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Authors: Adalynn Rafe

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BOOK: Ripple Effect: A Novel
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What I hadn’t noticed before was Stacy crouched on the floor, trying to help me up. Sympathy spread across her face, not pity, but sympathy. Hazel was heading downstairs from English class with no idea of what had happened, nor would she.

Darien glared at Mr. Leison, a look of hatred filling his face. Darien knew what truly happened that day, and that it wasn’t Cecily seducing Leison. Though Darien was rather weird, he really did have a good heart. He silently stood up for me as he stared the teacher down.

Cecily regained her feet, took her things from Stacy, and ran away down the hall as tears streamed down her paled face. As she ran, I disappeared from the scene and ended up standing next to the turquoise pond once more, now still and serene. Kelly sat on the ground next to Bandit. They stared at the water; Bandit panted and Kelly analyzed what he had seen so far in my life.

“Mr. Leison really did assault me. Violated me.” Shock still filled me. “Threatened me. He made feel so infantile, like I had no one who’d help me. Even went so far as mentioning my sister . . .”

Kelly stood quickly to his feet.

I clenched my jaw. “He knew that I was suicidal; he played that card to his advantage. Leison put that thought in my mind!” Tears started forming in my eyes. “Why did this happen? Of course I went to drugs and alcohol as a last resort . . .”

“Cecily, I’m so sorry,” Kelly said, rubbing my shoulders.

I cried loudly, burying my face in my hands. “I hate him!”

Kelly held me in his arms and I sobbed into his shoulder. My heart was crumbling all over again and my entire body felt broken. It wasn’t fair!

Bandit scratched at my leg before sitting near my feet—his way of showing compassion. My world on Earth fell apart, ripping the fabric that connected my loved ones to their semi-sane lives. But at least Bandit and Kelly were beside me helping me find a way back home—wherever that could be.

 

*              *              *

 

Things went dark once again, but this time I had Kelly’s arms wrapped around me.

Across the lot sat the precinct. Street lights sent an orange glow onto the dark asphalt. It was a small building, with a few windows, glass doors, and a wooden shingled roof. Two or three police cars, Ford sedans from the early two thousands, were parked in front of the building. The autumn night was young, yet filled with darkness.

Cecily—wearing a black tracksuit and ball cap now—paced along the hidden sidewalk lined with large bushes holding changing leaves on one side and tall trees on the other, planted in a strip of yellowing grass. There didn’t seem to be much traffic on the street beside her.

“Sheriff Copper,” she practiced, quietly to herself. “Alan.” She stopped and shook her head. “Sheriff, something’s wrong—” Anger contorted across her face and she let out a small scream as she kicked the bushes. That anger quickly turned into a sob. She was terrified.

“Hunting season is always the most exciting time of the year.” A chuckle released from Sheriff Copper. “Have you ever been hunting?”

I looked at the precinct again and saw that Sheriff Copper, back to us, stood outside the station besides a stranger with dark hair. Copper blocked most of the view of the man, except for his face.

I moved closer to see the other man’s face more clearly. “Not exactly,” he answered.

Kelly grabbed my arm and pointed to Cecily. “She knows who he is.”

Looking from the terror-filled face of Cecily and back to the man, I realized who he was, too. It was Leison, sinking his teeth into Copper. She really was alone in this!

Cecily covered her mouth. She ran for her life as if a demon chased her with a cattle prod. My heart hurt for her, I was terrified for her, for me! It wasn’t right!

The men laughed and I moved closer. Was this a nightmare or was Leison really talking to Sheriff Copper?

Kelly touched my arm softly. “I think this is worse than we thought.”

“Good chat, my boy,” Sheriff Copper said, before brushing an orange leaf out of his white hair. “Oh, and let me know any more about the three girls who’ve been kidnapped. The force has scouted the mountains and mines . . . not a trace of remains. Something’s not right here, Deputy. “

Leison nodded slowly, methodically. His dark eyes glanced at the dark range of mountains and back to Sherriff. “I will look into it.” Head tilted just barely, a dark gleam filled his eyes. “If there are any remains, I assure you they’ll be taken care of properly.”

My stomach felt sick and I covered it with a hand. “Kelly, he’s a bad man, worse than I thought! Look at the evil in his eyes! How’s he fooling anyone if he’s supposed to be a teacher . . . and a cop?”

“He’s a man of many faces, Cecily,” he replied warily.

