Jessica Jade - Ch07

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Chapter Seven

The Drive At Five

As Jessica drove the journey back to her house, she passed the time listening to the news on the radio. When her phone rang, she was lost in thought. She saw it was a call from Terry Nelson.

She had a great history with Terry. The eighteen-year-old high school senior had set aside six months to help his sister and her all-girl rock band, the Wildcats. His musical talent had raised the band’s profile and an agent and producer had offered them a contract. Unfortunately, in all the excitement a madman had entered the picture. Fortunately, Jessica was able to help Terry out of a terrible situation.

Terry and Jessica had been talking a lot since then, especially when he found out that Jessica was transgendered. Terry had some awkward moments dealing with his own sexual dilemmas.

“Hey, Jessica! How are you doing?”

“I’m fine. How are you, Terry?”

“You know, I guess I’m doing great. Everything seems to be going along well. I’m still trying to process all the information the doctors are throwing at me. Let me tell you; it’s not easy finding out all sorts of stuff about yourself when you turn eighteen. It’s like someone flashing all this crazy news at you all at once.”

Jessica chuckled. “I imagine it’s a lot to handle.”

“But, it’s okay. Everyone’s trying to help. Hey, and remind me to tell you the story about how I just found out I’m the child of an anonymous sperm donor, too.”

Jessica laughed and tried to remember what it was like to be eighteen. “That sounds like a fun story, and I can’t wait to hear that. But, what’s up today?”

“Well, I called to say hello, and I just wanted to know how the family was doing. You know the one that Lisa and I helped you relocate. Is it okay to talk about it?”

“Yeah, it’s fine as long as we don’t talk specifics like names. I want to thank you again for that. Moving families can be a handful and you and your sister were a real help. That wasn’t a solo job. You guys carried yourselves like pros.”

Jessica smiled. Terry and his older sister, Lisa, had helped Jessica lead a family away from their abusive, crazy husband. They drove the mom and the kids away from a really insane life. Thanks to their help, the family would move on and have an unfettered, happy future. Jessica had set them up with a new location. Her organization moved them across the country and found them a great community to live in.

“Thanks. For first-timers, I think we did a good job.”

“Yep, you did. You were great. And the best news is the whole family is all moved in and settled. They’ve picked out a beautiful house, and mom gets to stay at home for the next year while the kids get comfortable in their new school and new town. We’re lucky that we have people who are out there to underwrite and support good causes. We were able to set them up where they’ll be a lot happier without the tension and abuse they left behind.

And you know, I just received a donation that’ll take care of a lot of families. The donors were so happy to help out. In the meantime, how have you been keeping yourself busy these days?”

“Well, it’s mostly about the Wildcats. Warner’s is signing the contract with us. They decided they wanted the band and they came back with a super offer. Gina’s dad has arranged for most of the money to be escrowed and deferred.

Jessica nodded. “That’s good to hear. But, let’s come back to you. How are you making out with everything around you?”

“I guess it’s going okay. I mean, everyone seems interested in helping me. I’m just not in a hurry. I mean, I’m not feeling any urgency.” Terry hesitated. “But, can I ask you a personal question?”

Jessica laughed. “Of course. Fire away.”

“Did you always know you were trans? Was it something you are born knowing?”

“That’s a good question. For me, I always knew something was off. I liked my mom and appreciated the role she played in my parents’ marriage. I thought women were cooler than men. And then as I got older, I realized I didn’t want to grow up and be a man. I was hoping for something better. I had no desire to become my father. I was hoping for some magic to happen and make me a woman. Does that help?”

“It does. I’m trying to figure out what I should do, you know? Right now I just can’t seem to come up with a good answer. I was hoping to talk about it.”

Jessica wanted to reassure her young friend. “I’m here. I’ll listen anytime you want to talk. You know I’m sure Grace will give you good advice, too.”

Terry nodded. “Yeah, I know. But, well, I mean, you know she’s gay, right?”

