Tag Archive | murder

Sidetracked by Dellani Oakes Part 66

sidetracked resized

Cover image from Free Stock Photos: Railroad Track On A Fall Day by Curtis Dean Wilson

“Is something wrong?”

“What? No. Just thinking…. They’ve offered me Mona’s job.”

Deirdre knew there had been a temporary manager in her place, since her arrest.

“Would it mean moving?”

“No. They want me at this store. It might mean a change down the line, but unlikely. I’ve worked at the same store since it opened. I know it better than anyone else. It would mean a few business trips for meetings, but no more jaunts for set ups. What do you say? You want to be the wife of the store manager?”

“Yes! It’s a wonderful opportunity for you!”

“I hoped you’d say that, because I accepted almost as soon as the words left the district manager’s lips. This would put me on a fast track for his job, in a few years. But he’s bucking for tri-state, so that would be okay with him.”

“Really? Wow! I think I’ve had my limit of excitement for the night.”

“I hope not,” Fred cut his eyes at her, giving a seductive smile. “Because I have plans for the rest of the night.”

“You do, huh? Am I to be party to these plans?”

“You’re the main recipient of the plans. And I’ve saved a special treat or two.”

“What could you possibly have in mind, that you haven’t used in the last twenty years?”

“You’d be surprised.”

And she was—happily so. As they snuggled into one another’s arms, she lay with her head on Fred’s chest.

“I finished my book.”

“I remember. We celebrated.” He kissed her forehead. “Much as we just did.”

“I found someone to edit it for me. And I want to submit it for publication.”

“Really? That’s fantastic! My wife, a published author, eh?”

“We haven’t gotten that far yet, but maybe one day.”

“Not the Great American Novel, though.”

“Sadly no. It will never be that, but it’s still good—at least I think so. Maybe one day, I’ll write one of those, but for now, I’m happy. In the meantime, I’ll keep writing.”

“Let’s hope that with the next one, you don’t have anything interfere. I don’t think I can take anymore of that kind of excitement.”

He nuzzled her throat and she knew what kind of excitement he did want. She let him kiss and fondle her a few minutes before turning to face him.

“Are you trying to distract me, my love.”

“Yes. Am I being successful?”

“Yes!” Her voice caught in her throat as he nibbled and licked.



© 2019 Dellani Oakes

Sidetracked by Dellani Oakes Part 65

sidetracked resized

Cover image from Free Stock Photos: Railroad Track On A Fall Day by Curtis Dean Wilson

Deirdre smiled, wiping her eyes, as she nodded. She listened to that song nearly every day, and loved it.

“Without further adieu, mes aimes have more great music for you. Join us in celebrating this special night. And if Fred and Deirdre recall, this is the anniversary of the first time I met them, and was welcomed into their home and family.”

The evening progressed with a variety of music that Deirdre and Fred loved. After they ate, they joined others on the dance floor, to one side of the stage. Near the end of the program, Eoin took his place center stage once more, now dressed as Angelique.

“This is the last dance of the night, ladies and gentlemen. Your boys tell me this is the first song you ever danced to as husband and wife. I hope they’re right, or I’m going to look like a fool.”

The introduction began, and Deirdre burst into happy tears. This was their song, the first time they made love, it was playing, and they chose it as their first dance at their wedding. Eoin did the old Otis Redding song, I’ve Been Loving You, great justice. His voice rose and fell, alternately crooning and growling out the words.

The audience went wild once more, demanding an encore. Eoin grinned at Deirdre.

“I’ve got the perfect song in mind, but I need help. You lot,” he pointed to Fred and Deirdre. “You come up and help me.”

She’d had just enough alcohol to think it would be fun. They were helped onto the stage as the bass and drum began. Eoin took the first verse without telling them the song, but both of them recognized it. Their voices joined his on the chorus, and they sang the unedited version of Space Lord by Monster Magnet. By the second chorus, the entire audience joined them on, “Space Lord Mother f**ker!”

