Mixed Signals – Chapter One

16 Aug

CHAPTER ONE

“Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?”

“I do,” I said, as the bailiff stood before me with a leather-bound Bible. He nodded and moved off to the side as the defendant’s lawyer stood.

“You may proceed.” Judge Harrison stated as I sat down in my seat – the stand.

“Thank you, your Honor. Now Miss Johnson, would you kindly tell the court and jury your account of what happened? Starting from, well, the beginning would be sufficient.”

I nodded. I am just a witness – a witness to this whole horrifying mess. Actually, I’m just testifying, telling my side of the story. I probably won’t help or hinder anyone.

As I told my story, I relived it as if it were happening all over again.

It started in the summer and on the day of my seventeenth birthday. It turned out to be the worst day of my life.

I awoke with the feelings one usually has on their birthday – happiness, excitement – these are what I felt that morning, but ceased to feel ever since.

“Good morning, family!” I announced as I walked into the kitchen, planning to kiss each member on the cheek in turn.

“Morning, Father.” I gave him a kiss. He was, by far, the best looking dad in the world. At the ripe old age of forty-nine, he still looked like he belonged on the cover of GQ.

“Well, I take it this is some kind of special day for you,” my father laughed.

“Morning, Mother.” She just shook her head and smiled as she continued making our breakfast.

“Adam.” He wiped his face as I kissed him.

“Get away from me, pest.” He looked disgusted.

He is a year older than I am, but Adam still acts like a little kid. He’s never had a girlfriend. He’s more the athletic, brainy type. He has no interest in girls at all. He could have his pick of the litter, though, because he is very good looking and all the girls are after him.

“Luke.” I kissed my oldest brother.

“You’re too much, Alex.” He shook his head. Luke and his twin, Lance, are home from college. They are going to be in their fourth year at Stanford. They are very smart guys and very handsome.

All my brothers have the same dark hair and eyes as my father. They will all turn out to be as handsome as he is. They already have a good start! I, on the other hand, am blonde and green-eyed, like my mother.

“Lance.” He just grunted. He has rarely been in a good mood lately. I shrugged. I’m getting used to it. Luke and Lance are getting up there in age now, and a lot of responsibility is bearing down on their shoulders. They turned twenty-one in May and are now legal adults.

Luke and Lance are going to make something of their lives. They are going to get out of this town and become someone. Our town is Nowhereville. It’s very small and everyone knows everyone in it. I mean, the town is big enough for a courthouse and a big high school, but it’s not like Chicago or anything.

“So what are you planning to do today?” My father smiled across the table at me.

“Well, John is taking me out this morning for a little celebration . . ” I cut myself off as I heard Lance mutter something about my good-for-nothing boyfriend.

“What? Why don’t you like John, Lance? What has he ever done to you?” I asked him, hurt. It did hurt me that Lance hated John so much.

There is nothing wrong with my boyfriend. He’s sweet and gentle and kind. I couldn’t believe he asked me to go out with him. He’s the most popular guy in school and has the nicest car. He just graduated with Adam this past year, but he’s still a legend. His looks are even better than his car. He’s tall, dark and extremely handsome, and all the girls would give their right arm for a date with him.

“The guy smells funny, Alex. I don’t like it.” He clenched his jaw.

“He doesn’t smell! What a way to judge people – by the way they smell,” I said, disgusted.

“Not in the literal sense! I mean something’s fishy about him. He’s shifty-eyed. I don’t like it.”

“You don’t like anybody. You think everyone is weird.”

“That’s not true, and you know it! Give me a break!”

“Give John a break!”

“Enough! Please don’t fight at the table,” my father intervened. I threw Lance a dirty look and started eating my breakfast. Lance just looked mad.

“I just don’t want you to get hurt by the jerk,” Lance said.

“He’s not a jerk!”

“I said enough!” Now my dad was starting to get angry.

“I’m sorry.” I looked down at my plate. Lance would not apologize. The atmosphere at our table was very heavy. So thick you could probably cut it with a knife.

“That’s him,” I said quietly when a car honked. I got up from the table, walked out the door, and ran out to his car and grinned.

“Hey, sweetie, how’s it going?” he greeted as I got in.

“Not bad. How are you?” I asked.

“I’m fine, now,” he replied and pulled me to him for a kiss.

“Where are we going?” I asked when we pulled apart.

“It’s a surprise.” He grinned and we pulled out of the driveway, but not before I saw a certain brother watching us from his bedroom window. I smirked and threw him a jaunty wave as we took off down the street, leaving a trail of dust from the unpaved road that led to our house.

IN THE COURTROOM . . .

“So you left the house angry at your brother Lance, is that correct?” Stevenson, the defendant’s lawyer, asked.

“Yes,” I whispered.

“That’s the last time you saw him?”

“Yes.” I lowered my head and started to cry.

