Devin dragged himself to his room. Chris was not there. Devin had learned that anyone who had PE after lunch was not scheduled for more classes that day. So everyone had two short days a week. Chris was still in class.
He struggled out of his PE uniform and climbed into the shower. Normally he hated showers but he felt grimy from the obstacle course and he hoped the hot water would help with his pain. Afterward, he threw on some PIGC leisure clothing and collapsed on his bed. He could not stop thinking about Mr. Jones. Something was going on with that man. Of this he was certain. He sensed the man had information that Trent did not want him to know. He remembered how Trent’s body tightened when Mr. Jones whispered in his ear. Why would Trent want to keep something from him?
He remembered the picture of his father that flashed on the screen at the New Jersey campus. His mind reasoned that there may be a connection between his father and the school. The more he thought about it, he began to wonder why the school would pay his mother so much just for him to attend. How strange it was that her diner closed when she refused to let him come. The PIGC check came when she was desperate. As he pondered he drifted to sleep.
“Daddy?” Devin called to the man who stood peering at him with a disturbed look on his face. As the man’s face lit up with a smile he knew it was his father. He was a bit older with long braided hair and a mustache but Devin still recognized him. His green eyes sparkled more than Devin remembered but the colors were still the same. They were just like his.
Devin woke to the sound of Chris laughing. He was looking down on him.
“Mr. Jones sure wore you out, huh?” he chuckled.
Devin sat up and yawned. He didn’t know how long he had laid there.
“What time is it?” he asked between yawns. His arms were sore as he stretched them. “Ow!”
Chris laughed again. “It will take a little to get used to it but it’s worth it. I’m stronger or as strong as my older brothers and I can run faster than all of them. It makes them mad that I’m only eight and I can beat them. My oldest brother thinks they put something in the water here.”
Devin looked closer at Chris. He had thought that Chris was a weakling. Too thin and pale. Now he saw he was wrong. Chris was thin but not scrawny. His arms were muscular. He’d also thought he was nine or even ten but he was only one year older than him. He guessed PE did work.
“Do your brothers go to PIGC?” Devin asked as he rubbed the sore muscles on his left shoulder.
“No way! I’m the brains in the family. They go to public school.” Chris went to his side of the room. “What are you going to do after dinner?”
“I have to go to the library and get the books for Mr. Bundy’s class. What are you doing?”
“I’m going to go to the mechanical engineering lab and work on my robot.” Devin jumped off the bed in excitement. He ran to Chris’ side of the room.
“You’re building a robot? Are you serious?”
“Sure! You’ll build one too when you take the class. If you want, you can come by after you get your books. I’ll show it to you.”
“Sure. The lab’s not far from the library. I’ll show you the way before we go to dinner.”
Devin went back to his side and waited for Chris to change his clothes. He thought about the dream of his father. It had been a while since he had dreamed about him. Even though it was just a dream it made Devin feel good. It was like his father was watching over him.
He smiled as he thought about his father’s smile. Then he went to the mirror to see if his smile looked like his dad? He was satisfied to see that it did.
“Wow,” he thought to himself. “I really do look like my father.”
“Looking for pimples?” Chris asked as he came into Devin’s part of the room.
“No!” Devin laughed.
“I bet you’re hungry after going through PE huh? Let go eat!” He put his arm on Devin’s shoulder to turn him towards the door.
“Ow!” Devin complained.
“Whoops! Sorry,” Chris laughed as he led the way out the door.
The library was massive and Devin was tired and sore as he looked through long shelves of books. He had found three of the books. As he searched for the fourth he found himself deep in the back of the great room. He knew the book wasn’t there but he felt an urging within him to go there. He turned down one aisle as if he were being led. The books on his left were actually PIGC yearbooks from many years ago.
“The second shelf from the bottom,” he said to himself as if repeating someone. He ran his hand slowly over the books until he was compelled to stop. He pulled out the book his hand had rested on and opened the cover. He flipped through the pages and stopped on the first picture. It was of a man who looked similar to Trent. His last name was Gaydos also. He looked at the teachers and saw Mr. Jones. “Wow! He’s been here a long time.” He exclaimed to himself. The man was young and very strong looking.
He continued to flip the pages until he got to the students. They were listed by age. He looked at the eleven-year-old students and saw a face that looked familiar. It was Mr. Bundy.
“His first name’s Todd.” Devin smiled at the boy. His eyes then wandered to a pretty red-haired eleven-year-old girl named Nancy. “That’s the lady I met in New Jersey. She was much prettier as a girl.”
Devin sat on the clean library floor with his treasure and continued looking through the yearbook. He had looked at all of the students categorized by age. There was a page with one picture. It was of a boy age four. Under the picture was the name, Kevin Winslow. Devin stared at the little boy who looked so much like him. The boy could have been his little brother but he was his father. His father had been a student at PIGC.