Copper’s shoulders slumped a little. “I think that this case is more in depth than it appears. I think we need to call the FBI.” Leison’s eyes narrowed. “Trust me, Deputy. I would never call the bureau without valid reasoning.”

“What is the valid reasoning then?” Leison’s eyebrow cocked and he waited.

Sighing loudly, Copper pointed a demanding finger at Leison. “Just for once, do as I say. I really think we need to involve them––”

“Look, Sherriff.” With hands above his belt, Leison became the alpha suddenly. “I’ve talked to an Agent already. They are far too busy to care about our little drama. They said it’s not a big deal.”

Copper seemed confused and almost annoyed that he’d go behind his back and talk to the FBI without his knowledge. “Which agent? And when
exactly
did you do this?”

“Special Agent Reinhardt. She specializes in these cases.” He looked toward the mountains in the west once more. He hid his expression well, appearing stone-faced. “I’d say it was only a few hours ago that I contacted her.”

Sheriff Copper didn’t like this. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I meant to tell you, really. I was just too busy, Alan. You know how it gets sometimes,” Leison replied, staring into his aged face again. “Agent Reinhardt and I have crossed paths once before, long ago.”

“Well, we’ll just keep ourselves open to any help we can get. It would be horrible if those girls are starving to death––or something worse,” Copper mentioned, a bite in his words––a warning, more so.

Maybe Alan wasn’t as stupid as I thought. His keen intuition had made him Sheriff, along with his charisma and desire to do good things. Copper’s sixth-sense worked on most people—except for Leison. Copper was blind to Leison and his demonic charm.

“What are you referring to, Sheriff?” Leison asked, giving him a cold stare.

Sheriff Copper turned his head and I could see half his face, filled with lines of age and exhaustion. “I was thinking that this sounds oddly similar to the case from Oregon. The one with the serial killer who kidnaps the girls in high school. He hides them in caves to starve to death.”

“Do you really think there is a similarity?”

“If we are dealing with that man, then the FBI needs to know. Especially if he has crossed the state line. It’s their jurisdiction now.”

Leison sighed. “Sheriff, I’ve taken care of the FBI. They assured me there is nothing to worry about.”

Sheriff Copper looked sick over it. “I will worry.”

Leison’s eyes narrowed. “Sheriff, nothing of that sort will go on in this town. The killer gathers his victims far before he hides them. Have you heard any upsetting news from young women, anything to suggest foul play in our small town?”

“No, I haven’t. If anything were happening, I’d be the first to know. This community is like a family—” he looked down for a second. “With our force, we’ll stop anything.” Copper gave him a genuine smile

Leison’s eyes went dark, but he smiled. “I’m sure you are right.”

I couldn’t believe it. Copper, you big oaf! Could he not see that Leison was the bad guy? I had left my town in worse shape than I could ever imagine.

What if Leison wasn’t just a rapist? What if he was the serial killer?

And . . . who was next?

Chapter 13

 

An Uncle Sam poster hung on the wall. You know . . . the guy that wore the blue ribbon with white stars on a white top hat. He’s always pointing a finger in your face and had a white beard. He also sported a blue jacket, white shirt, and red bow tie. Yeah, you know Uncle Sam. Every great American would.

I WANT YOU FOR THE U.S. ARMY, ENLIST NOW
; It read below the Uncle Sam drawing.

Those posters were epic. Starting with World War I, they became a hit and had carried on ever since. Nowadays, though, it seemed that the words were replaced with things like
I WANT YOU TO TURN OFF TALK RADIO
,
I WANT YOU TO FIRE CONGRESS
and my favorite,
I WANT YOU FOR THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE.

Honestly though, which teenager in the modern days and age cared about talk radio or congress? Those are old people topics. Unless you were a debate student, of course. My mother always said, “Teenagers need to understand what is going on in the world of politics today because they will be in charge of the world of tomorrow.”

Regardless, politics made me gag. There were too many angry people who yelled and screamed and manipulated each other in politics, and maybe that was why teenagers didn’t care. We got yelled at enough by society. So, we, the teenage population of America, treated dating books and risqué magazines as bibles, and reality TV shows as political influence. Meaning, the world of tomorrow is
royally
screwed. We are all going to hell.

Kelly found the place painstakingly familiar; I watched as it shot across his eyes. And I felt pretty positive that I no longer stood in the twenty-first century anymore. No one in my day and age would have left this poster alone; they would have to mock and put graffiti all over it. But where we were, in its age of time, the poster was left alone to resemble a beacon of patriotism and hope for a better world: all through the efforts of war.

