Fade to Black (The Black Trilogy Book 1)

BOOK: Fade to Black (The Black Trilogy Book 1)
10.78Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub




Book one

the Black Trilogy

M.C. Webb

I chased the cat publishing
Knoxville, Tennessee



Copyright © 2012 by M.C. Webb

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the publisher, addressed “Attention: Permissions Coordinator,” at the address below.


M.C. Webb

I chased the cat publishing

Knoxville, Tennessee



Publisher’s Note: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination. Locales and public names are sometimes used for atmospheric purposes. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, or to businesses, companies, events, institutions, or locales is completely coincidental.



Ordering Information:

Quantity sales. Special discounts are available on quantity purchases by corporations, associations, and others. For details, contact the “Special Sales Department” at the address above.


Fade to Black/M.C. Webb -- 1st ed.





“Know from whence you came. If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.”                 ― James Baldwin




Piper ~

I don’t know why, but my mother, who had never shown an interest in my life before, collected me from my grandparents’ home the day I saw my dad lowered into the earth. She had come and gone out of my life since I was born, but never before had I lived with her, as she did not stay long in one place. Nana said she lived “pillar to post,” and my dad often referred to her as “not well,” which was being kind.

I had no choice once my dad died. I went with my mother, as she now had the right to take me and my brother wherever she wanted. Kissing Nana and Papaw through our mixed tears, I was frog marched to the car where I sat in quiet wonder at how my life had changed in such a short amount of time.

It didn’t take long to be introduced to silence and hunger. I was ordered to speak only when spoken to and ate when my mother remembered Nathan and I were in the home. If I complained, I was swatted with whatever was in my mother’s reach.

Sometimes when she dressed for work, in a short denim skirt and snugged T-shirt, I could see the beauty my dad must have fallen for years ago. She was not a modern kind of attractive, more that she was curvy and seductive with sultry eyes and full lips. An unpolished Jayne Mansfield or Sharon Tate.

I watched admiringly and unseen as my mother would line her eyes with precision and apply mascara with counted strokes. She left for work one woman and returned another. Drunk, haggard and worn she stumbled in with makeup and clean uniform smudged and spotted by the end of her shift.

There were times, when my mother had just a little to drink, she didn’t hate me as much as when sober, yet it was always obvious to me that she preferred Nathan over me for company. He never got to experience being hit with a hair brush on the side of the head or being kicked when simply in the way. My brother got whatever good our mother had. She saved all the mean for me.

Mother might have been lovely at one time, but now she drank heavily and complained about having children.

“They might give a government check, but it costs a woman her figure. Never have kids, Piper. They’ll be just as ugly and dirty as you,” she told me straight faced, meaning every word.

I did try to not be ugly or rotten. I kept the house tidy and the laundry clean, but nothing I ever did pleased her. My brother, Nathan, entertained himself with girls and his band. He was far too busy to worry about a kid sister. I tried not to bother him. I knew he was working hard, writing and singing. Each passing day I would quietly grieve over the loss of my father, the absence of my grandparents, and the inevitable goodbye from Nathan.

A few days after my brother left me, our phone was disconnected. I had not seen my grandparents since the burial of my dad. My grandparents were simply shut out of my life. One of the last times our phone was used I heard my mother telling Papaw to “mind your own goddamned business!”

No matter how much I begged, my mother ignored my pleas and sank deeper into a darkness of drunkenness and self-destruction that had been hidden from me by my father. He had kept all the ugliness from me, and I had no idea this type of sickness was inside her. A shell of a woman, there was nothing to stop her from becoming what her mother had been before her.

All of my mother’s family are drug addicts, and most of them spend time in prisons across the South for various offenses. They’re the kind of people who bring trouble with them everywhere they go. When my dad met my mother she was on the edge of being just another statistic. I was never allowed to know her family, yet the name Akins was infamous in the South. From what little I heard from family gossip, I didn’t want to know them. It was as if she never had a family. She never mentioned them. Not even once during the short visits we had at truck stop diners or a park bench we sat on, barely speaking. My dad insisted we see her. It was important we knew her. Even though she was not in our lives, she was still our mother. 

