This story was written at the challenge of my friend classicrock2. He mentioned that my stories are mostly happy and that life isn't necessarily like that. Mine has been, but he suggested that I stretch my literary muscles and write a story that told the truth about my life up to a point but take away the safety net. I could still give them a happy ending, but rainbows do come after storms. I took the challenge and here is the result. I'll let him grade it. If you haven't read my autobiographical stories "Meeting Mallory" and "Mallory's Mom" I suggest you read them first. The characters Mallory, Val and Kim are real. The events leading up to the day of this story are real. The drowning experience is real except it happened in a river and not on the ocean and we both lived. I made up everything after that. Thanks to the classic one for the idea, my editor PapaKilo14 for making it look like I can write and my beta readers for their time and help. Randi.
It was a beautiful spring day; the wind about fifteen knots and a pretty good chop on the water. Dad and I were having a blast. The boat was running smoothly and I was taking in some sail. We were hissing through the chop at a pretty good clip and I got the line tied off. I went to the cooler and got out one of my strawberry sodas and a Corona Amber for Dad. We were maybe five miles out. The coast was just below the horizon and when I looked at Dad I saw his face turn white, even whiter than usual. He sprang toward me and I turned to look in the direction he had been looking. All I saw was a wall of water. It was about fifty yards away and it was speeding toward us like a freight train. I felt Dad grab me by the waistband of my shorts and I just froze, looking up forty feet to the top of that impossible wall. It fell on us and I knew nothing.
When I woke up my head was throbbing like a bass drum at a Slip Knot concert. I was in the water and there was an arm around my neck. Dad had somehow managed to hold onto me when all those tons of water fell on us. There was no sign of the boat. I was on my back with his arm under my chin and he was towing me.
"I'm awake, Dad," I told him. "What happened?"
"I think we just got hit by a rogue wave," he said. He was breathing pretty hard.
"Turn me loose, I can swim now," I told him.
"Are you sure, Mallory?" he asked. I could hear the concern in his voice. "We've got a long way to go, baby."
"I'm sure," I told him. "I don't want to hear any 'black people can't swim' jokes either."
He laughed, but he turned me loose and we swam side by side for a while. There was enough chop to make it very frustrating. We kept getting hit in the face and choking on sea water. It's a particularly bad choke. Ocean water tastes awful and making any headway at all was so hard that our mouths were open as we panted. We were both in pretty good shape and it was a good thing. We ran every morning, five times a week. I was doing track and he was my coach. At seventeen, I was in the best shape of my life and I think he was too. The drawback to that was both of us were pretty muscular. That meant we were denser than fat people would have been and had to exert more energy just to stay up than most people would.
Ocean water is pretty dense too. If it had been fresh water we'd have been in even more trouble. We swam for two hours and I started getting very tired. Dad could tell I was getting gassed and he made me roll over and he towed me for a while. I got some energy back and we swam on. I was praying for a boat, but I guess the god's weren't listening. I ran out of gas pretty quickly and he towed me again. I could see land now. I swam again and we made slow progress. Dad was moving very slowly and I could tell he was wearing out. I was exhausted myself.
"Go, Mallory," he gasped. "We can make it. Go, baby; I love you."
"I love you," I told him.
I put my face in the water and swam for the shore. I swam until I couldn't take another stroke. I was just going to have to put my feet down. If I was close enough to stand it would be good; if not, this was it for me. I could see people running toward the water and I never felt anything as good in my life as I did when I felt sand under my toes. A guy was splashing through the water toward me and he grabbed me by the hand. Two more people, another man and a woman were pulling on me. I looked around and I was alone. "Alone alone, all, all alone, alone on a wine dark sea." The words of the Ancient Mariner ran through my mind and I screamed.
"Dad! My Dad's out there!"
I tried to pull away from the people holding on to me. They wouldn't let me go.
"There's no one there," I heard the man shout in my ear. "You weren't with anyone."
I fought like a wildcat. I kicked them and scratched them and tried to bite the man holding my arms. I was going back! I got away for a second and started swimming back out. They caught me and the man who got to me first punched me in the jaw and everything went black.
