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    Parker Owens
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

A to Z - 6. Walk Away

No major warnings needed for this chapter. Read with appropriate caution.

May 25 – Late

Big question for today: why is that whenever you think things are going better, they’re actually getting ready to blow up in your face?

The last two days, I was on a high. I escaped the basement, got a little food, a little rest, and I had a survival plan that could last for a whole day. Fast forward to tonight. I’m homeless, hungry, wanted by the police, and trying to disappear.

At least I’m still here, pen in hand, scribbling away.

So what happened since I sat down with a warm bowl of tomato soup and my notebook?

I went to school.

I guess it was a mistake, but I can’t know that for sure. I think God, or fate, or the universe has been laughing at me for a while. This was just part of the joke.

I went to school today because there really wasn’t much food in the house, and I had enough spare change for a school lunch. Dad wasn't back, and I was beginning to wonder. Not that I was complaining.

Sometimes, he'd get called out on a big job and leave for a day or two, maybe three. That happened once or twice a year. I figured this had happened again. And he'd left me to starve.

I had this hazy plan that I was going to go see the school nurse, maybe during lunch or at study hall; maybe she could let me see a doctor or something. I had no idea if anything would happen, but maybe she'd have some more aspirin. Maybe there'd be someone I could talk to. I couldn't just hang around waiting for Dad to come at me again.

Besides, I was trying to get back on track, do something familiar, somehow, and I didn’t really think clearly. I’m still not thinking very clearly, I guess.

I knew where Dad kept his beer money, so I took the last $20 out of the old coffee can over the stove. I figured I would use that to get some staples to make supper and breakfast and maybe more. By then, I hoped to have a plan for what to do afterwards. I thought that if I went to school, I could dodge and avoid the Ackerman crowd, get my assignments I missed, and not have to worry about when Dad would reappear. If the truck was in the driveway when I got home from the grocery, then I'd figure something else out.

I still had no idea what day it was. Dad likes to keep me out of circulation, so I had no cell phone, no watch, nothing to give the date away. At 7:05, I left the house. It took me 25 minutes to make my usual 15 minute walk to the high school; I was still sore in so many places. I made it inside just in time for the first bell. It turned out that I had missed a week. Not only had I been locked up during my suspension days, I hadn’t even liberated myself until Monday night. It was Wednesday.

I could tell right away that something was different.

People stared at me in the halls and in classes. In my first period English class, it looked like the girl who sat in the next seat was trying to edge away and sit as far from me as she could.

The teacher noted my presence with “Aaahh, Mr. Ericsson. You’re back. See me at the end of class.”

There was muttering in class; I could hear some of it. Mostly, it consisted of insults thrown my way:

“Faggot. Rug muncher. Queer-boy.”

I got a more than few random elbows and bodychecks on my way – more than usual, anyways. They hurt more than usual, too. James fucking Ackerman must have spread the news that I was a homo. Of course, I really am one, but that didn’t mean I wanted to be out to everyone in school.

I tried the nurse's office during lunch, but she was out. I waited for a while, dumbly reading and re-reading the bright yellow 'Be Right Back!' sticky note on the door. I headed back to the cafeteria. At the period after lunch, on my way into Chemistry, the teacher caught me at the door.

“Ericsson? You’re wanted in the principal’s office. Immediately. Go now.”

I turned to go. What could they want this time? Maybe I didn’t have my excuse note, but they knew I had been suspended, right? I walked down the hall, passing stragglers on their way to class.

I turned the corner, only to see James Ackerman standing at an open locker –my locker, I think - stuffing something inside. What the hell was he doing in my locker? How had he opened it and gotten inside? I had a sinking feeling about that. I’d learned that no time was a good time to mess with James Fucking Ackerman, and this was worse than most. James Ackerman had made enough trouble for me: he could keep anything he found in my locker. It was pretty much worthless junk, anyhow. He didn’t see me, and I hurried past.

When I entered the office, the secretary motioned for me to sit. She pressed a button on her phone, and a moment later, Mr. Messersmith came out.

“Steven? Come in to my office, please.”

I followed him in and sat down in a chair he pointed out.

A large, beefy man in a tie and suit that looked a little too small for him sat on one of the other chairs. His coat hung open, and a gun in a holster clearly showed beneath.

