I Remember Everything: Chapter Four

It’s been a while since I’ve written this story. If you need a refresher, it all starts here.

“Will you quit starin’ at me?”

They’d been driving for almost an hour in total silence. Bo obliged; he figured that, when someone has a gun, you do what they say.

Such as letting them hijack your car. And kidnap you. And…. Bo swallowed. He probably wasn’t going to live through this. He had no idea why Nash had taken him, or where they were going, but he doubted it would come with a happy ending.

But this was Nash… not some hardened criminal. Right? This was someone who had gone to the same high school as Bo, who was only a few years older. Whatever was going on… it didn’t have to end with him in a body bag, right?

Bo cleared his throat. Nash didn’t respond.

“I–“he started, and Nash glared at him. Bo shut his mouth. The road sped by in a blur, the illuminated yellow and white lines speeding by in a hypnotizing pattern.

Bo turned his attention to the window. The stars and the city lights took turns breaking up the night. His thoughts tumbled around, debating whether he should sit quietly and wait for Nash to speak; whether he should try to fight back; whether he should try to talk again; whether he should make a run for it the first time the car started slow.

Some adventure. Just sitting here. Say something you idiot!

Keep quiet. You have no idea what this lunatic is capable of!

Exactly… if you talk to him, you might be able to figure something out.

Sure, talk to the guy who forced you into your car at gunpoint! Better idea, make a run for it. We’ll have to get off the interstate eventually. First red light, book it!

And then what? Where are we? Where will we be then? And he’s got a gun! Not like I can outrun a bullet.

Why would he shoot at me?

Why wouldn’t he shoot at me?!?

You need to get that gun.

How the hell am I supposed to do that?

Fight back!

We’re speeding down the road.

Exactly, he’s distracted. Go for the gun. Go for the wheel! This your car, dammit!

This isn’t an action movie!

Sure, so just talk to him.

That worked out well last time….

Bo wondered if he was going insane. Or was it normal for someone to have an internal argument when they were kidnapped?

The sun was starting to rise; the sky becoming purple and then pink behind them.

We’re heading west.

That was the first thing his inner voices could agree on. They were going west. Not long after, they passed a “Welcome to Indiana!” sign.

Welcome. Yeah right.

The internal argument resumed–talk, fight, stay quiet, run. Talk, fight, stay quiet, run. Talk–

“I’m sorry about this.”

Bo jumped.

Nash glanced at him, snorted, then returned his attention to the road. “You’re skittish.”

“You kidnapped me.”

Bo regretted his choice of words almost immediately. “Kidnapped.” Key word: Kid.

“You abducted me,” he amended.

Nash laughed out loud and then started humming the “Twilight Zone” music. “Abducted. Ha! What am I, some sort of alien now, kid?”

“I’m not that much younger than you.”

“That right?”

“I’m a senior.”

“Oooh.. a senior. So grown up.”

“I remember you, you know. I was a freshman when–“

“Watch how you finish that sentence.”

Touchy subject.

“–when you left.”

Nash grunted and the silence returned. After a few minutes, he asked, “What the hell were you doing out in the middle of the night? I mean, good news for me. I needed a ride.”

“What happened to your other ride?”

Nash didn’t respond, and I wasn’t going to push for an answer.

“You didn’t answer the question,” he replied.

You also didn’t answer mine. But I wasn’t going to argue with the person who had a gun.

“I was planning on leaving.”

“Then I suppose things worked out alright for you.”

Bo had no idea how to even respond to that.

“I mean, apart from the whole gunpoint thing.” Nash swallowed. “I am sorry about that, by the way. Really. I don’t know what I was thinking. I guess I kinda snapped.”

“So…?”

“So what?”

“So can you take me home, or–?”

“I thought you said you wanted to leave?”

“I did, but–“

“Some adventure. Made it all the way to Indiana.” Nash snorted. “Listen, I’ll drop you off if you want. But I need a ride, so I’m keeping the car.”

“And I’m just supposed to let you steal my car?”

“I’m no thief. Not really.”

Bo had a very valid argument otherwise, but he stayed quiet.

“Listen, I’ve got a lot of work to do, alright? And I need a car. I hitchhiked my way back to that shitty town, and then my friend kinda chickened out when he saw how serious I was. All he agreed to do was take me to the gas station, but he…. well, he wasn’t expecting me to do what I did. I wasn’t expecting me to do what I did.” He released a shaky breath. “My point is… I’ll get the car back to you, if you want it. When I can. But I could also use some help.”

