Saturday, March 14, 2015

Have you read Crash?

Many authors can say that there is one book that they've written which holds a special place in their heart. I love the books that I've written but one particular story holds a special place in my heart and it's one of the 'littler' known of my books. That story is Crash. It came from no where. I mean that literally. I was actually writing another story when it came to me and I paused in typing. It was the first two sentences in the story. It began to grow in my mind and I had to make the decision to ignore it or to open up a fresh word document page and write it.

And so I wrote it. The sentences I wrote is how the book opens ... as well as what appears on the front cover. Did you know that the title of the book does not appear on the front cover? Not many books are published without the title appearing on the cover.

There story begins with the description of a terrible event; the rape of a man. And although this happens Crash is not a story about rape, or about overcoming rape. It is a story about trust; trust in yourself which is the first step to trusting others. 

This Novella is available in digital format at, Barnes and Noble and in paper at Createspace.  


Sophie Baxter notices that there is someone sleeping in the alley that runs along the back of her house. Mistaking the individual for a teenager that has evidently been lost to the streets Sophia takes pity on the boy and goes out to offer him some human kindness ...

“Hey … ” She said softly. It was barely a whisper but the boy leaped to his feet in the way that only the youth could do. He spun in her direction ready to bolt; his eyes had that deer-in-the-headlight look. He was tall, maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to be sitting while he was standing over her, not that she wouldn’t be able to lift the frail boy and toss him if she was forced to; he was just that small. His eyes scanned her form and he seemed to decide that he was in no imminent jeopardy of being harmed because he relaxed his defensive posture.
Now that she could see his face it was evident that someone had beaten him pretty badly. His lip was split, his eye was swollen and nearly completely closed and his mouth looked like it was packed with cotton.  She squinted and slowly held out her hand to him.
“Can you help me up?”
He looked at her hand for a moment and then slowly offered her hand. His palm was smooth but his grip was strong and then he braced himself and helped her to stand. She thought she might pull him over as she struggled to her feet, but he was stronger than he looked.
Once standing she noted that he was taller than her, maybe six feet but his baby face made him seem very much smaller, especially when his eyes lowered at her scrutiny. He had to have realized that she was examining his bruises.
“I’m Sophie.” His eyes flitted to hers before staring at his feet again. She thought he did it more to conceal his face then out of shyness. He nodded once and mumbled a soft sound that could have been hi. He seemed to be politely waiting for her to tell him to leave so that he could make his getaway.
“Do you want some water?”
He looked at her, his brow gathered in confusion as his eyes searched her face. Sophie gestured to her house.
Lucas was not sure what to make of her. He had just stopped to rest for a minute and then she was there. Now that the initial shock of her appearance had disappeared he realized that his body was just one throbbing nerve ending. Even his hair hurt. And his mouth was bone dry. He had money; a little, and he could buy something to drink, but it was too late in the night for anything to be open. And Lucas had learned long ago, to not look a gift horse in the mouth.
He nodded.
The woman headed across the alleyway and Lucas scooped up his duffel bag and gingerly but quickly followed, even though each move felt like he was being pounded with blunt instruments. Sophie stepped over the low cement partition and stumbled over some large pieces of broken concrete that had been concealed in the weeds.
Lucas reached out and steadied her and the woman gave him a surprised but thankful look. She was tall for a lady, and looked to be in her forties, and she was plump … not plump because plump meant rounded. She was just big, proportionate looking even though she wore baggy P.J. bottoms and a super long shirt partially concealed by a jeans jacket. And she had clogs on her feet, the ones with the chunky heel, which is the reason that she had lost her balance on the crumbled concrete. She had a pleasant face, not really pretty, but nice. Her hair was unkempt as if she had just gotten out of bed. It was pulled back into a ponytail, the ends long enough to reach between her shoulder blades.
She moved up the backstairs of a small, but neat, one story house. It seemed all brick and concrete and had a nicely maintained yard. Lucas became a bit leery. He didn’t much go into people’s homes unless they wanted something from him, and what they wanted was never good. His eyes became guarded as he prepared himself for what was surely to come. Would he fuck her if she asked? His body hurt really bad but if she gave him some food then yeah, he probably would. If she had a guy in there though, he would run.
