Authors: D.B. Canavan
Text copyright ©2016 by the Author.
This work was made possible by a special license through the Kindle Worlds publishing program and has not necessarily been reviewed by Flip City Media Inc.. All characters, scenes, events, plots and related elements appearing in the original The Drazen World remain the exclusive copyrighted and/or trademarked property of Flip City Media Inc., or their affiliates or licensors.
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For my beloved Oscar.
I would like to thank C.D. Reiss for this amazing opportunity. As an inspiring author, an opportunity like this doesn’t come along very often. I am so grateful to you for including me in ‘The Drazen Group.’ Thank you for selflessly offering us your extraordinary characters to do with what we wanted. That truly takes a lot of guts! You selflessly offered us your time and talent, encouraging us
along the way. You are not only an extraordinary writer but also an extraordinary human being.
I would like to thank the members of ‘The Drazen Group.” You ladies are the best! I appreciate all the help and assistance you freely gave. We are
To my mother. I would not have made it through the past year without you. You have been my rock to stand on and an endless source of encouragement. You stood by me when everyone else turned their backs. When life was at its darkest, you kept the faith for the both us. No words can express my gratitude and my love.
Table of Contents
I suck in a healthy gasp of warm humid air.
As I round the corner, my feet rhythmically pound against the slick blacktopped road as it guides me along the small boat harbor. Pontoon boats, and randomly constructed boathouses bob and dip, being rocked gently by Mother Nature. The first time I ran through this area, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Now, after months of jogging the same peaceful path, I’ve come to realize it’s a neighborhood consisting of many colorful people.
Some of the boathouses are absolutely beautiful. They’re built sturdy, constructed with two-by-fours and finished with vinyl siding. Luxurious screened in porches, equipped with grills, televisions and fully stocked bars, are perched on top, looking out over the river. Others are pieced together with random boards and plywood, looking like a mismatched outfit put together by a colorblind person. I chuckle to myself, apparently appearances don’t matter when it comes to boathouses. They’re all equipped with the essentials, cold beer, hard liquor, loud music, a string of welcoming lights that twinkle in the night, and a grill.
The sun is just starting to set, illuminating the Iowa sky with rich pink, and orange clouds that look like they’ve been airbrushed on a canvas of dark blue. Summer is in full swing in Iowa, the humidity hanging on my skin like a viscid coating of oil. The air is so thick that my body struggles to sweat and cool itself. To insinuate it’s hot and muggy, would be a gross understatement. The dew point is a stifling seventy-seven degrees, with a heat index of ninety-eight degrees. God, what I wouldn’t give to be back home in Washington, D.C., right now. The moment my plane landed in Des Moines, Iowa I knew I had stepped into a different way of life. I’d left behind the loud, hustle of the big city and walked into the quite mid-west.
I repeatedly chant to myself. I’ve been undercover in Iowa for eight months now, as Faith Winters. Sometimes I still don’t respond immediately to the name, though, those times are very few and far between. When you’re a trained federal undercover investigator, you’re trained to become whomever, or whatever is needed to get the job done. I change identities like a chameleon changes color.
I wave at the Adams, a sweet old couple I chatted with one evening as they strolled hand-in-hand along the road. Tonight they’re perched on top of their elaborate boathouse.
Shit, their boathouse is nicer than my apartment.
“Evening Dear.” Mrs. Adams waves from behind their screened in perch.
“Evening.” I wave, gasping, my lungs scolding me for expending some of their precious oxygen on small talk. Rolling my wrist, I look at my Apple Watch, I’ve hit three-and-a-half miles.
I round the sweeping corner, jogging down a slight incline that turns into a gravel parking lot. My ears fill with the sounds of random crickets coming to life, birds signing their nightly lullaby’s, and gravel crunching under my running shoes. I zigzag across the gravel lot, carefully navigating around the numerous potholes that litter the area.
