Mr. Houston

At the age of 6, Courtney Jackson was stripped from his family and put into a secret government agenda to be trained to take on special missions as a "ghost"--as if he doesn't really exist in the system. When he becomes a teen, he rebels and leaves setting a new trend for the other kids who also find their own ways to leave after hi and use the skills they have learned throughout the years to help people in their everyday life. Everything is as "normal" as it can be when issues start arising bringing Courtney back to his past.

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4. ANOTHER PROMISE

The whole ride back had been quiet until they approached the door to the house where Courtney slammed the door pretty hard.

“Who did you notice from the library?” He asked her clearly angered. “Why didn’t you tell me that you knew one of the men?”

“I didn’t know it mattered.” She said.

“What do you mean you didn’t know it mattered? I asked you if you knew any of them for a reason and you didn’t tell me.”

“And if I told you, what difference would it have made? Huh?”

“Um, maybe the difference that I knew that an assassin I grew up with is on my tail and on the tail of an innocent girl whose life is practically in my hands right now. Maybe since I grew up with that freak, some of the stuff he could do would be predictable, hence making them avoidable. Maybe I could’ve called some people to end him and whoever the hell he’s working with and make all you’ve been worrying about disappear within the span of fifteen minutes without them even knowing I had anything to do with you.” Courtney said almost yelling then calmed himself down.

He turned around and made an angry face at the wall before turning around again.

 “Rachel, the only way I can help me is if you trust me.” He told her.

She turned and sat on the bed.

“The people after me told me that he was the one who could and would kill me.” She said. “They said that he was the man behind the trigger.”

She got up and walked up to Courtney.

“I—I was scared.” She said and began to tear up again. “I can’t let them kill me. Who knows what they’ve already done to my sister.”

Courtney put his hands on her shoulders and held her.

“Look at me.” He said to her.

She didn’t. Her eyes stayed down on her feet.

“Look at me.” He repeated then put his finger under her chin and lifted her face to look at his. “I’m gonna keep you safe and I’m gonna get your sister. It’s my job to keep you safe and I will.”

That was a promise. Another promise.

Rachel opened her arms and hugged Courtney. He wasn’t a hugger and she held on longer than Courtney thought she had meant to so he reluctantly hugged her back.

 

The doorbell rang.

The door was opened by one of the older women. Miss Barbara. Her face frowned at the sight of the two officers with three teens in front of them.

The three kids were sent to the living room couch while Miss Barbara talked to the officers.

Courtney sat in between a boy and a girl. On his right was Jordan James, whose name was changed to Francis James. Francis was a California boy with a football build instead of a surfer body. His hair was dark sand colored and his eyes some type of green.

On his left was Madison Martin. When she was taken, her name was already Madison so they left it like that. She was a pretty brown skin with extremely light brown eyes. She had grown trust in the sight of Courtney as Francis did and often found herself getting in trouble with Courtney. She had crushed on him for a while but only succeeded in becoming his friend which was a big accomplishment considering the fact that Courtney didn’t socialize much with anyone. She settled for that knowing that was as close as she could get to him without him pushing her away as he had done to a few other girls.

Miss Barbara walked into the living room with Miss Destiny, Miss Angie and Miss Taylor trailing behind. None wore their usual smiles.

Each of them, Except Miss Taylor, took turns telling the teens how upset that they had to get a police escort back from the park for causing trouble. The teens stared but didn’t listen. The women’s’ words went in one ear and out through the other. At the end of the talk, the three teens were given extra chores as punishment then, one by one, the women started leaving. Madison and Francis left also.

“Courtney.” Miss Taylor’s voice said behind Courtney as he stood up.

Courtney didn’t respond. He didn’t even turn around. Miss Taylor went around and looked Courtney in the eyes though Courtney looked away.

“I’m not upset with you…But I’m disappointed in your behavior off recent.” She said.

Courtney was sixteen. That meant Miss Taylor was almost forty.

“I’ve known you since you were a little angel.” She said. “The other kids look up to you. Please don’t lead them the wrong way. You make quite an influence on them.”

Courtney stared without a word.

“I’m not upset with you but I am disappointed.” She repeated. “I know you’re better than this.”

She gave him a hug and held on for a second longer than Courtney’s convenience.

