REALLY

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The Heart Crimes

T A Y A :

My head was spinning as Ava’s words and stories wouldn’t leave me be…

“We all know that James Harrison owns half the island. He’s got a monopoly on all the businesses here and Max didn’t like that. James wasn’t even from Hawaii. He moved in here and he started buying out lands, establishing big businesses, and driving out small local shops. Max hated it, especially when Castro’s was starting to get hit,”

’Max had been plotting his schemes to take down James Harrison for as long as I could remember. But James is the most powerful man on the island, there was no way a small-time criminal like Max could get to him. That was until we met Judah,”

“Judah wasn’t interested in working with Max in the beginning, but Max gave him good money and he got access to all the drugs he’d ever want, so finally Judah stuck around. One day, when Judah was so high and drunk, he blurted it out to Max—that he’s actually James Harrison’s illegitimate son,”

“Since then, things started to change. Max had bigger plans for Judah. Max started planning the heist and it was getting serious. Luckily, Judah disappeared. He started going to school. Hanging around with you and your little friends. I thought that it was actually for the best. If he’d stick around, things would only get ugly,”

“But one day, on Christmas Eve, Judah came back. He was in a really bad shape and he was shooting up heroin. He almost OD’d in the bathroom too. Good thing Max found him just in time and he was saved… But after that, Judah decided to finalize their plans. They were looking for the perfect time to strike, and Max said that when the time comes, he will let Judah know,”

“They’ve been waiting for a while. But after the little incident in front of Castro’s a few months ago, Judah left with you and he never came back here. They stopped talking too and I thought that the deal was off. But, today I overheard Max talking and he said that today was the day. They finally got a window of opportunity. I didn’t think that he was serious, or that Judah would actually show up. But he did. He was here for a bit, and then they left. I don’t know where. Or for how long,”

“Did you know? Blake and his friends beat Judah up the day of the play. They told him to stay away from you and from this island, or that Judah’s mom would suffer the consequences,”

“I have a feeling they also got something to do with Jenny being fired from the diner. And they probably made sure that no one in town would hire her either. Judah and his mom are all out of options now,”

“Look, I’m not supposed to be telling you all this, but I just don’t wanna see Judah end up in jail for twenty-five to life, or worse, dead,”

“He won’t listen to me. He won’t listen to anyone. But maybe he’d listen to you. Find a way to contact him and stop him. Please,”

“He deserves better than this,”




It was crazy to think how little you know about the person that you thought you knew best. Throughout the night and all the way until morning time, I went all over town searching for Judah, but he was nowhere to be found.

How could I stop him? I can’t even find him.

All day and all night long, I had been calling him and calling him, but there was no response. His phone was completely off.

I had grown from angry, to mad, to obsessed, and now to worried and scared. I had left him so many messages on his phone, it was getting pathetic. I couldn’t get a wink of sleep throughout the night, and around 6 AM in the morning of the next day, when my eyes were just getting heavy, I heard my phone buzzed.

“Judah?” I said as soon as I picked up the phone. I didn’t even bother checking the screen if it was him or not.

The person on the other line was quiet for a while, but I could almost make out the sound of his breathing. It was him.

“Hey,” he spoke finally. And hearing his voice sent a wave of relief through me. I could finally breathe in peace.

“Hey, where were you? I’ve been looking everywhere for you,”

“Sorry I can’t call earlier, but something urgent came up and I gotta be out of town for a while,”

“What? Where are you right now?”

“I’m at the bus station,” he said simply, pausing for a second before saying, “Blondie, listen to me, I’m gonna be away for a while. There’s something I gotta do. But I’ll be back soon, I promise,”

“Judah, wait,” I cut him off, ”I need to talk to you. It’s important. Can you meet me?”

“I can’t. I’m at a bus station… in Nevada,”

“What?!” my whole body jerked up instantly, “What are you doing in Nevada?”

“I can’t really tell you anything, and I’m not supposed to be calling you either. But I just wanna let you know that I’m okay and I’ll be back soon. So don’t be worried about me, okay? Oh, and please don’t tell anyone about this, especially my mom. But if she asks, just tell her that I’m alright,”

“Judah…” my voice cracked. I didn’t even know how to process everything he was saying, let alone make a coherent sentence.

“What? Is something wrong?”

“I didn’t wanna say this over the phone, but I need to ask you something and you have to be honest with me, okay?” I said, choking back a tear.

“Okay. What’s going on? You’re scaring me,”

“I know… about you. About your dad…”

“What are you talking about?”

“He’s not dead. You lied. He’s alive and his name is James Michael Harrison,” I paused for a beat, waiting for his response. When he said nothing, I decided to continue, “And your name’s Jaden Drew Harrison,”

He was quiet for the longest time. I could only imagine the kind of thoughts that were going through his mind.

“How… did you know all that?” he said finally.

“Judah, why didn’t you tell me?”

“I…”

“Were you just trying to use me? To get back at Blake?”

“What?”

