Chapter 6

Mary And The Media

Fred and Mary Wilson drove back to Georgetown. It was a silent trip except for Mary's sniffling. When they got
home the news personnel and some of the curiosity seekers were still there. Fred carefully guided his car into his
driveway so as not to hit anyone but wishing that he could run over the whole lot of them. As he and Mary got out
of the car they were rushed by reporters with extended microphones followed by camera operators.

"Mr. and Mrs. Wilson, where is your son?” several of them said almost in unison.

"No comment," Fred barked.

"Will he be coming back here?" another called out.

"I doubt it!" he growled. "I don't know where you people get your information, but he is not with us. You want to
check my trunk? Why don't you leave us alone now? We've got nothing to say to you."

"I've got something to say," Mary's voice cut through chatter.

Fred's eyes widened. Everyone stopped talking and extended their microphones to her.

"Our son ..." she faltered, "... did a terrible thing. He didn't intend to ... but it happened. Now, my son may be
alive, but his life is pretty much over. He may not be behind bars, but he is, for all practical purposes, in solitary
confinement. You want him to pay for his crime. Well, you can never really pay for taking another person's life,
but trust me. He's paying. You want him punished. Believe me when I tell you that having to live with his guilt is
much greater punishment than dying for it. I know my son. He will never be free from his torment. So why don't
you people just go away and let us have whatever peace we may be able to find, if we can find any. There's no
story for you here."

One by one, the microphones lowered, and the cameras stopped rolling. Gradually the crowd began to disperse.
Fred Wilson looked at his wife with stunned amazement. "That was ... Wow!" was all he could say. He opened the
door and escorted his wife into the house.  

A few hours later, their comments were aired on the newscasts. Fifteen minutes after that, Pastor Joel Michaels
was knocking on the Wilson's door. The pastor gave each of them a long hug. Finally, he spoke."I learned a long
time ago that when there is a serious crisis in a family, the most appropriate words I can say are simply that we
are here for you. And we are praying for you ... and for your son."

"Thank you, Pastor. We knew you would be."

                                                                          Chapter 7


Ben walked slowly across the field and into the woods. He couldn't look back. The expression on his daddy's face
as he looked into Ben's eyes before he climbed back into the car was a look of desperation. It haunted him. This
day, he knew like he had never known before, how his daddy loved him and wanted to rescue him.
But Ben knew that he couldn't be rescued. Isaiah tried to rescue him. Look where that got him. Now all he could
do was take Isaiah's place as a hermit outcast. Maybe that's what Isaiah meant when he said, "now you take my
place in life".

He entered the tree line without so much as a glance back. Neither he nor his parents could have handled it. He
just had to keep walking. Once he got to the cabin he could figure things out.  Maybe solitude in the wilderness
will be good for me, he thought.

He tried to walk back to the cabin, but he had stumbled upon it by accident the first time, and that was in the
blackness of night. He hadn't really paid attention when the officers led him out after his capture. He never
expected to be coming back. So, he had no idea where he was going.

Ben walked for several hours. Surely the cabin wasn't this far. He looked around for anything familiar, but every
oak tree, every bush, every rock, every mud hole looked the same. He changed directions several times, and
now he was really turned around. He had tried following the sun, as he had done the first time he had taken flight
in this forest, but he had started from a different location, so the idea had not worked out as planned.

He was getting hungry. He hadn't thought about food. He had packed up his things in preparation for moving in
with his parents. With this change of plans he was only able to bring a fraction of what he needed, and food
never factored in - until now. Now he was tired and hungry. He was growing weak from all this walking and from
the weight of the backpack. Maybe there was something in the backpack. He didn't remember putting anything
edible in there, but why not check?  

He set the pack on the ground and opened it. There in the top was a small Wal-Mart bag. Where did that come
from?  Then he remembered his mother fussing over his backpack at the car while he was hugging his daddy
goodbye. He thought she was adjusting a strap or something. Apparently, she was slipping the bag into the flap.
In the bag were four candy bars, two packs of Nekot crackers (his favorite), a cigarette lighter, a wad of cash,
and a note from his mother written on the back of the receipt.

          Ben, I hope you have food at your cabin. Maybe these will help tide you over.
          I'm sure you will need some money. Please let us know how you are doing.
                        Love, Mama

"Thanks, mama!" Ben said out loud. He quickly gulped down a candy bar and a pack of crackers. He stuffed the
cash in his pocket. It was fifty-three dollars. He felt a lump of emotion in his throat. He didn't deserve such loving
parents. He didn't even deserve to be alive. He couldn't make sense of all this.

He stood up and started to walk again. He had no idea which direction to walk, but it didn't much matter. He had
changed directions so many times he was probably walking in circles anyway. The sun was sinking into the west
so at least he knew where that was. But he had no clue as to where he might be in relation to the cabin or
anything else.

In desperation, he decided to pray. "Hey ... uh ... God. Wow! This is weird. I'm not even sure I believe in you. I'm
sorry if that offends you ... if you are there, that is. Anyway, I'm lost. So, if you could help me out, I would really
appreciate it. Thanks.  Amen."

Instinctively, he looked up, because God's up there and you always look up when you pray ... except when you
bow your head. Then he was confused. He didn't know if he should look up or bow his head. But he had already
looked up, and he noticed an airplane flying overhead.

Then it occurred to him that a plane was probably headed for the Charleston airport. That would be south. If he
headed south, sooner or later he would have to come to the river, which would lead him to the cabin because it
was somewhere on the river. He turned and headed south. At least it was a plan!
He traveled maybe a mile; he couldn't tell. The sun was dropping fast. It was getting just a little dark. He stepped
on a log, and it moved.

"Oh, no!" he screamed. "Not again." He thought back on his previous encounter with an alligator, and he took off
running. He got about one hundred yards and looked back. It was just a log.

Relieved, he started walking before turning to see where he was going. "Ouch!" he cried out. He had walked right
into thorny blackberry bush. He took a step back. The berries looked good. He picked few and popped them into
his mouth. The sweet juice filled his throat. He picked more berries and was feasting on the delicious treat when
he heard a noise. There, on the other side of the bush, was a young fawn, munching from the same bush. He
stood motionless and watched. Such a beautiful creature, he thought. The fawn jerked back. Ben was
discovered. The young deer bolted into the thick forest and disappeared. Ben smiled and resumed his trek

Darkness fell quickly in the lush growth of the forest. Ben had trouble seeing. He tried to stay in the more open
areas, where the trees were less dense, so he could see by the moonlight. Pushing his way through the brush,
he saw movement ahead - a glittering of the moonlight reflecting off of moving water - the river.
"Okay! Now, which way, upstream or downstream," he asked himself. As he was pondering the question, he
heard a low growling to his left. He didn't know what it was, but he wasn't going to wait around to find out. He
broke into a hard run to the right. He ran and ran into the night. He ran until he his sides hurt. He didn't even
know if he was being pursued, but he wasn't taking any chances.
Suddenly, Thud!