Posts tagged “trouble

Her Champion: Chapter 27

Posted on 13/08/2013


“Maybe.” She walked into the room and stopped just before the bed until he freed one of his hands and patted the mattress. With a sigh, she obediently sat down. “I didn’t want to bother you.”

“Do I look bothered?”

His eyes were still closed and he’d slipped his other hand back beneath his head. “No.” She fell silent and drew in a deep breath. She turned to face him. “Dylan, I want you to press charges.”

“No.” Simple and immediate. He still didn’t open his eyes.



“Would you  just hear me out?”


“Fine, then I’ll tell Tamar and you can listen to her.”

His eyes flashed open then to lock with hers. This time his answer was nothing more than a bitten off growl. “No.”

Bekah found Tamar humming as she scooped vanilla cream on top warm pie slices into three serving bowls. She pushed away from the wall and strode over, arms folded across her chest. “This isn’t a one night thing, is it?”

Tamar swallowed the end of her tune and smiled sweetly at her cousin. “I thought you were sleeping?” She nudged her itching ear over her shoulder and placed another generous scoop on the second bowl. “Change your mind about ice-cream?”

“No, thanks.” Bekah eyed the three bowls and smirked wryly. “You can’t save everyone, Tamar.” She turned to face her cousin, her lips drawn in a stern line. “She’s not like you were. She’s got Dylan to protect her. Offering her a place to hide from whatever they’re facing only makes you more vulnerable.”

Tamar lifted the spoon. “I think you should let me handle this.”

“Oh yeah, like you’re handling your own issues?” Bekah narrowed her eyes at Tamar glaring at her. “Be mad all you want, but you can’t be anyone’s hero when you’re struggling to save yourself.” She sighed, patting Tamar’s shoulder. “Just think about what I said,” she said softly and stepped away from the counter.

“If it’s about the rent, I’ll take care of it,” Tamar said in a frigid tone.

Bekah clenched her jaw, her back to Tamar. “I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that stupid statement. Go be with your friends and we’ll figure it out tomorrow.” Snorting in annoyance, she walked back to her room.

Tamar scowled as Bekah’s door closed firmly, shutting off her protest and she angrily shoved the spoon back into the ice-cream carton.

“Well it’s either me or her. You can’t just keep fighting him, Dylan! When is it going to stop?”

“That’s not for you to worry about.”

“Well I’m worried! And for you to tell me not to when I have sit there and watch him hit you is stupid so stop it!”

Dylan rolled over carefully to look into her eyes. “You’re scared. I understand and I’m doing everything I can to get you out of there, okay? I just need-”

“This isn’t about me!”

“You know why I won’t press charges. We’ve been through this. I need you to be patient while I get this sorted out.”

“I can go to a foster home for a year, Dylan.”

The moment she said the words he turned back onto his back and focused on the ceiling.

“You can’t just shut down. We’re talking about a viable freaking option.” Her words were met with silence. “C’mon Dylan. All it takes is one wrong hit, one wrong fall. I don’t want to take that risk anymore. It’s not worth it.”

Tamar pinched the bridge of her nose to ward off the ensuing headache. Bekah’s voice kept echoing in her head, nagging her. Shaking her head, she straightened and placed the three bowls onto a plastic tray. Satisfied that she’d given the siblings enough time to catch up, Tamar walked back to her room. Crystal’s muffled voice slowed her steps and her brows drew in at the urgency she picked up from the girl’s low-pitched tone. She gripped the tray and slowly retraced her steps, leaning against the wall facing Bekah’s closed door to wait.

“You don’t make that decision,” Dylan finally said.

“What part of ‘you could die’ aren’t you getting?”

“My answer is no, Crystal. That’s not changing.”

“No amount of discomfort is worth your life!”

“Not your decision.”

“I can make it my decision.”

Dylan closed his eyes once more, trying to fight the way his throat seemed to close up. “Trust me,” he croaked. “That’s all I’m asking.”

