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Too Far : Tommy's Story
Tommy Grayson was ten years old, he had red hair, freckles and wore glasses. He was the youngest to four older siblings, always got hand-me-downs. His older brothers, Andy, Derick, and Gabe were always teasing him for still being afraid of the dark, and the woods on the edge of their town. But it wasn't just Tommy's brothers that picked on him, in fact everyday after school Tommy had to run home just to avoid his the older kids from his school. Sometimes he even pretended he rode the bus home, and get off at the stop closes to his house, and take a back road to throw his brothers off. His sister wasn't much better though, Gretchen didn't really care for her little brother, she was sixteen and eldest of three boys, so she spent most of her time in her room, listening to music and reading mags, or just watching TV.
His father had died when Tommy was three years old and his mother took it as her duty to protect him from taunts from her older children. Now the woods that Tommy was so afraid of was actually a national park. The kind where its so big that no one actually knows where it stops being part of the park, except the people who declared it one. It was call by locals Neverland Park, but really it's name was Claude Rains National Park, no one knows why since Claude Rains has nothing to do with the state even, there's a joke that the guy who name the park was Claude Rains' long lost brother and named it in honor of him. It was called Neverland Park by the locals because there is a street children's legend that three children went in there and were never seen again, and the person they went with looked and dressed like Peter Pan. Yes childish, but remember it is a street CHILDREN legend. Well any way this story was told to Tommy six years ago and we all know four-year-olds scare more easily than chihuahua's are known to shake. The story was the reason Tommy was afraid of Neverland Park, when all the other kids his age had out grown this fear.
November 6, 1989
Tommy was once again running his way home, this cycle had made his a fast runner, Gretchen even suggested he should try out for a track team. He was able to get home before the mob got him, and run up to his room, and lock it. But it was even a minute later until Tommy heard six pairs of sneaker race up the stairs after him. He knew they couldn't get in the door, you could only unlock it from the inside, but he still hid in his closet out of fear.
"Come out, Tommy!" His brother, Gabe said, "Let's go to the park! I wanna show you where the kids went missing!"
"Yeah, lets go there at night Tommy!" Andy said even louder. Then few more voices where heard saying yeah and making chicken noises(remember these kids are no older that 12, not very mature) and pounding on the door.
Tommy crouched down and stayed quiet, he thought about how he and his brothers could actually be good pals,but knew that would mean he had to prove he was brave, which meant the only way to do that was to probably go in the woods, and he was not at all willing to take that step.
Soon Gretchen was heard talking.
"What are you twerps doing now?" She asked, sounding angry as usual, "You better not be picking on Tommy again, you guys know that mom's going to freak when she hears about this."
"Well she's not going to find out." Derick answered.
"Seriously you twerps, cut it out or I'm telling mom it was you guys that ate out of the ice cream with your hands."
One of the brother's friends said he had to go home anyway, the others followed suit. Andy punched his brother's door again,and called him a baby, then went to do his homework.
That night at dinner, Ms. Grayson noticed her sons were all in a bad mood. "You guys okay?"
"No." Andy said quietly, "Tommy made our friends leave!"
"I did not!" Tommy said back.
"Yeah you did!"
"DID NOT!!!" Tommy yelled angrily. All four boys started at once and giving four different versions of the story. Ms.Grayson looked to her daughter. "Gretchen I told you, no reading at the table."
But instead if putting the magazine up she responded : "Andy, Derick, and Gabe's friends chased Tommy home and were pounding at his door to get in, and I told them to cut it out or else I'd tell you that it was them who ate the ice cream with their fingers."
Ms. Grayson looked at her oldest sons and sighed. "Boys how many times have I told you guys to leave your brother alone!"
"Well maybe if he wasn't such a baby!"
"I'm not a baby!"
"Yes you are, your a baby! Wa,wa, wa!" Gabe taunted.
"Everyone be quiet!" Ms. Grayson said above the voices. "Now then, Andy, Derick, Gabe. Be nice to you brother, okay? No more teasing."
