Good night Charlie
“Were here!” Lily shook me awake, “we have to get off now, the bus is gonna keep going if you don’t wake up.” I sat up with a jolt of energy, and moaned as Lily pushed me out.
“Come on ya big baby, I don’t need to carry two out off this bus.”
As we stepped down on the pavement, a cool breeze rustled my hair in the wind. The store clerk was right, the view of mountains escaped the horizon, and tall trees hung lush branches full of life and green. A beach centered the space out with crashing waves, houses lined the edges of town in the middle lined stores, restaurants, and a giant open school full of children at play.
A grin traced my face when I saw the for sale sign out front the house closest to the beach with a forest of green out back. Lily and I smiled at one another. It was perfect.
Inside the open house not many people much to our surprise showed up. A little old lady turned the corner then jumped back at the sight of us.
“Sorry to frighten you.”
I jumped a little too at the reaction, and Lily jumped at mine.
“Were here about the house,”
“It’s okay mama,” a tall man stepped around the corner. Shuffling behind him hid the lady. “Sorry about my mother, she’s a bit out of sorts lately.” The man had beautiful blue eyes you could drown in, and an unforgettable accent, unique like a mysterious old book hidden in the back of a library for hundreds of years. Truly authentic pages of crippled stain that created the sense of maturity. His perfectly curved up hair denied the laws of nature as it stood flawlessly fighting against the breeze.
In a daze, Lily kicked my ankle.
“Ouch!” I bent down grabbing my throbbing foot. “What was that for?”
“About the house, is it still for sale?” Lily cut me off, I realized I had been staring at him for minutes without blinking an eye. I looked cautiously at his awkward stance.
“Yes, actually you are the first people to ask about it. How soon can you move in?”
“As soon as possible.” Lily straightened her posture and acted all professional. “Name your price.”
“20,000, complete trade now, full and clear. I don’t want any messy arrangement, it was mine, now it’s yours, that sort of thing.”
When they shook hands, Lily looked at me expectantly. I rolled my eyes and mumbled as I reached into my pocket, I dug for 20,000 and pulled it out. Now the wad of cash lay in Lily’s hands, but before forking it over she snapped it back.
“Why do you want to leave here in such a rush?” Lily teased, flashing the money in his face.
“It’s not mine, the place is my mother’s, she’s mentally unable to stay on her own. So I have no choice but to sell the house, and move her to the home. Can I see the money?” The man’s eyes never left the cash.
“I want it in writing first, it’s good and ours, no strings attached over the counter.” I looked out the window at the turn key moving van, full. The man tossed a key at Lily.
“It’s the only one, enjoy.” The arrangement was quick and simple, extremely unusual, especially in a town like this. I watched the man jump into his vehicle as the van screeched out of the driveway.
“That was weird,” I stepped forward into the front entrance. Lily was shoulder high and proud, I thought she was frozen before I stepped on a creaky board. It somehow set her off as she squealed jumping up and down.
“I did it!” Lily wasn’t at all suspicious of the man anymore. She was filled with joy, it was the first time I had seen her with a twinkle in her eye, and a smile that big on her face. I wiped away the tear that had sprouted in the ducts of my eyes before she could see. I saw my sister, her face, the smile, the laugh. I saw her through all the makeup and the heartache. I saw Lily, the Lily I held as a baby, now bouncing around with her toddler as I did with her.
“So what do we do now?” I looked down the hall,
“I’m going to the beach,” she looked to Harmony and bounced as she spoke in a baby voice. “Do you wanna go to the beach?” Harmony clapped laughing with a cute little smile on her face.
“Yeah!” she screeched
“Okay I’ll go make a quick stop at the store for beach stuff, you need anything?” Lily put Harmony on the ground then took a hold of her hand.
“I’ll be fine, thanks.”
“Okay,” Lily shrugged then walked out the door.
I walked around the house, a patio door, curtains blew in the breeze. It was a regular beach house, the furniture remained from the previous owner. I needed a place, a place where I could store the millions of dollars I had filling my pockets. It had to be safe from prying eyes, or burglars. Turning every corner there was nothing out of the ordinary about this house, except maybe the previous owners.
