Content 7: Dark Journey (chapter 1-13)

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heinzs
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Content 7: Dark Journey (chapter 1-13)

Post by heinzs » Tue Mar 02, 2004 2:20 pm

Dark Journey
the Ravyn

Prologue:

Well, I guess I should begin from the start and work my way to the end. That is how it is supposed to be done, or so I've been told. My story starts like most stories. I had a pretty happy child hood up until I was 9 years old. That was when my father was killed in an accident on an oil rig. He had been a roughneck most of his adult life, and loved the work. He worked very long hours and was usually filthy when he came home. He was a good and kind man. All my memories of him are good ones, which is more than I can say for most of the rest of my memories.

From what I understand, he was running a 'swab line' which is a long pole attached to a cable that they would run into a well in order to pull fluid out. Don't ask me why they did this, it was just something they did. They would run the cable down into the well until it got to the bottom, then pull it back out, pulling fluid up with it. Then back down went the cable, and back up again.

My father was running the brake handle, which means that he was letting the cable down into the well, braking when the cable's progress slowed so as not to get slack in it. It was explained to me that the swab cup assembly hit a pocket of fluid that hadn't made it to the surface on the previous run, and hadn't dropped all the way to the bottom. This caused the cable to go slack unexpectedly. When this happened, a loop formed in the cable and dropped around my father's head. Then the swab cup assembly dropped through the fluid and ran free again, pulling the cable tight. I understand that 3000 feet of 3/8 inch cable weighs a great deal and the force of the drop and subsequent tightening of the loop was sufficient to decapitate a person.

The funeral was closed coffin.

My mother was devastated by the death of my father, understandably. He had been her hero, her knight in shining armor, so to speak. He had lifted her up out of a poverty stricken life and showered her with all the things she ever wanted. Her father had been a mean, cranky old bastard, and I believe he may have done some very distasteful things to my mother and her sisters. Her brother, Robert, left home when he was 16 because, as mom put it, he was going to kill the old son of a bitch if he stayed. He was the oldest in the family, and mom's favorite sibling. When Dad died, uncle Bob pretty much took us all under his wing. Uncle Bob was a strict man, but generous and honest. When mom suffered a nervous breakdown and had to be in the hospital for 2 weeks, uncle Bob took the three of us to stay with him and his wife and 2 daughters. Aunt Amelia was usually a nice enough person, but I never really liked her very much. My cousin Tracy was 2 years older than I, and we shared her room.

I remember one day I was hungry and decided to make myself some soup, but I got distracted after putting it on the stove to heat. An hour or so later, Aunt Amelia went ballistic, yelling and cursing and calling us all in to the house. It was then that I remembered the soup I had put on the stove, and knew that this was my fault. There was no real damage done, but the soup had boiled away, and what was left smoked the house up really good. I confessed my error, and she marched me out to the back yard where they had a huge old weeping willow tree. She gave me a pair of pruning shears and told me to cut her off a nice long willow switch. I cut the switch and brought it back to her. She told me to strip the leaves off of it, which I did. Then she pulled my pants down and my blouse up and proceeded to give my backside a good tanning. The pain was immense, and the welts stayed with me for over a week. I never left anything on a stove burner unattended after that. To this day, if I walk away from the stove while cooking, I get very nervous, and my back sort of shrinks in on itself as if to avoid the loving caress of the willow switch.

So for three years mom slaved away and did her best to support the four of us on her own, but I know it was very difficult for her. She didn't have much of a social life during that time. When she did go out, it was with her girlfriends. I know she dated at least four men before she started seeing one man on a regular basis. I didn't care for him much but mom seemed to be love struck so I held my tongue. She married him the summer I was to turn 12 and my descent into hell was to follow very shortly.

Now there was nothing I could really pinpoint about this man, Mark Jacobson was his name, but every time he would look at me I got a serious case of the creeps. It was merely a feeling. I told myself I was being silly, but very soon I would learn a hard lesson about trusting one's instincts.
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Chapter 1: Birthday

My twelfth birthday was both the best and the worst of my life. Mom had the back yard decorated with streamers and balloons. All my friends were there. It was a Thursday, the 17th of August, 1989. School would be starting soon, but there was still a bit of summer left to enjoy. The day was hot and sunny, just a little bit of a breeze off the Kern river. We had cake and ice cream after the presents were all opened and we played games and had a marvelous time.

The day would have been perfect except for one thing: my stepfather. He had started drinking early that evening after coming home from work. By dinner time he was staggering and pretty much making an ass of himself. I was hoping he would pass out by the time Mom left for work. As luck would have it, he did pass out on the couch around eight O'clock. Mom had left for the bar where she worked as a bartender around 6:30. I got my 10 year old brother, David, and my 6 year old sister, Anne, into bed around 9:30 and had just a little time to myself to read.

He came into my room not long after I had gotten into bed. He said he wanted to wish me happy birthday. I said fine, thank you, now please leave. He put on a shocked look and said I shouldn't be so contrary towards him since he was making it possible for me to have all the things I wanted. He sat on the side of my bed and put his hand on my hair, stroking it. I moved away and asked him to please leave so I could go to sleep.

He grabbed me by the hair and pulled me up close to his face. His face was contorted in rage as he explained to me how he could break me in two if he so pleased and as long as I lived under HIS roof, I would obey him or suffer the consequences. Then he kissed me, mashing my lips with his, forcing them apart and pushing his tongue into my mouth.

"I'll do as I like in my house. If you don't like it, you can leave ... or die." He said as he grabbed my left breast and squeezed it, hard.

Pain and humiliation filled me, but anger also rose up. "Mom will hate you when I tell her! She'll divorce you and then we won't have to put up with your drunken bullshit!"

"You tell her and I'll kill you and her both." He grinned. "and your pesky little brother and sister too."

"Then you'll go to jail forever and .."

"Not if they never find your bodies! Oh, I'll make you all disappear and say that your mother and I had a fight and she packed you all up and left me. I'll be the abandoned husband and you'll be the culprits. All you have to do is tell her .. or anyone else .. and that's what'll happen. You want that?"

"You're a sick bastard!"

He slapped me hard across the face, then pulled me close to his chest as I began to cry in big whooping wails. Muffling my sounds against his chest, he stroked my back with his hand and my flesh crawled. I tried to push away but he held me tight against him. His hands were moving across my skin, up under my nightgown. I could do nothing but shiver with the fear that was filling my mind. He began kissing me once again, pushing me down on the bed and holding me there with the weight of his body. He kept telling me how much I wanted him to do this, that he had noticed the way I always looked at him.

When he paused to remove his clothes I started to get up out of the bed and he grabbed my shoulder and turned me to him

"Where ya going to go Jenny? You can't run from me. I'll always find you."

