Friday, August 28, 2009

Kerri & Diana Chapter One

Part One
When Kerri’s life came crashing in on her, it felt like it was too late. Only weeks away from her twentieth birthday, married with a two month old in her arms and her life had turned into this. It wasn’t the first time he’d hit her and instinctively she knew it wouldn’t be the last. This particular blow sent her ninety-eight pound frame crashing into the faux oak entertainment center. On impact she realized that this time, needed to be the last. As her blond head slammed into the living room wall, it caused her to become instantly dizzy. She wondered when and how she had justified this as acceptable. She wondered about that, as his leather work boot bit into her side, knocking the breath from her lungs?

He’d never laid a hand on her until they were married. He had been perfect, treating her like a princess, making her feel more special than she’d ever believed possible. Kerri had fallen head over heels for him and everyone knew it, especially Bryce. Life could not have been more perfect, until the first time he hit her. She still painfully remembered the shock; yet his explanation later made her believe that it was completely and totally her fault. Then little by little he worked to undermine her self confidence. Next he started pushing people out of her life. Everyone except her best friend Diana, she just wouldn’t take the hint.

From the beginning Diana never trusted Bryce; to her he appeared to try way too hard; as if he were hiding something. Diana sensed somehow that there was a dark side to this man, yet her friend wouldn’t listen. Diana told her repeatedly that his eyes had no depth, telling her more than once that he had no soul.

Oh no, Kerri thought, as she slid down the living room wall; trying with all her might not to let the baby fall; moreover and more importantly, she tried desperately not to lose conciseness. It was in that moment, that the proverbial light bulb went off in her head. Oddly, it was her Mother’s words, that came echoing back from the lunch they shared the day before her wedding. It played again in her head; her Mothers quiet non-threatening way. The ability she in telling someone something they might not want to hear. Kerri remembered she had cautioned her, warned her really about Bryce. Looking back on it now, it felt ominous, especially since losing her Mom unexpectedly, so soon after the wedding. “Oh God why hadn’t she listened?

Unable to prevent what would come next, she trembled seeing the look of sheer delight painted all over Bryce’s face. Kerri understood in that moment exactly what both her Mom and her best friend had been trying to tell her. Unfortunately she realized this as her head met the linoleum floor in the entry with such unbelievable force. Now there was no question that he wanted her dead and he would enjoy killing her.

His large brown work boot met her ribcage with another agonizing kick, causing her to release the baby; that she had protectively cradled from harm, then vomit simultaneously. With another well placed kick to the head Kerri her body strewn across the cheap beige living room carpet where she landed face first was silent and she lay motionless, her husband’s victim once again.

Bryce took his time leaving their apartment with the baby and her bag of tricks in tow; he headed for his Mothers. Where he would be able to once again reinforce what a drunk, irresponsible piece of crap Kerri really was. He would continue to expound loudly that she should never have become the Mother of his child. Naturally, his Mother would take it all in, fawning all over her only son and Granddaughter; it truly was a Kodak moment in the most perverse sense.

Part Two
Diana’s phone rang loudly over the wail of Willy Nelson on the stereo. Diana listened, barely making sense of the hysterical voice on the end of the line. It took but an instant to realize that it was Kerri and of course Bryce had done it again. Within a half an hour Kerri and Diana sat side by side in the emergency room. Diana held her hand as Kerri cried intermittently while gasping for air.

When all was said and done, Kerri had three broken ribs on her right side, two black eyes, a broken nose, a fractured skull, severe concussion and a punctured right lung. Bryce was good at what he did and Kerri was barely living proof. Naturally, Kerri was admitted to the hospital for observation, a police report was filed, which they both knew wouldn’t amount to anything. If her situation was going to change it all hinged on Kerri!

Later that night, after the police and Doctors had all gone, Kerri squeezed Diana’s hand, with her swollen blackened eye’s; looking directly at Diana, sad painful tears sliding down her swollen face she said “I’m done Di! I can’t do this anymore. I don’t want my baby to grow up like this. I know I’ve got to make a change but I’m so damn scared. I’m scared of him scared of him taking Tia, I’m scared of everything! Will you help me?” Kerri asked.

