Through fields of grain they run, arms wide pretending to be birds soaring through the sky, each one trying to fly higher than the other. They glide in and out of formation one in front of the other laughing and giggling the whole way. Early twilight, sky golden as the sun slowly sets illuminating the filed in which they play. The boy’s smiling faces glow. Each bird tries to fly faster than the others racing to the clearing. A tie, none faster than the others they each complete their journey at the same time. High fives and good jobs go all around. The field leads into a playground with everything from swings to a bouncy house. Three boys Treyvone, Kristopher and Chauncey take off their ball caps and throw them in the air in celebration for the great time they were about to have. Not a care in the world, the boys were in heaven climbing on the monkey bars one minute, spinning around on the merry go ‘round the next. The playground is theirs’ alone on this special late afternoon in the summer’s sun. No happier could a young boy be frolicking around with no restraints. Parched they became so over to the water fountain they ran to get their sips in. Sips turn to hard swallows, hard swallows turn to gulps. Front of shirts become wet as the three amigos begin to splash and chase one another with hands cupped full of water. More water leaked through their little fingers onto their shirts than actually stayed in their palms to be thrown at their friends. Joy, pure joy and elation they felt, the warm evening air drying their shirts as they climbed onto the swings. Back and forth they swung, one trying to swing higher than the other laughing up and down. Treyvone, Kristopher and Chauncey loved their playground. It was their personal wonderland.
Most young boys are inflicted with a serious sweet tooth; these three were no exception. Kristopher waved his little hand to his two friends in a “c’mon” motion. They quickly followed. Off the playground and down a dandelion covered hill they ran. Race car noises they made during this race. Pretending to be gripping steering wheels they weaved through the patches of sun colored weeds. Suddenly each of them put on their brakes and came to a screeching stop. Three weeds were plucked from the earth’s floor and held up to little lips. Blow they did, hard sending what they called white feathers through the humid air. Just then a gust of wind blew through lifting the feathers high up into the atmosphere. The boys pointed up trying to follow the feathers until they were no longer visible. Little eyes shined, the late sun reflecting off their pupils. Another race was in order.
“One your mark, get set, go!”
Treyvone yelled as the three took off once again. Motivated by their sweet teeth the three raced on to the next destination, the ice cream stand. Once again the race ended in a tie as they each touched the small building in the shape of an ice cream cone at the same time. What do you know? No line. From their pockets each pulled a coin, placed them on the counter and placed their orders. Soft serve in huge waffle cones is what they sold. The boys’ mouths watered watching each cone being made, vanilla for Treyvone, Strawberry for Kristopher and Chocolate for Chauncey. Under a large tree covered in Spanish moss they sat looking up at what they pretended to be large grey and green spiders hanging from the huge branches. Another gust blew giving the spiders life. They danced back and forth to the boys’ delight. Giggles were shared as the sun still sat in the same place. It seemed daylight savings time was working overtime.
By the time they finished their cones ice cream ran from their little hands down their arms pooling at the bottom of their forearms. To the park bathroom they speed walked, still racing. Another tie, once inside, they washed the sweet dairy from their hands, arms and faces. In the mirrors the boys looked laughing at one another’s distorted reflections. Chauncey made the decision to go to the pool before they lost all light. Each of them had a locker in the pool’s locker room. In each of the boy’s lockers was a pair of swimming trunks, flip flops and towel. Not quite thirty minutes after eating ice cream the boys threw caution to the wind and dove in the pool.
They each yelled before splashing down in the cool water. Very skilled swimmers were each of the boys, good thing because there seemed to be no lifeguard on duty. Laps back and forth they swam trying to determine a champion. Still none was had so they launched into a spirited game of Marco Polo.
The boys’ voices echoed through the pool area as the boys splashed away, great summer fun. Swim they did until each of them became fatigued. Back into the locker room they went to change back into their clothes. They dried themselves, redressed with ball caps on heads and headed for the boardwalk.