“Can you tell us how it happened?” Stevenson asked gently.

“I came home from being out with John and my mom said that Lance had left after I had. He said something about taking care of some business. About three hours after I got home, the police came. They told us that Lance was dead. That he overdosed on drugs. They found way more cocaine in his bloodstream than a person could handle.” I broke down sobbing.

“Where did they find him?”

“In some abandoned house where it’s known that kids have gone there to do drugs.”

“Had Lance ever done drugs before that you knew of?”

“No, not that I knew of.” I shook my head.

“All right. Continue with your story.”

I couldn’t believe he was dead. I cried for days and never left the house or ate or slept.

It was worse on Luke because he was his twin. He was a part of Lance. It was as if Luke died a little, too.

I kept going back to the past in my memories of Lance. Like to the summer I turned seven and got my first bicycle. Lance was the one who taught me how to ride without training wheels. Or tried to teach me anyways.

“I’m afraid, Lance. I don’t want to fall over and scrape my knee!” I had whined.

“Come on, Alex. You are such a baby! You’re seven years old, for Pete’s sake. Riding a bike is awesome! You’re in complete control of your life! Trust me, and you won’t fall. If you do, I’ll catch you, ok?”

Sure enough, I fell and scraped my knee. Lance never could keep any promises.

I once made the mistake of telling him whom I had a crush on. This was in the eighth grade. Lance told the kid that I liked him. That was at least bearable, but then, I found out later that Lance told him that I had a serious disease. He said that I would give it to anyone who got within fifteen feet of me. The kid asked if Lance had it, but Lance told him that because he was related to me, he was immune to it. For days everyone steered clear of me and would not talk to me.

Lance was always doing stuff like that to me. It was because I was a girl. He never treated Adam that way. The worst he did to him was tease him about his braces. He called him a metal mouth or something. Oh, he teased me all right, but not about my braces. I never had braces. He teased me to death about my first training bra. It wasn’t like he’d just say stuff around the house; he’d do even more damage and say stuff out in public.

Once we went to the mall, and he met some of his friends from school. They were really gorgeous and I had a crush on one of them. I always had a crush on somebody.

“Yeah, this is my kid sister, Alex. She got a new training bra last week. She’s becoming quite the young lady. Don’t get any ideas, guys, or I’ll have to throw down.” Then they laughed. I was so humiliated. I didn’t talk to Lance for a whole month after that.

But there were some good times. For example, when I was ten and I had the measles. Not that having the measles was good, but I guess I mean positive times. Times he didn’t make fun of me. Lance would come in and read to me, talk, watch TV with me, keep me company, or just sit there. One time I woke up and he was just sitting there staring at me. It was weird. I didn’t know what he was doing. When I asked, he made up some excuse like he was day dreaming or thinking or something. But I liked to think that he really cared about me and was watching over me.

Another time I had broken up with my first boyfriend. Lance comforted me and told me we would probably get back together again the next week. He was right.

“Even if you don’t get back together, the guy wasn’t worth it if he didn’t stay with you. He’ll be missing out on the best girl in the world.” Then he realized how sweet that sounded. “Ha-ha, I sure had you fooled. The guy was smart for dumping you while he had the chance. All he’s missing is a headache.” He then cleared his throat and backed out of my room. At the time I thought he was cruel, but thinking back, I realize that he didn’t want me thinking that behind the tough guy act was a very caring and protective older brother.

He taught me how to play poker. To this day, I could probably beat anyone who challenged me. He never told me how he learned to play, though. I think he sneaked out some nights, went to his friend Ricky’s house, and watched Ricky’s dad and his buddies play. I caught him once, coming back in through the bathroom window.

I was washing my face to get ready for bed when he crawled in. He scared me half to death, but I think Lance was more scared than I was.

“Gosh, Lance, you scared the crap out of me,” I gasped. He just stood there with a hand clutching his chest, breathing heavily. I sniffed. “Yuck, have you been smoking?” I coughed. No one in our house smoked, so I wasn’t used to the smell.

“Alex,” he ran a hand through his hair and took a calming breath. “I’m very glad it’s just you, but, shut-up!” He grabbed my shoulders. “Just forget you saw me climb in here, all right? I don’t smoke, it can kill you, remember that.” He turned on the water and threw some on his face. “I was out for some fresh air.”

“Really? They have got to do something about that ozone!” I said sarcastically and waved a hand in front of my face and coughed again. Then I sprayed Lysol all around the room and made him cough, too.

“Go to bed, brat.”

I believed him when he said that he didn’t smoke. That’s why it came as such a shock when we learned that he died because of drugs. He would have never done drugs.

At first, Luke never believed he did drugs either. He wouldn’t believe it. He knew Lance better than anyone did. He wouldn’t do drugs!

