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Cornflower Blue MAG
I'm not sure how a person being held hostage is supposed to feel. I'm lying on a mattress with a packet of Skittles, so I guess it can't be too bad. Looking up at the pipes on the ceiling, I realize that I'm just all right, like when someone asks how you are and you answer without thinking because you are always just all right. Being here in this empty garage isn't much different from being home in an isolated trailer. The only difference is at home I have to watch my mom die, and here, well, I don't see anyone dying, yet.
Growing up in Sun Valley, Nevada, isn't easy. Daddy was murdered when I was seven; he didn't pay the $200 he owed for the meth he bought off a man named Jason, so he was shot and left at our trailer door. I remember Mama saying “Forgiveness, forgiveness” after it happened, but she didn't cry like I did; she went outside for a smoke instead. Mama is great at ignoring emotions, I blame the Devil for that.
Crank is her drug of choice, just like Daddy. I never understood where she went half the time when I was younger. She always left me in the trailer alone with two cans of Coca-Cola and a cornflower blue crayon – it's still my favorite color. When she'd get home at around 4:30 p.m., she'd bring me McDonald's and tell me she loved me. I never wondered if she really did until I turned fourteen.
“Why don't I go to school?” I'd ask her every morning. “Why don't you take me places or buy me stuff like you're supposed to?”
“Shut up. You know I love you. I bought you those books, didn't I? You're selfish.”
Now she is too sick to get out of bed, and I get the meth for her. It takes me fifteen minutes to walk from the trashy trailer park to the trashy town and find Paul's s**thole apartment where he sells it to me for less than the price he charges others. Paul is six-foot-five with chubby hands and a beer belly. His face makes me uncomfortable, and it doesn't help that he likes my tanned skin a little too much. I always end up kicking him in the nuts before he can get his porky fingers on me.
Today he didn't try to touch me until I was almost out the door. I can still feel where his greasy nails dug into my shoulder and the gash on my forehead where he hit me with his handgun. I can still see his tiny black eyes and hear his raspy voice yelling at me to shut up.
I'm regaining consciousness, and the overhead lights don't help. As I look around, I notice a door about twenty feet away and hear low voices that sound nothing like Paul's. When I squint, two silhouettes of well-dressed men come into view. As they approach me, I keep quiet, pulling the “pretend you're asleep” trick just like when I was little and didn't want Daddy to know that I saw him backhand Mama and split her lip. Through half-closed eyes I can see that the men are carrying guns: two glock 48's, one on each hip. What the hell is going on?
The man with the ponytail pulls out his cell phone and starts yelling, his voice amplified in the small garage, while the other one wipes sweat off his upper lip. He then looks at me with a smile and I unlock my eyes. I know him; I know his gold front teeth, his crater face, his bushy eyebrows. This is Jason, I have no doubt, because when he brought my dead daddy to our trailer eleven years ago, he flashed the same crooked, gold-toothed smile.
Impulsively, I stand and wobble up to him, looking in his eyes. He stares at me like a snake just before it wraps itself around prey and suffocates it.
“Andi Mason, right? I'm sure you remember me, I was a …” He pauses and smirks as his eyebrow twitches. “I was a good friend to your father,” he finishes.
“I have nothing to do with my father, “ I say firmly.
I once read in a detective book that if you speak confidently to a kidnapper, you seem stronger and are more likely to survive. Jason doesn't look intimidated, but I can tell he's aggravated because he reaches for his gun.
Being hit in the head with a gun twice in one day should definitely be in a record book. As I touch my new bruise, I can faintly see Jason's feet in front of me. My cheek is freezing against the concrete floor. He orders me to sit up, and I listen as he explains what is about to happen in the next hour. Vertigo overcomes me, and I try to hold my head up but it's really not working.
According to Jason, my dad owed him 20 grand instead of $200. Apparently, Paul started to work for Jason two months ago, and Jason found out my mom was a customer of his. Basically, they're asking for ransom – double what was owed. Dumb f**ks. My mom wouldn't pay $20, never mind 20 grand, to save my a**. She smokes meth for breakfast and I haven't seen her lift a finger in five months.
I can tell that things are about to get hectic when Jason pulls out zip-ties. He grabs my weak body and cinches my wrists together, then my ankles. I cooperate because I can't move anyway. Then the ponytail man sets up a camera on a tripod. Really, a hostage video?
Jason orders me to say his script, and I say all the lines right. I even force out a few tears for the big production while Jason smirks.
He leaves with the tape when it's over, and I'm guessing it's going to be delivered to Mama, who is probably sleeping right now. I have no idea what time it is, but soon she'll be worried about her meth not being there, not me. I close my eyes, not thinking or wondering, just breathing.
When I wake, Jason is sitting in front of me, and my stomach churns at the sight of him. He flips open his pocket knife, holding it out and gazing at the blade; I focus on his twitching eyebrow. He stands up and starts to tell me about his childhood. How his dad locked him in a closet and set the house on fire. How his brother saved him.
I remember reading in the same book about kidnapping that the perpetrator is usually troubled, and when he starts talking about it, you should show emotion. You want to be as human as possible in his eyes.
The thing is, I don't have to pretend to care because I know what it feels like to be alone, not to be loved. I never belonged to anyone, especially my parents. Jason's eyes fill with venom when he realizes I'm not looking at him. He brings the blade to my neck, and my heart speeds up.
This whole time I never really thought about a moment like this happening; I forgot that Jason didn't have to let me live. It didn't hit me until now, as his blade punctures my rib cage. I don't feel pain at first, but I wince as his knife cuts me again, this time in my right shoulder. I shake violently as Jason laughs. I cough, blood spattering my cornflower blue T-shirt, turning it purple. I shut my eyes tight and bite down on my tongue to wait for the final stab that never comes. Instead I hear a gunshot.
I open my eyes to see Jason face down on the concrete and Mama standing in the doorway, glock 48 in hand. I swear I hear her whisper, “Forgiveness, forgiveness.”