This was not good.

“Steven, this is Detective Williams of the Carlsberg Police Department. He has some questions for you.”

The principal sat down, and I faced the detective.

Detective Williams looked me up and down, as if evaluating me before proceeding. I wanted to ask him what was the point of judging me first before asking any questions, but I kept my mouth shut.

“We recovered your father’s body this morning,” he said simply, looking me directly in the eyes.

I could not have been more stunned if he had told me they had found a nuclear missile in my locker. He’s gone – just like that? That’s impossible. The big, nasty drunken Swede dead? No way.

I tried to rally. “He’s dead? My Dad is dead?”

He nodded. “I’m sorry for your loss.”

The detective looked bored, not sorry. His condolence was hardly genuine. He was looking for answers, not consoling a family member. Not that I was exactly mourning right now. Shocked was more like it. Numb. I realize now that it must have looked bad that there were no tears, no cries of grief on my part. I just couldn’t have faked it if my life depended on it.

The detective shifted in his seat and sighed.

“Your father’s death is being ruled a homicide. He was killed. Naturally, we have some questions for you.”

I nodded dumbly.

“Did your father have any enemies? People who wanted to injure him?”

I shrugged. At that moment, it wouldn’t have been smart to admit that I never wanted to see Dad alive again.

“Did your father ever hit you?” He asked.

Another shrug. I knew there was a visible bruise. Humiliation kicked in. No way was anyone ever going to see my back. I just don't want anyone to know.

“Did you and your father get along? Any problems between the two of you?” he persisted.

Problems? Is that what I experienced for the last week? Problems? But the habit of covering up was too great. Automatically, without thinking, I answered, “No. No problems.”

“How did you get that cut on your face?” he asked, narrowing his eyes.

“I fell down the steps. I’m a klutz, everyone knows that.” I answered. Both were true, in a way. Why couldn't they just let me alone to deal with this?

The detective exchanged a glance with Mr. Messersmith and sighed again. “There are some troubling details about this…”

I could tell he was looking for ways to connect me to Dad’s death. Already, it looked like he figured out I had a reason for wanting Dad dead. And his offhand manner told me he assumed I already knew about Dad’s murder. His murder. I just let that sink in: I sat there, emotionless. This information and this interview could only mean one thing.

They thought I’d killed my father.

“Can you tell me about your father’s actions and whereabouts for the past few days?”

Now what was I going to say? That he spent several of the past seven days getting nastily drunk, beating me half to death, raping me with household objects, and then leaving me to starve? That I had no idea where he had gone after that? If they really thought I was to blame, those were not going to be good answers.

“No.”

“Nothing? No idea when he came or went for a whole week?”

“Not really. He came home. He ate. He drank. He got up and left again.”

Detective Williams took a deep breath. “Mr. Messersmith tells me you were suspended last week for propositioning other boys in the locker room. And your Dad was informed. True?”

“I got suspended last week.”

“And did your father take the news well?” the detective was clearly probing.

“No. Not well,” I replied, shortly. There was no point in lying about that.

“Can you tell me where you were during that time?”

“I was at home.”

“But you were supposed to have returned to classes Monday, right?”

I nodded. I was still chained to the workbench on Monday morning. I don’t suppose I could tell them that, could I? Who would believe it?

I wanted to tell them the truth, but something held me back. Shame. Fear, maybe, that it was all a mistake and Dad wasn't really dead. Fear that if he was, then everyone would know about me – everything – and life would be a different kind of hell than it had been. But still hell.

The detective went on. “But instead, you waited until this morning to show up. Care to tell us why you skipped two more days of school?”

“I was feeling sick.”

“We called the number on file – there was no answer,” interjected Mr. Messersmith.

This earned him a glare from the detective.

“You didn’t answer the phone when they called. Why not?”

“They have Dad’s cell. We don’t have a regular telephone in the house.”

“And you didn’t see fit to call in yourself,” added Mr. Messersmith for good measure.

“No. Dad carries the phone.”

“Tell me again how you got that cut on the side of your head?”

“I told you, I fell down the stairs.” I replied doggedly.

Why couldn’t I just tell them the truth? Because I hardly believed it myself. If it was too horrible for me, the police would never buy it. Too easy to blame the hotheaded teenager for the father's murder.