Jessica grinned. “No. I didn’t know that. I have to tell you though that I’ve started talking to her because of how much she seemed to care for you. She seems pretty sincere. Why do you think she’s gay?”

“Grace has a thing going with Gina. I’ve seen them together. I think they’re a couple.”

“Your drummer, Gina?”

“Yeah. I think it goes back years. But Grace is pretty professional around me. She’s never told me any stuff, but we’ve hung out together.”

“Surprise how you learn something new every day. So back to you. What’s up with you and Jenn?”

Terry was talking to Jessica but just talking to himself out loud. “I don't get much time for us these days. We’re so busy. I guess that might be good for now.”

Terry sounded happy, Jessica could hear it in his voice. “But one interesting thing is that I’m going to Jenn’s prom at the end of May. I’ve made the arrangements. It’s this strange light at the end of the tunnel. I’m looking forward to being back to just good old Terry. I think it will be enlightening.”

“Very cool. Glad you can still remember your priorities. And Jenn is great?”

“She’s the best. I can’t say enough good things about our relationship. But you’ll have to tell me about your fundraising when I see you next. That’s got to be hard asking for money.”

“The rich gladly give to help out the needy. All you have to do is know how to ask nicely.”

“I’ve seen you ask very nicely. I remember you asking Amos to put me down. You did ask nicely.”

Jessica laughed.

Terry kept talking. “Well, Lisa and I are thinking about a plan where we can have a concert fundraiser for your charities. We were thinking about getting ten Philly bands and local DJ’s together. We want to hold it in South Philly at one of the outdoor stadiums. Ten bands, ten charities, an all-day affair all for local charities. What do you think?”

Jessica didn’t hesitate. “It’s great! I love the idea!”

“Cool! Well, we’ll let you know what’s happening with it as we start writing things down. And you said you’re taking some time off? Well, have fun. I hope this is a chance just to relax.”

Jessica laughed as she said her goodbyes. She paused for a minute then told the phone to call Mac.

Jessica could hear dogs barking in the background. She smiled as he picked up and said hello.

“Hey, Mac. How are you feeling? Did you get over that cold, yet?”

Mac coughed, “No, still struggling with it. Still having trouble sleeping.”

They chatted for few more seconds and hung up. For security reasons, Jessica wasn’t on the phone a minute. She knew Mac was well and got her message. He’d be expecting her early tomorrow evening.

She headed home. Within an hour, Jessica drove up a nondescript street in a quiet development. Turning into her driveway, she used a remote control to power open the garage door. Jessica slowed and drove straight inside. She clicked her remote again and closed the door. She picked up a Taser and got out. Walking over to the door to her house, she entered her security code on a large panel mounted on the wall.

She opened a metal door revealing a small TV monitor with a split screen showing her four exterior cameras. Using a trackball, Jessica scrolled the recording back to see if anyone had been by her front or back door since she’d been home the last time. She watched a few people walk on the sidewalk. No one had been in her backyard. One car used her driveway to turn around. After noting the license plates, she unlocked the door to her house.

Readying her Taser, she walked in and moved carefully through each room. She noted that all her tells were still in place. She liked to use little things like matchsticks and pieces of hair to show if a window had been touched or a closet door had been opened. Jessica was pleased to see that nothing was disturbed.

Back out in the garage, she put on a pair of heavy rubber gloves. Then Jessica emptied out the truck. She sprayed the insides with a cleaner and disinfectant. She carefully wiped it down with bleach. Now that she was overheated and sweaty, she hosed off the truck, then washed and dried it. She watched all the soapy liquid run down the drain in the middle of the garage floor. After putting everything back inside the truck and all her tools away, Jessica went inside.

Jessica Jade stripped and took a steaming hot shower. After exfoliating and scrubbing herself clean, she ran a soaking tub.