When I woke up I was in an unfamiliar room. I was lying in what I realized was a hospital bed and I tried to sit up. I couldn't and I realized that I was restrained. My wrists and ankles were strapped down and there was a strap around my waist.
"Good, you're awake," I heard a voice say. I turned my head and it all came flooding back. It was the man from the beach. I screamed again.
"Daddy!" I wept harder than I ever had in my life. A nurse came in and gave me a shot. "Call my Aunt Kimberly Drake," I managed to get out.
"I'm so sorry I had to hit you," I heard the man say as I drifted away."
I don't know how long I slept but when I woke up I heard Kim's voice. "What the hell have you done to her? Get those restraints off of her right now!" She was very angry.
"We had to sedate her," I heard a woman's voice. "The restraints were for her safety. She was hysterical and she kept pulling out her IV and trying to leave."
"I'm responsible for her safety now," Kim said. "Get those fucking things off of her now!"
I opened my eyes and she looked at me. When she saw that I was awake she ran across the room and threw herself on me. I cried and she held me.
"Ma'am, I can't get to her wrist," the nurse that was taking off my restraints told her.
She lifted up but she didn't let me go. As soon as my arms were free I clung to her as tight as I could and we cried like babies. I couldn't stop crying.
"He saved me, Aunt Kim," I sobbed. "He towed me and it made him too tired. He died so I could make it."
"I know, baby," she said. "That's how much he loved you. I would die for you too. I would have died for him. He would have done anything for you. Just remember that. It would have made him happy for you to live, even if he had to die."
My arm hurt badly from where it was bent holding her. I knew it was the IV but I didn't care. I couldn't let her go! We cried together, just holding on to each other, until I fell asleep. When I woke up she was holding my hand and the IV was gone.
"I want to go home," I told her.
"They're going to keep you one more day," she said. "You were badly dehydrated and exhausted and you had a concussion. Then we'll go home."
The TV was on and we were all over the news. Aunt Kim had talked to a reporter and my story was what they lead off with. They talked about how Dad adopted me. They interviewed one of the officers of the security company he had been working for when he found me. My mother was a prostitute. He found me after she abandoned me, starving and begging for food on the streets in Port-au-Prince in Haiti. He took me home with him and fed me. His sister, Aunt Kim was an attorney and she flew down the next day and they worked for six months getting it fixed so he could adopt me. Dad knew a lot of people and he and Aunt Kim were pretty well off. As soon as they got the papers filed we flew home He got a job coaching high school football and eventually, they got the adoption done.
They told that story on TV and talked about Dad being a hero. I couldn't stand it. I felt like I was suffocating and Aunt Kim noticed. "Turn that shit off," she told the nurse. "What the hell is wrong with you people? Hasn't this girl been through enough?"
The nurse apologized. "Your father was a hero," she said. "It's in all the papers and the lobby down there is full of reporters that want to talk to you."
"Jesus Christ," Aunt Kim yelled. "I talked to one of those vultures. Isn't that enough? Don't let them come up here or I'll sue this hospital for the rest of my life!"
"We won't let them up here," the nurse said. "Why are you being so hostile?"
"Because my baby is lying there in that bed and my brother is dead," Aunt Kim told her.
The nurse came over and patted her. I could see tears streaming down her cheeks. "I'm so sorry, honey" she said. "You can yell at me all you want. I understand. I've got two daughters of my own."
We were all crying by that time and Kim apologized to her. The nurse gave us both a big hug and went out. We cried for a long time.
"What are we going to do, Aunt Kim?" I asked her.
"We're going to do what Val would want us to," she said. "We're going to grieve together for a while. We're going to honor him with our lives. He gave you your life and we're going to make sure that we both have full, happy lives while we honor him."
I didn't know how that was going to happen. I had just lost my rock. He was my life. I knew he wouldn't want me to mope around the rest of my life but I was so sad. I was almost unbearably sad. I had Kim and I loved her with all my heart, but she wasn't Dad. This was going to be the hardest thing I had ever done.
