Chapter 9: I Can Take You To ‘Em

Everyday was, more or less, the same for me when it came to my average childhood life. I was always a nerd and had friends that were even more nerdy than I was to back it up. The only thing that set me apart from my friends was my interest, or obsession, in a particular girl. Before she was a gun-totin’ psychopath, she was one of us in female form but much more beautiful. My few friends were nowhere near as infatuated with her because they only got to see her during the school day.

I, on the other hand, lived right around the corner from her; meaning I got to see her on the way to school, from school, and anytime I was studying at the window when she went to the corner store. I was three spaces and a jaywalk away from the store. Being on the second floor apartment next to two one-story houses gave me a good view of my shining star. As pathetic as it was, I didn’t even know her yet.

We had none of the same classes at the same time but everyone, even the popular kids, knew her name. The first female nerd in history to be asked so many times to be a cheerleader and got invited to school dances. All attempts were thwarted with the sweet voice of rejection. Studying relentless was her only vice, accompanied by some of the other nerd girls who hung around Quinntella to get noticed. It didn’t work out well for them.

The walk home was distant between us, but not far enough, for my standards. I could watch her graceful stepping toward home for days but the usual fifteen minutes had to suffice. There were certain days when I would leave out of the back gate before her by mistake and end up with her walking behind me; not wanting to be a creep by constantly looking back at her. Those and days where she wouldn’t come to school at all were the two worst days for me.

My fear of talking to her, yet being crazy with lovesick passion was a conundrum if I’d ever heard of one. It didn’t take long for her to finally notice we walked the same path, so against my better judgment, I started trying to avoid her. It hurt like crazy; however, it only took only a few days for her to approach me on the walk home. She walked behind me, on a swift approach and wore a smile that should have stopped me dead in my tracks.

Anyone in their right mind would have sworn I was being tailed by a serial killer. The closer she got, the more my heart begin sprinting inside of my chest and playing bumper cars with my ribs. I had to get away from her before she discovered my feelings, seeing the perfect chance to do so. Turning a right bend under an archway leading to small houses on both sides, my nervous speed walking turned into a full-on sprint. As soon as I started my gallop, a loud thud behind me made me jump into looking back.

My bag was open and one of my books fell out on the walkway. Going back for it would have been stupid, seeing as I was supposed to be trying to escape from the girl I love. I continued running to the end of the walkway where there was a left and right, stopping just before. I take cover behind the steps that lead up to the front door of a house then catch my breath while I wait. It was hard to calm down, since I had no idea if she’d come searching. Before I knew it, an hour of sitting had passed me by and not a single person did.

Realizing it had been so long and there’s no way she could have possibly stuck around to wait, I peek out. My school book and Quinntella were nowhere around the sunlit path. I had to get a new book from the school booth the following day and avoid Quinntella like the plague. Going home, all I could think about was how to stay away from her, instead of ways I could see her. Not doing my homework in the window wasn’t as strange as I thought it would be.

The thought of how I handled getting away from her haunted me for the duration of the day, making it the longest day of my life; not being able to sleep didn’t help either. The next day I did my best to find her so I could better keep away from her. Successfully doing so, it was time to use the money my parents gave me to replace the book I lost before my next class. The line wasn’t too long, although it was going about as fast as a snail’s offspring.

I heard a girl state, “I heard one of the student workers quit.”

The voice came from behind me, obviously projected at me, so I responded while looking ahead, “It’s pretty hard work, when you have studies too. I thought about it once.”

“Oh. Buying a book?”

“Yes. I lost one yesterday after school.”

“That’s funny, I’m here turning one in that I found yesterday after school…” The need to look back wasn’t in me as she continued over my sinking heart, “It belongs to someone named Jordan Greene. Do you know somebody named Jordan Greene?”

Was Quinntella Wallace, the most beautiful and likely smartest girl in school, standing in line behind me. I didn’t know what to say to her. Obviously, she got my name right; nevertheless, I was stuck in major shock, not thinking it was her who picked up my book. I ignore her, holding my same place in the very slow line.

Quinntella inquired, “Are you okay?” The bell rang and my mind still refused to let me talk to her so she spoke again, “I’ll put your book in your backpack for you. Then I’ll go to class.”