I traced my steps back to the living room, and decided to stuff it in a throw pillow on the sofa. Just until a better place came to mind.
I looked out the window at Harmony, who played happily in the sand. As Lily laid on a towel, bathing in the sun in her new swimsuit.
I smirked at the sight, for a moment I thought about joining my niece and sister. When a knock at the door lead me to a pause. It was the first day, scratch that, the first hour of our residence in this house. We didn’t know anyone, and noone knew us.
I tiptoed to the front door, and glared out the peephole before opening it. A man in a black mask stood pointing a gun at the door.
A shiver caused my pulse to quicken, and my breath to slow down completely. Another three bangs on the door, and a deep voice.
“Open up sleaze, we know you’re in there. Open up or were shooting the door down.”
I hesitantly opened the door a crack, and the men pushed it open the rest of the way. Backing me into the wall.
“Where is he? Tell me, now.” The man holding me against the wall pushed hard against my chest.
“The man who lived here before me...” I coughed, “he he moved out. He sold..”
The man cut me off tell me “Where is he?” One of the other hooligans who broke interrupted the one holding me.
“We searched everywhere, he’s not here.”
“You searched everywhere?” Thinking of the pillow full of money. I blurted the words faster than I could think things through.
Both men stared at me,
“so you do know where the sleaze is.”
I answered with a few stuttering I’s, but as he pushed harder on my chest all I could feel was dazed. All of a sudden the man let go. I tumbled to the floor, coughing and wheezing.
“Look girl, we didn’t come here to hurt you. We came here for the sleaze, and that’s it. So you can make the choice, it’s either you or him. And we want him and or his whereabouts by tonight. Or else!”
The man kneeled to my level, and stroked my cheek. “See ya tonight sweetheart.”
I pulled away, but by the time I gathered my thoughts, he and the others had already left.
I stood slowly, using the couch to steady my balance ,and looked out the window.
Tonight huh? I thought to myself, looking at Lily and Harmony. Both of them blissfully clueless. Then I guess we’ll be ready.
“We have to call the cops!”
Lily paced the floor in an angered whisper.
“We can’t,” I laid on the couch, holding an ice pack to my bruised ribs.
“Oh yeah, and why can’t we?”
“Because, he could find you. Well one of his gang members at least. Or have you already forgotten our dear friend Jason.”
“Well I can’t just endanger you and my daughter. There has to be some other way we can deal with this.”
“There is.” I jumped up nearly screaming. “I told you, my plan.” Lily glared at me with disgust,
“you are not killing, not anymore.”
“Why not?” I tilted my head infuriated.
“Well for one, I don’t want you turning out like Jason. You know he wasn’t always like that. He was sweet, and funny. He brought me flowers every occasion he concocted in his mind. First kiss, first dance, first laugh, first date. Everything he could think of as an excuse to get close to me.”
“What happened?” I leaned in closer, listening intently, curiously. Lily sighed,
“he killed a man who tried to steal from me. He beat him to death, and eventually the guilt he had been growing got the best of him. He became abusive, and we were neglected. He would leave for days at a time to go get high, then coming back to take out all his rage on us. You see, you already killed someone, and for a good reason, but Jason did it for a good reason too. And he told himself that everyday until one day, he stopped believing it was true. Now can we go for a walk or something and talk about this? I don’t want you waking Harmony with your loudmouth.”
Not thinking about the fact that it was getting late, I agreed. We walked out of the house and up the street.
As we walked, the sound of crickets, and crashing waves made the night come alive. The millions of stars pierced the sky, a night light you could never be put out.
Meanwhile, hidden in the bushes at the house sat the masked men.
When they saw Lily and Amelia leaving, they got right to work. First they lined the house with explosives, and then they poured kerosene on the exterior.
“Are you sure about this boss?” One of the men suggested. “We could just go kill the girl.”
“Killing her will accomplish nothing, we need sleazy, so we need to send a message. We need to let them know that we are willing destroy all they have to get him back.”
“But boss, what if he’s in the house?”
“Well, the man replied glaring at the darkness. Then that would be a bonus, don’t you think?” With an evil smirk on their faces.
Another man who was finished dumping his last bucket of kerosene, tossed the boss a lighter.
