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by Fyn -
Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Biographical · #2248667
I knew the child before I ever heard the song. I knew Raven. Let me tell you a story.

Raven lived upstairs from me in our apartment complex. I was intimidated by this beautiful, slim, tall, gloriously tan, blond woman who seemed to have everything going for her. Including what I thought was the coolest name ever. She was that epitome of cool. I couldn't figure out why she would even want to hang out with me. I was short, pudgy, and normal-looking. She was everything I wasn't. Cool was something I'd never been. Then I figured it out. She wanted a cheap babysitter.

She had a three-year-old. He was a small elfin child with long, almost black hair. Looked like his dad, who was a dark-haired man from somewhere in the Mid-East The child never seemed to talk, or rarely. He'd watch you, intently. He'd play well with my kids, but you never heard him giggling or chattering away. My two seemed to make up for it as they were never quiet. Raven called him Child. Seriously. My kids thought it was funny, didn't care, called him that. I always thought it was odd.

Usually, I watched him in my apartment, but one day it was more convenient for her for me to watch him in their apartment. My kids were downstairs with their dad. The boy had been quieter than normal. I went looking for him after I'd finished up his dinner dishes.
He was in the third bedroom. When I found him, he'd dumped something out of baggies that had been packed into a military-style duffle bag. He looked like someone had dumped a bag of flour over his head.

"Snow," he said, with a goofy smile as he sat there licking his fingers. Empty baggies were all around him. Holy crap!
I asked him where he found the duffle bag. He pointed to the closet. I cleaned up the mess dumping appropriate amounts back into baggies and into the duffle. I put the bag into the closet, Child shoved it in more, closed the door. I put him to bed, waited for her to come home, went downstairs. I didn't know what to do. The next day, I went to the local police who sent me to the state police who sent me to ATF who brought me to see two other men in a nondescript office. Steve and Jim. No, not their real names.

Long story short; they knew all about what Raven and her husband, Sam were involved in. They needed to know more. They knew I had a security clearance. Would I help them? Could I keep my mouth shut? Couldn't even tell my husband. Their words slammed into me. Undercover. Agent? Me?

I continued babysitting. Over the next months, I got to know them better. Child was as much at home in my apartment as his own For weeks, I’d let little comments drop about how unhappy I was. With my husband. Eventually, I let Raven know a big secret. I was cheating on my husband with a guy named Steve. She thought nothing of it.

One night, when Raven and I were talking about the next week’s babysitting schedule, she asked me a question.
“Do you need a place to hang out with Steve?” she asked. “Some friends of ours are having a party this weekend, and you’re welcome to come. Think you can get your old man to babysit your kids?” she asked, laughing. “Tell him you need to babysit Child for me out of town. Come for the weekend. It’s just over in Silver Spring.”

“Let me see if I can get him to go for it,” I answered, all excited. “Sounds like fun and I know Steve would be up for it. So hard, sneaking around, you know?

Steve and I headed to their private party the following weekend. It was at a secluded mansion at the far edge of town.
“You know, we have to act like we’re a couple,” Steve was going through a whole coaching plan.

“I know,” I answered.

“I mean, we have to be close and stuff”

“I get it. I’m good.” No, it didn’t mean anything. Yes, it was all an act. But even fake kissing him would be, um, fun at the very least, I thought. Yeah, no problem. And, to be honest, there really were problems at home. So, fake affair? No problem.

We went over what to look for, keeping mental notes. We weren’t wired. What to do if there were any problems. This was starting to get real.
I kept an eye on Child, Steve kept an eye on everyone. Child loved drawing and I’d brought along a sketchpad and a new box of crayons for him. He loved drawing pictures of his mom. He often drew her with wings. Sometimes, she was a bird sitting on his shoulder. Other times, a queen with a crown sitting on top of a pick-up truck.

We hung out at the pool. We drank a little. Nursed. Watered down. Candy bowls were everywhere. Willy Wonka on drugs. All the pretty colors. Steve talked with lots of the guys. I hung close, kept my mouth shut and slithered around Steve just like all the other women snaked around their guys. We wandered, we poked around. We snuggled and I fell asleep in his arms in a waterbed upstairs.

After we left, we stopped for breakfast at a rest stop off the highway. He’d cautioned me not to say anything in the car except about what a fun time we’d had. We got coffee and he went ‘oops’ dumping his juice in my lap. Had me change into fresh clothes in the lady’s room.

