Innocent Ties (Story – Part 1)

29 Jun

 A car came to a dramatic halt at Wesley Lane. The neighbors ran to their doors and windows to witness the event. The otherwise silent road was graced by the unpleasant surprise of the Police Van.

A tall man came up to the front door of Ms. Pearson the School Teacher as she was better known. She was the only one who was oblivious to the noise outside. The policeman rang the door bell. She came out in her peach dress adorned with an apron, obviously the reason why she was missing out all the hysteria on Wesley Lane. The policeman removed his cap as he saw her and refused to meet her eye. She did not know what to expect, just that she starred straight at the policeman who was standing at her doorstep.

              Kevin was 7 years old when he had to move out from his fancy home in the upbeat area to what they call “middle class” apartment home. He hated everything about it. The people, the school down the road and most of all Lieutenant Martin. He always came over to say hello to Mama and he never had an agenda. Most of all he hated his shinning uniform, which was at the center for most conversations that followed. He observed Martin’s every move and realized just how much respect his army uniform had to a civil eye. At that moment he told himself, I am going to walk down these streets someday, in that shinny uniform, just like Martin. Why he hated Martin was known to no one but him. His mother had just gone through a bitter divorce. His father had left them to poverty and ran away with a younger and more hip girl, as he had overheard Uncle Tom say. Kevin had been through his share of unhappiness and misfortune but that day he found all the answers to his misery in that one uniform.

Ms. Pears0n looked longingly at the policeman, begging him to speak, to say something. Finally he looked up and said, “I am Sorry”. Ms. Pearson had dreaded this day for the last 10 years. I think she practically was preparing herself to face this day for the last 10 years but yet she did not know how to handle it gracefully. She stood there with tears in her eyes.

            Kevin worked hard, harder than most children needed to. His mother had to work extra hours, wait on tables’ along with her steady job. Every weekend Kevin would work at Mc Donalds and save every penny to get him through high school. And when Kevin’s dream finally realized, his mother stood there staring at his reflection in the mirror. “Son you look handsome. Go begin your life. God be with you.”

Darkness started to draw near on Wesley Lane as if to mark the occasion. The neighbors looked around amused and amazed, wondering what was the reason for the commotion. Ms. Wright, the Gossiper, as she was known, was the first to go to the van. She approached carefully, not knowing what to expect. She tapped the shoulders of a guy standing close to the van. The man in the uniform looked down at her annoyed. She quickly drew back a few steps and looked at him. She said, “Is there anything wrong Officer? Is it about that mysterious boy she called her son?” The Officer without meaning to be offensive said, “I am sorry maam I can’t say anything.” She did not drop it; she was not given the title for nothing. She persuaded further saying, “Look Officer I have known Mary for a long time now and I can help you if you need any information. I know a lot that goes around here”. He gave her a sharp look, indicating that he may loose his courtesy if she continues any further. She took her cue and walked on mumbling words that made little sense. The Officer next to the van looked impatiently at the Policeman at the door. He could not understand what’s taking so long. He slowly went to the back of the van and pulled out a wooden box.

          Kevin never looked back. His days of misery were over. He had earned for himself the honor and dignity that evaded him all these years. He had left his small town behind for good. Now all he had to do was get his most precious possession out of there- his mother. His trail of thoughts was broken by his commanding officer, “Kevin, General Marty wants to see you.” Kevin walks in with a stoned face. His hatred has increased over the years and here they are in the same room. “I need you to work on a secret project, it is called, “Disappearance”. Kevin looked at him dumbstruck. He was in an Army not Junior High. He checked if he heard him correctly. Martin just smiled and continued.

The policeman picked up the box and walked towards the door. He had witnessed this for years now and had almost got immune to these tasks, however, this was different -an incident that will mark this day forever in the history of Wesley Lane.  He quietly handed the wooden box to the policeman and stepped aside. He knew right then this was not going to be easy, it was going to be a long day. He glanced quickly at the lady in the peach dress and nothing made sense to him.

       He patiently heard Martin out. The thing with working in an Army is that you don’t have an option to say no. You just stand up and say Yes Sir. And that’s exactly what Kevin did. For hours he paced his room. He did not understand the case. In the last 6 years he had worked on several cases but not one of them was as complicated as this one. Kevin switched on his laptop and typed the words in Google search bar “Wesley Lane”.

