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"Family Secrets"

By Rob Rosen
robrosen@therobrosen.com

Lester walked into the wall and kept right on going. Strange as that may sound, it wasn't all that unusual. Lester could walk through anything - walls, doors, trees, sand dunes, hotdog stands, people; you name it, Lester could walk through it. It had something to do with his innate physical make-up. Seems the atoms that comprised his body were spaced farther apart than normal, so that when he encountered another object, his atoms allowed their atoms to pass between. Well, it went something like that; Lester was never entirely sure how it all worked. He just knew that nothing ever got in his way - literarily.

Luckily for Lester, his atoms were just barely spaced farther apart than normal. Had there been additional space, any-and-all objects would have passed right through him. Clothes would go on, and then fall right to the ground. Food would go in, down, and out. Chairs, beds, and couches would be unsittable and unlayable. Theoretically, Lester could have been born, passed right through the doctor's hands, then the floor, the ground, the earth, etc, etc. The thought of it gave Lester the heebie-jeebies.

But Lester just barely had extra space between his atoms, so that he needed to push himself through other objects. He had to will it. Thankfully, Lester could lay on beds, knock on doors, shake hands, pet dogs.you get the drift - Lester could also not go through objects, if he so desired. You see, usually he liked to keep his little ability hidden from the world. Early on, he found that it sort of made other people freak out. It should also be noted that Lester's clothes didn't go along with him when he passed through things, and that public nudity is frowned upon almost as much as incredible feats of unexplainable trickery.

Still, as a child, he had his moments of fun; though he was quick to learn the drawbacks: his mother screamed when he'd poke his head, and then the rest of his body, through the crib slats; his teacher screamed when she walked in and found half of Lester's arm buried inside the chalkboard; the lady on the corner screamed, and then promptly fainted, when Lester ran into the ice cream store while the front door was still closed, and then ran out naked as the day he was born. The list goes on and on. Suffice it to say, Lester's abilities caused a lot of screaming.

Fortunately, most people couldn't or wouldn't believe their own eyes. And for those who did, Lester's mother knew how to convince them otherwise. She explained that her son was practicing to be a magician. It was all done with mirrors, she would say, and then quickly walk away with Lester firmly in tow. So you see, Lester rarely utilized his natural-born talent, once he reached a certain age. Rarely, but not never, that is. On occasion, he needed to walk through walls - especially on the one occasion at the beginning of this story.

That day started like all the rest. Lester woke up, got dressed, ate some breakfast, and left for work. He never made it. "Take the next right," came a voice from behind the driver's seat, which was followed by a click, and then the feeling of something cold and hard against the back of Lester's head.

"Wh.who are you?" Lester stuttered, as his heart began to race.

"You don't need to know. But we know who you are and what you can do. Oh, and your mother's waiting for us with a gun pointed at her head. All you have to do is follow our instructions and nobody gets hurt. Okay?"

Lester gulped and squeaked out an okay. He'd always been afraid that his abilities would get him into trouble. He never imagined his mother would be involved. So with no options, he took the next right and awaited the guy's directives. Minutes later they arrived at their destination.

"Out of the car," the voice commanded, and Lester obeyed. Both men got out, and Lester was pushed forward and into a rear door. Once inside, he was promptly blindfolded. He never saw the man who kidnapped him, nor did he see the other two men who were waiting for him. He did, however, hear his mother's sobs, and every muscle in his body tensed at the sound.

"Just so you know," Lester said, as he stood there in total darkness with his knees knocking together, "I can't steal anything for you guys. Only I can go through things. Anything in my hands will be left behind when I return."

"Yeah, buddy, we figured that already. Anyway, you don't need to take something. You just need to memorize something."

"Oh," Lester said, and then sighed. His mind was going a mile a minute. What could these guys possible want with him? And did they know the other family secret? He prayed not. It might be there only hope. "Okay, just let my mom go free, and I'll do whatever you want."

"Yeah, we know that too. So just shut up and listen. You're gonna walk through the wall directly in front of you. You'll be in a room with several filing cabinets. The room is locked from the outside, not that that matters to you, but you'll obviously have no clothes on, so trying anything funny will be a definite no-no. Now, all you have to do is search the cabinets for a folder marked "Codes". On the page inside there will be no names, just numbers listed. Look for number 103. Memorize the code associated with that number, tell it to us, and you and your mom go free. If not, or if the code isn't legit, you're both dead meat. The office opens at nine, so you have half an hour to find the file. If I was you, I'd hurry."

And that is just what Lester did. He walked right into the wall, with his clothes dropping to the floor as soon as he went through, and, naked as a jaybird, he emerged on the opposite side. The room, as forewarned, contained nothing but filing cabinets. Lester started opening each drawer until, fifteen minutes or so later, he found the folder marked "Codes".