“Help with what?”

Nash stared at the road, jaw clenched. “Collecting interest,” he said at last.

“Interest?”

“Yes.”

That sounded suspiciously vague. And possibly illegal. But my car….

If Bo just left, he knew that he’d probably never see it again.(No matter what Nash said.)

“If I stay with you, do I get my car back when you’re done?”

“Sure, kid. I just need to get back home, but I’ve got some stops along the way.”

“Collecting interest?”

“That’s right.”

Bo inhaled, thinking. He could very well be getting caught up in some sort of crime spree.

But even if I did… I could just claim I’d been kidnapped and forced into it. Which was true. Who would everyone believe? Me, an average, good kid? Or Nash who is… Nash?

And, in the meantime, Bo realized, he could get his escape. And be able to keep an eye on his car. It wasn’t much, but it was still his, and he’d worked hard to save up the money for it.

“Okay,” Bo said at last. “Where are we going?”

“Montana.”

To be continued.


Copyright Sarah Davidson 2021

I Remember Everything: Chapter Three

“Damn place doesn’t have any sour cream and cheddar chips,” the young man grunted, leaning against the counter.  He was carrying a soda and a chocolate bar.  Looking straight at Bo, he grinned wryly; it was more of a grimace.  “I bet this stupid candy’s stale.”

            Bo didn’t answer.  The young man had an odd gleam in his eyes: a permanently tired look, as though his mind was always in a daydream.  And, besides, Bo wasn’t much of a talker.  A lot of people thought he was rude, but most of the time he just didn’t know what to say.  His ex had understood that… before she’d broken up with him.

            The young man was persistent.  “Is that your car out there?”

            “Why?”

            “Just makin’ conversation.”

            The young man was quiet for a few moments.  He opened the soda and took a long swig, exhaling as though he’d just drunk a shot of liquor.  “Where’s that fat sonovabitch Arns?  I’m in a hurry.”

            “You know Arns?”

            “I’m from around here, originally,” the young man muttered.  He played with the paper on the soda bottle.  He tore it off, tossing it on the ground.  Bo was half-tempted to pick it up, but resisted.

            “How long you been gone?”

            “A time,” the young man replied, and he straightened.  “ARNS!” he shouted, banging his fist against the counter. “You got two impatient costumers waiting to pay your dumb ass!”

            Bo watched the young man; he had a suspicion as to who he could be, but the prospect seemed impossible.  “Hey, you’re not–?”

            “Who’s out there?  Imma comin’!”  Arns lumbered from the back of the station, his large stomach leading the way.  “Who–Nash Stevens is that you?”

            “Yeah.”  Nash’s voice was thick.  Bo stared at him; he seemed more normal than he remembered.  All aura of coolness had disappeared; instead, he was tense and bitter.

            “Nash Stevens!  You gotta lot of nerve showin’ up back here.”

            “I’m not goin’ to be here long,” Nash said matter-of-factly.

            “Oh?  Whatcha’ come back fer?  Wanna finish that fight with yer old man?”  Arns guffawed stupidly; Nash only blinked.

            “Returning to my roots,” he muttered, and he twisted slightly, his hand reaching behind his back.

            The next few moments happened so quickly that Bo would never really be able to remember them clearly. He remembered seeing the gun–impossibly real, and because it was there, right in front of him, it seemed unlike anything he’d ever seen in a movie.  He would remember Arns shouting, and then Nash answering in that same, indifferent tone.

            “What the actual–!”

            “I don’t have to answer to you, Arns. Put the money in the bag!” He withdrew a plastic grocery bag from his jacket, shaking it hurriedly.  “NOW!”

            “I ain’t givin’ ya’–”

            “MOVE IT!” For the first time Nash yelled, cocking the gun.  Arns, deciding the role of hero didn’t suit him, obliged.  He threw the money in the bag, whimpering.

            “Good,” Nash replied, spinning on his heel.  He grabbed as many snacks as he could, and some drinks.  Bo only watched, his mouth agape.  He’d never witnessed a crime before.  He wondered if he’d have to go to court, if he’d have to–

            “Let’s go!”

            Bo stared at Nash, who was breathing heavily.

            “Wh–what?”

            “Let’s go,” Nash demanded, pulling Bo by his collar.  Bo struggled for only a moment before Nash waved the gun in front of his nose.  “Get it?” he asked in a deathly whisper, and Bo didn’t hesitate a moment longer. Tripping over himself, he led the way, Nash pointing the gun at his back.  They stalked across the parking lot.  Bo realized that his elbow was hurting; he’d rammed it into the counter when Nash had withdrawn the gun.  His head was spinning.

