Everything But Love

by Joel Young

Chapter 13

Against My Will

After figuring out that Justin had probably started the chain of gossip that led to the Jonesboro Examiner publishing my embarrassing family secrets, I had difficulty sleeping. I woke up several times during the night, worrying about what I would say to Justin. Should I outright accuse him of sharing my personal information that he had promised to keep confidential? Should I blame him for telling people who then called the newspaper? Would he tell me the truth if he had betrayed my trust? Should I forgive him if he apologized? I didn't know the answers to those questions. But I knew I needed to have a heart-to-heart talk with Justin.

The following day, I rode to school with Mason. We didn't speak until he pulled into the parking lot of a strip mall. "I need some chewing gum," he said. "I'll be right back." He left the truck running and headed toward the entrance to Revco Drugs.

As I waited for Mason, I continued thinking about what I would say to Justin when I got to school. I was lost in thought when a knock on the passenger's side window startled me. A man was standing outside of the truck, gesturing for me to roll down the window. I cracked it open just enough so I could hear him.

"Are you that Covington kid?" the middle-aged man asked me. He was heavy-set with a buzz-cut, and he looked like he was angry.

"What business is that of yours?" I asked.

The man gave me a dirty look and walked away from the car. I thought he was leaving. Instead, he went around to the driver's side of the truck, opened the door, and got in. I was shocked! Since Mason had left the motor running, the guy was able to back out of the parking space. Then, he put the vehicle in drive and took off so fast that the tires squealed on the pavement.

"Hey!" I hollered. "What are you doing?!?"

"Shut your fucking mouth!" the man yelled at me.

I wasn't sure what was going on, but my instincts told me that something really bad was happening. I knew that I had to get away from the guy who was stealing Mason's truck – with me in it! "Take the damn truck," I yelled. "Just let me out!" The man kept driving for several miles on country roads. Finally, I reached for the door handle. I didn't want to jump from a speeding truck, but I was willing to risk it to get away from the scary man who was taking me against my will.

The man slammed on the breaks, throwing me forward into the dashboard. He grabbed me by the collar and pulled so tightly that I could barely breathe. He turned off the motor and dragged me out of the driver's side door. He still had his right hand around my collar when I saw him reach into his jacket pocket with his left hand. He pulled out a gun and held it up to my head. "Listen to me!" the man yelled in a menacing tone. "I'd love to knock that silver spoon out of your mouth and blow your fucking brains out, but your parents won't pay as much for you if you're dead! So, shut the fuck up, and do what I say!"

I was paralyzed with fear. I saw that a car had pulled up behind us. I had a momentary feeling of hope when a man got out of the car and approached us. "Help me!" I cried.

The man who had kidnapped me let go of my collar and slapped me across the face – hard. Then, he pushed me to the ground. I winced in pain, and the brutal assault left me stunned.

"Why'd you hit the kid?" the man who had just arrived said. "That wasn't part of the plan!"

"Shut up!" the kidnapper said. "Help me get Richie Ritch into the car."

The two men dragged me to the car and tied my hands behind my back. "Go wipe the truck down for fingerprints," the kidnapper told his accomplice. When the guy headed toward the truck, the other man looked me in the eyes. "This is to make sure you don't do something stupid," he said as he drew his fist back and punched me in the face so hard that I passed out.

As I regained partial consciousness, I realized that I was lying flat on my stomach on the floor in the backseat of a car. My jaw hurt, and I was fuzzy-headed. I tasted blood on my lips. My arms and wrists ached from having my hands tied with rope behind my back. The kidnapper was driving the car, and the other guy was in the backseat with me. I tried to ignore my pain so that I could listen carefully. I thought maybe I might hear something that could help me later – if I were lucky enough to stay alive.

No one said anything for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, the guy in the backseat with me said, "Darryl, take the next exit."

"Hey!" Darryl grunted. "What the fuck are you doing?!? We agreed never to use names in front of the kid!"