We are simple people in a simple town. Average, I would call it. At least we were until my dad died in a car accident on his way home from work one night. One day, he was there. Then he wasn’t. No more kisses and bear hugs. I had my last that morning. We were given a few days of crying and casket colors and Nathan shutting himself off from the world.

The nights became days, and soon it all ran together. Shortly after our once simple life had been interrupted by death, I lost my brother when he left me behind to chase down his dreams. I know he had to feel as lost without our dad as I did. I also knew he smoked pot and occasionally popped pills to deal with everything. I wasn’t supposed to know this, but I had learned how to be invisible and observe things from the shadows, adapting quickly on how to silently move from room to room so not to be seen or heard.

My mother, always an impatient woman, grew colder still. Only weeks after Nathan left me, October brought us cooler weather, and my mother, a new man. Whereas my dad was the very essence of man, Daniel was childlike. He was a sometime mechanic and had taken an interest in my mother one night at the bar where she worked part time.

My mother never seemed to have money, and she stayed too drunk to do much working. Strange men began coming and going, but Daniel came around more often than the others. I often heard him and my mother in discussions that always seemed to involve money.

He stayed over one night, not long after he started coming to the house, and I found him naked, standing in front of the bathroom mirror the next morning, using my brother’s razor. I stared all of two seconds and then ran back to my room, horrified, before he knew I had seen him. I didn’t leave my room until I knew for certain he was out of the house.

Not long after that, my mother and I moved to Daniel’s two-bedroom trailer, deep in woods I did not recognize. Lonesome took on a whole new meaning for me. I spent my days alone, eating whatever we had, straight out of the can.

Mice and spiders were my roommates. It did very little good to clean, as the trailer was rundown and old, with a threadbare carpet and plywood floors. I was not allowed to return to school, or to even speak of it.

I remained unseen, as my mother made it clear the sight of me disgusted her. Every time she saw me, she would rant about how ugly I was and how I’d never get a husband because I was so tall. No one would want me.
I never really needed reminding of my looks because I was aware I was awkwardly tall for a girl and my hair was an odd shade caught between blonde and red. I was too thin, my eyes too dark against my pale freckled skin. I felt as ugly as my mother said I was.

I wondered if at times my mother was ashamed of me, and that's why I wasn't allowed to go anywhere or have friends. The one thing I did get to do was
to go to Daniel’s shop
as long as I stayed out of sight. I was given the job of cleaning carburetors, using cut-up old T-shirts and gasoline.
As silly as it sounds, I looked forward to those few precious moments outside of the moldy walls of the trailer.

Daniel was not unkind to me. In fact, he was almost my friend. My mother forbade me to speak to my grandparents, but on occasion, Daniel would let me call them, as long as I didn’t say where I was or give any hints. He didn’t have to make me promise. I had no clue where I was, nor the chance to tell them. Daniel stood over
me while I spoke
, ready to snatch the phone from my hand if I said the wrong thing. I assured Nana I was okay, even though I was hungry and in need of someone to care about me. Nana always cried when I spoke to her. She missed me and my brother, and by the way she sounded, losing my dad had aged her greatly in a few short months.
Through my chocked cries I would listen to the phone until finally the line went dead.

I think it was the times after I spoke with my grandparents I actually understood what despair meant, even though the word was foreign to me. I was too young to see what was happening to me. With each passing day, I was losing the identity I was meant to have and becoming someone else. I learned too late that n
ormal people do not see evil coming into their lives, especially eleven-year-old children.


Chapter One


Piper ~


I did as I was told, fearful that if I put a toe out of place, I’d be punished. I often went hungry—my punishment for just being in the room at the wrong time.

