A Brief Preface
I believe that dreams can be one of three things. The first kind of dream is the prophetic type which usually occur in many famous works of fiction. The second type of dream is symbolic, which is liberally seen in the works of the master artist Salvador Dali. The third, and final, type is the one that I like to call “a mishmash of one’s daily tensions used as a relieve valve”. The following short story is a mixture of the last two. All characters and locations are real up to a point. The characters are real, but their names have been changed just for the heck of it. As for the locations, well, I admit that I’m winging it. Enjoy!
The full moon above the prehistoric hills outside of the city of Las Cruces, New Mexico shone all of its light over the ocean of desert and cactus. Among the flat sandy waves of sand, there rose an apartment complex which, for the most part, consisted of senior citizens, who felt safe in their pink or sea green adobe homes. The senior citizens had chosen this area to live in either due to their economic status or for health reasons. Most of the neighbors knew each other, when they could remember names and faces, but, generally kept to themselves. The complex was managed by a younger man, some thought that he was in his 40s, others just ignored him until their rent was due. His name was Kenneth Folger, but those tenants who did see him, always called him Kenny. He was of medium stature with thinning brown hair and gray eyes. He always had a smile on his thin lips when he ran across one of his tenants and listened attentively when one of them would stop him to complain about something that was not working properly in their unit. There was, however, one tenant who, whenever Mr. Folger saw him, would bring an extra bright smile to his face. His name was Reggy Marsden and he was the youngest resident (a mere 26 years old) within the complex. Due to injuries sustained in a car crash when he was eleven, Reggy Marsden got through life with a smile on his face and a friendly “hello” to anyone that he met as he rode his motorized wheelchair whenever he left his apartment, usually to either go to a movie or a doctor’s appointment. The first time that Mr. Folger met Reggy, he felt a bit sorry for the young man, but after getting to know him better, he saw that Reggy never let his condition bring him down and, as far as Mr. Folger was concerned, Reggy was an inspiration to the other tenants.
Mr. Folger, and for the most part, the other tenants, didn’t see Reggy very often because, as Mr. Folger found out, Reggy Marsden used his time wisely by working on Young Adult novels as a way to supplement his income. Whenever Reggy would finish a new book, Mr. Folger would go to Reggy’s web page and read it. Because he admired the young man for his strength of character, Mr. Folger would always buy a copy of Reggy’s latest book and give it as a present to his 10 year old grandson, who became a big fan of the young writer.
Mr. Folger noted that there were only three people who ever came to see Reggy. They were Denise, a stout part Native American/ part German woman who was Reggy’s caretaker; Peter Welles, who was Reggy’s childhood friend and who was always there for Reggy, and Margaret, Reggy’s mother. Mr. Folger was always a bit uncomfortable whenever he ran into Reggy’s mother because the woman always seemed to be in a hurry and rarely spoke to anyone. That would soon change.
There was a pale blue light shining out of the small window of Reggy Marsden’s single room apartment. This light came from the screen of Reggy’s computer. Reggy tended to be somewhat of a night owl and would spend his evenings and early morning hours either working on his latest novel or just checking his e-mails. He would also g on FaceBook and laugh at cute dog pictures or commenting on political stories. Reggy could not afford a television set, so he relied on FaceBook to get his news. On weekends, his friend Peter would come over and play video games with him or help him edit the latest chapters of Reggy’s book. It was during this one night that it would have been helpful if Peter had been with Reggy, for while Reggy was enthralled with writing, he did not notice that the blue light of his computer screen was shining on an unfamiliar face peeping through his window.
Outside of Reggy Marsden’s window, a tall, husky shadow flowed back and covered some desert flowers in darkness. The shadow belonged to Eric Deets, who was an obsessed fan of Reggy’s novels. He was 19 years old, had been on his high school wrestling team, and a loner. Eric had been adopted when he was six years old, but the parents who had raised him had spent little time with him, due to their work schedules. Until he was fourteen, Eric had been under the care of babysitters. For the most part, Eric enjoyed the attention that the babysitters gave him, but he wanted the one thing that a babysitter couldn’t give him, a parent’s love. One night when Eric was twelve, Cathy Schumer, a sixteen year old girl who babysat him read a story to him. It was a story about a preteen aged boy who led some Roman soldiers into battle. The adventures of this Roman boy excited young Eric’s imagination and, it was at this point that Eric decided that he would become strong just like the boy in the story. When he entered high school, Eric enrolled in a Greco-Roman wrestling class as an addition to his regular PE class. After he was finished with his wrestling class at the end of the school day, Eric would go home, do his homework, then go on-line to read the latest chapter of his favorite author’s latest book. That author was Reggy Marsden. The masterful writing and colorful descriptions in Reggy Marsden’s books were much more exciting than anything that he saw on television or on video games. After graduating from high school, Eric decided that he just had to meet his idol. This expedition would have to be delayed for a bit when Eric’s parents told him that he would have to get a summer job if he wanted their help in buying him a car. Eric only agreed with his parents because he saw it as a way to make some spare cash for his plan. He knew what city Reggy lived in, and knowing that it was a small city, or town, Eric figured that he would be able to find out where his idol lived.