The detective grunted and wrote something down on his pad. The pencil looked tiny in his large, round fingers.

The detective heaved himself to his feet. He turned to the principal. “Could we step outside for a second?”

He pointed to the door, and the two men exited the room. The door was left partly open, while they spoke in half whispers in the main office. I tried to catch what they were saying, but I couldn’t hear. I shifted my chair a bit closer and turned my head.

Mr. Messersmith was hissing, “…and no one responded when the assistant principal pounded on the door of the house. So is he going to be charged?”

“I can’t say,” growled Williams. “My guess is that they’ll need a grand jury and that will take some time to assemble the evidence. The boy is probably going to be your problem for a little while longer, while we work on the case.”

“Well, is someone going to come and get him?”

“What about the mother?”

“There is no mother listed in our records. There is an uncle mentioned…”

My blood froze. Uncle Ray. They were going to call Uncle Ray. I was going from Dad’s loving care to the tender mercies of Uncle Ray.

“…and I suppose if the uncle comes for the boy sometime today, we can assume he’ll be available for questioning for a few days…”

Mr. Messersmith would tell Uncle Ray what I was suspended for. I began to feel panic rising. No way was I going back to that house with Uncle Ray.

Suddenly, a terrifically loud bang and stupendous flash cut them off. Another flash and bang, and smoke began pouring out of the hallway past the office door. Alarms went off, bells clanging and horns blaring.

“Get down!” yelled Detective Williams.

The secretary was already on the floor, but Mr. Messersmith went out the office door into the swirl. I sat there, stunned. The door opened a bit more, and the detective crawled to the door and looked in at me. He seemed a little ridiculous at knee level.

“Stay here. Don’t move. I mean it.”

He withdrew and pulled the door shut behind him.

I couldn’t just sit there while all hell broke loose, could I? Not when they were planning to hand me over to my uncle or charge me with my father's death. I looked out the window to see kids and teachers pouring out of the building. I cranked opened the principal’s office window. Already, I could hear sirens in the distance. Lots of them.

The window was narrow, and it had a screen. A removable screen. I made a decision. I went back to my chair and picked up my backpack. I re-crossed the room, and for the second time this week, escaped confinement through a window.

At least this escape was easier on my back than the basement window had been at the house. This time, I had three layers on: a tee to soak up any blood from welts that opened, my soft flannel shirt, and my denim jacket.

As soon as I got to the ground, my first thought was to blend in with the streams of people leaving the school.

In fire drills, the teachers try to keep everyone in line, and move the crowd along in an orderly manner, while students try to dawdle and stretch the whole thing out as long as possible. Everything is pretty tame, if a little testy.

This was different. There was smoke seeping from the main entrance of the school, and people were still hustling out of fire exits. Teachers were trying to corral kids into their class groups, some with more success than others. Kids immediately fished out their cell phones and started texting parents and friends about the excitement.

I calmly made my way to the rear of the nearest class grouping, a bunch of seniors from an art class. I got as far from the building as I could. I drew a few glances, but nobody really seemed to notice me. I ducked down as the teacher counted heads, pretending to tie my shoe.

Soon the fire trucks and ambulances began to arrive, and the scene bustled with the controlled chaos of emergency response. Parents started arriving, too. Some stood in confused, concerned knots at the edge of the parking lot, while others walked up boldly and started demanding answers from the nearest teacher.

There was no sign of Mr. Messersmith or Detective Williams.

Our group was advised to move farther away to the back of the parking lot, once the fire crew ascertained that the right number of students had been evacuated. From there, it was really easy to slip away in to the bushes, through the yard of the house on the other side, and onto the street beyond.

I simply walked away, in the direction of the house, thinking about going to the grocery, when I stopped.

I couldn’t go home. The police. Sooner or later, the police would find me there. They'd probably already been by there earlier today looking for answers. Maybe they even had someone there now. And even if the police forgot about me, there would be Uncle Ray. And I was not, am not, and am never going to live with Uncle Ray.

I turned around and headed in the opposite direction, toward Carlsberg Veteran’s Park about a mile away on the east side of town. It was a big, open green space with plenty of picnic shelters, playgrounds, soccer fields and baseball diamonds. There was plenty of room to think. I used to go there when Mom was still around; I played in a youth soccer league for a spring and summer the year before she left.