I stared at him for a long moment, tears clouding my vision. He removed the rest of his clothing and climbed in under the sheet, pulling me to him.
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Chapter two: Razor's Edge

I have to admit that my attitude was very poor, my depression deepened weekly as my life became more and more of a nightmare. By the time I was 15 I was pretty much ready to die, mostly due to the abortion he had made me go through earlier that summer. I just wanted to give up on everything after that. Mom seemed oblivious to what I was going through, but I guess she had lots on her mind other than me. I wanted so badly to tell her the real reason for my moodiness but all I could think about was his grinning face as he told me, time after time, what kind of tortures and slow agonizing deaths he would devise for me, or for David and Annie. That was the worst. I felt like I held their lives in the balance, and if I made one mistake, he would hurt them.

It had gotten to the point where just a certain look from him, a certain tilt of his head or hand gesture could instill terror into my heart. I knew I couldn't go on much longer like this, and if and when I did tell, that would be the end of everything I loved. I felt I had no way of extricating myself from this net that I was caught up in and I sank lower and lower into the depths of despair.

I had been getting into more and more fights at school, both with other girls and with boys. I had a reputation of being a ruthless fighter. I rarely lost. Not that losing a fight mattered to me. I fought to let out my anger and humiliation, all the suppressed emotion eating me up inside that I could never share with another soul. The school counselors tried to wheedle the reasons for my behavior out of me, but I evaded their probings handily. I was becoming a very accomplished liar in the process of everything else. I made myself sick. I hated who I was becoming. I lashed out at anyone who so much as looked at me wrong.

Finally, I made my decision. I would end my own life, therefore freeing the rest of my family from any harm that might come to them if I finally slipped and told anyone about my situation. I thought about it for days: how I would accomplish it, when, where. I knew that pills were a hit or miss option, and that having one's stomach pumped was no pleasant experience. I had heard stories about that enough times. There were no handguns in the house, so that was out. Hanging myself didn't appeal to me at all, and besides, I had never been any good at tying knots.

While rummaging through Mark's tool box in the garage one evening looking for a small, flat blade screwdriver for my mother, I found a paint scraper. I examined it for several moments, moving the blade out and then back in. It had a slot that you could insert or remove the one sided razor blade. Also in the same drawer was a small container of blades that fit the scraper. I took two of the cardboard encased blades from the container, slipped them into my pocket, and continued my search for the screwdriver.

For the following week I got into the habit of examining the blades I had pilfered, admiring the strength of the oh-so-thin metal, the sharpness of the edge, the way they shined in the light. My depression lifted more with each passing day and my mother seemed to see this as a good sign and breathed a mental sigh of relief whenever she would observe me laughing and talking gaily, animatedly, with David or playing some little game with Annie. Things I had not done in a very long time. Even the nightly visits by Mark seemed to be less humiliating and painful, more of a minor annoyance.

On Saturday, September the 19th, 1992, as my mother was putting together the evening meal, David and Annie played in the back yard, and Mark sipped his Gin and Tonic and watched baseball, I sat in my room with the door tightly closed and examined the blade for the last time. I thought about all the things that this would rectify. The hurt that I would no longer feel. The danger to my family that would be averted. I knew in my heart that this was the only viable solution to the problems.

I said a silent prayer, set the blade to my left wrist and pressed it firmly into my flesh. I let out a small shriek as I pulled the blade diagonally across my wrist, then I switched hands and did the same to the right one. I didn't hear my mother come into the room, but when she began screaming for Mark to get in here and help her, I looked up at her and told her it was going to be ok now, everything would be ok. She stood frozen in front of me until Mark shoved her roughly aside, pulled off his belt and wrapped it around my upper left arm, pulling it as tight as he could. He told my mother to hold it there and ran down the hall, returning shortly with another belt for my right arm.

He took hold of both belts and yelled at my mother to call 911. When she simply stood staring down at me, he kicked her leg and told her to 'Move God-damn you!!!' She moved. After she had left the room Mark began telling me what a stupid little bitch I was. How could I put my mother through this sort of torture? Was I so selfish that I had no love for her or my siblings? When it was time for me to die, HE would be the one to do it, not me!

His face seemed to fade and his voice receded into a dim, incoherent babble as consciousness slowly left me and the darkness I so desired came forth to envelope me in its cold embrace.
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Chapter three: Recovery and Resolution

I was under observation and suicide watch for several weeks. I made up stories for the Psych’s so that I could get out of this place as soon as possible. I must have been pretty convincing, because they soon pronounced me fit to leave and I went home to my family with some trepidation as to how I would be treated there. Mom doted on me, trying to satisfy my every wish, David kept trying to get me to laugh and I think he considered these efforts a success every time he got a ghost of a smile from me. Annie didn’t really understand what had happened, but she fell into the behavior that our mother and brother were displaying.

Mark kept his distance from me for the first few weeks after I came home. I allowed myself to hope that he would see how badly his actions had effected me and would stop. What a fool I was! After the stitches were removed from my wrists and the flesh had mended sufficiently, he once again began his nocturnal visits to my room. It was worse now, he told me he had to punish me severely for my actions and part of that punishment was to be sodomized repeatedly.

I became once again sullen and withdrawn, avoiding any and all attempts of my classmates to befriend me. Except for one other girl. She was an outcast, skinny and bespectacled with buck teeth and a severe acne problem. Her hair was thin and stringy, always had an oily sheen to it even just after being washed. The boys referred to her as Gopher due to her prominent buck teeth. The other girls called her Creature because she had developed a habit of snarling and hissing at them when they made fun of her. (They all referred to me as The Demon, and I guess I don’t really blame them for that.)

One day toward the end of the sophomore year, several girls were taunting Creature and she was trying to get away from them, but they followed her. As they came closer to where I was sitting on the bleachers, I could hear some of the coarse and degrading comments they were casting at her. One girl, I think her name was Becky Meyers, made the comment that Creature was having sex with her father and that if she would allow him to cum on her face every now and then it would clear up her complexion.

This was too much for me and I came up off the bleacher and arrowed straight toward Becky, slamming her in the stomach with my shoulder and bowling her over. I sat down on her chest and began pummeling her face with my fists, rapidly and very accurately. The other girls, after recovering from their shock at the ferocity with which I had attacked, began to push and pull and strike at me to get me off of Becky. I struck out at them as well, kicking and punching them with blind fury. Finally, one of the teachers ran into the midst of the fracas and separated me from the other girls.

Becky’s face was a mask of blood and darkening bruises. My knuckles were covered in her blood as well. Creature was staring at me with an inscrutable expression on her face. I spent the next hour in the principal’s office. The other girls had told them that I attacked Becky without provocation and that they had all tried to stop the fight. Creature refused any testimony one way or the other. I was suspended from school.

Rumors about me circulated unabatedly, and the events of the previous fall were examined over and over, blown out of proportion and embellished along the way. Some said that I was devastated because I was in love with another girl (Becky Meyers was the name that usually came up here) who had refused my advances. Others talked about my obvious hate of anyone and everyone and alluded as to how I should be locked up in a mental institution.

