Final flashback leading to Jamie's initial abduction
| Recap: In Part 9B Jamie stood his ground and took on Sebastian and his cronies at Sparks park with the help of his stepbrothers and a handful of other friends. His stepparents were less than impressed with his aggression and cancelled a planned outing to MacDonald’s and Movie evening, commemorating the day they adopted him.
A bitter breeze cut through Jamie’s Orange Hoodie and grey stonewashed jeans, as he gazed down at Koromaru. He was not sure how long he had been standing there. It was as someone had, freeze–framed him in a moment of grief. But only him; the birds were twitter-tweeting, insects buzzing and all around was a constant shrill of cicadas.
The sound of approaching footsteps startled him from his trance. He looked up and saw Catarina. A primeval need for her comfort gripped him, but one look at her scowl warned him to exercise caution.
“What are you doing? I’ve been calling you,” grumbled Catarina. She came to an abrupt halt and stared down at Koromaru, then back up at Jamie.
“He’s dead,” he affirmed.
“How could you?”
“How could I what?”
“Kill him…what did he ever do wrong to you?”
“I didn’t do anything to him, Mum. He was like this when I got home.”
“Don’t lie to me, Jamie…why did you do it?”
“I’m not lying…I didn’t kill him…honest I didn’t.”
“Well you’re the only one here, if it wasn’t you then who was it?”
“I don’t know. Aur…Mrs Burgess says she saw some kids earlier playing around our section and…”
“Go to your room and stay there until your father gets home.”
“We’ll talk about this when he gets home. Now get to your room!”
Jamie opened his mouth again but knew he was fighting a losing battle. He wiped his watery eyes with the side of his left hand, then trudged into the house and headed for his room.
*****“Sit up straight Jamie and keep your elbows off the table.” grumbled Alexander. “And for the umpteenth time; eat your Brussel Sprouts!”
“I don’t like sprouts,” affirmed Jamie.
“You’re lucky you’re getting anything at all after what you did today,” said Catarina.
“I didn’t do anything,” countered Jamie. “I already told you; Koko was already dead when I got home,”
“You could and you did,” retorted Catarina. “You’ve hurt this family deeply. Have you no sympathy?”
“Sympathy? I was crying in front of my dead dog, and all you did was yell at me? I’m your stepson Mum, you’re supposed to care when my heart gets broken…or do you only care when something of yours breaks; like your stupid camera?”
“Broken hearts aside Jamie,” interrupted Alexander “You have demonstrated this afternoon that you can no longer be trusted around pets within this household.”
“Come on Dad, you can’t seriously believe Jamie had anything to do with Koromaru’s poisoning.” interceded Harvey. “Look, we’re all upset right now. We need to stick together, not play the blame game.”
“We’re not playing games!” affirmed Alexander. ”Jamie poisoned a valued member of this family and his blame is well deserved.”
“Is not…you’re only assuming I did it, but you ain’t not got any proof,” refuted Jamie. “You told me that assumption was the mother of all stuff-ups.”
“I became the mother of a major stuff up when I agreed to adopt you…I’ve had it with you Jamie, I really have. We’ve all gone out of our way to give you the best home we can manage, and this is how you repay us!”
“Look, I’ve been here for over two years. If you guys can’t trust by now, perhaps it’s time I moved onto a family that can.”
“Well, you know where the door is,” said Alexander. Try not to slam it on the way out.”
“I’m serious Dad…if you want me to go I’ll leave and not come back, ever.”
“Suits me,” retorted Catarina. “You’ve been nothing but a pain in the bum since you’ve got here. You’re useless at sports and hopeless with school work and too lazy to be bothered ever cleaning your room. You’re a naughty, disobedient little embarrassment. Was there any wonder your Dad beat you and Mum topped herself?”
”I hate you!” yelled Jamie, snatching the salt shaker and throwing it as hard as he could. It soared over Catarina’s head and impacted with the adjacent wall. Stunned silence enveloped the living room.
“Clean up that mess this instant!”
“Go pick it up yourself!”