The park was empty, and I had my choice of shelters. I chose one close to some pine trees, but really, there was no place to hide. I sat down. My legs and midsection hurt. I really didn’t feel like doing any more walking. I let my brain slow down, and I tried to think.

I had three choices. I could turn myself in to the police. They would pin Dad’s death on me, and I would be housed and fed by the state for what, fifteen or twenty years, maybe more? And probably get beaten and god knows what else over that time, too. I could go back to the house and wait for Uncle Ray. He might manage to get me out of trouble with the police, but what would I have to do for him in return? My stomach just about heaved at that thought.

I could practically hear Dad’s nasty, sarcastic laughter ringing in my ears at the irony of all this. Even dead, he’d found a way for me to get raped and beaten and locked up.

Or I could run.

I had $20 of Dad’s beer money in my pocket. I had the clothes on my back, and my school stuff – and precious little of that. If I was going to run, I figured the best thing to do would be to walk over to the entrance to the interstate highway heading south, and try to hitch a ride that would take me a hundred miles from here. If I got lucky, I could be in the Carolinas by tomorrow.

Put that way, it seemed like a pretty easy decision to make. If I got to the highway entrance before the police started looking for me again, then I’d be OK.

By this time, the sun told me it was getting to be late afternoon. People were already starting to arrive for baseball and soccer team practices. I wouldn’t want to stay here for long. I shouldered my pack. It was time to go.

I could hear the highway from the park, but it took a while to actually walk the mile or so to the entrance ramp. There were a bunch of service stations and fast-food places right nearby, plus there were a bunch of strip mall stores just beyond. A steady stream of traffic turned off the main road and onto the highway at the light. I stood on the corner. I put on my most winning smile, stuck out my thumb, and waited.

I’d been trying to hitch a ride for about twenty minutes when I noticed a state police car approaching the intersection. It stopped at a light just before my corner. When it changed, they’d spot me, if they hadn’t already. I moved.

I hurriedly crossed the entrance ramp and limped quickly alongside the main road beneath the overpass. The light hadn’t changed yet. Just past the overpass, I turned right, moving up the exit ramp and out of view of the patrol car. Crossing the exit ramp in front of a very surprised commuter, I hustled down into the drainage ditch on the far side and crouched, watching the traffic at the end of the ramp through scrubby grass and brush.

A few moments later, I saw the police car cruise slowly through the intersection. They missed me. Or maybe they hadn’t seen me at all.

Still, this was clearly not a good place to try hitching a ride.

There was another interchange a couple of miles away on the north end of town. If I could find my way there, perhaps I could hitch a ride from that spot. I started walking in that direction.

Businesses and buildings on the road that ran roughly parallel with the highway thinned out quickly once I got a little ways from the main road. Pretty soon, the sidewalk ended. It wasn’t exactly the countryside, but I was definitely out of town. A few cars passed, but I pretty much had the roadside to myself.

I walked as quickly as I could, though my legs and side hurt too much to go very fast. The sun was definitely down on the mountain in the west by the time I got to the highway interchange. Here, the interstate passed underneath the road, and the entrance came down from a bridge above.

I stuck out my thumb again, nervously. There was very little traffic here, even though there was a shopping plaza nearby. I could see the big stores from where I stood. I felt really exposed. There was no traffic light, and though I had a good view for a long way in all directions, I had nowhere to run if the cops came.

So call me a coward. A car that looked like a police car approached out the gathering darkness to the east. I froze. There was nothing I could do. Time stood still. The car passed me by; it was one of those cars volunteer firemen drive with emergency lights on the top – not the police. But I decided that this was too much to deal with right now. I would wait until later.

I limped down the road to the plaza and its big box stores. I was hungry and getting scared. By the time I reached a burger place, the sun was down behind the mountain, and the afterglow of sunset bloomed across the western sky.

I went inside and ordered a cola and a burger from the dollar menu. I sat in a corner booth, facing away from the door. I did not want to be noticed. I tried not to bolt down my burger. After having nothing but school lunch to eat all day, it smelled so good. Only now did I realize how hungry and thirsty I was.

