Status: coming back late 2015

Halcyon Days

dass ich so traurig bin

After having suffered through accusations that his father had only left because his whore of a mother was sleeping her way down the eastern seaboard, Jonah Winston Hirschel found himself impervious to insults. In some instances, he even responded amicably, and he hadn't had a chance to decide whether or not he was proud of his cowardice.

In retrospect, he wished he'd stood up more for his mother -- a good working-class woman in her own right. He understood that the only reason he was able to deflect the unsavory comments was the simple fact that they were all untrue: Mrs. Hirschel was as Catholic as they came. Still, every remark somehow managed to come back and bite the seventeen-year-old in the ass.

But as the derogatory comments began to take their toll upon his shoulders, Jonah found solace in the ocean.

He stood at the edge of the waves, letting the cold water lap across his feet as the midday sun bore daggers across his offensively neon orange t-shirt and various groups of people chattered nearby. He closed his eyes as he lifted his face; the salt spray was as soothing as ever.

"Hey, kid." A familiar gruff voice reverberated behind him, and Jonah turned to grin at the newcomer.

"Hey, Uncle Hank," he greeted. "I thought Wright's case was closed for the time being." His eyes analyzed the police uniform and grim expression, which garnered the uncomfortable attention of a few others in their midst.

Hank Harding shook his head. "It is, but I can't figure it out," he said, desperation evident. The five-foot-eleven man shrank back into the sand as the water threatened to seep into his leather shoes. "I need to figure it out."

"Never would've guessed you cared about Bud," Jonah said wryly. He was reminded of the time the drunkard had attempted to break into his house, on the basis that he'd seen cigarettes in the living room that were "just waiting to be lit."

The chief shuddered, having also recounted the unpleasant memory. "He wasn't the best neighbor," he agreed. "I just can't put my finger on it. One minute, he's fishing in Lake Joppa, and the next, his hat is found floating not three miles from here."

Jonah frowned and stuffed his hands in the pockets of his cargo shorts, watching a seagull swoop down nearby to peck at French fries being tossed by a pair of amused children. He figured the seagull had the better end of the deal, but didn't present any acknowledgement to his uncle otherwise.

"How's Helen doing?" Hank pressed when he didn't receive an answer, diverting the conversation to his sister. His nephew's frown deepened into a scowl.

"She won't let me buy a car because it is not God's will." The end of Jonah's sentence came from between clenched teeth. "It's not even an expensive one," he insisted, "just a Toyota Sequoia with a dent in the passenger-side door."

The seagull he was watching had become more interested in the puddles of ice cream that the residents of Amittai Island were constantly creating in the August heat.

Inwardly, Hank laughed: Helen seemed to have gotten all of their parents' religious inclinations, and left none for him. The older man gestured to his car keys, emblazoned with Audi's signature four overlapping rings. "I prefer my cars German," he rumbled.

Jonah's tone was audibly exasperated as he replied, "I prefer my cars to exist."

Hank gave him a clap on the back, assuring him that he would be able to drive his own vehicle in due time. The teenager scoffed -- it had taken him two consecutive years to persuade his mother into allowing him to own a TV, let alone what she considered death on wheels.

The pair stood silent afterwards, watching as families swam farther out. Jonah eyed one of the prettier lifeguards, and Hank watched his dark-haired nephew in amusement until his phone went off in his pocket.

"This is Harding," he said as he brought it to his ear without checking the caller ID.

He was greeted by the frantic voice of his sister. "Have you seen Jonah?" she all but cried into the receiver. "He's been gone all day and didn't tell me where he was going!"

He chuckled, a low, throaty sound. "Hel, I'm pretty sure that if you backed down, he'd warm up to you a little more."

"I am his mother," she seethed before taking on a more accusatory tone. Jonah flinched as he could hear her voice on the other end of the line. "You're with him right now, aren't you?"

"That's not important," said Hank firmly, and Jonah silently thanked whatever god was out there for at least giving him one tolerable relative. "I'll make sure he gets home safely, but you know, it might be easier if he had his own car."

Jonah hoped with all his might that the screech he heard following his uncle's words came from the seagulls and not the woman who'd be waiting for him when he got home.

Alas, he was wrong.


"Jonah Winston Hirschel, would you mind giving me an explanation as to why you left without warning?" Helen's face was red with anger. "Not to mention," she continued to her son's dismay, "you essentially had your own uncle take the blame for your disappearance. When are you going to be responsible for your own actions? Why can't you answer your phone when I call you?"

Jonah sighed and rubbed one of his tired eyes, avoiding his mother's steady gaze. He didn't feel like being lectured, though answering back would only set her off more. He settled for a "Sorry, Mom. It won't happen again," though he knew his promise was empty, and turned to head upstairs.

"Jonah, I'm not done with you." Warning oozed out of every word, causing him to pause at the base of the steps. "You can't be so careless all the time," Helen said. She chewed him out for a few more moments before repeating one of her classic arguments. "What would your father say?"

Jonah yawned. Usually he apologized profusely at this point, but the clock on the wall in front of him read eleven fifty-four and he was in no mood to continue fighting.

"I don't know," he said finally with an air of defeat. "I barely knew him."

His words hit Helen like knives; she hadn't anticipated his resigned response, having been bracing herself for rudeness. As Jonah slowly asked, "Can I just go to sleep now? I have school tomorrow," she nodded dazedly in spite of herself. Even as her son disappeared into his bedroom, she remained stunned and briefly considered pulling out old family albums along with the necessary tub of comfort ice cream.

Jonah wasn't in much better shape as he finally collapsed on his bed. He pulled out the one photograph he retained of his father, a tattered Polaroid of which the writing had been smudged long before he could remember.

Greg Hirschel had been locally revered as a fisherman, and even half of Maine's mainlanders were well aware of his impossibly precise ability to predict when more fish would bite. At least, that was what the obituary that the neighbors had testified to had said.

The boy replaced the photograph under his pillow and set his alarm before he flicked a switch on his bedside lamp and the room went dark. He tossed and turned for several minutes, but sleep didn't come. All he could think about, strangely, was the disappearance of Buster Wright. An unsettled feeling washed over him, wondering just how the man had vanished.

As Jonah finally settled into sleep, he dreamed he was drowning.
♠ ♠ ♠
why i am so sad at heart

i still think helen's nickname is funny
anyway, hopefully i can update more frequently this time around. i have a pretty good idea of how i want this story to go!