Excerpt of “Charity”

This is a story I’ve been working on for many years.  The plot has change several times.  Enjoy chapter 1.

And why is Simms a popular surname with me?


 

 

 

1 

June 1985 

 

 

It was dark inside the bag; dark and cold.  Instantly frightened, she began to panic.  Tears flowed and a whimper was heard as she pushed out her little legs in an attempt to free herself.  She felt a trickle of blood on her knee from when she attempted to break free.   Within mere moments, pressure was placed over her mouth as if trying to quell the blood flow of an open wound.  After an unknown amount of time she was taken out of the dark, cold bag and placed in a dark, cold room.  She couldn’t see what was inside this room but she knew there was a bed; she knew because she was chained to it.  The cold metal bit at her wrists and ankles.  She tasted something metallic in her mouth, bitter like a penny.  Charity was far too young to know that it was blood that she tasted.  She looked around frantically to get even the slightest glimpse of where she was.  After a short while her young eyes adjusted slightly to the darkness and she could make out what appeared to be a single room.  Ugly paneled walls and uncarpeted flooring was nearly all she could make out.  Opposite the bed was a door; at its peak she could see a faint light.  There was someone in there.  Was it him?  Could there be another person with him?  She thought of crying out. 

 

Charity had never before been afraid of anything.  She reveled in games of courage with her older brother Timmy.  While most girls her age would screech at the site of a bug of any kind; Charity felt no fear.  Heights were not an issue either.  Timmy would often dare her to do things in an attempt to have her punished.  One afternoon while the summer sun baked their little town, Timmy dared his sister to climb up to the roof of their home and stand there until Mom came home.  She did.  The victory was worth the wrath.  The only thing she was ever afraid of was being left alone.  And now, chained to that rickety old bed frame, she was unable to claim her fear.  Despite having spent an hour in the trunk of a smelly old car, her mind froze, and in that instant she realized what was happening to her.  She fought to stay quiet while tears welled in her little eyes; thinking quickly to what had happened. 

 

“This is absurd!”  Charity exclaimed, using the most grown up word she could think of.  She wasn’t completely certain of its meaning, but she knew that it was appropriate for this situation.  “Yesterday a scoop of chocolate was only fifty cents.  I don’t have a dollar!”   

It was plain to see how a 10 year old girl could lose her patience over the ever increasing ice cream prices.  Inflation is hurting everyone, her father would say.  She turned on her heals and left the shop.  As the screen door to the ice cream shop slammed behind her, she was furious to see her friends Tammy and Monica sitting on the wooden bench outside smiling blissfully; their faces covered in chocolate.  She stormed off down Jackson Street towards home.  Two blocks away she spied Billy Simms sitting on the steps outside the library with a chocolate ice cream cone in his hands.  Billy had a big crush on Charity, and he never let her forget it.  She walked up to him and surprised him. 

“Hi Billy.”  She said it as sweet as she could.  “Whatcha got there?” 

Bill Simms knew what she wanted and he immediately weighed his options. 

“If you want this ice cream Charity it’s gonna cost you.”  Charity tapped her feet in annoyance. 

“What do you want?” 

Billy turned his head to put his book down.  It was more than enough time for the man to throw the bag over Charity’s head and take off.  Billy was up in a flash and running after him.  He didn’t understand why Charity wasn’t yelling or fighting back.  The man was wearing a white t shirt and dirty blue work pants, fresh grease stains permanently adorned the cuffs of both legs.  He had curly blonde hair, of which certain amounts seemed to be permanently stuck to his face.   Billy tried to get a decent look but the man was wearing dark sunglasses.  Never trust a man in dark sunglasses, Charity’s father would say.  He stopped, and the back of a dusty old Nova popped open to reveal an empty trunk. 

“Hey,” Billy yelled to the man.  “What are you doing?”  

The man dropped the sack into the trunk and turned to face the boy.  Billy stopped in his tracks.  The man didn’t speak but pulled off his sunglasses to present himself clearly to the boy.  His face, etched with pock marks, was caught in the light of the late morning sun.  Billy cursed himself for not being brave enough to stop him.  He cursed himself for not running immediately to get help.  Billy froze right there in that little library parking lot and cursed himself for getting out of bed so early.  The man stared right at him and grazed his index finger across his neck just under his grossly protruding Adam’s apple.  The meaning of the gesture was understood: Tell anybody what you just saw and you’ll die.  Billy Simms was far too accustom to that threat to not take it seriously.  Who could he possibly tell?  Who would believe him?  They would ask him about the girl.  They would ask him how long she had known him.  They would certainly ask him about the man.  He wouldn’t be able to lie; not to a police officer.  They would ask him if the man was familiar to him, and he would be unable to lie.   

 

Billy Simms would tell no one. 

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