I put my backpack on the table in front of me and pulled out its contents. Journal. Three-ring binder with Chem notes and History notes. I took out the notes, homework and handouts – I wouldn’t be needing them - and put the blank paper in the pile to keep. Chemistry textbook, marked Property of Carlsberg Central High School. It was heavy, and not very good reading. Out it would go. If CCHS could track me down, I would owe them. What else did I have?

Two pencils, both pretty worn down. A couple of pens. A ruler. A rusty pocketknife, found under the bleachers in the gym. Sixty eight cents, mostly in dimes and nickels. My house key.

Add what was left of Dad's $20, and that was it.

I gathered up the garbage and the stuff I was throwing away and put it in the trash. I sat down again, trying to nurse the very last of my drink. I was about to go up for a refill when the door opened.

A group of high school kids came in, two girls and several boys. I sat nervously, waiting to see what they would do. They ordered some food and sat at a booth near mine. Shit. I was trapped. I didn’t want anyone from school to even think they’d seen me here. I kept my head down and facing away from their table.

They talked, and joked around a little. I listened.

“You and Julie like your afternoon off?” There was some laughter at that. I wondered what Julie had been up to.

A girl's voice: “Do they know who set off the smoke bombs?”

So it was smoke bombs and not a real fire.

“Nah. Not that I heard.” Authoritative. Good information.

Another voice, conspiratorial: “I heard that it was some kind of attack on the school that didn’t work out.”

Silence.

“They said there was some sophomore kid who went off his nut and killed his father. He set off the bombs and was going to start shooting, but there was a cop in the building who stopped him.”

My heart stopped beating for a second. I held my breath.

“Well, shit.” Authoritative voice again. “Just makes you want to stay close to the people you love, doesn’t it?”

There were murmurs of agreement. They were friends. They would stick together.

A sober sounding girl’s voice: “Glad none of us got hurt. He could have started shooting. It could have been any one of us.”

More agreement.

And then their moment lightened.

“Let’s blow this joint and go hang at my place.” Mr. Authority spoke again.

As if by magic, they rose and left in flurry of small talk and bustle.

Wanted for murder and for a school shooting. People would see my face on the news and think I was a mass killer. Numbly, I wondered what photo they would use. Dad never let me get my picture taken at school – he never wanted any pictures of me or Mom in the house. I never had one of Mom and that made me sad to think of it. My third grade picture wouldn’t do anyone much good, even if anyone could find it.

I’ve been writing now, for a couple of hours. Nobody really seems to care – people come and go. Like the last time, I just have to get it all down.

Well, one thing is certain. I have to get out of this place, soon. They’re going to want to close here before too long. Hitching a ride probably isn’t going to work. I’ll try to get into the dark, away from the bright lights. As much as it hurts, I’ll have to start walking again.

A thousand thanks to Craftingmom for her gentle editing and punctuation policing.

Any review of any kind is most welcome.

Copyright © 2016 Parker Owens; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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Chapter Comments



Part of me was screaming "Just tell them!" but I realise Stefan has no reason whatsoever to trust anyone, not even the police. Where will he end up? I hope it doesn't end up in total disaster, him alone walking in the dark...

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Good Chapter Parker!
And not just because dad is dead.
Your description of the day through Stefan's eyes was believable and the wisps of rumors together with the locker scene he observed let us grasp what a third person narrative would normally have provided. Excellent and interesting.
This story is very compelling, Can't wait for more!

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Dear god Parker. You are writing my story. On the street, I had a bit more cash, but not for long. No one saw me. Only Jeff and he knew a good thing when he did.
Reading this is hard for me sometimes.... you're doing a great job.

 

tim

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On 10/09/2015 03:57 AM, Mikiesboy said:

Dear god Parker. You are writing my story. On the street, I had a bit more cash, but not for long. No one saw me. Only Jeff and he knew a good thing when he did.

Reading this is hard for me sometimes.... you're doing a great job.

 

tim

Thank you for the review, Tim. Stefan's invisibility is the only defense he has against the world. But for now, at least, he's free. Dad can't get at him any more, at least not physically.

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On 10/09/2015 03:30 AM, skinnydragon said:

Good Chapter Parker!

And not just because dad is dead.

