"Roller Coaster"~ (chapter fourteen)


Walking down High Street late at night after the traffic had slowed to an infrequent interruption was one of his favorite ways to distance himself from his duties and the little monsters at the children’s home. The hours after ten or eleven o’clock were usually relatively peaceful on the street and the old-town charms of Worthington really came to life without the traffic noises. The quaint old brick buildings, the antique street lights and the calm quiet of the village green in the town center took him back to a time when life was less frantic and people were much more civilized and respectful of each other. He would often sit there in the near dark, dreaming of things that might have been, dreaming of times long past and wondering why he was born into these days and not into those long gone days where he was certain he would have felt much more at home. His reveries were sometimes interrupted by the local police making their rounds and ordering him off after first checking his ID and playing twenty questions about his presence and motives. This was one of those nights and just past the midnight hour they arrived to intrude upon his thoughts, searchlights blinding, bullhorn blaring, shattering the calm he sought so diligently and treasured so dearly.
“Whatcha doin’ there, boy?” “Put your hands up where we can see ‘em!” “Don’t try nuthin’ stupid, now!” The Worthington cops were not exactly known for subtlety and the fact that there was a different edge to their voices did not escape his notice. After shoving him head-first into the cruiser and then the usual half hour interrogation they shoved him out of the cruiser and back down the street toward Wesley Cottage. “Better stay away from the school and learn to keep your ideas to yourself!” He had barely covered one single block of the walk back when it started.
He became aware that the same, beat up dark gray car had been alternately following him, passing him and then turning about to repeat this process. He seemed to recall the same vehicle had performed this ritual during his stroll uptown and as he searched his mind he also recalled it had been parked across from the village green with its throaty motor running as he had sat there on the bench in the darkness, lost in his musings, it then bore no significance. Now it seemed to take on a more menacing aspect.
He tried walking faster, but as he quickened his pace the dark gray shape also increased its speed and the slow circling became more intense. On its third pass the passenger’s window rolled down and then the verbal assault began. “Stinkin’ commie bastard!” “Worthless motherfucker!” “Get the hell out of our town!” “Don’t make us hurt you, ‘cause that’s what we want to do! Give us an excuse!” “Leave while you still can!” As this continued the car drew ever closer, on one pass actually riding up over the curb as it swerved toward him, making him jump into the shadows of the old buildings.
He was nearly running now and in just another few moments he would be near the ravine that ran beside the children’s home. His plan was to vault over the guard rail between the sidewalk and the shelter of the deep ravine and let them try to find him in the darkness or go about their business elsewhere. Another fifty feet and he would be there.
The car made one last screaming turn in the middle of High Street and came at him with what seemed intense purpose, its passenger-side wheels leaping the curb, bearing down on him, its headlights flashed to high beam and then he saw it. A glint of cold blue steel in an outstretched hand pointing directly at his face. He reached for the guard rail as he saw the flash, three sharp cracks ringing out through the night as he threw himself into the deep darkness of the ravine… too late. The first shot whistled past his ear and slammed into a tree with a resounding ‘thunk’… it was nothing like the sound effects in the movies. The second actually banged off the guard rail with a cold metallic twang and disappeared into the night. It was the third one that found its way to him, tearing into his arm as he went over the side of the rail, jumping into the darkness, crashing through the bushes and slamming into the trees as he tumbled and fell down the steep bank into the stream below. He was certain that the sounds of his journey would lead them to where he lay in the darkness, half in the stream, with a fire in his arm and the sound of his heart pounding in his ears, but the last sound he heard after coming to rest was the hot scream of the car’s tires as it turned one last time and flew north down High Street toward the open roads of Delaware County just outside of town.
He lay there in the wet darkness afraid to move, afraid to breathe, afraid they would return to finish him off, until the pain overtook him and he slipped from this terror-filled world into the relative safety of unconsciousness.

"Roller Coaster"~ (chapter fourteen)


Mansfield, United States

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