“Tell me, honestly. I won’t hold it against you, I promise,”

“No, Taya. Fuck no,” he spat, “I never wanted to use you for anything. Well, maybe in the beginning, but that was before I remembered who you—”

“Stop,”

“Taya,”

“Why did you lie?”

“I didn’t lie. That guys is dead to me,”

“Judah,” I groaned in frustration, “Maybe you didn’t lie, but you’re not telling me the truth either. Why were you hiding this from me?”

“I… I don’t know, I just wanted to… protect you,”

“Protect me from what? You think I can’t handle it? Because I’m not as strong as Ava?”

“What? No! Where the hell’s that coming from?“

“Just answer me this: do you really love me?”

“Of course I do, do you even have to ask?”

“Really?”

“On my life, I swear it,”

“Then I want you to do one thing for me,”

“What is it? Anything,”

“Come home. Max called you up and you’re suddenly in Nevada, you and him are up to something, right? Please, don’t go through with the deal with Max,”

“Shit,” he spat, “It was Ava, wasn’t it? She told you all this? That fucking—“

“Are you listening to me, Judah? If you really love me, don’t do it,”

“Taya—“

“Promise me,”

“It’s not that simple—“

“Promise me. Then I’ll know if you really love me,”

“Look, it’s not that I don’t wanna promise you this but I’m not gonna lie to your face. I have to go do this thing, alright? It’s something that I gotta do, as a man. I hope you understand that,”

“No, Judah, I don’t understand! Please, just come home to me,”

“I… can’t,” he breathed, and my heart sank at his response.

“Judah, I know how you must feel… but this is not the way to do it,”

“You don’t know how I feel, Blondie. No one does. You don’t know what it’s like to be unwanted. To be told you’re worthless and that you’re a mistake,”

“Judah, please, you’re not all of those things,”

“I know I got a lot of explaining to do, and I will do it. But I just don’t have the time right now. I know after everything I’ve done, I don’t deserve to ask you for this, but I’m asking you anyway,” he swallowed hard before he said, “Blondie, do you trust me?”

“Judah—“

“If everything works out, I’m gonna be able to fix everything. We’re gonna go to California together. Okay?”

“But—“

“Say you trust me,”

“Wait a second—“

“Shit, I gotta go now. But I will be back. I can promise you that,”

“Judah, if you leave right now, I don’t—“

“Have some faith in me,”

“Judah, wait—”

And the line went dead, just like that.

That was all that I could get from him.

And for the next several hours and several days, I spent all my time calling and looking for him. Praying, waiting, and wishing that he would be back in my arms.

Day in and day out.

And yet, he never came home.




J U D A H :

I didn’t remember much about my childhood.

The memories came in and out. Sometimes they came in flashes when I least expected it. Sometimes they came to me in dreams. Some were really nice dreams. While others were what you call a nightmare.

I remembered this one time when I was little, my mom and I lived in a small house near the beach. I remembered hearing the sound of waves in the morning, and the smell of the ocean was so thick.

“Daddy, look what I made,”

I was five years old. I just finished building my first Lego bat-mobile and I couldn’t be more proud. I was running around the house in excitement, couldn’t wait to show it off.

“That’s great, son,” dad said with his back turned to me.

He was hunched over a working table, drawing and scribbling down a bunch of writings on a large piece of paper. I stole a peek and I noticed that he was drawing something that looked like a house.

“Jaden, come here, daddy’s trying to work,” mom said as she picked me up and carried me with ease. I was small for a five-year-old boy. Skinny and little.

“What’s daddy doing, ma?” I said to her as she cocked her head to the side, smiling as she watched daddy from the back.

“Daddy’s gonna build us a mansion,”


“Why’s daddy leaving again?”

I was six years old. We had moved to a nicer house, but it wasn’t the mansion that daddy had planned. It was an apartment building, and we lived in one of the highest floor.

“Daddy’s got work to do, son,” he said simply as he continued piling his clothes into his duffel bag.

“No, don’t leave! You promised you’d play with me!” I was being bratty. I took his neatly-folded clothes from the duffel bag and threw them back into the closet.

“Jaden!”he scolded. His sharp and firm voice got me shaking in my boots.

“Baby, that’s not nice,” mom added, but her voice was still soft and gentle.

“I’m sorry,” I said lowly as mom bent down to pick up the clothes that were on the floor.

“When will you be back?” I turned to dad, who had moved on to his tie drawer.

“Next week, for two days, and then daddy’s gotta leave again,”

I never understood why he had to leave so often. He always said it was for business. Mom said that it was so he could put a roof over our heads and food on the table. But we had food and a roof, yet we never seemed to have him.

“Don’t worry, daddy will have plenty of time to play with you when he gets back,” mom cooed me as she probably knew what I was thinking.


I was seven years old, and I witnessed my parents’ first big fight. Dad was rarely at home, so whenever he was, they wouldn’t normally fight with each other. But this time, it was different.