I have a little over a half-mile left to think and burn off the anger that has plagued me since I lost my sister, and parents fifteen years ago. Sucking in as much air as I can, my lungs tighten and burn, begging me to slow my pace.
Not a chance.
Not only do I
better when I run, it helps me deal with the pain of losing my family. To the passive observer my stride is strong. On the outside, I confidently place one foot in front of the other. While on the inside, just the memory of that night sends shards of pain shattering in my chest, tearing at my already torn soul. It doesn’t take long for the sadness to set-in. It slithers its way into my bloodstream, hitting my system like a drug.
I will not let it win,
I hold my painful pace steady. My thighs, and lungs sting
I’d rather hurt physically, than fall apart emotionally. Every time I allow myself to remember what I’ve lost, my life is torn apart, just like it was on that warm July night fifteen years ago.
time of year again.
I hate it when people call it an anniversary. My parents, and older sister died that night!
Just the word, anniversary, insinuates a celebration
a happy occasion. That dark night, on July 4
, fifteen years ago was anything but a happy occasion.
Come on Haylee! We’re going to be late. Your father wants to get there early so he can get our usual spot. My mother’s gentle voices floats up the stairs.
“Be right down!” I scream from my bedroom. It’s the Fourth of July, and the family always goes to Eagle Ridge Park to watch the enormous fireworks display. I’m excited, because this year Jimmy will be there, and I want to wear just the right outfit.
“Haley, have you heard from your sister Hope, yet?” My father’s concerned voice is laced with a hint of anger.
I peel off my purple tank top and toss it on my bed. I search my dresser, grabbing my phone. Tapping the screen, it pops to life. ‘No messages.’
“No! Nothing.” I sigh sadly, she’s probably out getting high again or scoring her next stash of pills. My parents have tried repeatedly for the past year to get my older sister help, but no matter how many times they commit her, the end result is always the same. As soon as she’s out, and back with her friends, the pills start and the heroin flows.
I faintly hear my mother, and father arguing in the living room. I can’t make out what they’re saying, but I know they’re arguing about Hope. I wish I could help my sister. Whenever I try to talk to her, it’s like talking to a shell of a person. I’m greeted with glassy eyes and a faraway look.
Sighing, I rummage through my closet selecting my favorite cut off jean shorts, the ones that my father hates. As he puts it, my ass hangs out of them. Stepping into them, and zipping them up is like stepping into a comfortable habit. I turn, looking at them in my mirror. I guess my father has a point, they do leave little to the imagination.
“HAYLEE! NOW!” My father’s angry voice bellows up the stairs.
“Daddy, can I met you there? Please?!” I just got my drivers permit, and my parents gave me their old Pontiac Sunbird.
I can still hear Hope’s snide comments. ‘God you’re such a spoiled brat!’ ‘Mom, and Dad will give you anything.’ ‘You’re such a goody-two-shoes!’
Whenever she says shit like that I just want to punch her in the face. I’ve busted my ass in school, studying hard and getting into all the AP classes I can. I have dreams of going to Harvard someday.
“Fine! But be careful, you know all the drunks are out on a night like this!” My father’s concerned voice is spiked with a hint of impatience.
“Yes,” I whisper, fist pumping to myself. I know the only reason he’s letting me drive tonight is because he wants to get his usual spot. “I will Daddy! I promise!” I slip a pretty pink tank top over my head, and lean over the banister.
There, standing at the bottom of the stairs, are both my parents. Mom’s arms are overflowing with blankets, her oversized beach bag slung over her shoulder. My father’s large gentle hand, grips the handle of our oversized cooler. I smile, knowing it’s loaded with pop, and mom’s usual Fourth of July feast. ‘Hmmm I love her potato salad.’
“I promise, I’ll drive careful.” They both smile up at me affectionately. “I love you both!” I chime.
“We love you too, dear.” My mother’s warm voice wraps around my heart. “We’ll see you there. Don’t forget a coat, it can get cool down by the river.”