My mother no longer sipped her drinks throughout the day, but drank thirstily starting as soon as she woke and not stopping until she was snoring. Daniel acted as if he didn’t notice, even seeming relieved once she would pass out. He was not a smart man, but at times I sensed deep, distant thoughts when I caught him staring at me. 

He did exactly as my mother instructed, to the letter, and if he didn’t, she’d slap him across the face and scream at him for hours. Daniel cowered at her raised voice and did everything he could to keep her from being upset. He would struggle with his speech as he’d stuttered, “I’m s-s-s-sorry. I’m so-r-r-r-ry,” and run to correct whatever displeased her. I was scared for Daniel, afraid my mother would hurt him when this happened.

I guess Daniel and I got along so well because he pretty much thought like an eleven-year-old kid most of the time. Maybe even younger, although I can’t say I ever saw him without some kind of beer or whiskey bottle in his hand. Other than that, he did try to make my life a little easier, always asking about my dreams and favorite things.

Daniel did his best to get me acquainted with my new surroundings, and once we counted 485 giant steps from the mailbox to the front door. It was a good mile and a half through the cornfield out back to the nearest neighbor. The trailer was black as coal if the lights were out, and our water came from a sour-smelling well. I had an old black and white TV in my room with six channels.

After we ate dinner, Daniel and I would go into my room and stretch out on my bare mattress on the floor to watch old movies till I fell asleep. It was nice having someone around, with my dad gone and Nathan away. I didn’t know if my brother could find me if he ever tried. Daniel was the only person I had that cared about me.

When I took the chance to ask my mother about Nathan she became instantly enraged, telling me, “Never you mind about that good-for-nothing brother of yours. He better not darken my doorstep!”

My mother was a total stranger to me before I lived with her, after she took me from Nana, I began to see her as a monster. Her words were constantly slurred and hate filled, her dark eyes unfocused and mean. When she took the time to notice me, she’d only yell at me or hit me. My mother hated me. For whatever reason, my existence caused her great discomfort. I watched as she slowly turned into something that resembled one of the characters from
The Twilight Zone
. Her hair was seldom clean, and her heavy makeup was so smudged she appeared possessed.

She terrified me. The more she was asleep, or out of the trailer, the safer I was. Her beatings were beginning to break my skin open, and bits of my scalp were going bald from her yanking out my hair.

When Christmas came that year, Daniel took me to a strange town to watch a movie for a treat. I know he wanted to avoid being seen with me in Cosby, fearing someone would recognize me. After the movie I had hot chocolate, as Daniel sipped from a flask and watched me. It was the best time I’d had in months. I didn’t care that my clothes were too small or Daniels jacket was all I had to keep warm, I was happy to be out of the confines of the dreary place I called home.

When we were back in the trailer, Daniel gave me a white box with a pretty red bow on top. I was thrilled to have a gift. I carefully untied the ribbon and lifted the lid feeling my heart beat with excitement. A gold locket lay on white cotton inside. I gasped and instantly felt tears pool in my eyes.

“Daniel, thank you. It’s so pretty.” I said gently tugging at the delicate clasp.

“O-o-o-open it,” Daniel said sounding excited himself.

I fiddled with the opening and inside the little window was a picture of my dad and me, taken when I was about four. Emotion welded up inside my throat, causing me to choke out a sob. My dad, my bigger than life handsome dad smiled while I, like a monkey, was draped over his broad back. We were both smiling. Tears began to flow freely as I touched the photo. I had very few things of my dad’s. My mother wouldn’t let me take much from Nana’s so this locket was precious to me.

“Daniel, it’s beautiful. Thank you.”

“Y-y-y-you can’t let your mom see it. It would m-m-m-make her m-m-mad,” he warned me.

“I won’t,” I said still looking at my dad. I missed him so much my body hurt from it. The knowledge I would never again feel his kisses on top of my head, or his strong arms embracing me, God it hurt and I grieved the loss of it.

