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“It was the summer time before the story came out about the girl who saw him. We had only lived here for a month. My brother and I would go down to the river by ourselves all the time. My mom didn’t know that we were going that far she always thought we were just going down to the creek that was behind The Ghetto. Which is what we used to do, but one day we started exploring and we wandered down along the canyon and we found this great spot on the river that was like a magic place. We had to walk a little while to get there and for part of the walk we had to go along the Pearson road that went past the old white church on the corner. Once we went past the church we walked down onto a dirt road called Virginia Way and off that there was a path that took us down to the water. We found it in a funny way. My brother was always into exploring especially since we didn’t get to go very far in the city and now our mom gave us a lot more time to play outside because it was safer here until that story about the girl came out. My brother had figured that the water from the creek had to be coming from a bigger source of water and he wanted to find it so that we could go swimming. The creek was fine but it wasn’t very deep and sometimes there were too many mosquitos. He was at the market on the corner when he heard some teenagers talking about going to the river and that they needed to go to the bottom of Virginia Way. We found the path from the creek up to Pearson road and then walked one way then the other till we found Virginia Way. It took us a couple of days to find it. We can get to Pearson from the top of the road that takes you to the Ghetto, but from the creek its faster and also we didn’t want our mother to know where we were going. She’d be too afraid of us drowning. When we moved here my mom heard a story about a boy that drowned in the river the year before and that there had been a lot of drownings because the water had a deceptive current. We weren’t afraid because we just swam in this area that was kind of cut off from the moving part of the river and it looked like a pool. It was the best place in the world. My brother and I would go there all day and nobody knew about it. We think it’s because all the teenagers would go to a different part and since we just found some secret trail we thought maybe the person that made it stopped going there or maybe it was made by deer. At least that’s what my brother thought.
It was a really hot day in July, and Malcolm, my brother and I spent the whole day at the river playing and swimming. It started to get dark and we decided we needed to hurry up and get home. While we were walking back we got in a fight. We fight all the time, and usually our fights end with me storming off and that’s exactly what happened. I got mad and I marched off up to the road. I think as I walked faster that he probably slowed down because he had absolutely no interest in catching up with me. I was just fumin’ about something he said, and honestly, now I can’t remember why we fought at all , but at the moment I was so angry that I didn’t notice anything that was going on around me. When I heard the man call out to me it totally scared me. Not because I was afraid, but because I hadn’t heard or noticed a car. I turned and saw that a man in a red car was driving slowly beside me. I hadn’t heard about the girl, and I didn’t know what a corvette looked like at the time, but I didn’t feel safe. We grew up in the city and we always had to be careful around strangers and so it was just some kind of nature thing for me to be nervous. I looked over my shoulder to see if my brother was anywhere that I could see him, but he wasn’t. I didn’t want to stop or go back I just kept walking. He asked me if I was okay and I said yes. Then he asked me if I needed a ride anywhere and I said no thank you. He said, that it wasn’t a problem and that he could take me home and that my mom would probably feel safer. Still, I said no. Then he said in a real mean voice, little girl you need to get in the car. That made me stop and look at him, and he looked at me and I just knew he was evil like a devil maybe and I just started to run, but he sped up in his car and drove the car up on the sidewalk and threw the car door open like he was gonna jump out and grab me. So I turned and I ran to the old church and I ran as fast as I could to the house that was behind the old church. I saw that there were some lights on in the house so I ran up the steps and I started banging on the door. I looked over my shoulder and I saw that the red car was still there but that the headlights were off and he was standing beside the car watching me. I banged harder on the door till a man pulled the door open. I said please help me there was man following me, and I reached for the screen door because I was just gonna run right inside, but the man held the door shut. He said for me to get the hell off of his porch. I said, please sir, please let me in that there was a man following me. He kicked the screen door open and I fell back a few steps and he came out onto the porch like he was gonna hit me. I saw his wife walk up behind him and ask him what was happening and he said that “there was little nigger girl tryin to get into the house.” I held up my hands and said, please sir over there and I pointed toward the car, but it was gone. The woman said that I was probably a thief and not to listen to me. The man pushed me off the porch and I skinned my knees on their sidewalk. When I looked up from the ground I could see just a part of the car on the other side of the church. He was waiting for me and listening he knew that these people were not gonna help me. The man from the house was standing over me and he gave me a push with his foot. Now you get the hell of my lawn and my property girl. I’m not gonna fall for your shenanigans. You should be ashamed of yourself coming to the house of the lord and trying your devilish scams. I hated this man, but I was terrified of the man in the red car. I turned to the man and got on my knees to pray to him. Please sir. There is a man in a red car he’s tryin’ to get me please if you don’t help me or call the police he’s going to hurt me. The man called for his wife to turn the water on on the hose and said if I didn’t get off his lawn he was going to hose me down, but I wouldn’t move I just stayed there on my knees begging him. Then I felt the freezing water from the hose they had turned it on me full blast and sprayed my face. It wasn’t that it was cold. It was a hot night so the cold water would normally feel good, but I was so scared that I was already freezing and I couldn’t breath because he had blasted it into my face. I took off running as the man in the house