This story is by Cade Athens and was part of our 2017 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the Spring Writing Contest stories here.
He was a fox; there was nothing silver about him. Even though it had been thirteen days since I saw him, he haunted my mind. Every blink was a flash of his perfect face and every breath a reminder of the horrendous act he committed two weeks ago. It was stupid to follow him that day…The mere thought of him provoked the jarring memory of the brunette’s limp body against his.
I jumped, startled by the sudden noise. I turned my attention to my phone on the edge of my desk and grabbed it with uncertainty.
New Message From Allegra Walker:
Kerri, this is my last text to you this time. You’ve been MIA all week, ignored me in class and now you won’t answer my texts. What’s wrong?! Please call me! We’re best friends. WE HAVE TO TALK.
Shame washed over me as her text reminded me of why she could never know this secret.
There was a rattle of bangs at the door.
“I know you’re in there, Kerri. Please, open the door.” The voice was muffled, but I knew it anywhere. It was him: Mr. Walker.
My heart quickened as excitement and fear trickled about my body, overtaking my bones. If I didn’t answer, he would get suspicious. If I did answer, it’d be my first time staring into the eyes of a killer.
Stick to the sick story, Kerri. You’ve just been sick with a stomach bug.
Anticipation trembled through my veins as I grasped the doorknob. I took a deep breath and opened the door.
Of course, he was breathtaking as always. He cocked his head up at me, “Kerri.” He breathed.
“Hi, Mr. Walker.” I said, evading his eyes.
“You’re alive! How have you been feeling? Can I come in?” Concern laced his voice. There it was, his Best Father of the Year act, right on queue.
I nodded slowly and invited him in the living room. “I just came to check up on you,” he said as he turned his head every which way, scoping the house before we entered the living room. “I assume your Mom’s at work and your brother’s at school? ” He asked.
Every one of my instincts screamed at me to lie, but it was always so hard to lie to him.
“Good.” He smiled as he stared into my eyes slyly. He pulled me into his arms.
I stepped away from him. “I can’t, Mr. Walker. I’m sick remember?”
“Oh, right,” he said.
We walked into the living room. He sat down on the couch across from me. I stared down at the white-rimmed border coffee table between us, trying to buy time. My eyes wandered up to meet his and we both paused. The silence was deafening.
“You never returned my calls or texts, Kerri.” He spoke, finally breaking the silence. “Why is that?” His stare was so tantalizing. It hurt that my feelings for him wouldn’t subside after knowing what he did. I almost hated myself for falling prey to his game.
“It’s because…” I exhaled. This was it. I had to do this. “I want to stop this, Mr. Walker. Whatever this is that we’re doing. It needs to end.”
“End?” he asked as he raised his eyebrow slightly. “Oh Kerri, I wish it were that simple…” he trailed off, unaffected by what I just said. “But the truth is, we are not done,” he stated simply.
“What – what do you mean? I don’t think you heard me, I don’t want to do this any-.”
“No, Kerri. You misheard me.” His tone was firm. I could see his muscles tense under his navy shirt. “In fact, you will come to my room tonight.” He stated matter-of-factly through his crafty smile. And if you don’t,” he chuckled lightly, “I never thought I’d have to use your mother as a threat…”
“My Mom? What in the world does she have to do with this?” I asked astonished he’d bring her up.
“Put it together, Kerri,” he encouraged me.
I stared at him blankly. “Put what together?”
“Oh dear, you don’t know…” He said to himself. “She never told you?” he asked.
“Know what?” I demanded.
“Your mother is an illegal immigrant.”
My breath hitched. “You’re lying, Mr. Walker.” I whispered.
Suddenly I was transported to my grandparent’s house in Tampa Bay where we lived briefly after my parents’ split. I would stand outside the kitchen door in the sticky air and eavesdrop on Nanna and Mom as they conversed in hushed voices over the whipping fans. “La tarjeta verde” were the only words that stood out in their secret talks. “Necessistas la tarjeta verde, Raquelle.” Nanna would say. It was so hard to hear, but when I would enter the room, they would automatically stop talking. I never thought to inquire more. My Mom never said anything.
I came back to the present, hoping that this was a bluff.
He continued, “A little something she confided in me about when I was selling her this house. I didn’t mind getting a little dirt on my hands, to be honest. And I didn’t even fathom the prize I’d win,” he looked me up and down.
His words sounded mumbled compared to the buzzing in my mind. A haze of confusion surrounded me like a fog. I felt it slowly creeping up my spine, shaking my soul.
“Funny thing is, I never had to do anything. You initiated it all!” He laughed. His roaring laughter echoed in the house, boiling my blood.
I shuddered in disgust. For the first time ever, Mr. Walker was, dare I say this, ugly. My eyes shot daggers at him, but I soon realized that this was all my fault. I started this. This was what I wanted, or at least what I thought I wanted.
