Story overview: Sergeant Harold Hobbs returned from a yearlong tour of duty in Iraq to find that the baby boy that he and his wife Tracy conceived before he left looks exactly like his best friend, Peter Beasley. Of course Harold believes that the baby is Peter’s and not his own, no matter how much Peter and Tracy deny it. Did his wife and his ace really commit the ultimate betrayal? Or are there secret forces at work that aim to rob Harold of his sanity as well as his family?
Peter looked in his rear-view mirror and glared at his reflection. He looked at his green eyes with their oriental shape, his fair, tannned skin, his dimples, the cleft in his chin, his curly hair. This was the first time in his life that he wished that he didn’t look the way he did.
Nevertheless, Harold persisted.
“You ain’t got no kids yet, do ya?” Harold asked. “I hope you don’t get any of them chicken heads pregnant ‘cause if their babies come out lookin’ like you, you ain’t gon be able to deny it!”
Peter slammed hard on his brakes.
“This is some bull…” he said with stress, running his right hand through his coiled tresses. He looked around as if to say, ‘Where are the cameras’
“What’s the matter with you?” Harold asked in shock.
Peter had to be quick with a response. Even though he was becoming unglued due to this unusual situation, he found some resolve and said, “I forgot the way to your house.”
“You goin’ the right way. Just take this left,” Harold said. “I really appreciate you lookin’ after Tracy for me while I was over seas. When I found out that she was pregnant, I was real discouraged, ‘cause I knew that I wasn’t gonna be home until after the baby was born. But you bein’ here made me feel better, young bruh.”
You would almost think that Harold was about to shed a tear when he spoke those words, when he let the truth flee from the sinews of his heart. Afterwards, Peter let out a desperate gust of air.
“Harold, there’s something you need to know,” Peter said as he pulled into the driveway, but it was as if Harold Hobbs heard none of his statement.
“Come on, help me with my stuff,” Harold said with glee, happy to finally be reunited with his rib, happy to finally be able to see his seed.
Peter Beasley closed his eyes tight as he began his discourse, his countenance shaped with discontent, voice weakened by dread and trepidation.
“Listen Harold, I don’t know how this has happened. But while you were away…well, see Tracy had the baby and all, but…I really don’t know how to explain this at all…
Words jumbled as Peter mumbled, nearly coming to tears. He opened his eyes to see if he had Harold’s full attention before he dropped the bomb.
But Harold was gone.
Peter raced out of his vehicle, his feet hitting the pavement with statement. He stammered as he scampered to the wide open front door of Harold Hobbs’ domicile. And when he got there he saw a stiff staff sergeant standing silent in front of his woman and child. An eerie scene it was indeed. In fact, Peter’s initial instinct was to turn and run, but his feet were frozen in place. Imagine the look on his face as he faced his ace Harold Hobbs, Harold’s wife Tracy, and the baby boy she was embracing…
…a baby boy that looked exactly like Peter Beasley.
“The Secret Branch,” a new short story by James Fant, is available for only $0.99! Download this exciting and suspenseful eBook right now from Amazon.com http://amzn.to/tCHJFL or from Barnes&Noble.com http://bit.ly/vptT6L!