"We're going to be okay, baby," she told me. "I know it seems trite, but eventually we'll figure this out. We'll always miss him, but we'll figure out how to go on and be happy."
She snuck me out the back entrance the next day and I went home with her. I stayed there two weeks and then she took me to my home. It had been our home, me and Dad. I cried for a long time when we got there and so did she. We had a memorial service for Dad at the school gymnasium. Thousands of people showed up and it was good to see so many people that had loved him, but it just made me feel worse. They never found his body and we just had a slide show at the service.
We stayed at my house for a week. Aunt Kim thought we needed to figure out if we wanted to live at my house or hers. Whatever happened, we wanted to stay together and we discussed the pros and cons. She went back to work on a Monday, four weeks after the wave, and that afternoon the doorbell rang. I peeked out and there was a woman standing outside. She was a tall black woman and she seemed to be alone. I had been dodging reporters but she didn't look like a reporter. She just looked like an old woman.
I opened the door. "Can I help you?" I asked.
"Are you Mallory Drake?" she asked.
"Who wants to know?" I said.
"Her mother," she told me.
I just stood there with my mouth open. I couldn't speak, couldn't move and my mind was a blank.
"Are you Mallory?" she asked.
"Maybe you should come in," I told her.
I offered her a coke and she took it. "So, about this mother stuff," I told her. "It seems improbable to me. This is Miami, not Haiti. My mother, according to what Dad told me, was a prostitute that abandoned me. I suppose you have some idea of what you're doing to me here?"
"I don't understand," she said. "I'm not doing anything to you. I wanted to find my daughter. I wanted to know if she was doing okay. I saw the story on the news and I knew it was you."
"First, I'm not your fucking daughter," I told her. "Second, I have no idea what the circumstances of your life were. I'm not blaming you, but you're fourteen years too late to find out if I'm okay. Do you know why? I was starving to death and dying from pneumonia when the man whose daughter I really was saved my life. You abandoned me and I nearly died. The only reason I didn't is because of the kindness of a stranger. My "mother" left me to starve. I have a real mother now. She'd starve to death herself to feed me."
"You're right about all of that," she said. "I mean, the parts about me. You don't know shit about my life. You have no idea about how this happened. You don't know what I've been through."
"No, I don't. Do you know what? I don't want to know. Why are you here? What do you want?" I asked her.
"I just want to get to know you," she said.
"Well, I don't want to get to know you," I told her. "You've seen me. I'm okay. Now I want you to leave."
"Can we just talk for a while?" she asked.
"Sure," I said. "We can talk when my Aunt Kim is here. She's an attorney and I think she should be here. If you want to come back some other time, I'll talk to her and we'll set something up. Do you have a phone?"
"I'm staying at the Mandarin Oriental," she said. "You can call me there. My name is Mira Abelus." She gave me a card and I showed her out. She turned on the steps. "I'm really looking forward to getting to know you, Mallory," she said.
I shut the door and called Aunt Kim. "I need you to come home right away," I told her.
"Baby, I'm in court in ten minutes," she told me. "I'll be there as soon as I can. I'm just filing some briefs. It might take me an hour."
I always thought my life was out of a fairy tale. You know, the kind where Prince Charming rides into the pictures, rescues the fair maiden and they all live happily ever after. My fairy tale was turning into an H. P. Lovecraft story. I was so upset I couldn't think. I couldn't imagine what the woman wanted. Why did she have to come here and fuck everything up like this? I had been happy! My life was perfect before Dad died! There wasn't room in it for this and I wanted her to just go away. I could hardly cope without this shit. I was crying when Aunt Kim got there. She's always known how to calm me down. She petted me and told me how much she loved me. I cried for a very long time. I never usually cry, but I couldn't stop and I had been doing a lot of it lately. I finally fell asleep with my head on her lap.
I must have slept about twenty minutes. I looked up at her.
"What's wrong with my baby?" she asked.
