“Okay, Kid,” remarked Aubrey as he handed the baggie to Buddy. “Are you sure you know where to take it?”
“Yeah,” replied Buddy. “I’m not an imbecile.”
“Just be careful,” responded Aubrey. “This is an upscale neighborhood, and people will wonder what you’re doing there.”
“I’ll be careful,” assured Buddy as he left the trailer. Aubrey wanted him to deliver some weed to a residential neighborhood outside of town. It would be a thirty-minute ride on the bus, but he had been promised that he would be paid double the normal amount because of the risk involved. It was easy to make a delivery in his neighborhood, but he was going to an area where people would be suspicious of a stranger walking through the neighborhood.
It didn’t help when he got off the bus and walked about a block before seeing a ‘Neighborhood Watch’ sign. He pulled his hoodie over his head so he couldn’t be recognized. He walked six blocks before he came to the address on the paper Aubrey had given him.
“Shit!” exclaimed Buddy as he looked at the immense home. It appeared to have three different floors, and the yard was meticulously landscaped. He cautiously approached the columned front porch. It contained white rattan furniture, but it appeared more for show. As he started to climb the steps, a window from above opened.
“Hey, kid,” someone said softly. “Come around to the back.” Buddy descended from the stairs and walked around the side of the house. A stone sidewalk trailed around the garage to a white gate. He opened it and stepped into the back yard. He immediately stood before an Olympic size pool.
“Jesus!” hissed Buddy to himself. “Who lives like this?”
A young man stepped out from a door of the house and motioned for him to come nearer. Buddy cautiously approached. He recognized him from school, but he didn’t think they shared any classes.
“Good,” said the boy. “You’re here. Me and my buddies have been waiting.” Buddy reached into his underwear for the baggie and handed it to the boy. The boy reached into his pocket for the money. Just then, Buddy looked past the boy as two more young men approached. His heart started pounding when he noticed that one of the boys was Brad.
Brad pushed the boy to the side as he stepped out onto the patio. “What the fuck are you doing here?” He grabbed Buddy’s jacket, pulled him forward and hit him in his face.
“What’s going on?” shouted one of the boys as they tried to pull him off.
Buddy doubled over when Brad hit him in the stomach. “This fucker is always up in my business,” he said scornfully. “He’s the one who ratted me out about Joy. Now he’ll tell everyone I’m smoking weed.” Buddy ducked when he swung again, and he lunged at Brad. They toppled to the ground, and Buddy hit Brad several times in the face.
Brad’s friends pulled Buddy off, and they held his arms while Brad beat Buddy mercilessly. Buddy struggled to free his arms, but they held him tightly while Brad pummeled his face. When Brad told them to set him free, he shoved Buddy into the pool. Traces of blood flowed into the cool water.
Buddy gasped for air as he thrashed around in the water. He looked up through swollen eyes to see Brad standing on the edge of the pool. He quickly moved back when Brad attempted to kick him in his face.
“Listen, Fucker!” spat Brad. “Tell anyone about this, and I’ll kill you the next time!” He turned and headed into the house.
When they were inside, Buddy crawled out of the water, sat on the edge of the pool and tried to catch his breath. Everything looked hazy. He ran his hand across his face and then looked at the blood he wiped off. His face throbbed with pain, and he knew he had visible wounds. He dragged himself up and stumbled out through the gate. Almost blindly, he made his way down the street.
He didn’t see the car approaching. By the time he heard the screeching of tires, it was too late to react.
* * * * * * *
Kyle was lying across his bed when his cell phone rang. When he answered it, his father shouted frantically, “Grab some towels and bring them to me!”
Kyle responded worriedly, “Where are you?”
“In front of the Chambers’ house!” his father replied anxiously. “Someone stepped out in front of my car. I’ve called 911, but I have to stop the bleeding. Now hurry!”
Kyle ran to the linen closet in the bathroom and grabbed an armload of towels. He also grabbed the emergency medical kit in case his father would need it. When he exited the bathroom, Melissa stuck her head out of her bedroom door and asked what was happening. Kyle rushed past her without even responding.
He rushed out onto the porch and peered down the road. He could see his father’s car in the middle of the road with its warning lights flashing. His father was kneeling, and he appeared to be comforting a body lying in the street. Kyle tore off down the sidewalk and rushed to his father.
His father stood and extended his hands, “Give me those!” he said urgently as he grabbed the towels from Kyle’s arms. “He’s got a big gash on his forehead, and I’ve got to try and stop the bleeding.” Kyle stood back and watched as his father lifted the person’s head and wrapped the towel around him. In the darkness, he couldn’t make out who the injured person was.
After wrapping the towel around the person’s head, his father sat down in the street, and held the person gently in his arms. “It’s going to be alright,” he stated soothingly.
Kyle bent down and asked, “Is there anything I can do?” Just then sirens could be heard in the distance.