After working as a bagger at a local supermarket, Eric was able to afford a black Mountaineer. His parents were a bit surprised by their son’s choice of vehicle, but since he managed to talk the salesman into giving them a good price for it, they didn’t complain. At the end of August, Eric turned 19. He told his parents that he wanted to see some of the country before deciding on what college he would apply for. His parents told him that it was his life, now that he was legally an adult, and that they would support him in his decision. He thanked his parents and went to his bedroom, packed a suitcase, his laptop, and some items that would help him implement his plan.
Eric Deets had spent two days and nights on the road by himself on his trip to Las Cruces. He had spent a couple restless nights in cheap motels, but he felt that the object of his journey was worth a bit of inconvenience. By the time that he got into Las Cruces, the morning sun was just rising over the mountains. Eric saw the beauty of the sky and took it as a good sign that he would succeed in his mission. He pulled into the parking lot of a Burger King and went inside to order breakfast. As he sat at the table eating his sausage and eggs croissant, Eric thought about how he should proceed to implement his plan. Seeing a local newspaper left on a nearby table, Eric got up and grabbed it and took it back to his table. He scanned each page of the newspaper, hoping that there would some information that would be helpful to him in locating where Reggy Marsden lived. He had just about given up, when he noticed an advertisement for an apartment rental. Eric knew from a brief biography that he had read, that Reggy Marsden lived in an apartment and that he was disabled. The fact that Reggy Marsden was disabled was the main reason that Eric had chosen to buy a Mountaineer; it would be more comfortable for Reggy when Eric kidnapped him. Eric mentally knew that kidnapping was wrong, but he admired Reggy Marsden so much that he wanted him all to himself, at least for a little while. Eric had no plans to harm his idol, but he felt so sorry for the way that Reggy lived that he figured that he would be able to help the young writer if he could get him in a better environment. He would take Reggy to another state, get a job and support them both while Reggy would spend his time writing in a more comfortable place. Eric folded the newspaper, finished his coffee, and left the Burger King. He stopped at a gas station and bought a city map so that he could find his way to the apartment complex. The ad in the paper said that he would have to make an appointment to see the apartment and that the hours were from 9 o’clock until 5. Eric checked his watch and saw that it was 7 o.clock. He had two hours to kill before he could call and set up his appointment. Since the attendant at the gas station had given him directions on how to get to the complex, Eric decided to drive over and wait. When he found the place, he parked his car and took out a copy of Reggy’s last book, “Roman Vines”. Eric was so engrossed with the story that he lost track of time. He was startled out of his reading when then was a light tapping on his car window. He looked up from his book and saw a man with thinning hair and gray eyes standing outside of his car. Eric rolled down his window and, before he could say one word, the man asked him if he was there to see the apartment. Eric smiled and said, “yes” and got out of the car.
Mr. Folger opened the door of his office and looked out to the street. He saw a young man sitting in a black Mountaineer and decided to go over to the vehicle and see whether this stranger was there to see the apartment or out to cause trouble. Before tapping on the side window, Mr. Folger noticed that the stranger was reading a book.
“Well, I suppose if he’s reading, he can’t be out to cause trouble” he thought to himself and tapped on the window. The young man’s head jerked up from his book. His eyes blinked a few times and then a smile grew on his face. After telling the man that he was there to check out the apartment for his 80 year old grandmother, who lived in Santa Fe, Eric followed him to his office. Eric introduced himself as “Sean Fray” and that he was a student at the University of New Mexico. Mr. Folger offered “Sean” a chair and asked him if he would like a cup of coffee. Eric politely declined and patiently waited while Mr. Folger went to the kitchen to get himself a cup. When he returned, he said,
“Well, since you’re the first to show up, I guess it wouldn’t hurt to show you around.” After taking a final sip of his coffee, Mr. Folger got up, grabbed his ring of keys off a wall hook, and led “Sean” to the empty apartment.
“How many tenants do you have?” Eric asked.
“All total, 30.”
“And are they all senior citizens?”
“Well, no, I can’t say that. There is one young man who lives here but he is in a wheelchair and lives on Welfare.”
“Oh, really? He can afford the rent on Welfare?”
“Well, yes. He is on Section 8 housing, so he gets enough money to pay for his share of rent.”
“That’s good to hear.”
“Yes, well, he also manages to supplement his income with some writings that he does.”
“Oh, yes. He writes…oh, what do you call them? Oh, yeah, Young Adult novels.”
“Cool. I’m happy to hear that he uses his time productively.”
“Yep, he sure does.”
Just then, Mr. Folger stopped in front of a pale pink apartment, unlocked the door, and allowed Eric to enter. Keeping to his persona, Eric looked through the rooms, took some pictures with his Iphone, while Mr. Folger followed behind him, explaining how many square yards were in each room, and various other little facts about the apartment. Eric was not very impressed with what he saw, but smiled at Mr. Folger anyway. When they returned to the office, Mr. Folger handed Eric an application with his business card attached. Eric assured Mr. Folger that he would talk everything over with his grandmother and call him when she made her decision. As Eric was walking back too his van, he noticed that there was only one apartment with a ramp leading up to the front door. He made a note of it in his mind and got into his vehicle. He also noted that there was a6 foot adobe wall surrounding the back of the complex. He drove back to Las Cruces, got a room at a motel, and went to sleep. He wanted to be well rested when he enacted his plan.
