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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Chapter 18

The deal was struck and I started. 

“My name is Narcissa Helene Cassidy.  That’s my whole, real name.  I would have preferred something different but Mom’s family named all the girls after flowers; it was like a tradition or something.  Rose, Daisy, Geranium, Violet … stuff like that.  Not only do I have a weird name I was born in Africa.  My parents and uncle were missionaries there.  Then my uncle got killed in some kind of fighting and the mission board recalled all of us in that part of the world back to the US because they didn’t want the responsibility of other people dying just because they were missionaries.  By that time though my oldest sister had married and he was a missionary too and instead of coming home with us they went someplace else for a bit.  I can’t remember where, it was a long time ago.  That was also the year that the UN got blown up.  I remember that day at school, everyone was scared and trying not to show it.  I went home on the but with the big kids and my brother Tim was there and then we ran home.  My other sister that was in middle school was already home but so was my big sister who was grown and married which really freaked me out  because I hadn’t seen her for a while.  The way Mom – my real mother not Mother Mary – was acting I thought something had happened to Daddy but then I found out he was just getting together with some other family.  We were all moving to my grandparents’ farm which was out in the country until things calmed down.  Don’t ask me where it was because I can’t remember.  I don’t know why I can’t but I’m not lying so don’t ask.  I just know it was a big farm and for a long while, long enough for me to have two birthdays, we lived there and grew everything ourselves.  At least the stuff that the government didn’t come and take because they said other people needed it more and that we had to be fair and all that crap.” 

“Narcissa …” 

“Call me Thorn.  It doesn’t matter how I got the name or who gave it to me.  That’s just who I am now.  Narcissa is dead.  She’s been dead too long to come back.  You need to get that straight.”  

Saul nodded.  “If that’s the way you want it.” 

“It’s not a matter of want or don’t want.  It’s just the way it is.”  I picked up where I had left off.  “Then came the election and the people in the city won.  And they were greedy and were too stupid to take care of themselves.  They expected the people in the country to do all the work and for the government to take it and make everything fair … only their definition of fair wasn’t; they wanted the stuff without paying for it.  Well the people in the country got tired of having their hard work taken for granted and stuff stolen from them so they started playing hardball.  That made the government mad and they started up this bunch that went around taking bank accounts and things like that because the country people wouldn’t cooperate anymore.  Only then the country people decided they wouldn’t have bank accounts or use money for things.  That’s when the government started playing hardball and they would send people to the farms to just take stuff directly.  They were like the old-time people that went after corn liquor makers so people started calling them the same thing … revenuers.” 

I came to the part of the story that I didn’t like to remember at all.  “This next part I am going to say once and not any more so you better listen and I mean it.”  They both nodded and I turned my face away from them because I didn’t want to see them as I remembered.  “The revenuers did more than take stuff.  If they found what they called trouble makers they would … they would hurt them.  I … I tried to figure out what happened and I think … I think that my family were trouble makers because Tim used to tell us we were part of something bigger.  The revenuers liked to make examples of people that were part of something bigger.  I don’t know what happened to my family, I think they are all dead.  I’m pretty sure they are.  Something happened during the fighting and it’s all black in my head and when I woke up they made me pack a few clothes and get on a bus.  They were not nice people.  There were other kids on the bus too so I don’t think it was just my family that was made an example of either.  We drove for a long, long time and it was way passed dark when we pulled up to this place that I don’t know the name of.  It was something something re-education center.  Only I never even went through the doors because one of them mean ladies on the bus hauled me off and sold me and that’s how I wound up at Mother Mary’s Home for Wayward Girls.  And you know the rest so I’m done.” 

I turned around and Roman and Saul were angry.  “I’m telling the truth!  You said if I told you … you made a deal!” 

Missy came in – I thought she had left – and sat on the side of the bed and put an arm around me and I’m not sure I like that even after I figured out she was trying to be nice.  “They aren’t mad at you.”  She sighed and then asked, “Thorn?  How old were you when the UN blew up?” 


