The girl, 15 years old, nearly had to run to try and keep up with the fast pace of the stout man in the the yellow hard hat, as he was pointing here and there while talking without pause.
They passed some burly construction workers who wolf whistled and yelled some indecent offers after the pretty girl, until the foreman who was giving the tour told them off crudely.
“Sorry, little lady, but if you want to run with the wolves you cannot be offended by their howling.”
“I am not.” It was a half-truth. Everleigh was already very much put off this summer internship, but her dad had insisted she’d do one rather than just hang around bored like other teens. She would one day work with him at EC Architects and he was no fan of kids being handed the reign, without working their way up.
Furthermore he told her she should do the internship at a construction company instead of his architectural office, where she sometimes already helped out, to get more insight of what all the work entailed from different angles from the design to the finished stages of a building. This was one of the main contractors EC Architects worked with.
Now here she was.
All her cousins were already on vacations with friends or their families, while she was working. They were laying on the beach somewhere while she was sent to the mines to work almost all summer. Fantastic. If that’s what being a good daughter, straight-A honor student got you …
The foreman now delivered her back to the small office, told her to sit down, then dropped a pile of folders onto the desk in front of her, pointing to each he explained in his monotonous way
“These are the employees, these here the temps and these here at the bottom you can do last. They are the nighttime help. You know, the fangs. Nobody cares when they get done. Not like they are going anywhere. Ha ha ha. Did they tell you that we sometimes will need you to come in late and stay late?”
“Uh huh. How late though? And what day? They didn’t say.”
“Depends how fast you get it done. It’s for payday for the fangs. Every two weeks, Wednesday. You’re not scared of them, right? No need to be. Ours are pretty tame, we made sure they know to respect humans. You know, like a dog they need to be kicked and beaten until they are submissive enough to do as they are told right away. The Alpha-thing.” he let out a belly laugh. His walkie talkie buzzed and someone spoke some code, to which he left.
Evey rolled her eyes and imitated the foreman’s voice
“Blah blah blah I am such a bearded idiot blah blah blah …. I am big with a tiny brain so I hit those already struggling … blah blah …fangs … fangs. Who calls them that anymore anyway? Where the heck did you send me, daddy? Well, I can do this. Yeah. Let’s do this. Oh my gawd, that is a lot of papers.”
She started processing the fairly simple data entry. She had helped her mom and dad with some projects that required a keen eye for detail, the redundancy of this task was as easy as it was boring to her.
Everleigh’s work remained the same on most days. The worst thing for her was to dodge the construction workers. Some were nice, but there was a small group of really annoying, crude guys, merely seeing one of them made Evey cringe. Always off color comments. From men who could be her grandfathers. Nasty.
It had been two weeks now, and today was the first time where she had come in later and would have to stay late. Her dad would pick her up after her shift as soon as she would call him.
She was a little bit nervous having to deal with vampires. The term itself was widely used, but technically incorrect, as nearly all of them were only half-vampires made up from the new creed. Unlike some full fledged vampires, the half-vamps were still capable of human emotion, but sometimes overtaken by primal urges, harder to control for a vampire. Only a dwindling number of half-vampires possessed any powers greater than eternal life. Which was not so eternal as there were many ways to kill them and some humans gorged themselves in hunting, torturing and killing vampires for sport.
After a terrible rampage by the undead, back when Evey was still little, the government had put into place means to batter them back into submission and reduced the numbers greatly. The vampires had to declare defeat and retreated.
Now left with few handfuls of strong chapter leaders in hiding, likely forging a new plan, the region was crawling with mostly the weaker ones who had surrendered, outcasts who had not made the cut in their respective chapters. Cruelly discarded by their former masters basically sacrificed to the humans when the masters had to retreat.
The new breed of vampires were unable to live off plasma fruit, so they needed blood. If they abided by the new rules, they received blood rations in return for work from the humans.
Usually a small amount held them over for a long time, but discipline was hard for a hungry vampire. Still, the rations were purposely just large enough to keep them alive, but not make them strong enough to be viable opponents again. Most vampires always looked dreadfully sad, weak and pale. Feeding on humans was strictly prohibited and any vampire caught doing it was incarcerated in some special type of reclamation project, where they received a tattoo in special ink on their forehead. Caught again, those with the tattoo were eliminated immediately.