Kerri and Diana had been best friends since kindergarten. They had grown up next door to one another. Neither could remember life without the other. They were both only children and over the years they became more like sisters than best friends. The girls had gone threw a lot together. Kerri’s Dad had been a terrible drunk and for many years her house was full of his drama; until mercifully he ran off with his secretary leaving Kerri and her Mom in peace. In spite of everything, his leaving was very hard on Kerri but Diana helped her through it.

Later when Diana lost her Mom to breast cancer when she was barely seven, Kerri was the one that held Diana as she cried. They both understood that the bond they shared is rare and special. Either girl would step up and be strong for the other at a moment’s notice it had been that way as long as either of them could remember; now was no exception.

As they sat there on the narrow hospital bed Kerri remembered how they had clung to one another before her wedding, neither wanting to let go. It was as if Diana knew something that Kerri didn’t, sadly now they both knew what Diana had only sensed. In this moment of ciaos and fear, Kerri looked to Diana for safety and a sense of security. The question in Kerri’s eye’s made Diana shiver. They both understood that there was only one way to resolve this forever. The girls eyes locked onto one another it was as if they were reading the others thoughts.

In that quiet moment Diana sensed the magnitude of what Kerri was asking. The two young women continued to hold the others gaze for a very long time. Diana needed to be certain that Kerri truly understood the ramifications of what she was thinking. Diana’s eyes burned deep into the depths of Kerri’s soul and back again; mere words were no longer necessary. Diana shuttered involuntarily knowing instinctively this would be the hardest darkest path she had ever been down. She also understood that they would need to be extremely careful and smart very, very smart.

Part Three
Brad Walker had it all, a beautiful wife, a wonderful daughter and a good paying job as a machinist at the local rocket engine manufacturer. He and his young family were living the American dream since the purchase of their first home, in a pretty little subdivision in Canoga Park. Life was good; in his spare time Brad worked on old Harley Davidson’s fixing them up and selling them for a profit.

Brad was a large teddy bear of a man standing nearly six foot two inches tall, weighing in at nearly two hundred pounds. His rich brown hair was longer than his bosses liked but because of his skill they rarely hassled him about his look. He was kind hearted and soft spoken and rarely lost his temper. He was much smarter than most would assume not that it ever bothered him. He was an extraordinary judge of character which in the years ahead would serve him well.

Unfortunately, just weeks after Diana’s sixth birthday his beautiful wife Pam was diagnosed with fourth stage breast cancer; at only twenty-eight years old. Yet Pam managed to defy the odds, living just past her daughters seventh birthday. They buried her in the Old Oak Cemetery, on that warm spring day in nineteen seventy-nine father and daughter each devastated by the loss.

His sadness was overwhelming, but at twenty-nine Brad was determined not to let this painful loss destroy him or his daughter. Being the dedicated guy that he was, Brad threw him self into his daughter, his work and his hobby. It helped him to feel a sense of control; a feeling he’d lost while watching his wife die. Time moved on and the pain faded some, never enough for Brad to get involved with another woman; that was never going to happen. So he remained diligent, keeping Pam’s memory alive for Diana and for him self.

Father and daughter were bonded in all things but especially the motorcycles. Brad Walker passed on his love of American motorcycles to her. Like him she loved riding and every Sunday he took her some place new. On those rides she met all kinds of people, bikers of every description from plain backs to outlaws and Diana loved every minute of it. Growing up without a mother is hard; girls need their mothers but the bond with her Father helped her to grow into the person she would become.

Part four
Diana was not twenty-one; however she had been visiting bars for years with her Dad and Uncle. He even allowed her to have a drink or two since she’d turned eighteen. Most of the places she went the owners and bartenders knew her and no one asked to see the fake ID she kept in her wallet. Tonight she sat alone at the end of the long bar twisting the rocks glass around and around lost in her thoughts.

The bar was dark and quiet on this particular Tuesday night. The bartender chatted with the only other customer at the opposite end of the long bar. Her ashtray overflowed and the bar napkin was soaked from the sweat off the glass. Lifting the rocks glass once more, to her lips she drained the sweet brown liquid. Carefully she placed the glass on the edge of the bar, which signaled to the bartender to pour her another. She drew the smoke deeply into her lungs before stubbing out the cigarette she had smoked nearly to the filter. Then swiveling off the red vinyl bar stool she headed for the restroom. Once inside she splashed water on her face looking at her reflection in the mirror. Admittedly she looked tired; it had been a long week but instinctively she knew it was about to get much longer.

