but then turned serious, and he spoke in an angry tone, his young eyes flashing with anger. “Uncle Lloyd took us. Dad told us to hide in that cave we liked to play in so that that lady who was yelling at him wouldn’t send social services to take us away. So, we did. Then Uncle Lloyd came, but we thought it was our dad. He was dressed just like dad and had a beard and he was limping like dad does. He lied and told us he was taking us to a safe place, and he had us ride in a wagon behind an ATV. He brought us far into the woods. It was dark before we got to a little cabin. I fell asleep in the wagon so didn’t know where we were, but it was a long way. Mike stayed awake though. So, he remembered the way to get us back home, but it took longer walking.”
Luke took a few more licks of his lollipop before continuing, the lollipop soothing his anger to where when he spoke again it was more in a story-telling fashion. “As soon as we got into the house, Uncle Lloyd stopped limping and he pulled off the fake beard he was wearing. So, we knew he wasn’t dad at that point. Wade started crying, but Uncle Lloyd punched him in the face and knocked out a baby tooth. Mike tried to punch him back, but Uncle Lloyd punched Mike too and then me, even though I didn’t do nothing. Then he beat us all ’til none of us could get up. Then he told us that he was our Uncle Lloyd, but that he was going to be our new daddy and said we had to call him daddy or he’d beat our asses. He said we should have been his kids all along. That Angie should have been his wife… I think he meant mom. Her name was Angie… I remember that.”
Wade was just listening and nodding in support of what his brother was saying as he licked his lollipop, as Luke continued. “Mike killed him though and we got away. He stabbed him a lot of times with a knife when Uncle Lloyd tried to kill me because I tried to kill him when he was sleeping because he kept hurting us. Every day he’d hurt us and he never gave us nothing to eat or hardly nothing. But Uncle Lloyd woke up and boy was he pissed! He tied me down to a table and was going to cut me up into pieces, a bit at a time he said.”
Wade then pointed to a bad gash on Luke’s thigh, a deep cut which was infected in support of Luke’s claims, and Luke explained, “He did that with a saw. He was doing it slowly to make me scream, but Mike grabbed one of Uncle Lloyd’s knives and stabbed him in the back and then kept stabbing and stabbing and stabbing until he didn’t move no more. Then he untied me and we ran for it. We ran and ran and ran until we couldn’t run anymore, but Mike said we had to keep going anyways because he wasn’t sure if Uncle Lloyd was dead, or if he’d be coming after us. I was really scared. So, I kept running. I didn’t want Uncle Lloyd to cut me up like he said he was going to. Do you think he’s going to come after us? He’s going to be really, really mad if he ain’t dead.”
Jarrel’s eyes were wide as he slowly licked his lollipop as the boys told him what had happened, much as another kid would have been hearing the story. He shook his head at Wade’s question, but before he could offer any assurances, the Sheriff came into the kitchen. “Where’s Buford?” Jarrel gestured toward the bathroom. The Sheriff nodded, not having heard any of the conversations as the boys had been speaking in low tones. “Doc wants you to help him with Mike. I have an errand to run, but I’ll wait here with the boys until Buford gets out.”
Jarrel stood up and nodded. “Okay.” He paused and smiled at the boys, however. “Later after you’re all cleaned up and rested, I’ll give you each a ride on my scooter. It’s teal…” He took another lick of his lollipop before biting it off the stick so that he could continue to enjoy it but have his hands free if needed to help the doctor. He hummed to himself as he sucked on the remainder of his lollipop as he headed out of the kitchen tossing the stick in a kitchen wastebasket on the way past.