“Now you’ll alw-w-w-w-ways have your dad with y-y-y-you,” Daniel said with his stutter a little worse after he’d been drinking.

I continued to cry and hugged Daniel around the neck. When I pulled away from him, tears flowing now, Daniel held my face with his rough hands and rubbed my cheeks with his thumbs. A smile stretched broad on his scruffy face. I felt cherished for the first time in many mouths as he soothed away my tears.

I thought nothing of it, wrapped up in the moment of my wonderful gift. I had a split second of warning in my head, just before Daniel leaned forward and kissed me full on the mouth. He was holding my face, not allowing me to pull away. My eyes went wide, and I jumped off the couch as if he’d pinched me hard.

I stood frowning down at his face. He looked like a mixture of hurt and confusion. I swallowed twice before finally finding my voice.

“Thank you for my gift, Daniel. I need to go to bed now,” and sprinted to my room.

I sank to my mattress, confused and scared. My heart pounded in my chest, and my cheeks were on fire. My mother constantly called Daniel retarded. I lay in my cold room wondering if this were true. He was at least forty-five. Why would he kiss me? Me?  It was so weird to be kissed on the mouth. Maybe that’s how Daniel was raised, but I always thought the mouth was for kissing boys I liked. I’d never done that but watched enough TV to understand this. Never had I seen an older man, not even a dad kiss a young girl. After my heart slowed to a normal rhythm, I began to talk myself into believing it was harmless. Just a kiss. My first, yes, but still harmless. At least that’s what I tried to tell myself.

I tossed and turned most of the night, dreaming awful dreams of running in place, with my feet on fire. Thankfully, Daniel never came to my room. Around three in the morning, I heard my mother stumbling in the front door, cussing. I covered my head, trying to drown out any noises that came from her. I was sick at my stomach because of Daniel, and my mother only made it worse because she reminded me I had absolutely no one to ask about it.



In the days that followed, Daniel acted like his normal self. We again watched TV together after dinner each night, laughing together at Mr. Ed and Wilber. I felt awkward with him at first, but the kiss was never repeated or mentioned, which was a relief to me. I dismissed as an innocent gesture of care as Daniel and I were friends.

I did notice he stared at me a lot and began to pull me closer to him while we watched TV. This did make more than a little uncomfortable, but at the same time, he was all I had in the world. He did not hurt me, he comforted me. He was just lonely too. My thoughts ran wild most of the time, trying to understand all the conflicting emotions. I could never just relax and enjoy the shows anymore.

There was only one place I had privacy and found peace in hot showers. This was the one thing I truly enjoyed. Hot water, and the time to think and dream as I watched the water drain away my sorrows.

One night, as I always did, I stayed in the shower until my skin wrinkled. I never knew how long we would have electricity, sometimes we went weeks without hot water so I soaked it up anytime I could.

I turned off the water and opened the curtain to find Daniel holding my towel. After understanding that he was in fact not my imagination, I screamed and jerked the curtain so hard it ripped from its plastic hooks. I held it shut, as if I could keep him from opening it. I was terrified and could not speak. The warmth my skin had just consumed vanished in an instant. I was now frigid cold.

“D-d-d-don’t be scared, Piper. I j-j-just want to l-l-look at you. That’s all!” He stuttered out the words. I felt my face flush as his words sank in.

“No! Get out Daniel.” I shouted back at him.

Look at me?
My head was spinning. I begged him to leave. More than once. I began to shiver, both cold and scared, as he tried to get the curtain from my clutched hands. Stopping just short of force, he began to stutter again.

“I-I-I just want to s-s-s-see you,” he begged.

I felt heat rise to my head, and my eleven-year-old-self answered, “But why?” Truly confused. I did not understand his meaning. I knew nudity was a no-no, and Nana always told me that good girls kept themselves covered. I was so embarrassed, I didn’t know what to do. I was shivering and knew I couldn’t reach for my towel without opening the curtain. I began to falter and cry.