“It’s not about trust. It’s about wanting you safe.”

“Trust me to keep myself alive, to handle this.”

She hugged her knees to her chest and said nothing.

When the voices eased into silence, Tamar balanced the tray on her forearm and knocked on the door before sticking her head in. “Sorry, the cream’s melting so I’ll just put it in here and come back later.” She ducked inside and perched the tray on top of her desk. Then picking up one of the smaller bowls, she turned and started for the door.

“You can stay,” Crystal assured her quietly. She doubted she’d get any kind of agreement out of Dylan anyway.

Tamar glanced warily from sister to brother before settling on the bowls on her desk. “Then, let’s eat the dessert before it goes to waste.” She smiled and gestured to the tray.

Dylan considered passing but he knew how hard Tamar was working to make him feel better. The last thing he wanted to do was be a jerk. He rolled over once more and reached over for a bowl. “Thanks, Tamar.”

Tamar nodded and tilted her head to Crystal expectantly.

Crystal grabbed a bowl and studied her ice-cream in silence for several seconds. “How do you get through to someone who’s bent on protecting you without concern for the cost to themselves?”

At first, Tamar didn’t respond, thinking Crystal was still carrying on her conversation with Dylan. Then she peeked up at the young girl and frowned, considering the question. Her face fired, wondering to herself if Crystal had overheard her and Bekah. “It depends…” she started, poking the dessert with her spoon. “Depends on the person’s intentions. Why they are doing the protecting in the first place.” She turned the spoon in her bowl. “I mean, if they’re just trying to help and they care a great deal for you, what’s the crime? You should just accept the help, even if it’s risky.” She bit her bottom lip. “Maybe by trying to protect you, they’re saving themselves too.”

“I should accept the help? Even if it means they might die in the process?”

“Enough,” Dylan warned before Tamar could respond.

“Die?” Tamar echoed and blinked at Dylan’s sharp response. She frowned. “Why would I. . .” she trailed off, her heart plummeting to her stomach as the siblings exchanged dark looks. She quickly realized the question wasn’t addressed to her and suddenly wished it was. “Who could die, Crystal?” she asked softly, dreading the girl’s response and the direction her frazzled thoughts wandered. Her eyes slowly moved over Dylan’s bruised face and she suddenly couldn’t breathe.

“Nobody’s going to die. Crystal’s being dramatic.”

“I am not being dramatic. He could hit you in the wrong spot. You could fall and your head could hit something. That’s real. Not dramatics.”

Tamar gripped the bowl in her hand, their voices roaring in her ears. “Wait a minute,” she snapped to quiet the voices. She turned to Dylan. “Is it your father? Is he the one that could…” she swallowed against the hardened lump lodged in her throat. “Kill you?”

“Crystal is just worked up. It’s not going to be an issue, pretty girl.” He complemented his words with a charming smile.

Tamar’s face instantly hardened at the smile. “Don’t do that,” she said in a low voice. Tears welled up, trailing down her cheeks and she angrily swiped at them, frustrated that her attempt to be strong for them was being foiled by her crying. “Stop acting like it’s nothing. Can’t you do at least that?”

Dylan dropped his head back. “Don’t cry, Tamar.” He could deal with a lot of things right then but he couldn’t handle the tears. “I’m not acting like it’s nothing. I’m telling you both that I’ve looked at this from every angle and I need you to trust me to do the right thing.”

She snorted. “Trust you when you can’t trust me? Does that make sense?” She placed the bowl on the table and folded her arms across her chest. “Your entire face is saying everything you’re not. There’s a monster out there putting you both in harm’s way and you’re trying to tell me everything’s fine? That you’ve got it all figured out when you haven’t? Tell me, do you even believe that?” Her heart was racing, her mind telling her to shut up but she couldn’t. The fury from Bekah’s earlier words and the hesitation and blatant distrust in Dylan’s eyes provoked her to continue. “What exactly, Dylan, is the right thing to do?”