Creature, after hearing all of these rumors, went to the principal about three days after I was suspended, and told her side of the story of the fight with Becky. As her version and mine were an almost identical match, I was called back in to school, and had another long meeting with the principal. The other girls involved were also interviewed again, and slowly the truth was revealed. My suspension was lifted, and I returned to find that I was now avoided even more than usual.

About two weeks after I was allowed back to school, Creature approached me and told me how sorry she was that I was punished for defending her. I told her that defending her had nothing to do with my attacking Becky, but that her comments were what had done it. It struck me as being so foul that I didn’t even know this girl’s name, and had referred to her as Creature myself, along with the other girls. I hesitantly asked her name and she told me it was Sandy Abbot. Sandy may have been unattractive, but she was highly intelligent and intuitive. I could tell that she was thinking hard about my motive for beating Becky so brutally, and she suddenly asked me if I was being sexually abused by my father.

Well, I was stunned at first, then vehemently denied any such thing. She tried to apologize for suggesting such horrible thing, but I abruptly rose and left her sitting there.

I avoided Sandy for the next week or so, but one day I saw her sitting alone in the gym, head in her hands and she looked so lost and forlorn that I couldn’t help but to approach her. Asking if I could sit with her, I began to apologize for my behavior. She said it was okay. No one wanted to associate with her anyway, so why should I be any different. I sat staring at the floor trying to think of something to say. Finally I said "You were right, you know. About me. About my … step father."

She looked up at me and her eyes were bright with tears barely held back and nodded. "I know. Me too."

We sat in silence for a few minutes and I finally said "My name’s Jenny Sloan." And extended my hand to her.

She hesitantly took my hand and said "I know, Jenny. I’m sorry I was right."

We became friends. Two against the world. We shared our dark and dirty secrets. We knew we could trust one another not to reveal these secrets. We began having sleepovers, mainly due to the fact that our abusers would leave us alone if we were together. We spent every moment we could together during the following summer and into the next school year.

Sandy told me tearfully one afternoon in October that her father was changing jobs and they were moving up to San Francisco. I was devastated, as she also was, at the thought of losing my one friend and confidante. I made up my mind within the next week that I too would be leaving. I would not be leaving with family though. I thought that I could make a good start for myself on my own, I knew I was tough. I was sixteen years old and pissed off at the world. I began packing certain clothing items in a small backpack that I kept hidden in the closet. November 1st was my deadline, the day Sandy and her family would be leaving for Frisco.
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Chapter Four: Street Smart

Wandering the streets at night had become a habit for me since leaving home. I frequented the dumpsters and trash bins behind restaurants and grocery stores looking for food and anything else I could make use of. You would be surprised at the things people throw away just because of an expiration date.

As autumn moved along towards winter, I found myself in need of warmer clothing and bedding. My hideout was rather drafty and even putting up cardboard against the worst of the cracks didn't keep the wind from blowing through. I had been living in the crawl space under a building on California Avenue for two weeks. I was learning about street living, about downcast eyes and avoiding others.

Early one morning I was awakened by a sound from the other side of the building that I called home. I cautiously peered out of my hidey hole and saw a man setting up his own little space over there. I watched as he put up some old boards around his space and filled the cracks between with mud that he was pulling out of a large coffee can. He glance in my direction once or twice, but I didn't think he saw me. He was an older man of about 45 or there about. Even in the dim light I could see the gray of his beard and hair. He worked diligently on his space most of the day. I was impressed at his ingenuity and decided that I should mud up the holes and gaps in my walls as well.

I waited until he left on some errand or other and slipped out to find some mud and a can to put it in. The Kern river flowed southwest along here, so I made my way over there hunting through trash cans along the way. I found a large Van Kamps pork and beans can and decided that it should work for now. At the river, I found a nice patch of clayey mud and scooped it up and filled the can . As I entered my space, I noticed a small piece of paper tucked between one of the boards and the cardboard wall I had built. Curiosity filled me and I lit one of my candle stubs to read it.

'Hello. I hope you don't mind if I share this area with you for awhile. I promise you that I mean you no harm.'

I stared at the note for a few minutes and then shrugged. If he wanted to use the other end of the building, then why not. At least he was polite. Besides, I thought as I applied mud to the cracks and holes in my walls, he had just taught me a good trick in the fight for survival.

It took several trips to the river to get enough mud to fill all of the cracks and joints, but I finished up by midnight and retired to my makeshift bed knowing that tonight I wouldn't care if the cold wind blew.

The next morning I woke up to a knocking sound. I peered out from behind my cardboard inner wall and saw my new 'neighbor' peering back at me. Instinctively I retreated back into my refuge, but when he knocked again I thought 'He is knocking at my door!' and giggled a little bit. I returned to the opening.

'Hello.' He smiled and I could see the nest of wrinkles around his eyes.

'Hi'

'I was wondering if you would care to join me for breakfast this fine morning? I have taken the liberty of procuring a pound of bacon and some eggs from the local market place. I should consider it an honor if you would allow me to fix you a decent breakfast.'

Well, I was shocked and completely taken aback. Not only was he polite, he was well educated as well it seemed. I hesitated for a few moments, then smiled and said that it would be my pleasure to join him for breakfast. Stating that I would be there in a few minutes, I scurried back to my food cache and found three marginally smashed pop tarts and a small container of orange juice that I had scrounged up the previous day. After all, I couldn't go to breakfast empty handed!

As I approached his side of the building, I could smell bacon frying and hear the sizzling. I knocked on one of the support beams near his inner wall and he poked his head around the corner and motioned me to enter.

I was completely amazed at what I saw. He had transformed the dark and dingy crawl space into a very nicely organized living space with a kitchen area in the far corner, living area complete with an old and tattered but still quite comfortable looking waterbed backrest, and a curtained off area that I assumed must serve as a bedroom. There were small pictures on the wall, most appeared to have been cut from magazines and were of people in various costumes: knights and queens, flappers from the twenties, Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn from an old movie that I learned later was called African Queen, many other actors and actresses adorned his wall. There was a board set up as a bookshelf and it was lined with books.

I sat stunned staring around me. He put this all together in one day?

Noticing my attention to his decorations, he said 'So, you seem to be admiring my luxurious domicile and it's many fascinating works of art.' His eyes were dancing with good humor.

'It's amazing! I've been working on mine for weeks and I don't even have a picture on my wall! Oh, I want to thank you. I watched you patching the holes in here yesterday and I sort of copied you.'

'Good! I was hoping you would catch on! Now, let us dine on this fine repast that I have so humbly prepared for our pleasure and sustenance!'

After we had finished our breakfast he took the plates and utensils and placed them in a small canvas bag. When he returned to the 'table' he gave me a stern look.