Jamie’s heart chilled but it was too late to rescind his words. He watched in horror as she discarded her knife and fork and strode toward him.
“Don’t be cheeky!” she scolded, dragging him to his feet and spanking him several times.
“Ow! You hit me,” he whimpered, tearfully rubbing him smarting butt. “And it really hurt.”
“Good. I’m your mother and as long as you live under our roof, you’ll do as I we tell you…when we tell you.”
“Fine, I’ll go and live under someone else’s roof then. I’m sick of this stupid family anyway!”
Tears streamed down Jamie’s scarlet cheeks as he hastened to his room. He kicked a discarded toy from one side of the room to the other before grabbing his backpack and stuffing random clothing and a couple of his favourite toys into it.
“I hope the house burns down and Mum and Dad die screaming, and they like all go straight to hell and stuff and whatever.” he muttered, climbing onto his bed and taking the framed adoption certificate from its hook. After prizing open the back, he removed the certificate and tore it up.
Jamie took a final scan of the room that had been his sanctuary for the past two and a half years. He made his way from his bedroom, down the corridor and out the front door, vowing never to return.
“Are you okay Darling?”
Jamie stared up and struggled to focus on the unfamiliar woman crouching next to him. Her hair was of a similar colour as Catarina’s though a little longer in length and he thought he could detect a hint of alcohol on her breath. She wore a purple top, dark floral skirt, and a pair of All Birds Merino Wool slip-on running shoes.
“Yeah…sort of,” he replied.
Over two hours had passed since he had ridden off from his foster home on his red BMX, but he still felt the same level of bitterness toward the Radcliffes. He was now in Sparks Park; sitting alone on the edge of a bank, overlooking a small stream with Toi-Toi bushes growing within.
“What’s the matter?”
“My stepparents hate me. They don’t want me to be part of their family anymore.”
“I’m sure that’s not true.”
“Is too…they’re wanna trade me in for a like less-embarrassing stuff-up.”
“People say all sorts of hurtful things that they don’t really mean when they’re angry. Why don’t you go back home and try to get some sleep? Trust me; it will all work itself out in the morning.”
Over two hours had passed since Jamie left the Radcliffe household and his bitterness had not begun to diminish. He assumed his stepparent’s hostility had remained just as consistent. It seemed doubtful his return would be met one of a joyous reunion.
“Too late to go back,” he affirmed. “I already tore up the Adoption certificate.”
“You’re their responsibility and they have a legal obligation to give you food and shelter…they can’t just kick you out onto the street. I bet right now they are sitting up worried sick about where you’ve got to. Why don’t you give them a ring and at least let them know you are okay before they start panicking and calling the police.”
“I can’t…my phone’s dead lost dead. I sort of like forgot to recharge it when I got home.”
“You could charge it from my partner’s van if you like. It’s parked not too far from here.”
“I haven’t got a charge cord either.”
“We’ve got a number of cords you could try.”
“Are you sure he won’t mind?”
“Of course not.”
“Well…um…I suppose so. No use having a cellphone if it’s not working.”
“Come on then.”
Jamie rose to his feet and followed the woman back to the entrance of Sparks Park. He was startled to see the same black he had encountered a few days prior parked a couple of meters left of his BMX bike. It looked similar to the one belonging to the weird thug. It startled him even more when she unlocked and slid open the side door.
“I’m not so sure this is such a good idea after all. I might just go back home instead,” he said; feeling ill at ease.
“You really should ring them first, Darling,” she insisted.
“No if it’s all the same to you…”
Jamie wined as she suddenly snatched his upper left arm and with one hand, and the back of his hoodie with the other, and forced him into the van. She slid the door shut behind them and he was alarmed to hear the engine start.
“Hold still you little brat.” she demanded, pinning him down on one of the seats.
“Let me go…please!” he begged clawing at her.
Jamie winced as she smacked his left thigh hard. She then reached into her jacket pocket and retrieved an odd smelling rag, which she covered his mouth with. Seconds later he felt light headed and slowly drifted out of consciousness.
-To Be Continued-