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Nine The Tale of Kevin Clearwater (King #9)
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Stalking is such sweet sorrow…
This is the story of Nine, The Tale of Kevin Clearwater.
Nine can be read as a complete standalone.
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“The scariest monsters are the ones that lurk within our souls.”
Edgar Allan Poe
Time has no master.
It’s elusive, yet as real as greed.
It presses on when you need it to stand still and comes to a halt just as you’ve hit full speed.
No matter how fat your wallet is, you can’t buy more time. It won’t be bargained for or reasoned with.
Willing it to stop or fast-forward is of no use.
All-powerful. Godlike. Time does not require your love or devotion. It commands only respect, sans fanfare and misguided faith.
Time is the one thing we all have in common. Its roots are planted deep within everything. A constant reminder that although it is infinite…it isn’t for us.
Our breaths are limited.
Our days are numbered.
Save yourself…before time runs out.
Tick motherfucking tock.
Seventeen Years Old
Serial killer and mass murderer, Andrew Kehoe, once said, “Criminals are made, not born.”
Maybe, that was true for him, but it’s not for me.
I was born into chaos, with theft in my blood and rage boiling in my heart. Pushed out unceremoniously into the world, unwanted by everyone I crossed paths with, including my own piece of shit mother.
I’ve had to fight for anything I’ve ever had. Earn it by way of scars on my knuckles and hate in my soul.
My only family has been the streets. My only long-term home has been juvie.
A month ago, I was released from the latter of the two. Now, I find myself in one of the places I hate most, but the only place I could legally be released to according to the powers that be.
Yet another foster home.
My personal purgatory until I turn eighteen or get locked up again, whichever comes first.
I open the envelope given to me by my caseworker, Mrs. Peterson, at our most recent follow up meeting. Usually these transfer packages come with the standard stuff, copies of legal forms, release papers, wrap sheets, and is usually accompanied by a pamphlet Mrs. Peterson likes to toss in there about how to manage anger without violence. That particular literary treasure is my personal favorite. It features a diverse group of smiling children plastered on the front who look like they not only drank the Kool-Aid, but bathed in it twice.
Of course, those kids don’t use violence to deal with their anger. They’re heavily medicated—preparing for a suicide trip to Mars with their cult leader.
But this package isn’t like any of the others I’ve received. No pamphlets. No transfer papers. It’s a letter from my case worker.
* * *
Since you’re aging out of state care soon and I know you don’t have any plans as to where you’re going after you turn eighteen, I wanted to help in any way I could. I did some digging. I think I found your brother. His name is Samuel Clearwater. His last known address is in Logan’s Beach.
Good luck, Kevin. I truly wish you all the best. You’re a very bright kid. I hope you use some of that intelligence to find your place in this world.
* * *
My place in the world? I’m pretty sure that’s the tagline from one of those infamous pamphlets.
Mrs. Peterson has got to be losing it because I don’t have a brother.
I don’t have anyone.
I tuck the letter back into the envelope and pull out a picture, which turns out to be a mugshot of a guy who looks a lot like me but with lighter hair and a shit-ton of tattoos peeking out from underneath the collar of his dress shirt. My heart begins to race. I sit up and look closer at the picture. He’s wearing a bow tie and a matching pair of suspenders. His head is cocked to the side, and he’s making duck lips at the camera while holding a sign that reads LOGAN’S BEACH SHERIFF’S OFFICE INMATE with a date from two years ago listed below it. I look closer and realize that he’s holding the sign with only his two middle fingers.
I wonder if the sheriff’s office ever noticed that. I grin to myself.
A brother. My brother.
The concept is baffling, having grown up with no family to speak of and no one to rely on but myself and my friend Pike. That is, until Pike and I got separated, and we lost contact when he ended up in a detention center clear across the state.
My thoughts are interrupted when reality hisses at me like a snake about to be stepped on, courtesy of my foster father.
“Loretta, where is that boy?” Jameson shouts angrily above the Willie Nelson song blaring beyond my bedroom door. The tune is cheery. The situation is not. It’s like “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” blasting through the speakers of Hell.
“I don’t fucking know! You want him? You go look for him!” Loretta slurs.
I’ve been in great homes, and I’ve been in terrible ones. On a scale of one to ten—ten being the shittiest—Loretta and Jameson’s home ranks in the triple digits somewhere above the seventh circle of Hell.