“WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED HERE?!”
“OFFICER DOWN, GET THE PARAMEDICS ON HIM NOW!”
“WHO IS THAT UNDER HIM?!”
“THAT’S HIS SON!”
“WILSON ISN’T BREATHING!”
“HIS EYES ARE OPENING!”
My brain was disoriented. I couldn’t function, it was like I was paralyzed. I could hear everything around me but my mind could not register anything. The voices of the police echoed in my ears & my eyes were slowly blinking but my vision was blurry.
For the past five years, I would often have flashbacks & nightmares of that dreadful day. It was when all the pain started. I still didn’t understand what I had done in those thirteen years of living to deserve that pain.
“Take the folder & all the answers will be revealed to you.”
I was too afraid to even open the folder to see if there was any truth to his claims. But the tone he had did not seem as a joke. There definitely was something sinister in that folder that could very well bring an apocalypse to some lives.
I walked out of my room & into the bathroom. I turned on the light & just gazed at myself in the mirror. The longer I stared, the more I noticed something wasn’t right. My face behind the mirror started to have a mind of it’s own. It gave me a look of evil. It smiled at me viciously & then jumped towards me.
I screamed. And then I woke up again finding myself nearly jumping out of bed from that jump scare. It was four-sixteen in the morning. For the past three days I’ve been haunted by my own lust for vengeance as it grows stronger believing that I could very well fulfill it by revealing whats behind that folder.
It was quite shocking that she woke from her sleep & rushed to my aid rather than her fiance, the man of the house.
I just shook my head. “Nothing…..just…I’m fine.” I answered
She sighed in relief that nothing bad happened physically, but she always knew mentally I was never okay. She came over & sat next to me on the bed. “Talk to me baby.” She said
My aunt had been trying to be the mother that was taken from me. But she always knew no matter how hard she tried, she could never fully replace the original. She would often try talking to me to make me feel more comfortable opening up about my inner thoughts & feelings. Nobody knew of the inner lust for revenge I’ve been grasping onto since it all went down. If I was to let it be known, they would’ve tried their hardest to make sure I didn’t do anything insane. With her being a police officer, she was damn sure to keep a watchful eye on me. Just as my mother would’ve wanted if she wasn’t able to.
“Just a bad dream, I’m fine.” I said
She gave me a hug & kissed my forehead. At that time, her husband had apparently woken up & finally came to the room.
“You good man?” He asked from the doorway while rubbing his eyes. His tone was as if he was tired of me having nights like this where my aunt would nearly have a panic attack hearing me scream in the night. And I’m sure he was indeed tired of dealing with it within the five years that passed. I should be grown up & able to control my emotions better than before. Right?
“Yeah, its nothing.” I answered
He just turned around & went back to their room.
“Are you thirsty?” She asked me
“A little…” I replied
That was her cue to go down to the kitchen & pour me a glass of water. Always quick to assist even in the slightest. She was a good woman. She been making my stay with them as pleasant as possible even though it would seem like I was never here with me being so silent.
I gulped the water down. It quenched my thirst. Quite refreshing. Just what I needed to recover from that nightmare.
I gave her the glass cup & laid back down. She slowly walked over to the doorway. “I’m making breakfast later, your usual favorite. That’ll make you feel better.” She said
I laid back on my pillow & pulled the covers back up to my shoulders.
She closed the door & went about her way. I was waiting to hear their door close so I could be safe to do what I shouldn’t have done.
I crept over to my bookshelf to get the folder I kept tucked in between books. I pulled it out & stared at it. My hand started shaking the longer I stared. I didn’t feel I had the courage to open it. I crept back to my bed & placed it on my bed in front of me.
The voice of the man played in my mind once more, “Take the folder & all the answers will be revealed to you.”
I wanted answers, & I felt it was about time I deserved some after these long years of suffering & feeling lost. I placed my hand on the opening corner of the folder, & slowly opened it.
Inside were papers, lots of them. The first was a map of the city, big red dots to point out specific locations. Behind the map were papers stapled together that had pictures of people’s faces. I noticed on the map there was a blue circle. Before I could dig further in this hole, I thought I heard my aunt coming back to the room. I hurried & closed the folder & tucked it under my pillow. Jumped back into bed to pretend to be sleep.
It was a false alarm though. Yet, I stayed in bed. I needed to go back to sleep before I continued….
Hours later, I found myself being woken up by my aunt to come for breakfast. It was her day off, yet her husband was out working though. He missed the wonderful feast on pancakes, eggs, sausage & grits. The usual breakfast combo.
It was a beautiful Saturday morning. Sun shining on a sweet day in the spring. Waking up to a big breakfast & a sunny day was like a fantasy. Too bad it wasn’t with the family I had come to only know for the first thirteen years of my life. The good food my aunt made would fill me up with energy to begin the upcoming dark crusade.