The boys reluctantly agreed.
She turned to Tommy. "And,Tommy try to stand up for yourself."
"Mom." Tommy groaned.
"Mr. Teal, next door, I heard he used to be a boxer, maybe he can teach you something, okay?"
"Okay..." Tommy answered, his mother and him had this talk before.
"Good now let's try to have a peaceful dinner, Gretchen I'm not going to remind you again, no reading at the table."
Her daughter put the magazine in her lap.
That night Ms.Grayson had found her youngest child downstairs. Any day she would demand to know why he wasn't in bed, but this time she sat next to him.
"Hey." She said.
"Hey" He answered.
"How come your not in bed, Kiddo?" She asked softly. Tommy just looked down, she scooted closer to him and wrapped Tommy in a loving hug that only mothers can give their children.
"Mom, do you think I'm a baby?"
"Yes, your my baby." She kissed his forehead.
"I mean, when Andy and his friends call me a baby. Am I?"
"No. A lot of kids are afraid of those woods. If you are it's no big deal."
"Mom, the only kids still afraid are a bunch of first graders."
"Well, so? Tommy you just can't let them get to you. There are plenty of adults here that get sick feeling about those woods." But she could see her efforts weren't helping the boy. "Come on, we'll talk about it tomorrow.Time for bed." She followed him up to his room, tucked him in and they both said goodnight.
Tommy rested peacefully, the wind outside sounded soothing and tranquil. He waited to sleep, his dreams were often where he was brave, his brothers were nice to him, there he found the respect he so wanted and needed. In the waking world he was labeled a coward, scaredy-cat, etc.
After a while , when Tommy had still not fallen asleep, he felt a warm breath on his face. There was deep breathing. Tommy slowly turned his head and saw a dark face, with glowing eyes. It was on top of him.
"I've come to take you to Neverland.." It said hoarsely.
Tommy panicked, he screamed,cried, called his mother, and even tried to wrestle the creature. His heart pounded with pure fear, his neck sweated. He kept thinking death,death, as the creature fought him back.
"MOOOOMMMM!!! MOOOOMMMM!!! MOOOMMMMYYY!" He yelled over and over. When Ms. Grayson finally came and turned on the lights the 'creature' was wearing flannel pajama bottoms and a white shirt with a mask on. He had rolled to the floor and it was apparently laughing so hard it couldn't breath. Tommy was confused and didn't move, Mother on the other hand looked a the flanneled monster disapprovingly. She pulled it up to it's feet and tore off the mask. It was Derick.
He was laughing his head off, and looked at his brother. "I(pant) can't believe you fell for it! Brouhaha!" He said spitefully.
Tommy, still with tears in his eyes, buried his face in his pillow. Ms.Grayson grabbed Derick's ear, like how an old fashion schoolteacher would. "Derick James Grayson! What did I tell you about picking on you brother?"
"But mom, it was,Gabe's idea. Really."
"I don't care who's idea it was. You could have given you brother a heart attack! I hope you happy mister, cause this is the last time you and your brothers will laugh for a long time!"
"I...don't...want...to...hear...it! Now apologize to your brother, then go back to bed."
Derick looked at his little brother slumped on his pillow. "I'm sorry,Tommy."
"Now go to bed."
"Sorry your a crybaby..." He muttered on his way out. Ms. Grayson went to her youngest son's beside. "Sweetie, are you okay?"
"Yeah..." His voice carried defeat in it. His spirit seemed broken. "All right, don't worry their all going to get punished. Goodnight." She kissed him goodnight.
November 7, 1989
Tommy was running home agian, Derick told everyone about the episode last night. Today they were determined to get him. Someone tackled him, then rolled him over. They were all ten to twelve years old. "Hey, did Peter Pan visit you last night?"
"Yeah, Tommy, did you go to Neverland last night?"
Tommy tried to get up, to no results. He started crying, hoping that would make them happy, they would say a few insults, then leave him alone.
