Horizon Highway

Horizon Highway

by J. D. Walthall


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Richie, Todd, Angello, and Kevin do everything together; they believe they'll be friends forever. One summer, they come up with what seems to be a great idea-they'll build a clubhouse, a hidden one! It would be the highlight of their summer vacation. Unfortunately something goes wrong-seriously wrong-and one of the boys loses his life.

The rest of the boys are forced to make a decision that will ultimately cost them more than just their friendship; their souls are at stake. They cover up the accident and its terrible aftermath, trying to move on with their lives. But the very thing that drives them apart brings them back together to face each other as adults, to confront the terrible secret that they have all been forced to keep.

There's no running away this time; they must face the ramifications of their actions of long ago. Before they can move on with their lives, they must accept responsibility for their actions and find the forgiveness that they need.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781450236461
Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
Publication date: 06/30/2010
Pages: 316
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.71(d)

About the Author

J. D. Walthall, currently a resident of Albany, New York, is a writer because it allows him to express his thoughts. He was born and raised in West Babylon, New York. His life journey has taken him to some unexpected places, but those experiences have made him the man he is today. This is his first novel.

First Chapter

Horizon Highway

By J.D. Walthall

iUniverse, Inc.

Copyright © 2010 J.D. Walthall
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4502-3646-1

Chapter One

It was well after 10:00am in the morning and Todd was out cold, hard asleep with his sheets hanging half way off his bed by his feet and his arm dangling over the side. He had another late night with his brother Craig, hanging out well past his bed time and engaging in wrongful acts. His mother, Shirley, worked the late shift again, at Good Samaritan Hospital where she was a certified nurse's aide

Craig eagerly anticipated his mother working late night shifts, it wasn't because he enjoyed babysitting his little brother or the fact that his mother was entrusting him with the authority to handle the household affairs in her absence. He saw it as an opportunity to beat on Todd and get away with it and more important, to invite friends over to drink alcohol and smoke marijuana. He had even been fortunate enough to get his girlfriend over a few times and spend some intimate sessions with her on the living room couch.

Craig didn't realize the pain and fear he inflicted upon Todd, not that it would have mattered, he was merely doing it to make him tough, so he wouldn't be a punk. He liked it when Todd tried to fight back even though he knew he was just going to get hit harder and he was in a no win situation. He remembered the times when Todd used to cry and run off to tell their mother and he would feel embarrassed by his little brother. That infuriated him and it caused him to beat on Todd harder. Todd eventually caught on to his brother's methodology after countless painful encounters with Craig. When he eventually fought back out of pure frustration and desperation Craig surprisingly eased up on him, all though he still beat on him, it wasn't as hard or as fierce, and he smiled upon him with a look of pride in his eyes that a father gives his son.

"Git up boy! You gonna sleep all day. Mommies about to git up soon and you know she's gonna know you was up all night if you still sleeping this late."

"My head hurts though."

"Nobody told you to try and hang with the big boys. I told you to go to bed, but no! You wanna stay up and act grown, now git up boy. Now!"

"But I don't feel good Craig, my head hurts bad."

As Todd was talking, tears began to swell in the corners of his eyes and he put his hands over his face in an attempt to hide the tears but Craig caught a glance.

"I know you ain't crying? You little bitch! I swear, if you tell mommy you was drinking last night I'm a kill you! Now git your punk ass out that bed and get dressed!" As Craig was terrorizing Todd he reached down, grabbed him by his arm, and yanked him up straight to a sitting position. Todd had a grimaced look on his face and he wanted to scream out in protest due to the pain in his arm but he dared not. He knew the pain he was feeling at that moment was minimal as compared to the pain he would feel if he yelled out and alarmed his mother.

Todd didn't want the situation to escalate so he pulled his arm free, walked over to the closet and grabbed some pants that were lying on the floor and put them on. He said, "I'm not gonna say nothing to mommy! I'm a git in trouble too, stupid ass!" He had to say something bold, to save face and restore some confidence. Craig walked out the room after pausing and giving him one last threatening look to let him know he was serious.

Todd put on a t-shirt, then grabbed some socks off the floor and put them on too. He went over and sat down on the bed and held his head between his hands and squeezed pressure to his forehead. He couldn't believe how his head was pounding. Last night was the first time he had ever drunk as much as he did. Usually he had only a cup or two and he felt the sensations of his whole body buzzing and tingling all over. Craig and his friends purposely made him drink well over his two cup limit, to get him drunk for their amusement. They all sat around watching him guzzle it down cup by cup. They laughed at him as he made a spectacle of himself walking into things and speaking gibberish.

He got up and went into the bathroom, then opened the medicine cabinet, which was usually well stocked since his mother worked at a hospital. He grabbed a bottle of aspirin, took out two then placed them in his mouth. He turned on the water, cupped his hands together, and then filled them with water. He washed down the aspirin, then lowered his head to the sink and splashed water in his face a couple of times then rubbed it in. He grabbed his toothbrush and began brushing his teeth. His mother was constantly on their case about the importance of good hygiene and he knew she would ask him if he washed up and brushed his teeth as soon as she saw him.

