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Jason - Mimi Carmen

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There are things that can be changed and things that cannot. He who made the lamb, also made the tiger.

Dear Mum and Pops,

That Satan gang's after me all the time to join them, but now that I'm straight, I tell them to get off the crack shit. Say, can you give me an advance on my allowance? I'm going up to South Mountain for a few days with some of my friends. Thanks for the skates. I'm going to win the National Skateboard contest someday.

Your loving son, Jason


Dear Mum and Pops,

The reason I got this two year sentence, was so funny I crack up every time I think of it. I needed money. You two kicked me out, so I hung around bars and drank all the time. This one night everyone leaves the bar, the lights go dim and there's just me. I need one more drink, Jesus, just one more. If I don't, I won't sleep again.

I fumble in my pockets and pull out an old lottery ticket, and a Kleenex. I know Harry wont put any more on my tab. He likes me, and he knows I never deal there, too risky, but, hell if he trusted every one, he'd be out of business, wouldn't he? Nobody's around, so I go to the cash drawer, pull it open and there's the whole damned cash from the night laying right there. I stuff it in my pocket and ease out the door.

That's when the shit hits the fan. The lights go on, a noise starts that they'd hear all the way to Ross Park and I know I'm in deep shit. Woooooeeeeeee. My God, I never heard anything like it. Well I know that bar district pretty well, so I climb up the back steps of the first building I see. I can hear them pounding after me, so I run around the back, up the stairs and shimmy up to the roof.

Its a good flat roof so I run, and I'm getting pretty sober by now. I can hear them coming, and they've got the god damned dogs with them yipping and yapping and sniffing all over the place. So I jump from that roof to the next roof. I'm panting by now, because I'm way out of shape from booze and no exercise and too many pizzas, but I hit the next roof, and the next.

They wouldn't have me yet, except, after a while, I hear them closing in, coming at me from both ways, the dogs panting and yipping their heads off, the pissers. Eight cops got me up there on that roof and sat on me and pulled out their clubs and beat the shit out of me. I struggled and pushed at them and hollered I wanted my lawyer. But every time I got up they pushed me down and beat at me with those clubs 'til I finally fell back and couldn't move. But I gave them a good chase.

Your loving son, Jason

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Dear Mum and Pops,

If you let me work for you, there's a program called Work Release where I can stay with you for five days and just go back to THAT place for week ends. Let me know.

Your loving son, Jason.


"Hi, Pops, Hi, Mum, Jason, here. I'm at the bus station. Don't bother picking me up. You'll see me soon enough."


It was morning....the morning. It was garbage day and the men threw the cans and bags, and laughed and told jokes, and made a clatter. Henry Davis shut off the answering machine, and Jason's voice. For his part, he could close the book of Jason, never open it again, and find peace. But he worried about his wife, Rita. There was a bond she had with Jason she would not or could not let go.

"Who was it, hon?" Rita said. They were in their office to plan and organize the day before it rolled over them. Her hairdresser had styled her hair a new way, shorter, with streaks through the blond. Her navy suit was short. She had good legs, slim hips, high heels that clicked across the floor when she walked. So far the diabetes hadn't affected her eyes. They were sharp blue, direct, and usually smiling, except at times like this.

He stood at the window. Court street glistened in the morning haze, wet from an early rain. He put his hands together, made his fingers touch, then he squeezed them into fists. It was the loyalty thing that got in the way. But he knew where he stood with it. No matter what, he thought, I've cut the cord.

She came straight over and put her arms around him. "Jason?"
He nodded, his shoulders' usual military-straight bearing, hunched over now, his forehead wrinkled, his fifty odd years sat on him heavy and unyielding. He hadn't slept much last night. Even the new vitamins hadn't helped.

"You think we re doing the right thing, Rita?"
"No...yes, I don't know. I miss him, his laugh."
"Remember he woudn't work, even at Mac Donald's. The police, the times we called 911, the schools couldn't handle him, the notes he left? In one he swore he'd kill us, remember that? Every time he got busted, it was our fault."
"Henry, you've been kind. He can stand a good fight better than kindness. That's the problem."

Jason Rewrite
Part 2

It felt like yesterday when Henry and Rita Davis started looking to adopt, but actually it was just ten years.
"What do you do for a living?" the doctor asked?
"We both were Philosophy professors in the University, but now we sell vitamins."
"Excuse me... vitamins?"
"Dr. Wentz' program. Have you heard of it? It saves lives. Rita's diabetes made us look into it."