Special forces were on duty in even the smallest towns, any unruly behavior was picked up and dealt with instantly.
Most of the lower class outcast vampires ended up as something just slightly better than slaves for the humans, stripped of any rights, not even allowed to own property. Romantic relationships between humans and vampires were strictly forbidden and that rule was vehemently enforced without exceptions. Any offspring was euthanized, as were the vampires creating it, the partaking humans were incarcerated on charges similar to treason.
Many protests ensued, organized by humans fighting for the vampires by demanding more humane treatment and full integration into society, answered in kind by the opposition with the counter-argument that treating non-humans humanely would not only be an oxymoron, but also a potential invitation for another attempt to create some vampire-geddon which had only been foiled by swiftly putting all those rules, securities and regulations in place.
Since many high-ranking people and politicians had feared for their lives and were the more influential ones, the rules remained unchanged and likely would for the foreseeable future.
Aside from the changed dynamics, once more, like a long time ago, long before Evey had been born, vampires existed alongside humans. Worked alongside them. But it was nothing like the almost harmonious way it once had been. Humans were on edge, too many had lost family and friends, cruelly butchered by vampires, which had sprouted hatred and disdain. Few humans were supportive, feeling the vampires deserved a chance since only some black sheep had gone rogue and created the terrible scenes of butchered livestock and humans that had made the media game again and again, purposely blown out of proportion, until the fear-mongering had worked and panic was great. Naturally, media found those who had been affected and hence understandably wanted no piece of harmonious living alongside those who killed their loved ones and destroyed their livelihood, putting them on TV again and again to ascertain that the horrors would never be forgotten and the divide between species remained great like a moat.
So things remained unchanged and hatred begets hate so the feeling was often mutual, the vampires, almost all not vampires by choice but because they had fallen prey to the masters through no fault of their own, yet all of them remembering their human lives, now finding themselves stripped of all rights, property and shunned, left with no other option than to played along, hating it and growing to dislike humans.
All they would get now were terrible jobs nobody else wanted. Since they no longer needed sleep, in some jobs many of them were forced to work for days at a time without breaks only to eventually go home to a life in dirty, moldy cellars and shacks in something resembling vampire ghettos.
And tonight Evey would have to deal with them, all alone, receiving their time sheets for the past two weeks, verifying them, then handing them their ration. Not something she wanted to do or looked forward to, but she took pride in being a strong young woman not someone who would run to mommy and daddy crying as soon as things got uncomfortable.
Which was exactly why she had told her parents only half the truth about this task. They had already tried to veto when they found out their 15 year old daughter had been asked to work until after dark once every fortnight. They were under the impression that there would be more staff here, instead of just Evey, and she had not corrected them, even though she knew she would be the only one here tonight. All alone with vampires, who may or may not hate humans.
Repeating the “strong woman” mantra over and over, she felt more like a little girl now, wanting to hide under some blankets with her dollies, while seriously questioning her decision not to tell anybody.
The construction workers were already more than enough for her to deal with, un-dead versions would be extra-creepy.
And at night too, since no vampires, not even the strongest leaders, were able to abide the daylight, another difference to the old breed where many had gained sun-resistance. Evey usually left before the vampire staff started work and since all construction was outside, they left before the sunrise, so she had never met any of them.
A knock on the door. Evey inhaled, straightened up and forced a smile as she called out
“Come on in! It’s open.”
The door opened and a skinny, middle aged man, pale as a sheet, entered sheepishly.
“Just come on in and have a seat, I don’t bite.” Evey tried to be non-chalant, then blushing when she realized that this was not the best term to use.“Umm .. ooops … Sorry.” she said, her cheeks aglow.
“No need to apologize. I can appreciate humor. You are new?” his voice was quiet and raspy.
“Just here for the summer. Internship. I am Everleigh, but you can call me Evey.” she got up and held out her hand to him, he looked at it, then tentatively took it and shook it, cracking the faintest smile.
Few humans dared to touch vampires.
“Pity. Would be nice to have a friendly face around here permanently. My name is Lyle. Lyle Larson. But they don’t use names for us. I am V991862” he handed her the time sheet.Evey took it, looked it over and it was meticulously filled in, matched with the records on file. She processed it, took the keys to the room with the rations, grabbed one off the special warmer they were kept in – the thought that in there was human blood send new shivers down her spine – then she walked back and handed it to Lyle, smiling, hoping he wouldn’t consume it right here.