Wandering around the parking lot. “Sorry about that. Needed an excuse for you to change clothes. Wanted to check for bugs. Your reaction was priceless!” My eyes must have been huge!

“Bugs. Okay.”

“Found one in the cuffs of your jeans. One on the car as well. So, nothing about anything, got it?” I nodded.

In the car again, I mentioned something Raven had said. “Wanted to tell you. Raven said there’s gonna be a big beach party in Ocean City in a few weeks. Want to go?”

Ocean City was followed by Baltimore, Philly, Schenectady. They were more open around us as the months passed. I was still considered pretty clueless – just the babysitter. But Steve was in with the guys, was asked to ‘help out’ on ‘stuff’ without me. Something was up. And it would all come down the week after Thanksgiving, in Albany, NY.

Raven began feeling me out. More than the usual stuff about Steve, how he was in bed, etc. (Try mimicking the sounds of two people making love without laughing!) She told me that she and Sam had a chance to make a lot of money. A whole lot.

“... Like enough to set us up for life! We could finally move home to Prince William Sound. We aren’t doing anything bad, really. Just transporting some stuff for friends of ours. Need you to watch Child for us. Will ya? Big bonus in it for you!”
“Sure. No problem. When? Could Steve come too?” She gave me the details. I did what I had to do.

Steve, Child and I pulled into an abandoned parking structure. Of course, with Child in the car, we hadn’t talked on the drive except about general things. Neither Steve nor I was happy about Child being here.

This was it. Raven and company were delivering a huge shipment. Pure, uncut heroine.

I knew we weren’t there ‘alone.’

Raven and Sam drove up in two 24-foot U-Hauls.

Child was drawing in the back seat. Usually, his pictures were colorful. Today’s were all navy blue and black. And red. Always tried to get him to tell me about his drawings, but he still rarely talked. Perhaps he figured (or knew) it was safer that way. It was the first time we saw guns in his pictures.

Steve and I exchanged looks but didn’t say a word. Funny, how over time, we could read each other so well. He gave me a kiss as he got out of the car. So natural.

I don’t know why we didn’t lock the doors.

Five minutes later I felt like I was in the middle of a war movie. Choppers came out of nowhere. Trucks screeched in. People were yelling, screaming and automatic weapons were being fired. I reached into the back seat to push Child down to the floor. He twisted away, opened the door and ran right into the bloodbath. Screaming “Mommy!”

That scene is indelibly gouged into my brain. You don’t need the details in yours.

Multi-state task force. Millions of dollars of heroin off the streets. Seventeen arrests, including Sam and Raven. Thirty-two dead bodies, including Steve. People involved stretched up to the CEO levels of two major US corporations.

One dead child. Raven’s Child.

In the backseat of the car was his last drawing. Raven’s Child, with wings.

wc 1501

Raven's Child

Raven's child
Is chasing salvation
Black beak turned white
From the crack and the snow
On the streets of despair
The answer is simple
A spoonful of mercy
Can set free the soul
The drug king sits
On his arrogant throne
Away and above and apart
Even children
Are twisted to serve him
And greed has corrupted
What once was a heart
Raven's child
Keeps vigil for freedom
Trades for the arms
That once made her strong
With nuclear warheads
And lasers in heaven
Fear does the choosing
Between right and wrong
The arms king sits
On his arrogant throne
Away and above and apart
Bankers assure him
That he needn't care
And greed makes a stone of
What once was a heart
Raven's child
Is washing the water
All of her wing-feathers
Blackened with tar
Prince William shoreline's
An unwanted highway
Of asphalt and anger
An elegant scar
The oil king sits
On his arrogant throne
Away and above and apart
Lawyers have warned him
He mustn't speak
And greed has made silent
What once was a heart
You know there are walls
That come tumbling down
For people who yearn to be free
Still there are hearts
That long to be opened
And eyes that are longing to see
Raven's child is our constant companion
Sticks like a shadow
To all that is done
Try as we may
We just can't escape him
The source of our sorrow and shame
We are one
The true King sits
On a heavenly throne
Never away nor above nor apart
With wisdom and mercy
And constant compassion
He lives in the love
That lives in our hearts

Words and music by John Denver and Joe Henry
© Copyright 2021 Fyn - (fyndorian at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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