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Kellman's 178  8

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david99

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Kellman's
« on: August 06, 2017, 11:05:51 PM »
When I was 11 years old, I lived in a small fishing village. In that time and place, children ran about barefoot in their free time out of class, when not assisting with chores or fishing-related business. My friend Harry and I liked to hang out by Old Nate's Pier along the main strip of our little town and would occasionally fish for pleasure, while taking in the paltry people-watching pleasures this tiny centre of commerce afforded us, although sometimes we liked to use our meagre earnings at Kellman's on various candies which we'd unhurriedly relish while discussing the big time dreams of us two small town boys.

Our humdrum lives were interrupted by an abrupt and unexpected jolt that began with the appearance of a red gingham-clad long-locked brunette of angelic beauty named Emma. In the end, she herself turned out to be of little importance to either of us, but her appearance on the walkway outside Kellman's began a chain of events that shook our little town and neighboring towns for years to come.

Harry and I both saw her almost the same instant, seconds after she'd emerged from her father's black Toronado. We glanced at each other for a brief instant, then back at her to stare as she seemed to us to move in slow motion. Her father's figure soon cloaked her and they both entered Kellmann's together. I don't recall which of us made up some flimsy excuse to enter Kellmann's at that time, but whoever it was can't really be fairly blamed for the events that were to follow. How could we have known?

We left our fishing gear on the end of the pier and made our way across the road. Upon entering the store, we proceeded to appear heartily engaged in studying a wall display that I knew from memory contained flashlights, batteries, lighter fluid, fishing tackle, shoelaces, and first aid kids, among other things, although that day I didn't actually see any of it. We were sneaking looks and straining to listen, and it so happened with repeated attempts that were clearly less incognito than our excited 11-year-old minds imagined, on one of my glances, she was staring directly back at me with unflinching wide-open brown eyes, and her face seemed to be repressing a smile that was fighting to manifest. Harry claimed later with equal certainty that she was staring at him, but I know I am not wrong.

As her father was occupied in discourse with the shopkeeper, she strode gracefully in our direction until she stood with her face barely a foot from mine. Her eyes still held that unwavering, dauntless, amused expression, but she said nothing. She was about an inch taller than us. Harry sidestepped slightly to be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with me and after a brief visible struggle to emit speech, uttered, "We are just looking for...bait." She half-smiled and nodded slowly, still saying nothing, but seeming to expect something.

"Hi, I'm David." I jumped in, and held out my hand.

I felt it was hanging in the air for longer than the second-and-a-half it actually was until she slowly reached her hand and clasped mine and smiled, "Emma," in response.

"What brings you to town?" I queried.

"My Papa has business near here," she answered.

"This is my friend, Harry," I said gesturing.

"Hi! Hi! Yeah!" Harry stammered nervously while trying hard to appear unaffected.

"It's a beautiful town," Emma said in that silky sweet voice of hers.

I began, "It's -" when Harry suddenly asked her, "Do you like to fish?"

She ended up joining us on the pier after leaving us for a brief exchange with her father, for about 20 minutes during which both Harry and I decided that this creature was the most fantastic and glorious being on the planet.

Little did we know that, in time, we would both come to wish that we had never entered Kellman's that day. Even if we had been warned, 11 year olds have limited understanding of how long a lifetime of consequence lasts or how heavy a burden of responsibility is to bear.


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Re: Kellman's
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2017, 02:46:37 PM »
Was creech99 at Kellmans?
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david99

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Re: Kellman's
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2017, 03:30:47 PM »
As we watched Emma enter her father's Toronado after our first blissful encounter with this heaven-sent vision of pulchritude, we already felt pangs of loss in our chests. She didn't portray any of the snobbishness one may have expected from a girl of her looks and class, but was bursting with life, laughter, curiosity, playfulness, but just enough spunk to be irresistible. We had watched in awe as she tried to impale worms on our hooks like we showed her, with no squeamishness whatsoever, and apparently having a grand time of it. Had that been the last time we ever saw her, she would have likely become a dim if barely existent memory in the back of our minds.

