By The Light Of The Silvery Moon

by Chris Okum

One day Terry's mother was there and then the next she was gone, disappeared to parts unknown, a phantom Terry's father would end up spending almost a quarter of his annual salary and the entire school year trying to track down, which he eventually did, to a motel deep in the heart of downtown Fresno, where she was living by herself and working as a cocktail waitress in a local dive bar. Once she was back home Terry could tell just by looking at his father that he was strictly forbidden from bringing up the subject of his mother's disappearance, a commandment he followed, for the most part, except the one time, at Pacific Ocean Park, while nestled in between his parents as they rode the gondolas. "Where did you go, mommy?" Terry asked. "Did you hear somebody say something?" Terry's father said. "I could have swore I heard somebody say something." As soon as they hopped off the gondolas Terry asked if he could have an ice cream cone. "Let's get in line for the roller coaster before the line gets too long," said Terry's father. Terry looked at the bamboo stand with the words "Ice Cream" painted in aqua blue at the top, and at all the parents and children standing in line, and at all the people standing next to the hut licking and eating their ice cream cones, and then he looked at his mother, who just shrugged and applied more gloss to her lips. Terry watched as his mother and father walked towards the entrance to the roller coaster. He wanted to catch up to them, but he could not move his legs, which felt as if they were encased in concrete. He wanted to scream, tell them to wait, don't go, but he could not make a sound, despite opening his mouth and telling himself to scream. Terry turned his head and saw a baby in a stroller holding a large plastic cup of lemonade. The baby was staring at him. Directly behind the baby there was a company of clowns juggling bowling pins on fire and they were also staring at Terry. For a moment it seemed as if everyone in the park was staring at Terry, but they weren't, the couldn't have been, because Terry, despite all evidence to the contrary, wasn't even there, he was somewhere else, and where he was he did not know. Terry looked up at the sky and saw a blue balloon floating towards the night sky. Then he looked down and saw that the balloon's string was attached to his wrist.