The Birth Certificate
By Michelle Naylor
This was not how he had dreamed of spending his day. In his mind he had envisioned a leisurely drive through the country, perhaps stopping at a little, out of the way place for a nice lunch, and then ending it with a good bottle of wine and his newest DVD on the television.
That, however, was waylaid by a single call from Chris Larabee.
Why on earth Mr. Larabee would want HIM to help go through personal papers, Ezra Standish did not know, all he did know was Chris was a terrible paper sorter.
"Have you never heard of a filing cabinet?" Ezra quipped as he alphabetized a stack of medical records. Really, with the frequency of hospital visits the team made, Chris should keep those papers in better order.
"Funny." Chris said without an ounce of humor in his voice. "Cabinets too full. Had to resort to boxes."
"You could have perhaps taken the time to label them."
"Well then, Ezra, if I had I wouldn’t have the pleasure of your company today, would I?" A smirk was the only facial expression on the older ATF agent’s face.
"Which brings me to my other question. Why me?" Ezra placed the finished pile carefully back into the box, and labeled it clearly. Reaching across the table, he picked up another disorderly pile and started to go through them.
"You’re the most organized man I know. Besides, Josiah and Nathan are off mountain hiking, and I wouldn’t trust Buck or JD near my papers. They’d end up as paper airplanes or lord knows what else. And Vin’s filing skills…. Well…."
"Please, Mr. Larabee, there is no need to explain more. I, of course, and more then happy to help."
"Right, of course you are."
Ezra simply smiled, the single gold tooth winking out of the side of his mouth. He really didn’t mind lending a hand; he just didn’t want Chris to know that. It was one thing to be a do-gooder, and quite another to let on that he was one. He did have a reputation to uphold.
He turned his attention back to the papers in front of him. These seemed to be older. Family records. Chris’s birth and baptismal certificates, along with his parents’ marriage license and both of their death records. Such things really should be taken better care of.
He picked up several plastic sleeves, intending to place each document inside of one to better protect it.
Near the bottom of the pile, his picked up another birth certificate, this one for Adam Michael Larabee. Chris’s son. Such a tragedy. Ezra had not known Chris, or any of the others, during that horrible time, but knew from the scattered history he was able to piece together that it had been a dark time in Chris’s life. Thank God for Buck. Chris’s oldest friend was able to pull the man out of the darkness he had surrounded himself in.
Wait just a second. Ezra looked closer at the certificate.
He knew Adam was born in ’93. This certificate was dated July 10,1971.
How funny, Ezra thought, that was his own birth date.
"Yeah." Chris answered, but did not look up.
"Do you have a brother?"
Chris did look up this time, and saw the paper that the southern agent was holding. Ezra watched as the green eyes of his boss turned dark.
"Yeah, I did." He took the paper from Ezra and looked at it. "Adam. Named my son after him. Died in a skiing accident when he was 18. There should be another one in there," he said, pointing to the pile in front of Ezra. "Adam’s fraternal twin. The baby died just a couple days after birth. SIDS, or something like that."
Ezra couldn’t think of what he should say. Why such terrible tragedies should plague one man throughout his life was a mystery that no one could solve. "That must have been very hard."
Chris handed the paper back to Ezra. "My mother took it bad, but she had Adam to take care of. My Dad refused to give the baby that died a name. Said he had never really lived. He refused to ever talk about him again."
"How very sad. Everyone deserves to have a name."
Chris just shrugged. "Dad said I and Adam where the all the sons he needed. He was a hard man, but good."
"And then to loose another son in another such terrible manner." Ezra shook his head. He had to give Chris the credit; the man had more strength in him then twenty others.
He flipped through the papers until he found the one he sought.
Weight: 7 lbs, 4 ounces
Birth: July 10,1971
Death: July 12, 1971
Ezra smiled sadly and reached for another plastic cover, then stopped. The name of the hospital where the twins where born caught his eye.
