The tall, high-tech, digital, marquee standing in front of the massive arena could be seen several exits away. A steady stream of automobiles, stretch limousines, and concert tour buses packed with various musical instruments, and state of the art audio equipment, inched towards the vast structure for the most anticipated concert of the summer.
It was being promoted as the must-see event of the year by radio and television. Anticipation was high, and expectations were even higher. The record label executives were seeking a huge financial return on their investment, so she knew she had to deliver. This was her last chance to reclaim her superstar status.
Much of the infamy surrounding her tumultuous career stemmed from her addiction to drugs and alcohol. She had been clean for two years, but her sobriety would now be challenged. The stress of performing and touring for several months was going to be the ultimate challenge for her willpower. She knew her breakdown was the direct result of working excessive hours without enough rest.
All the world knew her as Traci Starr, but her birth name was Carla Williams. She was raised in a small suburb in Northern California a short distance from San Francisco. She had a pretty normal childhood, and wasn’t all that popular. The one unique thing that separated her from all of her childhood peers was her remarkable singing ability. She could sing effortlessly, but unlike most main-stream singers, she didn’t start off singing in the church. Local talent shows were the vehicles that gave her the exposure.
During the spring of 1995, she entered one the biggest talent competitions in Northern California. Singers from around the country had to audition for one of twelve spots. The competition was intense. She had never heard so many incredible singers before, but she didn’t let any of them intimidate her. Instead of psyching herself out, she prayed and asked God to let her sing with all the emotion in her heart.
When the judging got down to her and this other girl from New York, she felt her confidence waiver slightly for the first time. When a tie score was announced, a final sing-off was called to determine the winner. She had never been under that much pressure before in her life. The first girl sang a popular song by a well known female singer that had sold millions of copies. It was one of those show-stopping ballads that had every one on their feet by the end. Her internal anxiety was off the chart. She had no idea which song she was going to sing until the very last minute.
When the thunderous applause dwindle down to inaudible chatter, her name was finally being called. Her nerves were tighter than a tight rope stretched between two skyscrapers. A surge of adrenaline created temporary paralysis that stunted her mobility. The cheesy commentator had to ask twice about her song selection, and just as he was about to ask that third time, she snapped out of her bewildered daze. “Vision of Love,” by Mariah Carey was the song she chose.
It had all the dynamics she felt she needed to showcase her amazing vocal range. The lyrics were inspiring and meaningful with a message that everyone listening could relate to. They were simple, yet powerful and the arrangement was neatly composed without over production. It was the perfect choice.
When the first bars were played, all she could do was look out at the mass audience because no words would come out. The confused host looked at her, unsure of what to do. Fortunately, no one had to say anything, because the musical director already knew what to do. The first few bars were played again, and this time she nailed it. Those first notes she sung, whipped the crowd into a frenzy, and by the middle of her performance none of them were in their seat. By the end, she had everyone under her spell, and at that moment, Traci Starr was born.
Seven years had passed quickly, and in that span of time she had three multi-platinum CD’s and had become a millionaire. Money afforded her all of life’s luxury’s, including access to the best drugs that money could buy. It didn’t take her long to become acquainted with all the wrong people. In the music industry, they slithered in numbers. She took her first toot of cocaine at an industry party celebrating her first big seller. It was in the restroom of this posh, five-star hotel in Beverly Hills. The guy’s name was Felix, and he was known in every social circle throughout the industry.
His reputation was notorious. He had ties to high ranking officials on every level of law-enforcement; private investigators, judges, parole officers, CHP and city police. Several well known public officials were also personal acquaintances of his, and all of them were loyal. Traci Starr soon became an exclusive member on that list. She had all of his private numbers, and wealth was her instant ticket to privilege.
It took a few months for the harsh effects of indulgence to catch up with. She started missing recording sessions, canceling concerts, flaking out on television appearances, but the final straw occurred when she didn’t show up for an important meeting with top executives at the record label. Hubert Cole, the president, was livid. He threatened to release her from her recording contract. A junkie was a costly investment that he had no interest in taking a chance on.
