When the family finished swimming and climbed out of the water a short time later, Mike and Adam moved away from the others so they could discuss what had happened in private. They wanted to talk about the gunshots they had heard and mull over what they both suspected.
“Do you think someone else found the clearing with the marijuana plants, but this time those two guys shot the person?” Adam asked, as soon as they were alone.
“I don’t know, but I’m worried something like that might have gone down. The only thing I'm confused about was that it sounded like an awful lot of gunfire to just kill one person. Does that mean they might have killed a group of people instead?” Mike replied, while his face looked slightly ashen.
“I have no idea, but do you think we should go inside and get one of our cell phones so we can report what we saw yesterday? Maybe we can still get someone to go out there and see what happened,” Adam followed, looking concerned and twitching nervously.
“I suppose we could do that, but if they really just shot someone, then I doubt it would do that person or persons much good now,” Mike offered, but he still didn't appear convinced that it would be the right thing to do. “It could also drag us into the middle of this and I'm more than a little nervous about getting involved while we're still here at the lake. We have no idea if those guys were alone or if they were part of a larger group that’s growing those plants, so this could turn out to be far worse than we could ever imagine.”
“Even if there are more than just those two involved, would it make that much of a difference?” Adam pressed, since he was convinced they should contact the authorities.
"Yeah, It could make a big difference, because if we call and send the cops out there to investigate before they've done any surveillance, then the cops could get killed too," Mike answered. "Those guys would be on high alert after this, since they would probably suspect someone must have heard the gunfire, and since they were wearing camo, then they could lay in wait and ambush the cops, but that's not what worries me the most."
"Why? What do you mean?" Adam pressed, because Mike's reaction was beginning to scare him.
“I'm really worried about us and our families,” Mike reasoned, in an effort to make Adam understand what they were up against. “If those two guys don't get killed and get caught instead, then they could tell their friends about us. There's a very good chance there are others involved that aren't out here, so they could let those others know that we were probably the ones that narced them out and then have them hunt us down. Since we told them we were here with our families, it is very possible they’d be able to find out who we are and where we live. They might even be able to get the information from the guy who owns this cabin, especially if they figure out we had stayed here. We might be back at college by then, but our parents will still be around, so those guys could torture our moms and dads to find us, before they killed them too.”
“Good point, but I still feel guilty about not saying anything about what we experienced after it first happened,” Adam confessed, because he still thought they should have done something. “Fuck, I really blew it yesterday when they let us go. I only suggested that they not hurt us and trust that we wouldn’t say anything. I should have also implanted the suggestion that they weren’t to come after us later or hurt anyone else, but I didn’t. I could've come up with something to keep them from doing that, but I was too scared at the time and just wanted to get the hell away from there.”
“You did what you could under the circumstances, but it’s too late to think about doing things differently now,” Mike responded, while trying to convince his lover that he hadn't done anything wrong. “What we need to do is figure out what we’re going to do next.”
“Do you think maybe we should go back there and see what we can find out?” Adam wondered, as he looked questioningly at Mike. “Maybe we can discover if they actually shot someone or if they were just shooting at something else.”
“No way! Are you fucking crazy?” Mike quickly objected, slightly panicked, because he didn't want Adam to go off and do something foolish. “You may have a secret power, but they’ve got guns. They might shoot us this time before you even have a chance to convince them not to. Don’t you remember that they warned us not to come back?”
“But what if they are shooting people and we could have stopped them from doing it?” Adam persisted, as he started to pace back and forth. “Don’t you think we should at least try?”
“And what if they kill us too? Seeing they told us not to come back there again, they probably won't be as forgiving if they catch us in that area,” Mike challenged, as his expression pleaded with Adam to understand what they were up against.
“But I’m dying to know what happened out there,” Adam reiterated, deeply concerned. “Aren’t you?”
“Bad choice of words, but it’s better to be dying of curiosity than to actually be dying,” Mike pointed out, slightly tongue-in-cheek. “We got really lucky yesterday and it was probably just because of your ability, but I don’t think we should push our luck or tempt fate. This time they might shoot first and ask questions later.”
