Friday, August 8, 2014
Cameron slid the rarely used key into the lock of his father's house. He wasn't exactly the most comfortable with being by himself in the less-than-savvy part of town, but he was proud that his father was able to see that he was mature enough to take care of the house for the two days that he was going to be out of town with his brother. He walked into the living room and reached for the light switch when he felt himself getting struck in the back of the head.
"You shouldn't have come here."
Cameron felt his head throb as he regained consciousness to see his brother in front of him with an older woman further back.
"Why're you here?" Cameron said as he tried to stand up. He almost got to a complete standing position when he realized that his legs were shackled to a water pipe. This wasn't the living room.
"You really bought that crap about me going to a specialist? I'm better than ever." William said as he smugly stood before him. Cameron looked down at the ground in disbelief that he could have fallen for this. He was supposed to be better than this. What would Elias think of him right now?
"What do you have to say? Going and hanging out with Elias's lover-boy and his trailer-park hoochie-mamas. Pathetic. Now you're going to get it."
"Why'd you do it?"
"Do what?" William asked.
"Put those animals in Kenton's mom's restaurant."
"I'll take this one, dear." Andrea said as William stepped back. "That's not 'Kenton's mom's restaurant'. That's my restaurant. That she stole from me."
"Because that's what they do." William chimed in. Andrea raised up her hand and gave a shush sound.
"So, you're the 'lady'? What are you, forty?" Cameron sneered. Andrea raised her hand and ran it across the boy's face.
"Don't talk to me like that."
"You two are something else..." Cameron said as he shook off the slap.
William growled and plowed his fist into his younger brother's stomach. Cameron found himself sliding to the ground as a bicycle rack sliced into his back. William then got down and grabbed the boy by his throat.
"You better watch your mouth if you don't want to die here."
"Yeah, I don't think so. People are going to notice if I go missing. What about Mom?"
"Don't worry… I've already taken care of that. You're spending quality time with you beloved brother." William said as he waved Cameron's phone in front of him.
"Screw you. The only brother I truly had was Elias. He loved me, unlike you!”
William growled yet again before saying "Babe, can you get it for me?"
"It?" Cameron thought as Andrea reached into the car parked into the garage and handed William a bag. Every thought that was going through Cameron's mind changed when he saw what came out of the bag: a pistol.
"If you don't want to die here, I would suggest you watch your stupid little mouth."
Cameron had no response. Only fear.
Charmaine's car sped down Muscox street and Kenton felt relieved he could see that there was only one house on the street otherwise occupied with trailers. Charmaine parked the car into the driveway and the two ran up to the door. They knocked and knocked before the door opened and Charmaine found herself staring her old (former) friend in the eyes once again.
"You! WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?!" Andrea said as the front door closed behind her.
"I'm here looking for Cameron Elder! What in the hell are you doing here?" Charmaine asked as she knew that Andrea didn't have a soul capable of caring about a missing child.
"Just hanging out."
"It was you, wasn't it?"
"It was me what?"
"You knew the layout of my restaurant. You had the reason to do it! Trying to betray my trust wasn't enough, was it? Breaking my stuff wasn't enough, was it? You jealous piece of..." Charmaine looked up at her son and decided not to finish that sentence.
"I didn't do anything! You did everything to yourself!"
"Oh, that's a lie."
"Believe what you want to believe. Just leave me alone!"
"Hell no! You're going to pay for what you did!"
Charmaine lunged and managed to tackle Andrea to the ground. The two of them wrestled until Charmaine managed to get the other lady subdued.
"Baby, get me the rope from the emergency kit in my trunk!" Charmaine commanded as she struggled to keep Andrea under submission.
"Uh... are you sure you want to hang her?"
"Oh for... It's to keep her tied up until the cops arrive."
Kenton nodded before retrieving and throwing the rope to his mother. With a little help from her son, Charmaine managed to get the crazy woman restrained before getting out her phone to call for help.
"So... that kid you were looking for..."
"Shut up, Andrea." Kenton said, furious for all the trouble that she caused the family.