The sun had set. When they reached the bright lights of the boardwalk they headed directly for the arcade. The boys had finally tired of racing, they just walked along at an excited brisk pace. Once inside they each headed straight for their favorite video game which just happened to all be side by side. A ton of “wows” and “awesomes” were said from one friend to another as they each tried to top the previous high score. Play long and hard they did until hunger set in on each of them. All of the high scores were eclipsed by the three gaming masters. Congratulations and praise they gave one another for their achievements. Exiting the arcade they were taken over by the enticing aroma of fresh baked pizza. They followed the heavenly scent until they reached its origin. Again they each pulled a coin from their pockets and placed them on the counter. A huge slice was served to each boy. Treyvone was served pizza with extra cheese. Kristopher had pepperoni and Chauncey Sausage. Sodas were ordered as well Sprite for Treyvone, Dr. Pepper for Kristopher and Coke for Chauncey. On the benches of picnic tables they sat enjoying their dinner. Grease they wiped from their tiny chins as they slurped down the last of their sodas. In the distance they could see the giant Ferris wheel. The boys all let out cheers then took off running towards it. The colorful wheel was on the other end of the boardwalk; there was much to distract their little minds before they got there. Suddenly Kristopher saw a ring toss booth up ahead. They all stopped to try their luck at the game of chance and skill. There were prizes to be won and each of the boys had intentions of winning one. Again they each pulled a coin from their pockets and placed them on the counter. Three rings were placed in front of them and they each kissed their ring for good luck. One, two, three, they each tossed their ring onto the peg on the first try.
“We have three winners!”
The attendant announced over the heads of the boys. The three jumped for joy in a small huddle before choosing their prizes. There were so many to choose from. After brief contemplation, they each decided to get some “sports stuff”. Treyvone dreamt of becoming a pitcher in the Big Leagues so he chose a baseball and baseball glove.
Kristopher had dreams of becoming an NFL quarterback so he chose a football. Chauncey fantasized about playing in the NBA so he chose a basketball. The boys thanked the attendant then ran along in the direction of the Ferris wheel.
They only got five hundred yards before they were drawn in by another fun filled distraction.
The boys yelled in unison. They rushed onto the slippery floor and jumped in the car of their choice. Treyvone chose red, Kristopher picked blue and Chauncey jumped in a green car. Around they drove bumping into each other, chuckling with every collision. As their cars came to a stop the boys heard explosions from a far. They looked up to see the night sky lit up with fireworks.
“Wow, this is the greatest night ever!”
Kristopher exclaimed to his two buddies. Little boys’ faces shining from the random rays and colors of light created by the fireworks. The fireworks show ended with a grand finale of a choreographed dance of noise and light created by the explosions followed by smoke in the air. The boys applauded and whistled their approval of the wonderful display. The Ferris wheel became their focus again so they headed in that direction.
The boys walked past several buildings and booths on the way to the Giant Ferris wheel in the sky. As they passed one particularly dark building a voice called out to them.
“Treyvone, come here. I’ve got something for you.”
Treyvone seemed to know the voice so the boys stood and waited for him to come back from where the voice called him to. Then they heard another voice from across the street.
“Kristopher, let me show you something over here.”
Off went Kristopher to see what the voice wanted to show him. Lastly Chauncey heard a voice behind him. He dared not turn around.
“Chauncey let’s go over here.”
A strong hand nudged him into the shadows. Seconds later, blood curdling screams echo throughout the boardwalk, pool, park and field. Harm was being done to the boys. Screams, more screams, screams!
Just then Sarah Reynolds shakes her husband from his reoccurring nightmare. Dennis wakes in a cold sweat; shaken from the horrors he had just witnessed subconsciously.
“Dennis, are you alright Honey?”
Dennis wiped his brow trying to gather himself and make sense of why he was tortured nightly by such heinous acts.
“Yes Sarah, I’m ok. I just can’t shake it that’s all. It still haunts me, knowing and then knowing that nothing is being done about it. How does that happen?”
Dennis’ loving wife let out a sigh before responding. She was growing tired of reliving what happened to those poor little Black Boys in which she considered the ghetto of Pine Hills but there was nothing they could do about it.
“Dennis, Honey I am so sorry that you’re having these awful dreams but we need to get past this. It’s tragic and unbelievable that such acts could go unpunished but we’re not law enforcement officers we’re educators. You obsessing over it won’t solve anything.”
