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- Graham appealed to Alex for forgiveness for having lied about why he was absent during Alex’s childhood, but Alex rejected his efforts.
- After a friendly dinner with Matt, Danielle was thrown for a loop when Elly asked to meet her biological father.
- Matt returned home to a note from Sarah, asking him to meet her on Pier 22 and insisting that he not call or text her. Concerned about her, Matt went to the pier, where she was nowhere to be found. Just as he decided to call her, an unseen assailant bashed him in the head and knocked him out. Matt woke up in a dark room with his hands and feet taped together.

Consciousness comes back to Matt Gray like television reception during a terrible storm: fuzzy, fleeting, bursts of image and sound that cut in and out without warning or reason. He sees the linoleum floor in front of his face, hears the roar of a vehicle in the far distance, feels the tape binding his wrists and ankles together. Minutes and minutes pass before it all gels into what he might actually call “being awake.”

His eyes strain to make out something, anything, in the darkness, but aside from the expanse of linoleum before him, there is nothing at all. He recalls waking up some time ago--minutes? Hours?--and being too exhausted to stay that way for long. The pounding in his head feels duller than it did then, though it is far from subtle.

Breathing through his nose, since his mouth is taped shut, he rolls onto his stomach and props himself up on his elbows. Unlike the last time he woke up, he now has the energy to pop up to his feet. His head spinning, he shuffles his feet toward a wall.

He leans against the wall to get his bearings. The room is, from what he can tell, empty. A pillar stands in the middle of it, and there is what looks like a built-in counter across the way.

He wishes there were a damn window so he’d have some idea whether it’s night or day, or at least some light to help him out. He wonders if the call that he placed to Sarah went through--

  Matt Gray

A surge of hope hits him as he maneuvers his restrained hands to his pants pocket, but his cell phone is not in there. He awkwardly tries to feel around for it, but it is as he suspected: the phone is gone.

And then he sees the door. It is on the same way that he is propped against, all the way toward the end. All he has to do is get to that door, and then he can get out of here and figure out what the hell is going on. Determined, he begins to slide his body along the wall.


The morning is overcast and chilly, as is typical of the Pacific Northwest at this time of year. Danielle Taylor parks her car in one of the guest spots, takes the paper bag from the passenger seat, and makes her way through the complex to Matt’s apartment.

She can smell the tantalizing aroma of the warm bagels as she carries them. She hopes Matt doesn’t think it’s weird for her to turn up out of the blue like this, but she couldn’t sleep after her talk with Elly last night, and discussing the situation with Matt might put her mind at ease. The least she can do is bring by those bagels she was raving about last night at dinner.

She knocks on his door and waits several seconds without any response. Doubt sets in; maybe it was stupid of her to come by so early. She knows that he has to be at work for the lunch shift, so he should be awake by now, but he hasn’t answered the text that she sent a little while ago…

After knocking again and receiving no answer, she turns to leave, feeling foolish for her impulsive trek over here. As she turns, she notices a piece of paper lying face-up on the ground. A few of the words catch her attention, and she stoops down to pick it up and read it.

Please, please, meet me on Pier 22 tonight. I don’t know where else to go. I need you. I’ll be there. Just come—and don’t call or text me. I’ll explain when you get there. – Sarah

Instantly she feels guilty for having read something so personal, though Matt did leave it here for anyone to find. Maybe he went rushing out to meet Sarah last night.

When Danielle returns to her car, she notes that Matt’s truck is nowhere to be found in the parking lot. Perhaps he never came home at all. Does that mean he and Sarah spent the night together?

Something about the situation seems very strange, but it is probably none of her business. She gets back into her car and places the bag of bagels on the passenger seat--but not before breaking off half of a sesame one to eat on her way home.

Cassie's Coffee House

Graham Colville hands his debit card to the barista, who swipes it and hands him a receipt. He thanks her, collects the baked items that he has purchased for himself, Sarah, and Tori, and steps aside to wait for their drinks.

There is an ever-replenishing line of customers behind him, mostly busy professionals on their way to work. It is rare for him to be in a place like this at such a high-traffic time, but he has been awake since well before dawn, and he had to get out of the house. There is too much on the line today for him, and one thing Graham has never done well is simply wait.

The first of their drinks is called, and Graham steps forward to grab it just as he sees someone all-too-familiar walking through the door. Alex Marshall, dressed in warm-up pants and a hooded fleece jacket, spots him immediately.

Graham offers a tentative wave, which Alex returns. And then, to Graham’s great surprise, Alex bypasses the line of customers and comes over to him.

“Hey,” the younger man says.

“Hi, Alex,” Graham says carefully. “What brings you here at this hour?”

“I have some writing to do, so I thought it might be good to be out of the house.”

“Ah. Well, best of luck with that.” Graham wants desperately to make another plea for Alex’s forgiveness, but he reminds himself that restraint is in his best interests. His son did not respond well to being pushed at Christmas--and today, of all days, Graham could stand to exercise some patience.

“Listen,” Alex says. “I’ve been meaning to talk to you.”

That takes Graham by surprise. “You have?”

“Yeah. I… I should apologize for how I acted toward you on Christmas at the Fishers’. It was rude.”

Graham sighs, quite aware that agreeing will not earn him any points. “You’ve made it clear that you’re very angry at me.”

“I am. I just…” Alex fiddles with the canvas strap of his messenger bag. “It isn’t just about those letters I found from my mom. It’s about not having had you in my life for three decades. For not knowing who you even were, really. And then I thought you were here, and it all made sense, and then the rug gets pulled out from under me again--”

“Alex, I understand. I want you to know how deeply, deeply sorry I am for having lied about the specifics of what went on between your mother and me. I was an irresponsible man, and I allowed my resentment toward her to color my actions toward you, which is inexcusable. But the fact remains that my intentions since coming to King’s Bay have been exactly as I’ve always said: to have a relationship with my son.”