The small line of people in front of me dispersed into a nothing, as the man working the kiosk left too. I felt the slight tugging on my straps and listen to the zips, followed by nothing. My peers were walking by me in groups of two and three, heading to class while intentionally trying to figure out what my problem was. Feeling stupid, I turned around to see she was gone. That was the second time I’d dissed Quinntella Wallace and both experiences were certainly worthy of another.

I don’t believe there was any romantic agenda involved for her, which made me look like an even bigger asshole. The walk home wasn’t awkward for me, because I was speeding like a maniac out of the back gate and gone before she could even notice. I was stuck in my own mind for the rest of the day and the entirety of the next. Every opportunity of eye contact was greeted with a smile from her. After the constant reassurance, I finally caved in and went to sit with her.

A smile grew on her face as she worked on whatever she was up to out of her textbook. Once we sat side by side with our separate assignments, my friends meant nothing to me. I sat next to her everyday, and eventually, conversation started to brew in, especially on the way home from school. What was us never speaking became us changing into the best of friends; same age, same grade, awesome parents, great minds, and a bright future.

The only thing I wasn’t truthful to her about was that I wanted my future to be right next to hers, and not career choices. Two years of me imagining us together forever came to a stop when we were on our way home from school one day. Reaching her street, it was littered with ambulances and police cars. I walked with her and the cool sight of flashing lights became a glum scene when we realized they were centered on her yard. People were gathered around, being held back by police tape and a few cops on each side of the street.

Amongst the crowd, I saw my parents arguing with a cop, then beyond that, Quinntella’s house; filled with what looked like a hundred or so holes. It was obvious what happened. Quinn and I slowed down a bit and the cop took notice to us in the middle of the street, followed by my parents spinning to us. They both had a saddened shock on their faces like we were walking into something terrible, and we were. We both saw the black bag on the stretcher beyond the crowd and Quinn sprinted at my parents, breaking between them as they tried to stop her.

With no clue what to say or do, I ceased all movement. My dad was able to get a hold of Quinn and stop her from charging through the cop as well, as she screamed at the top of her lungs. I was frozen, knowing already who was under the body bag; not seeing either of her parents mourning for the other, I knew they were both inside during the drive by. Tears began forming in my eyes, knowing how much her parents meant to her, as they should with the fantastic ones she had.

They held onto her for at least five minutes until her voice couldn’t scream anymore, then the cops took over. They put the calmed and weakened young girl into the back of a police car. The drivers loaded her parent’s bodies into the ambulances and hauled them away. I walked over to the door of the police car that Quinn was in and sat on the ground next to the door. Her head was down to a low that I’d never seen it before and I wasn’t sure if she even knew I was there.

Not long after, people just started leaving but my parents stuck around for me to stick around for her. The police were finally ready to clear out and I stood up to see Quinn lying in the backseat, noticing me at the window. My parents came to my side to see my crushed self as the car slowly drove away. I didn’t know what to say, what to do, or what would happen. As far as I was concerned, my future was over.

I asked my mom, “Where’s she going?”

“They’re going to find a godparent that’ll be willing to take her in. If not, they’ll put her into foster care.”

“Can’t we take her?”

“Baby, that’s not how things work. In order to adopt a child, it takes years to process legal documents, or else we would. The officer told us there’s a group home in the area, she’ll be back in school before you know it.”

A warm kiss touches my forehead on such a frozen day. I didn’t know anything about group homes to judge how good or bad it would be for Quinntella. I started to cry again as my parents walked me home. The days after were crappy but I sat in the same spot, waiting for Quinn to return, like my mom had said she would. I asked if we could find out what was going on with her, but without being blood relatives, nothing could’ve been done.

Weeks went by and I went back to hanging with my regular friends, keeping hope alive that she’d come back to school. On her long awaited by myself return, Quinn wasn’t the same. A permanent sadness had stained her face and I didn’t do anything enthusiastic-like to change that. She was hurting. Not a single word left her lips to speak to anyone, though I knew that being there for her was a must.

