I have a full Saturday, but I wanted to leave you guys with a treat as I grow ever closer to completing Lineage!
If you haven't read the first four chapters follow the links, or you're not going to know what the hell is going on.
A JJ Morris Novel
It was just another typical Saturday at the Kitchen, a completely packed dinning room that was alive with conversation. People talking business, weather, the homecoming, and what embarrassing thing Mr. Norris did after stumbling drunk out of the Ginger Pub last night. A good portion of the town was here like they were every morning just before setting off to work, only on the weekends the crowd appeared later, closer to noon. All of them filing in for the good food and relaxing atmosphere.
Living history leapt off the diner’s brown colored walls where pictures were neatly displayed in their frames. Some of the pictures were of the diner and how it had evolved throughout its existence, from the black and white photo yellowing at the edges of men standing around an empty dirt lot holding a shovel. To the colorful collage of the ice cream ball they held just last year. Others captured major events that took place in Portstown. Real history as the older more traditional folks called it. True history. The rest of the pictures were of families or soldiers that had gone to fight in wars, a whole wall was dedicated to the fallen heroes from the town.
The areas not taken up by pictures were decorated with old farming tools, things that were rusted and aged. This diner might not be in the town square or downtown with the rest of the historical buildings, but it was the heart of Portstown. The center of the narration that was this small community. A cleverly displayed time-capsule where you could get the best strawberry milkshakes.
We sat in center of the diner among all the buzzing chatter just where Marty liked to be, it was our gang’s usual table with the usual talk passing between us. Today I just didn’t feel part of our little group, or part of the activity going on around me. The world was new and terrifying, and what made it worse was that not one person seemed to be mourning the tragic loss of a young girl. It made me a upset to think about it, wondering if it would have been me last night would the Kitchen…would this town still be acting like nothing happened at all? Was my lot in life was that small and unnoticeable.
The idea put a chill in my body, but I could understand their lack of reaction. Maybe what these people—what this town needed was to get right back into the normal flow of everyday life in order to deal with such a tragic loss. After all that was what I did after loosing my father.
In an effort to do just that I tried to pay more attention to the conversation buzzing at my own table, instead I ended up thinking about how I got here. How I ended up among this popular crowd—the upper class of Portstown High. I never gave the pops much thought when I entered a new school, becoming popular was not on my to do list. Class work, good grades, getting to that next level of in my academic career was what occupied my mind. It was the only thing that kept me from letting my chaotic life get the better of me. Studying gave me a purpose and comfort when I couldn’t make human connections.
I didn’t have to worry about that here in Portstown.
That first day at Portstown High was like coming home. I was welcomed warmly by a lot of my classmates and no one was giving me those sketchy looks like the kids did in other schools. The mystery of being the new girl or the new threat didn’t happen here. It was all very civil considering it was a small town high school.
Later in the day when I headed into the lunchroom a bubbly blond kidnapped me (Marty). She dragged me off without a word as onlookers gasped and stared, we stopped at the head of a table where she introduced me around to her little group. At the time they were strangers, very welcoming strangers, and to the rest of the school they were known as The Royals— the popular kids. I still don’t understand that name.
From that moment on Marty was at my side. Friendly to the point of being suspicious. After a week of being showered with kindness by my insistent new bestfriend, I finally asked Marty why she was hanging all over me, and why all the others were being so nice. It was then I found out about the Morris family and their long reaching roots in the town. Marty too was a descendant from one of the founding families, as were four other members of The Royals. Among the seven families the Adams, Marty’s family, and the Morris, my family, were the closest.
I didn’t understand the instant bond Marty wanted us to have, just because of some connection from long ago. We were strangers that shared a bit of history, I didn’t see that as a reason to become instant sisters. There was a great deal of hesitation on my part. Not just because of Marty’s pushy nature but there was no point in making friends, we were just going to move in a couple of months. If I made friends then it would be heart breaking when I had to leave. Slowly, however, Marty wore me down and now there wasn’t a day we didn’t talk to each other. I was apart of something—one of the group and I had friends. Those welcoming strangers sitting at that lunch table were now my closest and only friends. Ones I was so very thankful to have.
