The shadows grew like monsters behind the little boy as Jeremy took his hand. They went deeper into the alley, ducking under the clothesline where the boy had been playing.

Jeremy wanted to ask, where’d you get that tattoo on your hand, but thought it better to ask, “What’s your name?

The boy looked at him oddly. “My mama has your cell phone.”

Great. The cell phone with my passwords and bank account apps, and my credit card info. “Where’d you get that tattoo on your hand?” Jeremy asked.

The boy shrugged. “Where’d you get yours?”

“I don’t have one.”

The boy looked at him oddly. This time, Jeremy gazed back at him. Just in time to walk into a spider web. He brushed it from his face quickly with a fling of his hand.

Like Alice falling down the rabbit hole! Nevertheless, he decided to try the conversation again. “How much further?”

“Not much.” The boy made it sound like Jeremy should know how much distance was left.

Sighing, Jeremy made one last attempt. “How old are you?”

The boy looked at him oddly. “Here we are.” He took a sudden left and brought Jeremy up some crumbly concrete steps into a brick house with blue trim standing on the corner of the alley and the main drag toward which they’d been headed.

They stood in a run-down, but clean, living room, with the only light coming from a naked bulb overhead. The TV, or was it a radio, spoke softly from the next room.

“Mom! We’re here! The man stirred.”

The radio came off, and out came a woman, drying her hands on an apron as she entered the room. It was the woman with the parachute. And the Box-L tattoo.

“But, Mom,” the boy continued, “he didn’t know how old I was.”

She cocked her head in mild confusion. “He’s six,” she informed him.

Jeremy opened his mouth to make introductions, and the woman did too, but they didn’t get a chance.

“Mom, the man didn’t even know my name.”

How could I? I’ve never seen you before!

The woman looked at Jeremy oddly. Runs in the family. He rolled his eyes.

“His name is Ari.”

“Short for Antares,” the boy piped up. “You know, the star? In the Scorpio constellation? The Breast of the Scorpion?”

Jeremy opened his mouth to politely compliment the name, but the boy wasn’t finished talking.

“Mom, he said he doesn’t have a tattoo!”

“What? He doesn’t?” The woman’s ears turned red, and she pursed her lips.

Jeremy recognized the dare in her eyes from the rooftop parachute jump and didn’t dare move. Ari ran into the other room and returned a few seconds later with a flashlight that burned blue with some sort of black light.

“Show me your palm,” Parachute Woman demanded. She held out her hand like a mother checking her child’s hand cleanliness before a meal.

I am a grown man! “What are …”

“I said, show me your palm.”

Tune in next week for more! And check out the Rory’s Story Cube app on your phone. What fun! You’re welcome to share your own results in my comments section.