Devin grabbed the next yearbook and flipped through it but his father was not in it. He looked through the earlier one and found a three-year-old Kevin. He snatched the previous one and found his father’s name listed as a student but with no picture. “He was here when he was two? How can a two-year-old go here?” He gently pulled out the previous book and opened to where he would find his father’s name. It was there with no picture on a page right after the six-year-old students. “No way did a one-year-old go here.” He looked through the previous yearbook but Kevin wasn’t in there.
By now Devin had the books scattered on the floor. He put all the yearbooks back except for the one with the picture of his father at four years old. He still needed two more books but he was sore and tired and disturbed. He checked out the books he had along with the yearbook. As he headed towards the lab he again felt the urge to make a detour. He turned back towards the library. Instead of going in he went past it and turned down the next hall. He heard footsteps coming from around the corner. A tall man turned down his hall. It was Mr. Bundy.
“His Devin,” the man greeted. “How are you doing?”
“I’m fine Mr. Bundy,” Devin returned. “I still have to take out two more books for your class.”
Mr. Bundy looked at Devin’s PIGC backpack. “Let me see what you have.” Devin took the books out and showed them to the man.
“I saw this yearbook and took it out too.”
Todd took the yearbook from Devin and laughed. He opened the pages and looked at the pictures of kids he used to know.
“I took it out because it has a picture of my father,” Devin said carefully. “Did you know my father Mr. Bundy?”
Mr. Bundy turned to the picture of Kevin. He stared at the four-year-old in wonder then looked down at the older but similar face that now stared up at him. “Yes. Yes, I knew him,” he sighed. “Even though he was so young he was the smartest kid in the school.” His gaze turned unfocused towards the wall. “I was jealous of him truthfully. I wasn’t that bright and I resented the way his father gloated over him. Mr. Jones wasn’t even his real father but he treated him like…” Resentment entered his voice. “…like I wished my dad would have treated me.” Todd seemed to forget Devin was there. “Everybody loved little Kevin. Even Mr. Gaydos and his son loved him. I didn’t.” He grew silent as his eyes shifted back to the picture. After a while, he said more gently, “I didn’t at first.”
He closed the book and handed it back to Devin. Again he looked at the green eyes that stared up at him. He felt a tingle of fear but pushed it back.
“So how is your father?” he asked.
“I haven’t seen him since I was a baby.”
“Really? Doesn’t he ever write or contact you?”
Devin thought about the packages and unmarked envelopes. He was about to tell Mr. Bundy about them but something about the man’s eyes reminded him of a hungry dog watching someone eat.
“No.” He put the yearbook in his backpack. “I promised to meet Chris. I’d better go. Bye, Mr. Bundy.”
“Bye Kevin,” Mr. Bundy said absentmindedly not realizing his mistake. He watched Devin hurry down the hall until he turned the corner.
Devin stayed in the lab only a short time. His body still ached and his mind desired to delve into the mystery of his father. The robot was in its early stages of being built. The class had just finished their remote control cars and the robots were the next mission they had to undertake.
Chris was not alone in the lab when Devin got there. Other students were working on their machines. Devin walked around looking at each one’s work. He was fascinated as they explained what they were doing and why. Chris showed him the microcontrollers that had been made by the PIGC students in Montana. They would be installed in the robots when it was time. Each one would give each robot a different personality since each was made by a different student. They would be randomly selected by the robot’s creator.
Even though Devin was enthralled by what he was seeing, he forced himself to leave. Once in his room, he took out a sheet of paper and began to write a letter to his mother in his sloppy handwriting. He told her about the yearbook with his father’s picture. He asked her if she knew his dad had gone to PIGC. He told her about Mr. Jones being his sort of grandfather. He assured her he was doing well and loved the school. He ended the letter telling her how much he loved and missed her and Sheila.
Belinda clutched the envelope that had come from Hawaii. It had her name on it typed very professionally. The return address had her son’s name on it. She started to slowly open the envelope but ended up ripping it open in haste. She unfolded the paper and smiled. Her son had learned to type.
Thank you for letting me come to PIGC. I love this place. I am learning so much.
My roommate is really nice and so are the teachers. The food is good too but not as good as yours.
Hawaii is so nice. I wish you were here.
I love you, Mommy!
The letter was signed with Devin’s sloppy handwriting.
Something about the letter disturbed Belinda. Her son’s letter reminded her of the kids on the DVD, not her little boy. He didn’t even ask about Sheila. Coupled with the note from her husband, Belinda was very worried.
She sat down and immediately wrote a reply.