Eoin and Deirdre did a silly, sexy dance. Not to be left out, Fred turned her around to face him, and continued the seductive dance with her. When the song ended, he pulled her close, kissing her deeply. Giddy and lightheaded, Deirdre clung to him as their kiss continued.

They didn’t hear the thunderous applause, or the cheering, for a good minute. Once Eoin cleared his throat twice, and tapped Fred’s shoulder, they came up for air. Blushing and finger combing her hair, Deirdre was persuaded to take a bow. Fred’s was more awkward, but they both made a good showing for themselves.

They followed Eoin and the others off stage, where they were hugged and kissed by the cast and crew. Everyone congratulated them on their performance, and several offered them a job. Politely declining, they finally were able to follow Eoin to his dressing room. He went behind a screen to change, while they sat and talked to him.

“Did you like the show?”

“It was fabulous! How did you know what songs to pick?”

“You sing a lot around the house, and I’ve seen what you posted on Facebook. Also, your boys were a fountain of information. What about the encore?” He came around the screen, dressed in jeans and a tee shirt, still with his Angelique face on. Sitting at the makeup table, he proceeded to remove this as they talked.

“It was f**king perfect,” Fred declared. “I love that song. I don’t know why, but I do. Embarrasses the hell out of our boys, perhaps that’s why?” He winked at his wife.

“You’ll be all right on the road? Didn’t drink too much?”

“Yes, Mum. I know my limits.”

“Good, I don’t have to take your keys and lecture.” Once his face was clean, he turned around with a grin. “I’ve asked Fonda to move in with me. I wanted you to be the first to know.”

“That’s fantastic! We’re so happy for you!” Deirdre said, smiling.

“I couldn’t have gotten to this point without the two of you. You have done more for me than my own parents. I want to ask her to marry me, but that can wait a bit. We need to get used to this first. We are having a house warming in a couple weeks, and you lot will have to be there.”

“Absolutely. You’re both invited for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years!” Deirdre said, bouncing with glee.

“One holiday at a time, but yes. We’ve neither of us any family but you. It means so much to us both that you’ve adopted us. Thank you.”

“You’re family,” Fred said. “Son of our hearts.”

They said their final farewells and drove home. Deirdre chattered happily, recapping the evening. Eventually, she realized that Fred wasn’t saying much.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

Sidetracked by Dellani Oakes Part 64

sidetracked resized

Cover image from Free Stock Photos: Railroad Track On A Fall Day by Curtis Dean Wilson

The girls blushed.

“No, ma’am,” Inez said. “You don’t mind that I’m older?”

Deirdre shook her head. “I want him happy. If you do that, then I don’t mind.”

“Thank you.”

Their guests didn’t linger, but the young men walked the girls out to see them off, and stayed quite a while. When they returned, they were both smeared with lipgloss, which Deirdre politely ignored, though she did tell them to wash.

“Are you happy?” she asked when they came back.

She was seated in the recliner, alone in the living room. Fred was playing Call of Duty with his younger sons. They were yelling and swearing loudly in the den.

“Getting there,” Eoin said. “She’s not Wendy, but I believe she could be more.”

“Good. Keep it in your pants,” she ordered sternly.

“And if not, keep it wrapped,” the young men chorused.

“No more grandchildren until I’m fifty. That includes you,” she pointed at Eoin.

“Can’t promise that,” he said with a sly grin and a wink. “But perhaps I can wait until you’re forty. But if you think I’m waiting that long to have sex, you are, in fact, mistaken.”

Deirdre giggled, tossing her head back. “Duly noted. It does my heart good to see you both smile.”

Eoin got ready to go home a little later, promising to come by for dinner the next night. “I promise to eat you out of house and home.”

“I have so much food, even the Vacuum Brothers can’t suck it all down. Please, you would be doing me a favor. And a standing invitation for Sunday dinner, since you aren’t working.”

“Yes, Mum, I promise. And I’ll call when I get home.”

“Good. I’ve trained you well.”