Your description of the day through Stefan's eyes was believable and the wisps of rumors together with the locker scene he observed let us grasp what a third person narrative would normally have provided. Excellent and interesting.

This story is very compelling, Can't wait for more!

Thank you for the review! I'm glad it was believable, though, because the story is quite incredible. That is, until you hear the stories of real people who've been their own private hells...

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On 10/09/2015 03:30 AM, skinnydragon said:

Good Chapter Parker!

And not just because dad is dead.

Your description of the day through Stefan's eyes was believable and the wisps of rumors together with the locker scene he observed let us grasp what a third person narrative would normally have provided. Excellent and interesting.

This story is very compelling, Can't wait for more!

Thank you for the review! I'm glad it was believable, though, because the story is quite incredible. That is, until you hear the stories of real people who've been their own private hells...

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On 10/09/2015 03:06 AM, Puppilull said:

Part of me was screaming "Just tell them!" but I realise Stefan has no reason whatsoever to trust anyone, not even the police. Where will he end up? I hope it doesn't end up in total disaster, him alone walking in the dark...

Poor Stefan is caught. Trust means overcoming shame and humiliation - admitting the truth. Trust means believing that the adult in front of him won't hurt him. Not good odds there, either. So, it's a walk in the dark, for now.

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On 10/09/2015 03:06 AM, Puppilull said:

Part of me was screaming "Just tell them!" but I realise Stefan has no reason whatsoever to trust anyone, not even the police. Where will he end up? I hope it doesn't end up in total disaster, him alone walking in the dark...

Poor Stefan is caught. Trust means overcoming shame and humiliation - admitting the truth. Trust means believing that the adult in front of him won't hurt him. Not good odds there, either. So, it's a walk in the dark, for now.

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Stefan is free, but not really is he? Even with his father dead. He's running from a whole other set of problems. Maybe he will meet someone he can, or have no choice but to trust, because it's going to get harder to hide. Not to mention, he may need serious medical attention. I worry about what's next for Stefan.
I am so involved in this story, which is in great part due to your telling of it..

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One thing that has bothered me about this story so far is the behaviour of the teachers and school officials. Being a retired high school teacher myself, I know that school staff are generally more sympathetic to underdogs and misfits than you give them credit for, and are always on the alert for victims of bullying. Granted, bullies are good at keeping the abuse out of the sight of authority figures, but it doesn't seem credible to me that Stefan's abuse would go undetected for so long, especially when he shows up at school after a prolonged absence with visible signs of physical abuse, acting evasive and refusing to answer questions, answering "I fell down the stairs" when asked about his bruises, and so on. This would set off alarm bells in the minds of most teachers and school administrators today. A student who's custodial parent had just been murdered would certainly not have been just sent home with his uncle without the involvement of counsellors and some kind of intervention, especially if he was a minor. And I don't think they would automatically jump to the conclusion that Stefan was his father's killer.
I buy into your description of Stefan's behaviour and evasiveness around authority figures; that sounds very realistic. But the school's response doesn't ring true to me.
Still a good story, though - looking forward to the next chapter.

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On 10/09/2015 05:48 AM, Diogenes said:

One thing that has bothered me about this story so far is the behaviour of the teachers and school officials. Being a retired high school teacher myself, I know that school staff are generally more sympathetic to underdogs and misfits than you give them credit for, and are always on the alert for victims of bullying. Granted, bullies are good at keeping the abuse out of the sight of authority figures, but it doesn't seem credible to me that Stefan's abuse would go undetected for so long, especially when he shows up at school after a prolonged absence with visible signs of physical abuse, acting evasive and refusing to answer questions, answering "I fell down the stairs" when asked about his bruises, and so on. This would set off alarm bells in the minds of most teachers and school administrators today. A student who's custodial parent had just been murdered would certainly not have been just sent home with his uncle without the involvement of counsellors and some kind of intervention, especially if he was a minor. And I don't think they would automatically jump to the conclusion that Stefan was his father's killer.

I buy into your description of Stefan's behaviour and evasiveness around authority figures; that sounds very realistic. But the school's response doesn't ring true to me.

Still a good story, though - looking forward to the next chapter.