He walked into the kitchen and grabbed his red bowl to make some cereal. Craig had eaten already; he knew this because he saw his blue bowl in the sink. No one ate out of each other's bowl in his house, it was taboo. He sat down and began to eat. The throbbing of his head had slowly begun to subside and suddenly he remembered the days agenda. It was an important day for him and the fellas. It was the day they had been planning since winter. They had all the essential materials and proper weather conditions to finally go ahead and put their plan into action. Todd was very careful not to mention a word of it to Craig because he knew with just a simple slip of the tongue he could put the whole project in jeopardy. All of them were careful not to mention a word of what was to take place on this day, no matter how excited or anxious they were. They were actually putting the mental pictures they conceived in their minds into a physical reality. Todd's thoughts were overwhelming him and he couldn't help but eat his breakfast faster and with a big smile.

Shirley was getting up from a short, but well appreciated sleep. She wasn't a sleeper, she could be on her feet all day and be content with a mere four hours or so of rest then she was up and running again. She loved her job and the pride she took in her work was evident to the rest of the hospital staff and the patients under her care. Something about helping people brought joy to her heart and it was what she felt, kept her sane. Her job was the balancing mechanism in her world.

She was a single mother of two. Her son's father was involved in their lives and also helped her out financially. He also supported her when it came to disciplining them and a moral supporter. Her children were an occasional problem, especially Craig, but that was to be expected with kids. Her problems were personal, things that she had to deal with on another level. Her love life was a mess, she didn't have a steady boyfriend, but she did date on and off due to her friend Linda who was constantly playing match maker at her dispense. She also played with the thought of someday getting back together with her son's father, whom she was still in love with but knew it wasn't mutual and it probably wasn't ever going to happen. He was remarried and had two other children with his new wife. She felt she didn't spend enough time with her sons and they were growing up so fast that at times she felt she didn't even know them anymore. Especially Todd, he was already ten years old and he was hardly home anymore. She knew that when he got into his teens she would hardly see him at all, like Craig.

Shirley would have moments when she would see her life flash before her eyes. Working in the hospital and seeing patients being admitted in severe conditions overcoming death, or even worse, not making it out of the hospital made death a natural aspect of her life. Especially the violence that brought so many young black males to the emergency room from gun shot wounds or street violence. Being a mother of two young boys always invoked a fear in her that one day she might see one of her own children being wheeled into the emergency room on a bloody stretcher. It made her reflect on her own life and the relationship she shared with her boys. Time was so precious. She wanted more for her children. She wanted them to have a chance for a better life. She wanted her own life to be better also, with a good descent man by her side and a positive male role model around her boys. She just didn't know how to get it all.

Shirley came out of the bathroom after performing her morning duties then headed straight for the kitchen to get her morning cup of coffee. Todd was still there finishing off his bowl of cereal by lifting it high in the air and pouring the excess milk down his throat.

"Hello young man," she said, like Todd was ignoring her.

"Hi!" Todd said plainly. He got up, threw his bowl in the sink and ran into the living room to watch television with Craig. Shirley wasn't at all disappointed by the fact that it was obvious he didn't feel like talking, she knew she was powerless over Saturday morning cartoons; she prepared her coffee and joined them in the living room. She said good morning to Craig and he gave her an indifferent look, as to say, "What's gotten into you this morning, now you wanna be nice?" He gave her a wave of the hand then continued watching the screen.

Shirley said, "I'm going to the mall later this afternoon, do you two want to come?" She was trying to spend time with them besides in the house.

"No, not me," Craig said, "I got something to do later and I'll be gone all day, Todd can go with you."

"I don't wanna go!" demanded Todd, "I'm going over Richie's house today."

"You always go over his house! You can go with her!"

"I can't! We're doing something important today and I gotta be there!"

"Like what?"

"Something! That's what. I'm not going! You go idiot!"

They were rambling on, disregarding that fact that Shirley was in the room and it was clear to her that neither one of them wanted to spend the day with her. She could have insisted on it and made them, but she didn't.

"Will you two be quiet for a minute? Neither one of you have to come with me, I'll go by myself or I'll just take Linda with me. Todd I want you home by dinner time, and Craig you better not stay out too late because you know I don't like you in those streets."

"I won't be in the streets, I'm going over Steph's house, and then Mark is coming by later to pick us up to go to the movies."

"I'll be home before dinner mommy; we're just going to play basketball and video games."

Both their stories were partially true. They only told her the part she needed to know, the other part was what she didn't want to hear.

Chapter Two

"Mah! Mah!" Kevin called out awkwardly in the tone of a loud whisper. The young boy shook his mother's shoulder on edge. He wanted her attention but at the same time, he was reluctant to awaken her from her sleep. He eyed her with caution, like a gazelle in sight of a hungry lion, on his toes and ready to scurry. Kevin knew all to well of his mother's testy morning episodes. "Mah! Get up," he said again giving her a slight nudge.