Instead he stood up, thanked her politely and left.
That was a lot more civil than those human Neanderthals, Evey thought. Ok, if all the vamps were like this, this could become her favorite day of the week.
Ten more individuals came, the process was almost identical, all of them well-mannered, polite and not dangerous at all.
One was missing. Evey waited, played some computer games. When she looked at the clock it was almost 11 PM.“Seriously now? Come on … umm .. V990675… where are you?! I want to go home …. some among us do need sleep, even if you do not, buddy …. booooooooooring.” she said into the empty room.
She tapped her fingers on the table. Should she just leave and let him go hungry for being so lazy and tardy? But what if he died then? She didn’t want to kill someone. Even though they were already technically dead.
She went to the window and saw three of the workers from that group who gave her much grief.“Oh shit! What are THEY doing here?!” she quickly turned off the lights and locked the door.
Watching them creep around outside from her safe hiding spot, as they were obviously blissfully unaware they weren’t alone since one of them opened his zipper and just peed right there against some equipment, accompanied by his buddies’ laughter.
“Gross! Those guys are soooo nasty! And put that away, literally NOBODY wants to see that thing! Not even your degenerate buddies.” Evey whispered to herself, frowning.
They were loud and obnoxious, then disappeared into some building. After about 15 minutes they came back out. Evey was now videotaping them with her phone. Who knew, could come in handy.
One of them was limping now, complaining loudly, kicking the door as they locked it.
Really weird. Probably overwhelmed with the simple task of walking, tripped over himself and was now mad at everybody and everything. Idiot! Evey thought.
They left, Evey ran out to the gate and watched the taillights swerve into the darkness. Drunk driving too. Hopefully straight into the arms of a waiting cop.
She turned to walk back to the office when the door they had been on caught her attention. She went and tried it. Locked. Well, duh!
But guess who had the master keys. She smiled. Should she? Oh what the hell, why not? Maybe they were doing something illegal down here, she would find it, call the cops and get rid of those three idiots for the rest of her internship. Win-win! You are welcome, society! Signed – Everleigh Rose Cameron, your friendly neighborhood heroine!
She ran to the office, grabbed the keys.
When the door opened, she entered a dark room. Something like a rec room for the workers maybe. A dart board, tables, chairs. Reeked of cigarettes and stale alcohol. So what was so interesting in here. Booze?
She heard a noise, muffled and a moan, sounding in pain. OK, she was done. Turning for the door she heard the wailing again. A cat? They better not have been hurting an animal or she would go PETA on their asses. It was on now! She saw a door, opened it to more darkness and moldy smells.
“Umm … here kitty …. come here … I won’t hurt you… ”
Nothing. Frightened maybe?
She tried the light switch and it worked, spreading barely enough light to see the stairs and below.
“Strong woman.” Evey told herself as she descended carefully.
“Kitty?” her words merely a whisper as she reached the stairs, shining the flashlight of her cellphone into the dark below.
She took a few more steps then got startled, jumping backwards, tripping and landing on her butt she dropped the phone.
There was a person!
Feeling for the phone, she found it and shone it directly on her find.
Just hanging there on the wall, held up by heavy chains.
“Umm… Sir? Sir, can you hear me? Are you ok? Please be alive.” her voice was shaky.
WTH kinda medieval shit is going on here?! Evey thought.
The person moved. Long hair fell across his face and she could not see his eyes but now saw wreaths of garlic around his wrists, ankles and neck.
“Oh!” she could not help exclaiming.
The person now stirred, his lips, pale and wrinkled, now moved as well, but no words came for a few moments then she heard faintly
“What hurts? I’ll call an ambu … wait …ummm…” realizing that ambulances did not come for vampires, even if they did, would not be able to do anything.
“…garlic…” he stammered quietly.
“Oh, right!” Without even considering the repercussions, Evey began removing the wreaths from him, tossing them into the farthest corner, while unhooking the long chains so he no longer had to stand with his arms up.
Seconds later, the man became more animated, yet obviously still weakened.
“Just in time …” he cracked a smile.