"Fuck you!" the other guy said. "The kid's still passed out cold. He ain't paying no attention to nothin'. So, get off my back!"

"I swear, Zeke," Darryl said. "If you make a bunch of stupid mistakes and get us caught, you're a dead man!"

"You're the one who's beating on the kid!" Zeke said. "And you just used my name! You're the one making mistakes! If we get caught, that's on you, mother-fucker!"

The car slowed down and veered to the right. I assumed Darryl was getting off onto an exit ramp. That meant that we had probably been on a freeway. I felt the car stop and then turn left. About twenty minutes later, the car slowed down again and turned right onto a bumpy road. It might have been a driveway; I wasn't sure. Then, I felt the car stop. I continued to pretend that I was unconscious.

I heard Darryl get out of the car's front seat and come around to the passenger side. Zeke opened the door. "Let's get him out of there," Darryl said. I kept my eyes closed as the two men lifted me out of the car and carried me into a house. The next thing I knew, they tossed me onto a small cot. The mattress was very thin, and I could feel the metal springs below. The shock of being thrown onto a hard, flat surface with my hands tied behind me made me cry out in pain. I opened my eyes and saw Darryl and Zeke standing over me. I hadn't gotten a good look at Zeke until that point, so I tried to memorize his appearance. Zeke was about my height with sandy-colored, short hair. He was skinny and had a tattoo of a snake on his left forearm.

"He's a pretty little thing, isn't he?" Darryl said to Zeke. "I bet he's learned to suck a dick real good!"

"Keep it in your pants!" Zeke barked at Darryl. "We're just kidnapping him, remember? When are you making the ransom call?"

"It's too soon," Darryl said. "We need to let his parents stew for a while. You know – scare the crap out of them a little."

I looked around, and I saw that the cot I was on was in the corner of the living room. It appeared to be a tiny, run-down house, probably in the middle of nowhere. I was in a great deal of pain, and I was scared to death. But I kept quiet as I continued to study my kidnappers and surroundings.

Darryl left the room and came back with a half-empty bottle labeled 'Jack Daniels.' I assumed it was alcohol. Darryl opened the bottle and took a swig. "Want some?" he asked. I thought he was offering Zeke a drink, but he walked over to me. Adrenalin shot through my system, and I braced for another physical assault.

I was still flat on my back with my hands tied behind me. Darryl bent down. "Drink some of this," he said to me. "It'll take some of the pain away and help calm you down." He looked at Zeke. "Get over here and sit him up for me." Zeke came over and pulled me into a sitting position. Darryl sat down next to me and held the bottle up to my lips.

"No!" I said. "I don't want it."

Darryl pulled the bottle away from me and sat quietly for a few moments. Then, he looked at me. "You need to learn to do what you're told," he said. Suddenly, he pushed my head into the wall so hard that the plaster cracked.

"Okay," he said. "You have a choice. You can drink the whiskey, or I'll shove the bottle up your ass!" He held the glass container to my mouth again and tipped it up. The clear, amber liquid hit my lips, and I swallowed some of the awful-smelling stuff. Some of the alcohol went down my chin and dripped onto my shirt. "More!" Darryl yelled.

I had never tasted whisky before, and it made me want to puke. But I drank more of it each time Darryl lifted the bottle to my mouth. When he finally stopped forcing me to drink, my head was spinning - and I lost consciousness.

I must have been out for a long time. When I started to wake up, I saw that it was dark outside. Darryl and Zeke were in the room, eating pizza and watching television.

I was scared to do or say anything, but I had no choice. "I need to use the bathroom," I said.

"You didn't pee the bed, did you?" Darryl asked in an accusatory tone of voice.

"No," I said. "Not yet."

Darryl looked at Zeke. "Take the kid to the john," he ordered.