Yes, this one part of the interview kept them on some kind of a list of questionable employment problems on the adoption list, Henry thought, and no matter how many times they explained Rita was a severe diabetic, the university life was stressful, they wanted more time for their music, for books, for living, the doctors all took on the look.
The gynecologist, a large man in a gray suit and a red bow-tie, peered over his half glasses, his words came out little silver bullets, "Mrs. Davis, you have severe diabetes. You could die, leave a helpless child without a mother. We always think of the baby first."

Rita kept her secrets to herself. If she told anyone, even her vegetarian crowd about her baby, the baby she carried a picture of in her mind, the innocence would all be spoiled. The purity of the vision would disappear, though Henry didn't care, and added a few of his own ideas. Let everyone think they had a screw lose. They wanted a baby, a little late maybe, but any more people did things later.

She began buying tiny baby bibs, and dresses with pink streamers, a rattle, a tiny wicker carriage she found at an antique show. She pictured a girl she could talk to, dress up in little girl ruffles, and jeans, cuddle and help.
Henry bought a child's baseball suit, some hedge clippers, a new electric lawn mower. He wanted a boy to help keep the lawns up, play ball, talk about astrology.


The adoption agencies could find a baby, they said, but Henry and Rita had to be patient. "But don't give up. The main thing is to be patient."


"I think we may have a baby for you soon," Mr. Ingraham said. "But we have to wait and see."
He gave the little laugh they were getting wary of. Mr. Ingraham knew all about their desire for a baby, a tiny baby they could snuggle and hug.

He sat in front of a mahogany desk with sun falling across his face. He leaned closer as he talked to them. Of course, he understood. But now the agency had run through every country's supply of babies. Even the Chinese had rules.
"And they do check the family for any serious problems... your diabetes, your ages, your insecure jobs could leave the baby, your own little baby without a mother..."

It s sort of hush, hush, Henry's friend told him. Oh, nothing really under the table, just an agency nobody's discovered yet, so there are babies still available. Rita and Henry looked at each other.

"Can you tell us more about the baby," Rita said to the man at the new agency, a Mr. Duncan.
"Well, he's not exactly a baby. He's six to be exact."
"You see what we wanted was a tiny baby to cuddle," Henry said.
"This little boy is only six, and small for his age, " Mr. Ingraham said, "and extremely bright. Yes, a fine child who had a bad, rotten life to begin with," he shook his head, and wiped his glasses. "What some of these kids go through," he said.
"I suppose we could look at him maybe," Rita said.

They didn't actually care what he was so far as color, they explained carefully to Mr. Ingraham, they weren't prejudiced. Mr. Ingraham produced a picture of a small Caucasian boy smiling into the camera, in a baseball hat and sitting straight; the kind of a kid they'd be happy to show off to their friends.

They met Jason on the playground after watching him first from a distance. With black, curly hair, round, sparkling, blue eyes, and white, even teeth, he was a robust child, but with a smile to make the angels sing. He smiled now, and shook hands with Henry and called Rita, Mrs. Davis.
Rita, smiled back and hugged him to her. That night Henry and Rita snuggled together and thought of dozens of names for their boy child.

They called him Jason. Of course, Jason was his given name anyway, but it suited him, they thought. Besides, he was six years old already, and used to the name. Except, when they got home, he seemed bigger, broader shouldered, older than six, and it turned out he was at least nine years old. At least.
But he was already their little boy and nobody could help the things going on today, could they? What can you expect, Henry told Rita going over Jason's records, vague because he'd been left at a party one night when everybody got drunk. The records left gaps of age, and biological parents, but that didn't really matter, because Jason had a flair, an answer for everything, an eagerness that more than made up for any old statistics. It's the child himself that counts, isn't it?

At first he obeyed the tiny rules they set up for him, just barely rules, not strict do-this-or-do-that-or-else kind of rules to bother, because they didn't want to disturb him any more than they had to, or inflict any more pain on this poor kid whose original home life had been so rotten all the folks at the placement agency could do was shake their heads.

He got up willingly, made his bed, kept the noise level down on his boom box, and helped Henry with the lawn work. He had a smile for Henry, a hug for Rita, and made his bed for six months. They signed the papers and now they had a son.