“Let’s see if any of those work on the locks.” Evey pulled out her set of master keys and looked at them in the light of the cell phone. The man was still tied to the wall with long heavy chains connected to strong metal rings in the wall by thick padlocks.
“Do you know where the key is?”
“The leader keeps it.”
“Shit. Do you know how to pick locks by any chance?”
The man shook his head and smiled at her.
“I could feel it was you.”
“Excuse me?” Evey stepped away from him. Hit the creep lottery again!
“Don’t be afraid. You don’t recognize me. I did not mean to scare you with my words. Sorry Little Leigh.” he smiled.
“Oh my god, Heath. What have they done to you!? We have to get you out of here, I … Locksmith! I’ll see if we can find one with ..” Evey wanted to hug him but felt it more urgent to get him out of here.
“Everleigh Rose … stop. They won’t help. Not me.”
“I am sure they have one of those giant clippy thingies around here … you know the ones they cut metal with. I’ll go look. Don’t go anywhere … umm … well … just .. sit there and … be chained …”
“Evey… don’t leave me. Please.” his voice was weak, his words slurred.
“But we have to get you out. Both of us. Before those primates come back.”
“Too late for me. It’s okay. I am fine with it. Just … would you stay. Please? It won’t be much longer, I think.”
“What do you mean? Are you … dying?” Evey was more than alarmed now.
“Too long without blood … too much garlic … it’s okay. It won’t be scary. I just will stop being. Don’t be afraid. It’s not as bad as in the movies.”
“Heath, there must be something … I have blood. In the office. I’ll get it.” Evey was in a panic.
“No. You will get in bad trouble when the tally does not match up. I won’t take it.”
“No trouble. You haven’t picked up your ration. Assume you are my missing employee number V990675. We’ll ….umm … feed you quickly and then process your time sheet. Voila, it matches. Never mind the sequence.”
“No time sheet. I did not work. I was down here all this time. A long time.”
“Dammit!” Everleigh was racking her brain for an answer. Was it possible to force-feed blood to a vampire? Probably not. And also: GROSS!
He moaned, sliding down the wall and his head collapsed to his chest. Evey knelt next to him, stroking the hair from his face as he opened his eyes.
It startled her to see the beautiful purple eyes were now deep red. She stiffened with a faint meep.
“It just means I need to feed.” he explained weakly.
“OK… IDEA! So …what happens if you bite a person? Do they always become vampires? Do they… like .. die?”
“No. To all of that. And I won’t.”
“You have to. Please Heath. I cannot just sit here and watch you die. That’s just cruel. For me and you.”
Their eyes locked. For many moments, in silence, until he nodded.
“Your wrist. It will hurt, Little Leigh, I will try to be careful, but it will hurt you. Do you understand?”
She nodded, as she offered her arm to him. He took her hand, gently, giving her goosebumps. The good kind.
His eyes focused on hers, he gave her a strange look, then put his other arm around her waist, pulling her up against his side, then took her wrist with his other, pulling it up to his face.
All Everleigh could think was how strangly beautiful those red eyes really were. Not scary at all, different, unusual, but not frightening.
Evey closed her eyes, expecting pain, but felt a gentle kiss, causing butterflies in her stomach.
She opened her eyes, meeting his, now gleaming in a shade of deep crimson, as she felt his grip around her waist and wrist tighten, one quick movement and a sudden, brief, sharp pain, she winced and in a reflex tried to pull away but his hold on her was solid like cement. Her heart was racing as she watched on. No sounds, just them being locked together, when he already let go.
She looked at her underarm, only two small red puncture wounds, no blood. It still burned a little but wasn’t too bad, when she looked up their eyes met.
His now the same deep purple she remembered. He now removed his other arm from her waist, the area instantly felt cold, just imagination as it was summer and even nights were balmy.
He smiled at her, she responded in kind.
“Thank you, Little Leigh.”
“Of course.” World’s most idiotic response, Evey! she thought.
“Step aside please.” his voice just as calm as it had always been, but much deeper than she remembered. A nice, soothing sound.
She got up and took a step back. He shook his head.