At one am as expected ole One Eye sauntered in from the back entrance. He was a tall thin man with shoulder length gray hair that never looked combed. Over his left eye he wore a black eye patch, which covered the missing eye and part of a grotesque scar that ran from his eye to his right ear.

The story Diana had been told, was that in his younger years, her Uncle Clay or One Eye as he was now known, had been a major player in the local drug business. He’d become quite successful, partly because he’d never had any personal use for the cocaine he sold. Then and now; preferring Jack Daniels and beer above all else. It’s a tough racket and a younger someone, supposedly on orders from the Mexican Mafia wanted his business one way or the other.

Her Dad told her that Clay had put up one hell of a fight, winning the first few rounds until the knife came out. Clay told her “it’s all a blur after that”. The spectators say that his opponent slashed his face with a large Bowie knife. That’s when Clay went down according to her Dad who was there. Clay was on the ground holding his face, when the smaller man jumped on top of him, then with the tip of his blade; he dug out Clay’s right eye. Clay was screaming, writhing in pain, when her Dad advanced on Clay’s attacker. The Mexican retreated but not before he smashing Clay’s eyeball beneath his boot!

Diana would have been about two when it happened. From that moment on Clay and her father became fast friends. As it turned out it was Clay that convinced her Dad that he had the talent to build bikes for a living and it was Clay that fronted him the large chunk of the money to get the business going. Diana could not remember much before Uncle Clay was in her life. Funny, Diana thought, most kids were afraid of him because of the eye patch and the ugly scar but she never was. In fact she was so used to him she really never saw the patch or scare anymore. He was just Uncle Clay; she’d never dream of calling him “One Eye”; in fact she decided at around age ten that she hated his nickname.

Clay Norton was a loner yet everyone knew him and he knew everyone. He never made promises that he couldn’t keep or threats either, for that matter. Diana really didn’t know what he did for a living and her Dad had told her not to ask. She knew he had never been married and had no children but she knew something most others didn’t. She knew he’d gone to Vietnam and had been a Green Barrette and that he was in love with a bartender named Mary. Moreover, she knew he had a sweet spot for her that she returned wholeheartedly.

Clay sat down next to Diana and received a warm hug. Clay noticed right away that Diana held on a little longer than normal sending his antenna up. He waived to the bartender to bring another round while lighting Diana’s cigarette and then his own. They made the usual small talk until Diana was certain the bartender was engrossed in another sports conversation.

“What is it?” Clay asked, looking at her in his cockeyed way, tilting his head trying to see her better. Diana drew deeply on her Winston then quietly and without hesitation she said simply “I need a gun, a small caliber, maybe a twenty-two or twenty-five, untraceable and clean as a whistle. It needs to be loaded and I need it before the end of the week. Can you make that happen?” she asked, already knowing the answer. Everyone knew that Clay could get anything, anytime, anywhere; he was a fixer.

Clay was quiet for a while, finally nodding his silver head then he smiled at Diana. He raised his glass to her “to you dear girl, success in all your endeavors” then he shot the Jack Daniels in one swallow. Not only did Clay like her, he loved her, she was the child he’d never had. With her Dad gone he filled an important roll and he knew it. What mattered to her mattered to him and visa versa.

His mind was going about ninety miles an hour. Clay knew she was smart, she gave nothing away, not even to him. He knew that most men planning what ever it was that she was planning, couldn’t keep their mouths shut. They would blab the details to virtually anyone willing to listen but not her he thought she offered up nothing. “He’d have to see about that” he thought as they continued their small talk until the bartender said it was time to go.

Clay walked her to her Camero parked out front knowing she’d drive him around to the back where his old scooter was parked. “You still ride her I see” Diana said admiring the first custom bike her Dad ever built. The bike was unusual for it’s time and suited Clay to a Tee. The entire bike was mat black and ominous looking. From her mat black frame to her long narrow pipes that were wrapped in black mesh. The drag bars were set low wrapped in black mesh also, hiding any hint of chrome; the tank was long and narrow, its stretch following the backbone to the seat. Even the EVO motor was blacked out there was nothing chrome or shiny anywhere. The seat had been custom made by a premier seat maker in Ventura; it too was black, stitched with a closed eye dead center and in the corner of the eye were two bright red tear drops, poignant she thought. “I’ll take you for a ride on her before I retire her” Clay said watching her closely. “I’d like that” she said smiling for the first time in days.