Christopher

A Novel
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Kenya D. Williamson

Copyright © 2012 by Kenya D. Williamson All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the copyright owner, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review. The characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author. For more information on the author and her other fiction and scripts, visit www.kenyadwilliamson.com.

Titles for sale and excerpts available on Scribd: Novels Depth of Focus: A Novel Depth of Focus: The Stanzas Siblings & Other Torture Devices (excerpt 1 of 3) Windmills (excerpt 1 of 3) Short Stories Checked Out Drive Two Down, Five to Go

Chapter One

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His head was wet. But not shampooing wet. His mother wasn’t bent over him, lathering Johnson’s into a foaming frenzy to clean the hair he’d dirtied while playing He-Man in the backyard. Brown, curly locks were overdue for a wash – just like his hands and face. And shirt. It’s funny the things you think about while losing and regaining consciousness, Christopher thought. His mother’s eyes stared blankly. His father’s? He couldn’t see through all the blood. “Mom!” Christopher had cried only minutes before. “Christopher, go to your room!” “No, Chris. You stay right there,” the tall man holding a gun ordered. But, Christopher’s legs wouldn’t move, anyway. His heart pounded. But, his size five tennis shoes felt

4 KENYA D. WILLIAMSON fastened to the floor. “Where is it?” the man demanded from Christopher’s father. “It’s not here.” Patrick raised his hands, hoping the gesture would somehow calm the man who’d yanked his wife by her hair into the den. She’d released a barely audible gasp of pain when he’d shoved her against her husband’s desk. He didn’t seem to want to rape her, Alicia thought gratefully. But, by the way he pointed his gun at Patrick’s face, she gathered it wasn’t the first time he’d brandished a firearm. The stocky man ransacked the room, tossing paper and office supplies, marking every spot he’d checked. He’d already been through their master bedroom. It would take hours to clean it all up, the homemaker busied her mind, attempting to stay calm. Plus, she still needed to help Christopher with his math homework. She looked at him, willing herself to smile. But, her lips barely moved. “I’ll take you to it,” Patrick offered. “Just leave my family alone.” “Got it,” the stocky accomplice triumphed, flicking the folder Patrick had taped to the bottom of his file cabinet drawer. The tall man turned his gun to Alicia. “Don’t” was the only word her husband spoke before the shot. She hadn’t time to prepare — to plead for her son’s life or brace herself for her final breaths. No time to say goodbye, she fell to the floor.

CHRISTOPHER 5 “No, please,” Patrick begged as the gunman turned his weapon of choice toward Christopher. “Is there another copy?” he asked. “No!” Reassured, the tall man pulled the trigger. Watching his ten-year-old drop beside his wife, Patrick lost his will for evasive maneuvers and bashing the tall man’s head into a gruesome, concave mess with his company paper weight. The crystal acknowledgement of leadership seemed to mock the man who’d led his family to slaughter. He welcomed his opportunity to join them, pretending to reach for his executioner’s gun. The tall man honored his unsaid request, despite a proclivity for dishing out torture. He knew he might have acted too soon. He had no proof he’d obtained the only copy, just the word of a dead man. ---------------------------------Ken hovered over Christopher, one hand firmly clasped over the wound in his nephew’s chest. Ken wasn’t Christopher’s real uncle. But, he was like family. He’d grown up with Christopher’s father. “Hang in there, buddy. Help’s here,” he reassured the pale boy who looked like his spirit would likely escape any second to join the recently — and violently — departed. Ken wouldn’t have blamed him if he’d left. He hated to think what life would be like for him,

6 KENYA D. WILLIAMSON assuming he’d even make it through the night. Anger took over where fear and concern had set up camp. Christopher’s pants were wet, but not from blood. He’d barely noticed he’d pissed his pants while ordering his legs to move and watching his mother fall. He hadn’t time or the inclination to be embarrassed. As a farewell, he hoped it would add to the unpleasantness of their attackers’ cleanup duties — assuming they weren’t left where they collapsed. He hoped he’d make their getaway as inconvenient as possible. But, mostly he hoped his mother would be okay and that his father would save the day through some heroic move he’d learned in karate class or watched during a Saturday afternoon action movie. Boys’ Day. He and his dad would break out the chips, popcorn and pretzels while Mom read her magazines or went shopping — whatever girls did when boys weren’t around. Today, his mother’s expression lacked anticipation of such delights or any sort of delivery. Christopher didn’t see the flashing lights outside. Rescue efforts from uniformed police officers, paramedics, nurses and doctors blurred into family members worrying in the hall. His mother wringed her hands. His father consoled her, wrapping strong arms around her thin frame. With surgery, sedation and recovery, his parents mutated into his aunt, Jane, and her boyfriend, Hank.

