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       Save Me, p.1

           Phylicia Joannis
 
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Save Me


  Save Me!

  The Logoria Series Book 1

  Copyright 2007

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

  Table of Contents

  Chapter 1 - Raw Eggs and Barbecue

  Chapter 2 - The Fight

  Chapter 3 - The Punishment

  Chapter 4 - Mr. James

  Chapter 5 - Tough Guy

  Chapter 6 - Martin's Decision

  Chapter 7 - Spiritual Tests

  Chapter 8 - Homecoming

  Chapter 9 - Monday Morning

  Chapter 10 - Facing Johnny

  CHAPTER ONE

  Raw Eggs and Barbecue

  “Get open, man!” Martin yells across the court as he swiftly steps from side to side.  His heart is pounding, synchronized with the basketball in his hand. The ball rises and falls in cadence, pelting the pavement with a steady thud. Each connection with the ground produces a small, but effective cloud of dust on the sandy driveway.

   Thunk, thunk. Martin takes his time; flows with the rhythm of the ball in his hand; waits patiently for his opening. His cousin Will tries to steal the ball, but Martin’s too quick.

  Will sneezes, and Martin makes his move.  He eyes his team mate, Max, readying him for the pass.  His other cousin, Jerry, is in front of Max, blocking the pass. Max steps in front of Jerry, and Martin swiftly passes the ball. The ball floats beautifully through the air, but Jerry grabs it before Max can get to it and passes it to Will.

  Will shoots the ball too quickly and it bounces off the backboard.

  “Block him out! Block him out! Block him out!” Martin wails to Max as he rushes towards the goal.

  Max obeys and blocks Jerry from getting the ball. Max grabs for it. His tall, lanky frame makes the feat easy, and he rushes outside the goal line to clear the ball.

  Max stands near the corner of the court, his left hand clumsily dribbling the basketball.  He can barely keep it in his hands, let alone keep it from Jerry.  Martin tries to get around Will in time to catch a pass, but Max isn’t paying attention. 

  “C’mon Max, get the lead out!” Martin yells for his attention.

  Max looks up briefly and grins mischievously.  Martin groans, realizing that Max is going to go for a lay-up.  He flails his arms towards Max, eyes wide in apprehension.

  “No! Pass it, Max! Don’t shoot! Pass it!” Martin screams, but he is too late.  Max is already running toward the right side of the goal, taking long, careful strides as his speed increases.  He jumps off one foot and rockets the ball up towards the goal.

  The ball slams hard against the backboard, shaking the pole with its force, and rebounds to center court – right into Jerry’s hands.  Jerry quickly grabs it and scores.  Both of Martin’s cousins hoot and dance, slapping each other on the back.

  Martin groans in frustration as his cousins gloat. He glares at Max, who is beside himself with laughter.

  “That was the worst shot I’ve ever made,” Max jokes with Will.

  “That’s game, Mart,” his cousin Jerry slaps him on the back as he heads to the house.  “Now it’s time for barbecue!”

  The savory smell of sizzling spare ribs and hamburgers permeates the October air, stimulating all of their palates.  Martin’s parents are hosting a barbecue at their house and they’ve invited most of their relatives, as well as half the neighborhood, to join them.

  The sun sits high in the mid-afternoon sky, accented by faint tufts of cloud, and the wind blows cool and easy. It’s the perfect afternoon for a barbecue, but after such a humiliating game, Martin can’t enjoy it.

  “Smooth move, Max,” he grumbles as he walks past him.

  “Sorry I blew it,” Max replies sheepishly.

  Martin crosses his arms, brooding. “You totally ignored me out there! I was wide open!”

  “Look, I said I was sorry,” Max laughs and puts his arm around Martin in an attempt to lighten the mood.  “It’s just a game, right?”

  Martin brushes off Max’s shoulder and shakes his head, his mouth set in a permanent frown.  “Yeah, yeah, just a game. It’s always just a game with you, Max. Why can’t you ever be serious?”

  Max shrugs. “If I wanted to be a ballplayer, I’d be on the team with you, Martin. I just wanted to have some fun. Relax. It’s just a game.”

  Martin frowns. “Yeah, a game you can’t play worth —”

  “Time to eat, guys!” Will pushes them both towards the house.

  “Don’t play on my team if you don’t know what you’re doing,” Martin hisses as they walk through the house toward the dining room.

  “Okay, I get it,” Max replies glumly. “You like to win, I like to have fun. Whatever.”

  As they sit down to eat, Will and Jerry rehash the final play.

  “You know white men can’t jump,” Will snorts as he points at Max.