Zeke walked over to me and helped me into a sitting position. He turned me so that he could untie the rope that was binding my hands behind my back. It was a great relief to have my hands free, but my arms were still very sore. My wrists were scraped and red from rope burns. I stood up and saw that Darryl was pointing the gun at me.

"I won't try anything!" I said. "I just have to pee!"

Zeke walked me to the bathroom. I was embarrassed when he watched me empty my bladder. But at that point, I really didn't care. I was trying to figure out how to stay alive.

As I was washing my hands, Darryl hollered from the living room. "Hey, Kid," he said. "You're on TV!"

I dried my hands, and Zeke nodded to me to go back to the living room. The local news was on. I sat down on the cot and watched.

"The boy is James Covington, a 9 th -grade student at Tellico Falls High School," a reporter said as he held a microphone in front of him. "The Jonesboro Examiner recently published a story exposing scandalous details about the boy's family. Police suspect that James Covington stole his cousin's truck as part of a plan to run away. A search for the young man is underway. Anyone with knowledge of the whereabouts of James Covington should call the Tellico Falls Sheriff's Department."

"So, they think you're a runaway, do they?" Darryl said. "Maybe it's time to shake things up a bit. Tie him up again."

Zeke tied the rope around my wrists, but not behind my back this time. Darryl told us both to go out to the car. "Where are we going?" Zeke asked.

"I think we should make a little phone call," Darryl answered. I got in the car's back seat with Zeke, and Darryl backed down the driveway and onto the road. About five minutes later, he pulled into an old Zephyr gas station that looked like it had been out of business for years. But there was still a phone booth out in front.

Darryl pulled me out of the car and walked me to the payphone. "We're calling your mom," Darryl said. "What's the number?" I gave him the number to my home in Connecticut. "That's fucking long distance! I ain't going through no operator! Give me the number where you live here." I gave him Aunt Gretchen's number. He put a dime in the coin slot and dialed the number. "Keep your mouth shut until I tell you to talk." He held the phone so that I could hear the telephone ringing.

After three rings, Aunt Gretchen answered. "Hello," she said. I almost broke down crying when I heard her voice.

"I got some good news for you, Lady," Darryl said. "That kid of yours didn't run away. He's taking a little vacation - with me. But he doesn't seem too happy about it."

"Who is this?!?" my aunt yelled.

"Just a friend," Darryl said. "Do you want to speak to the boy? He's right here."

"James!" Aunt Gretchen cried. "Are you okay? "Honey, where are you?"

I began crying, but I managed to speak. "Two men took me, Aunt Gretchen! They want money. Please help me!"

Darryl put the phone up to his ear. "You know how you can help him, Lady?" Darryl said. "Don't call the damn police! That would not help the kid live to a ripe old age. I'll call again. No police!"

Darryl hung up the receiver and smiled. "That was the most fun I've had in a long time," he said.

As Darryl took me back to the car, I realized that he wasn't just trying to get my parents' money. He liked hurting me and terrorizing my family. That realization scared me, and I knew I had to find a way to escape.

Soon, I was back in the house on the cot. My hands were still tied up in front of me. Zeke threw a piece of cold pizza to me. Someone had already eaten the toppings off of it. "Eat it or starve," he said. "It's your choice. I don't give a shit."

I nibbled on the disgusting food – awkwardly holding it with tied-up hands. When I had eaten the whole thing, I asked, "May I have some water, please?"

"I guess that would be okay," Darryl said. "We may have to kill you, but we won't let you die of thirst." He paused before adding, "That would take too long!" Darrel let out a long and demented-sounding laugh. "Zeke, get the kid some water."

"Hey!" Zeke said. "We're not supposed to use our real names. And quit ordering me around – Darryl!"

The two men stood up and stared at each other with venom in their eyes. I was sure they were going to start fighting. Surprisingly, however, Darryl backed down. "I'll get the little shit some water," he said. "But talk to me like that again, and you and me are going to have a problem!"

