Possibly the start of a new story?

Posted: April 12, 2011 in Short stories

“What do you have for me D?” a man’s voice asked as footsteps sounded in the dimly lit room.

            “An opportunity,” a second man, simply called “D”, replied.

            The first man inhaled deeply and sat up, interested. “Explain.”

            “I was listening to the police reports. A house, not too far from here, has experienced a terrible tragedy. The woman of the house, a widow, has died.”

            “How does this benefit me?”

            “She leaves two children. A daughter of eighteen and a son of twelve. I think they would be perfect for you. They need someone to raise them and show them how to live.”

            The man chuckled and said, “You’re a genius D. And that is why you are on my team.”

            D smiled but stayed serious. He was all business when talking with his boss. “WE should probably leave soon if we want to get to them in time.”

            “Agreed. Let’s go.”

            The two men walked out of the room and into a long hallway. Their shoes made a slight tapping song against the flooring. The sound of the tap’s echoes bouncing off the walls was, in a way, soothing to the superior of the two men. They reached the end of the hallway and went through the door before them, entering a garage.

            “What do you think, Boss?” D asked.

            D’s partner went over to a police cruiser and patted the hood. “Hop in D.”

            D pulled a key ring off a line of hooks and unlocked the cruiser. The two men got inside and D started the car. As D pushed a button, which raised the garage door, the other man reached behind his seat and found a duffle bag sitting on the floor. He pulled it into his lap and unzipped it. He pulled out a black shirt, slipped it on over his white T-shirt, then did up the buttons. Next he removed a pair of black boots from the bag. He kicked his sneakers off, resting his feet on the dashboard, and put on the boots. Lastly, he removed a police badge and a walkie-talkie. He clipped the badge to his breast pocket and the walkie-talkie to his belt.

            “Pulling up to the house, Boss,” D said as the car started to slow and move closer to a curb. When the cruiser finally came to a stop, D parked and stayed in the car while his partner got out and observed the scene.

            Standing on front steps, a pretty girl had her arm around a young boy who’s shoulders were shaking. The girl’s face was calm and stone-like, showing no emotion. Her eyes wandered, taking in everything that was happening. The flashing blue and red lights danced across her face. Officers were talking with each other, deciding what to do next.

            “Now’s my chance,” he thought. He confidently walked over to the kids and gave them a sympathetic smile.

            “Officer,” the girl said. “What’s going on?”

            “My name is Officer Owen Holt,” he said. “I’m here to take you to the station so you can make a statement, explain everything that’s happened , and then we’ll decide what we are going to do next.”

            “Do you know where we are going to live or who is going to take care of us?” she asked.

            “All of this will be decided at the station.”

            The girl nodded and gave the boy a gentle squeeze. He looked up to the officer in front of him, his cheeks shiny with tears.

            “We’re going to be ok, right?”

            “Don’t worry. I’ll take good care of you,” Owen said.

            The kid gave a weak smile. Then he and his sister followed the officer into the cruiser.

            “Go, D,” Owen said as he slammed the door shut.

            D turned the cruiser on and hit the gas. He was tense for the first couple of minutes of the drive, afraid that he would be pulled over by a cop who had realized they had taken those kids. But after five minutes, he began to relax.

            “The police station really isn’t that far from our house,” the girl said. “Why is it taking so long?”

            “Look, don’t worry about how long it’s taking, ok?” D said, annoyed.

            “Now, now, D. Don’t be rude,” Owen said calmly, turning in his seat so he was facing the children. “What’s your name, dear?”

            “Talita,” she replied.

            “Talita, you have nothing to worry about. Everything is fine. You’ll be taken care of. I promise.”

            Talita crossed her arms across her chest. “Something just doesn’t feel right.”

            “Of course not,” Owen replied. “You’ve just experienced great tragedy. Things won’t feel ‘right’ again for a while.”

            Talita’s face softened and she sighed, leaning back in her seat.

            Owen turned around in his own seat. “Do yourself a favor. Take a nap.”

            “It’s going to be a long enough drive that I can take a nap?” Talita asked, a slight whine sounding in her voice.

            “Yeah,” Owen replied. “Trust me, you could use a little sleep. Your brother seems to agree with me.”

            Talita turned her head and looked at her brother. He was fast asleep, his head resting against the cool window.

            “His name is Noah,” Talita said.

            Owen didn’t reply, but made a mental note to remember the name.

            Talita sighed again and pressed her cheek against her own window. Tears prickled at her eyes as her mind wandered to the events that took place in the last hours.

            “It’s my fault, you know,” Talita said quietly.

            Again, Owen did not answer, but he did listen. He wasn’t going to deny Talita a chance to rant and let it all out. He’d been through enough painful situations to know that holding in thoughts and emotions was a bad idea.

            “This wasn’t an accident, I mean. They’ll figure it out eventually. She didn’t die for some unknown cause like I told those cops and paramedics back home. I know how she died and I know why.” She paused, watching a tear slide down her cheek in her reflection on the window. “She… She killed herself,” Talita choked out. “She overdosed on some medicine she stole from our neighbors. They were some kind of painkillers…” Her tears were falling faster now, like a drizzling rain suddenly turning into a thunderstorm.

