Jason Lawrence Bell
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04-06-19 Family Map


‘Should we stay or should we go’ asked Dean while he surveyed the damage left by the rain storm on his family home. More rain was on its way and a foot of water was already rising thru out the house. Rescue workers were urging all residents to leave immediately for safety reasons but this was their home. It felted like deserting a member of the family. But Dean and his sister and mother were in real jeopardy. The next storm was bigger and stronger with the potential of deadly damage.

Dean was now the man in the family at 17 years old, since this father died suddenly about a year earlier. Dean’s mom leaned on Dean especially since she was still in mourning and clearly not functioning at 100%. Dean’s sister Kayla was 12 years old and bright and ready to help but limited in her abilities and strength. This was Dean’s decision and he choose safety.

Dean pushed the others to pack quickly, so that they would be a good distance away when the storm arrives. Once in their station wagon and heading away, Dean began to relax, though what lay ahead was a complete unknown. They had to go North to avoid the storm but no friends or relatives lived North. Dean had never traveled North and his only guide was an old well-worn map that he found in the glove compartment. It must have been his dads. Dad was always the driver when he was alive. Dean pulled over in a rest stop to examine the map.

The rest stop was nearly filled with others avoiding the storm. Kayla and his mom had fallen asleep in the back seat, so Dean quietly stepped out of the car and sat on a bench and opened up the map. Once the map was fully open Dean heard a faint whisper, ‘don’t be alarmed, but go back to the car and get my gun under the front seat. Do it now.’ Dean could not help being alarmed. It sounded like a soft version of his dad’s voice but urgent. Again, the voice demanded, ‘Now get the gun’. ‘What gun’ thought Dean as he opened the car door. And there it was under the seat a small hand gun. Dean picked it up and walked back to the bench. Thru the corner of his eye Dean noticed two ruff looking men walking toward the car. The news reports warned residences that robbers were stealing from vulnerable storm survivors. Dean stood up and held the gun threateningly by his side. He asked the men, ‘can I help you make the correct decision’? The men froze when they saw the gun and they begged of, ‘oh we thought you were someone else’. They turned around and hurried away.

Dean couldn’t believe his own words, ‘Help you make the correct decision’, that sounded more like his dad. Dean took the map, jumped in the car and continued down the road. He thought about the faint voice and what nearly happened and he listened intently for more voice, but nothing came. Then he remembered the map.

So, he again pulled to the side of the road and opened the map. Immediately he heard, ‘you need a motel room for tonight, look at the map, Sun Rise Inn, go there.’ And there on the map in his dad’s handwriting were the words Sun Rise Inn and an arrow. Dean wanted to talk more, but the voice was gone. About 2 hours down the highway was the Sun Rise Inn and Dean pulled in but he noticed the ‘no vacancy’ sign. ‘Oh no’ Dean thought, but he took a chance and walked into the lobby. As he walked up to the desk, he heard the desk clerk on the phone, ‘if you can’t make it then you can’t make it’ and hung up. He spoke to his assistant ‘we have to change the vacancy signs’. Dean spoke up ‘we need a room’. The clerk smiled, ‘perfect timing’ and told the assistant to forget about the sign.

Once in the room while his sister and mom dressed for bed, Dean needed to get to the bottom of this map thing. What was happening? Dean sat at the table and opened the map, and waited for the voice. He heard nothing but sensed a presence. His father was a man of few words and usually made his point in a simple and direct manner. So, Dean tried to encourage a conversation. Dean whispered, ‘thank you for your help. You can see we need it.’ Then the voice answered, ‘you’re doing great. We will get through this safe and sound, don’t worry. Look at the map’. Dean began to tear up. The sound of his dad’s voice touched him deeply and reminded him how much he missed him.

Dean turned this attention to the map. It had changed. There was more writing. ‘Bobs Garage get car checked and leave ASAP.’ Dean has become obedient to the map and first thing in the morning he took the station wagon to Bobs Garage. Bob was a friendly man who was sympathetic to Dean’s family emergency. After a couple of hours work Bob was done but warned Dean ‘it was good you checked your car because the belts were nearly broken and you wouldn’t get far. Plus are you aware that the storm changed direction and is heading right at us.’ Dean thanked Bob and immediately headed out of town.

Dean started feeling like he was dodging disasters with the help of the map. And his sister and mom were unaware of most of it. The map now directed them to a motel about six hours away as a place to hold up for a few days. The voice asked Dean to get a separate room for his mom. This surprised Dean but he learned following the map was the safest bet.

Once they were comfortable in the rooms, Dean again checked the map. The voice softly asked Dean to take the map and give it to his mother, then stopped communication. Dean was reluctant. He had become attached to the map and the connection to his father, but he obeyed. His mom had seemed to slip into a deeper depression with the emergency travels. When Dean entered her room, she was already in bed with the covers over her head. Dean asked her if she needed anything, but she insisted she needed sleep the most. But Dean became direct and said ‘I am leaving the map with you. Please look at the map, it is very important.’ And returned to his room.

Early the next morning there was a knock on Dean and Kayla’s room door. It was their mom bright and cheerful and completely different from the night before. ‘Good morning sweethearts it’s a beautiful day and I’m starving. Let’s go have a country style breakfast and plan our day’. Kayla was pleased to see her mom happy for once in a long while. Dean understood more than he let on. He could see the map sticking out of her purse. Mom continued, ‘and the storm has passed and we can head home. Great news for this wonderful day.’ Dean realized that mom needed the map more than him and was thankful for her recovery. Then he noticed on the outside of the map the words ‘Property of Kayla, Dean and Mom.’ Peace***