kept yelling at me and calling me all kinds of mean words and things. I knew the man in the red car was waiting for me on the other side of the church. There was a fence at the end of the parking lot, but I didn’t think I could climb over it and I knew once I turned the corner he would be there with his car. I saw a hole under the church and I crawled under it and I hid under the church in the darkness and the dirt. I could hear him walking around the church and I saw his feet right outside the opening. I didn’t know if he was going to crawl in or if he was going to try to pull me out or if he could even fit. He kneeled down and looked in. I wasn’t sure if he could see me or not. I pushed myself into the darkest corner I could find. I could see his car through the cracks. He walked away and then I could hear him talking and it was like he was right behind me. I wanted to scream but I put my hands over my mouth. He said that he was a patient man and that he was going to wait for me to come out, but that maybe if I didn’t come out then he would just wait for my brother to come by and he’d get him instead. I didn’t think I could get more scared than I already was, but once he started talking about my brother than I knew that he had seen us before. And that’s what he said, that he knew where we lived and that he was going to come and get us and that no one was going to help us because they didn’t like us here, and that everyone was going to treat us just like that man in the house beside the church, that not even a pastor thought we were worth helping. He said that if I wanted to help my family and protect my brother than I had better come out. But, I couldn’t move. I didn’t want my brother to get hurt but I couldn’t move. I didn’t know where Malcolm was- he could be coming right up the street by the church at that moment. Then suddenly the man got in his car and drove off. I thought that it was my brother that maybe he had seen my brother and I cried out and I scrambled out from under the house and ran to the parking lot and I could see the car turn the corner. My brother. I just knew he had my brother. I ran all the way home. I felt sick and my skin hurt and I couldn’t breath, but I kept running. I ran to The Ghetto and I did’t know what to do or how to get help. I ran into the house calling for my mom, and I was crying. She came out of the kitchen and held me. She asked my why I was wet and covered in mud. I couldn’t stop crying I couldn’t tell her about Malcolm. We had to save him. Then my dad and Malcolm stepped out of the kitchen to see what was wrong with me. As soon as I saw Malcolm I started crying even harder. I felt so bad like I would have let him get taken by that man. I saved myself instead of my brother. ”
I felt scared listening to Roseland’s story. Scared and sad and angry, but I understood now why we couldn’t just catch this man.
“Did you tell your mom what happened?” Angel asked.
“No. I didn’t say anything.”
“Why?” She asked.
“I don’t know. I was scared like if I said anything he would know where we were or he would come after us.”
“Did you tell your brother?” Wendy asked.
“No. I was afraid. I thought he would know how terrible I was that I wouldn’t have saved him.”
“I would be so afraid to go outside and play ever again.” Said Wendy. “I think I am now.”
“I was.” Said Roseland. “I stopped going to the river with Malcom. and I was terrified every time he would go.” She sighed. “I wouldn’t even go to the river with him on his last day here. That man ruined the magic spot.”
“How do you even walk to school without being scared?” I asked.
“Well I was really scared at first and I would always take the bus, but then after I heard about that girl getting followed by the man in the red car I figured that he stayed on the same street.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Well, that girl lived on Pearson. And we were walking up Person almost everyday to get to the river. I think that’s where he hunts. He must have seen my brother and I on that street and thought maybe we lived there.”
“Pearson is the main street that goes from Ridgeview into Greely that takes you to I-5 and it also goes up to Magalia and up into the Pines.” I said. “He might not even live here and that’s why people haven’t seen the car around.”
“I can’t believe those old people wouldn’t help you.” Wendy said her voice almost shaking like she was about to cry. “And they called you all those bad names and sprayed you with water. How could they do that? You’re just a kid.”
“Huh, and that man is supposed to be a man of God. How horrible.” Angel said.
“I hate him.” Roseland said, and you could tell she was starting to cry. “I hate him more than the man in the red car. I hate him.”
I put my arms around her and hugged her. “I hate him too Roseland.” And I did I really hated that man and his wife. “As long as you are here and we are friends I wont let anyone treat you like that again.”
“Neither will I.” I heard Angel say and I felt her arms go around Roseland and I.
“I wont let that happen either.” Said Wendy. “And I’d hug you too but I’m already being hugged and I can’t move my arms.
Wendy’s voice sounded a little breathless like she was being smothered and this made all of us laugh and we let her and Roseland go.
Roseland’s story had exhausted all of us and we all began to drift off to sleep. In the middle of the night I woke up because I felt cramped and hot from the other girls so I crawled out of bed and went onto the floor and climbed into my sleeping bag. I listened to the sound of the others breathing and to the crickets chirping outside. I thought about the movie we had watched that evening. We were like those boys. Wendy was like Vern dumb but sweet, and she was also a little bit like Teddy Lachance with a horrible mother that once burnt her back with a curling iron because Wendy forgot to shut the front door. She still had the scar. Roseland was a little like Chris Chambers how she knew what was right and wrong. And Maybe Angel as much as I didn’t want to admit it was also a little like Chris Chambers a kid from a bad family with a bad reputation and no future. It wasn’t easy to place which of the girls would be one of those boys if our life was a boy movie, but there was no denying that I was Gordy. Just like Gordy my older brother died and I became the invisible kid. I became so invisible that my mother forgot she had me and she ate all those pills the doctor gave her and my dad… my dad hates me, why else would he leave. We needed to do something great something special just like those boys something that would show people that we were strong and brave just like those boys we needed it. What could we do that would make us heroes? We had to do something. Then I got an idea. Maybe it wouldn’t make us heroes, but it would give us revenge.