  Max begins to laugh but quickly stops after noticing Martin’s murderous glare.

  “That had to be the sorriest move I’ve ever seen,” Jerry repeats for the third time.  “I mean, what were you thinking man?”

  Max shrugs and bites into his burger.

  “He wasn’t,” Martin cuts in. “He was being stupid, that’s all.”

  “Ah, come on, Martin,” Jerry frowns at him.

  Martin shrugs. “I guess he can’t help it. Loser’s in your blood, right Max?”

  Max frowns and puts his burger down, chewing slowly.  After a long pause he pushes his chair back and gets up. 

  “I’ve um… gotta go,” he states quietly. Both Will and Jerry protest, but Max waves them away.  “I forgot I had to do something at home.”

  A few minutes later Edward West, Martin’s father, walks by.  “Martin, I just saw Max leave.  He seemed pretty upset. What’s going on?”

  Martin stares at his hotdog but says nothing.  Mr. West moves closer until his muscular frame hovers over him.  “Did you hear what I said?” he asks.

  “Max left,” Martin mumbles. “So what?”

  “So, why did he leave?” his father probes. A few of Martin’s friends glance in his direction, their attention captured.

  Martin rolls his eyes, annoyed.  “How should I know? I’m not a psychic.”

  Mr. West taps his chin in thought.  “No, you’re not a psychic. But you are his friend.  Find out what’s wrong with him and make it right.”

  Martin sucks in his teeth and rolls his eyes again. “If he’s got a problem, he’ll come to me. I’m not running after him!” Martin can feel the eyes of his friends watching him carefully.  His father is embarrassing him.

  “I don’t care what his problem is, Martin,” Mr. West replies sternly. “Fix it.”

  Martin rolls his eyes a third time and bites into his hotdog. He makes no move towards the door, sending a clear message.

  Before Martin can swallow, he feels himself being lifted off of his chair.  He grabs for the edge of the table, but it’s too late.  His father sends him scrambling toward the front door. 

  “Go fix it, Martin. And if you cut your eyes at me again, I’ll do more than just embarrass you.”

  •••

  Martin grumbles as he walks up the driveway to Max’s house.  He rings the bell six times in succession before Max answers it.

  “What do you want?” he yells through the half opened door. Martin rolls his eyes.

  “I want to give you something,” Martin smirks.

  Max raises his eyebrows and opens the door. “Oh yeah, what’s that?”

  Martin slugs him in his arm, and Max howls. “Hey, what’d you do that for?” he rubs his arm vig
orously, wincing at the pain.

  “That was for crying like a little girl and getting me in trouble,” Martin replies.

  Max sighs. “Is that all you came over here for?”

  Martin shrugs his shoulders. “Nah, I feel like doing something. The barbecue is wack. Why don’t we head out to the Hills?”

  Max grins. “What do you have in mind?”

  Martin smirks. “Well, let’s see what I have in my bag here.” Martin takes off his backpack and opens it. He pulls out three cartons of eggs and five rolls of toilet paper.

  “Interesting survival kit,” Max jokes.

  Martin snorts. “Come on, let’s go!”

  Max laughs. “Let me grab my jacket.”

  “Aw, don’t be such a girl, Shaw!” Martin protests. “It’s seventy degrees outside!”

  “Habit, you know my mom,” Max shrugs and follows Martin to the bus stop. They get off at the entrance to Mogis Hills, the public housing community in Logoria. The sun is setting, and the street lights blink to life. Martin hears his cell phone ring and he turns it off.

  “My keepers are trying to track me down,” Martin rolls his eyes.

  “Do you have a target?” Max asks.

  Martin shrugs. “No one in particular. Let’s start over there.” Martin points to a cul de sac a few yards away.  Quietly, they make their way to the driveway of a three unit building. Max checks around back while Martin makes sure the windows are closed.

  When Max gives him the signal, Martin pulls out the first carton of eggs and two rolls of toilet paper. He places the carton on the ground and tosses a roll to Max. They cover the unit with sheets and sheets of paper, moving quickly and quietly. Once they’re satisfied with their artwork, Max and Martin grab the eggs.

  “Ready?” Martin smirks. Max nods and they begin hurling the eggs at the doors, windows, and cars in the driveway. Each egg makes a loud spat as it connects with its target.  A light comes on from the inside of one of the units.

  “Let’s get out of here!” Max whispers. Martin grabs his bag and the empty carton and they both sprint down the street. Once they’re a safe distance away, they fall down in laughter.

  “Okay, who’s next?” Max asks.

  Martin looks up and down the streets before making a decision. “Let’s hit Miggy’s house,” he replies.