He hadn’t been home in a while. Months. Mom was getting anxious because she couldn’t reach him. When he finally came home, all they did was argue all day. They sent me to my room and told me to stay there.

But curiosity got the best of me. And I also missed my dad. So I climbed down the bed and creaked the door open, trying to listen to what they were saying.

“You’re still married!” Mom shouted at dad. She never shouted like that before.

“Jenn, I can explain—”

“You lied to me, James!”

“Look, I gave you a life. A better life!”

“I don’t want a better life if it’s all built on a lie!”she slumped down on the floor, her hands covering her face as she started sobbing,“I just want you,”


It was a few days before my eighth birthday. I was feeling pretty excited. Mom gave me ten dollars to spend and I was thinking of buying something nice for my pretty friend at school. I figured she would like chocolate. Her eyes were that color.

I was just getting ready for school, putting my lunch box on the front side of my backpack so I could take them out easily when the bullies ask for it. But suddenly, there was a loud knock on the door. Mom went to answer it, and there was this lady there. She was standing in front of our house and yelling at my mom. A little boy and a little girl were standing behind her. They were all quiet as the lady did all the talking.

“So, you’re the whore that’s been screwing my husband! Have you no shame? If you still have a shred of dignity left, you would’ve left this island and left my family alone, you dirty slut!”

She was making mommy upset with all this yelling. So I got up and went to the door.

“Don’t call my mommy that, you bully!”I was standing up for my mom. I thought that was what I needed to do to bullies.

“Jaden, no, go inside,” mom scolded me instead.

“You filthy little abomination! How dare you!” the lady yelled at me too.

“Please, everyone, just stop. It was a mistake. It was my mistake, I’m sorry,” suddenly I heard daddy’s voice.

He appeared on the doorway, an uneasy look on his face. I was glad to see him. I hadn’t seen him in weeks, or a month maybe. I thought he was coming over to spend my birthday with me.

“Daddy!” I wanted to run to him, but mom was holding onto my hand.

“Don’t call him that!”the lady spat.

Why not? He’s my dad.

“You’ve said what you needed to say. Let’s just leave,” daddy said to the lady. I was looking at him, trying to get his attention, but he was ignoring me.

The lady finally turned around and went to her car. The two kids followed behind her. Dad gave my mom and I one last look before he turned around and followed her to the car.

He didn’t even wish me a happy birthday.


“Where are we going, ma?”

“We’re leaving. We’re gonna stay with your grandma for a while,”

Mom had been crying all day today. I didn’t go to school. I thought I should be with her and keep her company. She was on the phone for the longest time with grandma. And after she got off the phone, she started packing all our stuff into suitcases.

“But what about daddy?”

“He’s not coming with us,”

“Why? Where’s he going?”

“He left us, baby. I’m so sorry,”she was about to cry again. I probably shouldn’t be asking her too many questions as it was making her upset, but I just didn’t understand what was happening.

“Did I do something wrong?”

Was it because I was impolite this morning? Was it because I nagged him too much when he was working? Was it because I wasn’t a good enough soccer player?

“No baby, it’s all my fault, I should’ve known better,” mom was crying again, and it was probably my fault for pressing too much.

“But… Why…”


I never thought I would find myself in this position. For the longest time I was playing the damn victim. The weak little boy whose daddy left him. The weak little man who was too helpless to know how to help his poor mom. I was a prisoner of my mind’s own design.

But once I grew older, I came to know what power was. It wasn’t always the strongest person that wins the fight. Sometimes it was the person who was most desperate who wins the fight.

And I was desperate as hell. Been that way since the day he fucking left.

Today, I finally got a fighting chance to do something about the situation I was in. Making my way through the sleek interior of the hotel lobby, I slipped past the row of people lining up by the concierge, and made my way to the elevator. I pushed the penthouse button and it dinged, sending excitement through my bloodstream.

Oh hell yeah, I was excited. I wasn’t scared or nervous, no, not in the slightest. I had been waiting for this day since forever. Deep inside my jeans’ pocket, I was holding onto the gun that Max had given me. I felt brave. There was so much power in me, just waiting to be released.

Why be a victim when you can be the one to swing the sword?

As I was waiting for the elevator to take me up, I pulled the gun out of my pocket slightly, just to make sure that everything was good. And that was when I noticed the little Band-Aid rolled around my finger.

“There, all better,” she said as she kissed my finger.

My teeth gritted involuntarily as I was reminded of her. Thinking back, I was only sorry that Blondie had to be caught up in the middle of all this mess. Maybe she wouldn’t forgive me after this. I put her through too much. Maybe in another lifetime, things would be different... simpler… better.

Not in this one, unfortunately. Our story wasn’t much of a fairytale. In fact, it was a pretty sucky story. The only good thing about it was that it was about to be over, soon.

It was time to end it all. Happy fucking ending.

The elevator door opened with a ding and I stepped right out. A long dark desk stood in front of me and the man behind it lifted his gaze up to meet mine.

“Jaden?”

“Hello, father,”


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