“And don’t wear those damn cut off shorts!”
“George.” My mother playfully bumps my father’s arms.
“What?! There’s nothing to those damn things.” He mumbles back to her.
“Come on George.” My mother shoos my father toward the door. Leaning back, she throws me a knowing wink, “You don’t want to lose your favorite spot.”
I mouth ‘thank you. I love you,’ to my mother.
With that they disappear from the hall, and I hear the door click shut.
That was the last time I saw my parents alive. I stumble as I hit a pothole, loose gravel spraying everywhere.
Tears sting my eyes, making my nose tingle.
Don’t cry. You. Will. Not. Cry.
Since that awful night I’ve made it my life’s goal
I’ve made it my fucking
to hunt down the bastards that sell opium, heroin, and any of the other street drugs that’s ruin innocent kid’s lives.
I swipe at my cheeks, wiping away the sweat and tears with the back of my hand, and even out my pace. I head straight, entering Noel Ridge Park. My eyes scan the semi-paved road that weaves through the park.
Thank God, no more gravel.
Taking in my surroundings,
I love this park, it’s so peaceful.
The semi-paved road is lined with large old trees that bear the scars of storms weathered, and offer homes of protection to the various wildlife that live in this peaceful place. Looking to my right, past the trees and over the river, the high rocky bluffs covered with trees and brush stand as a testament of time.
I bet this place is beautiful in the fall.
A slight movement has my eyes snapping to the nearest tree. A family of Mallard ducks lazily huddles together at the base of the tree, heads turned and beaks tucked under their wings.
Sadness surges through my system as I look at the family of ducks. That July 4
, was the last time I saw my parents and sister alive. I was told they died instantly in the head on collision.
I was supposed to be in that car,
my survivors’ guilt tears at my soul.
The authorities closed the case within days, calling it an accident.
I scoff in-between gasps. I would hardly call Operating Under the Influence, an accident. Anger explodes in my chest, searing through my system making my fingertips tingle with pain. I slowly roll my fingers inward, squeezing them into a tight fist.
OUI, opium, heroin, fucking street drugs.
If it wasn’t for those drugs, my family would still be alive. My eyes sting with the emotions that are bubbling to the surface. You’d think after fifteen years it would get easier, but it doesn’t.
I will myself to run faster, my body sending me all the signs of giving out. I’d rather experience the physical pain of pushing myself too hard, than reliving the emotional pain of losing my family.
Suddenly a piercing pain shoots through my right side bring me to an abrupt stop. “AH God!!” Frantically gasping for air and grabbing my side, I limp toward the nearest tree. My lungs burn from lack of oxygen
searing with pain, as I force air in through my nose, exhaling loudly through my mouth.
I was supposed to be in that car.
I lean forward, bending, holding my side and resting my right hand on the trunk of an enormous tree. Gazing at its base, I notice the handiwork of one of the resident beavers.
Damn. That was one busy busy beaver.
Over a quarter of the trunk is missing, having been gnawed and hacked away leaving distorted, deformed edges and perverted, crooked spaces. I can’t say much for his artistic talent, he’s no Michael Angelo, but I will give ‘em an ‘A’ for effort.
Slowly I stand, starting to walk apprehensively. My breathing has return to normal, allowing me to fully fill my lungs with clean fresh air. My gaze travels over the scenery,
God it’s beautiful here.
Large turtles lounge on the remnants of fallen tree trunks, trying to soak up the remaining sunlight of the day. Ducks and Geese of all sizes, quack and honk, fighting for territory and warning the other when they feel their young are in danger.
The water this evening is like glass, reflecting the trees and sky perfectly. Arbitrarily the surface erupts, as a random fish snatches a water bug, sending small ripples filtering outward into nothingness.
I turn on my heels, breaking into a fast walk, testing out my side. With no signs of pain I take off at a slow jog, giving my body a brake. I’m not taking any chances, I don’t want to irritate my side again,