|"Fathers and Sons"
Disclaimer: Roswell, the characters, and situations are owned by the WB. No infringement intended.
Summary: A story about the Valenti men.
|The moon had already moved below the horizon and the stars were
brilliant. Starlight was enough to allow him to make out shapes
skittering about the ground and fly overhead. There was a stiff breeze
picking up from the east and the night grew cooler. The owls flew from
treetop to treetop in their relentless search for food. Crickets sounded
timid with their sparse numbers in the desert but there was more than
enough food for the life that lived in such a desolate place. Not far
away he heard the bark of coyotes planning an attack. Shortly after that
he heard them chase their prey and then there was silence. It was just
another night in the desert.
"Valenti, Valenti, are you there?" A tired voice came over the radio and jarred Sheriff Valenti back to reality.
"Where else would I be?"
"Are you sleeping out there?"
"Sure, I always work with my eyes closed." He was happy to talk to someone. It broke the monotony of sitting in the car waiting for something to happen. He wasn't used to working so late but he really didn't have a choice that night. "My brain seems to be misfiring out here with nothing to do. It's just too quiet. No kids, no cars, not even a lost tourist. You'd better come up with something for me to do pretty soon or I'll ...." The muted ring of a distant telephone was barley audible.
"You won't have to wait Valenti. I have a report here about a scuffle over by Shadow Rock near the old library. See old lady Spence for details. She said something about someone being attacked."
"I'm on my way." He quickly turned his car onto the road and drove toward the end of town. Attack? People weren't often attacked in Roswell. It was a small town and violent crime tended to happen in the larger cities. He put his siren and lights on and he sped to Spence house.
When he got there the lights were out inside the large two-story home. He got out of his car and walked up the stairs leading to the front room of the old house. As he approached he noticed the curtain in the front window move slightly apart. He could barely make out the face of the ancient widow complete with the muzzle of her shotgun used to part the drapes so she could have a clear look at him. He walked up next to the window so she could see him and knocked on the door. The hairs on the back of his neck stood on end.
"Mabel, are you okay? I'm here to answer your call. Are you all right?
Mabel Spence used to be the librarian at the huge old building she lived next to. This part of town used to be the main hub of activity but when the highway was built several miles down the road, all the businesses moved there to take advantage of the more profitable location. That's where the new library and all the schools were now. When the new building was built to house all the books the old building was abandoned. Since it was one of the Carnegie Foundation libraries, it was declared a historical monument.
Mabel lived alone after her husband died. She and Tom built their house together next to the library. Valenti was only about six at the time but he remembered watching them work right along side the construction teams who toiled an entire summer just to make sure it was finished before the library was opened. Tom was a lawyer and very good one too. He left Mabel well off when he died but when everyone moved away from Old Town, she stayed. Perhaps she felt closer to him in the spacious home that they shared for so long. It must have been filled with wonderful memories that she just couldn't face leaving behind. Now she lived alone at the very edge of civilization. She was closer to the caverns than town so she kept a shotgun in the house for protection.
Valenti stood beside the front door while she opened it and allowed him to enter into the living room. The fireplace was in use casting an eerie glow about the room. The shadows of the antique furniture onto the walls and floor made the room look smaller than it was. It seemed close and warm and inviting.
"Junior, you have changed so much, but I'd know you anywhere." Junior was the nickname that she had given him when he and his dad frequented her library. They didn't even share the same first name but she thought he was obviously his father's son. He and his dad loved the library and they spent hours searching the many stacks for books about other places. They shared the love of travel and talked about adventures they might share in other countries, other cultures. They never left the county but they loved to speculate.
"Mabel how are doing tonight," he asked amiably? He searched the room carefully, with his eyes, for shadows of a person that might be hiding in one of the adjacent rooms watching them.
"Don't worry Junior. There's no one in here. I already checked and all the doors and windows are locked. The ruckus was out by Shadow Rock. I heard a man yell and then there was a scuffle and then there was silence."
Valenti opened his notebook and wrote down her account of the event. "You could hear them fight?"
"Yes, but only for a short time. I saw their shadows against the face of the rock while the moon was still up. The moon's reflection against the rocks out here some nights is so bright that it almost seems like daylight. This is still the prettiest part of town, you know."
"Yeah, I have to agree with you there Mabel but I worry about you out here all alone."
"I know, Junior. I see your squad cars drive past this house at least four times a night."
"And, I'll make sure they keep coming out here too, but I need to see what happened outside." He walked toward the door.
"Do you need Betsy," she asked indicating here shotgun? He had to smile. No matter how large the weapon, she could not look threatening, she never could.
"Thanks, but I have everything I need in the car. Now, you stay inside out of site. Lock the door behind me. If you hear anything strange or if I'm not back in ten minutes call back to the station for someone to help me. " She nodded and locked the door after him.
Valenti took his own rifle and a flashlight out of the trunk and headed towards the trees. Something was missing but he couldn't imagine what it was. He skirted the tree line until he could see Shadow Rock. He wished the ground weren't so dry. The dry grass crackled loudly under his boots. The breeze had picked up again and his hair bristled in the coolness of the wind. He saw lightning in the distance and clouds rushed over the mountain peaks. He could smell rain in the air. A storm was moving in quickly. He made more noise than he wanted to but there was no other way to get to the crime scene. He could see something lying on the ground near the far side of the rock but it was mostly in the shadows. He stood there silent for a little while but the wind muffled anything that might have been moving out there. The only sound he heard was crickets from the nearby lake. He moved closer under cover of the trees but he saw no one.
