Author Charlie Richards
A Jared tale - non-erotic
“I’ll be fine!”
He’d assured his family of that when he’d left for college last fall.
Jared shook his head and glanced around at the night. Of course, rain would fall early. He shouldn’t have left the Wednesday night study group, but he’d been tired. He’d stayed up too late the night before researching new hacking methods. He enjoyed the power the ability to manipulate information gave him.
Hefting the tire iron, he kicked the flat tire. “What a pain,” he grumbled.
A scream cut through the evening air. Jared slowly straightened, straining his ears. The thud of a fist connecting against flesh sent him sprinting down the sidewalk. What he’d do when he reached the woman hadn’t occurred to him, yet. He spotted a pair in the shadows and stopped short.
For a split second, he thought he’d stumbled upon a couple who couldn’t wait to get home. But the woman’s struggling banished the thoughts. She twisted from side to side in the tall, wiry man’s grip, trying to break free. Her whimpering finally broke through Jared’s surprise.
Hefting the tire iron he still carried, Jared squinted through the gloom and rain. “Let her go!”
The other man looked up, obviously surprised to find someone else on the wet street. His grin turned feral as he looked toward Jared and shoved the woman away. Losing her balance, she tripped over a tree root and fell. Jared flinched when he heard her head bounce off the sidewalk. She didn’t move.
The attacker strode toward Jared. The rain seemed to distort his form, making the man look larger than he probably was. Jared’s hands tightened on the tire iron, and he swung the metal at the oncoming form. The bent end, meant to grasp the lug nut, connected with the guy’s forehead. The attacker stumbled back, a look of shock on his face. A street light half a block away reflected the glazed look in the man’s eyes as blood dribbled down his forehead.
A strange, giddy feeling of euphoria swept through Jared. An amused smile curved his lips when he saw the other man stagger. Letting the smile stretch into a grin, Jared giggled. He swung the iron again and again and again. He stopped when the man lay unmoving on the sidewalk at his feet.
The rain came down in earnest now, dripping in his eyes, blurring his vision. His chest heaving, Jared stood over the other man’s prone form. A laugh bubbled up from his chest to be swallowed by the sound of the pounding rain. He watched blood ooze from the body’s head, arms, and chest, to be washed away by the rain and into a storm drain ten feet down the street.
Slowly, the feeling dissipated. Rain soaked his body, chilling him. Panic flooded him. “Oh, my God,” he whispered. His gaze swept from the man at his feet to the woman sprawled half on and half off the sidewalk five feet away. Dropping the tire iron, he went to her and felt for a pulse. Relief coursed through him when he felt the steady rhythm of blood pumping through her veins. Shaking her gently, he saw her eyelids flutter.
Her unfocused gaze slid over him. “Help me,” she whispered before passing back out.
“What to do? What to do?” He bounced uncertainly on his toes, releasing adrenaline fueled energy.
Several seconds ticked by as he watched the water flow over the tire iron, washing away the blood. Making a snap decision, he strode to the sewer grate and yanked up the cover. He dragged the body of the attacker to the hole and dropped him down, hearing a splash below his feet. He left the tire iron on the sidewalk, letting the rainwater continue to clean the tool turned weapon.
Returning to the woman, he felt for a pulse again. It remained steady. Jared scanned the streets around him, and he spotted a light in the window of a house down the road. He sloshed through puddles as he ran down and across the street. Pounding on the door, he shouted, “Hey! I need help! There’s been an attack! Hey! Wake up in there!”
The porch light flipped on, and he lifted a hand and squinted against the sudden illumination. “What do you want?” he heard through the door.
“Call nine-one-one. A woman got attacked.”
Someone on the inside wrenched the door open. “What?”
Lowering his hand, he wiped the water from his eyes and stared at the short, balding man in the doorway. “A woman got attacked. Call nine-one-one!” He pointed down the street. He could just make out the unconscious woman’s form through the pounding rain. “Just there. She needs an ambulance!”
The man frowned, looking in the direction he pointed. “Okay, okay.” He turned around and lumbered out of view.
Jared paused, uncertain what to do now. The man reappeared in the doorway, portable phone in hand. He spoke to someone. “Yes. A woman’s been attacked. Hold on.” He put his hand over the speaker and asked, “Is she alive?”
Nodding, he said, “She was a minute ago, but she hit her head on the sidewalk.”
“And her attacker?”
He hesitated for only a second. “I hit him with my tire iron, and he ran off.” He glanced back toward the woman. “I’m going back to her. Tell them to hurry.”
Without waiting for a response, he stepped off the porch back into the pouring rain and ran across the street. He felt the man’s eyes on his back but refused to turn. When he reached the woman, she lay exactly as he’d left her. Fear shot through him when he felt her cold skin. Her pulse had become erratic. He sat down next to her and pulled her head into his lap. His fingers came away sticky with blood. Taking off his jacket, he wrapped it around her shoulders. Even wet, maybe it would help against the chill that seemed to permeate her body.
He looked up and down the street, holding his hand under her head to try to staunch the blood. The rain made the normally sticky substance ooze between her hair and his fingers. “Damn ambulance. Where are you?”
Although probably only a few minutes passed before he heard the wail of the first sirens, it felt like an eternity. Flashing lights appeared through the haze of the slackening rain. Two cop cars and an ambulance stopped on the street in front of him. Uniformed men poured from the vehicles. Seconds later, a medic lifted the young woman from his lap, and a police officer dragged him to his feet.