Robert King, her manager, pleaded with him to give her one more chance. Her massive record sales raked in a lot of cash for Prime Records, and even with a drug problem she was still appealing to rival labels. Hubert Cole was a consummate professional, and shrewd business man, but one thing he could not ignore was her marketability. He warned Robert that, if she didn’t get it together, she would be history. Personal experience had taught him well; a junkie would eventually become a major liability — one he didn’t need or want.
The “Night Sky” tour was her final chance to prove herself. Her lucrative 160 million dollar contract with Prime Records would be broken if the tour wasn’t a success. Tickets for all three days were sold out, as were concert dates in the other thirty cities. Because she had three CD’s of solid material, she didn’t need an opening act. All two and a half hours belonged to her and, apparently, fans agreed. The $75 ticket price didn’t sway fans, and those were in the nose-bleed section. Floor seats carried a $250 price tag, and those sold out first.
The band started warming up two hours prior to show time. All of them had been with her since the very beginning, and since they had been playing together so long they were in tight sync. She patterned her stage setting after, Sade. The Traci Starr sound was unique, because she didn’t follow the mainstream songwriting formula like other acts. She was an original artist with a loyal fan base, who had been following her since that first release. It all began 7 years ago, and now everything was riding on this one tour.
Her mood was somber, but she didn’t know why. By all accounts, she really had every reason to be happy. As she sat in front of the gold-framed mirror in her dressing room, she studied her reflection, looking closely. At 38 years old, she was still quite stunning. The ivory, off-the shoulder, strapless gown she was wearing, hugged her hour-glass figure snugly. Against her dark, coffee-colored skin tone it radiated. Her large, brown, almond shaped eyes, surrounded by those lush, thick lashes held sadness behind them. She wondered if anyone else would notice.
Without taking her eyes off her reflection, she reached for the black, brush, and began to brush her auburn, shoulder-length hair. It was naturally curly, so when she brushed it out it had a natural wave to it. How could anyone as blessed as she be feeling the way she was feeling. She had accomplished everything she had ever dreamed of accomplishing, so why was she sad?
Selena. Her Selena. She weighed less than 4 lbs, and only lived for one hour. In that one hour, Carla, had maternally bonded with her. It was a love she had never known until then. An indescribable love between a woman and the child she carried in her womb full term, but Selena arrived one month early. Carla was told not to worry.
Premature only meant an early arrival. Selena just needed a little more time to grow. She was assured by the doctor that delivered her. The nursery nurse echoed that sentiment with an immediate, consoling smile afterwards. When they tightly wrapped the tiny blanket around her and carried her off, she was crying. Breathing and crying. Alive and squirming. Alert and fussing.
They had only been apart for one hour. It was enough time for Carla to see one year ahead. There was going to be a party. One with floating colorful balloons, numerous presents, and a round, two-layer cake, filled with fresh strawberries and whipped cream, with one lit candle in the center.
Happy Birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Sa….
“Miss Starr, there were unforeseen complications, and…”
“Unforeseen complications! My baby! She’s alright isn’t she?”
“Miss Starr, Selina just wasn’t strong enough.”
“Not strong enough! What the hell do you mean wasn’t? You’re talking about her in past tense! In past tense like she’s…”
“Deceased. Selena stopped breathing and we couldn’t resuscitate her. We tried, but we couldn’t bring her back. Would you like to talk to the hospital priest?”
“Priest! Hell no! I want to see my baby! Take all this shit out of my arms! I want to see my Selena now!”
“Miss Starr, please calm down. You’re going to hurt yourself!”
“No, bitch, I’m going to hurt you!”
“Sedate her! Sedate her now before she hurts herself!”
“I’m going to hurt somebody, but I assure you it won’t be myself! Take your hands off of me! Let me go! Selina! Selina! My baby!”