            “Keys,” Nash snapped, and Bo twitched.

            “W-what?”

            “Give me your keys.” 

            “I’m not letting you steal my car!”

            Nash chuckled slightly.  “Yeah right.  I have plans for you.”  His face morphed into a scowl, and he was all business again.  “So move!”

            It took a few seconds for Bo to realize he was being kidnapped.  He eyed the gun warily.  He was being kidnapped by the great small town wonder, Nash Stevens. 

            “I said move!” Nash hissed, looking over his shoulder.  He was bouncing on his heels, edgy and unsure.  His attitude made the gun all the more dangerous, so Bo didn’t argue.  He passed the keys to Nash, who caught them easily. 

            “Passengers seat,” he demanded, and Bo hastily slid into the car.  Nash followed, thrust the keys in the ignition, and floored it.  Bo watched as the gas station–and Raven’s Crossing–fell further and further behind him.  With a lump in his throat, he realized he’d gotten his wish: He was leaving–for real. 

Bo glanced at Nash.  He was shaking; his knuckles were white and his eyes were glued to the road.  He was nothing like the suave troublemaker Bo had known three years ago.  Instead, Nash seemed completely unstable–the last person Bo would have picked to drive his car on a trip that could be endless.

            And, Bo realized, shrinking away from Nash, we’ve got a full tank of gas.

Copyright Sarah Davidson 2020

To be continued.

I Remember Everything: Chapter Two

Figures.

            There wasn’t anyone in the gas station.  It was open, but the counter was deserted.  Bo glanced to the window, his beat up car looking lonely beside the pump, then back to the register.  There was a jar of ring pops (twenty-five cents) on the counter, and he grabbed two, fishing a couple of quarters from his pocket.  Bo didn’t holler to the back of the store, nor did he ring the bell.  He was secretly glad for the delay, hoping that by the time Arns (the guy who worked the late shift) showed up, he would have talked himself out of his little trip. 

            Bo leaned against the counter, sucking on one of the Ring Pops.  He looked out the window, between the cigarette posters.  He could see the exact spot his car had been five minutes ago, before he’d pulled into the gas station.  It was a vacant lot, covered in sparse gravel.  There had once been an oak tree there, but all that remained was a mutilated stump.  That stupid stump was the equivalent of the Liberty Bell in Raven’s Crossing.

            Raven’s Crossing was just about the most boring town imaginable.  Even its name was boring. It had, maybe, a thousand people.  It had one stoplight.  It had broken buildings and cornfields at its borders.  It wasn’t like the small towns on television, where everyone was comfortable and friendly.  Real small towns weren’t like that; most of the time, they were just plain depressing.

            But if there was one thing that Raven’s Crossing had that Bo loved it was that stupid old stump.  That tree had been missing for about three years now; it had toppled over when a Jeep had rammed into it.  The driver of the jeep had been Nash Stevens. 

            Bo didn’t know if Nash was his real name, but he couldn’t imagine him as anything else.  Charlie, or Ezekiel, or Robby didn’t fit him.  He was Nash, like the place in Tennessee, or what you do with your teeth when you’re angry.  Nash had been the real cool guy in school.  Not the fake cool guys, the ones who played basketball and dated cheerleaders.  No.  Nash was cool for all the wrong reasons, and his story had become legend in Raven’s Crossing.

            Bo only knew the same story as everyone else: Nash had sped down Main Street in his Jeep, his father’s car following him.  He’d swerved, hitting the tree. The Jeep had been steaming, totaled. Nash’s dad had panicked for the briefest of instants before Nash had staggered out of the door.  His temple had been bleeding, and he’d not been walking straight.  But Nash’s dad didn’t let that stop him.  He started yelling.  Nash, dazed, had yelled back.  The cops were called, and Nash socked his dad.  He’d spent a night in jail.  His dad didn’t bail him out, but Becca Clark’s parents did.  The next night, he and Becca Clark were gone.  Two months from graduating, they’d deserted Raven’s Crossing, leaving behind nothing but that stupid stump.  People said she had a baby six months later.  Bo didn’t know if that part was true, but he had always loved the story.  In a weird way, it was romantic.  Not just in the loving sort of way, but in the fantastic sort of way.  The Story of Nash Stevens was like the Tale of Hercules among the local teenagers. 