 

Rachel let go of him and Courtney exited the room. He stopped at the door and turned around to look at her. She stared back at him.

“Listen, anything I can do to help you, I will. To the best of my ability.” He said.

She stared at him as if to stay something but didn’t. Courtney saw that.

“What is it?” He asked.

“Are you leaving?” She asked.

“Yeah, I gotta go and—”

“Can you just stay with me for a bit?” She asked.

Courtney stared at her without saying a word. Rachel opened her mouth.

“It’s just, I feel safer when you’re around.” She said. “I trust the security of this house, but I just can’t help to think that someone can still burst through the doors and come after me.”

He turned around and started walking.

“Please, Mr. Houston.” She begged following him.

He made it to the living room and sat on the couch.

Rachel stopped and her face relaxed.

“Thanks Mr. Houston.” She said.

“No problem.” He replied. “And you can call my Courtney by the way.”

He pulled out his phone and connected headphones to it before making a call to Echo.

“Echo the Techo.” He said when he picked up.

“You found Dallas?” Courtney asked immediately.

“Yup, and he’s not going anywhere far that we can’t meet him.” He replied.

“Good, I want to know what he’s up to.”

“Wanna follow him then? He’s not exactly hiding.”

Courtney frowned.

“What do you mean?”

“I’ve been tracking him and he’s not hiding anywhere or trying to hide under the radar and a man like him can hide if he wanted to.”

“Idiot’s doing this on purpose.”

“So stalk or nah, bro?”

Courtney bit his lip and thought about the risk he could be putting himself and Rachel in if he later found out that it was a setup.

“Yeah.” He decided still.

 

A few minutes past nine and Courtney and Echo were in the car driving towards where Dallas was. He had parked his car down at the Quick Stop and began to walk into the community.

“Take this.” Echo said to Courtney and handed him something.

It was a half a foot long and looked like a baton with a flat side. The flat side had a peel-able sticker suggestion it was adhesive once removed.

“There’s a house he keeps on going to and I’m sure that’s where he’s on his way to right now.” Echo informed him. “When you get to the house, I want you to take that device I handed you and, I’ll be walking you through the instructions, stick peel back the sticker and stick it where I tell you to. This will give me the ability to connect into any cameras or mikes they might have in the house, and if not then I’ll connect to the mikes and cameras on their phones.”

Courtney nodded.

He followed Dallas to the house.

Dallas wasn’t skeptical. No looking over his shoulder. No taking precautions before crossing into the street. He looked calm.

“Alright, I’m in the house.” Courtney said to Echo.

Echo had given him a Bluetooth looking device that he could use to communicate. It was small and almost not visible to anyone who didn’t know to look for it.

Try the side of the house first.” Echo replied.

Courtney went to the gate and peeked over. When he saw that there were no humans or dogs, he single-hopped over. He went to the side of the house and stood beside the wall.

“Good?” He asked Echo.

Move closer to the back of the house. Step by step.”

Courtney started moving slowly. Watching his step. Waiting for Echo’s voice.

Stop, there.” Echo said. “Stick it right there.

Courtney stared in front of him and tilted his head.

“One problem” He said. “It’s a large glass window.”

Stick it right over it in a way that if they do see it, they won’t take a second look at it.”

Courtney did.

Alright, I can hear everything they’re saying. They must have mikes in the house.” Echo said. “Come back and hear yourself. See what you can find out.”

Courtney heard a door slam.

He froze then realized that it wasn’t from the house he was at. He peeked over the fence and hopped back over landing silently.

He looked down the streets and saw a lady hurriedly going to a car. A big man on her heels yelling something. She stopped, turned and yelled back.

Courtney chose not to get involved. It was the opposite direction of the side of the street he was going anyway. He turned his way and took a step towards Echo.

He heard a slap and the woman’s voice came to a halt but the man kept on yelling.

Courtney realized he wasn’t walking towards Echo anymore. In fact, he was walking the opposite direction. Towards the quarrel.

Before he knew it, he approached the man standing beside the woman on the floor.

The woman was wearing a skimpy zebra-print dress and heels. She stayed on the floor with her hair covering her face. She was obviously crying.

He turned to the man. A Caucasian in his mid or late thirties. Big; both fat and muscle. Tattoos squirmed all over his neck and arms.