'Now, I don't want to tell you how to live, young lady, but you have just made one of the worst mistakes you can make if you want to survive. Never! Never go with anyone you don't know into their dwelling place! You never know what their intentions are! Luckily for you, mine are completely honorable but the majority of streeters would love to do you harm. Now! I am going to educate you on the ways and means of street living at its finest ... And at its worst.'
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Chapter 5: Murder

I spent the next week gathering supplies and trying to prepare for winter. My 'neighbor', who called himself Gus, gave me a lot of good advice and showed me the best places to find discards that were worthwhile and the best time of day to go looking. We had several discussions about life during that week, and I learned a great deal from him.

He had been a college professor, he told me, but he had taken to drinking too much and gave up all else for the bottle: wife, children, home, career. He had been sober now for almost six months and was very proud of that fact. I told him that he should be proud. I told him about my step father and his drinking and his cruelty. He said he didn't blame me at all for running away.

He gave me warning of a group of homeless men commonly referred to as 'hot-lunchers' who would lie in wait outside restaurants and attack people who had just eaten. They would hit their victim in the stomach until they vomited, and then eat the warm, steaming, partially digested food. My stomach turned as he spoke of these people and I couldn't imagine how anyone could do such a thing.

He also gave me advice on what to do if I felt I was being followed. Never return 'home', he told me, and always change directions when least likely, preferably just after turning a blind corner so that the pursuers couldn't see which way I had gone. To be careful of blind alleyways and dead ends. Always scout out routes in daylight that may be useful in throwing off pursuit. That way you won't become trapped or confused by the unexpected. Confusion, he said, was the enemy.

We occasionally took meals together and he was always ready to give me a hand working on my abode, fixing holes and finding suitable decorations. I felt like I had found a substitute father-figure and I enjoyed listening to his stories. He was always talking about Shakespeare and Homer and other literary giants. I found my imagination touching on tales of Romeo and Juliet, Odysseus, Othelo, Hamlet, and many other far away figures and places.

I was out searching the rubbish bins behind the shops and restaurants on Oak Street one evening when I heard footsteps approaching. I slipped behind the dumpster I had been peering into and waited for whoever it was to pass. I carefully looked around the side of the bin and saw two of the 'hot-lunchers' that Gus had identified for me a few days before coming down the alley. I quickly moved back so as to escape observation, and in doing so I glanced the other way down the alley and saw Gus angling toward me. He must have seen me crouched there. I shook my head at him and gestured up the alley.

He looked up and saw the two younger men bearing down on him. My heart began pounding faster as I heard their footsteps pick up pace. Gus turned and broke into a run toward the street, but they were too fast and caught him after only a dozen steps.

'Hey ya old fuck! What ya doin in our territory? You gonna have to pay for passin through here, ya mangy old cocksucker!'

Gus fought valiantly against them, but was overpowered by superior strength and numbers. One of the men kicked him in the groin and when he doubled over in pain the other kicked him in the face. Gus collapsed to the ground and the men immediately swarmed upon him, trying to strip off his coat, still cursing at him and hitting him occasionally.

I crouched, frozen in panic behind the dumpster, in the fading light of dusk as these men robbed my friend. I felt so hopeless and alone. All I could do was to watch helplessly.

Gus was still struggling and lashing out at them as best he could, and when he connected solidly with his boot to one of the men's sides, the man shouted several obscenities, drew a long thin-bladed knife from somewhere and stuck it into his chest, twice, three times, four. I gasped silently and turned away from the sight, shaking and crying silent tears.

When the men had taken everything that they wanted, they moved off quickly down the alley in the direction they had come from. When I was sure they were gone, I moved out from my refuge and quickly went to my friend's side. His eyes were open and his mouth worked soundlessly. At first he tried to strike out at me, but when he finally recognized me he seemed to relax slightly. His face was twisted in pain and his hands were clutched to his chest. Blood was running freely from the wounds and he was growing weaker by the second.

I sat on the ground and cradled his head in my lap, stroking his face and murmuring soft words that meant absolutely nothing as the tears ran down my face. His breathing was coming in hitching, gasping sobs and he coughed up blood. Lots of it. I knew he was dying and there was nothing in the world I could do about it. Fear and anger and a feeling of complete desolation swept over me. I held his clenched hands in mine trying somehow to ease his agony.

His eyes met mine briefly and I could see the knowledge and realization that they held. He weakly took my left hand in his and opened his right hand, placing something within it and then closed my hand around it. He mouthed something, but it was too dark to tell what he was trying to say. Coughing up more blood, his body tensed, relaxed, tensed again, relaxed again. The third time his body remained rigid for almost half a minute before relaxing for the last time. His wide staring eyes looked up at the stars unseeingly as my tears fell on his still and silent face.
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Chapter six: Aloneness

I stumbled and ran through the streets towards my 'home' blinking back the tears. I crawled into my hole and lay down, shivering and moaning out my fear and loss. I cried until I thought I couldn't cry anymore. Then I cried again. Sleep overtook me at some point.

The next day I woke up with a horrible headache. I lit a candle and peered into my scrap of mirror. My face was streaked with dried blood, as were my hands. I looked down at my blouse and saw that it was also covered with blood. I quickly stripped down, rummaged in my pack and dressed in clean clothes.

The last thing that Gus had done was to give me the one thing he had managed to keep the hot-lunchers from taking. Forty-six dollars in crumpled, blood stained bills. As I stashed the money away in my small cubby hole at the back of my place, I felt the tears welling up again. I had known Augustus Blackburn for less than two weeks and yet I felt as if I had known him forever. Now he was dead, killed for a coat a hat and a pair of boots. I was filled with anger and loathing for the two who had done this crime and swore vengeance upon them.

I walked down to the river, keeping my head down and my hands in my pockets so that the blood wouldn't show. I removed my blouse, plunged my hands in the water and showered it upon my face and upper body. I soaped myself up with the bar that Gus had given me last week, stating that while we may be living in destitution, that was no reason to smell offensively. I scrubbed my face and arms for what must have been half an hour, and finally I felt that I was clean enough. Then I washed my hair, rinsed, dried off and dressed.

I discarded the blood stained clothing in a garbage can behind a house about 4 miles from where I was living, and walked slowly back home. It seemed so empty there now without my neighbor. I went to his side of the building, lit a candle, took the Collective Works of William Shakespeare down from the shelf, settled in his half-chair and began to read.

I moved my meager belongings over to Gus' side the next morning. His was so much nicer than mine, and I know he would have wanted me to be comfortable. I went to the store and bought a pound of bacon and half a dozen eggs. As I cooked I thought about that first day when he invited me to breakfast. Tears stung my eyes and I did a terrible job on the eggs, burned the bacon, but it was still a wonderful meal.

I thought about all the things he had told me. The advice and the warnings. One of them had been 'Never become too comfortable in your surroundings, and never stay in one place for too long. You may not know who is watching you. The longer you stay in one place, the more chance there is of someone finding where you live.' I thought about this over and over. I had been here for a month now. How long was too long? Should I be thinking about moving? Where should I go to?