Adam eventually agreed that Mike was probably right, but he still wanted to debate their options. This conversation was interrupted a short time later when Mike's father approached them.
“The rest of us have decided to go inside for a while and just wanted to let you know,” Dave informed them. “What are you boys going to do?”
“I think we’ll join you,” Mike answered, after glancing at Adam. “We don’t have anything else planned and that sounds like as good as any other option we can think of.”
After Mike and Adam went inside and joined the others, they agreed to relax while playing a game. The boys went to look in the closet to see what they hadn’t played yet and soon spotted the game ‘Life’. They dragged it out and set it up on the table. Since the game generally takes a fairly long time to play, they kept at it for quite a while. It was very competitive and Dave was declared the winner in the end.
Later that afternoon, Mike and Adam gave Jack and Megan their final swim lesson. Once they finished, the boys got together with the kids on shore, because they had something they wanted to tell them.
"Look, we're going to be leaving in the morning and returning home," Adam began, as he watched their faces to see how they were going to react. He and Mike were afraid this news might upset the kids, but Jack and Megan didn't seem to even flinch.
"That's ok, because we were going to tell you that we're going home tomorrow afternoon," Jack responded. He and Megan seemed sad that they wouldn't be seeing the boys again, but at least they didn't take the news as badly as the boys had feared.
"We've enjoyed our time with you," Mike added, "and we're glad we got to meet you and were able to teach you how to swim. Maybe we'll see each other next summer too."
"I hope so," Megan countered, as she stepped forward and gave both Mike and Adam a hug.
As soon as she had finished, Jack did the same thing. When he pulled away again, Mike and Adam could see that Megan had tears in her eyes.
"Is there anyway we can keep in touch with you?" Jack asked before they separated.
"Yeah, we'll give your our email addresses, if you kids have access to a computer?" Mike offered.
"We do!" Megan responded excitedly. "We'll give you our email addresses too."
Once that had been agreed to, they wrote everything down for each other, along with their mailing addresses and telephone numbers. Now, they would be able to keep in touch, although they agreed to do it primarily online. Although only Megan had shed any tears, it was still a very emotional parting for the other three as well.
After dinner, the Bermans and Washburns packed up their things, so they’d be ready to leave the following morning. They also cleaned up the cabin and put the games, life jackets, fishing gear, canoe paddles and oars back where they had found them. Once everything was taken care of, they all said goodnight and turned in for the evening. As soon as Mike and Adam were alone, Adam looked at Mike and spoke.
“Damn, I wish there was some way we could find out about what happened out there in the woods earlier today,” he stated, looking very concerned and somewhat frustrated. “Do you think someone got shot or did they just scare someone away?”
“Just like you, I have no way of knowing what happened out there,” Mike answered. “No matter what took place though, there’s nothing we can do about it now, so it would be best to just put it out of our minds.”
“Then let’s make the call now and report what we know,” Adam urged, as he continued to express his anxiety about not having done anything before this. “If we can’t stop them by ourselves, then we should at least tell the authorities what we saw.”
“We’ll do that just as soon as we get home tomorrow, because I’d rather not be around here when someone shows up to check out the situation,” Mike reasoned, in an attempt to calm his boyfriend down. “We still don’t know if there are only the two of them out there or whether they have more companions. Either way, any confrontation could turn into a huge gunfight. Who knows what might happen once the bullets start flying.”
“Look, I realize all of that, but I will still feel responsible if we don’t do anything and then learn later that someone died because of our inaction,” Adam countered, showing his uneasiness concerning the delay. He was feeling powerless about preventing a potential catastrophe.
“Even if we call now, no one will come out here tonight anyway, so let’s just sleep on it,” Mike suggested, hoping this would get Adam to stop worrying about it. “We’ll talk about it more in the morning and decide what to do then.”
