Shadows of the Past Part Six
A lone figure walks down a steam-filled alleyway, surrounded by brick on either side. He's a handsome man dressed in an expensive suit with perfectly groomed hands and hair. His voice is deep, commanding, ordering all to listen to what it has to say. As he steps through the steam, he speaks:
"Tonight on Mysteries Unknown we enter journey into the quiet town of Destiny's Hope, California, population less than thirty thousand. Almost one year ago a beloved millionaire named Benjamin Bufford Bleu, Buba to friends and family, mysteriously disappeared. His whereabouts still unknown today. What could have happened to Mr. Bleu? Most suspect foul play and tonight we will investigate this heinous act of betrayal in an effort to educate you, the viewers, in hopes of someone being able to give us help in discovering Whatever Happened to Buba Bleu? I'm Jonathan Ace, stay tuned."
Jonathan Ace walks through bright, cheery halls, passing people that nod politely and smile. "This the countries famed Bleu Foundation. An organization started because a simple man had no need for the money he inherited from his parents.
"So who is Buba Bleu, this man that spells his name just a little different, this man with a heart the size of the world and a willingness to share every piece of it he can?" Jonathan pauses at a door, peering in. It's a classroom filled with children learning to read with their fingers, for these children are blind. "Buba Bleu is a man that had a dream to someday be able to help all the people of the world. Upon the reading of his parents' will, Mr. Bleu discovered he'd found himself with excess of over one hundred million dollars. But this was not something he wanted. So he had the Bleu Foundation established. Founder and permanent member of the board, Buba sought to enrich the lives of those that needed it the most. He sunk all of the money he'd inherited into this charitable organization and hand picked a close family friend to run it. After only ten short years, the meager beginnings of the Bleu Foundation flourished into a nation wide center for everything from helping the poor to researching and developing some of today's most leading medical breakthroughs."
As Jonathan Ace journeys down another hall, he pauses and smiles. "Benjamin Bleu was a true humanitarian," he says. The wall in front of him is a giant painting of a large, bear of a man, Buba himself, with the a grin that the Grand Canyon couldn't contain, surrounded by children of all ages.
"So what happened to Buba Bleu?" Jonathan asks, while continuing down the halls. He passes paintings of various presidents and celebrities over the past twenty years. "The common theory among the people of Destiny's Hope is foul play. It is believed Buba's kind heart led him down a path he would never be able to escape. For it was in these very halls that Buba Bleu finally came face to face with the man most people figure was responsible for the end of the Bleu era. We'll be right back."
"Brandon Ward and Megan Dalton met Buba here at the Bleu Foundation some ten years ago," Jonathan says as he holds two mug shots up. The first is of Brand around seventeen years old, his face bruised and swollen, his hair tangled with dried blood and clumped together on the right side of his head. The second is of Megan, also around seventeen years old, complete with a fat lip and stitches holding together a gash in her forehead just above her left eyebrow. "Buba found himself beginning a relationship with these two troubled teens ten long years ago. A relationship that many believe led to the final days of Benjamin Bufford Bleu's life. It should be noted no body has ever been found, but the lack of contact from Mr. Bleu suggests to this community that he is no longer living."
Jonathan Ace steps through a large archway into a garden area. As he moves along a path among multi-colored flowers, trees, and bushes, he continues. "On that fateful day, Buba Bleu had read a report of a young man only six months from graduation as he wavered on the bring of exploitation and it has been said people could visible see Buba's heart cracking at this news. He set up a meeting for himself and Brand. They talked, here in the arboretum, for several hours. What was said was anyone's guess, but after that meeting, Brand was given his last chance at Destiny's Hope High and he took it with stride. He managed to complete high school in the bottom five percent of his class. From there, people found Buba hanging out with Brand and his friend Megan a lot. There was talk around town that maybe there was still hope for these two kids with troubled pasts. Maybe the influence of a man like Buba could guide them down better paths in their lives. But not everyone felt that way."
Outside the arboretum, Jonathan Ace walks down another hall and steps into an office. He flashes a number-one Johnny Ace smile at the secretary as he passes through to the interior office and approaches the desk with the brass nameplate reading: Joshua Bleu. Behind the desk sits a man with dirty-blond hair cut in a short fashion. He's wearing a white lab coat and looking in a slightly off, but general direction toward Jonathan Ace. On his face is a pair of solid black glasses and a folded walking stick is seen resting on the corner of the desk. "Meet Doctor Joshua Bleu, Buba's half-brother and head of the medical research department here at the Bleu Foundation." Jonathan Ace takes a seat in one of the chairs in front of the desk. "Doctor Bleu has his own opinions about how things were between Buba and Brand," he says.