She went inside and held the door opened for him. He hesitated, trying to peer into the darkened room. She gave him a soft smile.
“It’s okay.”
He entered the room and looked around, his eyes becoming adjusted quickly as there was light coming from the next room so that they were not in total darkness. Sophie moved to the fridge and examined its contents before retrieving a bottled water. He accepted it tentatively but once it was in his possession it was his and he quickly untwisted the top and upended the contents into his mouth. He drank swiftly, too swiftly because his head began to pound with brain freeze. He lowered the bottle. He had just drank half of its contents in seconds. He belched and whispered his apology. He suddenly adjusted his weight from one foot to the next. He had to pee. He wouldn’t ask because it was one thing to be given a bottled water that was completely disposable and wouldn’t have to be scrubbed clean because he had come in contact with something that she would need to use again. It was a totally different thing to use her toilet.
“Do you want something to eat?” She asked in the same way that she had asked if he wanted some water. There was no pity, no cajoling, it was just a simple question.
His stomach growled at the mention of food. “Yes.” Why lie? Gift horse and all …
She turned back to the fridge and Lucas drew in a deep breath.
“Um … may I … ” She looked up at him with dark eyes that seemed too dark to be brown. Do people have black eyes? Luke didn’t know but since his went from blue to violet he figured that anything was possible.
“The bathroom?” The woman prompted.
He nodded nervously, but he really had to pee and didn’t know if he could hold it until after she gave him food.
“I’ll show you where it is.” She led him through a large dining room. It was a shotgun house, which meant that he could see clear through to the front of the house even from the back kitchen. It was nice, small but spacious. She didn’t have a bunch of old lady stuff cluttering the rooms, maybe a few too many plants but her furniture was nice and simple from what he could see. She had some art pieces on her walls and they showed abstract images of mainly black people. She didn’t seem rich, but she didn’t seem poor either.
She led him from the dining room to the left and they were in a short hallway. On either side of the hallway were rooms. One was a darkened bedroom. Lucas could make out the shadowy images of furniture and a portion of an unmade bed. He turned quickly away, not wanting the woman to think that he was a maniac. He glanced in the direction of the other room. It was lit and appeared to be an office. Low, jazzy-like music issued from it. But straight ahead was the room he was concerned with; the bathroom. The lady turned to him and he saw her brow shoot up in surprise. He guessed he looked pretty bad and that she hadn’t been able to tell from the darkness outside.
“Take your time. If you want to wash up there are clean towels and wash cloths in the closet behind the door.” Her brown face hid a grimace. “There are … bandages in the medicine chest.” Her eyes swept his dirty clothes before she turned back to the kitchen.
Lucas felt his face redden and knew that she’d seen his embarrassment. Well at least she didn’t kick him out. “Thank you,” he remembered to call out. He saw the woman hesitate but she didn’t turn and continued on to the kitchen. Lucas sighed and shut the door after him.
This was an old house, the fixtures where ceramic and not metal, and they looked like claws. There was even a claw foot tub. But it was nice; so very clean. When was the last time that he’d been in a toilet that didn’t smell of shit and piss? He smelled the faint aroma of soap and pine cleaner.
Lucas lifted the lid on the toilet and quickly peed. It hurt when the urine moved from his bladder and down his urethra leaving a dull ache in his back. One of the guys had given him a good kidney shot. He closed his eyes. He tried not to think of that. But he could smell himself when he opened his jeans and it made him nauseous again. After he had emptied his bladder, Lucas flushed and reached to turn on the water so that he could wash his hands.
He hesitated when his dirty fingers touched the pristine white ceramic. He pumped the soft soap dispenser and began to scrub his dirty hands under the hot water stream. The basin began to fill with blackened water. He repeated the process before his pale digits looked familiar to him. Then Lucas took a deep breath and looked up into the mirror.