Mike could tell that Adam was determined to report this, but he still thought there was more to lose than to be gained by doing anything while they were still at the cabin. He knew exactly where Adam was coming from, but Mike felt there were just too many unknowns for them to take any more chances. There may be a small drug ring or even a large cartel involved with the marijuana crop and those two could have been just some of the guards. If that was the case, how many more were there? Mike finally fell asleep while still pondering the multitude of questions that continued to confront them.
When the boys awoke in the morning, Mike quickly pointed out another consideration to Adam.
“I thought about something else during the night,” he stated, thinking he had come up with another reason to share with Adam. “If those guys are confronted by the cops and they don’t get the two we ran into, then they may come to the lake looking for us. We might be gone by that time, but the Kritzer’s could still be here. I don’t want to take the chance that anything might happen to them either, so let’s just wait until we get home first before we make the calls. Once we’re there, we’ll report what we know.”
"I don't want Jack, Megan or their parents to be put in danger either, so I'll do it your way," Adam reluctantly agreed, and then they went out to join their parents.
After having a quick bite to eat, they helped to load up the van and prepared to leave. Jack and Megan came over to say goodbye again and everyone seemed happy to see them. After a very emotional parting, including going over to say goodbye to Jim and Melinda, the Washburns and Bermans got ready to leave.
Dave offered to drive the first leg back, because he had driven this part on the way there, and George had no problem with that, so the families hopped inside and began their journey home. Just as they were reaching the end of the country road that ran from the lake to the highway, they saw something in the road ahead.
“What's that, dear?” Rita asked her husband, after seeing the flashing lights of police cars up ahead.
“I’m not sure,” he answered. “There might have been an accident or it could be a random check point of some sort.”
“Do you think they’re looking for drunk drivers?” Rita asked next.
“I doubt it at this time of the day,” George responded, “but they may be checking for expired registrations, bald tires or people driving without a license or insurance.”
George slowed the van down and came to a stop when he reached the checkpoint. It was some sort of a roadblock, so George rolled down his window to speak with the officer stopping them.
“What’s going on?” he asked when he noticed several other deputies milling about.
“We’re just doing a check of all vehicles leaving the area,” the officer answered, without giving them any specifics.
“Did a criminal escape or has someone robbed a bank or store?” George joked, hoping it would prompt the lawman to tell him the real reason they were there.
Adam realized the cop probably wasn’t supposed to give out any information, so he decided to mentally reach out and plant his own suggestion. ‘We want to know what happened, so please tell us,’ he thought, and the officer almost immediately complied.
“No escapees or robbers, but a 13-year-old boy was reported missing yesterday and we’re just checking all vehicles to make sure that he isn’t being taken away from the area,” the deputy stated, as two other officers began their search of the van.
Once Mike and Adam heard his explanation, they looked at each other, completely overwhelmed with the feelings of shock and horror. The expressions etched upon their faces said it all, but fortunately the adults were all staring at the deputy and didn’t notice. As soon as the officers cleared them to continue on their way, Mike and Adam began to whisper to each other.
“Do you think that’s what the shooting was about?” Adam asked, as he tried to hide his inner panic. “Could they have killed a 13-year-old boy?”
“I don’t know, but I guess it’s a possibility,” Mike answered, while trying to keep the others from overhearing their conversation. “I hope it’s just a coincidence though and they didn’t actually kill the kid, but it might have happened.”
“Then that would be awful,” Adam agreed, with a mild look of horror showing on his face. The guilt of possibly allowing something like that to happen would be devastating to Adam, as he readily pointed out. “It would also be partly our fault too, since we didn’t do anything to prevent it.”
“We're only delaying reporting what we saw until we feel everyone we care about is safe," Mike pointed out, while attempting to think this through logically. “We aren't trying to hide anything, but we're just worried about how it might impact those we love. Even if we had reported what we knew immediately, it still may not have been quickly enough to prevent something else from happening so soon afterward. After they got the report, the cops would have taken time to get organized first, before they came out here to investigate. It might have even taken them as long as a week or more before they would be ready to make their move.”