After breakfast, I had told my aunt I’d be heading to visit a friend. While she was in the kitchen cleaning up, I went upstairs to my room to change & had remembered to grab the folder from under my pillow on my way out along with the car keys.
“Be safe please!” She called from the kitchen as I opened the door.
“Be safe”. Saying that alone to someone doesn’t guarantee safety. Even when they try their hardest to do so, they can’t prevent all outside forces from thwarting their safety. In a world like this, nobody could ever be safe.
When I got in the car, I placed the folder in the passenger seat, & then called my friend, Hassan. He didn’t answer, probably was still asleep. I sent him a text to let him know I was on my way.
Hassan had been like an older brother to me. When I became a freshman in high school, he was one of the few seniors that spoke to me & tried befriending me despite knowing why I dreaded even coming to school. He was better than any friend I had always going out of his way to make sure I was okay. He was a good person to the family. My aunt would always welcome him to the house. Her husband was pretty cool with him as he was more in his liking than I way. After he graduated, he later got his own apartment which would be where I’d retreat to & chill. He would also try to ease my mind with some girls but they were too afraid to even speak to me in that type of way. Unless I was just ugly to them. I really didn’t care. I had no trust for a female ever since what had happened my freshman year anyway.
I drove to his house but tucked the folder in the glove compartment in case anyone had decided to snoop around the car while I was inside. I went in & knocked on his apartment door. I heard footsteps coming to the door & heard the locks unlocking to find the door opening with a half naked Hassan in front of me.
Instantly, I knew why he didn’t answer the phone the first time.
“Oh shit, that was you that called?” He asked as if he was surprised
“Yeah….my fault for intruding. I needed to talk about something.” I replied
“Ight come in, haha let me put some shit on.” He walked back to his room.
I closed the door behind me & sat on his couch. I thought about what I would tell him. He’d think I’d sound crazy saying some guy in a trench coat handed me a folder saying it’ll give me answers to who murdered my family. Sounds something straight out of a movie. He’d probably only start believing it if I showed him the folder. I myself hadn’t gone through it enough to know what each & everything in there had meant.
Hassan had finally came out wearing a white T-shirt & grey sweatpants.
“You got another?” I asked already knowing the answer
“Yeah bro, I think she the one forreal.” He said with a chuckle. He looked pretty proud to have smashed this one. “We met at a party a few days back. She a whole ten. Cooks, she a whole freak, took her out to dinner last night, came back to the crib & it was a wrap.”
All of that I did not need to be aware of. He was always quick to believe a good time with a girl meant they’d be the one to make a long-term commitment to. Even I learned thats not always the case. With him being a grown man now, I figured he’d have learned that by now. Guess I was wrong. Meeting a girl at a party & then pushing for more was a fools way of thinking.
I gave a fake smirk to show I was happy for him. “I have to ask something.” I said
“You good? Wassup?”
I took a deep breathe. “If like, you had an opportunity to….fix something you thought you had no control over, would you do it?”
“What you talkin’ bout?”
“Just trying to figure out something.”
He sat not too far from me on the couch.
“The nightmares & all just been coming back.”
“Oh. I see…” The thought of my pain was painful for him to even think about.
I could hear the room to his door opening. The girl was still here. She had went into the bathroom. I just ignored the fact that he still allowed her to stay after their little “fun”.
“Don’t let them drive you into doing something stupid man. You’ve been able to push even through the worst of things. Some don’t even make it this far.” Preaching to me was what made him become the friend he is to me.
His preaching would be no different than from the rest of my family. Always telling me to stay strong, keep pushing & never give up on myself even when the odds seemed all against me. He was the main reason I’ve been able to maintain myself more than I should. And thats pretty sad to admit indicating my family alone couldn’t uplift my spirit no matter how hard they tried. Or maybe it was because I became to distant from them always wanting to be left alone.
“Bro, whatever you thinking, I guarantee its not gonna make anything better.
Getting revenge on who killed my family would make me feel better.
“God gives the toughest battles to his strongest soldiers.”
I had heard that one numerous times. And I grew sick of it. I had done nothing to deserve this gruesome battle going on in my mind.
“I keep tellin ya you should come to the gym with me. Put on them gloves, they help ease the pain. Thats how I could cope with my uncle passing.”
Boxing was Hassan’s gift. Though I’ve never seen him in a fight, I could tell he wasn’t kidding whenever he told me to put he gloves on with him if I ever came. He had the appearance & physique of a fighter.
“I’ve been taking walks….”
“Has that helped?”
I shook my head. “I thought walking off the pain would ease it.”
“You gotta try something new bro. Something that’ll really hit them nervs & get you feeling above the clouds.”
“Like getting high?” Surprisingly enough, he wasn’t a smoker. But I don’t know how he’d think me smoking would help me.