"Something terrible happened today." I said. "A woman came here and said she's my mother."
She got a strange look. "Do you believe her?" she asked.
"I have no idea," I said. "Do you think she could be?"
"We could do tests. What did she want?" she asked.
"She said she wants to get to know me," I said. "Why would she want to do that? I don't want to know her. What are we going to do?"
"I don't know," she said. "She can't force you to talk to her, Mal. I don't think she has any legal right to you at all. She abandoned you. We need to find out about her, I'll get investigators on it today. What did she tell you?"
I told her what the woman had said, what her name was and where she was staying. She made some phone calls and got her investigators on the job.
"We'll know more in a couple of days," she said. "Mallory, I don't want you to be alone at all. You're going to have to come to work with me."
"Are we going to talk to her?" I asked.
"Maybe we should, but not until we know more," she said. "How does a Haitian whore get to America and how does she rate a five star hotel?"
"I don't have a clue," I said.
She hugged me. "Mallory, it's going to be okay. We'll fix this."
I went to work with her every day for a week. She had preliminary reports by that time and we knew something about Mira Abelus. She had been one of Jean-Bertrand Aristide's aides. It was difficult to find out how she got to that position and I couldn't imagine how a prostitute became an aide to a guy like that. Evidently she had become wealthy and powerful. When he was overthrown she managed to distance herself from him somehow. She knew a lot of powerful people in Haiti and evidently she swung a big stick. She had been charged with human rights violations but nothing stuck. This was getting worse and worse.
Kim thought we had our ducks in a row and I called her and set up a meeting. It was at my house and I cooked dinner. Someone dropped her off in a limousine and she was, at least, impeccably dressed. We sat down at the table and I just stared at her for a while.
"Ask me anything," she said. "I know you want to."
"Why did you abandon me?" I asked her.
"I wasn't even aware that I had," she said. "I was a junkie, baby."
"You don't get to call me that," I told her. "My name is Mallory."
"Okay, Mallory, I was a heroin addict. My pimp got some very high quality drugs for a change and I didn't even know where I was for three weeks. I woke up one day with a priest fucking me. I noticed you weren't there right away. I asked him to help me find you but you were gone. I thought you were dead. It destroyed me. I tried to kill myself a dozen times. That priest rescued me. He dried me out and we were lovers for years. He introduced me to a lot of powerful people and I made something of myself. I was here on business when I saw the story on the news. I knew it was you the minute I saw your picture."
"Who is my father?" I asked her.
"I don't know," she said. "I was whoring at a UN camp. There were a bunch of English guys there. One of them was your father. We can get a test done if you want to. I'm pretty sure that I'm your mother."
"No, you aren't," I told her. "That's my mother sitting right there." I pointed at Aunt Kim.
"I understand," she said. "I know I'm grateful to her. I'm very grateful to Vallon Drake. I would never have suggested this if he was alive, but don't you think you should be with your family now?"
"She's the only family I have," I told her. "I think my birth mother is a whore that fucked some John. I don't want to see you again."
"I'm not like that anymore," she said. "I've spent my whole life regretting what I did. I was eighteen years old, desperate and Haiti had no opportunities for me. It was become a whore or die."
"I'd rather die," I told her. "You should have died."
"I was weak," she said. "I was eighteen, addicted to drugs, afraid of dying and I found a pimp that took care of me. After you were born I tried to clean up but I was just too weak. In spite of all that, I'm still your mother. I think you should be with me," she said.
We were through eating and we moved to the sofa. She sat in a chair and Kim spoke to her.
"Whatever you want isn't important," Kim told her. "The only thing that's important is what Mallory wants."
"She's a child," Mira said.
"Yes, but in some ways she's older than you or me," Kim told her. "She's always been like that. If she doesn't want you to be part of her life, that's her decision."
"No, it's not," Mira said.
"What are you talking about?" I said.
"I want you," she said.
"I don't give a damn what you want," I said. "I don't want you."
"We'll see," she said. She had a look in her eyes that made me shiver. I thought about those human rights violations.