Closing her eyes, she let the hot bubbles and soothing oils relax her. Afterward, as she dried off and slipped on a pair of lightweight pajamas, she realized just how tired she was. Jessica knew she needed her eight hours of sleep.

She activated her alarms and did one more walk through the house before turning in.

As she lay there in bed, she started to think about her family. As she closed her eyes, Jessica saw a vision of her older brother Robert on that last night.

James woke to the yelling. The voices were his dad’s and his older brother, Robert. The noise was coming from the kitchen. One small light over the sink burned until the last one home switched it off. It illuminated the room with a pale yellow glow.

He’d been sleeping out on the porch hoping for a breeze. His bedroom in the attic was still as warm as the afternoon sun. June was always hot in Georgia. They’d been stationed at Fort Benning since he was nine and James just had his fourteenth birthday. His mom had made him a chocolate cake.

He got up and quietly moved to the table where they ate their meals. He sat there in the dark watching the two of them.

His father’s voice was loud and angry. He was shoving Robert. His brother was telling his dad he wasn’t going to college. Robert said he wanted to walk the Appalachian Trail and go to school the following year. He heard Robert slurring some of his words. He had come back drunk from his graduation party and Dad was out of control mad.

His dad said he didn't approve of him skipping college. He was afraid Robert would lose his scholarship. Robert kept saying he needed some time to think things through. He kept saying he wanted to be alone to figure things out.

His dad kept grabbing at him. Robert kept flexing his arms to keep Dad away. Robert had been a varsity wrestler and knew how to escape a hold.

His dad pleaded with him, “Why do you need to think? What’s so important you have to think about that you can’t get a degree?”

“Dad, I’m not like everyone else. I’m different. I need to work this out.”

“Robert, I don’t want to hear this. You’re scared. I’m telling you now. You’re going to college. You’ve got a scholarship. And that’s all there is to it. There’s nothing to discuss. You’re going to do what I say. I’m still your father.”

“I don’t think so, Dad. There’s stuff I need to work out and try to understand about myself. I’m confused.”

“Confused? Now you’re sounded like a pussy. Are you telling me you’re clouding your brain with emotions? You need to stay on the right path and finish college. You don’t want to be me growing up without an education. Straight out of college you could become an officer.”

“Dad, I can’t be in the service. I’m not the right material, Dad. I’m gay.”

His father glared him in the face like he was a stranger, “No son of mine.”

“Huh? What did you say?”

“I said, NO SON OF MINE!” And with that, James watched his father grab Robert. He had a grip on his shirt and arms. His dad lifted him up and threw him backward.

But, Robert didn’t fly backward. He didn’t go anywhere. Robert had hold of Dad’s upper arms. They were both locked together wrestling for control.

Then Robert tossed their dad back against the kitchen counter. His dad’s head struck the center of the cabinet and split the wood. At the same time, his hands flailed back. One hand hit the knife block scattering the kitchen knives.

His father screamed something as he grabbed the big chef’s knife and lunged forward, but Robert was moving faster towards Dad.

Suddenly, the two parted.

Robert’s face showed surprise followed by a look of intense pain. He never uttered a word as he collapsed on the floor, still gripping his dad’s big arms. The same hand still wrapped around the knife handle, the blade buried deep in Robert’s chest. His dad bent down to help. But, Robert was already dead on the floor with his blood pooling under and around him.

Dad turned on the lights and discovered his younger son sitting there watching. He stared at him with tears rolling down his face, “James,” he said. “I’m sorry.”

He reached into a drawer and pulled out a revolver that was always kept loaded. After all, this was the house of a United States Marine. And no one catches a Marine off guard.

He stumbled away from the cabinets. He stuck his head under the faucet and filled his mouth with water. Then he stood against the empty wall by the calendar and swallowed the barrel. The lights shined brightly as a little trickle of water dripped out of his mouth and onto his bloodstained tee shirt. He stared with unfocused eyes. He pulled the trigger. The boy heard a loud bang.



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