Panic hit him again, and he couldn’t seem to understand anything that they said. His breath came in ragged gasps. He could hear his blood rushing in his ears. It sounded like white noise, blotting out everything else. One of the men, a tall, muscular fellow with a commanding air, led him to the passenger side of a squad car and helped him inside. He wrapped a dry towel around his shoulders.
A light was flashed into his eyes, blinding him. “He’s in shock.”
“No wonder. Look at the blood on him.”
“Just breathe, son. It’s all right.”
Jared heard the words, frowning in confusion. Finally, the tightness in his chest eased. He blinked, his gaze flicking over the faces of the officer and the medic still standing in the rain. “Is she all right?”
“She’ll be fine, son. Thanks to you. Nothing a few stitches and good night’s rest won’t cure.” The medic nodded to the officer and headed back toward the waiting ambulance.
he officer’s words drew his attention back to him. “What’s your name?” After Jared told the man his name and address, he asked, “Can you tell me what happened?”
He nodded, his voice coming out flat and emotionless. “I got a flat tire on the way home from a study group. I was fixing it when I heard a scream.” He paused, reliving the moment. Forcing the sound of her cry from his mind, he explained, “I ran toward the sound and saw her struggling to get away from some guy. I told him to let her go. He shoved her away from him, then started toward me. She fell and hit her head on the sidewalk. When he reached for me, I hit him with the tire iron.” His gaze strayed to the sidewalk where he’d dropped the piece of steel. “He stumbled, then ran away, so I went to the girl. She opened her eyes for a second but passed back out.” He shivered, remembering her strangled words. “I ran across the street, got some guy to call nine-one-one, then came back.” He stared down at his still bloody hands. Blood covered his shirt and pants as well, showing where he’d pulled her head into his lap.
“There’s so much blood,” he whispered. “I want to go home,” he mumbled. “Look.” He thrust his hands toward the officer. “I need to clean up.”
The officer squeezed his shoulder reassuringly. “I’ll have someone take you home shortly. First, can you tell me what the other man looked like?”
Jared drew his brows into a frown as he thought about the man he’d beaten. “He was six feet tall, lean. It was dark,” his voice trailed off for a second. “I’m not certain, but I think he had brown hair. His eyes appeared dark. Hollow eyes,” he added in a whisper.
“Which direction did he go?”
He turned in his seat, trying to get his bearings. He noticed that the rain had slackened to a light drizzle. “That way. Between those houses,” he lied, pointing.
The officer spoke into the radio attached to his shoulder, but Jared had already zoned out. “Come on, son,” the man said. “We’ll take you to your dorm.”
A half hour later, he stood in the shower. The hot water slowly eased the chill from his limbs. Did I really just take a life? The realization that he’d just killed for someone he didn’t know had a high-pitched cackle escaping his lips. Would the police find out? They weren’t looking for a body, right?
He pulled on a pair of sweat pants and a long-sleeved shirt, then curled up under every spare blanket he could find. Sleep claimed him before any of his roommates made it in.
The next morning, his heroic actions were on the news. The woman was awake and talking. She’d named him her savior and wanted to thank him personally for coming to her rescue. He found out she was a best-selling author, who’d been on her way home from a book signing at a college bookstore. She only lived a couple miles and had decided to walk. The signing had lasted later than she’d anticipated.
Jared spent two hours at the hospital, most of that time with the cops, answering more questions. He remembered everything he’d told them last night and built on those answers. When he arrived back at his dorm, he found three messages on his phone. One from his parents, and one each from his sisters.
Biting back a sigh, he ran a slender hand through his short brown hair, then over what he knew was a pale face. His sisters constantly told him to get out from behind his computer and into the sun more, but he never listened. Computers fascinated him. If he wanted to, he could hack into the school system and change his grades without anyone being the wiser. He was that good.
Shrugging the tension from his shoulders, he picked up the phone and returned their calls. He assured everyone that it was just like standing up to bullies back home, and he’d had the aide of the tire iron. Thinking about it, he realized he’d have to pick up a new one, since the police had kept his. As he listened to his older sister’s frets, he made a mental list of who’d be willing to accept a few bucks to run him to the hardware store and then to his car. Answering in all the right ways, he managed to get all three calls done in less than an hour. He still felt drained.
Glancing at the clock, he saw that he had just enough time for a nap before his afternoon class. Gratefulness filled him that he didn’t have classes Thursday mornings.
All weekend, wherever Jared went, friends patted him on the back and asked him to regale them with the tale. The weekend consisted of one big party. Monday morning, he tried to focus on his teacher through blood-shot eyes and a headache. Her lecture seemed to make the pounding in his head worse. Between classes, he managed a short nap.
On his way back to his dorm from his last class, Jared picked up the mail. His curiosity piqued when he saw a letter from the woman he’d rescued. Sitting at his computer, he opened it and found a check for ten thousand dollars tucked between the folds of a heartfelt thank-you letter. His eyes widened as his jaw sagged open.
Once the initial shock wore off, his brain started kicking out ideas. How could he keep getting checks like these? What would he need to do…need to learn?
The more he thought about it, the more an idea formed.
Jared realized his life was about to dramatically change.