"Stop crying ya big baby, get up." Andy said this, and for some reason he voice wasn't teasing or taunting. It actually sounded kind somehow. Tommy got up and wiped his eyes, as the older boys crowded around him.
"Lets be nice." One of them whispered. "Yeah, lets be fair today." Someone else said. Derick came forward.
"Okay, Tommy you get a five second head start. Go! Go now!" And he did, but not on the way home, instead the boy ran to the side of someone's yard and picked up a big stick. He ran back and hit Derick straight across the face. His brother's face bleed only a few drops, small breaks in the skin. But this only infuriated Derick. "You brat! Your going to get it now!!" He pushed Tommy to the ground, the others followed, knocking the stick out of his hand. They all took a hold of him and started walking. Even though he struggled Tommy's strength was not able to free him of his brother's and their minions. They carried him into the woods.
"No! Derick! Im sorry! Im sorry! Derick. No! Please NO! NO! NO PLEASE, NOOO!!!" Tommy cried, yelled, and begged. He tried begging Andy and Gabe. But they only told him to shut up. He tried kicking and struggling but all was no use.
It was dark by the time they came upon a cave deep in Neverland Park. They walked in, all holding a part of poor Tommy, who was by now screaming and begging as though he was begging for his life.
It is not know how deep in he cave they dragged him, but sooner or later they found a rock and Derrick told the boys to put him on it.
Freed, Tommy's first reaction was to run out, but Derrick pushed him. "Your going to stay there until I say so!! Understand? Don't move or else I will smash your head against the rocks in here!!!"
Tommy had hot tears running down his face, his breaths were deep, he sobbed and cried louder-begging for them not to leave him.
"Please! DERICK! ANDY! GABE!!! PLEASE!!! I'M SORRY! Don't leave me!!! " He cried harder, "Don't leave me..."
Even when they left they could still hear his frightened wailing for his brothers.
"Let's go get him Derick. Mom's gonna get beyond P.O. when we don't come home with him." Andy said.
"No! He's going to learn his lesson, we'll get him in the morning, there's no animals in that cave-we've been in there before-he'll be fine."
But the next morning Tommy wasn't in the spot they left him. The police couldn't find him anywhere, not his glasses-no sign he was ever there. A state wide search went out for young Thomas Herbert Grayson, but no progress came until three months later.
The farther down a path in a hill runs into a river. It was there his decomposing body was found, fully dressed, his glasses though were 20 yards away from his body. They could only figure that a frightened Tommy had found his way out of the cave, ran, trying to get home, but had accidentally rolled down the hill, hit his head on a tree stump or rock(knocking of his glasses) and fell into the river, and drowned.
His siblings were all deeply traumatized by this. Gretchen stopped going out, she didn't read her magazines as much. Every minute she spent with her living brothers, or her mother-did this make her start living for other and perhaps better reasons? Did it make her more compassionate?
Andy sank into deep depression, with guilt and grief. And by the time he was seventeen he committed suicide by jumping of a bridge into a river.The note he left only said : 'A life for a life, now we both share a watery grave.'
Gabe likewise sank into depression, but instead of taking the easy was out, he checked himself into a institution. But even after ten years-age thirty two- he still dreamed of Tommy's dead, worm-infested body. He soon got medication for this. He now lives in New York City, as a taxi driver.
Ms.Grayson stayed mute for three entire years. In shock, grief, and deep regret. She took all the photos they had of Tommy and put them in one album she titled; Tommy's Book. The album was placed on his bed, in the room she kept just as he left it. By the time she was forty-nine she died, of a broken heart.
Derrick was probably the most traumatized by this. After all he was the one who forced his baby brother to stay there, even though cried and begged. But instead of sinking into depression, Derrick turned to religion.He found comfort, but it still could not heal the pain in his heart, that he had everyday from causing his own brother's death. He now lives in Patterson, New York, as one of Jehovah's Witnesses.
It took the death of one innocent to change four people-for worse or better.