A week after his death I began to scout out new living quarters, as I am sure he would have wanted me to. There were several good prospects, but most of them showed signs of previous habitation. Gus had warned me that if someone had been staying there before, then someone would quite likely come back, or others may find it and move in. In either case it would be dangerous for a pretty, young girl to take such a chance.

Finally I found what I was looking for. Another crawl space under an old warehouse building near the railroad tracks, but not so near as to be frequented by the rail riders, and in just enough of a state of disrepair that it didn't really invite much more than a glance if you were seeking a good shelter. Having learned from the master, I knew how to patch and repair the walls, line them with cardboard, fill the cracks, and make a suitable dwelling. I also now had Gus' cooking utensils, books, flashlight, candles, and about thirty dollars. I was living in the lap of luxury, but I was alone.
_____________________________________________________________

Chapter seven: Holidays

December seemed to be a very long month to me as I fought for survival, panhandling and scrounging to meet my needs. I was subjected to a library of disparaging remarks and occasional sermons of the righteous and sinless God-Shouters and bible thumpers. People seemed to see me as a nuisance, an annoyance, as they went about their holiday shopping, looking for the perfect gift for their loved ones. My thoughts went out to my family frequently during these weeks and I wondered how they were. Sometimes I would walk past the house late in the evenings, hiding in the shadows, watching through a window as my mother, brother and sister ate their meals, watched television, played games. (Mark was there too, of course, but ... )

This became very depressing to me and my late evening visits became less and less frequent. My thoughts turned again to suicide and oblivion at times, and I had to consciously push them away. The holiday trappings and decorations all over the shops and homes did little to assuage my depression.

I guess I could have gone to one of the homeless shelters around town, but fear held me back. I thought that they would most likely try to force me to go back home, which I vowed I would never do. I found what I needed, usually, in the discards of others. I made no attempt at befriending anyone, and discouraged any friendly advances by others. You see, I placed much of the blame for what happened to Gus upon myself and couldn't stand the thought of losing anyone else that I might begin to care about. Not caring seemed to be a much safer way to go.

My Christmas dinner consisted of stale bread, not-quite-rotten lunch meat, a few moldy peaches, and three pieces of chicken scrounged from behind the KFC the day before. I said a silent prayer before digging into my feast, asking for safety for my family, forgiveness for myself, and mercy for the soul of my lost friend.

That night I prowled the back streets and alleys for the discards of Christmas feasts and returned home with a good supply of food. I ate the more perishable items and saved the rest for later. I had found an old styrofoam cooler and I used a portion of each day's panhandling proceeds for ice. I kept an old gallon milk jug full of water in there along with my food stash.

New Year's Eve was emotionally charged for me. I made resolutions to bring justice to my step-father, and to the two killers, both of which I failed to complete. Even now I find myself filled with a desire for retribution, but I know it will never be fulfilled. I also resolved to leave Bakersfield within the next month. I knew I was taking a very big risk of being found by Mark or my mom and returned to a life that I was completely unwilling to live. I found an old road map and began making plans, trying to decide which direction I should go in: south to L.A. or San Diego? North? Maybe try to find Sandy in San Francisco? Or just remain completely to myself and go east to places I had heard of but never seen? Reno? Vegas? Phoenix? Tahoe?

Finally I decided on Frisco. If I could find Sandy up there, maybe I could help to get her away from her father in some way. I wouldn't wish street living on her, but anything was better than what we had already endured. Having made up my mind, I slept easier that night. The next morning, the beginning of 1994, I began preparing for the long journey ahead of me.
___________________________________________________________

Chapter eight: Under the Knife

I spent the first days of 1994 looking for a pair of good walking shoes and a heavy coat. I would need these things for the trek that lay ahead of me. San Francisco was more than two hundred miles away, and I would probably have to walk a lot of it. I felt weary just thinking about it, but knew that it was best for me to leave this town as soon as possible.

I packed what I could of my belongings in my backpack and prepared for my departure. I had to leave a lot behind as it would be too burdensome on the road. I felt pangs of sadness as I silently said my good-byes to the books and other items that I wouldn't be taking with me. I kept the picture of Bogart and Hepburn as a reminder of Gus. He had told me how much he had loved that old movie, so I felt that this small piece of memorabilia would suffice as a way of remembering and honoring him.

Still I needed shoes. I thought about stealing a pair from a store somewhere, but I didn't want to add thievery to my list of sins. (How naïve I was!) I have told myself many times afterward that I should have just left and looked for footwear along the way and my life wouldn't have taken the turn that it did. Ah well! Such is fate!

I didn't notice the man who must have been following me. I was too intent on my search. By the time I realized that something was dreadfully wrong it was too late. Dusk had closed in and I was just thinking of heading home when I suddenly got a feeling of being watched. I told myself I was jumping at shadows but the feeling grew steadily stronger. The overcast of the day had turned into rain, and as I walked back down the alley I kept looking over my shoulder. Seeing nothing and no one, I moved on.

Making as if to cut through a yard, I opened a gate, making the move as obvious as I could, pressed myself against the wooden fence and started backtracking, keeping to the shadows and moving as silently as I could. I moved past one house, then another, my back to the fence and sidestepping and placing my feet slowly and carefully so as not to make any sound. I stopped for a moment to listen, but there were no sounds except the falling rain.

My heart was pounding furiously and I thought that it must be loud in the night. Anyone could hear the thumping and beating it was making. Just as I was about to move on I heard soft, stealthy footsteps. The noise of the rain made it impossible to tell which direction the sound had come from, so I stayed where I was, hoping I was concealed in the gloom. I tried to watch all directions at once, moving my head from side to side.

Hearing a small noise to my right, I turned and saw him, suddenly silhouetted against the dim glow of a porch light. He must have been doing exactly as I had, keeping against the fence, until he felt like he had me cornered. My heart leapt up into my throat and I darted to my left, hoping against hope that I was fast enough to reach the street three houses down. No such luck! I was caught so quickly and easily that I was stunned.

Holding my arms against my body with one arm and squeezing my neck with the other, he made it clear that resistance was futile. I stopped my struggles and allowed myself to be taken back over against the fence. There was little I could do except hope that if I cooperated enough he would let me go. He pushed me to the ground and placed a knife against my neck while he removed my jeans and tossed them aside. Instead of removing my panties, he cut through them, slicing my thigh in the process. I let out a sob as the pain struck, but that small pain was nothing compared to what he had in store for me.

As he proceeded to take me, his knife traveled across my face, neck, chest, stomach, and hips. I squirmed in pain, and I think maybe that is what he was hoping for. The more I writhed, the more excited he seemed to become. I tried to push away from him, but he held me fast with his weight, one hand over my mouth stifling my gasps and sobs. As he reached his climax, he drove the knife into my left side below the ribcage. Once, twice, three times. He shuddered with his orgasm, removed the knife, and left me there.