"That Cameron... Elder... right?"
"I said be quiet!"
"We're going to deal with him real soon."
"What?! Who's 'we'?"
"My 'boyfriend’ if you can call him that. The little shit has been making his life a living hell for years, and now is our chance to make it right before we can live our lives together. Or so he thinks."
Kenton's eyes widened at what he just heard. He threw open the front door of the house and went inside without a second thought. "Baby, where are you going?!" Charmaine cried out after him.
"He's going to save his little friend. Just like I tried to save you."
"Save me? SAVE ME? Girl, you need to shut your mouth. The cops are on their way."
"You know I won't see a courtroom."
"Based on what, your 'good looks'?"
Andrea looked at her former best friend and smiled.
In the garage, William sat on a bucket. He was eating a sandwich in one hand while using the other hand to keep a gun trained on Cameron. The captive boy, who had not eaten or slept for the entire two-day ordeal, was out of energy. At this point, he knew that he was going to die and was almost welcoming it.
"Are you hungry, little brother?"
Cameron glared at the older boy.
"This is so delicious. Mmmmm. Delicious."
William dropped his sandwich and leaped next to Cameron when he heard the door fly open to the garage.
"Kenton...?" Cameron asked, almost convinced that this was a malnourished sleep-deprived hallucination.
Kenton gasped as he saw his friend for the first time in almost a week. His shirt was stained with blood from the moments when William would feel feisty enough to smack down the boy. The chains holding him to the pipes were rusty and you could see the marks on his legs from where they were rubbing against him as he moved.
"Oh, that's just nice. It's your knight in chocolate armor." William scoffed as he sized up the competition.
"Your little lover boy isn't here to hit me with building materials. It's over. You move one more step and..."
William wrapped his arm around his little brother's shoulders and put the barrel of the gun to Cameron's temple. Kenton froze in fear. This was something that no man, let alone a boy, should ever have to see.
"Yeah, I love that look. That's better than the look that you gave me when I talked about your daddy's brain matter! You remember that? I know you do!"
Kenton started to get angry again, but backed down quickly as he remembered everything that went down the last time he was this angry and he was going to be damned if he was going to lose another friend.
"Can you just imagine what it's going to look like when I scatter his brain matter? Beautiful!"
"You are one sick bastard!" Kenton found himself saying.
"Oh, what was that? Are you using your big-boy words at last?" William said as he giggled. At this point, Cameron had enough. He thrust his elbow into his brother's ribcage. Despite not having much slack from having his hands also chained up, Cameron was lucky enough to build enough momentum to allow this attack to surprise and stun his brother enough to let go of his gun. It was also further luck that the gun flew behind Cameron, allowing him to quickly maneuver it to his hand. Despite a lack of experience with such a weapon, Cameron kept it pointed towards his brother the best he could.
"It's over, William." Kenton said as William tried to scramble to his feet.
"Don't. Move." Cameron growled.
"Andrea's already tied up and the police are on their way."
"You? Calling the police? I'm so shocked." William said between coughs.
"Shut up!" Cameron said as William finally noticed that his brother now had his gun pointed at him and a finger on the trigger.
"You're going shoot me?"
"Yeah. I am. You've abused me for two years. You took away the person who should have been my brother and loved me much more than you did. You told me that I should die. But no. You should die. And you're going to!"
"Cameron, stop!" Kenton yelled out.
"Why? Why should I stop?" Cameron asked, not taking his eyes and the gun away from William.
"Killing him is the wrong solution to the problem!"
"He took Elias away from us! We could have been one, happy family. But no. It's too late for that. He's gone..."
"Killing him isn't going to bring Elias back! It's not what Elias would want!"
As sirens started coming into earshot, Cameron lowered the gun as he sobbed quietly. There were no tears to come out due to the dehydration. William climbed out of the back garage window and into the woods without saying another word.
The police officers arrived and placed Andrea under arrest. After Kenton took them to the garage where Cameron was chained up, they called paramedics out to free him and take him by ambulance.