“Go down to the corner and direct the ambulance this way,” he replied. Kyle rose and raced to the corner. He could see red lights flashing a half mile away. It seemed like an eternity before they finally approached. He frantically waved his arms and pointed in the direction to where his father was. He then ran behind the ambulance until it came to a stop.
He stood back and watched as the back door of the ambulance flew open. One person hurried to the person on the ground while two medics pulled the gurney from the rear door. Kyle moved around until he could get a better look at the person on the ground. His father came over and threw his arm around his shoulder. He gasped when the medic removed the bloody towels and wiped the person’s face clean.
His father looked down, pulled him closer and asked, “Do you know him?”
Kyle’s voice trembled as he replied, “He’s in my class at school.” The medics were hovering over the body trying to stop the bleeding.
One of the medics hollered, “Get him on the gurney, Stat!” They quickly picked his limp body off the road and placed him on the gurney. They then rushed him to the back of the ambulance and lifted the gurney onto the ambulance. Two medics climbed in the back while the third rushed to the driver’s seat. Within seconds, the ambulance raced away with the siren blaring.
For the first time, Kyle noticed that the street was filled with police cars with their lights flashing. One was blocking the street at the corner to avoid cars from entering. Two policemen were cordoning off the area with yellow tape.
A large, burly officer approached Mr. Caldwell and asked, “Is this your BMW?”
“Yes, it is,” replied his father. The officer asked him to accompany him. Kyle watched as his father was taken to a police cruiser and helped into the back seat. He almost vomited when he looked down at the street and saw the large pools of blood.
‘He’s got to be dead,’ thought Kyle as his body began to tremble. Just the day before he had sat beside the injured boy in class and joked about his loud snoring. Now he was seriously injured, perhaps even dying.
Kyle’s father got out of the back of the cruiser and motioned for him to come to the car. “You told me that you knew the boy?” asked his father.
“He’s in some of my classes,” replied Kyle nervously as an officer took notes.
The officer looked over and asked, “Do you know his name?”
Kyle replied, “No, Sir.”
“Do you have any idea why he was in the neighbor?” asked Mr. Caldwell. “He wasn’t coming to see you?”
Kyle shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know why he would. We’ve never really talked.”
“Perhaps he was visiting someone else?” suggested the officer. “Do any other students live in the neighborhood?”
Kyle looked over at Brad’s home. He noticed someone peeking from a curtain on the second floor. “Only Brad,” replied Kyle as he looked at his father. “But I don’t think that’s who he was visiting.”
The officer wrote something in his notebook and said, “I’ll have someone check it out anyway. You never know. The kid was here for some reason.” He looked over at his father and said, “Thank you, Mr. Caldwell. I think we have enough information right now. If anything else comes up, we’ll get in touch with you.”
Kyle’s father asked, “Should I contact an attorney?”
“I don’t think so,” replied the officer as he closed his notebook. “It appears this was an accident from what you say.”
Kyle asked, “Do you think the boy will be alright?”
The officer appeared worried. “Let’s hope so. The medics said he was in pretty bad shape.” Kyle’s father put his hand on his shoulder and they walked home. Since the car was still surrounded by yellow tape, he was told it would be several hours before he could remove it.
Kyle sat in the kitchen with his father and talked. His father was extremely upset for hitting Buddy with his car. “I didn’t see him until it was too late,” he said. “He stumbled into the path of my car before I could even swerve to miss him.”
“He’ll be okay,” insisted Kyle, even though he had no idea how bad Buddy’s injuries were.
His father stopped speaking and stared at Kyle’s face. “What happened to you?” he asked as he put his hand to the side of Kyle’s face.
Kyle winced and replied, “Melissa and I got into it again.”
His father asked excitedly, “She did this to you?”
Kyle hung his head and responded, “Yes, Sir. She’s going to have her girlfriends tell everyone I was having sex with Brad.”
“What!” His father jumped from his chair and hurried from the room. A minute later, Kyle could hear his father upstairs screaming at Melissa in her bedroom.
Fifteen minutes later, he returned to the kitchen. He was visibly upset with the argument he had with Melissa. He looked over at Kyle and said, “You won’t have to worry about your sister.” Just then, Melissa entered the room. She was looking at the floor, and her face was stained with tears.
She walked over before Kyle and mumbled, “I’m sorry.”
He jumped when his father barked, “He didn’t hear you!”
Melissa looked into Kyle’s face and said clearly, “I’m sorry, Kyle.”
His father said angrily, “And?”
Tears filled Melissa’s eyes as she continued, “And I’m not going to spread anymore rumors about you.” She started crying and asked her father if she could go back to her room.
“Alright,” he replied. “Remember what I told you. One more incident, and I’m sending you to live with your grandmother.” She nodded her head and hurried from the room.
