Six Eight Eighty Five by Cynthia Frazier Buck

March 11, 2015

The coroner looked down at the deceased and then at the file in his hand. According to the file, the deceased died after being hit by a car. The victim had no identification and no personal effects on his person at the time of the accident. The hospital listed the deceased as a John Doe.

The police ruled John Doe’s death an accident as the driver of the vehicle was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Excessive speed was also not a factor. John Doe, however, had a blood alcohol level twice the legal limit and had trace amounts of cocaine in his system at the time of his death. No autopsy is necessary. In an effort to locate next of kin, photos of John Doe are to be taken, including any scars or identifying marks. DNA samples and fingerprints are to be taken also.

The coroner laid the file down at John Doe’s feet and pulled the sheet off the body. He looked over the deceased from head to toe, picked up the camera, and took a photo of John Doe’s face. The second photo he took was of a tattoo on the deceased’s upper left arm. The numbers six, eight, and eighty five, spelled out and tattooed vertically.

*****

June 8, 1985

It had been a hard labor. The baby didn’t want to come out. Stubborn like me, Charlie thought. He looked at Alicia, who fell asleep shortly after the nurse took the baby to clean her up and get the proper examinations. Charlie hadn’t been able to fall asleep and not because of the small, uncomfortable recliner in the hospital room.

The nurse opened the door, wheeled in a bassinet and positioned it at the foot of the bed. “Just thought you might want to spend a little time with your daughter,” she said in a soft voice. “You let me know if you need anything.”

Charlie forced a smile and squeaked out a “thank you” to the nurse as she left the room. He got up from that awful recliner and stood by the bassinet. He looked down at his daughter and felt lost and helpless. This was for real. Somehow during Alicia’s pregnancy, it just hadn’t seemed real.

Charlie awkwardly picked up his baby girl. How could he know how to hold a baby when he was still just a kid himself? Nine months ago, all he wanted was to get into Alicia’s pants. A lifelong commitment was not part of the plan. This was all just too much for his seventeen year old brain to handle.

He kissed his sleeping daughter gently on the cheek. “I’m so sorry,” he whispered as he laid her back down in the bassinet. Charlie wiped a tear from his cheek and walked out of the hospital room.

*****

March 10, 2015

“Kristin, can’t this wait until tomorrow?” Alicia’s voice was filling the space inside Kristin’s car. “I’m worried about you driving in this horrible weather in an unfamiliar place.”

“Mom, this is the first lead I’ve had in a long time. If I don’t check it out as soon as possible, he might up and leave town again.” One thing Kristin has learned in the last fifteen years is that he never seems to stay in one place for too long.

Alicia sighed. Deep down she knew she was wasting her breath. “Okay. Well…good luck. I love you.”

“I’ll be careful, I promise. Love you too.” Kristen pressed the button to disconnect the hands-free call. Big fat raindrops were landing so hard and fast that the windshield wipers couldn’t clear them fast enough. She was white-knuckling the steering wheel, fighting the gusting wind, to keep her car in the correct lane.

It was spooky out here in the middle of nowhere. This hick town should splurge on a few more street lights. The car headlights and the occasional lightning bolt were the only sources of illumination. The tree branches swaying in the wind looked eerily ghost-like. The tall, thin figure in the middle of the road seemed…

“Shit!” Kristin slammed on the brakes, but it was too late. The tall, thin figure crashed into her windshield, smashing it into hundreds of pieces.

*****

May 2, 2000

“Mom, can we talk?” Kristin was fidgeting with her hands, staring down at the floor. She had considered not doing this school assignment and just taking an F.

“Sure sweetie. What is it?”

“Well, um…I have this school project. It’s about my family history. I was…wondering if…you could tell me about my father.” Kristin looked at her mother.

Alicia froze. She had always figured at some point her daughter would want to know about her father. She cleared her throat. “What exactly would you like to know?”

“Everything, I guess.” Kristin grabbed her mom’s hand to reassure her. “I never felt like I was missing out by not having a dad. But when this assignment came up, I realized there’s a part of myself that I don’t know anything about.”

“Honey, it’s natural for you to wonder about your dad.” Alicia quickly gathered her thoughts. “His name is Charles Ricci. We grew up together.” Tears were welling up in her eyes. “I loved him so much. But we were only seventeen. I guess he couldn’t handle it. Right after you were born, he left the hospital and I haven’t seen him since. Your Uncle Joey has seen him a couple of times and has told me things. Charlie moves around a lot.” Alicia paused, wondering how much to tell her daughter.

“He’s been to jail. A lot. Armed robbery, assault, and drugs. I’m sorry. I wish I could tell you nicer things about him.

“That’s okay, mom. Thanks for being honest.”

“Sweetie, there’s one more thing. Charlie has a tattoo. The numbers six, eight and eighty five are spelled out and tattooed vertically on his upper left arm.”

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