"What now, Ezra." Chris sounded tense. Understandable, considering the topic they where just speaking of. But…the coincidence…
"Your brothers where born at St. Francis Memorial in Indiana?"
"Yeah, what about it?"
"Well, I just find it strange. You see, they where born on the exact day as me."
"Interesting." Chris agreed. "But hardly earth-shattering. Millions of people are born everyday."
"Yes, yes, that I know, but…this is very …I was born at St. Francis as well."
Ezra went home that evening to be greeted by the sight of a familiar set of fine, French leather luggage gracing his front hallway.
"Good Lord." He managed to mutter before he saw his mother come breezing in.
"Ezra, darlin’, where have you been? I have been waiting for hours. It’s very inconsiderate of you to leave me alone for so long."
Ezra leaned over to press any airy kiss to Maude’s cheek. "Mother, how lovely to see you. I had no idea you where coming, though."
"Oh, that." Maude waved her hand in the air, as though her unexpected arrival was a problem that could be swept away. "It was a last minute thing. I barely knew where I would end up myself when I got on the plane this morning." She walked back down the hallway toward the living room. "Do be a dear and carry my bag to that sweet little guest room of yours." She called over her shoulder. "You know, it really would be more comfortable for me if that room was larger. Or perhaps you should look into purchasing someplace, oh…larger. Something more in keeping with the lifestyle in which you where raised."
Ezra dropped his keys into a small crystal bowl on the side table of his sofa and removed his coat. Maude was artfully arranging herself in a wingback chair as he sat down.
"You want me to move into a boarding school room?"
She made a tisk-tisk sound. "Don’t start that again. You had the best education money could buy."
"Other’s people money."
"Well, you are certainly being grumpy tonight."
Ezra sighed. "Do forgive me, Mother. I’ve had a rather long day."
Ezra could hear her go ‘humph!’. "You are not forced to work on Saturday’s now, are you?"
Ezra didn’t miss the tone of her voice. Maude Standish made no secret what she thought of Ezra’s ‘menial position’ as an ATF agent.
Really, darlin’, you should come with me to the south of France this year. There is the loveliest woman I met there, and her father has money to burn. She is just dying to meet you.
Ezra had no intention of becoming nothing more then a glorified male prostitute. Maude had no understanding of this. She thought nothing of marrying, or not marrying, for the sake of money alone.
"I work when the need calls for it, Mother, but no, I was not on a case. I was helping Mr. Larabee at his home."
Chris had become rather quiet after Ezra had discovered the birth certificates of his deceased twin brothers. The southerner could not blame his for that. He had been surprised that Chris had told him as much as he did. To talk about the deaths of loved ones was difficult.
Ezra could still not get the coincidence of having the same birth date, as well as being born at the same hospital, out of his mind. It was just too incredible. The chance that he would end up working with Chris…It was beyond crazy. It ran into the area of The Twilight Zone.
Seeing no reason not to share such strange news, he told the story to Maude.
"Do you not find it all astounding?" He asked after his story was done.
Maude regarded him with a stony glare. "Why yes, it is strange indeed, though hardly a great mystery."
"Yes, Mr. Larabee said the same thing."
"For once I and your colleague seen to agree." All at once Maude was all sweetness and light again. "I think I shall retire for the night, darlin’. Don’t forget to bring my bags, please." Maude pushed herself out of the chair and turned for the guestroom.
"Right away, Mother." He watched her go, still sitting on the sofa. He frowned at the thought of her reaction to his discovery. It was not in the way she looked, or what she said. It was something in her eyes. If there was something that Maude had taught him it was how to read people, how to find those little tells that clued you into what was really going on.
He had seen fear in her eyes. Only a flash, but it had been there.
Maude’s eyes. They where blue. Ezra had always supposed he received his emerald eyes from his father. Perhaps he did, although Maude never spoke much of him.
Ezra’s eyes where unique, that is what he had always been told. He himself had never seen the like.
Except for Chris’s. Chris’s came very close.
To be continued....