The Faceless One

The Faceless One by Mark Onspaugh Read Free Book Online

Book: The Faceless One by Mark Onspaugh Read Free Book Online
Authors: Mark Onspaugh
Tags: Suspense, Fantasy, Horror
Bobby playing dejectedly with his teddy bear, a one-eyed veteran named Bonomo, and some Tupperware lids.
    “Hey, kiddo.”
    “Hi, Daddy.”
    “Weren’t you going to play at Dylan’s?”
    “Dylan’s at day camp.”
    “Oh. Are you sad because you’re not in day camp?”
    Bobby shook his head emphatically. “Dylan doesn’t like it there. He only goes because his dad says he has to.”
    “Huh,” Steven said, “that’s pretty sucky.” He thought he should amend the sentence to something more polite, but Bobby hadn’t seemed to notice. “What about Caleb or Juan?”
    “Caleb’s in vacation Bible school, and Juan’s got soccer.”
    Jesus
, Steven thought,
don’t kids just stay home and play anymore?
When he was a kid, he’d roam the hills with his brother Daniel, often staying out until dinnertime. He knew that a structured childhood was the accepted norm these days, but he and Liz just couldn’t bring themselves to regiment every minute of Bobby’s time. They agreed that a child had to have some free time to give his own imagination and style free rein.
    Steven hunkered down until the two of them were eye to eye.
    “No one to play with, huh?”
    Bobby shook his head.
    “What about Bonomo? I thought he was your best friend.”
    “He is, but we want to play with some real kids.”
    Steven stroked his son’s hair. Bobby was as blond as his mother but had gotten Steven’s hazel eyes.
    The kid looked so dejected—all alone on a bright summer day. That sucked. At least he had always had his brother to play with.
    Danny. Steven hadn’t heard from him in months. That wasn’t unusual, as Daniel often went off on digs or various expeditions. He would become so immersed in his work that it would seem he had literally dropped off the face of the Earth, then he would call or suddenly show up, his arms full of gifts and his blue eyes sparkling, ready to share new stories and anecdotes from strange and exotic places. He really should give Danny a call, then go over his books, try to scrape up enough to get an order into Ingram so he’d have enough inventory to pay the rent.
    Bobby sighed, that heavy, world-weary sigh of a five-year-old.
    Steven kissed the top of his son’s head. His own father’s career as an aerospace engineer had kept him very busy, but he had always found time to be with his two sons. It was an exampleSteven had vowed to follow with his own son. “Hey, sport, why don’t you and I go soak in the pool? When Mommy comes home, we can go to Red Robin Burger, then to the movies.”
    The look in his son’s eyes was more rewarding than anything he could imagine. Sometimes, the world could be such a pile of shit. Then you’d look at your wife or your son, and you’d be shocked at how beautiful the world could be.
    “Can we see the new SpongeBob?”
    “Whatever you want.”
    Bobby jumped up and cheered, trying to make his voice deep and powerful. Steven laughed as the boy grabbed up his bear and ran down the hall, shouting like a pint-sized berserker.
    Steven smiled, glad he had made his son so happy.
    Maybe things weren’t so bad after all.
    * * *
    While Steven was filling the little inflated pool, his wife, Liz, was sipping a Diet Coke in the Student Union building. Her classes were finished for the day, and she didn’t schedule office hours on Steven’s day off. Usually, she would be near Alvarado Boulevard by this time, working her way north to the freeways that took her home.
    The truth was, she was in no hurry to get home that day. Steven had been a real ass, and she was still angry.
    She knew he was upset about the store. How could she not? She had helped him scout the location, paint the interior, build shelves, and move in stock. And it was her mural that graced the façade. Jesus, she knew almost as much about that store as he did, yet he rarely confided in her when business was going poorly. But she could always tell. He would come home surly, and neither she nor Bobby could

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