“Traci… It’s show time,” Darla Washington, her stage manager, softly said, interrupting her thoughts.
“Huh? Show time?” She repeated the announcement she had just heard.
“I’m not ready… I’m… I’m… Not ready,” she mumbled, stricken by the shocking recount of the past.
“Yes, you are, girl. You’ve been rehearsing for the past three months. You can do this in your sleep,” Darla said, in an assertive, no nonsense tone.
“But what about, Selena?” she asked, in a skipped, almost inaudible, whisper.
Darla looked at her with a confused expression. “Traci, who is, Selina?”
“She’s my…” before completing her sentence, she stopped herself. She had almost blown it.
Darla waited for her to complete the sentence, but Traci quickly switched subjects.
“Girl , don’t pay any attention to me. It ‘s just nerves,” she said, as she took one more glance in the mirror.
Darla put both hands on her hips, and shifted the weight to the right side. “Honey, you had me worried for a second, shoot! Okay, let’s get it started. I’ll give Macon Earl the thumbs up. Child, it’s a packed house. It’s about to be on,” Darla said, with a hearty chuckle, clasping her hand together in excitement.
Once she was satisfied with her appearance, she stood up, walked towards the door, opened it, and began her long stroll to the stage. She nodded and smiled as she passed random people standing along the walls of the hall standing in groups or by themselves. She never broke her stride, not even for those she recognized. She had too much on her mind, and this time around, she planned to keep her distance and only social with people she knew well.
The closer she got to the stage, the louder the music got. A wave of thunderous applause filled the auditorium, as the band played the pulsating bass-line intro from her very first hit,”Surely You Know.”
The hypnotic elements of the music connected to her inner rhythm, and once it hit her soul, her sadness dissipated.
When she reached center stage, she grabbed the microphone and when she did the band stopped playing. She stood motionless in the pose that made her famous. The crowd went ballistic.
Then, acapela , she sang…
“No words… Outta time..”
” We move We stand…”
The drummer followed her lead, immediately after the last word was sung. Then the violins entered the groove, lushly, precisely, blending into rhythm with sweetness like sugar still on the cane. Entwined tightly, melodic vulnerability enticed ears, as it stroked longings, caressing minds, in quarter time. Collective sways channeled seduction, deeply inhaling meaning like air. Need and desire embraced staccato without reservation, driven without resistance towards anticipation, familiar with expectation.
“Surely you know” was #1 for six consecutive weeks that summer. It entered the charts in the #2 position when it was released, and by the time the next chart ratings had been calculated, it had jumped to the top spot. Prime records executives scrambled to meet buyer demand. In one month, Traci Starr skyrocketed from obscurity to superstar status. The industry instantly went into copycat mode, working overtime trying to capitalize off her style, but they failed to realize that true artistry comes from the soul.
“I missed you too,” she said, with a warm smile.
She paused, so she could soak up the adulation. Her fans were a source of strength to her. Despite the turmoil, they still loved her. Even though she had made mistakes, they still loved her. They helped lift the weight of sorrow she felt prior to taking the stage. The sadness of loss she kept in that private place. Momentarily, relief had replaced hurt with joy, and the vivid memories seemed faint. But in the distant background she still heard the cries of a child she barely knew.
Her United States tour went off without hitch. Cities were asking for more shows due to the massive demand, but the record label declined. They didn’t want to over saturate America before they had gotten the chance to drain the wallets of her European fan base. Euros spent just like dollars, and the opportunity to pocket them was just too juicy to pass up.
“We have a contract,”Hubert said, eyes blank as paper without writing.
“I’m tired. When do I get a break? I need to be careful. What about my sobriety? I was warned about over-exerting myself,” she replied, looking for compassion.
“You represent dollars and cents to me. I’ve already lost money on you, you fucking junkie,” he sneered.
“Hubert! How could you talk to her like that. She’s made more money for you than anyone else at this label” Robert said, shocked by what he just heard.