And then I realized, “Wait, that’s why the house is in my dad’s name…” I thought aloud.
“There’s the Kerri I know!” he smiled.
“But…you wouldn’t do this to my family, would you?” I looked up at him pleadingly.
“Oh Kerri,” he walked toward me, placing his hand on my cheek. “Of course I wouldn’t want to, but…” he paused as he thumbed my face, “I want what I want,” his lips tightened as he spoke; his chiseled face cold as ice.
Tears began to well up in my eyes.
“Oh sweetie, everything will be okay,” he cajoled as he wrapped his arms around me. “All you have to do now, is simply do what I ask.” He pressed his lips against mine, smoothly executing the ultimate betrayal. I couldn’t manage to look at him. I stood still in shock, unable to move.
He walked away from me, making his way to the front door. The confidence in his stride echoed in the room as the heels of his shoes made contact with the floor. “8:00 pm, Kerri. And don’t be late,” he warned before shutting the door, entrapping me in this moment of time.
I stood there frozen, as if my legs were super-glued to the floor. The room was spinning. I trudged my feet along the floor towards the staircase. I grasped the railing tightly, hoping the wooden rod would support my ascent. The gravity of this reality crushed upon me, squeezing the air out of my lungs, leaving me breathless. My breathing was shallow, so I took it easy.
When I entered my room, I fell on the bed wishing to be unconscious, wishing to end this nightmare, hoping that closing my eyes would shut off my blaring thoughts.
My mind shot open as I peered at the bright red numbers on my alarm clock that read 5:00 p.m. I must have slept for one hour. Sleep didn’t seem to change anything.
I lay on my bed in the fetal position as thoughts of my Mom and little brother filled my head. Deportation. That word sounded so foreign to me. A word I only heard about, but merely understood the pain it could bring. If she’s gone, all hope is lost. Where would I go? How can a 17-year-old take care of her teenage brother? Where would we live? How would we survive? How would I survive?
I drowned myself in my thoughts, heavy from the shame that hovered over me. Nothing can comfort me. No one can help me. I was the odd man out in this situation. I stared at my ceiling in desperation.
I cursed Mr. Walker. My mother confided in him and how does he repay her? How could he hold this over my head? His drunken arrogance vexed me. He knew everything and still continued to allure me into a black hole of lies. The nerve of this man. This alluring, seductive, controlling man, who, as of yesterday, is now a murderer, ha-
The realization hit me like a freight train at the speed of light. Mr. Walker’s a murderer! I got so tied up in my grief, I almost forgot his biggest secret I witnessed. I jumped up from my bed and walked about my room, my thoughts churning.
If Mr. Walker’s a murderer, then all I need is evidence and I can turn him in. Evidence…Evidence.
My mind drifted back to Ms. Thompson’s criminology class with her words ringing in my ear, “Evidence is the inevitable truth. Evidence is always the key.”
I squeezed my eyes shut, trying to remember everything I saw yesterday when I watched Mr. Walker meet his client. Before she arrived, he took a picture of the house. She seemed so relaxed as they entered, a little too relaxed for a business meeting, and walked arm in arm through the door. I slid out of the car and darted for the bushes lining the driveway. Peering through the window, I found them in an embrace, but something was different about this. He gripped her so tightly against his body as she lay limp in his arms. It wasn’t until he slowly removed the crimson-coated knife from her side that it dawned on me. His face remained calm throughout, almost detached.
I opened my eyes, snapping back to reality. I wish I hadn’t run away. I got too scared. And of course the police won’t find anything reliable in a witness that’s also involved in an affair with the killer. But why would he take a picture of a house? He already had enough pictures of houses in his room…
But then, there was that one picture frame that I accidentally knocked over that morning Allegra almost caught us. I remembered finding that random newspaper article about a murdered woman when I tried to fix it…
That’s it! All of the photos lining the shelves and walls in his bedroom were photos of his “favorite houses” he’s sold. Houses where he probably met his clients. Clients he most likely killed and soon after killing them, added newspaper clippings as a way to remember them!
I stopped mid-pace. An odd mixture of shock and elation spread across my face. Mementos. These were mementos of a methodical serial killer.
And then it hit me. My way in became my way out; the light at the end of this wicked tunnel. All I have to do is collect his photos and start a paper trail to Mr. Walker. If I say the right things and do what he says, I’ll have him eating out to the palm of my hand, leading me to more evidence to use against him. Then I could take this to the police and demand sanctuary for my mother in return of evidence against possibly, one of the state’s most notorious serial killers.
Make no mistake, Mr. Walker, I will see you tonight and this will commence the beginning of the end. I owe this to my mother and my brother, but mostly, myself. I got myself into this, and now it’s time to get myself out.