High schooler Ayo Davis watches the clock.
He makes every second count—from the time he wakes up until he goes to bed he stays on schedule.
Until he discovers a dead body.
The fallout ruins his perfect timetable and forces him to look beyond the clock and face what he didn’t want to see.
“Blind Eye” by National Bestselling author Dara Girard is free on this site from only the 17th to 24th .
Pissing on a corpse.
He would always remember that was the only reason they’d found her. Not because anyone was looking, but because Mitchell liked to drink two Big Gulps while they studied at the local community center and couldn’t hold his bladder.
“Just hold it,” Ayodele (Ayo for short) Davis said through gritted teeth as he looked at the clock in his father’s Lexus. He had to drop his friends home fast or he was going to be late. He drove the car on evenly paved roads bracketed by the pristine green lawns of their Northeast Maryland suburban neighborhood. Heavy grey clouds hung over head, the spring day warmer than usual. He had to beat the rain—and the clock.
Because he couldn’t be late—ever. His mother would notice.
“I can’t hold it, man,” Mitchell said, shifting in the backseat. “I really have to go.”
Ayo briefly thought of letting him wet himself. It was better than being late.
“Come on,” Shelia said, nudging him with her elbow from the passenger seat. She was cute—her skin the color of chestnut— and he liked her, he hoped she liked him too, but he wasn’t ready to do anything about it. He didn’t have the time. He never had the time.
Ayo bit his lip. “We’re almost there.”
“Pleasssse…” Mitchell said.
Shelia shook her head. “Don’t be mean.”
He didn’t want to be mean. If she only knew what he had to face. Every minute counted. Every second. Every mili-second.
Ayo looked at the clock again and measured how long it would take if he let Mitchell take a leak. He could still make it. He pulled over into the neighborhood park. Before he’d even parked, Mitchell had jumped out and disappeared behind some bushes.
He didn’t even like studying at the community center, but he did it to stay out of the house. Better to be around the sound of bouncing balls and loud music, than listening to his mother ask him about his grades. His last B had really gotten her angry. He could still remember the sting of her words, the slap of her hand against his face. It was As or nothing.
We didn’t come to this country for you to have fun, she liked to remind him. Blaming his low mark on the time he’d gone to a football game, instead of studying. Studying was his life.
That’s why she clocked every hour he spent. She knew all his teachers, knew all the assignments. Wanted to know how long he spent on each.
He glanced at his watch. “What was taking Mitchell so long?” he asked, adjusting his glasses and squinting at the bushes. “Did he have to do number two as well?”
“Give him time.”
He glanced up at the sky certain the clouds would soon break. “I can’t,” he said. He got out of the car.
“I’m sure he’ll be back in a minute,” Shelia said.
He didn’t have a minute. He walked over to the bushes and found Mitchell, flat on his back, his eyes closed and his pants still down. He’d fainted. Though that didn’t make sense to Ayo. Mitchell usually fainted on hot days, at the sight of needles or blood. Ayo knelt beside him and slapped his face. His eyes fluttered open.
“We’ve got to go,” Ayo said.
“Is it still there?” His voice shook.
Mitchell sat up, looked past him then his eyes rolled back and he fainted again. Ayo swore. He heard Shelia’s footsteps coming through the brush, crunching on the dried leaves. He looked up at her.
She looked past him and screamed.
He leaped to his feet. “What!”
She pointed to something behind him. He spun around and finally saw it. A body. The body of a girl. Mutilated. Her eyes missing.
“God, I’m going to be sick,” she said then was.
The sound of retching seemed to wake Mitchell out of his faint. He quickly pulled up his pants. “I’d hoped I’d imagined it.”
“Her,” Ayo said, though it didn’t matter now. She wasn’t a girl anymore, just a body.
The body of a girl he knew. Even with her eyes gone he knew who she was.
But nobody could know that. He glanced at his watch and swore he was going to be late, there was no stopping that now. And he couldn’t just leave, he had to call the police.
His mother wouldn’t like that.
You only call the police when you want more trouble, she liked to tell him.
But he had to do something. She couldn’t be left there. Dumped. Discarded.
He didn’t have to admit that he knew her, the police would ask too many questions and his mother wouldn’t like the amount of time that would take.
He heard the rumble of thunder, a storm was fast approaching and he knew evidence would soon be lost. He had to make the call.
He pulled out his cell phone, practicing all the information he would leave out.
His mother’s reaction to him being late was even worse than when he had his B. When he explained about the girl she grew quiet, but her eyes watched him.
“What did you say?” she asked.
He kept his gaze on the bowl of steamed callaloo that sat on the dining room table. He didn’t look at his father or his two younger sisters. Instead, he watched the steam rise to the ceiling. How free it must be. He only had one year left and then he’d be free too. “Nothing much. Just what I saw.”
“And what did you see?”
