The Shine Journal

Exceptional Flash, Poetry, Art and Photography!





Frances O'Brien


Buck sat watching "Cases Gone Cold," his favorite program. The stories   about people who'd been murdered or attacked held little interest for  him, but every episode included at least one story about a missing person, and there was something about those that always resonated with him.

One evening, he watched an episode about a two-year-old boy, Joey Frank, who, with his newborn sister, Penelope, had been left to wait outside of  a bakery thirty years prior while their mother shopped inside. Times were different then, and it wasn't at all unusual to leave children unattended for brief periods, especially in a small town like that one where everyone knew each other. However, when Mrs. Frank, known as Doe returned, "Just ten or eleven minutes later," the children were gone. No carriage, no baseball cap, nothing. Not a single bakery customer nor passerby saw anything unusual that they could remember. The baby was found that evening crying in a park a few blocks away, but Joey vanished without leaving a clue. The program showed a time-aged photo of what he might look like at thirty-two, and Buck was stunned at the similarity between the face on the television and his own.

The next day at the plant, no fewer than eight people told him they'd seen the show and that he should call just for fun, but to make sure first they'd pay, and pay well, to have him on. Buck laughed and told everyone he'd think about it. He put up good-naturedly with all the teasing about hitting it big and having to sign autographs. But in truth, he felt haunted. He'd often thought about how he bore no resemblance to either of his parents: short, stocky folks whose fair,Midwestern features seemed at a loss to explain his tall, almost-Italian appearance. He'd never felt like he fit in with them, his two younger siblings or any of their other relatives. 

Buck called the show. They arranged for the Franks to meet him (on camera, of course). Penelope, now Penny, wrapped her arms around Buck, said she felt an instant bonding, and refused to let his hand go. Pulled aside for an interview, Doe began to weep and said, "Look at him, he's just like his dad -- I mean Jackson, my husband -- only younger." They had a lovely in-studio visit, got the insides of their cheeks swabbed and eventually parted hesitantly, saying they were so happy, finally, to have found each other. Penny spoke to the camera in confidence, "I knew he'd be this handsome. I love him already."

 A week later Buck and the Franks returned to receive (on camera, of course) the results of the DNA test. First, the show recounted all the details of the story in case any viewers missed the previous episode. Envelope in hand, the host, Fin Sawbuck, drew the announcement out as long as he could, speaking each word slowly and distinctly. A commercial break was inserted right after the words "And the results are . . .", and finally, with only five minutes left, Fin let all of America know that Buck was not, in fact, related to the Franks. (It was one of their most highly-rated shows.) 

 After a few brief, moist-eyed interviews about how disappointed they all were, the closing credits rolled. Slowly the studio grew darker and more somber as lights faded, the audience filed toward the exits, Fin returned to his dressing room and Buck and the Franks were left alone to say their off-camera farewells.

 Jackson firmly shook Buck's hand, saying, "Good bye, son. Good luck with everything you do." 

Doe tearfully told him that she hoped Joey, wherever he might be, was half as good a man as he. Penny slipped Buck a torn-off piece of paper, on which she'd written her cell phone number. She pretended to cough as she said, "Call me. We're not related anymore."




Motivation: This story was the result of an exercise from an english class to write a story in 25 words or reswer, and then expnad it.

Bio:I'm an English major at Cal. State Northridge.


Email TSJ: Editor: Pamela Tyree Griffin

Send to a friend

Click the pics to meet the members!