It was several weeks later, while Harry and I were cleaning fishing nets on Old Nate's Pier that I heard an angel voice call my name, “David!”
 
I turned to look, and she was once again standing in front of Kellman's, only this time wearing a navy blue dress with tiny white dots everywhere. I dropped my brush and net and immediately started making my way over with much greater speed than I intended to travel with. Emma's long dark brown hair cascaded beautifully around her perfect smiling face. She was standing next to another girl, a comely blonde enrobed in a white dress with red flowers, who bore a somewhat sour countenance, narrowing her eyes at my approach. Harry was on my heels.

Harry spoke first, “Hi Emma. I thought you were just passing through. Didn't expect to see you again! What brings you back to town?”

Emma's friend was noticeably perturbed, and muttered hotly toward Emma's ear, though we could hear, “These kids? They are little kids! And they look so...dirty!”

Then Emma's friend turned to address us in elevated tone, “How old are you?”

“11,” we both answered at once.

Her blonde friend shook her head disapprovingly, grabbed Emma's hand and started pulling her into Kellman's. Emma extracted her hand from her friend's grip without breaking her smile aimed at us. “I'll meet you inside in a bit,” Emma said calmly to her friend. Emma's gentle defiance in the face of the repugnant look on Julie's face prior to her entering the shop alone gave me much satisfaction.

“So, how old are you?” Harry asked.

“12,” was the reply. “Julie's 13. She's...well she's Julie,” Emma laughed. “Do you guys want to hang out with us later? You could come for dinner.”

We were thrilled. We said we would have to ask our parents, but expressed confidence in being able to join her that evening. She gave us her telephone number so we could confirm.

The three of us stood outside Kellman's chatting for as long as we could, but we knew we'd have to finish the nets in order to have any chance of going anywhere later, so we excused ourselves to work on the nets and Emma went in to retrieve Julie and they took off.

After we were done with the nets, we went to Harry's house first since he lived closer, while mine was about a 22 minute bike ride from Old Nate's Pier.

We rode our bikes the 4 minutes to Harry's place, and upon entering, were greeted warmly by Harry's mom.

She gave me a brief hug, “Hi, David!” and then hugged Harry for much longer and kissed the top of his head repeatedly while softly squealing, “My baby! My baby!”

I pretended not to notice to lessen his embarrassment and moved along to the living room to play with Harry's baby brother, Alex, who was crawling on the floor and hadn't quite learned how to walk yet. We like our moms to love on us, but a little less enthusiastically around other people.

Harry's little sister, Charlotte, heard the commotion of our arrival and had rushed out of bed upon waking up from her nap and ran down the stairs, alternately shouting my name and her brother's repeatedly en route, “Babit! Hawwy! Babit! Hawwy! Babit! Hawwy!” She jumped on me and wrapped her pudgy little arms around my neck just about strangling me with incredible force for a toddler.

Harry's mom made us all some ham, cheese, and tomato sandwiches and served them to us with pickles and milk. “Thanks, Mrs. Willard,” I said as she put food in front of me. “My pleasure, David! You kids have been doing fabulous work for Joe and your dad! The least I can do is feed you!”

“We want to go over for dinner at a friend's house, Mrs. Willard,” I eventually said.

“Which friend?” Mrs. Willard asked.

“Emma's house, 36 Cherry Blossom Lane. She just moved here like a week ago, Mom,” Harry said.

“David, have you asked your parents yet?”

“Nope. Just finished working and came straight here.”

“A girl!” Mrs. Willard exclaimed. “You are so young. A girl!” She was pretending to be shocked but was just play-acting.

“You know, she's just new and doesn't know anyone here and it just, like, we could show her around and stuff, Mom.”

She was smiling. “Sure, it's fine with me. David, you can use the phone to check with your parents.”

I made the call and received permission. Mrs. Willard would drive us there and I would stay at Harry's house til then. I rang Emma's number and let her know we were coming. She sounded very happy to hear from me, which made me feel pretty amazing.