It wasn’t a real question. He’d grown used to the questions that were silent demands. He knew what she wanted him to say. She wanted him to say ‘I didn’t see anything.’ Or just ‘Nothing.’ She wanted him to turn a blind eye and not get involved. She never wanted him to be involved. She didn’t want him to see anything—ever. Just his studies. Math equations, scientific theories. That was all that mattered.
“I just saw the girl there.” He shrugged trying to look nonchalant although he wished she’d pretend to care. Pretend to wonder how he felt about seeing a dead girl mutilated in the woods. Pretend to show some horror that a young girl had been killed. “Then they let me go.”
“Do you think they’ll talk to you again?”
She nodded and he saw the hint of a satisfied smile. “Good.”
But he didn’t feel good. He knew something about that girl that others didn’t. But maybe the police would uncover it.
They didn’t. Three days later, there were still questions. And it gnawed at him. She wasn’t trash and she shouldn’t be overlooked as she had been most of her life. He knew he was supposed to overlook her too, pretend she hadn’t been there, but he wasn’t able to.
He’d caught a glimpse of her two years ago.
He’d been leaving a family friend’s house when he saw a skinny girl carrying large bags down to the basement. He offered to help her and her eyes grew wide with fear.
In the car with his parents on their way home, he asked about her.
“Do you have a test tomorrow?” his mother replied instead.
“I’m prepared for it.”
“You can never be too prepared.”
He sighed. “But that girl—”
“She’s none of your business,” his mother said in a terse tone.
And she wasn’t.
Even when he saw her again late one night when she was in the convenience store looking like a drop of rain could knock her to the ground. He’d offered her a ride, she refused. Somehow he’d gotten her to tell him her name and when he’d given her a lollipop she seemed to want to say more, but never did. But she didn’t have to. He knew why she was there. Why she looked the way she did. But he pretended not to see it. Just as he was taught. Just as his mother wanted. Just as everyone wanted.
But now he couldn’t pretend. He lay in his bedroom unable to sleep. He hadn’t been able to since he’d seen her dead body.
He had to tell the police something, but he didn’t want to get involved. He couldn’t. He could hear his mother’s reprimand, They equate us with crimes. They see a foreign name and they think bad things. Only bring us pride. You owe us that.
She was already annoyed that their name had been linked to the story. Reporters speculated that the girl was another victim of a killer who’d mutilated two other women in the area. His father was a prominent businessman so his son’s grisly find was mentioned in the local news along with his name, which infuriated her. If she’d been just a little older they wouldn’t have written about her. She wasn’t some pretty white girl. But she was still young enough for sympathy—about fourteen.
He was still thinking about the girl as he walked into the cafeteria for lunch and started to head towards his friends’ table. It was squared away in the corner so that they wouldn’t get bothered, but he changed direction and instead headed to the jock’s table.
A risk. A dumb one, but he was desperate. He sat in front of Lyle Willis the football Quarterback. A guy who could beat him to a pulp and use his nuts as dice. But he knew how to manipulate people, how to lie. He had a charm Ayo didn’t.
“You lost or something?” Lyle said.
Ayo cleared his throat, his heart hammering in his ears. “I need a good lie.”
“I need a good lie.”
“What kind of lie?” Morris Rutger, another athlete, said as he sat next to Lyle, two hamburgers on his tray. He had a beefy face, but sharp brown eyes.
“For the police,” Ayo said.
“What did you do?”
Lyle started to grin. Lying to the police had become a specialty of his, plus everyone knew he had family connections to help him. “You’ve gotta tell me or leave.”
“I want to tell them something without getting involved,” Ayo added.
“Why lie about it?”
Ayo adjusted his glasses. “I need to lie about how I know, not what I know.” He needed to give the girl a name. He couldn’t tell the police how he knew. He knew they would be curious.
“You’ll have to tell them over the phone,” Morris said. “You’re too soft. And police are used to liars.”
“You sleep with someone underage or something?” Michael Sikes, also an athlete, said from the end of the table.
They all laughed.
Ayo tried to laugh too, but couldn’t. He rarely laughed. Wondered if he even knew how to anymore. “Hmm.”
“You tell people what they want to hear, that’s the easiest way to lie,” Morris said.
Lyle shoved his friend in the arm. “Not with the police. You want him to go down for something?” Lyle looked at Ayo and for the first time Ayo wasn’t afraid of him although he knew the feeling wouldn’t last long. He was still afraid of a lot of things. “If you don’t want to get involved then you stay away. Police like to close cases quickly and you’ll be on the top of their list.”
Lyle was right. He should stay away. He shouldn’t get involved. Lyle knew how to handle himself. He wasn’t afraid like Ayo. He could lie with ease. He could fall asleep in class and still get high marks. Ayo had to work hard and he didn’t lie. He was afraid to. But a week later he found himself walking up the steps to the local police station. The girl haunted his dreams now. Asking him, begging him to see her. To just say her name. He had to tell someone.
And the person he ended up telling was a detective who looked like she chewed chalk for breakfast and drank castor oil for lunch. Her name was Karissa Walker and she had a shock of red hair and cool blue eyes. She motioned him to sit with all the interest of a tired mother of six.