Dennis sat up in bed now perturbed with his insensitive wife.
“That’s exactly the problem Sarah; it doesn’t have to be solved everyone knows who committed all three crimes. How young lives are taken and nothing is done about it is beyond me. I know that you don’t deal with much outside of the curriculum in your upper middle class school but where I choose to teach you have to do a little more than that. Sometimes unfortunately I’m all these children have in the form of a positive role model or parental figure at all. We do the same job in theory but I go through a little more so I guess you just wouldn’t understand.”
With that being said Dennis got out of bed and walked into the bathroom to wash his face and neck. His pajamas were soaked so he thought it necessary to take a shower. He needed some space to think anyway. Dennis could hear his wife’s voice outside the bathroom door but couldn’t make out what she was saying. From her tone it sounded somewhat apologetic but he was in no mood to listen to it. Exiting the bathroom thirty minutes later Dennis could see that Sarah had decided to go back to sleep so he headed downstairs for a glass of Merlot. Inflicted by Insomnia in his late teens and early twenties he spent many a night struggling to sleep. The events of this school year had caused his old ailment to return. Walking barefoot across the cool tiles of his large kitchen Dennis thought of ways to bring the worst of criminals to justice. He stopped at the sliding glass door and looked out onto his large backyard. Upward he looked out at the large, safe gated community he was blessed to live in. His life was one of privilege and luxury. Born with a silver spoon in his mouth Dennis Reynolds decided to do more with his life. He was dedicated to helping the under privileged and easily forgotten. The rewards were few yet powerful; the young lives he’d touched over his eleven years teaching in the rough and tumble community of Pine Hills were worth the sacrifice for Dennis. A great disappointment to his father he was, but the old man still loved him. A tree hugging, save the world, bleeding heart liberal he was always called by his father Frank. But Frank had a soft spot for his only son and secretly admired what he chose to do with his life. Two Tylenol PM pills were popped and another glass of Merlot was swallowed in an effort to induce slumber. By four in the morning he was back in bed only to be awakened at six by the same nightmare. The nightmare was like an alarm clock waking him up just in time to return to the battlefield labeled a classroom. Sarah was more sympathetic this time around.
“Hey are you ok Dennis.”
Dennis, still startled blurted out what she thought was nonsense.
“Why can’t they ever make it to the Ferris wheel?!”
“Dennis, what are you talking about?”
“The boys, they never make it to the Ferris wheel! They never make it. Babe, they never make it.”
Sarah hugged her husband’s head gently in her bosoms in an effort to comfort him. Her words were soft, careful.
“Dennis you know you’ve been having this nightmare for quite some time now, maybe it’s time to talk to someone about it. I wish that I could help you with this but I don’t know exactly what to do. I love you Honey and I want you to be well, understand?”
Sarah expected some resistance to the idea of Dennis seeing a therapist but she didn’t get any. Dennis readily agreed. He just wanted the pain to stop.
“Maybe you’re right honey. Maybe I need to see a professional; this stuff is tearing me apart.”
Dennis hugged his wife tighter, stood and kissed her on the forehead.
“Sweetie, thank you so much for putting up with me. I’m lucky to have such an understanding wife, I love you Sarah.”
He leaned down and gave her a dry peck on the lips. She collected it, no spark little passion. Dennis decided to see his childhood psychiatrist. He hadn’t seen him in years but at least they had a history. Being from a well to do family he, like everyone else in his family had his own mental health care professional. Dr. Paul Depot wasn’t only Dennis’ therapist, he was also a close friend to his father Frank. As Dennis grew out of adolescence into early adulthood he decided that his Doctor’s close relationship with his father gave him a conflict of interest. Dr. Depot, a man of great integrity, respectful of and responsible with his vocation, would never break doctor/ patient confidentiality. A young Dennis couldn’t get over his own paranoia and insecurities in his relationship with his sometimes overbearing father so he terminated his treatment. Now a grown man he knew that Dr Depot would be his best option for help in dealing with this painful period in his life.
The beginning of the first session was like two old friends being reunited. Their hand shake led into an embrace.