“Was that the sound of your hand on her that I heard?” Courtney asked him.

“What’s that gotta do with you?” He replied. “You don’t need to be a part of this.”

“I asked a yes or no question.”

The man clenched his teeth.

Angered, Courtney grabbed him and pinned him up against one of the cars in the driveway before swinging him sideways.

He stared at the man in anger before realizing that he was taking the matter personal. At first he didn’t want to get involved but when he heard the slap, he rushed to the scene.

Never take things personal he reminded himself.

He calmed down and offered both hands to the girl. She took his hands in hers and rose.

He turned and the man was up. His fist approached Courtney’s face but never made it. Courtney grabbed his fist with one hand while the other hand went under his arm and threw him violently to the street.

“Stay there.” He told him then turned to the girl. “This where you live?”

She nodded sniffling.

He walked her to the door but she stopped there.

“Thanks.” She said. “I’ll go in alone. Thank you.”

Courtney nodded once and turned and began making his way to the street when he realized that the girl was waiting by the door. He became suspicious and turned around.

“Something wrong?” He asked her.

She shook her head unconvincingly.

He began walking back to the door and opened it. The door swung open with the sound of metal chain locks behind. There were men sitting on the couch. Four. Each ripped and tatted from the neck down. Except one, who was tatted from the face down.

Courtney welcomed himself into the house and started for the rooms when he heard the sound of a gun cock. He darted down the hall before the bullet could reach him.

One of the men yelled an order in Spanish and heavy footsteps followed.

There were two bedrooms separated by a bathroom. Courtney took a guess and jumped into the left room. Upon his silent entry he startled the people in the room. He took a look around and saw about six pairs of eyes staring at him. Women’s eyes. Courtney knew immediately that these girls were victims of human trafficking.

He was angered.

The door burst open and hands gripping a gun took one step in. When the man’s face showed, Courtney drove an elbow into it before hitting the gun out of his hands. The gun was grabbed out of the air and fired twice knocking two guys behind the first down.

Courtney received a blow to the head by the first guy whose gun was knocked away. He stumbled backwards and put his arm up to partially block the next hit. He ducked under a punch and went head-first into the guy’s gut slamming him into the wall then throwing him over his back onto the floor. The guy wobbled back to his feet. Courtney grabbed him back up and rammed him into the wall again then froze.

There were four guys and he had just taken out three yet had not seen the last one.

He moved to the edge of the door and peeked out carefully. He looked at the bathroom door which was a bit different. When he first passed it, it was partially opened. Now, it was opened a bit more. He carefully moved closer then stopped when he saw a foot. He opened the door and saw the forth guy face-down on a pool of blood and glass shattered all over the floor around the toilet.

He rushed back into the room and stared at the women.

“Echo.” He said aloud. “I’m gonna need some name confirmations.”

Alright.”

“They’re gonna be coming verbal.”

He clapped his hands together a bit too loud.

“Ladies, listen.” He said. “I’m going to need first names, last names and ages and I’m gonna be able to help you. Are you willing to cooperate?”

Though none of them said a word, Courtney could tell that they were on board.

He pointed to the girl closest to him. A brown-eyed blond.

“What’s your name?” He asked her cautiously.

“Leah Roberts.” She replied scared.

“Good. And how old are you Leah?”

“Twenty-seven.”

Got a confirmation.” Echo said.

Courtney worked with the rest.

Maria Santiago, 29. Karly Thames, 17. Candy Ware, 24. Miranda Flanagan, 19. Julie Roberts, 23. Alison Estevez, 22.

The lady from outside walked in. She had stopped crying and her mascara and makeup was washed all over her face by tears.

Courtney informed her about what was going on.

“Amanda Smart, twenty.” She said and joined the other women.

Courtney took a mental picture of each of their faces.

 “Got it.” Echo replied.

“Now listen carefully.” Courtney said to the women. “Go down the street to the church and wait there. I’ll send someone soon to help you out. Follow that person. She’ll help you get back on your feet and have a stable life and a stable job. She can help clean you up and out.”

He turned to leave then stopped and turned back around without looking at anyone.

“I…I just want to say that I’m sorry for all you must’ve been going through.” He said staring ahead. “I hope things will change around for you after you meet my friend.”

He started heading back to Echo.

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