Eventually, life got back to normal. A new principal replaced Harkness and another golf coach was found to step in for Bullock. Inez, Fonda and Eoin became fixtures around the house, and Deirdre worked furiously on her book. It wouldn’t be then next Great American Novel, but she was pleased with it.

Once she was out of her boot, she and Fred decided to go to Eoin’s show. He set them up with seats near the stage, and told them to order whatever they wanted. The management had agreed to cover their meal, as a thank you.

Excited as a girl going on her first date, Deirdre dressed for their night out. Her dress, chosen by Eoin, was a shimmery red, which offset her pale complexion and blonde hair. Her fancy, matching shoes, sported a stiletto heel, giving a graceful curve to her leg. When she walked into the living room, her boys snapped pictures of her, requiring more when she joined their father.

“Now I know what it’s like for you, on special occasions,” she teased. “Can we go now? We’ll be late.”

“Go,” Aiden said. “Have fun. Be good and don’t stay out late. I want you back here no later than two.” He slipped something into his father’s hand. “We don’t want any hiccups,” he said, dropping his voice to sound stern.

Fred chuckled when he saw a condom packet in his palm. He dropped it into Aiden’s pocket. “Thanks, but no.”

“Seriously, Dad. No more kids. I’m tired of the brothers I have, already.”

Laughing, their parents went out to the driveway. Climbing into the Jeep didn’t seem very classy, but Fred’s heap had now been given to Aiden.

Arriving at the club, they were treated like royalty. Stacy saw them to their table, at the point of the stage, where it jutted into the audience. All the servers came to say hello, and they were lavished with food and drinks. After his first Tom Collins, Fred switched to ginger ale. Deirdre had two Cosmos before the show started, but didn’t want anymore after that.

The lights dimmed and Eoin’s voice began, with no accompaniment. After the first few notes, a quiet guitar joined, then drums and organ. He seemed to caress the words as he sang, the lights slowly rising to show him standing alone on the stage. Dressed in sleek black pants, and a sparkling white silk tee shirt, he wasn’t in drag. The song, Arms of a Woman, wound to a close and the applause was deafening.

“Good evening, my friends,” he said, using his own mild tenor voice. “Forgive my dishabille, I promise Angelique will visit later. Tonight is very special for me, because two people, dear to my heart, have come to see us for the first time. Closer than my own parents, they have taken this strange Irishman to their hearts. Welcome, Deidre and Fred.” He gestured to them. “We have a very special show for them tonight, featuring some of their favorite songs. I have on good authority that my opening number is near the top of the list.”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

Sidetracked by Dellani Oakes Part 63

sidetracked resized

Cover image from Free Stock Photos: Railroad Track On A Fall Day by Curtis Dean Wilson

“You’re welcome. Thank you for standing up for what’s right,” Aiden replied, giving each a gentle kiss.

With Inez, he got more than just a little kiss in return. Both realized it wasn’t the venue for such a thing, but she couldn’t help it. He promised to call her, and the girls also went to the buffet.

Finally, the line ended and they were able to get some food. Several of the ladies had set aside special tidbits for them, knowing they would disappear quickly. The buffet was hosted by the Council of Catholic Women. The family made sure to thank them for their kindness and generosity.

“It’s the least we can do for a lost lamb,” the president, Mary, said. “When Barry told us the circumstances, we couldn’t say no.”

It was finally time to go. The family, with Eoin, drove home. Changing into more comfortable clothing, they sat in the living room together. Fred brought out a bottle of wine that looked somewhat old and dusty.

“I had planned to save this to celebrate Aiden’s twenty-first birthday, but I think we need it now. I am a firm believer in celebrating someone’s life, after mourning their passing. We’ve had the sorrow of the day, now the joy.” He poured each of them a glass, including the two younger boys. “To Wendy. You touched our lives in many ways, whether you knew it or not. Your love, gave us a beautiful granddaughter. Your death brought us closer together. We mourn you, daughter, but delight in you as well. May you find peace that you didn’t know in this life.” He raised his glass.

The all clinked glasses before sipping the wine. It was a good vintage, a lovely, mellow white wine. Fred gazed down into his glass after taking his first sip.