I'm not sure how long I lay there half naked with the rain falling on my pain-wracked body, but when I was finally able, I weakly felt around for my pants. I removed what was left of my panties and pulled on my pants, slowly, carefully so as not to aggravate my bleeding side. I stood up, leaning against the fence for support, and then slowly, holding the tatters of my shirt together with one hand, pressing my shredded panties into the wounds on my side to stop the flow of blood with the other, I began to make my way home.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Chapter nine: Jared

The world had a tendency to gray out at times, and I had to lean against a building or a tree or a fence until it came back. Disoriented from pain and fear, I walked through the midnight-lonely streets, trying to remember where I was going. The blood from the minor cuts slowed down some, but was still flowing freely from my side, soaking my shirt and jeans despite my efforts.

My dingy refuge was on the other side of a park, and I cut through it in order to save time and effort, though I normally avoided the place after dark. My mind kept wandering and it was hard to tell what was reality and what was delusion. I stopped and leaned against a tree, panting with pain and exhaustion. 'Just a little further.' I told myself, but my legs wouldn't respond and I slipped to the ground, my back against the tree, my mind growing numb.

When I came back to reality, I was lying in a bed, sunlight making it's way through drawn shades on a window. I raised up startled, and gasped at the pain in my side. I heard movement in another room, and, lying back down, I wondered where the hell I was.

He walked into the room a few minutes later, carrying a coffee cup with some steaming liquid in it and some toasted bread on a plate.

'Well! Good aft'rnoon!' he said as he set his load down on the nightstand. His hair was long and uncombed and his face gaunt, almost emaciated. His eyes were clouded with dark circles and seemed to be far, far away.

'Here, ya need ta eat sumthin. You were purty bad off last night. Kept hollerin and hittin at me and shit.' He smiled crookedly at me. 'It's awright tho. Ya got some bad cuts there. Hadta num em out for ya. Took sum dooin, but I finally got ya ca'amed down nuff ta sleep.'

He handed me a slice of toast and I took it tentatively from him and eyed it suspiciously.

'Go head. It ain't pois'ned er nuthin, reely!'

I took a small bite of the toast and he smiled that crooked smile again.

'Tha's rite! Got ya sum soop here too ta wash th' toast down with. You just eat up and relax a bit and I'll be rite back, k? Oh, my name's Jared, just so's ya know'

I nodded and he left the room. I slowly ate the piece of toast, occasionally taking sips of the soup. Memories of the previous night's events came slowly back and I touched at several bandages on my face, arms, and chest. I slowly reached down to my left side and gingerly touched the bandage there. Pain swelled up and I gasped at its intensity. God, he really stuck me good there!

I finished both pieces of toast and about half of the soup before I slipped back into an uneasy doze. Images flashed through my dreams of knives and pain and I rushed back to wakefulness to find Jared bending over the side of the bed, sprinkling some white powdery substance on my stab wounds. The pain faded out quickly as the powder made contact.

He looked up at me and smiled. 'Coke' he explained. 'Nums ya up good, don' it?'

I nodded and lay back as he changed the bandages, sprinkling a little coke into each wound. Blessed relief! When he finished, he told me to relax and rest, and started to leave the room.

'J-Jared?' He turned back at the sound of my voice, eyebrow raised in inquiry. 'Thank ... Thank you.' I paused, grasping for words. Finally I said, merely.. 'My name's Jenny.'

'Nicetameetya Jenny. Now rest, k?'

I nodded, lying back into the bed and lost myself to sleep once again.
________________________________________________________

Chapter ten: Working Girl

My recovery was a slow one. Jared brought me a bottle of antibiotics that he acquired someplace or other. When after a week my side became more inflamed with infection, he brought over a friend of his who was a resident at one of the hospitals. He told me that I really should be in a hospital where I would be well taken care of, but I was terrified that they would notify my parents.

He did some cursory examinations, then said something about risk of internal organ damage, or at the very least intestinal damage. Lucky for me the knife had been at a severe angle, from back to front and downward. Still, he had to 'open me up' and check. He gave me what he called a 'local' and proceeded to cut the wounds open further. It seemed like he worked on me a long time. There was some damage to the large intestine, but no other organs had been hurt. He stitched up the wounds and told me to keep taking the penicillin tablets. He stopped by once or twice a week for the next three weeks to check on me.

I told Jared that I owed him so much that I didn't think I could ever repay him. He just nodded and smiled his crooked smile and told me that it was ok. I didn't know what that meant at the time, but took it to mean that he didn't feel I owed him anything, that he was doing it out of kindness. Another serious mistake on my part.

He introduced me to snorting cocaine one evening during my convalescence. We both got very drunk and very stoned. The next day I felt horrible, but when he offered me a line that night, I accepted. This became a regular thing for us: drink wine, snort coke, smoke a little pot, get wasted and pass out. He didn't have a regular job, he was a dealer, selling coke and pot to a select few clients. I never knew who they were, I stayed in the bedroom when any buyers came over.

I started having sex with him when my side was well enough to accommodate that kind of activity. Sex, to me, was a necessary evil. I suppose that I wanted to show him how much I appreciated him taking care of me.

I was getting more and more nervous about being there, and one day I told Jared that I should really be moving on. I thanked him for everything he had done for me and said that I wish I could repay him somehow. That was the kicker. He told me that there was a way for me to repay my debt, which, he told me, was upwards of two thousand dollars in cocaine, antibiotics, bandages, food, booze and pot. I was stunned at first and sat speechless as he continued. He told me that he was having a few friends over that night for a party, and if I was to have sex with each of them, it would reduce my debt considerably.

I sat in stunned silence, not really believing what I was hearing. I asked him if there was another way to repay him, since I really didn't think I could do that. He just shook his head and smiled his crooked smile. I got up and started for the door, but he grabbed me by the arm, swung me around to him and told me not to even think about running out on him. He had quite an investment in me and was determined to get some returns on his investment. There would only be five or six guys coming over and he would knock $250.00 off of my bill if I performed well for them tonight.

I asked him how much he had knocked off for each time I had slept with him and he told me that those times didn't count as I had been more than willing and hadn't mentioned a price. I stood there staring at him in disbelief for a few moments, then nodded my head. I would do it, but just this once. Then I had to get moving up to Frisco. He grinned and said that when my debt was paid off, I could go anywhere I liked.

I got very drunk and very stoned that night as I embarked upon my new career.
____________________________________________________________

Chapter eleven: Entrapment and Escape

Over the course of the next few weeks Jared introduced me to several friends who paid him to have a 'good time' with his whore. He seemed to be enjoying his status as a pimp, and I have to admit that I made him a good amount of cash. When I figured that I had sufficiently repaid my two-thousand dollar debt, I confronted him.

"How much have I made for you Jared? Is my debt repaid now?"