There was Alison Crawford, witty and fairly smart. She ranked fourth in our class, Ali could have been first if it wasn’t for her aversive to homework. A classic little brunette with soft green eyes and an easy smile to fall in love with. She was always at Marty’s side, I often thought of her as Marty’s shadow. The twin sister Marty never had. Different yet the same.
Then there was Jamie Smyth, the bad girl of the bunch. I had seen worse in other schools and it wasn’t that she was actually bad. Jamie had her own way of doing things that didn’t always settle well with authority, she often skirted the line. Her and the principle were on first name bases along with a few of the deputies under Chief Roger’s command. A deep redheaded tall thing with slender features, Jamie was beautiful in an awkward kind of way. She grew on you over time, and I found her to be a very interesting person to study. As mysterious as most of the others thought Jamie was, I could always tell when trouble was brewing in that deviant mind of hers by the twinkle in her left eye, and the hint of a grin flexing in her bony cheeks.
David was also part of the group before we started dating, and he was the biggest flirt. He still was but only when he knew it would get a rise out of me. David and his games, if it wasn’t for his looks and Marty’s instance I agree to date him, I would have never given David the time of day. Being in a relationship never appealed to me, but I found it uplifting now. It brightened my dark world of loneliness even with all its dysfunctions.
Also in our group was the quarterback of the not so successful varsity football team, Allen Vancamp, David’s bestfriend and partner in crime.
Allen’s family owned over half of Portstown, kids in school often called him the ‘Prince’, or ‘Your Highness’ when he walked pass. He looked every bit of the part, nearly perfect with his white blond hair and endlessly deep green eyes, topped off with a smile that made most girls swoon. I guess if you could have something like royalty in small towns than Allen and his family would be it, and if he was the prince than Marty was the queen.
Martha Adams was the monarch of this whole place. I didn’t think it possible for someone just barely eighteen to rule a whole town, but it was clear who called the shots. In the time I had lived in Portstown I had seen Marty talk her way out of four tickets, countless hours of detention, an accident that was clearly her fault, and receive gifts from different shops in town for no reason. I didn’t know what it was about the Adams family, but here they were a big deal.
Each one of my new friends were a direct descendant from one of the seven founder families, me included. We were our own little family, respected and awed in school and outside as well. It was laughable but we very well could get away with murder if we wanted.
Aside from the descendants Carl Rogers was also part of our crew, the son of the police chief. Carl started dating Marty a year after that embarrassing turn down by Jacob Campbell in the sixth grade. If it wasn’t for the fact he had turned her down I had no doubt Jacob would also be included in our group. He was the last of the descendants, and would have fit in just right with the rest of us. It was silly, popularity based on something like blood but I enjoyed our group. I felt connected to these people. We were a strange family of immature teenagers ruling over the people of Portstown.
I guess here we were royalty, the name finally made sense as I looked out at my friends.
Marty was our queen and Ali her faithful lady in waiting. Always at her side, whispering into her ear. Allen the prince next in line for the throne and David the court jester. Jamie some kind of warrior of the court, rough and rugged around the edges. She was the one that got her hands dirty. Marty’s man servant Carl, and then me… maybe an advisor seeing as how I was generally the voice of reason among them. I liked that, a wise voice of reason supporting the others. That seemed right for me.
The Royal Court of Portstown. I announced like some formal introduction inside my head. Chuckling to myself at how well they all fit my assigned titles.
The conversation at the table had gone on without me, but the next few words brought me back from my little fantasy world.
“We should ask Jacob to come to the mall with us,” Marty suggested as Ali and Jamie passed wary glances between each other.
“What?” She questioned them. “It would take his mind off of... you know.”
Subtle Marty, real subtle.
“Don’t you think you should give the guy a little room. He just lost his girl and here you are pouncing down like some kind of vulture.” Allen said.