Around 6 o’clock in the evening, Eric Deets woke up, took a shower, and went over to a local cafe to have dinner. While he was eating his cheeseburger, Eric went over his plan one more time. He was feeling a bit nervous, but recalling his calming exercises that he went through before each wrestling match, he eventually calmed down. He looked out the cafe window and saw the purple streaked clouds over a mesa, paid his bill, and returned to his motel room. He changed from his casual clothes into an all black outfit. He opened his suitcase and took out a roll of masking tape. When he was ready, he quickly put his suitcase in the back of his vehicle, locked the room door, and drove off. By the time that he got back to the apartment complex, it was dark with only some moonlight shining. Eric looked up and down the street for any traffic or people who might be outside, before parking a few car lengths away from the complex. He silently closed his car door and jogged over to the adobe wall. He, once again, looked around himself, then jumped and grabbed ahold of the wall. It did not take him much effort to get over the wall, but he froze when he hit the ground, afraid that he might have been too noisy and that someone might come out to check on the strange sound, but no one did. He landed exactly behind Reggy Marsden apartment and crept over to the window with the pale blue glow. Eric was surprised to notice that Reggy was sitting in front of his computer completely nude. Eric had not expected this little twist in his plan. He decided, “Well, if he’s nude, then I will have to stop off somewhere out in the desert and loan him some of my clothes.” Eric looked over to his left and saw a sliding glass door. He crept over to it and, to his surprise, it was unlocked. He slowly opened the door far enough for himself to slip in, then froze again to see if Reggy was alone. He saw a couch sitting beside the front door and saw that there was a stout woman laying on it. From the sounds that he could hear, the woman was asleep. Eric slowly walked over to the closed door of Reggy’s room. He put his ear to the door and only heard the click clacking of the keyboard. Before entering the room, Eric slowly peeled the masking tape to a length that he estimated would cover the author’s mouth. When he was ready, Eric slowly opened the door. Reggy started to say,
“Mom! I thought that I…”
Before Reggy could finish his sentence, he felt the masking tape cover his mouth. Reggy started to panic and twisted in his wheelchair. He didn’t get much done before he felt two strong arms lifting him from his chair and carrying him off. Eric run out to the sliding glass door carrying his twisting prize with him. Eric was also surprised at how small the guy was. He had to be less than 5 feet tall! Eric thought to himself. When Eric got to the wall, he realized that he had a problem; how was he to get Reggy Marsden over the wall!? While Eric was trying to think, Reggy was trying to escape. Reggy thought that since he apparently was shorter than his abductor, maybe he could wiggle his way out of the guy’s arms when he was distracted. “Thank God! This fool didn’t tape my eyes shut!” Reggy thought. Before Reggy could get a good look at his kidnapper, Eric saw a gate at the street side of the wall and ran towards it. He unhooked the latch, and hefting his burden over his shoulder. Headed to the Mountaineer. Fortunately for Eric, he had left the sliding back door of the vehicle unlocked so that he wouldn’t have to get the key out of his pocket while carrying the squirming naked author. At the same time as Eric got the door opened, Reggy moved around to where he found himself hanging upside down in his abductor’s arms. Eric tried to tighten his arms around Reggy’s waist so that he wouldn’t fall to the ground and hurt himself. With all of the squirming, Eric didn’t notice that the adhesive on the masking tape was giving way, and within one minute, Reggy Marsden found his mouth almost totally free of the tape. Once his mouth was free, Reggy Marsden let out the loudest scream of “Help!” that Eric had ever heard, especially from someone so small.
“Damn it! Please be quiet! I won’t hurt you, I promise! I just wanted to help you have a better life for your creativity!”
Reggy Marsden was not having anything of what Eric was trying to say. He kept on calling for help. Eric was starting to panic and was getting ready to just stuff Reggy into the van, close the door, and drive off, but, without warning, Eric’s plans fell apart and he hit the pavement. Reggy, fortunately, fell on top of him. Reggy looked up and saw his mother standing there with a frying pan clutched in one hand and a cell phone in the other. By the time that the police arrived, Mr. Folger, who was still awake and had heard Reggy’s screaming, was picking Reggy off of the ground and putting him back into his wheelchair. Eric looked over at Reggy with such a depressed expression as he was being led away by the police, that Reggy asked the police to hold on a moment. Reggy rolled up to Eric and said,
“Why did you try to kidnap me? I just write books from young people. Why me?”
Eric looked at Reggy and softly said,
“Because you were there when I needed you.”
With that, Eric was led away. Reggy’s mother walked up to him and said,
“You need to get back in and rest. You’ve had enough excitement for a while.”
Reggy looked up at his mother and said,
“Yeah, I am tired. It’s a good thing that you’re a light sleeper.”
Oct. 25, 2015
Steven J. Fritchie
Dedicated to Remmy Meggs