She did as requested, then with a sudden, smooth movement and deafening sound, there was debris and dust everywhere and the chains had been torn from the wall, chunks of cement everywhere, long anchors, about 10 inches each, still connected to the padlocks and the chains, just laying on the floor. She looked up at Heath who know pulled the heavy chains from his wrists and ankles as if they were made of paper.
Evey’s eyes grew big.
She had no idea he was THIS strong.
He now turned to her, took her hand and they left. The stairs and doors were narrow and it gave her a sting when he had to let go of her hand so he could go up first, her following him, in case anyone had returned.
Nobody was there, Heath took her to the office, shut the door behind them and told Evey.
“Call your dad, then lock up. I will wait with you to keep you safe.”
“Come home with me. I can explain, they will…”
He shook his head, smiling.
“Heath, I PROMISE you, they are not like most humans. They will be okay with it. I swear.”
“There is a lot wrong with this picture, Little Leigh, me being a vampire is only part of it. I should go, it is for the better.”
“You still work here, right? So I’ll see you again. Right?!”
“After all you just saw? Even if I wanted to, which I do not, I missed two weeks of labor, and they are not very patient with my kind, Little Leigh … ”
“But it wasn’t your fault. Why has nobody reported you missing?”
“Oh, sweet innocent beautiful girl. The world needs more people like you.”
“What? Are you drunk? Heath, focus! If I go to Mr. Wilkers and explain …”
“No. I won’t have you speak on my behalf. They do not take kindly to people who sympathize with my kind. All this will do is make your life harder. I’ll find something. But if you would like me too, I will come and find you again.”
“YES! Of course. Please do. Why have you not come to see me before? You say you know everything, so how did you not know I was back? You know where I live …” Evey’s tone reflected the disappointment she felt when after months of being back home he still had not shown up, even though she had never stopped thinking of him.
“That would require a very long explanation, which we have no time for. He is here. Your father. Lock up, Little Leigh. And thank you again. Tonight you saved a very lost soul from more than just certain death.”
He opened the door, shut it and was just gone. Seconds later it opened again and her dad entered.
“Everleigh, your mother and I are not okay with you working this late. And where is everybody else? Did they dare leave while you were still here?! You are a minor, for Christ’s sake, I am going to have a talk with Wilkers about this!!!”
Evey mechanically locked up and followed her father, still ranting about her late work. Sitting next to him on the ride home she wondered if she had only imagined it all, when she raised and turned her arm up and in the flickering light of the street lamps alongside the highway illuminating the inside of the otherwise dark car, she saw two tiny puncture wounds. She smiled. Heath. No, this was real. He was real. He was back.
“HELLO?! Evey?” she felt a nudge.
“What?” she looked up at Jordan.
“OMG! Are you like daydreaming for realz? OK, which one?”
“Which one what?”
“Movie. Tonight. We are polling. Currently the boys are winning. You are the deciding vote! So rom-com or action?” Isabelle explained.
5 pairs of eyes on her.
“Umm … action.”
“THAT’s my girl!” Jordan pat her on the leg across a pouting Cailean, while Cameron leaned forward offering a highfive, as the girls moaned in defeat.
“Traitor!” Cailean complained.
“Sorry, I just don’t wanna fall asleep. Plus, they are all kinda the same … unrealistic… and so not what really happens. Ever. And spoiler alert: the boy ALWAYS ends up with the girl. 15 Simoleons for that? I worked hard for my money, while you all were laying around some beaches this summer.”
“Oh boo-hoo! Our mom offered to take you along and your parents would have totally let you if you really wanted to. And for your info, I was NOT laying around a beach. We were laying around a pool on a cruise ship… hahahaha” Isabelle joked, purposely acting stuck up, which she wasn’t, while pointing at herself and her brother.
“So what now? You do not believe in love at first sight and that love conquers all?” Cailean protested.
“Stop, or I am gonna grow a vagina over here!” Massimo quipped, which ensued a bunch of crudish boy jokes.
Evey was grateful for the diversion. She DID believe in all that. But it seemed to be a lot harder to come by in real life than in the movies. And unlike in movie scripts, real life did not always end with the lovers riding off into a sunset.
Shrugging Evey thought of her boyfriend Tyler. He was a sweet boy, nice, good student, good looking, polite, his family was nice, all parents liked each other and he got along well with her cousins and friends. Perfect right?