Glancing around me, I found that we had landed ourselves in a school building. Young men were dressed in slacks and suspenders, some nice, some not. Their hair was combed back with what looked like grease. Young ladies wore skirts and semi-nice blouses and sweaters. Their hair was either up in honeycombed-shaped buns or collarbone length and curled under. Of course, lipstick appeared graciously applied.

One girl about my age, or so I assumed, passed us. On her calves, directly down the middle, a line had been drawn with either eyeliner or an eyebrow pencil. It resembled nylon stockings. I learned about it in history once. Then I realized what time period this was––the nineteen-forties during World War II.

Kelly stood frozen in shock.

Three men opened their lockers, each with a helmet and a pinup girl attached . . . plus something about Kilroy. I guess you had to be there, right? I assumed that most of these boys had dads or brothers or cousins in the Army or Armed Forces.

Kelly stepped into a common room. In the corner sat a recruitment table. On the other side of the room was a bunch of tables filled with 1940’s high school students. Tall hair cemented in place, plastered faces and fake smiles, high-waist trousers and ugly suspenders––what a different world I grew up in.

Kelly clearly saw him before I did. The old Kelly was arguing at the recruitment table with a man in a green Army uniform. My Kelly moved closer to the scene and I followed him. A sign hanging on the booth read “Community Recruitment Booth.” It was open to the public.

“Fine,” Kelly muttered, ending whatever discussion he had with the recruitment officer. He mumbled something under his breath that I assumed was not meant to be good.

The officer showed just a flash of sympathy before turning professional. “Sorry, son.”

Kelly puffed his chest and held his head high as he left the booth for the commons. “I will just join the Navy. I always did preferred ships over land,” he said to himself.

My eyes widened as I stared at my Kelly.
He died in the water . . .

His lips were pursed into a thin white line. I almost didn’t exist to him, or so it felt. One thing was on his mind, and that was his death. I understood how he felt, how he’d do anything to change the past so that the present could be rewritten. The truth of it was that . . . it was done. We couldn’t take back the decisions that put us in our graves. Like one time when one of Adie’s earrings magically flew off the counter and into the toilet and I didn’t realize it until I flushed . . . I couldn’t take it back, ever.

Sitting at a table by himself, Kelly lowered his head into his hands and closed his eyes. I could clearly see that his heart was broken by the recruitment thing. There was so much pressure for men to go overseas back then. But it wasn’t just about pressure; it seemed a desire. A noble, worthy, honorable desire that those men had to fight for our country and her freedoms, to show the world what patriotism truly meant.

“Kelly, how’d it go?” Definitely suave, a man with black hair leaned on the table. He seemed well dressed for his country being in the middle of a war, with shiny black shoes and a white suit.

Kelly grumbled. “Go away, Johnny.”

“Come on! Tell me
something.

After looking at Johnny, Kelly budged. “They won’t draft me right now.”

Johnny gave him a look of
so-what
. “Did you at least get a place saver?”

“No. I don’t want to work with the Army anymore. I’m thinking Navy.”

Rolling his brown eyes, Johnny released a loud sigh. “Kelly, you hate boats.”

“I do not!” Kelly got defensive, his blue eyes filling with anger.

“Okay, okay. Calm down, big fella. You’ll get what you want.” Johnny’s eyes looked away as a smile appeared on his attractive face.

Kelly glanced over his shoulder to see Rosie and Anna sending flirtatious glances to Johnny. “See you tomorrow, Johnny.” Kelly sounded depressed, something I never ever saw in my Kelly.

Johnny clapped Kelly on the back. “You want to join us? At least come to the party tonight.”

Kelly shook his head. “No. I promised––”

“Yeah, yeah. You promised Mrs. Sorensen down the street that you’d help her with her farm. I know it, Kelly.” Johnny raised his dark eyebrow and flashed him a proud smile.

“Maybe when I’m done, I can swing by?” Kelly offered.

Johnny nodded his head. “You’re a good man, Kelly. And you’ll make a fantastic soldier.”

“And you?”

He flashed a cocky smile. “Someone has to invent the world of tomorrow.”

Kelly smiled, the first time I’d ever seen him smile in human form, and he was so handsome. “See you later, Johnny.”

With a tilt of the head, Johnny got up and walked toward the two girls. Kelly shook his head at his cocky best friend and stood up. He wore khaki pants, old shoes, a worn-out shirt, and suspenders. He looked like someone living in frugal times, and humbled.