“Fuck her, and fuck you! Do you know how much money I’ve lost on this unreliable broad. Missed concerts, bad press, and this company’s reputation. She’s a media train wreck! Our reputation is in the toilet.”
“But look how successful things are going. Do you want to ruin things? If she’s healthy, we’ll make a mint. If she’s torn down, we all lose.”
“This broad has been given so many chances. I’m getting impatient! So, if I wait, how long will I have to wait? Every day is money. My money. She’s in a contract!”
“We know this, Hubert. I’m looking out for the best interest of the company. What good is she torn down? It’s a fact.”
“Don’t talk to me about facts. Hell I wrote the book. I didn’t get where I am by running this company like this!”
“Yes, I know this, but you didn’t get here by making bad business decisions either. Healthy, she’s worth more to us, and you know it,” Robert said, knowing he’d won the debate, this time.
“Whatever,” Hubert mumbled.
“One month, and we’ll be ready. You won’t regret your decision, Hubert.” Robert said, in a victorious tone.
“One month, and that’s it! Not a day more,” he said, under his breath, walking away.
“I’m worn out, Robert. A European tour? I barely made it through this tour,” she said, teary-eyed.
“You can do it. Hubert isn’t going to take no for an answer. He’s been patient with you, Traci. You owe him, girl. He could’ve dropped you long time ago, but he didn’t. He knows how bankable you are. He just doesn’t give chances to everybody,” he said, trying to sound convincing.
Traci listened, because she knew Robert had her best interest at heart. She was, however, filled with worry about her mental stability. The past tour almost wiped her out. She barely survived. Selena was heavily on her mind. There was one thing haunting her about the whole, horrid encounter. She knew, deep down, that her baby wasn’t dead.
Even though they told her she was dead, deep down she knew different. In her heart, she felt someone had kidnapped her baby. When they told her she couldn’t see the body she knew. Nobody could tell her different. Another thing she hid from everyone is the father’s identity. He told her she’d never raise his child. He swore to her that he would not allow her to be a part of the baby’s life. He had connections to make it happen. With that on her mind, she could not accept what she had been told.
“He took my baby,” she whispered to herself.
(One month later)
“I’m not ready for this,” she said, wishing she could disappear.
“It’s time to board the plane, Traci,” Robert said, grabbing her gently by the arm.
“It’s not right, Robert. My heart is not into this. The long plane ride, the rigorous schedule. You’re supposed to be looking out for me. I feel like a puppet for the record label. If I do this, I know it will break me. I’m telling you,” she whined.
“So, what? You want to throw it all away? You worked your ass off to get here! Did you forget what it was like in the beginning?Did you forget the struggle? The way you prayed for this to happen? All of the people you have depending on you? None of them get paid if you don’t do this. It’s not just about you, Traci,” Robert told her.
When did it get to this place? She loved to sing, but did she ever fathom it would be this demanding? Working relentlessly without cease. Ducking and dodging the media. Having everything about her life discussed and documented for any and everyone to read. Is this what it was all about? Didn’t entertainers deserve some privacy? Was everything free game? Her dream had turned into a nightmare, and she didn’t know how to wake up from it.
“Well, what are going to do? If you don’t get on that plane, you forfeit everything. Is that what you really want? What are you going to do if you can’t perform? What else do you know? You don’t know how to do anything else Traci. God blessed you with a gift. How do you think he’s going to feel?”
“Don’t you dare bring God into this. This has nothing to do with God. When I was in rehab, I discovered some thing about myself. This entire thing became something else long time ago, and I was too scared to say anything. I forgot about me. I was being everything for everybody except me. That’s when I lost myself. And it almost destroyed me.” she said, defiantly.
“So, you’re walking away from your dream?” he asked her.
“No, I’m walking towards my life. No one else can live that for me. The day I stop living for me, is the day I might as well be dead. Some entertainers live for the accolades and the spotlight, but I know that there’s more to life than center stage. I will not live my life for that next hit. I’ve had many of them, so how many more do I need? I’ve accomplished everything I set out to accomplish, and more. Greed is what destroys people.” she said, as she turned and walked away.