Alex takes that in quietly. Finally he nods and says softly, “I know. I guess I’m saying I need time.”

“I’m willing to give you that. As long as you think we might be able to have that relationship someday--”

“I’d like to think we can. I’m sure Sarah told you about everything that happened with Jason and Courtney’s parents. It’s made me think a lot about how we only get one shot at all of this, and then it’s over.”

“Then please,” Graham says, as he hears his remaining two drinks called out by a barista, “take the time that you need, and let me know as soon as you feel you might be ready to see me again.”

“I will.”

Graham turns and arranges all three drinks in a travel holder. Balancing his purchases, he smiles at Alex. “I’ll look forward to hearing from you. And that is the truth.”

“Have a good day,” Alex says.

“You, too, son.”

Graham forces himself not to linger. He exits the coffee house, heartened by the unexpected breakthrough with his son. Perhaps, after all this time, they will finally be able to leave the past in the past.


Danielle decides to take the long way home, winding through downtown and along the waterfront. Truth be told, she could use the time to think; Elly’s request to meet her biological father has Danielle’s insides winding tighter and tighter with anxiety. After all these years, it might be fine. Maybe Jimmy has matured as much as she has. But the mere thought of revisiting that place in her life makes her incredibly uneasy.

She takes the other half of the sesame bagel from the bag and munches on it while she drives. When she passes Pier 22, she glances down its length and wonders what might have become of Matt. It had to have been something serious for Sarah to summon him that way, and for her to specify not to try her by phone… something strange is going on.

Just as she is reminding herself that Matt and Sarah’s relationship is none of her business, Danielle notices what she is sure is Matt’s blue pickup truck in the public lot just off Pier 22. Her efforts to put that out of her head last about three seconds, and then she finds herself making a U-turn and returning to the lot.

She parks her car and goes over to the truck. As best she can tell, it is Matt’s. The Pittsburgh Steelers sticker in the window is all the confirmation she needs.

So Matt came here last night, met Sarah, left his truck, and hasn’t been back for it or gone home since?

  Danielle Taylor

Something is weird. She pulls out her cell phone and dials his number. As she listens to it ring, she watches a crew setting up on the next pier over. They have some serious heavy machinery--a crane, a bulldozer--and are setting up cones and yellow tape all around the area.

The phone rings one, two, three, four times before going to voicemail. She thinks about leaving Matt a message but decides that it won’t do much good. Instead, she returns to her car, trying to shake the sense that something is very wrong here.


Matt scoots his body along the wall, which feels as though it takes forever. At last, he reaches the door. He rolls himself away from the wall--only to lose his balance and topple to the floor.

Unable to catch himself, he lands squarely on his hip. A whole new pain radiates through his body. It takes him a long moment to catch his breath and struggle back to a standing position.

Finally, he is able to clasp his hands over the door handle. But when he presses down on it, nothing happens.

It must be locked from outside, he realizes. Of course it is.

He scans the dark room, but there is no other door, no other potential exit. He lets out a yell, which is muffled by the tape, and then lifts his conjoined hands to claw the tape off his mouth. His joy that someone was stupid enough to tape his hands in front of his body is dashed immediately by the discomfort ripping through his face as the heavy duct tape tears from his skin. He could swear it rips some of his facial hair out from the roots.

He screams again, as loudly and wildly as he can manage, as he rams his shoulder into the door. But regardless of how hard he hits it or how much noise he tries to make, nothing works. He is trapped.


“That’s great!” Sarah Fisher Colville responds from the kitchen island, where she is eating her scone and drinking her caramel hot chocolate.

“To say I was surprised would be an understatement,” Graham says, “but this is the kind of surprise that I welcome.”

“Alex will come around,” she says. “If he took the initiative to come up to you and apologize…” She takes another sip of the hot chocolate. “Oh my god, this is exactly what I was craving this morning. How did you know?”

“Just a guess. I know how much I miss your coffee.”

She shakes her head. “You have no idea.”

Graham checks his phone, but there is--as its silence would indicate--no further update on the matter about which he is waiting to hear.

“When do you have to get down to the pier?” Sarah asks.

The mention of the pier startles him. “Pardon?”

  Graham Colville

“The pier. For the demolition. What time do you have to be down there? I have another hour or so before I have to go meet with my client.”

Graham checks the time, though he has been perfectly aware of the passage of every second of today since before dawn. “I need to leave in about half an hour.”

“It’s unbelievable how much the waterfront is changing,” Sarah says, turning to stare out the bay window. “I used to spend so much time down there at my dad’s restaurant. First that was gone, and now the buildings on the next pier… Makes you realize that you can never go back.”

Every word that Graham has heard so far today has sounded charged with deeper meaning, but Sarah’s words stand out even more prominently than the rest.

“But I guess change brings lots of good things,” she says, rubbing her stomach, which has become much more noticeable in the past few weeks.

She picks up her cup and crosses the kitchen, where she plants a kiss on his cheek. “I love you,” she says.

“I love you, too,” Graham says, though he feels as if he is choking on every single syllable. “You’re certainly in a reflective mood today.”

Sarah shrugs. “Life is good right now.”

Graham’s eyes move to the same window out of which Sarah was staring a moment ago. The gray, gloomy sky threatens rain at any second. And suddenly, he knows without a doubt that he has to stop what he has set in motion.


What has Graham done?
Will anyone come to Matt’s rescue?
Is Alex right to give Graham another chance?
Talk about all this and more in the Footprints Forum!

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Wed., Feb. 29th, 2012

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