Bo had been fourteen, a freshman, when it happened.  Now he was in Nash’s place–a senior, so close to graduating–and he was tempted to follow in Nash’s footsteps.  Leaving sounded so nice. 

The problem was that Bo wasn’t Nash.  He wasn’t dramatic.  He wasn’t impulsive.  And, above all, he wasn’t with a girl.  He didn’t have a Becca Clark to accompany him.  He didn’t even have his ex-girlfriend, and she most certainly wasn’t the romantic sort, even if she liked to think she was.

Bo licked his Ring Pop dramatically, tossing the rest of it into the trash.  He was starting to feel childish, sucking on candy, planning on going Who Knows Where with hardly anything in the backseat.  Where was he planning on going anyways?

You know where.

And a part of him did.  From the moment he’d decided to up and run, a location had flit into his mind: the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.  He’d always loved music.  It had been one of the few constants in his life.  Somehow, going to the Rock Hall seemed like a strange, spiritual journey–the Mecca of all that Bo considered wonderful: freedom, individuality, love, and fun.  They were the cornerstones of rock ‘n’ roll, and the exact things Bo felt he was missing.  So maybe by driving up to Cleveland and meandering through the museum, he would find what he was missing.  It was a possibility, and besides, where else would he look?

Shut up and be realistic.

Bo’s conscience was starting to get the better of him, and he gritted his teeth.  Truthfully, he was being stupid.  Leaving was dangerous, even if it was just for a short while.

This won’t end well.

That part made Bo nervous; he had the world’s worst luck.  A guy like Nash could run away and make it work.  People like Bo only got in trouble.

I’ll end up in a ditch somewhere.

And that thought killed it.  He wasn’t going anywhere.  He was going to pay Arns (if he ever showed up), and he was going to drive back home.  Bo would climb back into bed, put his arms under his head, and stare at the ceiling.  He would go to school.  He would graduate.  He would live his nice, predictable life and leave all the legacies to people like Nash Stevens.

Headlights flashed across the window, and he turned, more out of reflex than real curiosity.  A car had pulled up by the side of the road, not quite in the gas station.  A young man was exiting from the passenger’s side; the driver was waving and talking, using exaggerated hand motions.  The young man only nodded, stoic.  He had dark hair that was almost black and a ratty backpack slung over his shoulder.  He wore jeans and a yellow, tattered windbreaker. 

Bo shrugged, uninterested: That was how he was different from his ex.  His ex would have tried to figure out who the young man was or why the car was leaving him behind.  She would have made up her own explanation. She liked finding stories everywhere, filling in the details that the world didn’t.

Bo didn’t see the reason for any of that. Details didn’t matter, really. And neither did stories. Not when they were someone else’s business.

He leaned against the counter, starting to feel really impatient. The man started walking towards the gas station, but Bo barely noticed.

After all, he was just a pointless detail.

Copyright Sarah Davidson 2020

TO BE CONTINUED.

I Remember Everything

Last week, I took a poll: What should I write next? I posted three different prompts, and this was the winner: They thought I’d forget. But I remember everything.

2077

                He was getting old and he knew it. Age had seeped into his joints like rainwater into a basement–little by little until, at last, the damage was done and beyond repair.

                That’s how he felt most days. Beyond repair. He didn’t admit that to anyone, especially since his progeny always tended to look at him with such concern. No. Not concern. Sympathy.

                Disgusting. Grandpa’s getting old. He’s losing it.

                They had no idea. Sure, his body was failing. That’s what bodies did after 80 years on this Earth. But his mind… that was completely different. Youth couldn’t separate the slow steps and creaking limbs from the person navigating them. Old was just old.

                So he’d stopped telling them the stories. Nowadays, they were just the ramblings of an old man. Once, his tales had seen his kids off to bed and been the entertainment of long car rides. (Of course, he’d edited them from time to time–six-year-olds didn’t need to know all the grisly details.)

                But he’d never exaggerated. He knew they all thought he did. In fact, he was certain they thought he’d made them all up. The drawback of being an author–you were a storyteller, so that meant everything you said was just that: a story.

                But not these. Never these.

He’d never tried to correct them, though. Believing something was fiction gave it a special type of magic. Why take that away? And besides, he didn’t really care if anyone believed the stories. That wasn’t the point.

                He wondered now why he’d never actually written them down, shared them with more people. Let them impact others the way they had him. Of course, reading it and living it were two different things, but still….