It had been. Until that night she found Heath again. He had not shown up again since, but she could not stop thinking about him. What she was thinking was just a mess and made no sense, but it caused her to miss a lot while she kept reliving that night in her mind.
And the last time she had seen him before that.
And all the times before.
And it made her think of KC. What about him? Was he okay? Why could he not just surface again too? Did he even remember her at all? It had been years …
The teen group split up, some girls wanted to go shopping, some boys had plans. Evey bowed out and just wanted to go home, as did her older cousin Cameron, who offered to drive her.
“Hey Cam? Do you have plans right now?”
“Nah, just didn’t feel like any of that. Why?”
“Would you do me a gigantic favor – without asking questions?”
“Oh shit! Something tells me if I agree, we are both going to be in trouble. You know I am about on strike three with my dad, right?”
“More like strike 700.”
“Thanks for that vote of confidence. And bad move if you want to charm a favor outta me.” he chuckled.
“If I tell you that you are my favorite cousin?” she exaggeratedly batted her eyelids making him laugh
“Oh jeeze. Do I really look THAT gullible? Fine, I’ll bite. What is the favor?”
“Could you take me somewhere and wait?”
“Oh good. Driver is what I am downgraded to now. The plight of being the oldest and only one with a car. Fine, where are we going?”
“What the hell is there? You need a handful of sand or something?”
“A friend.” Hopefully she added in her mind.
Cam moaned some more but humored his cousin. She asked him to drop her off at a gas station and wait, as she ran down the street, then after a few turns stood before KC’s old hiding spot. The house was still there. Still unoccupied. She climbed in through the backyard. Empty. Of course. Nothing was ever so easy. Should she? Why not? She knelt down and drew her phone number into the sand, signing it with ‘Pls. call Barbie – seriously dial already!’ just like she had before when they were still kids. Didn’t work last time, but hope always died last.
She exited, then considered going to the trailer park but decided against it. Last time she has been there was a long time ago but left a lasting impression she did not want to repeat. Instead she ran back to Cameron, who was patiently waiting. He dropped her off at home, where she spent the entire afternoon simmering about it all.
The movie was great, and even the girls who had voted for the rom-com enjoyed it. Giggling and laughing the teens earned many odd gazes from adults as they passed, but didn’t care. Most of them had boyfriends or girlfriends who had been invited too. Couple by couple the group split up.
Holding hands with her boyfriend Tyler, he addressed Evey.
“I am sure this is not really a surprise but I wanted to do this right and ask you anyway ‘will you go to the Summer Dance with me’?”
Evey smiled. He was just so cute standing there, waiting for her answer. The Summer Dance was a tradition at the local school, held the weekend before school started again and was for all high school students. Their school held many dances, not just the standards, which lacking a large athletic department, was their main way of keeping things interesting for students.
“Of course I will!”
“Evey … we have been dating for a long time now … and … I …. was thinking about renting a room for us for afterwards…”
Also an old tradition, although not a very publicly traded one. What that really meant was that this was where many young relationship were taking to the next level. Almost a local rite of passage and if you told anybody you and your boyfriend or girlfriend were going to stay in a room after the dance, everyone knew what it really meant.
Parents, most of which once had been students here, usually ignored that fact and just chose to assume it was so their kids did not have to drive home tired or be picked up in the middle of the night.
Evey wasn’t sure how she felt about it. Of course she knew this would eventually come up and some days she felt like she was ready for this, and others, she didn’t.
“Oh .. cool.” she said.
“So, you are .. in?”
She forced her best and most convincing smile and nodded. Well, she would be 16 soon. It was time, right? Had to happen at some point. And he was a great boyfriend. And really cute.
“Wanna come over? Mom keeps asking about you. My parents really like you. I sometimes wonder if one day they adopt you and get rid of me.” he quipped, Evey smiled.
His parents were very nice.
And her mom and dad liked him too.
Evey was the park with her cousins when her phone rang. A weird number. She answered.“Yeah?”
“Hello?” Evey tried again.
Still nothing. Very annoyed, Evey rolled her eyes.
“OK, look asshole, don’t know where you got the number, but lose it again or I will come find you and ruin your day, you moron.” Evey snarled into her phone.“Combat Barbie?”
“KC?” Everleigh asked stunned. His voice was much deeper, but she recognized it right away.