  Max’s eyes light up with delight. Miggy is a geeky hall monitor at LHS. She’s a know-it-all and a pain, and Martin and Max make it a habit to harass her whenever they can.

  Max and Martin jog to Miggy’s house. Hers is one of the few in Mogis Hills that is a stand-alone. They spot a used Ford Taurus in the driveway.

  “Hey, isn’t that the car Miggy’s been bragging about at school?” Max asks.

  “Seriously?” Martin scowls. “Does this thing even run?”

  “Probably not,” Max snickers.

  “What do you say we give it a makeover?” Martin pulls out the second carton of eggs.

  “I like the way you think!” Max laughs evilly. “But her light’s on. You wanna wait til she goes to sleep?”

  Martin shakes his head. “No, I want her to see this. Hey, I got an idea.”

  Martin grabs a black magic marker from his backpack and tosses it to Max. He pulls out a second one for himself. “Let’s leave her a little message, eh?”

  They both chuckle as they draw crude pictures and notes on the windows and doors of Miggy’s car. When they’re finished they chuck the eggs at it. They hear Miggy scream from the window as she spots them and Martin and Max bolt. They hide behind a few neighboring bushes as they watch Miggy run out of the house in her night gown.

  “No, no, no!” Miggy wails. She screams unnaturally, piercing Max and Martin’s ears.

  “Let’s shut this banshee up!” Martin whispers. They both come out of hiding and hurl eggs at her back. Miggy makes the mistake of turning around and gets an egg right in her face. It lands on her forehead and drips down into her open mouth.

  Martin and Max laugh as they come out from hiding. Miggy is blinded by the egg yolk and can’t see them.

  “I’ll get you!” she cries. “You…you juveniles!”

  “Say cheese, Miggy!” Max pulls out his phone and takes a picture with the flash on. Miggy staggers back and screams as she slips on the yolk and lands on her butt.

  “Come on, let’s get out of here,” Martin jogs off with Max trailing behind.

  •••

  When Martin arrives home his father is waiting for him, fuming.

  “Where in God’s name have you been?” he screams.

  Martin shrugs. “You told me to go fix things with Max. What, now you want to punish me for doing what you say?”

  “What were the two of you doing that brought you back home after midnight?”

  “Playin’ games?” Martin smiles innocently. “We were just hanging out, dad. Chill.”

  Mr. West frowns. “Did any of your games involve playing pranks on people in Mogis Hills this evening?”

  “Nope,” Martin lies. “Why would Max and I go to the ghetto, dad? It stinks over there, and they’ve got drug dealers and black people.”

  “Enough with the jokes, Martin,” Mr. West scowls. The West family is one of two black families in their high end neighborhood.

  “I got about a dozen calls from residents in Mogis Hills about eggs and toilet paper on their homes. I also got a call from Marjorie Griggs’ parents saying that two boys vandalized her car and threw eggs at her. The poor girl is distraught!”

  “You think it was me and Max?” Martin scoffs. “Dad, not everything bad that happens in this town is my fault. And besides, nobody likes Miggy. It could have been anybody. I mean, that geek gets egged every week. You’d think she’d be used to it by now.”

  “Did you and Max throw those eggs at her?” Mr. West asks sternly. “Do not lie to me.”

  Martin looks his father in the eye. “No, Max and I didn’t egg Marjorie Griggs. We hung out, had some laughs, and played some games. That’s all!”

  Mr. West frowns. “Give me your backpack,” he demands.

  Martin frowns. “What?”

  “Give me your backpack, Martin,” Mr. West repeats himself.

  “Why?” Martin asks.

  “I want to take a look inside,” Mr. West puts his hand out. “Now give me the backpack.”

  “No, I’m not giving you my backpack!” Martin pulls away, indignant. “You’ve got no right to search my things!”

  “I am your father, I have every right!” Mr. West bellows. “Now give me the backpack!”

  “You never trust me!” Martin screeches. “Can’t you, for once, just trust me?”

  “Martin, for once, would you stop fighting me?” Mr. West shouts. “I’m asking you to do something very simple. If you’ve got nothing to hide, then you’ve got nothing to worry about, now give me the backpack!”

  “Fine!” Martin opens his backpack and spills all the contents to the ground; three video games, a small bag of candy, and a nerf ball lay silently as Martin glares at his father. “Satisfied?”

  Mr. West frowns. “Martin…”

  Martin turns away and heads to his room, backpack in hand. “Save it!”

  He slams his door as he enters his room, makes his way to the bathroom, and turns his backpack inside out. He grabs a sponge and begins scrubbing off the egg yolk inside.

  •••

 
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