A bell rang, a sign to go to class, and the crowd started to disperse.

“Hey, Kelly––did you fetch your clothes from the left over bins of the parachute factory?” a girl with a thick New York accent asked. She was moderate in size and height and had blond hair pulled into a bun. Smirking red lips let out a malicious giggle.

Three girls stood with her and laughed at her rude comment.

“If you left, who would milk Mrs. Sorensen’s cows?” another girl asked rudely before they giggled again. Heat rose in my cheeks. “Who would Johnny play the pity card on?” and “Who would tutor the dumb kids?” came next, followed by many other insults.

Kelly rolled his eyes and brushed it off. The harassment he was receiving seemed familiar enough to him.

 

*              *              *

 

It was night and we stood in the small kitchen of a home—two bedrooms and with very scarce furniture. There were yellow countertops on top of black cupboards in the kitchen, along with an old-school fridge and stove. No dishwasher or microwave. A few stools sat up to the counter.

“I’m home.” Kelly entered through the plain front door, removing his fraying hat and worn coat before hanging them on the rack in the entrance. “Mom?”

“In here, son. I’m just folding laundry.” Her voice sounded very soft and melodic.

“Uncle Kelly!” A young boy in worn blue pajamas wrapped his arms around him. He was ten at the oldest. It almost looked like a mini-me of Kelly, with blue eyes and brown hair.

Kelly smiled and ruffled his hair. “Hello, Thomas. How was school?”

“It was fine,” he replied. “Are you going away to see my dad and Papa?”

Kelly gave him a scoot with his foot. “You best be doing your homework, bud.”

“Yes, sir.” Shoulders slumped, he headed up the narrow stairs.

We followed Kelly into the kitchen. He carried a brown paper bag of groceries.

“Your nephew sure looks up to you, son,” his mother said with a smile. “You’re his hero.” She ironed in the living the room. She was a small thing with big blue eyes and ash blond hair that she had curled.

Kelly gave her a tired smile. “You look beautiful, Mom.”

She wore a pink dress that had seen better times, and had also drawn lines down her calves. She didn’t have the material things in the world, but she still seemed to look her best every day.

“You say that every time you see me,” she said, blushing. “How is Mrs. Sorensen?”

“She is well. She gave us this.” He held up the paper bag. “It’s filled with food.”

His mother’s blue eyes widened even more. “She is too sweet!”

“Well, we need it. She knows that we don’t have much, and potatoes aren’t much of a diet.” Kelly looked down at the food, relieved.

Every time he brought something home from Mrs. Sorensen, about once a week, his mother always cried. She couldn’t believe the kindness of that little old woman.

“That woman is our saving grace. Bless her soul,” his mother said with a tear-filled smile.

Kelly set the bag on the counter and reluctantly looked at his mother. “Mom—”

She seemed to know what he wanted to say. Tears returned to her eyes, but they weren’t of happiness. “Baby, why can’t you stay home? I haven’t heard from your father or brother for a long time. I can’t lose all of my boys! What about Thomas? What if your brother––”

“Momma—” He sighed. “I’m joining the Navy. It’s safer than the Army.” The look on his face proved he felt unsure about that fact, but he tried to smile.

His mother let out a small laugh. Stepping to him, she held his face in her hands. “Baby, the war will take you if it decides to, regardless of what you or I think. Just stay here with me.” She tried to sound convincing, but her eyes filled with tears again.

“I need to serve my country. I want to serve, Momma. I’m proud to be an American––it’s who I am!”

She shook her head. “There’s more, isn’t there?”

Kelly looked away, almost embarrassed to admit the truth to his hardworking mother. “I need to show the world that poor people can do heroic things too.”

“You’re a good person, better than I raised you to be. You don’t need the war to show them that.”

He managed to smile while holding his mom’s hands in his. “I’m here now, aren’t I?”

After kissing his cheek tenderly, she unpacked the bag of food that Mrs. Sorensen gave them. Fresh milk and cream, some bread, some canned fruit and vegetables, SPAM meat, and sweet rolls surprisingly filled the small paper bag. By the looks on their faces, this was a feast.

Kelly joined his mother in ironing and folding laundry. He seemed to have a charm that made her gray, tired features light up. He absolutely adored his mother, and seeing them interact made my heart clench for my own mother.

BOOK: Ripple Effect: A Novel
5.47Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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