“I bought this the day we found out we were going to be parents. From the beginning, I knew it was a boy. I have no idea how. I had a name picked out, and I was lucky Deirdre liked it. I wanted to name my first born son after the best man I knew, my grandfather, Aiden Stewart Partridge. He came to this country as a boy, with his mother and younger brother. His mother wasn’t well, so he was the one who found work, supporting them. He worked tirelessly until the day he died, providing for his family. If you will bear with me a moment more, to my grandfather.”

They toasted his grandfather as well. After that, the mood lightened and they told funny stories about Wendy and Granda Aiden. He had been around when Aiden was young, and he remembered the old man fondly.

The stress of the morning finally caught up with Deirdre and she went to bed. When she woke later she heard voices, more than she’d anticipated. Not quite feeling up to a houseful of company, for the first time in years, she made her slow way to the living room. She found Vanessa and Dario, along with Fonda and Inez. Not a bad crowd, she could handle that.

Fred brought her water and a pain pill once she was settled in the recliner. Eoin fussed, doing his own impression of a mother hen, and she had to laugh at him.

“I didn’t get a chance to meet the young ladies,” she said, smiling at Fonda and Inez. She didn’t miss how close the girls were sitting to Aiden and Eoin, but it didn’t bother her.

Aiden made the introductions.

“It was their testimony that helped get the search warrants,” Vanessa explained. “But that’s not why we’re here.”

“We know you have a lot of food already,” Fonda said. “But we really wanted to thank you, and this is the only way we know how. Despite our mothers’ shortcomings, they insisted that it wasn’t a true thank you celebration without food. So we made a comfort meal.”

Once they were all seated at the table, the girls served heaping bowls of mashed potatoes, parsnips and butter beans. Along with these side dishes, they served the best fried chicken any of them had tasted. This wasn’t the Colonel, or Publix deli, they had made it themselves.

“My granny taught me how to fry chicken before I got my first bra,” Fonda said, unashamedly. “The secret, she says, is cooking in cast iron. I don’t know if that’s true, but I don’t use anything but the deep skillet she gave me when I was ten.”

Inez set two platters, mounded with flaky biscuits, in front of them. “My grandmother insisted that every girl had to know how to make biscuits. While Fonda friend chicken, I mixed biscuits until I could do it in my sleep.”

“Mine are never this light,” Deirdre said.

“You could pave a road with them,” Fred said, earning himself a punch in the ribs. “I’m telling the god’s truth, woman,” he laughingly complained.

“Which is why we have Pillsbury,” she countered. “I know my weaknesses. This is absolutely delicious. Thank you.” She genuinely liked the girls, and felt that her two oldest boys, that being Aiden and Eoin, were in good hands. “At least I know they won’t starve,” she teased.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

Sidetracked by Dellani Oakes Part 62

sidetracked resized

Cover image from Free Stock Photos: Railroad Track On A Fall Day by Curtis Dean Wilson

The service was beautiful. Father Barry spoke as if he knew Wendy, and Aiden suspected he’d spoken to some of their friends, in order to find out about her. Near the end of his sermon, he stepped in front of the podium, putting his hand on the coffin.

“I didn’t know this young lady personally, but after speaking to those who loved her, I feel as if my life missed something, not having her in it. The world has lost a loving spirit, but heaven has been given an angel. If you will, please, join me in our closing song. You’ll find the words in the program.”

The pall bearers walked forward and the organ soared around them. The congregation raised their voices in song. The words to I Shall Not Walk Alone had always brought tears to Deirdre’s eyes, but hearing everyone sing it for Wendy, was too much. She forced herself to walk out of the church behind the coffin, but she wobbled. Corin steadied her on her left, Burl on her right. The men set the coffin on the rack that slid into the hearse. She and her boys stood together, and were joined by Eoin and Fred. Watching the hearse pull away, the two young men broke down once more.

There was to be a reception at the fellowship hall, so they walked over. The family, and Eoin, were lined up to receive condolences. Aiden wished he were anywhere but there, but it was part of the ceremony. He felt he owed it to Wendy to see this through.