“Dennis it’s so good to see you. What’s it been thirteen years or so?”
“Yea, something like that, so how have you been Doc?”
“I’ve been well, things are good, please take a seat. Your father tells me that you’ve been teaching in Pine Hills for the past eleven years. Initially that must have been quite a culture shock. Pine Hills is a far cry from your Bay Hill roots. I commend you for choosing such a noble profession. I know you must have your share of challenges.”
Dennis spoke freely, quickly.
“Honestly Doc it can sometimes be a little overwhelming. That is why I’m here today. I have knowledge of horrible crimes committed against children. The worse part of it is the perpetrators have gone unpunished. It tears at me everyday Doc and I have the most awful nightmares. Knowing who committed these crimes and not being able to bring them to justice makes it a hundred times worse…”
Dennis led into a horrible tale about young lives lost to disguised predators. Predators disguised as parents, mentors, new friends and extended family. Young trust gained for no purpose other than to get close enough to hurt. Children, so trusting and naïve; to the predator their greenness is like fertile ground in which to dibble holes to plant seeds of pain and destruction.
Dennis finished his first session with Dr. Depot no less tormented but with a new resolve. The perpetrators, he knew who they were, where they lived and worse of all he knew they’d offend again when given the opportunity. Two more sessions were had with Dr. Depot before Dennis proclaimed himself cured to the doctor. His nightmares ceased but thoughts of the crimes were always in the forefront of his consciousness. His new resolve gave him peace in his slumber. Dreams were now of avenging the boys and punishing the wrong doers. Every night as Dennis slept a plan was beginning to take shape in his mind. The boys would be avenged and attention would be brought to this horrible situation. Dennis would be that voice for the poor and forgotten. The undesirables that society can accept being abused or even murdered. In these dreams a champion for them all was born. Mr. Reynolds’ feelings of powerlessness had escaped him infusing him with strength and courage. Unfortunately rational planning gave way to thoughts of retribution, rage and revenge, none the less, justice would be had!
Joe Robinson was a forty-two year old unemployed man whose only contribution to society was the labor he gave in prison while serving a five year sentence for his participation in an armed robbery. Joe struck a deal and testified for the State of Florida against his co-defendants. When released he moved in with his loving mother, Mary, who always thought her son’s problems to be the product of other’s behaviors and actions. She was wrong. Her son Joe was the foul man the rest of the world knew him to be. Mary was not only saddled by a needy son but also her grandson Treyvone. Treyvone was a bright, energetic little boy who dreamt of becoming a professional singer or baseball player.
He was the light of his grandmother’s life. Her daughter, Tangy fell in love with several illegal substances several years earlier. Her commitment to her vice was so great that she could no longer care for her only child. Three year old Treyvone was relieved to be living in a warm home with plenty of food and love. For three years his childhood was what fairy tales are made of… until Uncle Joe came home.
Mary was happy to have a babysitter and male role model for her grandson. It would also give Uncle Joe something to do to make himself feel useful and help him to have a smooth transition back into society. Unknown to Mary were the horrors her son experienced while incarcerated. Even in a medium security prison the weak are sought out and sodomized. Joe was a mama’s boy; the only thing he ever got off his mama’s couch to do landed him in prison. The first time wheelman got nervous and, deviated from the escape route. Joe’s wrong left and right turns landed them at an interception surrounded by police responding to the first call. When interrogated Joe’s partners and buddies since high school, Trevor and Jake, kept their mouths shut. Joe sang like a canary the moment he was asked anything. When he finally got an attorney all he had left to bargain with was Joe’s testimony against the others. Five years was what his testimony was worth. Jake and Trevor knew many people serving time in the state of Florida so getting a kite to some buddies in Joe’s prison wasn’t hard at all. He was raped daily and traded for prison currency. Now home, the prey turned predator preyed on his own blood first with verbal abuse, later fondling and eventually full on oral and anal penetration. Treyvone had already dealt with the violation of his body and soul in his early life with his mother at the hands of her junkie boyfriends. The young boy thought that he had escaped that abuse forever only to see it return in the form of family. Mary a good, hardworking Christian had one major flaw; she was blind. Blind to anything her two children ever did. Mary found liquor in her daughter’s room, her friends were to blame. Her son’s slothfulness was always someone else’s fault; his friends were all holding him down. The sign’s of abuse her grandson showed were overlooked as well. One night Joe, especially high and drunk, got impatient. He couldn’t wait until his mother was gone; he had to have it that night. Screams were heard by Mary and she rushed in to her grandson’s bedroom to witness the most horrible act she had ever seen in her life. Mary’s screams matched her grandson’s.
