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Published on:
June 16, 2020
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3 min.
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Jacob (Part VI)

Jacob is a series of flash fiction that takes place in 2005, when we were still trying to figure out if Jack and Meg White were siblings or exes.

Jacob straightened his graduation cap, but there was no position that didn’t look awkward. Kenny was chasing Becket around with a Santa hat, while John sat quietly on the steps outside Jacob’s house. Everyone knew what would happen if Dennis showed up. The cops were ready. Jacob hadn’t been able to get John to voice his feelings about it. It was like waiting for a tornado, without knowing how much damage it would cause or if they should just stay home and hide in the bathtub. 

The boys piled into the Toyota Camry, and Jacob yelled out the window: “See you there, mom!” They drove fast with the windows down. Jacob wanted to remember this moment. He grabbed Kenny’s ipod to find the perfect song.

This would not be a typical graduation.
Rachel Joy Welcher

“I don’t get why he’s doing this,” John said.

They all stopped what they were doing. Jacob paused the iPod. 

“Doesn’t he know what’s going to happen?”

They remained quiet. Jacob patted John on the back.

“I think he does,” Jacob said. “And thinks it's worth it.”

When they arrived, other seniors were milling around the school courtyard in cap and gown. Parents and grandparents were taking pictures with their digital cameras. And Jacob noticed the presence of more than one armed officer on campus - one by the gym entrance and another by the basketball court. This would not be a typical graduation. 

Jacob was a fan of grand gestures. They reminded him of the movies, and sometimes he daydreamed of how he would propose to Erin. He pictured one day, after college, casually inviting her to the movies. Her favorite film would be playing, and he would have secretly bought out the entire theater. Then he would slip away to “buy popcorn,” and walk to the front of the theater where he would grab a microphone, get on one knee, and declare his love.

But John wasn’t like Jacob. He didn’t like talking about his feelings or having people know about his family, but the entire school was buzzing about the prison-break and inevitable recapture of Dennis Parker. John stayed in the car for a while before joining the others. 

On the football field at 6 p.m., the marching band started up, and the graduates were ushered onto the grass, to sit down in folding chairs. Their friends and family filled the bleachers. Jacob scanned the crowd for Erin. He waved at his parents, and began looking for any sign of Dennis.

John, too, was scanning the crowd. During the first speech of the night, he noticed a man with shaggy brown hair. What caught John’s eye was not the man’s attire or facial features, but the fact that he was scribbling something on a notepad. John smiled quietly, wondering.

The police maintained a visible presence throughout the entire ceremony, but graduates were throwing their hats in the air and dispersing to Vitamin C’s Graduation (Friends Forever) playing over the loudspeaker, and Dennis Parker still hadn’t made an appearance. 

Months later, after news of Dennis Parker's mysterious reappearance at the Bridgeport County Correctional Facility had spread, died down, and disappeared, John was finally allowed to schedule a visit. Dennis has been disallowed visitors for three months, as one of his multiple punishments. When John arrived, there were three guards present instead of one. Dennis looked much thinner, but he was smiling from ear to ear. 

“I want you to meet with Frank this week,” Dennis said. “He could use some encouragement.”

“I will dad,” John said. And they talked about John’s college plans until the guards made it clear that their time was up.

Jacob drove John to visit Frank, and waited in the car. Ten minutes later, John came rushing out, with a wild look on his face. 

“Go, go!” he yelled at Jacob, and they squealed away, parking at a Foster’s Freeze. 

“He gave me this,” John said, handing Jacob a piece of paper, written in pencil, with an attempt at various font styles and sizes. The biggest headline read: “My son graduated!” and contained a three paragraph description of the entire ceremony. 

“Look right there,” John said, “It says: ‘By Dennis Parker.’”

“So he was there after all?” Jacob asked, incredulously.

“He was there.”

They sat in silence, shaking their heads, then began to laugh. 

“I think this demands ice-cream,” Jacob said.

“With Reese’s cups and Butterfingers,” John added. 

Listen to this sketch

 

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Rachel Joy Welcher
Rachel Joy Welcher is an editor-at-large at Fathom Magazine. She earned her Master of Letters in Bible and the Contemporary World from The University of St. Andrews. She is the author of two collections of poetry: Two Funerals, Then Easter and Blue Tarp, and has written for The Gospel Coalition, Mere Orthodoxy, RELEVANT, and The Englewood Review of Books. Her book, Talking Back to Purity Culture: Rediscovering Faithful Christian Sexuality, is coming out from InterVarsity Press in 2020. Rachel lives in Glenwood, Iowa, with her husband, Evan, and their dog, Frank. You can follow her on Twitter @racheljwelcher.

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