As he headed down stairs, the ringing of the phone again pestered him. This time it was County High school letting him know that an incident involving his son occurred and then Ephram left school grounds without permission. The administrator considered it truancy. Andy said thanked them for calling and said that he would deal with it.
He really needed that cup of coffee now. What has gotten into Ephram now? Just when they were beginning to bond something always had to interfere. He sat down to collect his thoughts and awaken his brain with a strong cup of black coffee. He pondered and wondered about how to deal with this new situation. Some how he needed to get through to Ephram and he needed to know what was going on inside his head. Maybe the two of them should take a small sabbatical together. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ As Ephram was leaning heavily on Laynie, his thoughts were brought back to the previous evening. The last thing he needed right now was another confrontation with his father. He stopped abruptly and shook his head.
"Laynie, I can't. I can't go home right now. Facing my father right now would be the equililent to facing the Gestapo from school."
Laynie was trying to be understanding but knew that Ephram needed medical attention. By the pale look on his face she knew that he wasn't going to hold off much longer. "We have a guest room on the back of our garage. I can sneak you in there were you can rest. You really don't look too good right now. Are you sure that you don't want your father's help?"
His weight was pressing harder onto her shoulder and his breathing was becoming labored. "Just help me to your place please." She managed to get him into the back yard without anyone noticing and through the door of the guestroom. He managed to get close enough to the bed before collapsing. She helped center him on the bed and roll him over onto his back. He closed his eyes and was out immediately. She was concerned that he may have fallen unconscious so she gently shook him to she if she would get a response. He moaned a little and coughed up a little blood.
"Ephram you may have internal injuries. I really think you need a Dr."
"No! Just let me sleep. I need some aspirin and some ice." She nodded and went inside her house. He needed someone and she was going to be that someone for him. She showed interest in him before and he broke her heart. She wanted to prove that she would not abandon him like Amy had done so many times in the past.
Laynie went inside the house and went unnoticed by the other people that occupied her home. She grabbed an ice pack from the medicine closet along with the aspirin and some food that was spread out all over the table tops. She went back outside to where Ephram lay sleeping panting softly as he breathed. She was able to wake him up enough to administer the medicine and he fell immediately back to sleep. She wiped up the blood that was stained on his face and arms. She put the ice pack on his swollen eye and mouth and gently slid next to him on the bed. She was going to stay with him until she knew that he was no longer in danger. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Andy waited and waited. Pacing back and forth until he thought for sure that he would wear a hole in the carpet. What was taking him so long? He should have been home by now. The time lapse turned into anger for him All he could think about was, when I get my hands on him it'll be something that he'll never forget. Hours passed until it was time for school to be out. Delia arrived on schedule but still no Ephram. He continued waiting helping Delia with her homework as the hours ticked by. Dinnertime came and still no Ephram. Anger turned into worry and it showed on his face.
"Dad get a grip. He's probably busy with something. He'll be home when he is finished." Delia offered.
Andy took note but was not satisfied with her remark. "Delia let's go for a ride. We'll check out all the places that he could be. This town isn't that big that we shouldn't be able to find him."
They went to the arcade, the movie house, bowling alley and a few other places that covered the town. He even thought it was a long shot but he went by the Abbott's to ask Amy. He didn't receive a warm reception there but he was told that Amy and Bright didn't attend school and neither had seen or communicated with Ephram. Andy was running out of choices to check and decided to go to Mama Joy's and ask if anyone had seen him. With every negative result he had a sick feeling in is gut that something wasn't right.
Andy and Delia walked into the dinner and Delia ran to the corner and jumped up on the barstool. "Hi Nina."
The nice blonde hair waitress greeted them warmly. "Hey you two. What brings you two by this evening? Looking for some ice cream?"
Delia looked up at her father with the huge big brown puppy dog eyes. "Please Dad, can we get some ice cream?"
Andy, who looked exhausted, came and slouched down into a seat next to her. "I'd be willing to buy ice cream for anyone in here who could give me information about my son."
Nina's mood change suddenly. "What's going on Andy." "I got a call from school today that there was an incident that occurred but they didn't tell me what kind and that he walked out of the building. That was around 10:30 this morning and I haven't heard or seen him since."
Nina looked really concerned because she had grown close to the Brown family ever since they moved into town. "Andy maybe you should call the police."
"I've thought about it but something tells me that he is deliberately trying to upset me."
"You mean that he is playing a game with you?"
"Maybe. We had a pretty good fight last night and he knows that I won't let it lie until we talk about it. He may be hiding out somewhere but I don't have a clue as to where."
"I don't think so." Came an unfamiliar voice from across the room.
Both Andy and Nina turned toward the voice. "Why do you say that?" Andy asked.
A young teenage boy about 14 came walking over to them. "I walked in on him. I was the one."
He wasn't making sense and Andy shook his head. "Walked in on what?"
"I walked into the bathroom this morning at school. I saw a bunch of junior and senior jocks run out. Ephram was lying on the floor not moving with blood all over his face. I ran to the office and told them. When they got there he was gone and they accused me of lying. They then checked his classes and he wasn't in them. Someone else said they saw him leaving school."
Now was a cause for Andy to become worried. "Jesus. How much blood are we talking about? Do you know the names of the boys from the bathroom?"
Before Andy could get off any more questions for the young boy Nina came over with the phone in her hand. "Andy you need to contact the police right now. He could be passed out somewhere or unable to move. I'll call the hospital and see if a 15-year old boy have been brought in."
Andy called the police on his cell phone while Nina called the hospital. The police was at the diner in 5 minutes and the news from the hospital was negative. The police got what information from the boy that they could and proceeded to send a couple of deputies to the residence of the violators. Nina was closing up shop and told Andy that she would take Delia home and put her to bed while he rode with the police backtracking from the school.
Since not much happened in the small town of Everwood then the whole police department was at Andy's deposal. Several officer's proceeded through the neighborhoods asking questions with the residents while Andy rode over to the high school with another one. When they arrived at the school Andy walked over to the bike rack and stood by his bike. He turned to the policeman and said, "This is Ephram's bike. He never would leave his bike behind. What has happened to him?"