Roman jumped up and kicked the chair he had been sitting in and barreled out of the room.  Saul shook his head.  “I better go catch him.  Although right now I’m inclined to let him do what I think he wants to do.” 

After both men left I looked at Missy and she finally figured out I didn’t like her arm on me.  Once she gave me some space I asked, “Why did Roman act like that?  We … we made a deal.” 

“Because Roman has a problem.  Not too many people know about it … or let’s put it this way, they think they know about it but they really don’t.” 

“There isn’t a man on the planet that doesn’t have problems.  What makes his so special?” 

“All of his brothers are extraordinary.” 

“Extraordinarily what?” 

Missy smiled only I didn’t find a thing funny about it Bean.  It was just more proof that the people around here are strange. 

“Well David is … he’s a born leader and all that that means.  Just like his father.  Then there is Andrew.  Right away the family knew he was meant for the church and he’s led us through some very difficult trials.  Peter … Peter is a bit of a hot head but he means well and he … he is David’s right hand man.  Alex, from the time he was a little boy showed extraordinary perception in how to expand our markets and work people so that they would make contracts with us.” 

“Let me get this straight … David is bossy, Andrew is preachy, Peter has a nasty temper and Alex is a suck up and knows how to gamble.  And they’re considered extraordinary?  What’s wrong with Roman?” 

Missy opened her mouth and then closed it.  “You … you definitely look at it different than everyone else.  And Roman doesn’t have a problem problem exactly … he’s just … ordinary and his feelings run deeper about that than most people know.  He’s tried a bunch of different things but … he hasn’t excelled at anything.” 

“He hasn’t found his niche you mean.” 

“Exactly.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.  It’s just compared to the others …” 

“And he’s the baby of the family too right?” 


“Boy, no wonder he is crabby.  And no wonder Alex always acted like he hated Roman.  The rest of the family taught him to.” 

“What?!  No!” 

“Well, it sure sounds like it.  All the other brothers were treated like they were hot snot and Roman got the shaft because he wasn’t special enough to suit his parents.  I even heard his dad call him a disappointment.  If Roman is a disappointment what do they consider Alex?” 

“Well … hmmm …” 

She was kind of shame-faced so I figured it out with her explaining.  “Let me guess.  He is still golden boy only he’s been led astray by a whore and all of the temptations of the city.  I can see it now.  The guy called David is going to lead him back.  The one called Andrew is going to counsel him and pray him healed.  Peter is too mad right now but they figure he’ll help David keep Alex in line until Andrew’s stuff works.  How close did I get?” 

A voice from the door said, “Pretty damn close.” 

Missy sighed, “Saul …” 

“He’s alright.  Fletcher is with him.  They’re outside so maybe you can get them something warm to drink.  Temperature is dropping again.” 

Missy left and that left me facing Saul alone.  I just sat there.  When you are in a bed and you don’t have all your clothes and you’re facing a man it’s better to use caution. 

“You really want to be called Thorn?” 


“Narcissa is nicer.” 

“Of course it is, but I’m not nice so Thorn suits me better.” 

Saul snorted.  “Have it your way.  We need to finish this up before Roman comes uncorked again.  For the record, you’re sure you were eight when the UN was bombed?” 


“Uncle Shad is going to shit kittens.  I don’t know what Aunt Margaret or the rest of them are going to think.” 

“What’s the big deal?” 

“The big deal is that you were ten when you were first abused and maybe fourteen when Alex … when he started …” 

“I’m fifteen now.  And old enough.  If it is going to create so much trouble don’t say anything.  Why do you think I kept telling Roman it was none of his business when I figured out he was loopy like my brother?” 

“Because it has bearing on things.  It makes what Alex did … even … it makes what he did even worse.” 