"Are you threatening her?" Kim asked. She looked fierce. "Because if you are, it's going to get very ugly very fast."
"I never threaten," Mira said.
"I think you should leave now," I told her.
She got out her phone and started to make a call.
"You can make that call outside," I told her.
She looked daggers at me but she went outside. I locked the door behind her.
"Jesus," Kim said. "That's a scary woman. What the hell, Mal? Why does she want you?"
"I have no idea," I told her. "I think she's a psychopath. I don't want to see her again, Aunt Kim."
"No, baby; we won't. This was a mistake."
There was a thud on the door and Kim grabbed her purse. I have a strong door and it took five of those thuds before the lock broke. Two huge black men came in, followed by Mira.
"Mallory, you're coming with me," she said.
"Like hell she is," Aunt Kim pulled her 9 mm out of her purse. She has a permit for concealed carry and she knows how to use that gun. "Mal, call the police," she said.
All three of them raised their hands. "We'll leave," Mira said.
"If you move one step I'm going to shoot," Kim said.
I dialed 911 and told them the address. "Some men and a woman just broke into our house," I told the dispatcher. "My aunt is holding them at gunpoint."
One of the men made a mistake. He took a step toward Aunt Kim and she just shot him. It hit him high in the shoulder and he went down. The other guy and Mira froze. The police came screaming up and they took us all downtown. It turned out that Mira had diplomatic immunity and they wouldn't let Aunt Kim go until they investigated. They called child services to come and get me and I slipped out while they were questioning everyone. I caught a cab home and found our emergency box. Dad kept it in the wall of our bathroom in a trap door that looked like a plumbing hatch. It had a .22 automatic, our passports and 20,000 in cash in it. I took it all and went and got Dad's truck. I loaded it with everything I thought I would need. I looked regretfully at my Audi R8 LMX, but it was too conspicuous. I took our credit cards and got cash advances from the ATM around the corner. I took all the money out of our accounts I could get. I would get more tomorrow when I could.
I drove to a warehouse Kim owns and pulled the truck inside. There was an office in there with a cot and it had a bathroom with a small shower. I would be fine here for a while. I plugged in the microwave and my cooler. I had to do something about my phone. I went to Walmart and bought four of those prepaid phones. I used my iPhone to call both houses and left messages for Kim. I told her I'd call her at ten, noon and four every day but I was getting rid of my iPhone. I plugged it into my laptop and started a jailbreak on it. Halfway through I turned it off and drove down to the docks. I threw it in the water and went back to the warehouse. I microwaved my dinner and played games on my laptop and listened to music until I was sleepy.
The next day I called at all the times I said I would. At noon, when I called her house, someone from child services answered the phone. "Mallory, we just want to help you," they started. I hung up. I called her cell phone and she answered.
"Don't tell me where you are, Mal," was the first thing she said. "Are you okay, baby?"
"Yes, what do you want me to do?" I asked her. "Just stay safe and out of sight," she said. "I'm afraid Mira will try to kidnap you. Can you get out of town?"
"Yes, I'm already out," I lied. "I'll call you in a couple of days when I get settled."
"Mallory, I love you so much, baby," I could tell she was crying. "Me too," I choked out.
I was afraid to stay too long at the warehouse. They might eventually check her properties and I didn't want any part of child services. Dad and Aunt Kim had been in that and they told me horror stories. I stayed in that warehouse a week until I figured they wouldn't be looking for me with the same urgency. I hoped the blowback from Kim shooting that guy would go away and we could just get back to normal. I was still hurting pretty bad about Dad and I cried myself to sleep every night. My father was gone, I was seventeen, I had just over 20,000 dollars, I couldn't reach the only person in the world that loved me, I was a fugitive and a crazy woman wanted to kidnap me. I couldn't imagine a month ago that I wouldn't be a wreck. I surprised myself that I wasn't
I needed to get out of Miami; hell, I needed to get out of Florida. I loaded up my stuff and headed north. I stayed off the freeways and used maps. No GPS for me! I stopped for the night in Atmore, Alabama. I got a room at the motel and paid cash. It was a mom and pop outfit with a kitchen and I settled in. I talked to Kim a couple of times and it looked like she was going to get out of her legal problems. They were dropping the charges and they had started the process to deport Mira and her boys. She didn't want me to come home.