“Joe, what are you doing?!? Get off that boy! Lord Jesus help me.”
“Ma it ain’t what you think, we was just playing.”
Joe stood pulling up his pants and brushed by his mother as she rushed to comfort her grandson. Joe stood listening around the corner as his mother told her grandson how they were going to the police in the morning and he would never have to see Uncle Joe again. Joe stormed out of the house; mind racing. He popped his last two pills and licked the last of the resin from an empty bag that once held cocaine. Joe hung out with the bums around the convenience store panhandling and bumming cigarettes while thinking of a way out of his situation. Finally some crack was scored and shared. Joe’s mania went to the extreme, his shallow thoughts turned evil.
As the clock struck four Joe found himself, with a gas can dousing the foundation of his mother’s old wooden house. The neighborhood was quiet and the air crisp as the flame was ignited. Within minutes three homes were ablaze on Pine Street; residents fled into the streets to escape certain death. Joe’s poor mother and nephew Treyvone weren’t as fortunate. They were both asphyxiated as black smoke filled their bedrooms then the lungs of its sleeping victims. Their bodies were charred beyond recognition when they were finally discovered. Slow to respond to the poor neighborhood was the fire department giving the fire time to consume half the block. Due to lack of evidence the arson went unsolved.
Uncle Joe was a person of interest but the case wasn’t pursued vigorously. The police and fire fighters are to serve and protect; at what level they serve and protect often times depends on the class of the citizen. The wealthy get the best justice money can buy while the less fortunate receive less justice. Oh the perils of the peoples of Pine Hills. It was known in the community who was at fault but it was never told. Never told to the right ears or just never listen to when told. Dennis listened, he always did. He felt it time that his listening turned to action and he knew just what action he would take against good old Uncle Joe.
Dennis spent seasons in his youth sitting in a tree stand patiently waiting for that perfect buck. A good shot he was, taught by his father Frank. That was their bonding time. As Dennis grew into adulthood his blood lust was lost. No longer was he a hunter, seeding the fields during the off season, but he was still a great shot.
Joe lived in a rundown motel paying rent weekly with proceeds from petty crimes he committed throughout the week. Outside he stood smoking a butt he found on the ground. It was an hour past dusk and there wasn’t much stirring going on. Dennis sat high on his perch several hundred yards away. Joe was in his sights. Dennis held no nervous or anxious feeling in his heart as he slowly squeezed the trigger. The shot was loud but common sounding as if were merely a pallet falling over at one of the near by factories. Joe dropped instantly and Dennis was pleased. The entry wound was small but the exit wound was almost the size of a softball. As Dennis quickly, quietly packed up his gear and removed all evidence something came over him. He could see Joe twitching and thriving yet no one had come to his rescue. Dennis put his equipment away and rushed on the scene looking the part of the hero. As Dennis kneeled down next to his victim; the junky tenets slowly filed out of their units. He spoke quietly into Joe’s ear as he took his last breaths.
“I know what you did Joe, I know what you did. You like raping little boys and burning people up. Well you’ll meet allot more assholes like yourself when you get to hell.”
Dennis giggled and Joe gasped. Dennis looked up at the junkies gathering around him and shouted orders.
“You, get me some towels, you, call 911. Somebody get the manager!”
People scattered in all directions at Dennis’ behest. Joe was now bleeding from his mouth and eventually his head slumped over. It was done and Dennis quietly made his way to his vehicle and drove home. That night Dennis made love to his wife for the first time in three months. He also slept like a baby, no nightmares. Avenging was relieving to Dennis; the night’s events convinced him that his mission must be completed.