Alex was banging his high chair tray with his hands while letting out high-pitched noises. Harry's mom soothed him with baby talk while she cut up mangoes for him. Once she set them on his tray, he clutched at them greedily with his fists and tried to insert both fistfuls into his mouth at once. His inability to do so made him audibly protest briefly before he tried one fist at a time.

While I was watching Alex, Charlotte ran to me with a scribbled up paper.

“Ith fow you, Babit!” she proclaimed with pride as she thrust her creation at me. I grinned at her. Her auburn curls bounced with her whole bouncing self as she grinned back at me with a round, lightly freckled blue-eyed face of exuberant mirth.

Harry and I got ourselves cleaned up and I borrowed some clean clothes from him and we were freshened and presentable in anticipation of seeing Emma again. It had sounded as though Emma's unimpressed friend, Julie, would be there as well, but the thought of dealing with her did nothing to dampen our exhilaration at the thought of spending more time with Emma.

We loaded up into Harry's parents' van, Harry and I, Mrs. Willard, and Charlotte and Alex. These were the days before safety-tested children's carseats were in common use. Had they had modern carseats back then, I don't know if it would have made a difference.

I didn't even say goodbye to Charlotte and Alex. I just didn't know. I thought I'd say goodnight to them a few hours later.

It has made me sick to know that this was all partially my fault for years and years now. It doesn't go away. It's always there.

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david99

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Re: Kellman's
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2017, 03:31:16 PM »
Who or what is creech99?
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Re: Kellman's
« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2017, 07:34:29 PM »


I too would like to know
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Re: Kellman's
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2017, 07:49:55 PM »
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david99

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Re: Kellman's
« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2017, 12:47:52 AM »
We pulled up to a moderately sized but ornately decorated house sitting on large, perfectly trimmed property speckled with intricately manicured colorful gardens. The house sat about a football field's length in front of the thick forest behind it.

Mrs. Willard joined us to the door and exchanged pleasantries with Emma's parents, and feeling comfortable, she wished us a good time and drove off after we called out our thanks for driving us.

“Come on in,” invited Emma's mother, and we obeyed.

Emma's father spoke in a gruff, low voice revealing minimal emotion, “What's your name, son?”

“David,” I responded as he seemed to be looking at me first. “Sir,” I added.

“And yours?” he looked at Harry. “I'm Harry, sir,” came the quick reply.

“Let's have a seat at the table,” Emma's father commanded.

I hadn't yet seen Emma, and glanced around while following her parents to the dining room table. I was midway between sitting and standing when I caught sight of the girls entering the room. They were lookers, both of them, but it was Emma's radiance that made me suddenly stand up very straight. Julie wore an annoyed expression and averted her eyes to avoid us, while Emma beamed at us with a warm and dazzling smile.

“I'm glad you could come!” she exclaimed at us.

Soon we were all seated and Mrs. Gaston, as I later learned she was named, began serving us green salad and soft crusty bread and butter. She seemed somewhat anxious and uptight and occasionally jabbered inaudibly to herself, set off by Mr. Gaston's calm, controlling presence that made me slightly nervous.

Mr. Gaston looked at us and spoke slowly and clearly with no intonation in his voice, “What do you boys do around here in the summertime?”

“We help our dads with fishing and we fish off the pier. Sometimes we go out on the water with them. We ride our bikes. We play baseball.” I couldn't at that time think of much else we did that I felt was worth mentioning.

“Will you be going to class with Emma in the fall?” Mrs. Gaston asked us.

“We'll be starting seventh grade, since we both have birthdays before the new year,” I told her.

“So you will be joining our Emma. It will be nice if she knows some students in her class!” she said with excitement that sounded a little forced, before getting up to clang around in the kitchen.

“Mr. Thatcher is tough but good. We all like him,” said Harry.

“I'll be in eighth grade,” inserted Julie, dripping with condescension, barely glancing our way as she spoke, then popped a cherry tomato off the tip of her fork with her lips and chewed it in a snootier way than I previously knew existed.

Mr. Gaston got up and joined his wife in the kitchen. We could hear that they were talking in muted tones with each other, but couldn't hear any content.