            “She stole them a while ago, like, over a month I guess. But she never threatened me with them until a week or so ago. She had been so… so damn moody and… and we fought so much more often. And it was about stupid stuff too. Stuff like me not sweeping the floor one night or coming home five minutes later than I said I would. And at one point in every argument, she would always say that I was driving her to the breaking point and if I didn’t get my act together, she would swallow the whole damn bottle of painkillers. She said… that… she said that would teach me a lesson…”

            Owen felt his chest get tight with sympathy. He couldn’t help it. He knew he shouldn’t let emotions get in the way of his plans, but no human being with a heart could listen to this story without feeling even the littlest pang of sorrow for the kids in the cruiser’s backseat. He shifted uncomfortably in his seat, but tried to make it subtle. The last thing he wanted was for Talita to know her words were affecting him.

            “Lucky for Noah, he never seemed to be around when Mom and I were fighting. He would be at sports or hangng out with a friend or sleeping. He was always somewhere. Always out of the way. He’ll never suspect suicide, which means he’ll never blame me… I wouldn’t be able to live if he knew the truth… I could never face him again…” She cleared her throat.

            “Today, Noah was with his friend, Jarrell. They were at Jarrell’s house. This was around noon, I guess. And I was in my bedroom just listening to some music and reading a book. And suddenly, Mom came thundering up the stairs and slammed the door. And she just started screaming. She said some raccoons had gotten into our trash cans outside and strewn garbage all over. Then she asked me why I didn’t clean it up. I told her that I didn’t know about the raccoons. I hadn’t taken trash out today, so I hadn’t seen the mess. But she called me a liar. She said I was just too lazy to do anything and that I always made her do everything. Then she ripped my CD player’s cord out of the wall, picked up the player, and threw it at me…” Her voice started to become watery again, but Talita tried to hold back the sobs.

            “My mom has never laid a hand on me or Noah. Not even when we were little. She never spanked us or anything. She didn’t believe in it. But she was so mad… She threw a god damn radio at me! It hit me right in the back. And it hurt so freakin’ bad… Jesus, I’ve never been in so much pain before… And that’s what did it for me. I was so fed up with everything. I don’t know what changed her so suddenly, but there was no way it was my fault. It had something to do with her and her private personal life. There was nothing I could do and I was done being her scapegoat.

            “I let myself fall off my bed and I pulled myself up so I was standing in front of her and I was in her face. My body was shaking from the pain, but I ignored it. I freaked out at her, telling her that I wasn’t putting up with her crazy shit any more. I really let her have it, telling her how I feel and everything. I told her that it wasn’t me who needed to shape up, it was her. I told her that if she didn’t chill out, I would leave and I would take Noah with me so she couldn’t hurt him too. I told her I’d change our names and get disguises and everything. I had a plan. She just needed to give me one more reason to execute it.”

            Owen unintentionally winced at the word “execute”, but still stayed silent. Talita needed this. He wasn’t going to stop her.  However, he found himself silently wishing that Noah stayed asleep. He didn’t want the kid hearing this.

            “Of course, this is when Mom brought up the pills and everything. She told me that if I didn’t stop my bullshit and stop treating her the way I was, she would down the whole bottle. And… And I told her that she was a liar. I said she would never do that and she was just trying to scare me. I told her it wasn’t going to work anymore. She couldn’t scare me off with her threats. And then I left. I got into my car and I drove off. I didn’t really go anywhere. I just drove around, blasting my music, trying to get my mind off everything. I was so furious and in so much pain, I was shaking and could barely drive at one point. I pulled into the parking lot of some fast food joint, turned off the car and just cried. I couldn’t believe this was happening and I couldn’t understand it. We had always been such a happy little family, even when my dad died. I stayed there and cried for an hour or so. Then I drove around some more. I stopped at a pharmacy for some pain relief. Then I decided that I should go home.

            “On the way, I saw Noah walking home. I lied and told him I had been out with my friends and offered to take him out to dinner. I guess I was still trying to give mom some time to cool down. So, I took him out to eat,  then we went back home. The house was really quiet and, I guess, Noah and I instantly knew something was wrong. We looked downstairs and nothing seemed out of the ordinary. So then we looked upstairs. Noah’s room was fine. My room was fine. And then we got to Mom’s room. And she was laying on her bed… And… I knew. I knew she had been serious this time… And I knew she was dead…”

            Owen clentched his teeth and closed his eyes. He took deep, relaxing breaths to stay calm. His hands were starting to shake a bit, so he quickly folded them in his lap and hoped they would stop.

            “Noah, of course, became hysterical. We both cried and cried. We lost our mother… We have no one left. And I had an even bigger burden. I was… I am… so full of guilt. I let this happen. I pushed her. I challenged her. And she proved me wrong…

            “Once I managed to clam down a bit, I called 911. And that’s where we stand now… I have no clue what’s going to happen. I have no idea what they are going to do when they realize the truth about Mom. What’s going to happen to me and Noah? To our house and all our things? I just don’t know…”

            Talita sighed and wiped remaining tears off her face. She sniffled a few times then went quiet again.

            Owen was at a loss for what he should do. He didn’t know if he should turn around, face her, and comfort her. Was she looking for sympathy and comfort? Was he capable of providing them? Of course he felt sorry for Talita and Noah. It was impossible not to. But Owen had never been good at expressing his sympathy for others. The right words could never form and he always seemed so awkward. Maybe it would be better if he just stayed silent. Or would that be too heartless? Then again… Owen didn’t want Talita to think he was some mushy teddy bear or some shit like that.

            Finally, Owen just said, “Why are you telling me all of this? It-”

            “Don’t say it could’ve waited until we got to the station or could’ve waited until a better time because it couldn’t. There’s no time like the present. Or so I’ve been told. And besides…” She took a deep breath. “I know you’re not cops.”

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