“Would you like to do the honours?”
“Gladly,” he chuckled.
When the dynamite was lit, everyone took cover. As the flames lit up the night, ashes blackened the criminals sinister expressions.
“Now what?” One man asked.
“Have patients,” replied the boss. “Now we have patients, because when they return, they need to know why. And they need to know that we will only stop this madness, when sleazy is handed to us on a silver platter. Then my young apprentices, then we will have a feast. With the main course, a head. A head of the man who dares to steal from us.”
Lily ran to the house when she saw the flames.
“Harmony!” She screamed, she screamed like she was being skinned alive.
“Harmony no!” By then, news vans, and fire trucks. Along with ambulances, and police vehicles lined the property, into the street.
“Baby no!” She cut through all the cars, and pedestrians who stopped to stare at the new found disaster. But when she got to the front door, two policemen stopped her from entering.
“Didn’t you see the police tape girl? You’re not supposed to be in here.”
“My baby is in there. She was sleeping, we went for a walk.” Lily resisted the man’s grasp on her. Pulling with all force to go inside.
“Let me go, I need to get her. I need to hold her.”
I couldn’t look, it was to much. My life was too much to handle. Everything was all wrong. As I watched the wreckage from a distance, I felt the tears run down my face. I was in a state of shock yet my knees grew weak. I nearly fell to the ground in agony. “Why me?”
The shadowed figure in the bushes that I didn’t notice caught my eye. He revealed himself with a mask, the same mask I had seen today. The last time I saw it was when it was breathing so close, so close that I could feel the warmth on my neck.
“You I was ready to kill you when you merely threatened me. Imagine what I’m going to do to you now.”
“Oh you’ll get over it, it’s just a house.”
“My niece, was asleep, in that house. A helpless, blameless little two year old girl. And you’ve probably just killed her. You’re a monster.”
My breath became short and broken into chunks, as I tried to spit the words out. He stumbled over his feet, and looked at the house. His sly smirk wiped from his cheeks.
“Are you telling the truth?”
I lowered my eyebrows, and gave him the worst look I could possibly make.
“Well I’m not lying.”
He ran like a coward into the night, never to be seen again. But instead of doing the logical thing in screaming or chasing him, I collapsed in a puddle of my own tears on the cold hard ground.
“Oh mommy.” I said through the tears, “I’m sorry another of our family has died, I’m so sorry.”
At the funeral, I couldn’t cry. I wanted to show emotion, but I was so sick of crying. It was the only thing in my life that was beginning to comfort me. Being so familiar with the flavour of a salty, pure tear falling onto my tongue was getting all too real for me. So I just comforted Lily, who unlike me couldn’t stop sobbing.
It was the opposite, now instead of burying a mother, we were burying a daughter. But instead of police and convictions, it was a coffin and a family dressed in black. Standing over the smallest coffin you’d ever seen. Lily wanted Harmony to be buried at the last place she felt at home. So we brought her body, or the remains at least back to the small town that we were both all too familiar with.
After the service, while Lily rested her head on the now implanted tombstone. I started to walk.
I didn’t know where I was headed, only a strong feeling. A pull that guided me.
When I spotted the source of my wonderings, I stopped dead in my tracks. It was the locket, the golden chained, heart shaped locket. It rested in the loop of a gravestone, that sat peacefully on the grass. I witnessed the plate on the stone, it read John Doe. Beside the stone was a memorial piece, a plaque that read the description of the unknown Doe, whom was buried at this location.
Male approximately “5 feet, 9 inches.” Estimated to be in his early 20’s, late teens. Brown hair, blue eyes. Cause of death, heart failure and lack of nutrition. Most likely homicide. Found at crime scene, locked in cellar of abandoned shack.
I didn’t need to read more to know who was 6 feet below me at that moment.
“Charlie,” I whispered softly.
I traced the lettering with my fingers, then pulled out a piece of paper, and pen that I left in my pocket.
I wrote his full name, then at the bottom of the page I wrote loving brother and son. After I stuck the page to the plaque, I kissed my three fingers and laid them on his grave. I hung the necklace on the side of the stone, and opened the locket.
“Good night Charlie.”
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