Thanks for a perceptive and helpful review. I agree with you that most schools teachers and officials wouldn't let Stefan's evasiveness go unchallenged. This is a perfect storm, of course, and it's fiction. But there are true stories of things like this: scars that aren't seen, bruises successfully hidden, and bullying passed over as horseplay. I agree also that if Stefan had been released to his uncle, there would have been cousellors involved. That never happened, as he got questioned first, and while they may not have suspected Stefan directly, Stefan certainly felt as if they did. For that, he could be forgiven. Glad you are looking forward to the next chapter.

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On 10/09/2015 04:41 AM, Defiance19 said:

Stefan is free, but not really is he? Even with his father dead. He's running from a whole other set of problems. Maybe he will meet someone he can, or have no choice but to trust, because it's going to get harder to hide. Not to mention, he may need serious medical attention. I worry about what's next for Stefan.

I am so involved in this story, which is in great part due to your telling of it..

Thank you for the review! Yes, I agree he isn't really free at all, but the chains are very different. And trust isn't going to be easy.

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On 10/09/2015 08:25 AM, flamingo136 said:

At least the fucker is dead......keep it together Stefan....you can do it.....:)Mike

Yes, Daddy appears to be dead. Stefan now has to figure out what to do next.

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I initially found the reaction of the school staff and the principal to be implausible, but realized that there are people out there who get it in their head that they don't like someone and will willfully turn a blind eye. That being said, we have the benefit of knowing what happened to Stefan, so it seems obvious to us. His bruises and behavior should raise red flags to anyone who cares enough to listen. Like I mentioned in a previous review, I've experienced the indifference of those who are supposed to protect us, so I suppose I can relate in some small way. As mandated reporters, though, those teachers aren't doing their job. I was also taken aback by the callous attitude of the detective. What a way to tell someone their parent was murdered. Even if he did suspect Stefan, he's a jerk for acting so callous and bored towards him. I wonder what's up with the jock (I'm drawing a blank on his name) and his problem with Stefan. Anyway, I'm glad that Stefan is finally free of his father, but I'm worried about him being on the street and on the run. I can't wait to see where you take this next.

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On 10/09/2015 08:42 AM, Valkyrie said:

I initially found the reaction of the school staff and the principal to be implausible, but realized that there are people out there who get it in their head that they don't like someone and will willfully turn a blind eye. That being said, we have the benefit of knowing what happened to Stefan, so it seems obvious to us. His bruises and behavior should raise red flags to anyone who cares enough to listen. Like I mentioned in a previous review, I've experienced the indifference of those who are supposed to protect us, so I suppose I can relate in some small way. As mandated reporters, though, those teachers aren't doing their job. I was also taken aback by the callous attitude of the detective. What a way to tell someone their parent was murdered. Even if he did suspect Stefan, he's a jerk for acting so callous and bored towards him. I wonder what's up with the jock (I'm drawing a blank on his name) and his problem with Stefan. Anyway, I'm glad that Stefan is finally free of his father, but I'm worried about him being on the street and on the run. I can't wait to see where you take this next.

Thanks for the review and thoughtful response, Val. And while the detective was callous, he might also have been calculating for a response. Agree it wasn't a very good move on his part. Fortunately, the greatest majority of detectives aren't like that. But sometimes, small-city departments can get overwhelmed. And they did, given the er, explosive, events that happened afterwards. And yes, it's good that Stefan's Dad appears to be dead.

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Clearly that principal doesn't like Stefan. He could know Ackerman's father or something as equally stupid. He could just be a homophobe but he'd like Stefan to be nailed to the wall it seems. The detective should be better at looking a bit deeper for signs and I think his run down of getting evidence together so they can get a grand jury together tells me he does agree this kid did it. He doesn't seem to good at his job if he can't see signs of abuse (though he probably sees it as signs of a fight when he killed his dad). I'd love to know how the father was killed and see if the waif of a kid could have actually done it. We can wish people were here for kids like stefan, but sometimes it's easier to go after the weak. stefan sure did luck out with the smoke bombs. I wish he'd have shown the detective his wounds b/c by the time he could be captured down the road there would be no proof of it. Though there should be his blood and vomit in the basement. Why would he think the system would start helping him now. I can't blame him for running. I hope he finds his way away from here and moreso that he doesn't run into more men like his father and uncle charlie on the way. This kid is so ill-equipped to run away and survive. I'm pretty worried for him. I think you've been really successful in making us want to strangle the adults he has come into contact with. Please find some kind people to help the kid!