Only half an hour had passed since the door bell rang but for her it was a lifetime gone by. She realized the intensity of the situation, wiped her tears and gestured the policeman and the officer to come in. They placed the wooden box on the table. She ran her fingers along the top of the box as if to ensure that all that was happening was real and that someone would jolt her out of her day dream. She opened the box slowly as if not knowing what to expect. Her eyes immediately saw the familiar photo frame. That was the only happy day in Chris’s life. She knew why he treasured it so much. This was his last moment captured with his whole family intact, before his father was killed. JC as he was known in his fraternity- the Deadly Avengers, was also lovingly called Papa Pear, after the Goldilocks and the three bears story. Chris loved the story and would ask JC to read it each night until he fell of to sleep and he said turning to JC with the innocence of a 3 year old,  “this day onwards I will call you Papa Pear”. Chris had trouble pronouncing B and that day onwards he always called JC that even when he learnt how to say Bear clearly. Chris was very fond of JC and always aspired to be like him and true enough he did turn out to be like him. JC and Mary had met in a youth camp in the outskirts of the city. JC immediately took to Mary’s innocence and childlikeness. He was all of 21 years old, and she was barely 18years old. But it was true love what could you do. They were young and times were different. JC played in a band and he was a heartthrob. She was a simple town girl. Their initial years were hard and JC was struggling to make it big and true enough he did make it large. He was signed by the most famous record company and it was only good times from here on. They moved into a better home and soon enough moved to the much talked about – “Wesley Lane” .

             Kevin had enough information on his target; he just did not know why was he, the target. Marty had given his orders and like always went hiding. It was now Kevin’s deal. He had to unwind he was locked in his room for the last 3 days. He picked up his car keys and went to the local bar downtown. Kevin sat at the bar with his scotch neat up and was staring into space when a man in his late 30’s came and took the empty seat next to him. He ordered the same drink as Kevin. He looked at his demeanor and knew at once that he was man of dignity and honor. He smiled to himself and held up his hands and said, “Hi I am Chris.”

Kevin went back to his room feeling relieved and happy. It’s what alcohol and good company does to you, always has a way of making you feel better than you feel when you sober. The morning brightness streaming through the window made his hangover appear. Kevin got up and went to the kitchen to brew a cup of coffee; his eyes went to a paper on the fax machine. He almost sleep walked to it and picked up the paper. There- his target had a face. Kevin looked like he had seen a ghost.

Chris was known for his extravagant lifestyle and hence his poor mother barely met him and rarely expected him to be alive if she did not hear him in less than 3 months. But Chris had a great heart no matter how people perceived him. He would always come home for Mrs. Pearson’s birthday and for Christmas. He always loved Christmas. The officer looked at Mrs. Pearson and said, “We are sorry for your loss. I know it’s hard for you but we found his body in the alley and know that it was a gang war and he was unfortunately caught in the middle. We pray to God to give you the grace to deal with your loss.” His mother looked at the officer in disbelief. The words came out as rehearsed and she did not care for their sympathy, she knew better that Chris could never be in the middle of anything. He was trapped and murdered deliberately, not in a gang war. She remained silent. She knew up against what forces her son was.

Chris was out to get justice for his father’s death from the Deadly Avengers. JC had a great business proposition. He was a man of values and morals and would never do anything unethical but the group was bought over by a rival record company and they were out to sell themselves to the show biz. JC made music for the pleasure and serenity of it. He liked making music that was close to his heart that people could relate to. But music industry was the next big thing after Hollywood and JC had no chance. JC stood for what is right and stayed away from the group but they needed JC, he was the lyricists, the guitarist and the manager, the record company would not sign them on without JC. One afternoon, Mary still recalls, she got her most dreadful phone call. The voice on the other end said,” We have your son and if you want to see him alive tell JC to meet us at the St. John’s Church. We will be there. She ran up to the room and broke the news to JC. He knew immediately who they were. At the said time he drove down to the church. Even at night the church was lit up and looked pretty. He moved in slowly. He saw his team mates stand there with a gun pointed at this 7 year old blindfolded son. JC observed and realized how brave his son and he was proud of him. He came closer and said, “Do not harm him it’s me you want”. One of his teammates was so drunk that he was babbling on about shooting the kid if he did not agree. JC tried to calm him down when he saw his hand at the trigger and tried to reach out and safely pull the gun out of his hand. In frantic the guy pulled the trigger and the bullet went straight through JC’s heart. They ran away and JC lay there dead. Chris stood there still blindfolded calling out, “Dad, DAD are you there? Papa Pear. Please answer me. Are you there?” He then realized the silence and tried opening his blindfold. The sudden light almost blinded him and he took a while before he could stare into the darkness. He saw his father lie on the ground filled in his own blood. He just drew near him and held his hand and sat there crying silently until the morning sun rose mockingly to mark his days of darkness.

Kevin sat up in his bed, wide awake- ‘It can’t be him’, Kevin thought to himself. No it just can’t. Chris was the nicest guy he had ever met. They spoke about life, work and most importantly families. Which guy talks about families if he was a gangster? This had to be a mistake. Kevin went again to the bar hoping he will bump into him again and maybe he can examine him closer, but Chris did not come, not just today but for three consecutive days thereafter. Kevin gave up and realized maybe Chris was tipped off about him. Kevin started thinking, why was this a secret mission. Why wasn’t the team involved? Kevin had too many questions but none of them would have a relevant answer from Marty so he dropped them and started his investigation.

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