“After all I’ve done for you.”
“No, after all you’ve done for yourself. I made you a very rich man, Robert.”
Did she know where she was going? No. Did she have a sound plan? No. But she knew she wanted more out of life. More than she ever wanted before. It was like that banana spilt she asked for when she was shopping with her mother. She was 10 at the time. But her mother told her no. That was a long time ago, but now she could have whatever she wanted. Everything.
That first week, she found herself restless. She was so used to the hectic pace she didn’t know what to do with herself. It had been a longtime since she had so much freedom. It didn’t take long for the record label to drop her, but she didn’t care. She was glad it was over. Her life now belonged to her, and she knew she wouldn’t miss fame. If she could change her appearance she would. She didn’t want to be recognized by anyone. She was tired of notoriety.
She decided to pack a suitcase and drive someplace remote, away from the glares and stares. A fresh start meant doing something outside of city life and the country seemed to be the place she would be able to walk around without being pestered. In the beginning signing autographs was exiting, but after six months it got old. Didn’t people have lives? She was just a human being. What the hell was the big deal? A piece of paper with her name on it. Damn!
The windy roads outside the big city were tricky. She found herself needing to concentrate more on the road, and a couple of turns spooked her. She had gotten so used to being driven around she had lost her nerve. Other motorist sped around her, and she found herself getting annoyed. She couldn’t help wondering how they were able to zip around the curves so quickly, but just because they were doing it, she had no desire to speed up.
“That’s all I need to happen. The press would have a field day covering that story. She could just see the headlines. Former superstar plummets to her death after being axed by her record label. They were notorious for making up shit, and the public ate up. Sell another magazine. This story ought to boost ratings. Dig up as much dirt as you can, we need to release it before everybody else. Shit! Before the skid marks had a chance to fade, they’d be calling it a suicide,” she said out loud, as she put more distance between her and all she knew.
In the distance she noticed an Inn or Hotel of some sort. She found herself getting weary from the long drive and decided that she needed rest. She hoped that no one would be able to recognize her when she got there, because she wasn’t in the mood to chat with anyone. One thing she hated is when people disregarded her private time. Saying no meant nothing to fanatics. They didn’t care if you with your children, your mother, your husband, or if you were sick, they’d bum rush you regardless.
When she got to the front desk, she requested the largest suite they had. The Rosey-cheeked white women at the front desk shot her a look of discontent, and said “that room costs $500 a night.”
It instantly pissed her off. “Did I ask you how much the room cost? No, I said I’d like your largest suite!” she snapped back.
“Oh, I thought…”
She cut her off mid-sentence. “Oh, you thought since I was black I couldn’t afford it? You damn people get on my nerve! You don’t think black people can afford to pay this amount for a room. Look, I don’t have the patience for this bullshit. Put it on this card, and hurry up, before I get indignant up in here. Shit!” she uttered.
When the woman took the card she looked at the name, then looked up a couple of times . “You’re…”
She cut her off again. “I don’t feel like talking. Can you get me my damn room please,” Traci frowned, annoyed.
“I’m so sorry, Miss…”
She cut her off for the third time. “Save it. I don’t need it, nor do I want it. Just because I am who I am shouldn’t make a damn bit of difference. I ought to sue your ass for discrimination,” she told her, snatching the card from her hand.
She was outdone. Her indifference was short lived, as her thoughts settled back on a derailed career, and the memory of a child who she believed was not dead. She could still feel the cold iron he slid slowly across her cheek. The barrel of the gun looked menacing when she looked down the blackness that housed lead bullets. His threat shot waves of fear in her heart. She knew to take what he said seriously. Even though she never witnessed a crime, she knew he was capable of following through without blinking an eye.
When she reached room 524, she slid the card key into the electronic lock, and waited until the identification light changed from red to green. When it did, she withdrew it, turned the knob, opened the door, and entered the suite. The hallway light immediately flickered on, allowing her to inspect her surroundings. She found the temperature gauge and adjusted it to 75 degrees.