“I mean, they say it relieves stress all the time.”
“It wouldn’t work for me.” I felt like smoking would make me think about everything more rather less. And I definitely didn’t want the stench to hit my aunt’s nose & hear her mouth about the dangers. “I should go, I didn’t mean to interrupt.”
“You sure you gonna be ight mane?”
“Yeah I’ll manage, like I been doing.”
“Just give me a holla if you need anything. Tell ya aunt & uncle I said wassup too.”
I got up & walked to the door.
“Aye.” He called
I turned around.
“I do get what you saying. I would for my uncle man. If I could’ve saved him, I’d have done whatever it took.”
“Right….” I said as I opened the door
“Ight bro be safe & be careful.”
Trying to confide in him hadn’t gone exactly how I imagined. Only because he was trying to keep me in a good direction rather than say the things my inner self been wanting someone to tell me. With school over & life ahead of me, it’s easy to fall if your path is unknown to you. Easy indeed.
Hearing him say that he would’ve done whatever it took meant if he was crazy enough he’d have killed the person that murdered his uncle. But justice was served as the killer was caught & imprisoned. Yet, his justice was done & mine was not.
I went back to my car & just sat in the driver seat. I was about to open the glove compartment for the folder until I felt my phone vibrate. It was Janessa, another person in my small circle of trust.
“Hey is everything okay?” The text read.
I didn’t respond immediately. Made it seem as if I was busy at the moment which I wasn’t. Until I put on my seatbelt & decided to make a surprise visit. I thought maybe it’d be easier to tell her of whats going on in my head.
I knocked on the door. She, unlike Hassan, was living with her parents. But she answered the door.
“You could’ve told me you was on your way.” She said with a smirk
She gave me a hug, I was a little resilient to hug back.
“Whats wrong?” She looked at me while still holding me
“I need to talk about something.”
“Come in.” She stood by the door waiting for me to come in to close it
I walked in waiting for her to close the door.
“Are you hungry? I had just got done making breakfast.” She asked
“I already ate before I left.”
“My mom & dad had just left to go grocery shopping.”
“Grocery shopping”. Both of them together doing it. That was a smack to the face.
I followed her to the living room. The TV was on. When she sat on the couch she grabbed the remote to turn it down.
“You look good.” I said
“Hardly. Heh, I just woke up not too long ago.”
She was always beautiful regardless. A sweet, beautiful & intelligent woman.
I sat next to her. “The nightmares, they’ve been growing more vivid.”
“Whats been going on?”
I took a deep breathe. Telling her about what I discovered would be more comfortable than telling Hassan.
“The other day, there was this…..guy. Wait, you can’t tell anyone about this.”
“A guy? What happened? I wont tell anyone.” She grew worried
“Do you promise?”
“Yes come on, its me.” She gave me a kiss on the lips to remind me.
“This guy….he gave me a folder. Told me it would hold the answers to everything.”
“Who was he? Where’s the folder?”
“Its in the car. I opened it only once but didn’t really look through it to know exactly what things meant. There was a map of Wilmington, red dots in different areas, pictures of people. I don’t know what it means, but I’m afraid to know. The guy wore a black tench coat with a bowler hat, it was a night. Couldn’t see what he looked like, but it was like he was some kind of agent, detective, whatever.”
To her, it didn’t even sound believable. “Are you sure this wasn’t a dream?”
“I’m not making this up.” I had got up & went out to my car to grab the folder & came back to show her. I sat it on the table in front of us.
She opened it quickly. More quicker than I ever would’ve. She scrolled through the papers. Somehow she figured out what all of it was before I did. “This…..this is a hit list!” She exclaimed
“You see, the red dots, the pictures of people, these people are connected to these dots. Like some sored of gang. Why on earth would a random person give you something like this?!”
I had a feeling why. What he said when he handed it was a dead giveaway. I played dumb to her, which I felt I’d regret. “I don’t know.”
There were pictures of people I didn’t recognize.
“Well the guy could’ve been crazy, on drugs, or something to give this mess out to you. Throw it away.”
I didn’t want to. “I will…” I took the folder into the kitchen to throw away. She couldn’t see me. I used that to my advantage to slide the folder in the cabinet. To remember to get when I left.
I walked back to the living room & sat next to her acting as if I really threw it away.
“That isn’t something you should have. It could be something stolen from the police. Something top secret. Let not think about the possibilities. Its over now.”
“What were you doing today?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well we can do something together.”
“Well, they won’t be back for a while….” She leaned over closer to my lips giving me that look. The look only I’d accept from her & no other girl.
I forgot about everything that was on my mind for the rest of the day. Or so I thought. The moment I was leaving I had the remembrance of the folder in the cabinet. It would soon be of an importance to me…