"I'm going with him!" Kenton said as they loaded him up. Charmaine looked at him and nodded with a slight smile as she continued talking to the officer.
As the ambulance raced towards the nearest hospital, the emergency medical technicians checked Cameron out.
"Hey... Kenton...?" Cameron said through the oxygen mask that he was wearing.
"Did you come out here just to find me?"
Kenton smiled at him and said, "You bet."
"How'd you know where to find me?"
"After we stopped Andrea, I just started running. I just followed my instincts." Kenton replied. It was almost like there was a voice guiding him towards the garage.
"Thank you... for coming to save me..."
Kenton smiled and reached out for Cameron's hand. Cameron squeezed the hand and smiled back at him.
Eleven Months Later: Friday, July 3, 2015
The sky was a deep gray and the clouds started to release a thin mist across the air. Two people, a girl and a boy ran across a field leading to a fence with a gate. The boy opened the gate for the girl to run through.
They ran through the graveyard until they came to a specific marker. The boy stopped and let the girl walk up to the spot first.
"I can't believe that it's been one year since you... left us, Elias." Mia said as she looked at the gravestone before her. Just like she was talking to a living, breathing person, she continued talking.
"Olivia and I graduated Middle School! I only got a couple 'D's this time around! I think I'm getting better; don't you think?"
She quietly laughed to herself as she remembered how she tricked Elias into coming over to her house by trying to pass a library book as a math textbook.
"I still don't know what a quadratic equation is, but I think I'm getting the hang of it. I'll get there eventually."
Mia saw some grass clippings from when the caretakers recently mowed, so she decided to try to brush them off as she continued.
"Kenton's doing well. We just celebrated his fifteenth birthday a few days ago. For some reason, he didn't want to have it at the park again. We just had a quiet party in the back of the restaurant. He's totally excited about getting his learner's permit. I don't think Ms. Hayes is thrilled."
After brushing up the last of the clippings, Mia noticed that the rain was starting to let up.
"Olivia's still by his side. She's still as quiet as ever. Nothing really changed with her recently. I asked her if I could be her bride's maid when she marries him. However, I think it’s just silly talk as she’s moving to Maine in a few months. I wonder how it’s going to work out."
She sighed and looked up at the dissipating clouds.
"They found William in the woods not long after Kenton and Cameron came back. He got lost in the woods and eventually became dehydrated. They arrested that weird lady that was with him. It turns out that she was the lady who smashed up Ms. Hayes's restaurant and she was charged with that along with kidnapping Cameron. Eventually, they got her with... uh... what was it... oh yeah, exploitation of a minor."
"Would you look at that? I've said all that I can think of and the rain's stopped. Well, I'll be back some other time to visit you. You'll still be here, right?"
Mia snickered a bit at her grim humor.
"Every day, I keep thinking about how much I miss you and how much I love you. And that will never change. But I don't want you to worry about me, because I have my friends and I think that I'm in pretty good hands now... I think we all are."
Mia set some flowers down on the grave marker and got up and walked to the boy.
"Are you okay?"
"Cameron, you ask that every time. And you know what I'll always say."
"'I am now.'"
"Right. Is there anything that you want to say?"
Cameron nodded and walked over to the marker. This was the first time that he had seen it since he wasn't present for the funeral last year. He sighed as he ran his fingers across the name and dates etched on the stone.
"Elias. You were right about something. Every day I hear that message that you told me three years ago. That message when you said that I wasn't a horrible person. But now it's not just from you that I hear it. I hear it from Kenton, Olivia, and most of all, Mia."
Cameron looked up at Mia and gave a little smile at her. She had her back turned to give him some privacy.
"We're two lucky guys, aren't we? Well, I better be heading off." he said before leaving a flower on the grave next to the bunch that Mia left.
"See you around, bro. Love you!"
The two kids walked off across the field and back towards the main road. The clouds were completely gone, and the rain had fizzled out. Across the town, the sun leaving its rays like it was a smile. A warm smile that spread the message of hope and a happy future.