When they cleared Marysville, Grandmother pulled over. Tears stained her dress. Uncle Keith, too young to get his license, begged his Mom to drive. Distraught, her distress alarmed the boys. They switched places. On the way to Santa Barbara, she told them Grandad would no longer be home and they would probably never see him again. Ever. He had found another woman he loved more than her, more than their family. They would now be a family of three and they would have to love each other very much. She put her hand on Uncle Keith’s shoulder and, looking back at Dad, said, “Keith will have to be the man of the family now and Bruce, you will have to help as much as you can. I think we will be moving back to California where we have family and your Aunts Mayme and Gen will be able to help while I find employment and a place we can call home.” The words were too bitter for her and she choked on the remaining syllables.
In Santa Barbara, Grandmother, the Aunts, and Keith talked quietly in the kitchen. Dad wandered the streets where he was first born and lived, but he didn’t know his hometown or its people. It was a foreign place. Gone was his beloved half-wolf half-shepherd dog, Wolf, gone were his childhood friends, and gone was his Dad who used to stand on the porch and tell them stories of heroes and epic feats. He walked down State Street toward the Old Courthouse and Library.
He was alone.
He thought of Arizona and the home he loved. He thought of his horse, Little Gray, and his dog, Dog. He remembered each and every friend and Creighton school and his teachers. The desert. The mountains. The grandeur of place. Even the pinch of a scorpion would’ve been welcome. Tears ran down his face, but he could not cry. He couldn’t feel anything but the emptiness that shriveled his insides and opened up an abyss of darkness. He cried for his own lack of importance. His family and his trust had been violated.
He was twelve.
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