I turned to my left. There he was, standing, lurking at me with a gaze of sheer inclination in his eyes. Dressed in a plaid flannel and jeans, it was the same man who had been pursuing me all day while I made my newspaper route. I rounded the corner on 10th street and headed for home on 13th. As I noticed him start to approach me, my suspicion arose. A slow pace turned into a steady jog. The sweat dripped like sap from the forehead and I turned around slightly to find him within five feet of me. In that moment as I turned around, my whole body slowed down. It was like a bad nightmare when the monster is chasing you but you can’t run. My legs started to fall out from under me like wet noodles.
The cracked concrete descended beneath my feet and I plunged forward face first onto the ground. Before I knew it, I was being scooped up and carried away by the mystery man. It all happened so fast. From what I can remember I was in the arms of a stranger as he ran with me towards the backstreet away apartment. He said, “You’re coming with me.” I let out a blood-curdling scream, but his cold hand muted it. I felt the clammy skin touch my lips; it chilled me to the core. The next thing I knew I was being thrown into the back of a car. It drove away into the distance with myself, 11-year-old Brayden Vagabond, in the pitch-black trunk.
Six hours earlier, my alarm went off with the ear piecing set of monotonous beeps. I slowly made my way out of my bed and tip toed to the bathroom, watching my every step to avoid being impaled with a nail sticking out of the floorboards. The shoebox apartment where my mother and me lived is what would be considered unsuitable for living, but for me, it was just fine. She worked multiple odd jobs just to get provisions on the table. Being a single Mom was already enough of a struggle, so me complaining about our living conditions was the last thing she needed. She never really talked about what happened to my father. It was always dismissed as a ‘tragic accident’, but I would have been too young to remember anyways. When I got to the kitchen, I saw her clipping coupons out of the Chicago Times.
“Good morning, sunshine. Happy Saturday!”
I walked over and gave her a hug. We were very close, my mother and I.
“You don’t have to start your route till 7, how about some breakfast?” she said.
I nodded. She pulled out the stale frosted flakes from the cabinet and poured them into a bowl. As I ate, we discussed our plans to go the fair later that afternoon.
“Oh, Brayden we’re going to ride all the rides; The cliffhanger, the ship, and the funhouse!”
She went on excitedly naming every ride known to mankind.
“I have a special treat too. I’ve been doing well on tips lately so I saved some extra to buy a candy apple! Have you ever had one honey?”
“No, but you really don’t have to do that.” “I insist!”
She smiled and kissed me on the forehead. I walked out the door with my newspaper bag in hand and set off on my routes for the day. Little did I know that would be the last time I would see her for a while.
I woke up in an unfamiliar room. The blinds were shut blocking out all of the light that was trying to peek in from outside. The walls were a pale blue similar to the flower vase that I made for my Mom a few Mother’s Days ago. Where was she? Where was I…? Is she wondering where I am? The questions flooded my brain from all different directions and I went into a panic. I frantically sat up and looked around for a clock. My eyes wandered around as I panted heavily. Turning my head to the right, I caught a glimpse of a girl slightly younger than I.
I asked, “Where are we? Is there a clock in here?” She turned around and looked into my eyes with a deep stare.
“No,” she replied “He doesn’t keep one in here. As to where you are, my Dad’s house. Or at least that’s what he makes me call him.”
“What’s your name?” I asked.
“Kendall.” She said quietly.
Kendall was fragile like a china doll. Her dirty blond hair and blue eyes were similar to mine. She wore a faded t-shirt from Derrick’s Car Wash. Derrick’s was on 3rd street, which led me to believe we were somewhere near there. 3rd was far away from my apartment on 13th. I was speechless.
“Kendall, why am I here? Why did your Dad take me? Can you help me get out, I need to get back to my-.”
I was cut short by the opening of the door, out from which he emerged. It was him. My kidnapper, Kendall’s “Dad”, or whoever he was.
“Kendall, come with me!” he beckoned.
She hung her head and walked towards him. He grabbed the bat from the shelf nearby and took her by the neck. WHAM, The door slammed shut. I sat there in silence as I waited for her to return. Even though I had only known her for a few minutes, I was clinging on to her like a security blanket. As I clung to the wall patiently I heard a girl let out a yell; a familiar yell that was followed by more yells and some pounding.
I waited for what seemed like hours after the yelling ceased; I just wanted her to come back. I was feeling a connection to a girl who I had never met before. Not the love kind, but the deep down bond kind. It made me want to risk my life to help her. At that moment, she came back into the room looking broken. There were welts on her arms and legs and bruises down her neck. The look on her face was the kind when a poor kid like me comes downstairs to no presents on Christmas morning: sad, but expecting it. “Come here.” I said. My first instinct wasn’t to asses her wounds, but to hug her. I approached with a warm embrace. As I hugged her I asked, “Kendall, what’s your last name?” She barley squeaked the word out of her, “Vagabond.”