- A Serialized Novel -

Sorting out Carson's legacy only leads to more questions.

Author’s Note: So… I didn’t leave it well enough alone and let them have a nice, fun drive. That’s just not the way it works in a mystery, right?

A Ruined Afternoon Drive

“So, you tried driving one of these babies yet?” Larry asked, leaning over the seat. He’d called shotgun, which was a battle no one ever won with him, even though Carson wanted to think that Mackenna would have kicked him out of the front in a second if she wasn’t trying to be polite. He’d kind of figured on being up next to her when she was driving, unless Mac was there, but somehow he’d ended up supplanted and stuck in back with Nick and Carrie.

There was enough room for three, possibly for more, but the trouble with being with Nick and Carrie was that the world only existed for the two of them. The lovebirds were having a lark, and Carson swore they were pretending this was some sort of carriage ride the way they kept kissing.

He shook his head. “No. I don’t want to wreck an heirloom. Mackenna keeps insisting when she’s done fixing the one I found that I have to drive it, but I think it’s better if I don’t. I can just see myself wrecking it and undoing all the work she put into it, and she’d never forgive me for that.”

“That true?” Larry turned to Mackenna. “Could you forgive him if he did that, or would it all be over if he did?”

“Depends on what he did and why he did it. If he swerved to avoid an animal in the road and ended up in a ditch, then I wouldn’t be quite as mad because I’d have to consider the reason. If he was just being stupid and totaled it, then I might not be as forgiving.”

“Thing you should know about dear baby brother Carson is that he’s a terrible klutz. He’s going to wreck something. That’s what he does. Should have seen him when he was… Oh, I forget how old he was, but he had this toy car—you know, one of those neat old ones before the days of battery-powered cars for kids, the kind that had pedals and stuff—and he didn’t keep that thing more than a day before he managed to crash it into something on the farm. He was so upset about it he didn’t leave his room for about a week.”

“That is not true. I never had a little car like that. You’re just—Oh, hell.”

“Carson?” Nick sat up and leaned around Carrie, putting a hand on Carson’s arm. “Hey—you’re not going to puke, are you? You look kind of… off. What is it?”

The car stopped, and Carson opened the door, stumbling down to the ground, leaning over and trying not to lose his stomach. He put a hand on his side, wincing as he did.

“I think we should take you someplace cool. I’m not sure if you were overcome by the heat or not, but I’ve never seen carsickness come on so fast before,” Carrie said, and he jerked away when he realized she was close to him.

Mackenna caught him. “Easy. Take a minute and breathe. This is just another part of the puzzle, remember? You have it, so tell us what it is.”

“I don’t—I never had one of those cars, but if I was babbling about a car and unable to function for at least a week, I have a feeling that I know why,” he said, looking at her, and she nodded. “It explains this, too.”

He lifted his shirt and showed her the scar on his side. She winced, her fingers tracing the mark without thinking about it. “I don’t think that’s not from any kind of wreck in a toy car.”

“Yeah. I don’t know why I would have accepted that story—I knew it was wrong the minute that Larry said it—but I always assumed the scar was nothing, like I told you—I didn’t have any without an explanation.”

“I know.” She put a hand on his face. “All right, you know that something made you forget, and whatever that was, it was a combination of what you saw and what happened to you. You were hurt. That’s not much of a surprise, not when you consider what happened to your father.”

He nodded. “Yeah. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to ruin the drive. Everyone was having fun, and it’s not like I got much of anything from it this time. It’s not like the model car or anything.”

She gave his cheek a pat. “It’s still something. You are putting it all back together. Soon enough, you’ll have your answers.”

“Wait, what? Are you telling us that Carson—he got more memories back?” Larry looked from Mackenna to Carson, shaking his head. “Why didn’t you tell us? If you found out more, then why would you—You didn’t trust us?”

Carson lowered his head. “At best, you have always acted like I was fragile and crazy. At worst, since I couldn’t remember when Dad died for sure—I’ve narrowed it down since then to when I was eight, shortly after school started that year, which fits in with the story you mentioned, but I didn’t… I also don’t know who had any other part in it. I haven’t gotten anything back from when Dad died specifically. I just got back a few things from before, and if I told you any of the things that we discussed about it, you’d just… It would only upset all of you.”

Nick frowned. “You mean, you think that Dad gave you that mark on your side?”

“Well, one of the best theories we have about what happened—the reason I couldn’t remember it—was that I did it,” Carson said, feeling Mackenna wrap her arms around him. He leaned into her, welcoming the slight smell of grease that he now associated with her and all she was. He needed her. “If he did… the reasons why… It’s not something I like thinking, and I’m still hoping we’re wrong, but why else would I have forgotten and Grandpa cover it up like that?”

Larry winced. “You’ve got a point. He would only have done that for someone in the family. He would definitely have done it for you.”

“Maybe now’s a good time to go over to that Legion of yours and have some drinks.”

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