“This has nothing to do with trusting you. Things aren’t perfect but they’re under control because I’ve made them that way. The right thing to do is keep Crystal in an environment where I have access to her, can protect her until I can get her somewhere else. Anything that needs to be done to achieve that is what’s going to be done. No discussion necessary. Whether the two of you like it or not doesn’t matter. That answer your questions?”

Tamar’s lips pursed, her arms tightened around her. “Not even. All I know is you’re being a jerk.” She turned to Crystal and swallowed hard. “I’m sorry but it’s true.” Shaking her head in disgust, she spun on her heels and stormed out of the room, feeling more helpless and confused than when she first walked in. Almost bumping into Bekah standing open-mouthed in the hallway, Tamar pushed past her and stomped out of the house.

<<Chapter 26 || Chapter 28>>

SSP 4: Finding Tevin

Posted on 10/08/2013


The sound of erratic breathing, the rush of air pushing through parted lips and the stunted sprinting of feet down the pavement. Howling sirens echoed along the empty brick walls. He could hear his name being called, resounding in his heart and his ears in the midst of sirens blasting around him. His body trembled with the impending fear that he would be caught.

The evidence was clutched in his hands, a can of juice. Why did he have to touch it? It was obvious that he did not have enough change to purchase his favorite drink and meant to replace it back on the shelf when the cashier barked at him to stay still. The next minute, he heard the man speaking furiously on the phone for Officer Lee to come by the corner store and pick up a delinquent. Who was the delinquent? Him?

Before he could even think about being caught, the young boy whooshed out the door, shoving between two customers and with his long lanky legs, began sprinting down the streets of Cullen Ave like a mad man. He didn’t know why he ran instead of explaining himself but the vindictive glare of the cashier was enough to make even the most naive child flee, not that he wasn’t innocent.

So the young boy lifted his head to the sky and whispered a quick prayer that he would not have to be caught, his feet flying behind him and gasping for air. Tears streamed down his face with relief once he spotted the tall steeple of the faded yellow siding of the bungalow he once thought as a prison but now proved to be a temporary haven. Then he noticed a couple of flashing lights from a few cop cars parked in the driveway and blocking the streets, and staggered to a stop.

Shivering in trepidation at his awaited punishment from both the police officers and Mrs. Yancey, the boy stalled on the other side of the street, watching other cars drive past. He couldn’t return to the corner store, knowing that more police officers waited there.

“Hey boy!” a commanding voice barked from the other side of the street.

He jerked his widened eyes to see two police officers, their legs poised for the chase and the tips of their hats glaring with imminent authority. He was in trouble. The young boy gulped, still contemplating whether he should run. His feet shifted, a grating sound on the pavement to match the incessant and irregular beat of his heart. What should he do?

“Tevin! Yeh Officer, das him ova there.” a woman’s shrilling voice echoed down the street from the bungalow, causing a cold shiver down his scrawny bones. He didn’t have to look to know the woman was glaring threats on him, probably throwing expletives in her mind to him. “Boi, git ova here afor I smack yo behind all the way back to Tuesday!”

Her threats were the ignition he needed to spin on his heels and start running again. Except it was no good as the small boy crashed into the barreled-chest of another police officer who had crept behind him once distracted by his colleagues and the boy’s furious foster mother. It was over before he knew it.


The resounding slam of metal sliding along metal defined his fate. Poor kid stared bleakly between the metal rods at the empty corridor, fingers trembling. This wasn’t where he should be at 11:57 at night. He missed his bed, missed the arguing on the other side of the paper-thin walls, the shoving and poking from his siblings.

He didn’t want this empty cell, his feet shivering inside his faded and worn slip-on shoes. There was no way he would sit on the cold stone floor while waiting for the police officers to condemn him to juvenile. He was too young, for goodness’ sake!