It hurt so much that she wouldn’t speak to me and my love just simply took her side of it. Waiting for a bone to be thrown my way, I was the lost puppy. On certain days, she started hanging around with me outside of school again; still, no words were spoken, and I was okay with that. My parents did what they could for her and things were easing back to normality, except for the sad silence.

One sunset evening, on our way toward the group home, we were approached by an obvious thug, “It was your parents got shot up in that house, right?”

That was a rude conversation starter. Quinn didn’t acknowledge the older man, as she sailed by him without a care. I’d seen the guy before, but on another side of the park near our neighborhood. He was nothing shy of thirty, and by his baggy attire, definitely in a gang.

I ignored the guy too, walking by, then he spoke again, “I know who killed ’em.” Quinntella pumped her brakes to an instant halt, still keeping quiet. I turned back and listened to him, “The gang that shot up that house hit the wrong spot. It was your folk that got blasted. They was comin’ for me, T-Ghost. I can take you to ’em.”

I looked at Quinn and saw she hasn’t moved a muscle. When she did move, it was to look at the guy, maintaining the same blank stare. She took what he said into very little consideration, walking back to him as he pulled out a pistol.

I lowly called out to her, “Quinn?”

I didn’t know what I was supposed to say and she didn’t give me a chance to try either. She went straight to him, while I looked around, hoping someone would notice what this man was doing. He placed the gun in her hand, and began leading the way, not far from where I lived. Like an idiot and a great friend, I followed them both into the gangster’s car.

As my young love was drifting away from me again, I whispered to Quinn, “Think about what you’re about to do… He’s just using you. He could do this hisself.” My words weren’t getting through to her, as usual, yet I didn’t give up, “Give him the gun back and let’s go, Quinn. Please.”

My tears got the best of me losing my best friend; nonetheless, she was completely unaffected and gone about anything. Her tunnel vision was already walked into and both sides led to the same outcome. He pulled over down the street from a rundown, two-story house that had extremely loud music blaring off the block. Nobody was outside, and it didn’t seem like many people were in, because cars weren’t flooding the front.

T-Ghost walked us over then stopped across the street from the house and said, “This it.”

Without hesitation, Quinn stepped off the curb and sped across the street with the gun at her right side. I followed her, trying again to stop her from falling into this guy’s plan to get rid of his enemies.

“I know how angry you feel but you can’t go in there. Those people shot up your house, they could kill you.” I stepped in her path then she immediately pushed me out of the way as I begged louder, “Quinn please.”

I knew it was over when she mounted the curb, and again when she crossed through the small fence. Being in their yard, I was too scared to try and stop her, but it was all over when she entered the unlocked house. It didn’t take long for a loud bang to startle me, taking over the sound of the rap music. Another bang startled me again, then more began flashing light muzzles out the windows. A woman’s scream began roaring out of the house, quickly disappearing.

Faster guns instigated a full-on war to where I couldn’t tell what gun might have been Quinn’s anymore. People started coming out of their houses and I looked back at T-Ghost to see he was a ghost; his parked car was one too. I had no idea what to do so I just stood in the street until the shooting stopped. Every minute felt like a year, but no one came out of the house.

The cops arrived, and one pulled me out of the street, although my eyes never broke contact with the house. The red and blue lights swallowed the neighborhood, as the police went in with full force. Some of the officers stayed back and surrounded the house. More minute-years went by then the music just suddenly died out to mute the neighborhood. A couple officers came out first and gave the ambulance drivers permission to go in.

More officers came out with my best friend surrounded, detained in cuffs, and covered in blood. Her expression was still the same, in spite of what she’d done to the sixteen occupants of that party. No one survived the firefight, not even the passionate version of Quinntella Wallace. Her eyes locked with mine, though I couldn’t feel any type of hatred from her. It was strange, but that night, she was reborn into something different; a killer emerged out of an abyss inside of her.

She was sent to Juvie for the slaughter she committed. I wrote her letters every other day, some I sent and some of the more heartfelt ones I didn’t. I never received any mail back from her, making me a lonely puppy once again. My parents took me to see her once but she refused to see me; therefore, I just kept writing to her, knowing no one else would. After a year of silence, my mom convinced me to stop sending her letters and I listened, losing track of my first love; a love that I would never forget.