A couple came up to him. They didn’t speak right away, but the woman took his hand, staring into his face. They looked to be in their late thirties or early forties. She was blonde, elegant. He was swarthy and rugged.

“You must be Aiden,” she said, her voice a mellow alto.

“Yes…ma’am. And you are?”

“Amanda and Leonard Register. You gave us our daughter,” she said softly. “We debated coming, but we had to say goodbye to dear Wendy. We also wanted you to have this.” She took a framed photo from her handbag. It was a picture of his daughter, dressed in a pretty pink dress, a bow in her hair. “She will be three in a month and we would be pleased if you would come to her party. You can be Uncle Aiden, if that’s all right?”

“Yes. Yes, of course! Thank you! You have no idea what this means to me. To be a small part of her life. Thank you. My parents, Fred and Deirdre Partridge, my brothers and our dear friend, Eoin Reilly.”

“You’re Eoin?” Amanda said, taking his hand. “Wendy talked about you. She lived with us before Rowan was born.”

“You kept her name?” Aiden didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

“Such a lovely name, how could we not? Wendy spoke of you both so often, and fondly, we feel as if we know you. We are so very sorry for your loss.”

“Thank you,” Eoin said graciously. “May I come with Aiden? I feel…she talked of you and the baby, Rowan, so much these last few months. If I may?”

“Absolutely! And we would like you all to visit from time to time. Lenny’s family is mostly gone. He grew up in foster care, like Wendy. That was one reason we were drawn to her. I came from a huge family, but we can always have more, don’t you find?”

“I do,” Deirdre said softly, taking her hand. “Thank you for making the trip down. Gainesville is over three hours.”

“We moved to Ormond a year ago, so we’re much closer now.”

“Thank you, son,” Leonard spoke for the first time, taking Aiden’s hand. “She’s such a treasure and a joy for us. We could never have our own, and having Wendy choose us, was such a blessing.”

“I’m so glad you’re all so happy. Thank you again.” He shook the other man’s hand, and was pulled into a hug. Amanda hugged him, too, and they wandered over to the buffet table.

“Uncle Aiden,” Eoin said softly. “Not bad.”

“I can live with it. F**k, Eoin, I’m a dad!”

His emotions were in such a jumble, he didn’t know what to do with himself. He didn’t have time to figure it out, because Fonda and Inez walked over. They had both been crying and their makeup was in ruins. Inez hugged Aiden, and Fonda buried her face on Eoin’s chest. They held them gently, hardly knowing what to do. A few minutes passed, and they disentangled themselves.

“Sorry, guys. Lord, we’ve made a mess of your shirts.” Fonda wiped at it with a tissue, but it didn’t help.

“Not to worry,” Aiden said. “Are you okay? You both look pretty shaken up. More than just this.”

“Our folks are in jail,” Fonda said. “And it’s about goddamn time!” she said a bit louder than she’d intended. “Sorry. Our dads, especially, deserve it. Thank you for making me brave,” she said, touching Aiden’s cheek, then Eoin’s.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

Sidetracked by Dellani Oakes Part 61

sidetracked resized

Cover image from Free Stock Photos: Railroad Track On A Fall Day by Curtis Dean Wilson

Jasper arrived, taking Harkness from Fred’s less than tender mercies. Wrenching the principal’s arms behind him, he didn’t listen to the screaming, but hustled him to a nearby cruiser.

“Keep an eye on him. His hand is broken,” he ordered.

“You got it, Boss,” Aaron said from a few feet away.

“Hang in there, kids, the ambulance is on the way. Deirdre, nice work, babe.” Jasper kissed her surprised mouth. “Nay will be very proud.”

Fred helped his eldest son to his feet and out of the pond. Deirdre and Corin tore up Corin’s shirt to wrap around Burl’s bleeding leg. Not long after, the ambulance arrived. Then another. The family loaded into them and were taken to the hospital.