“What? No.” Marty defended but the look of embarrassment was in her eyes and red was flashing across her cheeks. That was just what she had in mind.
Katie hadn’t been gone for a full day and she was already moving in on her boyfriend, that was so wrong. I looked to Carl sitting beside Marty and offered a glance of apology. He seemed unaffected by Allen’s statement or Marty’s reaction, maybe he just didn’t hear them, and if he did he wasn’t showing it.
I felt awful for Carl. Everyone at the table knew he was just a stand in for who Marty really wanted, but that didn’t mean Allen had to be such a jerk and say it. Sometimes Allen could be a real ass and opened his mouth before he used that pretty blond head of his to think. The last thing Carl needed was to hear he was second rate, especially for how sweet and caring he was. Carl was an all around nice guy and easy to control. I’m sure those were the traits that landed him Marty.
“Carl and I are coming up on five years, why would I threw that away for Jacob?” Marty tried to assure us but I could tell she was lying.
The others might have never noticed, but I had picked up on her tell very quickly. It was just a talent of mine. Marty would lift her nose to the air like a spoiled brat every time a lie passed her lips, or if she disagreed and was trying to bit her tongue. That didn’t happen very often. Marty could be such a snot, but she had her reasons. Ones only I knew about, so I let it slide.
Carl seemed delighted at her words and hooked his around Marty’s shoulders in a little embrace. A smile lightening his face but his eyes were empty. Those hazel eyes of his held no affection or joy, there was nothing.
How interesting. I had never noticed that before.
“Allen you’re such a jerk for saying stuff like that. Marty isn’t trying to profit from this.” Ali scolded the prince to which Allen added.
“Hey, I’m just pointing out the benefits here. Its not like the rest of us aren’t getting something out of Katie’s little run-in.”
That drew my attention.
Benefits? How could anyone benefit from someone else’s death.
Death was death. An end to everything in that persons life. It was sad and awful, what benefit could you get out of such a tragic death.
“You’re just awful.” Ali responded but I could see the look on her face, the worried lines of guilt that creased her small features. Something Allen had said was upsetting her.
The others grew silent as well and shame crept onto Jamie’s face just like it had Ali’s, for the first time since I had met her Jamie put her head down. She was acting like a child caught read handed with their hand in the cookie jar. This was a first. Jamie didn’t feel shame, guilt, or regret. She always meet the consequences of her actions with a defiant smile and devious laugh. Whatever nerve Allen had struck was a deep one.
“Allen just shut your mouth and stop ruining our day.” Marty growled at him but Allen wasn’t going to listen. That rebellious gleam he often got just before doing something completely evil flashed in his eyes, and the edges of his mouth curled upward like a little devil.
“Everyone is getting something out of this, and you know it Marty.” He started and while the others were giving him looks begging him to stop, I wanted to hear more. “Marty gets Jacob, Carl your dad gets his big crime to solve. One that will make his career, and send the Rogers name down in history like he’s always talkin’ about.”
“Leave it alone man,” David warned from beside me but Allen kept going.
“Ali moves up to head of the Glee Club, Jamie that seat on the yearbook committee she’s been wanting. David and I no longer have to listen to her bitch at coach about her boyfriend not getting enough field time, and how we steal the spotlight from poor Jacob. And Joey…”
He paused for a moment, his delighted gazes settling right on me. A sneer corking in the corner of his lips as he continued, “you are now number one in the class. That looks awful good on a college resume. We all get something, so be happy and thank the powers that be.”
Allen grabbed his glass from the table and tipped it up in a cheers kind of motion before taking a drink, it was such a chilling moment. An awful silence had fallen over the others while the rest of the busy diner chattered on.
Allen was right. In a split second Katie’s life ended and we all gained something we had coveted. Suddenly my scrambled eggs were refusing to stay down. I felt them churning in my gut at the sick realization I had just succeed in my goal to be ranked number one at all costs. It was a victory I didn’t want.
If you want to continue the story follow the link to read Chapters 6 & 7.