In the folder was a single sheet of paper with a list of seventy-five numbers and codes associated with them. The numbers started at 100 and went to 174. 103 had a six-digit code next to it, which Lester promptly memorized. With fifteen minutes to spare, he decided to have a quick look around. The door was locked, but of course that was no barrier for the likes of Lester. Still, there might be someone in the office already, and a naked man walking around would have caused a fair bit of alarm. There was, however, something else in the room that caught his eye.

He walked across the floor to a phone hanging on the wall. Marked across the paper beneath the plastic cover imbedded in the phone was the number 106. Clearly it was an extension. Lester picked up the phone. There was a dial tone, and so he punched in 103. Someone picked up. Within a minute, Lester knew what the kidnappers plans were, and he told the man on the other end what he needed to do. Then he hung up and walked back to the wall.

"Well," he whispered to himself, "Let's hope this works." Then he walked back through the wall and reemerged on the other side. The room was dark. He was quickly blindfolded again, and then the kidnappers flicked the lights back on.

"Did you find the folder?" asked the voice.

"Yep," Lester responded, knowing what would happen next.

"And you memorized the numbers?"

"Yep," he said again, and then reeled them off. "Now let me and my mother go, like you promised."

"Wait," said the voice. "I need to test it." Lester could hear the man open his cell phone and punch the numbers in. A minute later the voice said, "Okay, those are the numbers. You did good, boy."

"So now let us go," Lester said.

"Can't do that. You both know too much."

"But we don't know what you look like," Lester tried to reason.

"Doesn't matter. You can still go to the police and tell them what you know. Eventually, they'll figure out what happened, and that's no good. Sorry, but you both gotta die." In an instant, Lester heard the gun fire, but an instant was all Lester needed. The bullet sped across the room and went right through him, hitting the wall on the other side.

"Sorry," Lester said, but that's no good either. "What's plan B?"

"Plan B?" the voice asked. "Plan B is we shoot your mother and then figure out a way to kill you later. Say goodbye to your momma, boy."

And again Lester heard a shot ring out in the small room they were in. But at that same moment, a door was violently kicked in and Lester heard the voices of several officers yelling, "Freeze! Drop your weapons!"

Lester ripped the blindfold off and watched as the three kidnappers were surrounded and handcuffed. He quickly got dressed and then he ran to his mother, who was seated in a chair. She too was blindfolded. The second bullet fired didn't go through its target like the first one did.

"Mom, mom! Are you alright?" Lester shouted at his mother, and then tore her blindfold off. Lester's mother opened her eyes and smiled. "Come on, son, you knew that bullet couldn't hurt me." Lester returned his mother's smile, and then looked around the ground at her feet. The bullet had rolled beneath the chair. Lester did indeed know that the bullet couldn't squeeze its way between his mother's too-tight atoms. They were just fortunate that the men now in custody weren't aware of this. Luckily, his mother's innate abilities weren't as readily apparent as his own.

"Are you ready to go home now, mom?"

"Sure, son. I think I had enough excitement for one day."

Lester helped his mom up, and then the two of them walked out of the room and into the warm, morning sun. They were greeted by a man in an expensive looking suit.

"Are you the guy that called me and told me to call the police to come rescue you?" the man asked. Lester smiled. "That would be me, sir, yes."

"And can you tell me why the CEO of my competition has just been arrested for kidnapping and attempted murder?"

Lester looked to his mother, and the two of them let out a slight giggle. "Go ahead, son, tell the man," his mother said.

"They wanted the password to your voicemail. Guess they could have learned a lot from that, and you'd never be the wiser," Lester explained.

"Makes sense," the man said. "But how'd you call to warn me if you were in the same room with them?"

Again Lester looked to his mom, who answered for him. "Lester walked through the wall and called you." Then she smiled at the man, and nodded to her son.

The man looked to Lester and then to his mother, and then said, "Okay, so don't tell me. Anyway, I'm just glad you're both okay and that jerk's on his way to jail. Oh, and if you're ever looking for work, I've got a position for you if you want it. It's the least I can do after what you've done for me. What is it you do for a living, by the way?"

Lester laughed and looked at his watch. "I'm a magician, sir. And I'm late as heck for a child's birthday party right now. But thanks for the offer, anyway."

The two men shook hands, and Lester kissed his mother before he ran back to his car. Lester's mother waived to her son and shot him a sly wink before he sped off.

"I bet he's a great magician," the man said to Lester's mother.

"The best," she said, proudly. "He's been practicing ever since he was a little kid. You should see his hand through the board trick. It's a real scream." She chuckled, knowingly, and shook the man's hand before she excused herself. She then walked around the corner and out of his sight.

"Strange pair," the man said, when he was once again alone. "And that mother - boy, that's some strong grip she's got."

If he only knew. Then again, he'd probably never believe it. Some family secrets are just too unbelievable to be true. Especially Lester's.

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