“I can’t believe you did all that,” Deirdre said, giving each son a hug and kiss, followed by more, until they protested.

“I told you, Mom. No one messes with the Partridge Boys,” Aiden said, and passed out.

Hours later, the family was home. Deirdre was in a cast because she’d managed to tear a ligament when she ran after Harkness. Aiden was overnight in the hospital, but Eoin had asked to be the one to stay. Burl’s leg had taken thirty stitches to put back together, and Corin’s ribs and knuckles were torn and bruised.

“No school tomorrow,” Deirdre said. “Maybe not ever again.”

“You can’t keep us home forever, Mom,” Burl said. “We make you crazy in five minutes.”

“True. But the rest of the week and maybe the next….”

She got no argument.

They were trying to decide what to do for dinner, when the doorbell rang. Fred, who was the only mobile one, answered. Their cop friends were there with a ham dinner, complete with yams, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and fresh bread.

“We’ll keep it short, we know you’re in pain,” Vanessa said. “But we needed a celebration, now that this is over.”

“And tomorrow, we plan a funeral,” Deirdre said sadly.

“That’s all taken care of,” Teague assured her. “My mother and aunts took care of the details. She’s going to have a beautiful send off. We didn’t know if she was Catholic or Protestant, but I don’t imagine God minds one way or the other. It happened that our parish priest had an opening in his schedule and agreed.”

“How much did you have to persuade him, McTeague?” Jasper teased.

“Lil bit,” Teague said, holding his fingers less than an inch apart. “Actually, Father Barry is very cool. He went to school with some of my cousins.”

“Everyone went to school with some of your cousins,” Jasper reminded him. “Cause half the school was your cousins.”

“So did you,” Teague said, sounding petulant.

“Not denying it, and loved every minute of not being related to the most beautiful women in the county.”

“All that aside,” Nadeya picked up the conversation thread. “The service is set for two o’clock tomorrow. It was Barry’s only window.”

“Good. Does Eoin know?”

“Yes,” Nadeya replied. “He’s a pall bearer. We were going to have Aiden be one, but since he’s not in any shape for it, would you?” she asked Fred.

“I would be honored. She’s the mother of my granddaughter.” He blinked hard, pressing his lips together.

Deirdre knew he was very moved by the request. He might not shed his tears publicly, but she knew he grieved for the girl he barely knew.

Their friends left as soon as they’d cleaned up after dinner. The family spent a quiet night, sleeping deeply, knowing they were safe.

Despite the solemnity of the day, it was bright and sunny, too beautiful for the sorrowful occasion.

“Funerals should always be in the rain,” Deirdre mused as she dressed. “It feels like God is crying.”

“Maybe sunshine is better,” Fred said, holding her from behind. “Because it’s like God is welcoming his daughter home.”

They drove over to the church in Deirdre’s car with Fred driving. They had picked up Aiden earlier in the day, and he rode in the backseat, stony faced and somber. For once, the boys didn’t squirm or argue and they reached their destination in silence.

Walking into the church, Aiden paused on the threshold, his heart tightening in his chest. A sob caught in his throat. He didn’t want to break down so soon, but he couldn’t stop it. Eoin wasn’t far away. He took Aiden in his arms and they cried quietly together. Since they were sitting in for Wendy’s family, they sat in a reserved spot near the front. Their cop friends filled in the rows behind them. The members of the golf team who had graduated with Wendy, sat together, not far away. All the girls were crying softly. The boys looked red eyed, fighting the tears.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

Sidetracked by Dellani Oakes Part 60

sidetracked resized

Cover image from Free Stock Photos: Railroad Track On A Fall Day by Curtis Dean Wilson

Oliver was in a heap on the floor with Corin standing over him, fists clenched. Burl held Moe by the front of the shirt, threatening to break his face.

“You okay, brother?” Burl asked over his shoulder, not taking his eyes from Moe.

“Yeah,” Aiden gasped. “Thanks. How?” He slumped to the ground, leaning against the cool, comforting tile.

