Marcus waited patiently for Lewis to arrive. He should have known better. Lewis, in the entire twenty-one years of his life, had never been on time for a meeting even once. Why would he expect him to start showing up now? Not like this was a hard day for Marcus and he could use the support of having a concrete schedule or anything. Nope. Lewis always moved at his own pace.
When Lewis came around the corner with a pack of fried dough in his hand, and a piece to be handed to Marcus—her forgave Lewis completely. It was the basis of their friendship that Marcus always forgave Lewis completely because it was the only thing that kept Lewis forgiving Marcus when he messed up.
“Does your mom know you’re here?” Lewis asked as a greeting.
Marcus laughed out loud. “She’d kill me. Then she’d kill you for good measure. And then probably kill me again.”
Lewis took a thoughtful bite out of his dough. “Fair enough,” he conceded through his full mouth.
Marcus made a disgusted sound, which was only doubled when Lewis laughed open-mouthed with the bread still there. “I hate you.”
“Course you do,” Lewis grinned, throwing his non-bread carrying arm around Marcus’ shoulders. “Lead the way.”
Marcus did just that. They walked in silence, chewing on their bread. About a half hour later, they were leaving the outskirts of the town, making their way down the path through the woods, passing the occasional clearing where people had set up little camps. Some of them were the more permeant camps of people who worked in the city but couldn’t afford to live anywhere else inside the city limits. Others were the temporary camps of people who were traveling by but didn’t want any official record of them staying here. It was one of the latter camps that they were looking for.
It had been almost seven years, but Marcus still recognized him as they approached the camp, as easily as if they’d seen each other the week before—although neither Marcus nor his father looked anything like the same as they had on that night seven years ago.
He finished the last bites of his bread and turned back to make sure Lewis had done the same. Together, they stepped into the little clearing, both of their hands half-raised, fingers spread, so he could easily see that they didn’t have any weapons in their grip.
“Hey Dad,” Marcus called, trying not to startle him.
The old man looked up from his little campfire and gave his son a small smile. “Markie.” He stood up and shook his son’s hand. “And Little Lewy. Well, I never.”
“Oh, sir, no one calls me Lewy anymore,” Lewis chuckled, shaking the hand offered him.
“Well, I’m sure no one calls him Markie, and certainly no one calls me sir,” he laughed, sinking back down onto the log he was using as a bench at the side of the fire. “So—let’s agree. Lewis. Mark. And Dad or Jameson as our respective relationships dictate?”
“Sure, Jameson.” Lewis offered because Marcus didn’t seem like he had anything he wanted to say. Lewis and Marcus sat down on a log on the opposite side of the fire.
“So—“ Jameson prompted, but no one picked up the thread, “Well. Uh, does your mother know you’re here?”
Marcus didn’t find the question as humorous this time around. “You’re not in shackles, are you? Do you really think that my mother is at all aware you are in the same country, let alone the same town?”
“That’s…a fair point,” Jameson replied. “I know I’ve told you before, but I feel the need to tell you, again and again, I never meant to hurt you and your mother that way. But I can’t choose who I am and I can’t change my nature. It was foolish of your mother to think I could and it was foolish of me to try.”
“I know, Dad. I’ve heard it before, and you haven’t changed the song,” Marcus answered, softening despite himself. He hated his father and unconditionally loved his father all at the same time. It was such an awkward position to be put into. “Why did you ask me to come out here, Dad? This can’t be the first time in seven years you’ve been in the area. Why now?”
“I found something.” Jameson’s hand went to a charm that was hanging off his neck. “It was your grandfathers—and then it was mine for a while before it was lost. And—I figure that it should be yours. You’ll keep better care of it then I ever could, and you can keep it in the family if you decide to have a family of your own.”
He pulled the cord off from around his neck and handed it over to Marcus at the side of the fire. It was a silver disc, about half the size of Marcus’ palm, tied to a piece of leather cord. “It’s supposed to be good luck if you believe in that kind of nonsense. Your grandfather certainly did, and I know your mother does—I’m not so sure. But I’ll leave you to make up your own mind.”
Marcus turned the circle over and over again his hand, trying to figure out what the appropriate response was to a random piece of metal. “This is it?” he finally settled on. “You wanted to see me because you had a necklace to give me.” He could feel the anger starting to rise in his blood, and tried to stamp it down as quickly as it had appeared. His father was the one with the temper—and Marcus did all he could to try and hide the fact he had inherited that.
“Well, yeah,” His father looked a bit deflated, “It was your grandfather’s, and I thought it was something you might like to have.”
Marcus considered tossing the necklace into the fire—but that was the temper talking. That was something his father would have done. Not him. Instead, he slipped the circle into his pocket and gave Lewis a look that said it was time to go. “Thanks, Dad,” he offered, starting to back away from the fire.
“Will I see you again while I’m in town?” Jameson asked.
“I don’t know, Dad. I don’t know.” Jameson didn’t press for a more concrete answer, so Marcus turned on his heel and walked away. Lewis caught up with Marcus quickly, throwing an arm around Marcus’ shoulders again. “I don’t know why I thought this was a good idea,” Marcus confided.
“Well, at least we got some good bread out of all this,” Lewis offered with a grin. “That’s not nothing.”
Marcus laughed, suddenly remembering why he had invited Lewis to this. “Yeah, that’s not nothing.”