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On 10/09/2015 09:16 AM, Cannd said:

Clearly that principal doesn't like Stefan. He could know Ackerman's father or something as equally stupid. He could just be a homophobe but he'd like Stefan to be nailed to the wall it seems. The detective should be better at looking a bit deeper for signs and I think his run down of getting evidence together so they can get a grand jury together tells me he does agree this kid did it. He doesn't seem to good at his job if he can't see signs of abuse (though he probably sees it as signs of a fight when he killed his dad). I'd love to know how the father was killed and see if the waif of a kid could have actually done it. We can wish people were here for kids like stefan, but sometimes it's easier to go after the weak. stefan sure did luck out with the smoke bombs. I wish he'd have shown the detective his wounds b/c by the time he could be captured down the road there would be no proof of it. Though there should be his blood and vomit in the basement. Why would he think the system would start helping him now. I can't blame him for running. I hope he finds his way away from here and moreso that he doesn't run into more men like his father and uncle charlie on the way. This kid is so ill-equipped to run away and survive. I'm pretty worried for him. I think you've been really successful in making us want to strangle the adults he has come into contact with. Please find some kind people to help the kid!

Thanks for the review. I think Stefan doesn't really have a lot of trust in adults just now. Not surprising that he found the detective to be a threatening individual, even though, with time, that same detective might have found out the truth. The principal might have been a homophobe, or willfully blind, or simply a prude who doesn't want to deal with kids whose dal lives don't fit his preconceived mold. As a teacher, I met a few of these people, most unfortunately.

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Everyone is bad. Why is everyone bad? I would run too. As fast and far as I can. Sometimes I think this story is a metaphor for all the ugly in mankind.

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On 10/30/2015 05:19 PM, aditus said:

Everyone is bad. Why is everyone bad? I would run too. As fast and far as I can. Sometimes I think this story is a metaphor for all the ugly in mankind.

Stefan seemed to be caught in an eddy of ill fortune, condemned to swirl endlessly in a vortex of abuse, ill treatment, and malevolence. A particularly heavy spate of unhappiness spits him out into the stream of life, but that doesn't mean he's any better off. For some of us, the world is full of bad.

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The people that are suppose to protect him, the school, are against him for all the wrong reasons though it isn't a surprise. The police aren't much better. If he had been able to tell them what happened, show them the chain and ankle cuff, the window he crawled out of, the injuries it might have helped but I can understand why he didn't or couldn't bring himself to do so. I'm happy his father is dead now. I would guess James got his locker combo from the girl when she was watching over his shoulder. I'm curious about the smoke bombs and how or if it will be connected to anything in future chapters. You are a great writer!!

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Heartbreaking the second time around too.

 

I never had a lot when I was growing up, but my mother always made sure to stock up on school supplies when they were on sale before school started. And even though most of my clothes were hand-me-downs, we never had to wear raggedy clothes. There was always food on table – even if it was fish too often! (I no longer eat fish because of that!)

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On 05/26/2016 03:05 PM, droughtquake said:

Heartbreaking the second time around too.

 

I never had a lot when I was growing up, but my mother always made sure to stock up on school supplies when they were on sale before school started. And even though most of my clothes were hand-me-downs, we never had to wear raggedy clothes. There was always food on table – even if it was fish too often! (I no longer eat fish because of that!)

And today, fish is relatively expensive. Go figure. Yes, Stefan's story is just as cruel the second time as the first. But at least he got the chance to walk away. Thanks so much for your comments.

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I'm going to stick with it, but both Stefans and the adults actions are really stretching the boundaries of believability right now for me. 

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3 hours ago, Potterslashfan said:

I'm going to stick with it, but both Stefans and the adults actions are really stretching the boundaries of believability right now for me. 

 

Thank you for your comment. You have a good point. Stefan went to school, perhaps on autopilot, certainly with a half formed hope of seeing a nurse or someone like that. Stefan's story strains  credulity until one reads the sad articles in small town newspapers about kids who fell through the cracks. It is good that such stories are rare; horrible that they happen at all. Again, thank you for reading. 

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