"Rob-bie," Jamie shouted as he walked through the wooded area behind their home. "Rob-bie."
His best guess was that his little brother had been missing for close to two hours. He had been wandering around the woods calling for what seemed like forever. Jamie feared he was either lost… or worse.
"Rob-bie," he continued to yell, as he made his way further into the woods.
"Robbie, where are you?" Jamie heard his brother shouting, too. Good, at least Thomas had decided to aid in the search. It was, after all, Thomas's fault Robbie was out here. He shouldn't have teased Robbie about being scared of the woods. He should have agreed to let Jamie go with him when Robbie asked.
"Thomas, wait up," Jamie called when he saw his older brother a few yards away. "I think we should go tell Mom and Dad."
"Let's look a little longer."
"I've been searching for over an hour. What if he's hurt?"
"Maybe he's hiding, trying to scare us," Thomas said.
"Not for this long. Come on, Thomas, we have to go tell Dad."
"I'm gonna be in so much trouble," Thomas muttered as he followed Jamie back through the woods and over the clearing to their house.
"What do you mean, you can't find Robbie?" Susan asked.
Jamie looked up at his mother, "He was looking for some wood for us; he must not have realized how far he had wandered away."
She sighed, this couldn’t be happening, "How long has he been gone?"
"I'm not sure, maybe a couple of hours," Jamie said.
"A couple of hours? Why are you just now telling us?" their mother shrieked.
"We were looking for him," Thomas explained.
Fred had been listening but thus far had let his wife ask the questions. Jamie watched as their father gave Thomas a disapproving look. "Son, you know we depend on you to watch out for your brothers."
Thomas's gaze dropped to his shoes. "Yes, sir, I'm sorry."
"Well, we're not doing any good sitting here, let’s go down to the woods. Susan, you stay here in case Robbie comes home."
"Should I call the police?" she asked.
"Not yet, but if we aren't back with him in an hour you better call them. It’ll be getting dark soon." Fred turned and began walking toward the door. "Come on boys, we need to go find your baby brother."
Jamie Chase had spent his morning in a mundane corporate meeting. He was in middle management for a corporation that had its hands in so many business ventures it was impossible to define. The company had countless subdivisions and joint ventures so that it seemed they owned a piece of just about everything.
The department Jamie worked in handled textiles. He had started at the corporation when he graduated from Indiana State and had worked his way up. He currently held a position that brought him a comfortable income, five weeks of paid vacation, and enough stock options to make early retirement look promising.
What he didn’t have was any passion for what he did. Oh, he liked his job well enough. It was challenging and most of the people he worked with were nice. But he felt no real zeal for it. He really could give a rat’s ass if the corporation pulled in an extra billion this year.
Passion was what he admired about his brothers. Thomas, his older brother, was a lawyer and a damn good one at that. He was ardent about it. And Robbie, his younger sibling, was a photographer. He worked freelance and sold his photos to various magazines. One had only to look at his work to know he was fervent about it, not to mention talented.
Jamie often wondered why he wasn’t as driven as his siblings. Instead, he seemed to take the path of least resistance. He had always been the peacekeeper in the family, the calm between his two very turbulent brothers, who couldn’t be more different from each other. Thomas, with his perfect wife and children and Robbie, out chasing men all over New York. They had seldom seen eye to eye on anything growing up and the divide had only grown deeper as they got older.
After lunch Jamie was back in his office sorting through the never-ending barrage of emails and voice mails.
He was about half way through his emails when his phone rang. “This is Jamie,” he said into the receiver.
“Hi Hon, how’s your day going?”
“Hi Sara. My day’s for shit. How is yours?”
“Something go wrong?”
“No, just boring.”
She laughed. “Poor Jamie stuck in a boring thankless job.”
“Yeah, and if you weren’t paid so much I might actually feel sorry for you.”
“Ah, so you do love me just for my money.”
“That and other attributes.”
“So where are we having diner tonight? My place or yours?”
“Yours, and you’re cooking,” Sara replied.
“Yeah? Hope you like frozen pizza.”
“Aren’t you the funny man?”
“You know it would be so much easier if you just moved in with me.” This had been a conversation they had had before, but he couldn’t help asking her again.
“Jamie, we’ll live together when we get married.” Sara was tired of this argument.
“Well, being that we’ve been engaged for almost a year and haven’t set a date yet…. Besides, it seems a waste, I mean it’s not like we aren’t staying at each other’s place most of the time anyway.”
“If I promise to get busy on setting a date will you hush for awhile?”
“Sara, I gotta go. My secretary just buzzed me, Mom is on the other line.”
“Okay, tell her hi from me. See ya tonight.”
“I’ll be home around six. Love you.” Jamie pushed the button for the other phone line.
“Mom? What’s up?”
“Jamie, I need you to come home. It’s your father…”