“Maybe, but we should have at least tried to get them out there sooner than we plan to,” Adam stated, while looking even guiltier than before.
“What are you boys whispering about?” Rita asked, as she turned back to face the boys.
“We were just talking about the missing boy?” Mike replied, thinking quickly. “We were wondering what might have happened to the kid or if we might have possibly even seen him while we were at the lake. There were an awful lot of other people around.”
“The officer didn’t say anything about it happening at the lake or even in that area, but I guess it’s possible,” Dave replied, looking slightly confused. “Who knows? The boy might have just run away or stayed over with a friend last night without telling his parents.”
“I hope that’s all it is and nothing worse happened to him,” Adam agreed, before falling silent again.
It was a long ride back to the Berman house, with only a couple of brief stops in between. Those little respites were only long enough to buy gas, use the toilet, eat or change drivers. When they finally arrived back at Mike’s house it was early evening, so the Bermans invited the Washburns to spend the night. Dave understood Adam’s parents had another long drive ahead of them, so this would give them a break, The Washburns eagerly accepted and agreed to make the trip back to their house the following day. This way they’d have a chance to rest up first, because they wouldn't be returning to work until Monday.
As soon as Mike and Adam were alone in Mike’s room later, Adam immediately called the State Police.
“I’d like to report something my friend and I saw earlier,” Adam told the person answering the phone. He was doing his best to convince the man on the other end that this was serious. “He and I were hiking in the woods yesterday at Lake Annabelle and wandered into a fairly large clearing. That’s when we discovered someone was growing a whole bunch of marijuana plants there, so we thought you would want to know.”
"Where exactly did this happen?" the officer asked.
"In the woods on the north side of Lake Annabelle," Adam replied. "There are three hiking trails on that side of the lake and this was between the middle trail and the one to the west of it. The clearing was quite large, so it should be easy to spot from the air." He was as specific as he could be and used features like the hiking trails and compass directions to pinpoint the location.
“We also spotted two guys in camouflage clothing with assault rifles that appeared to be guarding the crop of marijuana plants,” Adam added, to clarify what those guys were doing. “You might want to have a helicopter fly over the area first, so the pilot can check to see how many guards are actually there now, before you raid it. We’re not sure if there might have been others with them or if there were just the two guys that we saw, because we got out of there as quickly as we could. I think it would be best if you checked it out first and confirmed exactly what you would be up against, because there might be a lot more people guarding the place.”
After Adam told the officer this additional information, he also gave him his name, address and phone number. Adam then strongly suggested that he’d like the man to keep his personal information confidential.
“I only told you my name and address so you would know that we are serious and this information is legitimate,” Adam informed him. “I’d prefer, however, that the information not be disclosed though. If you have to let others know how you found out about this, you can merely report that you received an extremely credible anonymous tip about marijuana being grown there, or better yet that it was discovered during a random flyover.”
The officer stated he would have to identity them when he reported the incident to his superiors, but assured Adam that he would protect his identity when they gave out any information to the press or other agencies. He then told Adam he would immediately pass this on to his superiors so they could start an investigation of the area. He also thanked Adam for calling and making them aware of this situation, before he ended their conversation.
“I feel a little better now, but I’d still like to know what those guys were shooting at,” Adam confessed, after he gave Mike the specifics about the call. “It would be nice to know if they were just shooting at an animal or another human being.”
“They could have just been firing at a wild animal or trying to scare one off,” Mike offered, “but we may never know for sure what they were shooting at. There is absolutely no sense worrying about it any longer though, because we’ve reported it now and done what we can.”
Adam eventually agreed with Mike and tried to put any further thoughts about what had happened out of his mind. It wasn’t going to be easy for him to do, but he knew he had to. Otherwise, it might drive him crazy.
The boys went to bed that evening still slightly troubled, but they had a much better night’s sleep than they’d had the previous evening. After having breakfast with both set of parents the next morning, they said goodbye to Adam’s mom and dad. The boy’s would be going to stay with them in a couple of weeks, but they had a lot to think about in the meantime.