Rob pestered Wendell all day about this secret that he was withholding, and Wendell ended up inviting him back to his home to talk about it in private. The two of them disembarked from the bus together and walked up to the front door of Wendell’s house. The door was unlocked, and they walked inside.
Ruth was there, reclining across a couch, fanning herself with a handheld fan and listening to the radio. She saw the boys and said, “How was school today?”
“Great, mom,” Wendell said.
Rob said, “Good afternoon, Mrs. Davidson. You’re looking lovely today.”
Ruth smiled a little and laughed, looking down at her ragged clothes. “This?” she said, “These are my cleaning clothes. I was just taking a break.”
“Well, you always look great,” Rob said. Wendell pulled him into his bedroom and closed the door before he could say anymore.
“Stop it,” Wendell said to his friend.
“What?” Rob said, “Your mom’s a real dolly. What can I say? Don’t you see how the boys look at her when the bus passes your house? Of course, none of them have a shot because they’re not friends with her son. Me, on the other hand.” Rob ran his hand through his messy hair and smoothed it out a little.
“We came here to talk about something else,” Wendell said.
“Right, right,” Rob said, “Your glasses.”
Wendell nodded. He repeated what his father had said about the disappearance of his sister and that his father thought she had been taken. Rob nodded his head as he listened. “The worst part,” Wendell added, “is that my sight keeps on getting better. Better than normal. I can see things I never saw before. Apparently, my aunt was the same way. I’m nervous. What if my father’s right?”
After Wendell was done, Rob said, “It sounds all a bit paranoid to me. One person’s sight improves and disappears and your old man jumps to the conclusion that everyone who’s eyesight improves beyond normal is in danger of being taken.”
“Really?” Wendell asked, surprised by Rob’s sensible response.
“On the other hand,” Rob added, “It does make sense. You just have to think of it like this: who needs people with keen eyesight?”
“Birdwatchers?” Wendell said.
“No, spies dummy,” Rob said, “And astronomers. But only spies would resort to kidnapping people. They want people in those spy planes they got who have great eyesight. That way, they can see more of what’s going on down on the ground. Combine someone with superhuman sight and a telescope and they can see everything. It makes sense. Maybe your aunt was kidnapped by the government to be made into a spy. Maybe she’s still alive and working for them.” Wendell looked skeptically at Rob after he heard this response. “How good is your sight exactly?” Rob asked.
Wendell looked once again at the books on his shelf, and said, from his position sitting on the bed, “I can read the text on those books.”
Rob, who was closer to the books squinted and leaned towards the books. “Prove it,” Rob said.
Wendell started to read off the titles on the back of the book, until Rob stopped him and said, “You could’ve just memorized that. Let’s take something you haven’t read.” Rob reached into his bag and pulled out a book. “You haven’t read Farmer in the Sky, have you?” Rob asked. Wendell shook his head. Rob said, “Well, even if you’re lying you can’t have memorized the whole thing.”
Rob stood up and went to the far side of the room and opened the book to a random page. He pointed to a line and he said, “Read that.” Wendell read it and Rob followed, looking at the text while Wendell spoke. The text perfectly matched Wendell’s words. Rob’s eyes widened.
“But that’s easy,” Wendell said, “Go further.”
“Okay,” Rob said, “I’ll go outside. You write down what you read.”
Soon Wendell could see Rob standing outside on their front lawn holding the book, now open to a different page and pointing to a line. Wendell waved his hand, gesturing for Rob to go further. Rob backed away into the street and all the way onto the other side. Wendell wrote down the words that he read and gestured for Rob to return.
When Rob walked into the room, he was breathless from having run back to the room. “Let’s hear it,” he said, looking down at his book.
As Wendell reproduced the words exactly, Rob’s eyes began to pop out of his head with shock.
“Oh my god,” Rob gushed, “You’re like a superhero. This is amazing!”
“Yeah,” Wendell halfheartedly agreed, “But don’t tell anyone.”