“You're only one grade above us,” said Harry defensively.

“I've been to better schools than you have ever heard of here in your quaint little hick town,” Julie said. “Schools where the boys don't wander around barefoot and covered in fish guts. We also have boys that don't look like little kids. But what can you expect in the boondocks? We are stuck here for awhile and I suppose we will just have to make do.”

“What, you think you're smarter than us?” Harry demanded.

Julie's face for the first time broke into laughter, but since it was at us, it didn't come across as warmth.

“Okay, show us how smart you are,” I challenged.

“Ask me anything you know,” she retorted.

“Name all the American presidents in order,” I said, since it was one thing I could do that most other kids couldn't.

She didn't miss a beat.

“Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Adams, Jackson, Van Buren, Harrison, Tyler, Polk, Taylor, Fillmore, Pierce, Buchanan, Lincoln, Johnson, Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Arthur, Cleveland, Harrison, Cleveland, McKinley, Roosevelt, Taft, Wilson, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford.”

I was surprised into silence.

“Anything else, little dumb kid?”

I was taken aback. I wanted to wipe that smug look off her face that would have been pretty if it didn't belong to such a rude person.

“Yeah,” I answered before thinking too much. “You might be smart, but like most smart girls, you're ugly and fat. You've come to the right town. We have lots of pigs and cows here. You'll fit right in.”

That seemed to do it. She had a horrified look, got up from the table, and although she tried to hold back, I could hear her burst into tears past the doorway. She continued and went right out the door, sobbing. My brief instant of satisfaction was quickly replaced by the realization that our beautiful Emma did not look at all pleased.

Emma gave me a look that made me feel almost as bad as Julie. She looked directly at me with those bright brown eyes and the disappointed look shot me in the heart.

She looked down at the table, then raised her eyes to meet mine. She spoke softly and quietly.

“Julie's mom left her and her dad to go be with another man and never even called her since then. And Julie's dad killed himself the day after we met.” She watched my face as her words sunk in.

She got up and went out the front door after Julie.

Mr. and Mrs. Gaston returned carrying platters of pork, green beans, and mashed potatoes, but that tasty-sounding dinner would never be eaten, not by us, not that night.

Emma's parents looked at the table, then at each other, then at us, looking puzzled.

“They went outside,” Harry stated.

It was already getting dark outside.

We waited, feeling awkward, for some time, while nothing was said. Mr. Gaston opened the front door and stepped outside, looked around, then re-entered the house. Mrs. Gaston did the same thing, and also peered through all the windows. The wind whipped the lighter tree branches softly and repeatedly against the side of the house.

“Do you know why they went outside?” Mr. Gaston asked.

“Julie got upset and left. Emma followed.” I answered.

“How long have they been gone?” he asked.

“I would guess by now, about ten minutes,” I said.

Presently, a distant rumbling heralded an oncoming storm.

“We better go out and look for them,” Mr. Gaston said, and began putting on his outdoor gear. Mrs. Gaston did the same.

“I can help,” I said, moving towards the door. Harry got up and said he would join too.

Mr. Gaston gave each of us a hand-held electric torch after testing each for function as well as a jacket to borrow, and went out the door with Mrs. Gaston following close behind. We, too, followed, and started wandering around in the unfamiliar and darkened surroundings, and copied Emma's parents in calling Emma's and Julie's names.

I began to feel raindrops. We hastened our pace, and decided to split up to cover more ground.

I walked for what felt like a very long time in the wind, darkness, and rain. I could no longer hear the others calling Emma and Julie, but I continued my own calls. I don't know how much time went by. My voice had become hoarse, my clothes had become drenched, the light from my flashlight was starting to look dimmer, and I was completely lost with darkness and trees in every direction.

I started to feel like it would be wise to start heading back towards the house, and turned in my tracks to go back the way I'd just come. When I looked in the direction I'd just come from, none of the possible paths looked at all familiar. I looked up to see if the stars would be any use, but with the tree cover, wind, and rain, they were not visible tonight.

The feeling of being uncomfortable was growing. I was wet and cold and hungry and lost, and still much more child than man.