                “Grandpa? You doin’ okay in here? You’re so quiet.”

                “Fine. Just entertaining myself with my thoughts.”

                “Oh. Okay. If you need anything….”

                He gave a nod, knowing full well that his oldest granddaughter, Viv, only meant well. He’d be living with her now. Couldn’t navigate his own house on his own. It was too big, and he was too old.

                Beyond repair.

                He snorted, glancing over at the laptop. It was an old one, dinged and running on an operating system that was long out of date. His youngest grandson would always look it over and laugh, then talk a mile-a-minute over how he could improve it. He’d always reply, “Nah, that’s alright. I’m used to it, Luc.” (His oldest boy, Max, had married a nice girl named Ava. The two had decided to give all of their kids’ three-letter names, like theirs. Viv, Kai, Mia, and Luc had been the result. His other two children–Cooper and Sheila hadn’t been nearly as “themed” with their naming…or nearly as fruitful. Cooper and his wife had only one child, and Sheila and her guy–divorced now–had stopped at two.)

                Three kids and seven grandkids. Not too bad of a legacy, he had to admit. That, and a nice little collection of books. None of them, he figured, would ever stand the test of time. They’d probably end up gathering dust on library shelves, maybe being picked up by some curious browser. Oh well…. At least he’d keep living in little spurts like that, after he was gone.

                He glanced again at the laptop. Why had he never written the stories? Was it because, after all these years, it all still hurt too much? Because of how, without them, none of what he held dear–this legacy of his–would never have existed at all? Had he never really reconcile how tragedy could be a bearer of gifts?

                He scowled. Maybe he never had worked through it all. Preferring instead, to just relive the happy moments before… well, before.

                He was 80 years old. If he wasn’t going to deal with it now, he supposed he never would.

                He took a few slow, purposeful steps to the laptop. He booted it up. Saw his family smiling back at him once it loaded. The desktop picture had been taken at his last birthday. The big 8-0.

                He never thought he’d live this long. But here he is.

                He opened a document, hesitated for a moment. Was he really going to write it? All of it? And if so… how? It had happened so long ago, and while he was sure that his family thought he’d forgotten so much, the truth was that he remembered it all.

                He remembered everything. Especially the summer of 2013.

                Lucky ’13.

Could he really write it out the way it had happened to him? Like a memoir? Could he be honest enough about both the good and the bad if he kept himself shackled to each and every moment?

                No. He’d always written fiction. It had a special magic. Why take it away now?

                He cracked his neck and his knuckles, thought for a moment, and then began to type….

Chapter One

                A lot didn’t matter, plain and simple. Bo’s girlfriend dumping him. Being fired from his mediocre after-school job. His dad finally hitting the road after months of arguments and cold, stilted silences. His senior year of high school quickly approaching, and Bo without even an inkling of what he wanted to do with his life.

                His life. How could it seem so huge and also so insignificant at the age of 16?

                But that didn’t matter, either. All that mattered was that he was actually going through with it. After years of being a pretty okay kid, a pretty okay student, and a pretty okay son, he was finally doing something that wasn’t okay. His whole life had been spent in the middle–not the best grades, but also not the worst. Not the always-do-right teacher’s pet, but also not the rebel constantly in the principal’s office.

                Bo was just okay. He was just there.

                But now, he wouldn’t be. Because for the first time in his life, he was going to do something reckless. Something different. Something unexpected.

                He took a moment to imagine everyone’s reactions: How his mom would be shocked at the note on his bed. How his few friends would wonder if there’d been any signs: “Did he seem weird last time you talked to him? No, he seemed normal to me.” “Guess you never can tell.” How the small town of Raven’s Crossing would suck every lie, half-truth, and conspiracy out of the gossip, like a child with their very first ice cream cone.

                None of them would really know, of course.

                And he was planning on coming back.

                Eventually.

Bo nodded to himself, sliding back into the car.  He put his hands on the wheel, exhaled slowly, and turned the key.  The headlights flooded the street with white, and the radio resumed playing. 

“Let’s see what happens,” he muttered to himself, pulling into the road and across the street to the gas station.  He had a long trip ahead of him, and he didn’t know when he’d get another chance to stop.

Copyright Sarah Davidson 2020

TO BE CONTINUED


I was definitely not planning on this being a larger story… but here we are. Sometimes, when you start writing, you just have to go with it.

Thank you to everyone who voted in my poll and helping me find this inspiration! Be on the lookout for the next chapter in future posts!