EPISODE FIVE: Consequences
Lyn sighed. There goes Lincoln, doing whatever he wants again. That boy never changes.
“I’m going after him,” Toby said suddenly, getting up and running for the door.
Lyn grabbed his arm and pulled him back. “What are you doing?”
Toby turned around. “Lyn, this is something I have to do. Lincoln’s a loose cannon. You can’t trust him out there by himself. Who knows what he’ll do.”
Lyn let go of his arm. Toby was never a strong man. He never persisted in anything. She’d been able to persuade him to ride on a highway that he hated and visit a family that was on the rocks, just for her.
I don’t know how to handle this.
“Tobias is right,” her mother said. “Lincoln will do something crazy. He’s done it before, he’ll do it again.”
“I don’t like this,” her father sighed, “but it’s true.”
“Then I’m going with you,” Lyn said, standing up. “And nothing any of you guys say will stop me.”
She walked to the door and turned around.
“Well, are we going or not?”
Emmy shut the door and turned to her husband.
“Can you please tell me what’s going on here?”
Jamison looked away from her. “What do you mean? I already told you.”
“No, you didn’t.” She reached out and touched his arm. “There’s something more.”
“It’s an infection, Emmy. That’s all I know.”
“And our neighborhood is safe?”
“For now.” He pulled her into an embrace. He’d been doing that a lot recently. “What are we going to do about our kids?” He asked, resting his head on her shoulder.
“If Rosemarie is out there, they’ll find her and bring her back,” Emmy said quickly. “Then we’ll make sure we have what we need to survive this thing.”
“She’ll come back here, Emmy. I know it. She always has, always will.” He paused. “Should I have let Lincoln go anyway?”
“Did you really think you could have stopped him?”
“I didn’t want anything to happen to him.” Jamison paused, then sighed deeply. “I guess I wasn’t thinking clearly.”
“Did that paper tell you anything about this infection? How it’s spread, what the symptoms look like?” Emmy knew her husband was trying to process all of this. He always tried to be strong and, even though she hadn’t always been there, she was trying. But, right now, she needed to get him focused on the issue at hand.
“It was not clear,” he said, pulling away from her slowly. “It seems that the government is covering something up. A few other areas are also being locked down, in order to keep this thing from spreading everywhere.”
“Isn’t it strange, though, to quarantine the areas that are safe? Wouldn’t they rather close off the areas with the sickness to keep it from spreading?”
“I don’t know, Emmy,” her husband said, shaking his head. “Who are we to question the government?”
The night was quiet as Lincoln walked along the sidewalk, trying to remember the names of Rosemarie’s friends. If he could get the names, maybe he could get an address, and maybe he’d find her.
Cut out all this “maybe” stuff. You’re gonna find Rosemarie.
Lincoln saw a few kids riding their bikes in the street. Had the government agent told them about the quarantine? He wondered if he should tell them, but thought better of it.
Wouldn’t want to get into any more trouble around here. The association and the security guards already know me by name. Knowing them, they’d spin it into something terrible just to get me locked out of the quarantine.
He held back a laugh. The things he’d done growing up were so ridiculous. He didn’t understand why he’d done half of them. A few were for a laugh. Others, a thrill. A girl. All worthless reasons, but it didn’t bother him. It’d been fun and he’d learned how to take his consequences like a man. That’s probably the only thing his father had taught him. You mess up, you deal with the mess that follows. You don’t blame it on anyone else.
The affair was his father’s punishment, his consequence for being a terrible father. Lincoln let the laugh escape this time. Even after all the pain it’d caused him, he understood its place in his life. It had taught him that everything you do comes around, both the good and the bad.
It had also taught him to be a good daddy to your kids, or else your wife is going to find someone else to make her happy.
“Look, there’s Lincoln!” Toby shouted, waving like mad. Lyn squinted in the dark, but couldn’t see him.
“Hey, Lincoln! We’re over here!”
“I don’t see him, babe.”
A dark shape drew closer to them.
She still couldn’t see him too well, but the bored tone gave it away. It was, indeed, her brother.
“Any luck?” Toby asked.
“Nope. I can’t think of any of her friends names. I thought I could get their addresses or something, but I can’t remember them.”
Leave it up to Lincoln to know absolutely nothing about the sister he claimed to love. Lyn closed her eyes, trying to probe her memory. She had never hung out much with her sister around the neighborhood, but she remembered one girl she always talked about.