“I need to tell you something about the girl I found in the park,” he said.
She clasped her hands on the desk in front of her. It looked old, without distinction, and the room smelled like rubber soles and chocolate chip cookies. “Go on.”
“Her name’s Miracle Fokam.”
“How do you know that?”
“She told me.” Even though she shouldn’t have. He wondered if that was why they killed her.
“So you knew her?”
He shrugged, hoping to appear casual, although he was shaking inside. “I just thought you should know her name.”
“That’s not what I asked you.”
He nodded. “I know.”
She sighed. “No one’s come to claim her. Do you know her parents? Her family?”
“No.” At least that was true. He knew who kept her, but they were not her family. He folded his arms and waited for the detective to look at him with suspicion. He waited to see the cool blue of her eyes take in the darkness of his skin, the foreign features of his face, and pass judgment. He waited for her to see him as a suspect.
She didn’t disappoint. She flattened her hands on the desk and said, “You need to tell me everything you know.”
“I just did. I know her name.”
She narrowed her eyes. “You know a lot more than that.”
He nodded. “I know she was stabbed a lot and had her eyes gouged out and was dumped in a neighborhood park.”
“Does your mother know you’re here?”
“No.” Please God no.
“Why did you come in?”
“To give her a name.”
Of course the detective didn’t like his response and told him that she’d be in touch again, but he knew he’d given her the key to everything.
Two days later he learned from the local news that Miracle’s story quickly changed from a case about a possible serial killer to one about underground slavery. Ayo followed the story, learning about all its grisly details, while making sure his grades didn’t slip so his mother wouldn’t notice his interest. He discovered that Miracle had been owned by two families. Hustled between them like a small beast of burden. She’d had no permanent address. She’d been killed when the wife of one of the couples had found her husband in bed with the girl. The wife claimed when she’d lifted the knife, she’d been aiming for her husband and had struck the little girl instead. Because they knew they couldn’t go to the hospital—too many questions would be raised—they decided to finish her off. They took out her eyes to mimic the recent killing of two local women.
Ayo wasn’t surprised to learn that Miracle’s family had been told that she would come to the States to get a great education. She got one no one expected.
An education in greed and cruelty.
He was glad he’d been able to help. She’d been given a name and even if the reporter had only been telling her story for his own byline, someone had cared about her at least for a moment.
And he thought he was safe. The police hadn’t contacted him again. He had gotten away with it. But a month later Mrs. Nkansah, a lady they’d known from church who’d always snuck him treats as a child, felt she had to get something off her chest.
“She saw you,” his mother said one evening as they sat around the dinner table, the bright lights of the room making the outside beyond the windows look extra dark though the sun had yet to descend.
Ayo focused on the fluffy yellow rice on his plate.
“Mrs. Nkansah asked me why she saw you going to the police,” his mother continued.
His chest clenched. He’d been spotted? “I had to tell them something.”
“I thought you said you had nothing to say.”
“Something came to me.”
“It’s over now.” He scooped up some rice and forced himself to swallow though his stomach felt tight.
“What did you tell them?”
He took another spoonful.
“What did you say? The police wouldn’t have known about them except from an insider. One of us.” She slapped the table with the flat of her hand, rattling the dishes. “What did you say?”
Ayo gripped his fork then set it down, knowing he deserved the accusation in her tone. Miracle had never told him her surname, but he’d given her one. One that could be easily traced because there was only one Fokam in the entire county.
His stomach clenched so hard it ached, but he looked at his mother, just as he’d faced the judgment of the blue eyed detective. He could do it. He could tell her the truth she’d forced him to live. He could finally say what he wished he had. “I told them that I ignored her. That I saw her with bruises and said nothing. I told them that I knew where she lived in the basement of the Fokam’s house and that she was only let out once a month. I told them that I pretended not to see her, that she didn’t exist, that I tried to forget her name. And I told them not to bother me again because I have to focus on my Chem exam and keep my GPA unsullied.”
He saw the horror and disgust in his mother’s eyes, but for the first time he wasn’t afraid. He was no longer afraid of disappointing her, of being a failure in her eyes. She only wanted him to focus on things that were dead—philosophers, mathematics, theories—not on life. What other people did was none of their business. To her people didn’t matter.
But he could no longer live that way. He could no longer live counting the minutes and the seconds, worrying about getting an 89.5 versus 90 on an exam, still less than a 100 his mother would say.
He’d turned a blind eye for too long and now his eyes were wide open. And for the first time, in a long time, he felt free.
Copyright © 2017 Dara Girard
Blind Eye is a work of fiction. All characters and events portrayed herein are fictitious and are not based on any real persons living or dead.
Published by Ilori Press Books LLC
Cover and Layout © 2017 Ilori Press Books LLC
Cover Image ©2017 Elena Elisseeva /123rf
All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced in any fashion without the express written consent of the copyright holder.