CHRISTOPHER 7 Hank had rough hands that clumsily gripped

Christopher’s small hand in his and quickly released it for fear he’d jinx the boy’s improvement. He didn’t deal well with emotion. But, his devotion to Jane displaced his desire to run. It was Jane’s turn to pace in the hallway. More importantly, she’d made it her responsibility to inform her parents that their only grandson had barely eluded death. Their eldest child and son hadn’t been so lucky nor had his wife of twelve years. Speaking with her parents — having no explanation or despicable assailant in police custody — Jane felt helpless to ease their pain. Every word she said seemed to increase it. Melody clung to her as if Jane were her dead daughter, resurrected. The disappointment in her eyes when she realized she’d been deceived by her emotions hadn’t gone unnoticed by her temporary adoptee. The slight relief Jane felt as the couple left was quickly replaced by guilt. When Christopher opened his eyes, finally clear on his surroundings, he was happy to see his Aunt Jane smiling a smile that reached her eyes. Sadness danced behind her red and swollen lids, but a jolt of hope had changed its music to something a little more upbeat. Her nephew was alive. Not just alive, but doing well all things considered. If he chose to live with her, she’d gladly make space in her home and life. She already had a spare room. She could easily convert it from her sewing and writing room/unused gym. One step at

8 KENYA D. WILLIAMSON a time, she counseled herself. Treadmills could be moved pretty easily. The uprooted life of a grieving child? She had no idea. But, Jane didn’t want to trouble Christopher with heavy decisions just yet. She wanted to protect him for as long as possible. A choice would be inevitable. He’s such a compassionate kid, Jane reflected, noting Christopher’s eyes searching hers to see if she was okay. Her normally soft and perfumed hands were slightly dry and far less pleasing to smell from hospital bathroom soap. Still, they bolstered him just the same. He had no awareness of hushed, private conversations about recurring ovarian cysts and surgeries. But, he knew Aunt Jane was childless and got quiet any time someone asked her when she and Hank planned to get married and have children. Most gossiping friends assumed her silence indicated problems in their relationship. They were only partly right. Each time Jane left the room, Christopher held his breath — as he’d done so many times before during swim classes and in the public pool on hot summer days. He planned to swim the length of the pool twice. Barely completing one lap underwater before his lungs felt like bursting through his chest, he nearly became discouraged, but soldiered on. How would he become a Navy Seal or great escape artist without lungs of steel? At the very least, he wanted to beat Lorraine Taylor. Taller, she seemed to swim

CHRISTOPHER 9 like her toes were webbed, he thought. He’d been caught more than once staring at her feet. To deflect from his embarrassment, he started calling her Rubber Ducky. Lorraine didn’t understand. But, she knew she didn’t like it. Christopher started counting again. The numbers kept him from thinking of other things. Memories. Questions. Fears. The police had been thorough, but kind. The only survivor felt useless. Forty-seven thousand, forty-eight thousand, forty-nine. Each time, he hoped he’d hold his breath so long he’d pass out and wake up — somehow resetting the game. His eyes would open. His parents would be alive, chastising him for doing something so foolish. But, they’d all be relieved. As he felt their imaginary arms squeezing him at the same time, he cursed his weakness in sucking in fresh air.

10 KENYA D. WILLIAMSON

Chapter Two

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Christopher barely remembered Jane’s two-bedroom house in the suburbs. The creaky floors were familiar. However, the colors had changed. After watching hours of home improvement shows, she’d enlisted Hank to help coordinate each room. The spare room — Christopher’s room — was blue. Light blue. Sometimes he stared at the walls instead of out the window, imagining painted, eggshell finish as untroubled skies. No black-feathered birds, as harbingers of bad fortune, cawed — perched atop pale plaster. Outside on the front steps, Christopher looked at the ground. Grass. Concrete. Stones. Weeds. Dirt. Leaves. Ants. Ladybug. Garbage — likely paper blown from someone’s trash can by the curb. Christopher wondered how long Ladybugs

CHRISTOPHER 11 could hold their breath. Could they? He willed himself to take a few steps. To touch it. To let it crawl on his finger until it flew away. But, his feet wouldn’t listen. They failed him again. Anchored like tree roots, they didn’t budge as he wet his pants. Jane didn’t fuss or complain. She simply put one hand on his shoulder. And, like magic, the spell was broken. Christopher had plenty of clothes. His parents had been quite wealthy. While they were living, they’d bought him nearly everything he’d wanted. Fortunately, Jane had a washer-dryer and plenty of detergent. What she lacked in finances, she made up in kindness and attention to detail. Her nephew wasn’t the only perceptive one in the family. The similarity bonded them together. But, occasionally Christopher feared her super, x-ray vision powers would allow her to see right through him. To see the ugliness raging beneath his lowered eyes and shy smile.