“Well, what about Misty?”
“Misty?” Lincoln shook his head. “Rosemarie was friends with Misty?”
Lyn raised an eyebrow. “What, do you know her?”
“Uh, yes, I do,” Lincoln stammered. “We had, uh, Physics together in high school.”
“You never took Physics.”
“I don’t want to get into this,” Lincoln said, his voice raising. “Let’s just say I know where she lives. It’s over this way.”
He pointed to a house at the end of their block. They began to walk. Lyn held on to Toby’s arm and let Lincoln walk ahead of them.
She leaned in to whisper to him. “I’ll bet she was one of his girls.”
“Hey, I can’t worry about that,” Toby replied, “and you have no business speculating.”
“I have as much business speculating as I want,” she said. “He’s my brother.”
“Well, why don’t you ask him? I mean, why not see if your speculations are correct?”
Lyn laughed. Her brother glanced back for a second.
“I don’t need to ask him,” she said to her husband, keeping her voice low. “I already know.”
“Your childishness is growing tiresome,” Toby said suddenly. “Hey, Lincoln,” he said, raising his voice. “Was Misty one of your girls? Is that how come you know who she is and where she lives?”
Lincoln turned around. “Did Lyn tell you that?” He scoffed. “Leave it up to her to say something absurd.”
“I asked you a question, Lincoln,” Toby said. “Was she one of your girls?”
“No,” he said, glaring at Lyn. “Misty was probably the only girl that didn’t want me. And we did have Physics together, which I did take back in high school. I visited her once to study, which I thought meant something else, but she really wanted to study, so I didn’t try anything.” He crossed his arms. “Is that good enough for you, Lyn?”
She didn’t believe him, but it was easy enough to confirm once they found Misty. Lincoln had never opened a textbook in his life. It was a miracle he’d even made it through high school.
“The house is right over here,” he said. He turned to Toby. “I don’t want to go in.”
“Are you two not on speaking terms?”
Lyn scoffed. “If some guy came over my house under the pretense of studying and tried to make a move on me, I wouldn’t be on speaking terms with him, either.”
“Lyn, you need to keep your feelings out of this, okay? I already told you that I didn’t try anything on Misty. You can believe me or not,” Lincoln said, “but I don’t want to go in there.”
“That’s fine,” Toby said, touching his shoulder. “You can wait out here. Lyn and I will go inside.”
Lyn and Toby walked on ahead.
“You need to stop this, Lyn,” Toby said. “I’ve never seen this side of you before. I mean, I’ve seen you angry, but this isn’t just anger. It’s bitterness.”
“You don’t know what I’ve been through with Lincoln, okay?” Lyn felt her guard rising and her voice going cold. She didn’t want to be this way with her husband, but she couldn’t help it. He didn’t understand, and even if she told him, he’d just say that she was wrong and she needed to let it go. That’s all he ever said when she talked about her family.
“I don’t need to know what you’ve been through to know that you aren’t dealing with it properly.” He grabbed her hand. “This is the house. Let’s go find your sister.”
“Your story checks out.”
Lincoln jumped at the voice. He’d been leaning against a car in he driveway next to Misty’s house, remembering. He hadn’t expected Toby’s voice to be so strong. He cleared his throat.
“But Rosemarie wasn’t there.” Toby shook his head. “Turns out she had been there, but told Misty she was going to visit her boyfriend.”
“Her boyfriend?” Lincoln stood up straight. “He lives in Homestead.”
“How far away is it?” Toby asked.
“It’s about fifteen minutes on the turnpike.” He looked around. “I hate to ask this question, but where’s Lyn?”
“She’s coming out in a second. She was just talking to Misty a little longer.” Toby crossed his arms. “Misty wanted to see you, but we told her you weren’t around. She said she missed you.”
“I’m sure she does.”
“Why didn’t you want to see her?”
“I don’t want to talk about it,” Lincoln said. “It’s not so pleasant a memory to dig up.”
“Did you do something you regretted?”
“I don’t regret anything,” Lincoln replied. “I take responsibility for everything I do. Can we please just talk about something else?”
“Okay,” Toby said. “We can talk about why you and Lyn can’t stand each other.”
Lincoln laughed. “Yeah, I don’t want to talk about that either. You can wait here for your wife. I’m going home to tell Dad I’m going to Homestead.”
“You’re not going without me, Lincoln. And if I go, Lyn goes as well.”
“How did I know you were going to say that?”