“Damn, they charged an arm and a leg for this overpriced hole, you’d think they’d make it cozy. Shit, it’s freezing in here,” she said out loud, dissatisfied with the earlier service she received, and now the room.
The late evening autumn sun descended slowly into the watery horizon, unapologetic for leaving it’s place in the vast sky. Traci immersed herself in the fall of day, gazing in a cleansing meditative state. There was something calming about watching the ebb and tide, swelling and expanding in a series of waves. She took small sips of red wine from the slender, crystal, flute she held in her left hand. Her direction seemed as dark as the approaching night sky, for there was no clarity to grasp to. All she knew was gone.
By the time room service arrived, the effects from the wine had her in a giggly mood. She staggered towards the door, humming cheerfully to an unreleased song she had written.
When she made it to the door, she swung it open with such force, she lost her balance and fell onto the soft, rust carpet. It happened so quick until it took her a moment to realize why she was looking up at the handsome, well-built, room service attendant.
His skin tone was the color of dark chocolate, and his imperfect white smile was genuine, as he raced over to her aid. When he lifted her gently up, she could feel his strength by how easily he whisked her up into his strong arms. The swift rescue had her feeling more light headed than she was before the tumble, and all she could do was rest her head against his massive chest.
“I’ve got you, Miss,” he said, obviously oblivious to the big recording star he was holding in his arms.
She didn’t know if he was just being respectful, or if he truly didn’t know who she was. The latter is what she hoped, because it made him that more sexy. It had been several months since her last intimate interlude, so his magnificent brawn, and manly warmth ignited the fuse of lust within her womanly entryway.
“Thank you, young man,” she said, grinning flirtatiously, slightly embarrassed by her accidental spill.
“You’re welcome, Miss. Do you need me to get anything for you while I’m here?” he asked, as he returned wheeling in the cart that held the food she had ordered.
Even though she was craving companionship, she made the conscious decision to remain a lady, instead of a hard up tramp. “No, I’m fine,” she said. Her sexless span would have to continue until the right man came along. She didn’t want to start her new life making old mistakes.
That’s how she wound up in his bed that crazy night. He took advantage of her drugged out mental state. She could only recall bit and pieces, but remembered vividly that he had entered anally. Just the memory of the excruciating pain she endured caused a low whimper to slip out, and he looked towards her with a look of concern on his face.
“Are you sure you’re going to be okay,” he asked, checking again to see if she was still okay.
“You heard that?” she asked, flustered that he had heard her.
He nodded his head, bashfully.
“I apologize. What you heard was a bit of my past haunting me, but I’ll be fine. I do need something though,” she told him, as she reached out with her left arm.
He moved towards her. “Sure, whatever you need….”
“Carla… My name is Carla,” she completed his sentence, telling him her birth-given name.
“Okay, Carla, what else can I do for you?” he asked, tenderly.
“Will you be my friend for just a little while?” she asked, as tears welled up in her eyes.
Never taking his eyes off of her or releasing her hand, he sat down beside her. When she laid her head on his shoulder, he released her hand, and put his right arm around her shoulders. His actions weren’t sexual, they were comforting. She felt safe with him. Before another second could pass, she asked him his name. Knowing his name would make him less a stranger.
“It’s Jasper, Jasper Williams,” he said, looking ahead nervously.
It took her a minute to put it together, but once she did, she raised her head from off his shoulder, and moved his around to stare into his eyes. It couldn’t be. Coincidence did not have the ability to reunite two people from a past so long ago, but how could she deny what her eyes beheld? His adult features resembled those of a little bow legged kid who occupied the room next to hers three summers before the talent competition. Just as they had gotten close, he was taken away, one stormy night, to live with relatives on his father’s side of the family.
