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The Man

            Images flashed on the wall, a face in intense close-ups, footage of a man on a rampage.

            “This man killed your parents.”

            Gem flinched inside. He hated how Mr. Raines could see inside him enough to know how it hurt that he didn’t have parents. He had wondered for so long what had happened to them, who they were, why they didn’t live with him. Everyone had parents, didn’t they? He tried to hide it carefully away and be on the outside only what Mr. Raines wanted him to be. But Mr. Raines knew it, and now…was he giving him a piece of the puzzle? It was never that simple with Mr. Raines.

            And now he learned he had no parents. They were dead, killed by the man whose face filled the wall before him. He tried to hide the anger and pain that stirred in his stomach, the loss of a future he had barely allowed himself to hope for. He stared at the face…and found himself lost in a pair of eyes.

            Could you drown in another person’s pain? What about when that person’s was as close to you as your own? When the pain in his eyes was your own?

            “He doesn’t seem like a killer. He seems…sad, Mr. Raines. Like there’s this void in his life that’s depriving him of any true happiness. Perhaps loss of a loved one, or the loss of family. Maybe he feels the same way I do, not knowing who he is, or where he came from.”

            Mr. Raines rasped, “You’re not concentrating. He’s no different from any of the others.”

            “I don’t know. I—I just—” Without knowing it he reached out and touched the face on the wall. A stranger’s face, and yet his soul cried out in identification. “I know I have a connection with him.”

            “If you can’t find him, he’ll go out and kill another little boy’s parents, just like he killed yours. Do you understand me?”

            He shuddered inside, staring up at Mr. Raines.


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