Eventually, Darryl and Zeke fell asleep. I laid awake most of the night, trying to figure out a way to get away. I decided that the best thing I could do was wait until one or both men made a mistake that left them vulnerable. I decided that if I ever had the chance to grab Darryl's gun, I'd shoot to kill. And if I had to, I'd burn the house down – with them in it!

Two days passed, very slowly. Daryl continued to hit me several times a day. Zeke tried to get Daryl to stop hurting me, but it didn't do any good. Twice, Daryl left the house to call my aunt about the ransom. Daryl came back mad each time. "That Bitch is stalling," he told Zeke.

Each morning, Zeke would untie me and take me to the bathroom. On the fourth day of my captivity, I looked in the mirror as I was washing up. My face was swollen and bruised, and there were cuts on my lips and above my right eye. I looked and felt terrible. Zeke gave me a bowl of Post Super Sugar Crisp for breakfast. There was no milk. I was so hungry, however, that I gladly ate the dry, overly sweet cereal. Zeke turned on the television to a local news channel.

"Last night, an officer from the Tellico Falls Sheriff's Department found the truck that was taken from the Revco Drug Store parking lot three days ago," a reporter said. "There was no apparent damage to the vehicle, nor were there any clues as to the whereabouts of James Covington, who was last seen in his cousin's truck. Investigators have confirmed that the possibility of abduction has not been ruled out. So far, family members have refused our requests for an interview."

"I think it's time to make them shit or get off the pot," Darryl said to Zeke. "You still think a million is enough?"

"Maybe we should make it more," Zeke said. "That'd give us some room to barter."

We ain't bartering with nobody!" Darryl said. "We get what we ask for, or the kid … sorry Kid … meets his maker. Shit, we probably should 'off him' anyway just so he don't talk."

Outwardly, I didn't react to Darryl saying that I would probably die - regardless of whether or not my family would pay the ransom. Inwardly, however, I was shaken to my core. But at the same time, I became even more determined to save myself no matter what it took.

"Do you think your parents can put together a million dollars in cash today?" Darryl asked me.

"That's a stupid question," I thought to myself. "Does he really think I'd answer him truthfully?!? Doesn't he know that I'd say anything to buy as much time as possible?!?"

"All of their money is tied up in foreign investments," I said as if I knew anything about my parent's finances. "If you want cash, it may take longer."

"You think I'd take a damn check?!?" Darryl said. He slapped me across the face. "I ain't no fool!"

"So, we're sticking with a million, right?" Zeke asked.

"Yeah," Darryl answered. "I can have quite a bit of fun with a million bucks!"

"Hey!" Zeke said. "You get half a million! We're splitting it – remember!"

"Yeah, yeah," Darryl said. "That's what I meant. Now, run to the store and pick up some food. There's nothing left in the kitchen."

"I don't have any money," Zeke said. "You were supposed to bring enough cash to get us through – not me."

"I paid for the gas!" Darryl shouted. "If you want part of the million bucks, you gotta' help out with some money!"

"Well, look in my wallet, asshole!" Zeke said. "Ain't nothing in there!"

I was getting nervous. Darryl and Zeke fighting with each other made the whole situation even more tense - and therefore, more dangerous. I reached in the pocket of my jeans, which neither of my kidnappers had thought to check. "I've got $10," I said. I reached out to give Darryl the money, and he slapped me across the face again!

"You fuckin' little prick!" Darryl yelled as I lost my balance and stumbled. "You were holding out on me! Do that again, and I'll cut off your balls!"

Darryl bent down and picked up the ten-dollar bill that had fallen to the floor. Then, he handed it to Zeke. "Go get some food," he ordered. "I'll go make the phone call after you get back."

When Zeke left, Darryl sat down and pulled out the gun from his pocket. He pointed it at me with an evil smile on his face. Then, he yelled, "Bang!" That scared the Hell out of me. I held up my hands to shield my face. My heart was pounding as I heard Darryl laughing. When I realized that Darryl had just pretended to shoot me, for the fun of it - I was furious! "That mother-fucker needs to die!" I thought to myself.

