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Brother’s Keeper

fantasy by Tanya L. Schofield

“Nick!”

Nick tore his eyes away from the sight of the wounded bank patrons splayed screaming on the floor in puddles and streaks of blood. He focused through the leaves of the fake plant they had made him hide behind, his gaze settling on his brother’s hand outstretched towards him.

Jeremy wore a silver ring with a black square on it on his thumb and there was a scar on his knuckle from when he had punched out Anthony in the fifth grade even though Anthony was older and taller and stronger than him.

“Nick!” Jeremy finally grabbed Nick’s hand, spurring him into motion, and the two of them fled.

“You’re blooding, Remy.”

Nick could see the dark red soaking through Jeremy’s shirt in the back, and a ragged hole in the fabric, and he knew that whenever he cut himself bad enough to make blood it always made him cry, but Jeremy wasn’t crying.

“Does it hurt, Remy?”

“Not bad,” Jeremy assured him, leading him through several hallways and out the bank’s rear “Employees Only” door.

Once free of the brick building, they ran directly into the nearby trees, disappearing into the undergrowth while the sounds of sirens approached. Pine Hill Community Bank had been built with an eye towards the environment and very few trees had been cleared for its construction, so the bank itself sat amidst endless green.

”I’m going to get you out of this,“ Jeremy said.

The sirens of the cruisers flooding the bank parking lot were deafening, but urgent shouting voices still drifted through the trees to them. Jeremy cursed under his breath. He picked up speed, pulling Nick beside him.

”The people were blooding, too. Even your friends. “

Jeremy nodded, leading his brother over fallen tree trunks as fast as he would go.

”I know,“ he said. ”Nick, you have to go faster.“

”You were supposed to bring James and David and Samuel when you left,“ Nick said, looking back over his shoulder and tripping over a root. ”I remember the plan, Remy. You told me to remember it and I did. You all were going to scare the bank people and get some money and I had to stay hiding but no one was supposed to bleed. You said. I remember.“

”I know, Nick. But things went wrong, okay? Now you have to remember a new plan.“

”Okey dokey.“

Nick reached in his pocket for his notepad, stumbling because Jeremy was still pulling him through the woods.

”I have to write it,“ he insisted, digging in his heels. ”Stop, I can’t remember if I don’t write it!“

”Hush up and move!“ Jeremy scolded, glaring as he yanked on Nick’s hand, and Nick felt hot tears stinging his eyelids. ”We don’t have time.“

Nick sniffled, nodding and wiping his nose with the back of his hand.

”Don’t be mad to me, Remy, please? I’ll do my best to remember, I promise.“

Jeremy paused, tipping his head to listen.

”What should I remember?“ Nick asked.

”You have to get out of here,“ Jeremy said, his face stony. ”You have to go to Tennessee, and find Aunt Sarah.“ Nick frowned.

”Tennessee? But you said we weren’t wanted there, Remy.

Jeremy turned them to the left, and continued through the woods with Nick in tow.

”Not we, Nicky. You. Aunt Sarah will take you in.“

”But I live with you, Remy. We live in the little house by the railroad tracks–“ Jeremy cut him off.

”Nicky! Do as I say. You have to be on the next train.“

”My suitcase and clothes and toothbrush are in my room, Remy.“

Jeremy sighed.

”I’ll give you some money for new things,“ he said, leading them down the steep hill across the street from the train station. ”There are shops in Tennessee, Aunt Sarah will take you.“

”Why can’t you come?“ Nick’s voice was close to a wail and he was blinking back tears. ”I don’t want to go alone!“

”I know, Nicky. But you have to be brave for me, okay? Take this.“

Nick looked at the five twenty dollar bills clenched in his fist, and shoved it in his pocket, still sniffling.

”Go inside,” Jeremy said. ‘They’ll help you with the ticket. You can call Aunt Sarah when you get there.“

”How?“

”Just ask for help,“ Jeremy said, smiling to keep Nick from crying. ”Tell them you need to call Sarah Callahan, all right? Can you remember?“

”Callahan,“ Nick repeated. ”Callahan.“

Jeremy nodded.

”Go,“ he said, releasing his baby brother’s hand. ”Go.“

”You’re still blooding.“ Nick didn’t move.

”I’ll be fine, Nicky. I’m already fine. Tell Sarah — tell her I’m sorry I couldn’t bring you, all right?“ Nick nodded.

”I can remember that,“ he said. ”Tennessee, Callahan, Remy’s sorry. Right?“

”Right,“ Jeremy said. ”Go on, Nicky. It’s okay.“

#

Nick went down the hill, looked both ways before he crossed the street. He dutifully went to the ticket counter at the train station because Jeremy had told him to.

The girl at the counter helped Nick buy a ticket to Tennessee, told him to sit on the bench until the loudspeaker said it was time to board, and then she went back to watching the news.

The local bank had been robbed that morning and it had been a bloodbath. The reporter said police were looking at it as an inside job because one hundred dollars was missing, even though the bag with the cash was still at the bank and every robber had been shot and killed by a heroic security guard.

The camera was trained on the bodies hidden under tarps.

One robber’s arm stuck out from under the cover and the camera zoomed in on the curled fingers, and then on the silver ring with the square black stone on the thumb.

Bored, the girl switched over to The Price is Right.

Copyright October 2009 by Tanya L. Schofield

Tanya L. Schofield lives in central Georgia. She blogs about writing at Blogging in the Dark.

[Return to the October 2009 stories]

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6 Responses

  1. Nice twist at the end!

  2. I like the visual of the silver thumb ring with the black square. There’s something about it that just …sticks and it’s disturbing as well. Dialogue is well done too. Thanks for a great read!

  3. Whoa mama. I like that. The ending is killer.

  4. […] Brother’s Keeper […]

  5. Especially nice to see a crime/psychology/character story told through a child’s POV. Enjoyable and memorable.

  6. I really liked this one, although I didn’t think Nick was a child – I thought that Nick and Jeremy had more of a Of Mice and Men kind of brotherhood.

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