“Daniel, please leave. Why are you doing this?”

Why would anyone want to see me naked? That was just gross. I sure didn’t want to see anyone naked.

He didn’t answer right away, but when he did his voice came out clear. “Because you’re s-s-soft and sweet. I’d never hurt you. I just want to l-l-l-look at you. That’s all, I s-s-s-swear.”

I thought he was crazy. What was I supposed to do? I could run, but he was between me and the door. Daniel could easily block my path.

“P-p-piper? C-c-come on n-n-n-now.

If I just do this and get it over with, then I can go to bed. I felt sick at my stomach and more than a little ashamed. Then again, there was that spark of excitement that thought of someone wanting to
look at me, which made me feel somewhat wanted. Ugly, skinny pale me.

If looking was all, I could live with it, and Daniel was always nice to me. I trusted him. We had spent many hours together, and he had never harmed me. Not ever.

I sucked in my breath, numb with cold now. It was the second week of January, and we had a wood furnace that barely heated one room. With shaking fingers and great reluctance, I gathered myself, and finally I said, “Okay,” through clenched teeth.

Slowly, with my eyes shut, I opened the curtain. I stood naked for at least a minute. When I did finally open my eyes, Daniel was
looking at me.

Pitiful and pathetic as he was, I was unafraid and unashamed. After another minute of taking me in, he slowly came towards me. I stood stock-still as he wrapped me in my towel. I tensed when he put his arms around me, rubbing my back, up then down, up then down, in long slow strokes. My entire body was shaking.

“Shh, shh, shh, beautiful girl,” he whispered and kissed my forehead, “C-c-come out of there and l-l-l-let me d-d-dry your pretty hair.”

“I would rather you not Daniel,”

He insisted I allow him to dry my hair. I just wanted to be left alone, but then again, this made me feel pretty. Cared for. Something I hadn’t had in a long time. I thirsted for attention and was in the same breath afraid I was going to hell for it.

I gave in and allowed him to dry my hair, as long as I was covered with my towel. What was wrong with him just drying my hair? I ask myself this question over and over until it was done. When Daniel finally finished, I felt him pick up a strand of my hair and smell it. It was creepy. His fingers slid gently down my hair, from crown to end, then Daniel turned and left the bathroom without another word.

I breathed deep and dressed at warp speed in my too-small pajamas. My lips were blue with cold, or maybe shock. I didn’t know. I went to bed feeling dirty, as if soap had never touched my skin. Never had I wished for my Nana more than that night. Scared, lonely, and confused, I said a small prayer, and went to sleep watching
Who’s the Boss?
on my black and white TV.

I woke up to my mother vacuuming the bare rugs in the living room. I had no clue what time it was and guessed it had to be early. A glance at the clock on wall told me it was five a.m. I looked at my mother wishing I could tell her the strange event with Daniel, but I knew she wouldn’t care anyway.

A cigarette and the cord in one hand, and the handle in the other, she pushed and pulled the vacuum in one spot, long enough for me to realize that it was very early and she was drunk. She had probably not been to bed at all the night before.

Every few days she would go into these crazed cleaning fits. Wiping everything. Vacuuming. The woman slept in her own vomit most nights, yet when these urges hit, you had better stay out of the way, or you would pay dearly. I wiped the sleep from my eyes, and went to the bathroom to wash my face and brush my teeth.

I felt nauseated at the sight of the torn shower curtain. When I reentered my room I noticed an old movie playing. Gregory Peck. One of my favorites. The volume was turned down as usual, because I left it on day and night. I knew the film by heart and knew the words without hearing them. The movie was
Behold a Pale Horse
, one of Papaw’s favorites, as well as mine.

Absently, I began to change. I had my shirt over my head with my vision blocked when the first blow landed, knocking me to the floor. I knew instantly my mother was upon me.

BOOK: Fade to Black (The Black Trilogy Book 1)
10.78Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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