I sporadically called out the girls' names now, and occasionally things like, “I'm over here! Is anyone there?”

It felt like I had been wandering around in the storm for hours now. I was worried about my parents being worried about me. I had some visions of them coming to rescue me from this dark wood and wrapping me up in blankets and giving me dry clothes and warm food to eat.

While I was warming up in my imagination, I tripped over a root sticking out of the ground and landed painfully on the muddy ground, scraping my face on a small tree along the way. My flashlight came out of my hand in the process and hit the ground. In the split second before the beam shut off on impact, I thought I saw something white and red about 30 feet away illuminated by the beam. I crawled around feeling for the flashlight and eventually felt its shape in my searching hand.

I flicked the button several times, but it didn't light up. I tried to shield the flashlight from the rain with my body as I unscrewed the top slowly. I adjusted the batteries inside the chamber and screwed the lid back on. I pressed the button. It came on dimly. I slowly pointed my light in the direction where I thought I'd caught a glimpse of something unusual.

As my beam of light travelled across trees and branches and more trees and branches and mud, suddenly it came over a sight that made my hand start to shake. My blood seemed to halt in my veins. I tried to yell but I couldn't move or make a sound. I stood there, paralyzed, unable to grasp what I was seeing. Time seemed to both stand still and race swiftly all at once. I felt like a large gray cloud was nearly suffocating my conscious mind.

It was not on that day or the next when I would fully understand what I was seeing, and what was assumed by many about my involvement in the death of Julie Gaston.
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david99

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Re: Kellman's
« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2017, 12:01:46 AM »
How long I stood there immobilized with my flashlight trained on the horrific scene before me is difficult to guage.

At some point I crumpled to my knees, then gradually to sitting on my heels, then when my legs were in pain from pins and needles, slid to one side so my bottom rested in the wet mud as rain continued to fall.

I wasn't able to call out or make a sound in spite of multiple efforts. I had never before been so powerless over my own body.

At some point, I lost consciousness. I briefly wakened slightly and heard the sound of distant voices calling as I lay there on the ground, drenched to the bone, still under continually falling rain. Unable to respond or move, I slid back into the darkness until morning.

The tree branches were still dripping when I opened my eyes, but the rain had stopped. I slowly started to sit up and wipe the water off my face with my hands. My heart began thudding in my chest as I caught a glimpse in the corner of my eye of Julie's body.

Why adults or my parents hadn't come for me was something I asked a number of times in my head to no audience but myself, and I had no answer. So much time had passed. Someone had to be wondering where I was, I reasoned. What about Harry? I thought. Emma had left the house not very long after Julie. Had she found Julie? What had happened? Had Julie fallen and hit her head? Why would there have been blood on her legs? Questions racked my mind. Disbelief about my current predicament washed over me.

I heard my father's voice in my head. “No matter what situation you're in son, never panic. You can't think when you're panicked. You can't help anyone and you can't even help yourself. You have to think calmly and rationally, even in a tough situation. No situation is so bad that panicking won't make it worse.”

I began forcing myself to breathe with intention, deep breaths to take over control of my body. After some minutes, I made myself stand up. I intended to walk over to Julie's body, but hesitated. I pictured helping my parents prepare chicken for dinner. I pictured myself gutting fish. I had handled dead bodies before, I told myself.

In spite of feeling terrified, I made my legs take me to where she lay on the ground.

The first thing I noticed was that she was still naked on the bottom half, and that I couldn't see blood on her legs that I had seen in my flashlight beam in the dark. She looked gray and lifeless like a statue.

I thought I should check for a pulse so I crouched near her head and started to reach my fingers to her neck. It was cold and hard, and my hand recoiled quickly and I fell back onto my rear end. Then I again noticed her nakedness. I took off the soaked jacket I was wearing and set it on top of her to cover her from belly button to above the knee.

It was no longer raining and all my clothes were drowned and muddy. It made sense to me at the time to take them off and hang them on tree branches.

That was how they found me.

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Re: Kellman's
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2017, 05:02:03 PM »
omg nice man!