"You deserved that, Kid," Darryl said. "You hiding anything else from me?"

"No," I told him.

"Why don't I believe you?" he asked. "Maybe you're lying to me. Take off your clothes." He pointed the gun at me again.

The last thing I wanted to do was take off my clothes! So, I stood up, despite feeling wobbly from Darryl hitting me. I turned my pockets inside out. "See," I said. "I'm not hiding anything."

"Maybe your pockets are empty, but you might be hiding something somewhere else. Take off your clothes! I ain't telling you again."

I hesitated, trying to figure out how to get out of doing what Darryl was telling me to do. I realized, however, that I had no choice but to do as he said. I sat down and took off my shoes and socks. I stood and unbuttoned my shirt and took it off."

"Nice muscles - for a kid your age," Darryl said. "Go on!"

Slowly, I unzipped my jeans, sat down, and took them off. I felt very exposed. I stood up. "See!" I said again. "I'm not hiding anything."

Darryl looked at me with a creepy smile on his face. "You're lying to me again!" he said quietly. "You're hiding something in those shorts." His tone of voice changed. "Drop'em!" he ordered.

I took down my shorts and stood naked in front of Darryl. "Well, well, well," he said. "You've got quite a pecker on you. Get over here and let me have a closer look."

I froze. I couldn't stand the thought of Darryl inspecting my private parts. And if he touched me, I was sure I'd freak out and try to run. But then I realized that I'd probably be shot in the back if I tried to get away from him. Cautiously, I walked closer to Darryl. As I did, he stood up, undid his zipper, and pushed his jeans and underwear down. His short, stubby dick looked like it was half hard. He sat back down again.

"Get over here, Boy!" Darryl said. He reached out and grabbed my dick with one hand while holding on to his gun with the other. Then, he moved the gun up to my testicles. "Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to have your balls blown off?"

I stared at Darryl without saying a word. I really didn't think he'd shoot me in the nuts, but still, I felt my arms and legs trembling. "Get on your knees!" he said.

I knew I had to do what he wanted. The very thought of it repulsed me. But I was quickly learning that when my life is at stake, I will do almost anything to survive.

When I was down on my knees, Darryl reached around and pulled me forward by the back of my head. He pushed my face into his groin. "Suck it!" he yelled.

I hesitated for just a moment while my mind was spinning a thousand miles a second. "He's in a vulnerable position," I thought to myself. "Distract him." I leaned down and took his dick into my mouth. As much as I wanted to puke, I knew I needed to get him turned on so that he might give me an opportunity to take control. I wasn't sure how that would happen, but my instincts told me just to go for it. Sucking Darryl's dick was disgusting, but I forced myself to act like I was enjoying it.

"Oh yeah," Darryl said. "I knew a pretty boy like you would know how to give a guy some good head." His dick grew harder inside of my mouth, and I tried my best to get him as aroused and worked up as I could. It seemed like forever, but I finally heard him moaning as if he were about to cum.

I looked up to see that he was holding the gun loosely in his right hand. I kept going up and down on him, hoping he would climax. I thought that as soon as he started to cum, I might have one chance to take control. I knew I might die in the process, but at least I'd go out fighting.

"I'm gonna cum! I'm gonna cum!" Darryl yelled. "Don't stop!" Then, I felt two hands on my head, trying to control my movements.

That meant he had let go of the gun.

"Now or never," I thought to myself. And then, I bit down on Darryl's dick. He screamed out loud and tried to pull me off of him. I grabbed the gun from the sofa and stumbled backward. I pointed the gun at him.

"You son of a Bitch!" Darryl screamed as he tried to get up. I knew if Darryl got ahold of me, he'd kill me.

Without any hesitation, I aimed at his chest. And I fired the gun.

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