He turned to me with a slow smile. "Let's jus' see here, kay?"

He got up and went into the bedroom, returning with a small note pad in his hand.

"Okay, it was twennytwo hunnert t' start with. So far I got 'bout a thousan two hunnert from ya, countin the parties."

I shuddered a little at the mention of the two 'parties' he had held. "Alright" I said, "so I still owe you a thousand dollars, right?"

"Nope." He affected a sad expression. "Ya see, it's like this ... Ya been doin my coke and eatin my food and livin under my roof, so I gotta charge ya fer that. Now ya done about five hunnert wortha coke and th' food and board'll come t'bout a hunnert fifty, so ya still owes me 'bout sixteen-fifty."

"No fuckin' way!" I all but screamed at him. "This shit ain't fuckin fair!"

"Now, don' get all pissy with me bitch! You gotsta pay yer debt and if ya wants to do some lines I gotsta charge ya for em. I can't just give th' shit away ya know. Shit's 'spensive ya know!"

"How the hell am I supposed to pay you back if you charge me! Jesus!"

"Well now, that is a probl'm ain't it?" He grinned at me. "I'll tell ya what. We'll do four more parties and you kin work the street in between. Ya make me fifteen hunnert and ya can go. I won't even charge ya room n board for the week. But if ya wanna get high, ya gotsta pay fer it."

My mind was working furiously at the figures and the thought of his parties made me sick. I wanted out and I wanted out now! But how to go about it? Suddenly it came to me. Get him very drunk, have sex with him until he passed out and then make a break for it. It could work, I told myself. I put my plan into action that very night because there was no way in hell I was going to endure another party.

For once, luck was on my side, it seemed. After sex, he soon began snoring lightly and I lay there for almost thirty minutes until I was sure he was deeply asleep. I got up and dressed myself quietly.

I wish I could say that I made it out of there without him knowing anything, but that only happens in tales and movies I guess. I wasn't even fully dressed when he woke up. I had prepared myself as best I could for that eventuality, and I had his aluminum baseball bat close to hand. Yes, I used it. I'm not sure, even now, of the extent of the damage I did, but it was my only choice of recourse. Lexie says that if I had killed him that night, I would have been hunted down, and future circmstances would have led to my arrest and trial for murder. That is the only thing that keeps me believing I didn't kill him that night, although, deep inside, I knew I had.

I knew where his coke stash was, although he thought it quite safely hidden. I helped myself to several packaged grams, his car keys, and about two hundred dollars in cash and slipped quietly out the door and into the night. I drove carefully back to my old crawlspace dwelling to retrieve my belongings and get out of town. I had to leave tonight! I had to be as far away as possible by dawn. One drawback: He knew I wanted to get to San Francisco. I couldn't take a direct route towards Frisco because he would undoubtedly look for me on I5 or Highway 99. Instead I took 178 over to Woffard Heights, then doubled back onto 155 towards Glenville. I turned off on a county road and took it up through Porterville, where I caught highway 65 up to Exeter.

I parked the car in a copse of woods just outside of Farmerville and slept for a few hours. When I woke up, I decided to abandon the car, as it would possibly be reported stolen at some point. I walked the 10 miles or so into Visalia, found a little restaurant, and had lunch.
____________________________________________________________

Chapter twelve: On the Road / A New Home

I worked my way north on SR 63 over the following week, staying out of sight as much as possible. Since it wasn't a well traveled highway, it was fairly easy to hide when a car or truck would pass by. When the lay of the land permitted I paralleled the road, hiking through the trees and undergrowth. I traveled more at night than during the day, hiding out wherever I could find a place to shelter: underneath bridges, in old barns and abandoned buildings, sometimes just in thick brush alongside the road. I had no illusions about what would happen if Jared or his friends were to find me, so keeping out of sight was a must.

It was slow going. I managed about 10 miles a night, sometimes more sometimes less. By the third night out of Visalia, I had reached SR 180. I turned west, making my way towards Fresno and, ultimately, San Francisco. I didn't have much problem staying awake during the night as I had plenty of cocaine to keep me awake. The draw back of this, though, was an intense paranoia. I had a few close calls as this highway was more traveled than 63 was, and I was forced to hide more frequently. There were a few heart-stopping incidents when cars had actually stopped, having seen me leave the road for the thick brush. I had to move rapidly away from the point I had left the road and hope that the person or persons hadn't heard me moving.

March was giving way to April by the time I made my slow way into the outskirts of Fresno. The weather was warming, although the rains seemed to be coming more frequently now. I found a temporary shelter in a storage shed near the airport until I could scout out the surrounding area and find myself more permanent lodgings. My cash was dwindling rapidly. I had maybe thirty-five dollars and some change left out of the two hundred. I had purchased a good pair of shoes in Visalia, along with a nice winter jacket to keep out the cold and wet, and that had taken up much of my money. More had been spent along the way on meals and food that I could easily carry with me such as beef jerky, granola bars, and packages of fruit juice.

I figured that I could find a good spot near one of the shopping centers to do a little pan-handling. First, however, I needed to find a place to call home. I was also pretty much out of coke, and would need to restock my supply somehow. That would take a good deal more cash than I could scrape up by pan-handling. I knew how to make fast cash now, thanks to Jared and his friends, but I didn't know if I could force myself to do it. I contemplated it more and more over the next few days.

My airport location was much too far from any profitable areas, so after a bit of hunting, I relocated to a park on 1st St. underneath a gymnasium there. This was also a temporary lodging until I could find something better, but it was much closer to the downtown area where most of my days would be spent. I was only there for a few days before I found what I was looking for: an old run-down tenement building with a basement that seemed pretty much unused, not too easily accessible, and with enough junk stored in it to hide among.

After rearranging a few piles of old musty boxes and crates around to make a hollow space in the middle and a hidden access way into it, I fashioned myself a bed out of the old bedding and mattresses that I found there. From the outside of my hideaway, it was impossible to tell that there would be room among the junk piled there. Inside was a nice cozy little space that I called home.
__________________________________________________________

Chapter thirteen: Downwrd Spiral

It didn't take long to find a cocaine dealer. You just have to know what to look for. There was a lot of crack on the streets, but I wasn't into that stuff. I much preferred the real thing. Now the problem was money. I would need at least a hundred fifty dollars to make a purchase. That meant a bit more than pan-handling. I couldn't help it, I needed to get high, I needed to get drunk, I needed ...

I cleaned myself up, using the utility sink in my basement abode, dressed in my best clothes, and went out. It didn't take long before I had my first customer. Twenty minutes later I was Forty dollars richer than I was. I went home, cleaned up, and went back out. By midnight I had another eighty dollars in my pocket and decided that I could call it a night.