He walked behind the rock and came out next to the object on the ground. It was a man. He checked the man for a pulse but there was none. The man's skin was cold so he had been dead for a while, probably since Mabel heard the fight. Valenti checked him for wounds the best he could but there was no moon to help light the area and the batteries in his flashlight were low.
Something caught his eye under the man's torn shirt. There on the man's chest was a glowing handprint. Valenti ran his hand lightly over the discolored area but nothing came off onto his fingers. There were no wounds, just the strange handprint. He couldn't see well enough to find evidence of the attacker. It was beginning to rain. Any evidence would be destroyed.
Valenti walked back to the car and the rain came down harder. He looked over at the house and saw Mabel in the window again and waved at her as he put his gun and light back into the trunk. He called for the coroner and a back up. He sat and waited in his car for the investigators to arrive. Something still didn't seem right. He rolled up the window to keep the wind out. His hat was on the seat next to him and his hair was wet. That was kind of strange, wasn't it? Time passed and Valenti felt increasingly nervous. He glanced into the side mirror to see if they were coming but saw only his face.
It was HIS face!
Jim Valenti woke up violently sitting bolt upright in bed. It was HIS face in the side mirror. He sat silently staring straight ahead. His heart was pounding and his sheets were soaked. He went over the dream in his mind again and again, but it was exactly the same as the three previous nights. It was exactly as his father told him it happened forty years before except that he was now sure that his father was telling the truth. Not even his family believed him then.
The library was still there and Jim remembered Mabel. When he was little he and his dad would visit her and she would bake him cookies. He would spend the afternoon climbing among the rocks while she and his dad talked. She was the only one that believed him. His dad was very sad when she died. It was the only time Jim saw his dad cry openly. Shortly after that the house burned down.
He heard his father tell the story of the body many times trying to convince people that what he saw was real but people just patronized him and went about their business. Soon Jim began to feel shame for his father. He began to walk to school rather than ride with his father. He would find somewhere else to eat if his mother wasn't home at night. A friend's house, anywhere. He even pretended to be tired and go to bed when his father wanted to talk to him. He just didn't want the shame he felt for his father rubbing off him. An uncomfortable distance grew between them and their lives changed forever.
A soft breeze came from the partially open window in his bedroom. Jim walked over and slammed it shut. He got fresh sheet and a blanket and lay back down in bed. It would be hours before his alarm rang. He tried to sleep but he couldn't. He just remained in bed trying not to think. That didn't work either.
The alarm sounded loudly at it's appointed time and Jim got up, showered, and got dressed to go to work. He came into the kitchen and Kyle was eating breakfast, Frosted Flakes. Kyle's mom used to let him eat them when he was little and Jim allowed it because it was one of the few connections his son had left with her. They both missed her more than they could say.
"Morning Dad. You look tired." Kyle would notice. He was sensitive toward things like that. He was happy that his son could read other people so well. Jim smiled and tried to act a little more chipper.
"I didn't sleep well last night." Jim sat down next to his son and poured himself some cereal too.
"I didn't sleep too well either. Something woke me up and I just couldn't get back to sleep."
"Oh, I'm sorry. I got up to close the window and it kind of slammed shut."
"That's okay. I'm fine. I had a lot to think about anyway. Well, I have to get going. My car's being fixed and I have to walk today."
"That's right, it's being tuned up today. Kyle, if you don't mind getting there a little early I can drop you off at school." Somehow he just wanted confirmation that his own son would not shun him. Instead his son smiled back at him and nodded.
They finished breakfast and headed toward the door. As they left Jim grabbed his hat and realized what seemed so out of place in the dream. It was the hat. He remembered that his father hated wearing it and would do almost anything to avoid doing so. One day he asked his father why he didn't wear it. His dad said that it was the part of the uniform that stayed in the car and left it at that. As a child it was something that Jim Valenti just accepted without question. As an adult Jim Valenti wore his hat everywhere. Anywhere, but inside the station. In there you just don't wear a cover when there's a roof over your head. Perhaps wearing the hat everywhere he could was out of subconscious need to be the opposite of his father. He wasn't ashamed any more.
He unlocked the car door and they got in but Jim just couldn't seem to put the hat on so he placed it in the back seat. As they drove down the street Kyle just stared out the window. How would he feel if his son wouldn't talk to him anymore?
"You're kind of quiet Kyle." Jim's throat felt a little tight all of a sudden.
"I'm sorry Dad, I'm just worried."
"Worried about what?" He could feel his left eyelid vibrate slightly from tension.
"Liz Parker." Valenti began to breathe easier. This wasn't about him at all. "Ever since that incident at the Crash down she's just acting different. She was never late before and she'd never tell me one thing and do another. I just don't understand. She seems to hang around Max a lot more lately. I mean, I'm not jealous. I'm not in love with her or anything but I'm concerned." He was silent again.
They stopped at the school drop off area and Kyle unlatched the door. "Kyle, don't try to tell Liz not to hang around with Max. That will only want to make her do it more." Kyle nodded and looked out the window.
"I learned that from you, Son." Jim punched Kyle playfully on the shoulder and smiled. Kyle smiled and punched him back. "You know I'm really proud of you, don't you Kyle?"
"Yeah, me too Dad. Thanks for the ride."
Kyle got out of the car and glanced back at his dad smiling one more time. He jogged across the lawn and caught up with some of his friends from the football team. Jim Valenti drove to work determined to find the truth and that day his hat resided in the car. That night the dreams stopped.
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