“I saw Harkness poking at you. I knew he was up to something, so I grabbed Cor and we followed. When I saw you come in here, I called Jasper. They should be here any second.”

The door burst open again and Officer Mendez slid through the opening. “Boys! You’re okay. Well, some of you, sort of…. What happened?” He stood with his hands on his hips, trying to catch his breath. He’d run across the courtyard to find them.

Aiden explained, finally realizing that Harkness was gone. “Dammit, the bastard left!”

“You go see the nurse, let me take care of this. Jesus, what a mess.” He took his radio off his shoulder and started talking rapidly on it.

Aiden, Burl and Corin started toward the main office, to see the nurse. None of them had escaped injury, though they were excited by the outcome.

“Thank you,” Aiden said. “If you hadn’t come…. I don’t know how many of them it would have taken to whip my ass, but I knew how many they were going to use.” he quoted his favorite comedian, Ron White.

“He must be okay, he’s quoting stand up,” Burl said, dabbing a split lip with the neck of his tee shirt.

They were filing into the nurse’s office when they saw Harkness in the parking lot, running toward his car. Aiden tapped his brothers.

“We can’t let him get away.”

“Jasper’s coming,” Burl protested.

“He’s not here yet! You coming?” He dashed off, hitting the emergency door from the office.

Alarms started ringing, people stood up, wondering what the hell was going on. Soon, all hell was going to cut loose, and they’d lose Harkness in the morass of people spilling from the building. Realizing he wouldn’t get to his car in time, the principal started running. Corin went after him, his brothers flanking the running man. Each step took them closer. Across the driveway, over the curb, onto the grass. They were running out of time and space. Once he got to the road, there would be no stopping him.

Burl’s fingers brushed the man’s jacket as Harkness hopped the curb. He tried to follow, but tripped. Losing his balance, he fell hard, his shin scraping the concrete. He rolled to his side, bellowing in pain, his leg bleeding.

Corin hopped the curb, trying to tackle the principal. Had he been as tall as his brothers, he’d have made it. He missed by a breath. Aiden used the distraction to barrel full tilt at the conniving bastard. His long legs, and anger, gave him speed and power. He hit Harkness from the side, crashing into his hips. They went down in a tangle of arms and legs, rolling toward the retention pond at the front of campus.

Burl lay still, trying to stop the bleeding from his shredded calf. Corin struggled to right himself and recover, but his head was spinning and he couldn’t do much more than crawl.

With a mighty splash, Aiden and Harkness hit the pond. Aiden had the misfortune to be on the bottom when they landed. Gagging and sputtering, he got a breath, but Harkness was on top of him, pushing his face under water. Aiden thrashed and kicked, using his feet to knock the other man off balance. Finally connecting with Harkess’ balls he got the advantage. Bigger and younger, he had strength on his side, but Harkness fought dirty. Grabbing Aiden’s face, he tried to drive his thumbs into the boy’s eyes. When that didn’t work, he tried to punch him in the throat.

It was all Aiden could do to stay upright. He fended off the blows, but he was weakening. Hands slippery with water, he lost his grip. That was all the principal needed. Levering himself upward, he knocked Aiden down again. Grabbing the boy’s shirt, he raised his fist to strike a blow to drive his nose into this brain. Aiden couldn’t escape, he could only struggle feebly.

Thudding feet ran passed Burl and Corin. They couldn’t tell who they both were, but one was definitely their mother. They could hear her screaming before they saw her, like an air raid siren, loud, shrill and continuous. She threw herself at Harkness. Grabbing the hand which was raised to strike her son, she wrenched his thumb and fingers apart, like Nadeya had shown her. Not stopping when she met resistance, she heard the bones crack.

Harkness dropped her son. Screaming with pain, he found himself face first in the water. Fred grabbed his injured hand, twisting it in an Aikido hold as he flipped Harkness over. His foot on the man’s shoulder kept him face down, sputtering as he struggled to keep his nose out of the water. Fred pushed him further, increasing the twist and tension on the principal’s arm. A bubbling, gurgling scream escaped Harkness’ lips.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes