BY: Jerusha Trotman
We were walking home from school one day, my friend Maria and I, having a heated discussion over whether cupcakes were just pretty muffins or if muffins were ugly cupcakes when it happened. Sirens blared so loud we felt the vibrations; we’ve heard sirens before but never like this.
“I wonder what those are for” Maria had asked.
“Probably just the neighbors” I answered. My neighbors Mr. and Mrs. Hill always have some kind of problem. One time they accused my brother of stealing bird food turns out it was just a clever squirrel. We were pondering this possibility when BAM a tremendous force knocks both of us to the ground. My head smacked against the pavement and Maria screamed but it was cut short, I had just enough time to turn my head and see a man cupping his hand over her mouth before the world swirled and I blacked out.
Days, weeks, months I couldn’t tell how long it was I was out to save my life but when I wake with a spitting headache I know where we are. My father used to be a plumber before he got a job in cable and he would let me come too sometimes but almost every time he would go down to the basement to fix some kind of pipe and that is where we are now, a basement. I slowly raise my head and seeing that my hands are tied, I take a look at my surroundings. A poorly lit room with only one small hanging light bulb, cold breezes carry a damp smell to my nose, water leaks from pipes that have long time needed fixing, some stairs and puddles and boxes everywhere. Then I see something startling, two eyes staring at me from across the room.
“Hello” I say, then those eyes change from scared to relieved and I recognize them.
“Maria” I yell, her voice is scared but hopeful.
“I thought you’d never wake up” she says.
“ How long have we been here?” I ask her.
“I don’t “ she cuts herself off to listen to something, I’m about to ask her what she is listening to when she says,
Footsteps above me then I see him coming down those stairs I saw earlier and I finally get a good look at my kidnapper. Tall, tan, close-cropped brown hair and something you can’t miss an orange jumper with DR printed on the back.
“What do you want from us” I say, I tug on my restraints they’re not tight they’re rather loose actually I begin to formulate a plan for our escape, first chance I get I’ll free myself then untie Maria and we’ll run for it, if only he would turn around…
“I’m sorry Jamie, it was an accident” he says in a quiet voice.
“How do you know my name” I demand.
“Sorry but I looked through your backpack I was trying to find your addresses I want to help you get back home” said the man. The sound of his voice made me believe him for a moment but then I remember that I can’t let my guard down this could all be a trick.
“What is the point of taking us just to help us get back”
“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to, it was an accident, I was just scared” and when he lifts his head I see that his eyes are maroon, first time I’ve ever seen that color but his eyes also show that he’s been crying fairly recently. “Scared of what” Maria asks, silence, “You can tell us.” He looks over at her and for a long time she looks him right in his eyes, speaking to him with hers, I don’t know how she does this but Maria can get the truth out of anyone except the principle of our middle school but here she is, coaxing the truth out of a convict, he takes a box sits on it and takes a deep breath as if to gather strength. “My name is Charles Baker” he starts “and four years ago I made a big mistake when I was 15 my father died in a drive by shooting and a year later my mother started drinking so at 16 I had a job and a family to take care of I had a brother and 2 sisters none of them were even in double digits yet, they were 4, 6 and 7. Every night for 6 years my mom went across town to the bar where she met my dad but she would always return before 10:00 pm, always, but one night at 1:01am the door opened so I asked who it was, no answer, I asked again , no answer, so I did what my mother told me to do if this ever happened I got the gun my mom kept under the bed and yelled
tell me who you are the door opened further and some stranger walked in I thought she was going to rob us or something so I pulled the trigger, and it was my mom.”
Tears welled in my eyes but I said nothing, he looked up and I could see tears streaking his face then he got up walked over to me and untied me, then Maria, I was about to do just that but I couldn’t stop listening.
“My neighbors turned me in and my siblings got sent off to England.” Then he started sobbing “I wasn’t even allowed to go to my mom’s funeral” Charles sniffled and with ever increasing urgency he says to us “you need to get out of here, I’m turning myself in and you need to be as far away from me as you can when they come. “
Then Charles quickly takes our hands and leads us out of the basement to a sweet smelling place “where are we” I ask him “my old house “ he answers softly on the way out I see us in the mirror. Maria looks about the same long brown hair, hazel eyes, tall, tan perfect as usual which is why she is the popular one in our group, complete opposite of me, short, medium length black hair, dark complexion, the only thing we have in common is our save the earth t-shirts.
Charles leads us out of the house and out the door and sweet, fresh air floods my nostrils (apparently we’ve only been gone a few hours not even long enough to be missed) Charles snaps me out of my daze “RUN” he yells and we do but I’m a lot slower than she is.
We get about two blocks between us before we hear those sirens again and they’re headed down the cobblestone road to Charles’s house. People crowd our usually quiet, clean streets to watch. Charles doesn’t fight. He comes out with his hands up and doesn’t resist when the police rudely shove him into the car and take him away.
In the weeks to follow, Charles, Maria and I exchange many letters and I become friends with a convict. Our friendship is short lived though because 3 months later Charles Baker was executed. It’s been 3 years since then and now Maria and I’s sixteenth birthdays are coming up.
If there’s one thing I know for sure though, is that I will never, ever forget Charles Baker, the kind convict.