Eventually, though, Luke accepted that he did die because of drugs. The facts were all there. There was simply no other way he could have died. But I never believed.

So Luke started going around to kids that he knew did drugs and urged them to stop. He didn’t want them to end up like Lance. I never actually saw him talking to anyone about it, but I heard him tell my parents he was out there helping people.

Luke was really bitter. He wouldn’t go back to college. He didn’t want to do anything with his life now that Lance was gone.

It was about six months after Lance’s death that I saw just how Luke “helped” people stop doing drugs.

I was walking home from the mall, since Luke had the car, when I saw him in an alley yelling at a kid.

“What is this? Heroin? You know what this stuff does to you, Alan?” He grabbed Alan by his shirtfront and picked him up two feet to his height.

“This stuff can kill you!” He dropped the kid to the ground. Then he pulled a gun out of his pocket. “See this?” He held it up to Alan’s neck. “This can kill, too, just as easily as that dope. You want to die? I can pull the trigger right now and blow your head away. It’ll save you a lot of money. Come on; tell me. I’ll do it. Say the word,” he finished, breathing heavily, still holding the gun to Alan’s neck.

“You’re crazy, man.” Alan shook his head.

“No, you’re crazy. Doing drugs is crazy. You ruin your life and everyone else’s lives around you. Forever.” Luke pushed the gun even farther into his neck. “Come on, say when.”

“No, man. I don’t want to die. I’ll quit with the drugs, just leave me alone, all right?” Alan said shakily. Luke let him go and put the gun away. Alan ran off and Luke turned. I ducked behind the corner and heard him walk to the car and drive off. I closed my eyes and hugged myself.

“Oh my god,” I whispered.

When I got home, I found that my parents were out and Adam was out somewhere, too. I also found Luke in the kitchen, wolfing down a roast beef sandwich. I walked in, hung my coat up in the closet, and threw my purse onto the table.

“Hey, Alex, how was the mall?” He asked, as if nothing was wrong.

“It was fine,” I said quietly. I put my hands on my hips. “How was drug busting? Kill anyone yet?” I asked sarcastically. He put his sandwich down and looked up at me.

“What is that supposed to mean?” He asked softly.

“Oh, come on, Luke, you know what I mean. I saw what you did to that kid, Alan. You think scaring him is going to work?”

“It has in the past.” He looked grim.

“How long have you been doing this?”

“Since a couple weeks after Lance died.” He looked down at the table and clenched his jaw.

“Scare tactics are not going to make kids stop doing drugs! What if you accidentally kill one of them? You’ll go to jail!”

“It’s not loaded. I won’t kill anyone.”

“What if you come across the wrong person? Someone who doesn’t want to stop? Someone who pulls out a knife and stabs you or something? What are you going to do then? They could kill you and you would end up just like Lance. Is that what you want?!” I yelled.

“I wouldn’t end up like Lance! Lance died because of drugs. He basically committed suicide. I would never do drugs . . . ever. You can’t stop me from doing this,” he said violently, and slammed his hand down on the table.

“Well, eventually someone will. Someone will, Luke, and you’ll end up dead,” I said sadly. “Please, please stop this. You will only get hurt,” I pleaded, starting to cry. “I don’t want to lose another brother.” I grabbed his arm, but he shook me off.

“Stop talking like that! You won’t, and I’m not going to stop. So just quit,” he paused, “Quit it. I can make my own decisions and this is what I’ve decided to do,” he finished quietly and left the kitchen to go to his room.

I sank down into a kitchen chair, defeated. I buried my face in my hands and started sobbing. Deep, heart-wrenching sobs for Lance, and for Luke, and, for me. It wasn’t fair that I should have to lose another brother. Because I knew that eventually, that was what would happen.

Copyright 2008 By D.M. Wright

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6 Responses to “Mixed Signals – Chapter One”

  1. kirsty815 August 16, 2008 at 10:55 am #

    Me likey!!! Keep the chapters coming.

    Kirst

  2. Jan August 18, 2008 at 8:35 am #

    Sounds pretty good, keep it coming!

  3. kweenmama August 18, 2008 at 12:04 pm #

    Ooooh, sounds good! You don’t worry about someone stealing you idea(s) from your blog?

  4. dmwright August 18, 2008 at 5:33 pm #

    Thanks, ladies! Unfortunately, that is all I will post. As Kweenmama asks, I worry a little about people stealing ideas, which is why I only post the first chapter of my books. Ideally, Mixed Signals will be the next book I publish. Although my work is copyrighted if someone tries to steal from me – better safe than sorry!!

  5. Wendy August 20, 2008 at 9:46 pm #

    Oooh, I can’t wait for it to be published. It looks really good!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Refresher « D.M. Wright Books - February 8, 2009

    […] To refresh yourself on Chapter One, click here: Mixed Signals, Chapter One. […]

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