Kevin's mother turned over slowly emerging from a fetal position, stretching out her limbs; she rolled over to lie flat on her back and doing so as if she were in great pain. Her eyes were shut and her brow was pinched tightly as though she was straining to see something in the dark. Without her uttering a single word, Kevin knew she was irritated, and all of a sudden, his reason for waking her did not seem so important anymore. With her eyes still closed, she sucked her teeth, took a deep breath inhaled through flared nostrils and exhaled through clenched teeth and said, "How many times have I told you not to wake me up! I swear to God you are going to make me hurt you boy! I will get up when I am ready to get up ... not when you are ready for me to get up! Do you understand me?" Kevin just stood by quietly; patiently awaiting his mother's closing threats. He knew from experience to keep his mouth shut during the times when his mother was upset with him.

When she finally finished her scolding, Kevin quickly blurted out, "Mah, I wanna go over to Richie's house, can I go?" After a long pause, she rolled back over to her side annoyed, pulled her blanket over her head and yet another thirty second delay, retorted with,

"No! Now get out of my room and close my door before I beat your little ass and you won't go no where for the rest of your natural born life!"

Kevin acted out his crocodile tears and moseyed along dragging his feet even though his mother was buried underneath her covers and uninterested in the scene he was playing out before her. He knew if he spoke up now she would stand firm on her words, so he decided to let her get the last word then let her sleep on it. Hopefully she would awaken with a change of heart. Usually after she was well rested and had her morning cigarette she was a completely different person. It was a little after eight in the morning so he knew that he was in for a delay of at least three to four more hours. Knowing it was the weekend Kevin figured she probably just got in the house only a few hours earlier.

Kevin went into the kitchen and pulled out a chair from under the kitchen table. He brought it over to the side of the counter and stood on it to scan the high cabinets for something to eat. He knew his mother hadn't gone shopping yet and there wasn't going to be anything new in stock, but his hunger got the best of him and caused him to stoop to desperate measures. There was nothing but a few canned goods all dressed in the same white labels with "no-frills" insignia on them. He jumped down from the chair and went into the refrigerator, but was equally disappointed. A half gallon of milk, a bowl of leftover macaroni, a few cans of beer and some little things here and there. The freezer had some frozen meats and, of course, a block of government cheese and a couple of bricks of government butter. On a good day Pat would fry him some chicken and cook some rice-a-roni, which was Kevin's favorite. But on a regular day she would just cook a -meager meal like: macaroni-n-cheese, pot-pies or fish sticks. Quick yet efficient. At least once a month, when pat got her check, he would get treated to some fast food.

Kevin resorted to his, when all else fails cabinet, next to the sink. One thing his mother always made available to him was cold cereal. There was always cereal for him to eat when he was hungry, whether it was for breakfast, lunch, or just a snack. He was not allowed to handle the stove and his mother was hardly around to cook for him, so she bought plenty of cereal and other aliments that he could prepare on his own, like: cold cuts, sandwich spreads and junk food.

Kevin made himself a big bowl of Frosted Flakes, walked into the living room and turned on the television set. It was almost impossible to get a clear picture with their 13" black and white T.V with no cable. After toying around with the antenna for about five minutes Kevin was satisfied with the semi-distorted picture of Looney Tunes before him. He laid down a foot from the T.V screen on his stomach with his bowl in front of him, stuffing his mouth and dripping milk on the floor in front of him.

A two family structure was where Pat and Kevin called home. It was modest in size and furnishings. The neighborhood in which they lived was in destitute. It was a wasteland infested with crime, drugs and poverty. It was a tough area to live in but they got along well with their counterparts. They, like everyone else, were just trying to get by and make a life for themselves in the place they called home.

Chapter Three

It was 83 and the crack epidemic was sweeping through the lower income neighborhoods. Crack cocaine was the new high and it was growing in popularity. Kevin lived right off the main drag which made it a prime location for quick stop and go transactions, crime and violence. The supply was plentiful. The demand was steadily increasing. Crack was a goldmine and everyone wanted a piece of the action, whether for profits or for pleasure.

Kevin cleared the area in front of the court, kicking the garbage about with his foot so he could prepare to shoot free-throws. It was a make shift court the neighborhood kids put up which consisted of a small piece of warped weather beaten plywood for a backboard and an old milk crate with its bottom cut out to act as a rim. It wasn't regulation height, it was a little lower making it easier for the exhibitionist to dunk the ball, but it was close enough to play good competitive games on and they did just that. In the neighborhood, if a real basketball rim was put up, it would be gone by the following morning. Kevin didn't care much for the court but the parks were too far for walking and he loved basketball so dearly that the crate was suffice for its purpose.


Excerpted from Horizon Highway by J.D. Walthall Copyright © 2010 by J.D. Walthall. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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