"Oh, you're not kidding there, Jonathan," Joshua says. A smirk plays on his lips, the kind of smirk you see on people far too arrogant for their own good. "I knew that punk kid was trouble from the moment I smelled him. He was always waltzing around here like he owned the damn place, stinking everything up and causing problems. If you ask me, Buba was damn stupid to even think about trying to help Brand. He had deathtrap practically flowing off of him in nauseating waves."
"So it's your belief that Brand-"
"It's my belief that Brand tried to beg Buba for money, drugs, always drugs. I could smell the booze and drugs a mile away on that troublesome kid. And when Buba refused," Joshua slaps his hands together in a disturbingly loud blast, "him and his slutty girlfriend whacked Buba and stuffed him down a garbage disposal. They were trouble, Jonathan. Huge trouble and I told Buba point blank, stay away from those idiots. I told him, you are going to get yourself killed if you mess with them. And now look. I hate to say it but I was right, as always, but did he listen? Of course not. Buba had to do things his way and he paid for it in the end. He's not the brightest star in the sky, as the saying goes."
"We'll be right back."
A faint wind picks up, ruffling Jonathan Ace's expensive suit as he approaches a used-book store. He waves a hand toward it like a well-trained game-show hostess and smiles brightly. "Cheap Used-Books. With a name that creative, it's a wonder it has stayed in business as long as it has. It was here that Brand Ward spent the last six months of his known life and it was here that witnesses have placed Brand, Buba, and Megan before they seemed to have literally fallen off the face of the Earth."
Inside the store, a clerk behind the counter nods and smiles, clearly enjoying what will no doubt be his fifteen minutes of fame. Jonathan wanders through the rows upon rows of non-fiction books not even bothering to look at them as he continues. "What happened in this store on that fateful night almost one year ago? Did Brand and Megan confront Buba about money, as his brother seems to think? Did Buba refuse, knowing in that pure heart of his that he could change these troubled individuals?" He picks up a book, expertly hiding the title as to not give away free publicity, "Perhaps Brand used one of these very books to end the life of Buba Bleu. We may never know, but that's what hypothetical reenactments are for."
A short man with short brown hair and youthful good looks steps toward a tall, aging man as he scans through a section of books. Near the counter stands a young woman with her hair severely pulled back from her face, a ponytail bobbing ever so sluggishly as she chews on gum and smokes a cigarette at the same time.
The young man, labeled Brand, stops next to the older man, labeled Buba, and shouts, "Give me some money!"
"I can't do that," Buba says quietly, turning toward Brand. His face is a picture perfect image of serenity. "I will help you any way I can, Brand, but I cannot give you money so you can buy drugs. Don't you know drugs kill?"
"Give me some money old man, or I'll... I'll," Brand picks up a large, generic book from the shelf as he stares at Buba. He's sweating; his eyes are bulging.
"Yeah!" Megan shouts around her gum and cigarette. "You better do as he says old timer if you know what's good for yous."
Buba lowers his head, saddened by the actions of his friends. "Do as you must, but I will not help you to hurt yourselves."
Growling, Brand lifts the book and slams Buba on the head with it, once, then twice, then three times. As the big man collapses on the floor, Brand continues to beat his head with the book. Megan has come up behind Brand and she's bouncing up and down like a cheerleader for an execution. "That'll teach him, that'll teach him!"
Brand shoves the book back on the shelf and laughs, "What a moron! Let's bury him and get out of here! This town sucks anyway."
Jonathan Ace returns, back in the bookstore, standing next to the clerk with a smile overwhelming his youngful face. "That could very well be what happened on that night. I'm standing here with Pete, the new clerk here at the book store and he found something very interesting after working here for almost a month after the strange disappearance."
"That's right," Pete says. "I went into the store room back there with all the special books cause I thought it needed a good dusting and you'll never believe what I found."
"What did you find?" Jonathan pries.
"I found a rope! Can you believe that? A rope and it was tied to the doorknob. Very weird, ve-e-e-e-ry weird I tell you. But that wasn't the weirdest thing, oh no. The end of the rope was burned clean through at the end like some laser or something slice it in half."
"I figure, you know, Buba there, he was probably tied up in that room and left for dead, like you just showed. But, that idiot Brand wasn't smart enough to make sure Buba was dead, hell no! Oh, can I say hell? Sorry. Anyway, I think Buba escaped and tried to go to the authorities but Brand and his whore found out and got Buba before he could get to the police. They must have dragged him off with them, the poor guy."
Jonathan Ace claps Pete on the back and nods solemnly. "Thank you, you've been a real help." He walks away, shaking his head in disbelief. "Well, folks, I don't know what to say. Clearly something very strange has occurred here in Destiny's Hope. If any of you out there has seen Brand, Megan, or Buba, please call us here at Mysteries Unknown and let us know. Someday this case will be solved and this town can finally rest know what happened to Buba Bleu. I'm Jonathan Ace saying, good night."To be continued...