The day at work had been a normal one; it was only part time after all. As if pencil pushing could be called a 'job'. Shaking his head, he climbed behind the wheel of a large black Cadillac, something most legitimate pencil pushers could never afford. Chuckling to himself at the irony of the situation, he closed the door and buckled himself in. His next destination, home in the welcoming suburbs. Home meant his wife, Wilhelmina. There's a name you don't see everyday. Then again, 'Shelby' was another odd one, so he supposed they were made for each other. Home also meant little Zack, the Falkners' pride and joy. Sweet little Zack was an angel of a child. No babysitter had ever complained about him and his grandparents practically begged the couple to let them borrow him nearly every weekend. Zack's ninth birthday had just recently passed and already he had reached four feet and three inches. Shelby could imagine the genuine glee on the child's rounded face as his Daddy would pull into the driveway at around five o' clock each weekday. The boy would dutifully stand off to the side, so as not to worry Mama, when Daddy pulled in. As soon as the car was in the garage of the modest, single story ranch-style house, little Zack would rush over and help Daddy with anything and everything his unusually deft hands could manage to lay themselves upon. He would scuttle in the house ahead of his father and put everything away that he could reach, which was quite a bit. Daddy would kiss Mama and Zack would cover his eyes, mostly, and go 'eeeew!'. Zack had sparkling blue eyes, just like his mother and they would search his Daddy's person all over for hints of the candy bar that he always brought home, without fail. Depending on where Shelby stopped after work, Zack might get a Baby Ruth or a Butterfinger, or some such nonsense, but always something good.
"You and your father have the same taste in chocolate," Wilhelmina said in mock exasperation, "And the same style when you eat it."
Indeed, both father and son were seated at the table, sharing a Snickers with little hairs of caramel caught up on their chins.
"Lookit that 'Mina," Shelby exclaimed gleefully, his rumbling bass of a voice laced with amusement, "Your son's got a soul patch."
She looked to Zack, who did indeed have a splotch of chocolate just under his lip in a line. The child's face was smeared with not only chocolate but a large grin. Wilhelmina sighed and shook her head.
"What AM I going to do with you two?"
Shelby pushed long blonde hair behind one ear and stood from the table.
"I think I'll catch a shower, Chief," he said, addressing his son, "If that's alright with the lady?"
His wife nodded, "Dinner will be along in about a half hour."
He kissed her once more and headed to the other end of the house, to the master bedroom. Once their, he slid his coat off and laid it on the bed, stretching. He began unbuttoning his shirt and loosening his tie. This routine was one he and his wife had performed for nearly eleven years and it worked for them. They were an ordinary family in an ordinary suburban setting, for the most part, that is. He looked in the full body mirror they had in their room and examined his bare upper body. The skin was relatively pale and rather sculpted. This was not a balding man in his thirties with love-handles, as so many of his coworkers were. He was spry and young and at thirty-five he could out-lift, -run and -fox a vast majority of the University students…Jocks AND chess club nerds. I have to be, for my line of work.
There were several odd things about him, besides his fitness, though one was the reason FOR it. First, his hair…It was long, blonde and currently clipped back halfway up. 'Mina would often refer to him as 'Fabio'. She loved his hair, though and wouldn't have let him cut it if he wanted to, which he didn't.
Second of all, his not-so-normal occupation. The suburbs in which the Falkner family resided was situated about halfway between two large cities, the smaller of the two was the one in which he held his day occupation. The larger, and far more sinister was the sight for much gang activity and a prime place for mercenary work, which he also did. Not every night, of course, but a few nights a month, he would head north, to the large sinister-looking city, armed to the teeth and looking for work. The freelancing there provided money for the large black Cadillac and the diamond that graced his lovely wife's ring finger. When they had been married eleven years before, they were both young and he could barely afford a small, 'cheap' ring. The symbolism was enough for the two of them, of course, but Shelby always longed to give her something better. When he started out in the mercenary business, the money began flowing in. Wilhelmina had always known and always worried, but she kept a strong front for both Shelby and Zack.
Lastly, there was his 'sight'. Shelby could 'see' things that weren't there, at least, that's how he described it to his wife, who couldn't. Some things were frightening, visions of deaths that had taken place in a given area years before. Less frequently were the dreams, pictures of things that would, or might not, come to pass. He would wake up in a cold sweat and it would take 'Mina's soft singing to usher him back into the folds of sleep. Both Shelby and Wilhelmina had an inkling that their son also possessed the 'sight' but only Shelby could know the truth, which he didn't share, much to 'Mina's chagrin.
The shower's soft stream of hot water massaged out the stress of the day and prepared him for the action that night. There was a perk to the 'sight', more scientifically known as 'precognition' (though it could have also been called Telepathy or Extra Sensory Perception), for some reason, Shelby could function on little to no sleep for weeks on end. He cleaned up his hair and body in a skillfully short amount of time and was out of the shower, drying off by the time 'Mina called for dinner. He slipped into silk boxers (courtesy of 'Mina) and comfortable jeans, sliding a well-fitting black tank top over his head, shaking the remaining wetness out of his hair and pinning it back in one swift motion.
The table was all set up. What a good boy. Thanks to Zack, not a fork was out of place. His mother had taught him to set the table properly at a young age and the smart little tike had taken to it with avid intensity, as he did with everything. As it was, he was head of his class in third grade. Wilhelmina set out the chili in a big steamy vat, along with cheese and sour cream. Shelby seated himself next to his son at their round dining-room table and they bowed their heads dutifully to say grace.
"Dear Jesus," to whom the child always addressed his prayers, "Thank you for the food on the table and please keep Daddy safe."
Wilhelmina shot Shelby a look but his eyes were squeezed shut.
"Amen," Zack and his Daddy said in unison. 'Mina decided not to press the matter with the child in hearing distance and so the meal commenced. Zack told Daddy about his day at school and Daddy, in turn, told the child stories of his boss, 'evil prince Samuelson' they called him and of 'wicked queen Eldeen', the supervisor. Wilhelmina gave him disapproving looks and constantly reminded the child not to repeat anything Daddy said. Zack would give his dismissive 'yes Mama' and Shelby would continue.
Dinner finished about an hour later and Zack helped his father clear the table, sliding dishes in the washer and packaging food in Tupperware. The whole affair lasted a little over ten minutes with friendly and casual conversation springing up here and there, accompanied by 'Mina's blessed singing. When it was all said and done, it was roughly seven thirty and time for Zack to do his nightly reading time. He would curl up on the couch with a modest little novel cradled lovingly in his hands and read until eight. Wilhelmina retired to her soft chair and Shelby would begin packing 'something' in his car. Zack never asked, like a normal child…He would simply watch Daddy walk by where he sat with long cases and small ones, sometimes making multiple trips. Wilhelmina would observe the child's odd manner and her brows would furrow. Does he have it too? But for some reason or other, she couldn't bring herself to ask him and his father was quite skilled at evading her when he sensed she was going to mention it.
"I'm headed out hun'," Shelby said, entering the den. Wilhelmina stood and let herself be drawn into the strong arms of her husband. Zack set down his book and walked to them, hugging Daddy's waist.
"I love you Daddy. Good luck."
"I love you too," he replied, ruffling the child's hair, "Be good for Mama. And thanks, kiddo."
'Mina sensed that something passed between father and son that she did not hear and could not understand but she was loathe to express her concern, as it would dampen the mood. When the family separated, smiles were exchanged and each went back to his own post. Shelby headed to his car and slid into it, feeling the cool of the leather seat through his jeans.
"Time to go to work," he mumbled.