He looked over at Kyle and said, “Let me know if she gives you any more trouble.” Kyle’s father shook his head sadly. “If she doesn’t get her act together, your mother and I are sending her to live with your grandmother. We’ve taken about as much as we can take.”
Kyle laughed and asked, “Do you want me to go upstairs and pack her bags.”
They sat and talked for about a half hour about what had happened earlier. Mr. Caldwell was still visibly shaken. He kept telling Kyle, “He was just your age. I’d die if something like that happened to you.” It comforted Kyle to know that his father cared so much about him.
Mrs. Caldwell arrived home after ten o’clock. She was upset because she had to park her car down at the corner and walk the hill to their home. The police still had the street cordoned off and wouldn’t let anyone enter.
She became upset when they explained what had happened during the evening. They began by explaining the cuts and scratches on Kyle’s face. She agreed that if things didn’t change, then drastic measures would have to be taken. “I’m going to call a counselor tomorrow, and see if that will do any good,” she suggested. After a few minutes of discussing the situation, Kyle’s parents agreed it would be the best course to take.
“Now,” she asked. “What happened down the street?” Mr. Caldwell explained about Buddy stepping into the path of his car.
“Oh, Dear,” she remarked sadly. “I hope he’s alright. Maybe we should go to the hospital and check on him.”
She became even more upset when Kyle told her that she had seen him at school. “Remember the boy who backed into you the other day at his locker?”
She asked, “The tall, attractive young man?” Kyle nodded his head. “Oh, Dear,” she stated again. After talking about the incident for another twenty minutes, Kyle was told to go to his bedroom and get ready for bed. On the way to his room, he decided to step outside and see what was happening. He stood and watched as police walked around the Chambers’ house with flashlights. One officer had a dog on a leash which he had pacing around the side of the house.
He sat down on a bench and watched the events that were occurring. Twenty minutes later, Brad and three other boys were taken to police cruisers, placed in the backseat and driven away.
‘What was that all about?’ Kyle thought to himself as he got up and returned to his bedroom. He stripped off his clothes and climbed into bed. It was several hours before he fell asleep. He kept wondering if the boy his father hit was alive.
* * * * * *
Andre was babysitting his sister’s children. One was asleep on the floor, and the other was lying beside him on the sofa. His mother had called earlier to inform him she would be working late. The couple whose house she cleaned was having a party, and they asked her if she would help the caterer serve food. His sister worked second shift at a machine shop, and she didn’t usually pick up the children until after one in the morning.
He was watching a movie when he heard a car door slam shut. The noise woke the child sleeping beside him, and he picked her up and cradled her in his arms. He started humming a song as he attempted to get her to go back to sleep. He walked around the trailer a minute before going over to the kitchen window to peep outside. He figured it was Buddy’s mother returning from work with one of her ‘gentlemen’ friends. He had attempted to call Buddy several times to come over and keep him company, but he had never returned home. He knew Buddy was now delivering drugs for Aubrey, and he would be gone most nights. He had tried to talk him out of it, but Buddy insisted he needed the money. As much as he hated to admit it, Andre knew that it was probably the only way someone like them could have cash in their pocket.
Andre was surprised to see a police cruiser parked outside. An officer was standing at Buddy’s trailer door. When no one answered, he walked around the trailer and peeked inside with his flashlight.
Andre placed the baby back on the sofa, wrapped her in a blanket and then headed outside. The officer flashed his light in his face when he approached. Andre asked worriedly, “What’s wrong?”
The officer responded gruffly, “You know where Mrs. Ryder is?”
Andre asked, “Why?”
The officer replied angrily, “If I had wanted you to know, I would have told you. Now, Kid, one more time,” he said sarcastically, “Do you know where she is?”
Andre started to panic, “Has something happened to Buddy?”
“You know him?” asked the officer as he flashed the light into his face again.
Andre held up his arm to block the light. “Yes, I know him,” he replied. “He’s my best friend. Has something happened to him?”
“Yeah, Kid,” the policeman replied, “There’s been a bad accident. I need to talk to his mother.”
Tears started to fill Andre’s eyes. “What kind of an accident? Is Buddy hurt?” He grabbed the officers arm and pleaded, “Please tell me!”
The officer hesitated before saying, “He was hit by a car over in the Forest Ridge area. I need to tell his mother.”
Andre cried, “Is he dead?”
“He’s hanging on,” replied the officer. “But I really need to talk to this mother.”
“What hospital is he at?” pleaded Andre.
“They took him to City General,” replied the officer.
“Thanks,” responded Andre as he rushed back to his trailer. He had to find someone to watch the two children while he went to see Buddy at the hospital.
“Wait!” hollered out the officer. “You didn’t tell me where his mother is.”
Andre turned as he was entering the trailer and replied sadly, “It won’t do no good. She won’t care anyway.”