A week after they signed the papers, Rita knocked at his bedroom door.
"Jason, honey." she said. She tried the door, and it wouldn't open, which was unusual. They told him the room was his, gave him a key. Still, what if he died in the night. She used her own key.
The bed was covered with an assortment of cobalt blue vases, Waterford crystal glassware, dolls, clocks, rings, a glass filled with pennies, and a Joe Camel ashtray filled with quarters.

She stood there, and tried to think. Yes, her Waterford crystal vase had been missing from the coffee table, but she was sure that was before Jason came. The morning paper had a little notice of theft in their neighborhood that morning, odd because they were not in a crime area.
"Henry," she called, and then again, "Henry."

Henry faced Jason. "Why?" he said, "why."
"Christ, we did it all the time when I was a kid, fer Chris' sake. Anyway, half this stuff I picked up off the street, but I know you don't believe me. Your kind never do."

Henry shook his head. Rita wrung her hands.
"And every night those graham crackers and milk."
"Jason, son," she said.
"And that business of hugging me all the time, tickling me. Jesus Christ."
Rita put her head in her hands.
"And another thing, Henry, long as its true confession time, why do you call me Scooter? Scooter, fer Chris sake. Scooter!"
"I had a scooter when I was about your age."
'Spare me." He crawled off the bed and went right up to their faces.
"You know what I cant stand the most? You go out in your fuckin' front yard and do weird Yoga stuff and reach your arms up and down and close your eyes and think for half an hour... meditate. As far as I can see you just groan and make funny noises. Christ, man, you make me do all that shit too. What do the neighbors think?"

Maybe it was the age thing they thought. Maybe we should get involved. He's crying out and we don't hear. We need to take Jason out of public schools. The kids were mean and picked on him, Jason told them. At the private school he made friends, but now he said the kids made fun of him because his father sold vitamins to make a living. Also, their house wasn't as big as his new friends houses, where he hung out now.

The police began to knock at the door at odd hours looking for this one and that one, all Jason's new friends, and Jason. Jason hid, and made Henry and Rita promise not to tell the police anything.

One day they found the diary shoved back in the closet behind some of his new clothes, when they started counting how many designer sneakers, and designer label sport shirts Jason owned.

"Henry and Rita? Well, I say yes sir and no sir to them. That's what they want to hear, so that s what I say. But they haven't changed me one bit. I screw everyone before they screw me. I'll screw them too. I know how to play the game."

When the police came looking for him, they told them they didn't see much of Jason any more. He cursed, threatened, cried, demanded, saw them less and less and finally disappeared. He might sleep on the streets, Henry said, look for him there.


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So now it was time and when the taxi stopped, and let him out with a backpack and dark glasses, he was the same old Jason, the swagger, the smirk, the don't-mess-with-me attitude. He strode in, a hulking six foot four now. Inside the door he stood and grinned.

It came over Henry like a black cloud, that familiar gnawing in his stomach, burning its way up to his head. He would do it, he knew it, he would kill Jason.

"Lost seventy five pounds in jail." Jason said, turning around for their approval.
Rita hesitated, then she went over and hugged him.

"What are you guys up to," Jason said, pulling away. He took out a package of Camels, shook one out and threw the package on a workbench. "Christ, it was hot on the bus, and this girl sat next to me that wanted to tell me her life story...yak... yak...Yak. I went to the John to get rid of her."

"I hate him, I'll kill him." Henry spat.
"Poor Jason. He can't help it." She remembered the bad start, all those homes he lived in, the drunks, the sweet little boy in the baseball cap, the real father and mother who never wanted him.

Jason had a dimple and it came out now. He put his hand out for them to shake. "What say, Mum, Pops, we ready to be friends?"

To Henry the gun was a reality check. It felt hard and cold in his pocket, not grim or threatening. It was a friend he could depend on to take care of them, to protect them from evil. He smiled when he aimed at Jason and pulled the trigger. Jason's smile changed to surprise, his hand still out before he slumped to the floor.

The End


Mimi Carmen lives in Binghamton (NY) in the USA. One of her short stories is featured in Seeker's On-Line magazine. another has been broadcast on CVS radio.

Another short story of Mimi Carmen at this site.

You now can visit her at her own website: http://mimicarmen.home.att.net/ .

Notice © 1998 IP and the author

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