His father was married to her mother at the time, but he lost his life in the line of duty at a construction site suddenly. My mother tried gaining custody to honor her late husband’s wishes, but during a nasty, six month court battle, he was awarded to his father’s mother in 1993. He was only 10 years old, and she was 17.
Their 7 year age difference strengthened their relationship; she loved playing the role of big sister.
Her intense study of him forced him to break the silence. “What are thinking about, Carla?” he asked, intrigued by her fascination.
“How old are you, Jasper,” she asked, hoping he’d say the magic number she had calculated in her mind.
He chuckled. “I’m legal, so you’re not breaking the law,” he said.
She sat up, and punched his arm. “I figured as much. But, humor me, how old are you, Jasper? Really,” she asked again, sitting back against the arm of the sofa they shared.
His face had a baffled expression, but instead of keeping her in suspense, he gave her an answer. “I’m 27 years old. Now why was knowing my age so important,” he asked, still not connecting the dots.
She let out an elated scream, slid from her end of the couch dashing towards him, and when she reached him she wrapped her arms tightly around him. Her impulsive reaction stunned him, and once she calmed down her asked her what he had missed.
“It’s me Jay-Bird,” she said, using the nickname she used to call him.
At first he thought he was hearing things, because only one person had ever called him by that name. He vaguely remembered when his father’s people took him from the only home he had ever known. For seventeen long years, memories of that final morning goodbye stayed in the forefront of his mind relentlessly. Sudden death altered a routine he had gotten accustomed to. Before he went to school his dad would always say, see you when I get home from work, son. He expected to see him pull up in the driveway at 4:00pm, but that day he didn’t show up.
Instead, at 5:24pm, the phone rang and his stepmother answered it. A few moments after she said hello, tears filled her eyes and she looked at him shaking her head. He couldn’t understand why she kept looking at him shaking her head teary-eyed. He wondered why she had that sad look on her face, and why that phone call was making her clutch her mouth that way. That call was bad news, and something told him it would explain why his father had not returned home. He should’ve been home by 4:00pm. Why hadn’t he arrived, and what was she being told?
When she hung up, she just stood there in one spot, crying. What was she crying about? Something told him the phone call had something to do with his father, and he wasn’t sure he wanted know. But he had to know, and after a few long minutes he did know. His dad would never be coming home again. He wasn’t ever going to hear his father call him son anymore. The last time he heard his voice would be the last time he heard it. He didn’t know it at the time, but he knew it then, because she told him. She said there had been an accident. She said they couldn’t resuscitate him. She told him the paramedics tried for 10 minutes, but he didn’t respond. She said he was pronounced dead at the scene.
He had been missing him for so long. He was angry at his dad for leaving him. He was angry because they told him he had to go live with them. He was frightened because he had to go live with total strangers. His dad kept him away from those people. Why did they make him go live with those people? Those same people that hurt his father when he was a little boy. Didn’t Carla and her mother want him to stay? They must not have wanted him to live with him. The only person who cared about him had died, so he was an orphan. An orphan that nobody wanted.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about Miss,” he said, as he rose hastily from the sofa.
“But everything adds up. Your first and last name, your age, and you look just like him. You look just like Bradford Williams,” she told him, in a tone of certainty.
“My father’s name was, Ralph, I don’t know anyone named, Bradford,” he said, flustered by her identification of him.
“Are you sure? No two people could look so much a like,” she told him, practically accusing him of lying.
“You don’t think I know what my father’s name is? You’ve miss taken me for someone else,” he told her, agitated by her persistence.
“Look, I didn’t mean to upset you,” she said, in a sorrowful tone.
The sadness he heard in her voice stopped him in his tracks. He turned around and looked at her from where he stood in the hall. He did remember her, but he refused to let her know. Where was she at back when he needed her? They were supposed to be friends. Why didn’t she fight for him? She told him that he was her little brother and that she would always protect him. When he needed someone he could trust, nobody was there, and he swore he’d never trust anyone again.
“Jasper, I didn’t mean to upset you. Please, don’t go,” she said softly, hanging her head.
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