His lip twitched and then the pain flared to life, which often happened to him when he caught sight of his injuries. Sometimes it was better not to even look. His lip was split and a dried crust of blood rested on his chin. His eye was really bad, the worst shiner he’d ever had. He couldn’t even see out of it, there was a filmy haze that he hoped wouldn’t result in the loss of sight. His face was swollen like a chipmunk. Lucas looked down at the water and he splashed his face. Using more soft soap, he gently washed his face and neck. He was appalled that the sink was now smeared with black dirt! He reached for one of the washcloths from the small pantry behind the door and quickly dried his face, neck and hands. The once clean wash cloth was soiled. He looked at it in shame and then quickly wiped the sink clean with it. Then he used the soft soap to scrub the washcloth as clean as he could.
He wished he could hide it. He was so embarrassed. Instead, he spread it out to dry on the tub and picked up his bottled water, leaving the bathroom. He could smell food as soon at the door opened and his stomach began to ache with hunger. He had money for food but he never ate his fill. There was always tomorrow to think about. Lucas swept his damp hair to the side where it had gotten wet from his face washing. It concealed his shiner; at least he hoped it did.
He stunk, he was all-beat up, and he was ashamed. He walked into the dining room where the lady; Sophie had placed a plate piled high with food on the table alongside a tall glass of iced tea.
Sophie saw the hesitancy on the boy’s hungry face. “Come on, sit down. Eat up.”
She watched him pull out the wooden dining room chair and look at it warily. Then he sat down very carefully and looked at her in gratitude. His expression nearly broke her heart. Why did people hurt kids?
“Thank you.” His voice was much deeper than she would have expected. It rumbled from his thin body sounding like it had risen from the soul of an old man.
“Its just leftovers.” Sophie liked food, just because she lived alone didn’t mean that she couldn’t enjoy a pot roast or a nice meatloaf. And she made a pot of greens every few weeks and generally froze the leftovers. Lucas’ plate contained some of the greens that she had thawed earlier that day, cornbread also thawed, meatloaf that she had prepared hours earlier, and the last of the mashed potatoes that she had planned to have as leftovers later today. Yeah, it was no longer last night it was officially today.
Lucas might have been shy but he wasn’t too shy to eat under Sophie’s scrutiny. While he quickly shoveled food into his mouth she watched him curiously.
“What’s your name?”
She saw a blush creep up along his pale skin. He was much whiter now that he had evidently washed his face.
“I’m sorry, Ma’am, My name is Lucas. Lucas Reider.”
“I’m not Ma’am, just Sophie. Sophie Baxter.”
“Nice to meet you. Thank you for…everything.”
Sophie gestured for him to continue eating. “Not a problem Lucas.” He tightened his grip on his fork and continued eating enthusiastically.
“Did you get beat up tonight?”
Sophie saw Lucas’ eyes become guarded. He didn’t answer but he did nod.
“Your eye looks really bad. I think you should see a doctor.” She knew that there were free hospitals and clinics. Lucas swallowed a mouthful of food. “I don’t have my identification.” Even at the free clinic you needed identification. “They stole my wallet.”
“Did they take all of your money?”
He shook his head slowly. “I still have some.”
Some. His food soon disappeared and his plate was scraped clean of every remnant of the meal. Sophie wished that she could offer him seconds but there wasn’t any more. She did go into the kitchen and return with two plates each containing a slice of caramel cake that she had bought from the super market. She didn’t dare bake an entire cake for herself, but her local grocers sold cake by the slice.
Lucas’ eyes widened as she slid the plate in front of him. This time he ate slower.
“Thank you, Ma’am--I mean, Sophie!”
Lucas finished his cake, his iced tea and his bottled water and Sophie thought that if she put the kitchen sink in front of him he’d devour that too. Where was that food going in that little teeny body of his? She stood up and Lucas came to his feet quickly. Sophie reached for his plate and paused. She almost dropped the plate when she looked back at him.
“Lucas … ”
He didn’t understand why she had such a look on her face. He didn’t remember doing anything wrong. He looked towards the kitchen where he’d left his duffel bag. He needed to get his things and go and thank her again-
“Lucas … were you raped?”
His head began to spin. “What … ?”
She glanced at the chair that he had risen from and there was a slight smear of blood.
“Oh, god. Miss Sophie, I’ll clean that-!”
She placed her hands on either of his shoulders and held him gently in place. “Don’t worry about that, it’s just an old wooden chair.” Her voice was soft and gentle but her eyes were squinted. Lucas felt embarrassed heat creeping up his body and he knew that his face flamed.
“I’m going to take you to the hospital, Lucas-”
“I’m okay-” he glanced at the chair and at the smear of fresh blood, he felt dizzy again.
He saw her move past him swiftly. She grabbed her purse and keys.
“Miss—Sophie, you don’t have to-” She held out her hand to him and waited. He took a tentative step toward her waiting hand and though he didn’t take it, he allowed himself to be led out the front door.

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