“Well, technically speaking I don’t know for absolutely sure that Alex knows how old I am.  It never came up.  I know he wanted someone young and ‘fresh’ according to Mother Mary but he picked me not realizing I’d already been a whore for as long as I had.  I think he just picked me because he thought I was someone special but I wasn’t anybody.  I was just a fighter because I was unwilling.  But Mother Mary made me decide and it made me mad that I had to be willing for her to sell me to Alex but I wanted out of her stable bad enough that I became willing.  I wanted a chance to get away.  I didn’t know they were going to lock me up even worse like they did.  That was a shock I gotta tell you. It was like going from the frying pan into the fire.” 

“I can see it would be.  Now look Kid … pardon me … Thorn …”  He scratched the stubble on his face.  “I don’t suppose I need to explain to you that this has been damn difficult for everyone.  And for the record, I don’t blame you for it but the fact is some do.  When they find out your age some might change but … but I know the ones that likely will and those that likely won’t and there’s not many that will.” 

“So you’re saying that I need to get on down the road.” 

“I would be easier if that was an option but unfortunately that can’t happen.  You’ve seen where we live and … knock it off Kid.  No wonder you’ve got Roman wound tighter than a top.  You do look like a stray that expects to get kicked.” 

“Then what’s the problem with me leaving?  I don’t really know where here is anyway.” 

“I agree but the others don’t and right now, in this circumstance, majority rules.” 

“So I’m a prisoner.” 

“Not … exactly.  We’ve hashed it out.  And Uncle Shad and I will stick with our deal.” 

Surprised I asked, “You will?” 

“Yeah we will.  Think of it as a … as an act of good faith on our part.  In return we expect you to behave with a certain decorum.” 

“What exactly does that mean?” 

“It means you have to behave around the men.” 

“Oh.  You mean you don’t want me acting like a whore.  Well that should be easy enough because I don’t want to be around the men.  I saw how some of them looked at me.  I gotta be smart so Bean doesn’t get hurt.” 

“You got some looks?  From who?” 

“A couple from the group that you were with when you found me.  A couple that were in that place you called the meeting room.  It doesn’t matter who, that’s just men for you.  But I’m not stupid to make it easy on them.  I’ll just find a place and hole up for a while.  I’ll stay there and you can even check on me.  Hmmm …” 

“Figured out it ain’t so easy have you?” 

“I’m just trying to think what job I could do that stays away from men but that could earn me food and lodging and stuff for Bean.  I know how to clean.  I can do math and read and stuff … I had to help Mother Mary in the office.  I can sew …” 

“You can sew?” 

“What do you think?  It’s not like we were ever allowed to go to the store or nothing.  Mother Mary would toss boxes of old clothes the charities didn’t want and we’d piece them out the best we could.  And I got an allotment of stuff from Emerald because it came with the cost of the contract but I still had to fix it up so it would fit.  I’ve also had to fix things so that they would cover my belly.  Alex …” 

“Alex bought you stuff?” 

I laughed.  “Are you kidding?  Emerald said he complained about every penny.  At least he remembered to bring me food that usually lasted between his visits.  Sometimes he forgot but I had emergency rations that lasted most of the time.” 

“Dear God …” 


“Uh … nothing.  So you can sew.  That actually might come in handy.” 

“So I can have a job?” 

“You’ll have a … yeah, a job.  You’ll be helping Roman.” 

I sighed. “Oh man … what has Roman got to do with this?” 

“He’s going to be your caretaker.” 

“Not my pimp?” 

“No.  Definitely not.” 

“OK.  Just wanted to make sure.  How long do I have to be locked up?” 

“Who said anything about locking you up?” 

“Isn’t that what we’re talking about?” 


Then from the door way Roman said, “No.  If the door gets locked for some reason I’ll make sure that you have a way out.” 

Saul looked at Roman.  Roman looked at Saul.  Saul shook his head and said, “Fine.  Just make sure she understands … and what could happen if she doesn’t.”


  1. I find right now this is the story I save for last every night because its become my favorite. poor lil thing =[

  2. Wow! what a story, thanks for sharing with us Kathy