Barely celebrating nine years of life without seeing his real parents and forced to share even a sole banana-nut muffin purchased by Mrs. Yancey that same day, the young boy wanted to cry that everything in life was unfair.

Casting his eyes to the top stone ceiling of the claustrophobic cell, the young boy wrapped his long and slender fingers around the two thick rods. God, if you’re really up there like Mrs. Yancey says every night…. Do you hate me? Why won’t you help me? It was not a pleading prayer but rather one to see if the man upstairs even knew he existed. If he did, what kind of life was this?

Once the sound of another jail gate slammed close, the boy lowered his head desolately at the silence suffocating the entire jail despite the racking cough from another cellmate next door. Forcing his scrawny shoulders to remain still, the boy shifted away from the door and walked to the back wall of the jail, sliding to the floor. He masked his discomfort once the cold seeped through his thin hand-me-down faded jeans and leaned his head forward to catch some sleep. It seemed, from the quiet outside the corridor, that no one would come for him tonight.


She kept coming everyday, sitting by the wall with her pale wrists crossed over the brown leather bag she propped on her lap. Her eyes were downcast, her brow furrowed in deep thought but she managed to lift her head whenever the metal doors slid open. Her hazel eyes would light up momentarily but once she noticed it was just another police officer, dragging an older man in and out from the corridor, she would sigh heavily and look down again.

Some of the police officers had their theories of who she was. The woman, probably in her early-thirties, always showed up nine in the morning, trudging into the police station and leaning on her wooden-carved cane with a gnarled hook. She didn’t say anything to any of the police officers, merely glancing at the empty corridor with sad, resigned eyes before perching on a seat by the wall. Watching her move around was painful for some of the discrete onlookers. Most knew that under that long, printed skirt she wore was a twisted leg from the knee down. No one understood why she came and no one dared to ask. They simply just watched her warily and quietly, waiting.

Another temporary resident of the South East Patrol on Mykawa St was also waiting and losing sleep while doing so. A week and a half had already passed and no shadow of Mrs. Yancey or anyone from his house had graced the step of the jail cell. Every time he heard shuffling feet or the sound of rustling keys, he would look up with hopeful eyes and slowly lower them down when it was only another cellmate or a police officer bringing him something to snack on. The piteous looks they gave him only made him more sure that no one was coming for him, no matter how many times he lifted a whisper to the ceiling or wished upon a star he could only imagine was gracing the darkened sky outside.

So on another dark cold night, just after he’d finished another packet of Austin Peanut and Wheat crackers, the boy lifted his knees to his chest and propped his forehead on them to sleep. This time, when the rustling keys and shuffling feet sounded off, he didn’t lift his head to see who was moving in. Still, his heart stirred when the footsteps paused in front of his cell and he held his breath. The keys clinked against the rods of his jail cell and too curious, he shifted his head sideways and peeked from one narrowed eye. Both widened instantly when he saw the same officer, Officer Menjivar, who gave him the snack staring at him with a gentle smile. The boy blinked silently, not knowing what to think or how to react. Was it time to have his bathroom break?

“Time to go home, kid,” the middle-aged Hispanic officer with narrow shoulders and a pouch said kindly, turning the key into the gate port and pushed open the door.

Flabbergasted, the boy remained seated and gaped up at the man, his body frozen.

Officer Menjivar chuckled and stepped into the jail cell. “Your legs not any good, mijo?” he extended a hand to him.

Meekly, the boy lifted his hand and placed it in the officer’s rough one. Holding his breath, he found himself being tugged up like a sack of sand and he staggered to his feet.

Chortling still, the police officer patted the boy on his back but jerked his hand back when he felt the boy’s icy and thin shoulders. His brow furrowed and he averted his eyes immediately. He cleared his throat and walked back to the exit. But when he didn’t hear footsteps behind him, the man glanced over his shoulder and cocked an inquisitive brow at the hesitating fellow still standing in the middle of the cell. “Well, what are you waiting for? C’mon.”