"I'm still afraid, Mallory. I think we need to disappear. The woman is a nut job. I think someone is following me everywhere I go. What do you want to do, baby?"
"I just need you," I told her. "I'm scared and lonely, Aunt Kim. I think the people that own this place don't like me. I think they're a bunch of racists and they don't like a black girl staying here. I don't like the way they look at me; like I'm a piece of meat and they're hungry."
"Go somewhere else. Do it today," she told me. "Mallory, will you disappear with me? We can start over somewhere Mira will never find us."
"I don't want to do that," I told her. "I don't know what else to do though. I'll do whatever you want."
"Then I'm going to cash out," she said. "I'm going to sell everything we have, I'm going to move it all offshore and we'll vanish. It's going to take a while. Do you have enough money?"
"I can probably live six months," I told her. "The problem is, where? I'm underage and no one will rent to me."
"I'll think of something," she said.
Two weeks later I was in Washington State. It turned out Kim knew a retired Secret Service agent that had bought an apple farm in the Okanogan Valley and he had some small cabins on his place that he let migrant workers stay in during the harvest. He agreed to rent me one and keep it on the down low after Kim told him what was going on. I moved in and he and his wife were a wonderful couple. They were in their early seventies and they treated me like I was their grandkid. I posed as that and when school started up I enrolled. I was one of two black kids in the whole school. Joseph was an exchange student from Kenya and we were sort of celebrities, so we got along pretty well. The kids all treated me well and the teachers seemed to like me too. I wanted to run track but I didn't need my name in the paper. I had been counting on that to get me a scholarship to college but Kim told me not to worry about it. We'd pay whatever it took. I had my eighteenth birthday alone in a cabin with two feet of snow falling. It was the loneliest I've ever been. I don't remember the starving time before Dad found me, but this was bad.
Kim sold our houses and that made me very sad. She sold my car and it was even worse. Dad got me that car for my sixteenth birthday and I cried for a week when she sold it. She cashed everything we had out and by the time I graduated she had been with me for two weeks. We moved to Spokane and she bought a house. I enrolled at Gonzaga and we kind of settled in.
I was walking across the campus one morning between the kinesiology building and the gym and I noticed a couple of guys walking behind me.
"Hey, Mallory," one of them called. "Wait up."
He was a guy from my lifetime activities class that had been my bowling partner the week before. I stopped and they caught up.
"We're having a party tonight and we want you to come," he said. "I'm Mike, remember; and this is Cal."
"I remember," I told him. "What kind of a party?"
"Just have a few beers, dance a little, swim in my parent's pool and listen to some music," he said.
"I'm not much of a party girl, Mike," I told him. "I wouldn't want to step on your vibe."
"It's not like that," he said. "Some people might get wasted but most of us won't."
"I'll think about it," I told him.
He gave me the address and I went to the gym. They have a nice indoor track and I changed and started running. I ran three miles and walked a quarter. When I started again I kicked the whole quarter and stopped. I walked a quarter, blowing pretty good.
"Hey," I heard somebody call from down in the gym. "Who the hell are you?"
I saw a guy walking across the floor. "Are you talking to me?" I called.
"Hell yes, I'm talking to you," he said. "Wait right there, I need to talk to you for a minute."
He climbed the stairs and I kept walking. He ran after me and stopped, walking beside me.
"I saw you running," he said. "I watched that three miles you ran. You were moving! I put a clock on that 400. You ran that in 57 seconds after running three miles. What's your best time?"
"Why do you want to know?" I asked him.
"I'm the track coach here," he said. "Who do you run for?"
"Mallory Drake," I said.
"Is she a coach?" he asked.
"That's me," I said. "I run for me."
"You don't belong to a club or run on a team?" he asked.
"No, I just run for fun," I said.