The next day I approached one of the guys I had seen making deals and asked about scoring a gram of coke. He looked me over and decided I wasn't a cop, told me to meet him in an hour over at Hobart Park. I asked how much and he told me one-forty. I started to turn away, saying I only had one-twenty. He told me we could work something out that would be beneficial to us both. I said ok. So, for a hundred dollars and an hour of my time, I got my gram.

Over the following weeks this became a fairly regular routine. Sometimes I would find a willing buyer to get me a bottle or two of wine. I cared less and less about my personal hygiene and appearance and more and more about scoring coke and getting drunk. I also got more and more careless in keeping myself safe. All of these things led to what was to happen as May faded into the summer heat of June.

I was sitting on the grass at Dickey Park late one night, pleasantly stoned and about halfway through a bottle of cheap wine when the boys found me. There were six of them, probably partying after graduation or something. They were all around me before I knew what was happening. One of them grabbed my wine bottle and drank from it, then passed it on. He sat on the grass near me and began kissing me and rubbing various parts of my body. What happened next is kind of a blur as they all took turns with me. When I tried to fight them they hit me and continued.

I gave up my struggles and let my mind wander off to far off realms as the night went on. Early the next morning I awoke feeling sick and very sore. My face was bruised and bloody. My clothes were scattered among the bushes and I collected them slowly. After I dressed, I found that my coke and my cash were all gone. I staggered across the park to one of the local churches, went inside and peered around until I saw a priest preparing for Sunday morning services. I walked up to him and asked if he could help me. I told him about the boys of the previous night.

He glared at me for a few moments before he told me that he had seen me around luring men into having sex with me and that what I had gotten last night was probably deserved. He looked scornful as he asked me to leave, saying he had a lot of work to do in order to be ready for services and had no time to spare for those who do Satan's bidding. He told me that I should repent of my sinful ways and find Jesus. I told him as I walked out that I would look for Him, but it was obvious to me that he didn't reside in this place. He just stared at me and then yelled at me to get out of his church. I said that I thought that this was God's church. I didn't catch his reply as I was running rapidly down the steps, wiping the tears away as I went.

I went back to my hideaway, washed myself up, collected my things, and took to the highway again. I eventually wound up in Modesto, broke, hungry and desperate. I spent my first rainy night there in a dumpster behind a furniture store. The next day was bright and sunny, and as I climbed out of my shelter and walked up the alley, a woman I hadn't noticed stepped quickly up to me, placed something in my hand and went back to the doorway she had been standing in. I stared at her in abject terror at first, then looked at what was in my hand. It was a business card for the 2nd hand shop we were behind. On the back was an address printed in blue ink.

'If you need anything, go there.' The woman said as I made my way out of the alley toward the street. 'They can help you and they won't ask any questions.'

I pondered this for the rest of the day, and as dusk began to fall, I found myself standing across the street from the address on the card. It was a rescue mission, one of those church sponsored things. I decided against going in. So far my luck with churches had been bad. I could make it on my own, I told myself. I had done pretty good so far hadn't I? I contemplated that question for the rest of that sleepless night. Had I really done so well for myself? Or was I just fooling myself into believing that what I had could be called a life? The next day I went back and, after much gathering of strength and nerve, walked through the doors into the main hallway of the rescue mission.
____________________________________________________________

Admin note:
The forum must have a line limit and cuts off in the middle of chapter 14 so I will post as a second part.
Last edited by heinzs on Mon Jul 12, 2004 3:11 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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Post by Berlie » Tue Mar 02, 2004 4:59 pm

Did this get cut off at the end?
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as I lean into the curve
bug SPLAT on my face
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Post by heinzs » Tue Mar 02, 2004 5:21 pm

This whole piece was about 40 pages in Word at standard formatting (77 pages at 6x9).

I guess this was a good test of the phpBB ability to retain text. It cuts off at about 20 pages.

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Post by The Ravyn » Wed Mar 03, 2004 11:20 pm

there are some minor additions to chapters 10 and 11 ... i will post them tomorrow maybe
take my hand if you don't know where you're goin' ... i'll understand .... i've lost the way myself ...
j. kaye

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Post by heinzs » Wed Mar 03, 2004 11:57 pm

Excellent!! Thanks!

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Post by The Ravyn » Thu Mar 04, 2004 9:06 am

Chapter 10 1st paragraph should be replaced with:

My recovery was a slow one. Jared brought me a bottle of antibiotics that he acquired someplace or other. When after a week my side became more inflamed with infection, he brought over a friend of his who was a resident at one of the hospitals. He told me that I really should be in a hospital where I would be well taken care of, but I was terrified that they would notify my parents.

He did some cursory examinations, then said something about risk of internal organ damage, or at the very least intestinal damage. Lucky for me the knife had been at a severe angle, from back to front and downward. Still, he had to 'open me up' and check. He gave me what he called a 'local' and proceeded to cut the wounds open further. It seemed like he worked on me a long time. There was some damage to the large intestine, but no other organs had been hurt. He stitched up the wounds and told me to keep taking the penicillin tablets. He stopped by once or twice a week for the next three weeks to check on me.


Chapter 11 after the paragraph the starts with 'for once luck was on my side it seemed.' is an additional paragraph:

I wish I could say that I made it out of there without him knowing anything, but that only happens in tales and movies I guess. I wasn't even fully dressed when he woke up. I had prepared myself as best I could for that eventuality, and I had his aluminum baseball bat close to hand. Yes, I used it. I'm not sure, even now, of the extent of the damage I did, but it was my only choice of recourse. Lexie says that if I had killed him that night, I would have been hunted down, and future circmstances would have led to my arrest and trial for murder. That is the only thing that keeps me believing I didn't kill him that night, although, deep inside, I knew I had.
take my hand if you don't know where you're goin' ... i'll understand .... i've lost the way myself ...
j. kaye

whatever you do ... don't click here

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heinzs
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Post by heinzs » Thu Mar 04, 2004 10:49 am

:cool:
I'll fix it later. For some reason the Mac at work won't load the whole piece in an "edit" window.

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Post by heinzs » Thu Mar 04, 2004 11:32 pm

Okee dokee... paragraphs inserted.

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Moongem
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Post by Moongem » Fri Mar 05, 2004 8:13 am

If this section is 40 pages at 6x9...will we have enough room for the entire archive in this book?

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Post by heinzs » Fri Mar 05, 2004 9:57 am

I think we can look at book length of 300-400 pages, unless I'm mistaken. That's a good length for a 6x9 book and puts it in the $24.95 price range.

Kim will know more about that end of it.

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Post by Berlie » Fri Mar 05, 2004 11:38 am

Hmm , this is omething we may want to consider. While a book that size would cost about that much at 1stbooks, I am not sure how much it would cost through lulu.


Maybe I can throw together a test book with about 400 pages and throw it up at lulu to see what it would be priced at.
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Post by heinzs » Sun Mar 21, 2004 12:43 am

logged
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Post by Berlie » Mon Mar 29, 2004 8:36 am

* added to book
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