Unsure if this was the same reoccurring dream he’d had since he was first placed in the empty jail, the boy shifted back inside. “W-where am I going?” he’d heard the taunting from his neighbors that the local juvenile center was much scary and daunting than this lonely cell. If that was true, he’d rather stay here since the officers treated him pretty well, considering.

Officer Menjivar blinked at him, not sure why he shivered involuntarily at the anxiety coating the boy’s hazel eyes. He managed a smile because he had no other way to comfort the kid. “Hey listen, there’s someone here to take you home.”

The boy swallowed hard, his eyes still widened in trepidation. Was it Mrs. Yancey? He shook his head slowly without thinking and stepped back toward the cell again, already imagining the torturous punishment that awaited him at the house.

“Kid, relax… You’ll be fine.” Officer Menjivar stepped forward and extended a hand again. “I promise.” He masked a wince when the adolescent blinked again at him. It seemed these kind of kids who were shoved like sardines in foster homes heard that cursed word for many years and grown immune to the consequences of trusting someone who used it freely. “Just come out and see. If you don’t want, we’ll take care of it, entiendes?”

Eyes pleading with the officer to not fail him, the boy finally walked toward him without looking to his left or right. Again Menjivar held back a shiver with the urgent plea echoed in the boy’s eyes but kept his gaze on the boy for as long as he could before the boy himself looked down. It was enough for the seasoned officer and he cleared his throat, shifting around to open the door.

The boy blinked rapidly at the change of lighting and the sounds of chattering and phones ringing on the other side of the door. His cheeks warmed with gratitude and utter relief. He was leaving this prison. But he stiffened again, realizing that this next step would determine his future. What was awaiting on the other side of this door and would he be able to handle it?

“C’mon,” Officer Menjivar probed his thoughts and the boy glanced up at the gentle-eyed man. He stepped aside, the security of his narrow shoulders absent for a moment as the boy shuffled out of the corridor. Amid the chaotic noise of phones and voices outside, there was a moment of silence in the office once the other enforcement agents paused to greet their newcomer silently. One woman sitting on the corner of the office, now stood slowly and leaned on her gnarled cane, her eyes affixed on the young slender light-skinned boy standing by the stout officer. She blinked back the tears that ensued, the corner of her lips twitching to hold back a grateful smile. He was here.

The boy’s keen eyes scanned the room warily, already expecting a disappointment. He noticed the amused expressions of some of the officers who had wrestled him to the cold and rough pavement outside his foster home. Shifting his gaze to the other side of the room, he blinked in confusion at the strange look on the woman’s face. She was slender and small yet her frumpy clothes hid her bowed shoulders. Her reddish-brown hair curled and swept over her forehead, almost hiding the heavy stare that was directed on his face. The way she stared at him was what left him speechless and confused. Was that who was here for him? Why?

As if hearing his thoughts, Officer Menjivar turned slowly to the boy and smiled gently. “Mijo, I want you to meet someone…” He glanced over at the woman and nodded, then he placed a hand on the boy’s shoulders and gently pushed him toward the woman who tried to shuffle forward despite her discomfort. “Madam, this is Tevin Gosley.”

Without permission, his heart stirred again and the boy held his breath. This woman’s gaze seemed familiar, almost like Officer Menjivar’s except that her eyes were filling up with tears at the corners. Why was she crying? His fingers curled inward into fists, anticipating a scorn or twisting of her lips to blame him for something he wasn’t aware he did.

Then the woman sniffed, pausing his rampant thoughts and forcing him to peer up at her. She blinked and two lone tears slid slowly down her plump, heart-shaped face. Leaning one hand on her cane, she extended a small, frail and pale hand out to him. “Hello…” she said, her lips trembling to form a sound. Another sniff from her pert freckled nose. “My name is Mrs. Ida Warren.”

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