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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2. KORI

He got to his apartment building. The lobby was quiet and calm as usual with the flowery decorations and the brown colors casting a dark and depressed mood everywhere.

He headed towards the elevator making eye contact within no one. He clenched his left hand into a fist and used his middle finger knuckle to press the button. It was something he had grown accustomed to doing.

The elevator opened with a ding and he stepped in and pressed the same knuckle on button number eight. He breathed out as he stared at the slit between elevator doors while the machine pulled him up faithfully.

Ding. Sixth floor.

A lady, along with her little daughter stumbled in carrying a basket of clothes.

The apartment had laundry machines every odd numbered floor so everyone who wasn’t on the laundry floor had one only one floor above or below them.

The elevator doors began to close. Courtney put his wrist between the metal closing noticing that the lady’s daughter had dropped a sock outside the elevator and had gone to fetch it.

“Oh, thank you.” She said to Courtney with a smile and said something to her daughter in Spanish.

Gracias.” The girl said hiding partially behind her mother.

The girl looked like a spitting image of her mother. Wavy dark brown hair. Bright brown eyes. Same lashes, nose and lips. The mother’s skin tone was copy and pasted to the daughter’s body with perfection. The daughter couldn’t have been more than five and the mother twenty-six.

The daughter looked up at Courtney wide-eyed rubbing her nose. She pushed one side of her ear exposing a small hoop earring.

Ding.

The elevator doors opened.

The lady and her daughter headed out. Courtney trailed after them and went to his own door.

He unlocked the door and walked in closing the door behind him and carefully placing his removed shoes behind the closed door. He walked. Past the kitchen. Past the bathroom. The bedroom. Without changing, he plopped his muscular body onto the king-sized bed.

His mind drifted and so did his gaze which fell upon a framed picture. He picked it up gently and looked at the face within the borders of the smooth, black frame.

Kori.

He remembered the last time he had seen her. He was six. She, eight.

 

Knock! Knock! Knock!

The door was opened to the visitor.

“Can we help you officer?” It was Courtney’s dad who spoke.

The officer replied in a low, quiet voice as if to hide something from everyone else in the house. Courtney and Kori both listened carefully trying to catch every word.

“What for?” His dad asked. “Has he done something wrong?”

“We just need to ask some questions.” The officer said louder.

“About what?”

“Excuse me.” The officer said and allowed himself into the house.

“Courtney!” A female officer called.

Courtney was in his room with Kori. They moved away from the door and waited in the silence that filled the air with fear.

There was a strong knock on the door causing Kori to jump. A gloved hand came into view and an officer pushed the door open and stepped in.

“Courtney. Can we talk to you for a minute? It’ll be quick?”

He approached Courtney. His sister inched closer placing herself between her brother and the police.

“He’s in here!” The police said loudly to the other police.

 The female officer stomped in.

“Come on Courtney.” She said hurriedly.

Courtney didn’t move. Kori didn’t move.

“Come on.” The police said as if talking to a dog.

“What do you want?” Kori asked them.

The police put her hands on her hips and tilted her head to the side with a sigh.

“Alright, I don’t have time for this.” She said and moved towards Kori knocking her to the side.

It never took much to make Courtney angry, and seeing his sister knocked on the floor ignited some anger inside of him.

He reached for his foot-long toy truck and slammed it on the police approaching his sister.

Uh-oh.

“Kori! Kori!” Courtney was screaming.

The male officer grabbed him and dragged him kicking and screaming outside.

He was put in the back of one of the two squad cars and driven away as his parents tried to run after him but the other police blocked them off.

“Where are you taking me?” Courtney asked. “Where are you taking me?”

The police ignored him and continued to drive farther away from Courtney’s home.

That was the last time he saw any his family members.

 

He faded back into the room in an instant. An hour had passed. He set the picture back down still looking at it for a quick second.

She was much lighter in skin tone than he was. Her eyes brighter too. She was two years older and only about two inches taller. Both had were tall for their ages.

She smiled in this picture as she did in all others he remembered. Perfectly white teeth.

As he swept his feet off the side of the bed, he took his eyes off the frame.

He didn’t have a picture of his parents. Only memories.

Memories were good enough for him. Memories were better than nothing.

He was at the bathroom sink. He grabbed the lonely toothbrush and the toothpaste.

He opened the cabinet and realized that he was low on Listerine. He thought of his sister’s perfectly white smile.

In less than a minute, he was out the door and headed towards the elevator.

Without thinking, he was in an aisle at Publix picking up a bottle of cool mint antiseptic Listerine.

He paid and was out the door heading towards his car.

“Mr. Houston!” A lady’s voice called.

Mr. Houston ignored it.

He got in his car and reversed out of the parking lane and towards the road. He stopped at the stop sign and kept his foot on the brake as a girl stepped in front of the car waving her hands furiously in the air.

She headed over to the passenger window. She motioned for Mr. Houston to roll it down.

He did. A little.

“Mr. Houston, I need your help.” She said out of breath. “People are after me.”

“People are after me too.” Courtney replied without looking at her.

“No, like, they’re after me right now. You don’t understand. Please just help me.” She almost started crying.

She looked around paranoid.

“Mr. Houston, please. I know what you do and I really need you to help me.” She continued. “I can’t get help from the police.”

Courtney stared straight at the road he needed to join to get home.

“Please.” The girl said. “They’ve got my sister.”

At those words, Courtney’s head turned and looked at the girl standing at the window. A tear had already rolled down her cheek. Looking at her, he was able to get a look at her. She couldn’t have been a day older twenty-three. Dark brown hair and emerald green eyes.

He rolled up the window and leaned over to the passenger seat pretending to adjust it but really flicked a switch which armed the chair. He put his right hand on the wheel and placed his middle finger of that hand on a button behind the wheel while unlocking the car doors with his left hand.

She got in and thanked him three times.

Courtney’s finger was still on the button ready press it. If the girl made one false move, he would push it down causing electricity to run through the passenger seat and the passenger.

He joined the road and started driving.

“First things first, who are you?” He asked her without looking directly at her.

“Camila Frost—”

“Fake name. Good job on the Camila part but the Frost just doesn’t fit you; if you had a ring on, it would be more believable since that would suggest a name change.” Courtney pointed out arrogantly. “You’re not talking to an amateur.”

She stared at him wondering how he knew.

“It’s just, I don’t know who I can trust right now.” She replied.

“Run me through what’s going on.” Courtney said to her.

“My sister’s a big-time investor. She was robbed and kidnapped in the process. They told me I have to pay one-point-two million or else they’re coming after me.”

“Where was she robbed? Her home?”

“Yeah.”

“And why can’t you go to the cops about this?”

“I don’t really know this people but I kind of know them.”

“What do you mean? Which people?”

“I was supposed to help them get a deal with my sister and I screwed up and didn’t get it for them so they took her and some of her belongings and want the money they would’ve gotten if they got the deal…the deal was kind of illegal.”

“When did this all happen?”

“A week ago. Please don’t let them hurt my sister.”

Courtney stayed silent. Thinking.

“Give me directions on where to drop you.” He said finally. “And here’s what we’re going to do. Meet me at the community library tomorrow at noon, and bring your library card. I need the night to think about how to handle this and do some research.”

She repeated her thanks.

Courtney took metal notes of the community before dropping her at a friend’s house.

“Do not contact anyone at all.” Courtney said before driving off.

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