“Yeah. Great phone manners, by the way.”
“Oh my god, where are you?”
“You don’t want to know. Just had to see if this is really you.”
“WHERE ARE YOU? I’ll come to you.”
“You would have to, but you shouldn’t. Don’t. But great to hear your voice.” he sounded sad.
Before Evey could answer an automated voice interrupted
“ONE MINUTE LEFT”
“KC what was that?”
“I .. gotta go. Great to hear your voice again. Stay out of trouble, okay?” he sounded even more down now.
The call was disconnected.
Evey called the number back.
“Greater San Myshuno Correctional Facility, this is Shannon, how may I help you?”
“A JAIL!??!” Everleigh blurted out.
“Oh, sorry … wait … if I want to come see someone at your facility what do I have to do?”
“Inmate visitation is as follows…”
The lady rattled down a list of rules, regulations.
“Is there an age thing? Like how old do I have to be?”
“Yes Miss, under 14 we require an adult to accompany you.”
“Thank you.” Everleigh smiled.
Days later, she sat down at some metal table in a dreary and bare room.
Not long afterwards a door opened and an officer brought in a young man in hand cuffs, who looked up at Evey and grinned, shaking his head.
“I should have known that when I told you to stay away you would come anyway. Need to remember this reverse psychology shit with you. After we hung up it already dawned on me that you would show up here sooner or later. Good to know I am right about something at least sometimes.”
“KC!” Evey jumped up and hugged him, tied up he could not return the gesture, and Evey was directed by the officer to remain in her seat and not engage in close encounters again, before he gave some some privacy by standing stiffly in a corner.
“Sorry angel, they are not very huggy up in this bitch.” KC smirked.
“Umm, Sir, are you not going to take those off?” Evey asked pointing at the handcuffs, after watching KC shift around in the chair to get comfy.
KC laughed loudly as the officer plainly informed her they would remain in place.
“Only you would ask that kind of question…”
“KC, why are you in here?”
“Are you asking what they charged me with or do you want the full list of glory?” he chuckled.
“This is not funny. You are in jail!”
“Technically it is considered prison. For the long term residents like me.” he grinned.Evey looked into his eyes. Still so bright blue and a contrast against his tan skin. His hair was shorn now. And he looked so grown up. So much more mature than 18.
“How did you get my number if you were in here?”
“I wasn’t then. Only when I finally grew the balls to actually call ya. This is pretty new. Well, this stint at least. I was on the run when I went to the house and saw it. I got it right here…”
He put his arms on the table, the underside pointing up and she saw her the phone number scratched into his skin.
“KC, you are insane!”
“Well, my secretary had the day off and I left my briefcase somewhere, plus, I knew I would end up here just as I knew they don’t let you keep your shit in this place… no one’s tried to take my arm – yet.”
“How long … what for …and how are you? Are you okay? Do they … hurt you?”
“Hell woman. So many questions, feels like we are married or something. Ok, let’s see. How long? For a long time. What for? Many things. Bad things. Things I really do not want you to know about, cos I know you would not like me anymore. Am I Ok? Ha, have I ever been okay? Do they hurt me? I don’t know if I even really feel pain anymore. Or anything. Yeah, you really should not have come. I fucked up again, I am fucked up, I shouldn’t have called. Fuck!”
“If you only knew what I have dealt with, prison is really just another day. And still with that language …”
“Oh really? Little Miss Sunshine Barbie had shit to deal with? What happened? Did you fight with Ken?”
“Nah. But Barbie had to deal with really rude, crude Kens at a construction site .. every two weeks even at night … for an internship. I tell you what, probably similar to the tone in this place. Seriously weird creeps.”
“You should not work in such a place. And most def not at night! Surprised your father allowed that.”
“Was his idea.”
“Just be careful. Construction often equals lots of booze and testosterone. Not a good mix if you are a pretty little girl. You should find another internship. But you haven’t changed at all. Grown up …. a lot. But the personality is still the same. More than I can say for myself. I gotten worse. Hopeless. No surprise there.”
“Nobody is hopeless, if they want help and accept help.”
“Someone’s been reading too many bumper stickers … ”
“Excuse me folks, but wrap it up here. Time’s up.” the officer interrupted sternly.
