00 - Prologue - Emerson Bennett's Point Of View.
Pulling the cap off my shot, I took a breath before checking to make sure the needle was bevel up. I stuck it into my leg, Slowly pushing what seemed like my only reason to live directly into my muscle. You would think after almost three years I would have gotten used to the feeling, but for me, it was something I still hadn’t. It was the after-effects that out weighted the fear and momentary pain of the shot.
After the needle was removed, I cleaned and covered the spot with a small round bandaid. This part of my life had become a ritual for me.
People tend to say life gets better after high school, but that has to be the blandest lie told to teenagers. Here I was at nineteen, still carrying all the same problems I had in high school, right down to the same stupid fucking bullies.
Dressing for work it would be the same shit all over again. I would work my nine to two shifts at the local bookstore and they would find me and make my walk home complete hell.
“Mom I’m off to work.”
“Ok my son, please be safe Em, The world is not a safe place for you.”
“I love you and I'll see you around three.”
Mom was right, the world was a horrible place to survive as a transgender person. There were plenty of people who saw my change as just becoming the person I was meant to be and then there were those who saw it as a vile and disgusting attack on their god. As they say, one bad apple ruins the bunch, and that was true in the case of my personal bullies. Tanner, Kyler and Jett had all once been my friends and were super supportive until Beckham came along in the tenth grade. Beckham hated me because I was a vile and disgusting human in his eyes, he took every chance to make sure I knew it as well.
The bookstore was quiet as I entered. I nodded to my coworker Emily and went to the back to drop my bag and stuff in my locker. The store was empty when I got back up front. Emily reading something on her phone.
“Hey Emerson, Did the read or even see the news this morning?”
“No, did something interesting happen?”
“Yeah, I mean kind of.”
Taking her phone from her the title of the news article didn’t surprise me it was normal around here. We always had shit like this happening.
Fifteen bodies found at the bottom of the lake.
That was Mafia-related no doubt about it. You see our small town was the perfect hiding place for a mafia family and we all knew who they were and where they lived. We never once caused problems for them, this incident much like the others would be found accidental or they would pin it on someone who might have had a smaller offence for DUI’s or Domestic Violence. The Police didn’t even bother with them, either if they weren’t being paid by the mafia they were getting some kind of benefits from them. Hush money, because silence lined the pockets of the cops in Lake-Haven.
The store wasn’t normally this quiet but that was fine with us. It was a rainy Monday, Emily and I really didn’t feel like doing any actual work. All we really did all day was put the new orders of recently released books on the shelves and talk. This had honestly been the most id ever talked to since she was normally quiet and reserved. By the time two came around both Emily and I was so relieved to be able to go home and do something less boring. Knowing that she was going to lock up meant I could leave first. Glancing at my watch I knew I only had about four minutes before the very reason I wanted to disappear came to cause problems. Beckham and his band of morons always came for me at exactly five after two.
This had just become my new normal and I used to it. Usually, they just shoved and pushed me around but when Beckham grabbed the back of my sweater and pulled me towards the forest I really started to rethink my life choices of how I had got here. Drawing a blank at what I had done to make him hate me this much I just went along with it.
“So you want to be a boy huh?”
I didn’t need to say anything, he would continue without a word from me.
“Then you can take your beating like a real man.”
They kicked and shoved me, Jett kicked me in the ribs knocking the air out of me and making me gasp in pain. Beckham had Kyler and Jett hold me up well he punched me in the face a few times. This was all so new.
“Beckham stop this is enough! don’t kill him!”
“Tanner shut the fuck up.”
They stopped the fight and hit each other. It was enough for me to take off running from them. My ribs ached as I ran through the forest. I saw the trespassing signs but that didn’t stop me, I was too frightened to die, to stop for a piece of paper. If I stopped they were going to kill me for sure.
Once I made sure I was well enough away from the idiots trying to kill me I crouched down against a large tree and tried to gauge how bad I was hurt, I didn’t even have my bag anymore so I couldn’t even call for help. Lifting up my shirt my ribs were already bruised and breathing was a real test of how much I really wanted to live. Everything was aching and I wasn’t even sure now that I had sat down that I could get back up. I closed my eyes just to rest for a moment.
Sticks snapped around me waking me up as fear flood my blood, They had found me and were going to finish me off. Instead of Beckham and the idiots that tried to end me, I was looking up at the face of Maddox Vincent, The current Don of the mafia in our town.
“You’re on private property. Though I’m pretty sure I don’t need to tell you that. I have hundreds of signs posted.”
Fear was the only thing that was present as he spoke to me. I was going to die now, so what one had been the lesser of two evils. I couldn’t tell you what it was that made me ask him but I did.
“Please help me.”