“Oh no … please, just a few more minutes, officer, pleeeeease…” Evey tried, when KC started laughing, hard.
“Evey give it up. This is not your parents’ place. Nobody bends the rules for you, no matter how much you beg and bat your eyes.”
“Ok, I’ll come back and see you again, okay. I’ll bring gifts then. Okay KC?”
“Hell, I am not going anywhere anytime soon. I know I should tell you to stay away, but I am too much of a loser to be that good. See you next time Evey. Oh, and thanks for answering that call. And for coming. And for leaving your number in the first place.”
“Come on kid, let’s go!”
He was pulled off the chair and along now by the officer, the metallic sound of the door slamming shut behind them echoed for a while. Evey felt sad. She wanted to take KC with her. What in the world sort of crimes could he be guilty of? And he looked so grown up. Somehow in her mind she had expected the little boy, just taller. Only his baby blue eyes contrasting against his tan skin still reminded of the boy he once was.
On her way out she asked one of the officers about how to find out what the inmates did, who seemed shocked at her question, but then informed her this was public record.
Reading the files at the courthouse she inhaled sharply. It took her a moment to make sense of the court documents, but then found the charges and convictions. This was not his first time incarcerated, but the first time in one for adults. He was 18 now. He had been through the court system dozens of times by now, for anything from petty theft as a minor, to grand theft auto, public intoxication, public urination, indecent exposure, several counts of burglary and robbery, and attempted murder, the latter being his current offense. Murder? Her KC? Didn’t seem right. At least it had not worked, so it wasn’t THAT bad, right?
He had been marked as on suicide watch during some of the stays in juvi. Oh man. He really needed a friend.
Evey leaned back in her chair. He had not been lying. He was messed up. Her parents would not be thrilled if they found out about this. Maybe she should be scared of him, but just like with Heath, she wasn’t.
She returned the file to the woman, and left.
But instead of home, she took the bus to her grandparents home, where she found her grandfather in the home gym.
“Hey grandpa, do you have a sec? I need to talk to you.”
“Sure sweetie, wait in the kitchen, grandma baked something with some odd French name but it is really good. I’ll take a quick shower and meet you there.” he was still in excellent shape for a many of his age.
“Umm … can we talk in private? I don’t mind you … sweaty and gross and all.”
“OK….good to know. ” Liam raised one eyebrow, amused.
“I need this to be in strict confidence. Mom and dad – or any of the others – cannot know this, okay?”
“Did you kill someone?” Liam chuckled.
“No, but I will be killed if you tell mom and dad. Remember KC? My friend from grade school?”
“You mean the trailer park kid with the no good parents?”
“Him. We sort of reconnected. But … he’s done bad stuff and … is in prison.”
Liam closed his eyes.
Whatever would come next was not going to be good. And her parents would not kill her. They would peel the skin of him. If they got to him before Leonie would. Who said being a grandfather was easy? Whoever it was, they were WRONG.
“Evey, honey. That is a very bad direction and not something you should get involved in. You are only 15 and he is in prison … not the kind of boy you should be around. Sounds like bad news.”
“They usually are. And will remain that way…I would know.” they heard from the door. Leonie now walked in, smiling.
“Oh shit.” Liam said before he could censor himself.
“Oh yeah. You know, your grandpa here was like that boy once. He was in jail, juvi many times. And I was 15 too when I got myself mixed up in all of that, plus I was the daughter of the Chief of Police of San Myshuno. Yeah. Fun times.”
“I went to jail because of your dad, Leo! For some bullshit reason.”
“True. But the times before that you managed fine without him. Let’s see, I forgot half of it all but one highlight was when you stole your neighbor’s Lamborghini and wrapped it around a tree. After breaking into his mansion to get it first.” (read here)
“Oh my gawd, grandpa!” Evey could not help but laugh. All her life her grandpa had only ever been a mellow teddy bear and sweet. So there was hope. For KC. She knew it!
“OK grandma, let’s talk. What did you do to fix him?” Evey asked.
“Fix me? Hey, I wasn’t a broken toy!” Liam protested.
“He was a brat! Terrible temper … never towards me though, he loved me and I him, so I just could not give up on him. On us. Trust me, it wasn’t easy. Tell me about that KC … Kitchen, both of you, now!”