Excerpt from the prologue

There is something I have to tell you. It is very important that you read and understand this thing before you truly dive into my story. Don’t worry, I would never give away a big ending but I’m afraid that if I neglect to tell you this in advance, you will blame me for it later. My best friend thought me that people don’t like to be lied to. No matter how much better it might make them feel so here it is: have no illusions about my story, almost every single person in here is fictitious. It is about two boys who both feel lost, and in that they find each other. The thing I really wanted you to know was that one of these boys will be dead, the other alone.

Both of them will be better off.

Excerpt from chapter 2

“I honestly don’t know what to do with you anymore! You just wait until your father hears about this!”  The shrill voice followed Jack up the stairs. It amazed him to this day, that such a small skinny woman could produce such sounds. Slamming his bedroom door behind him, he lit a cigarette and laid down on his bed. As he listened for more yelling or any sound at all, he looked around the room. He felt very much at home in this room. The full ashtray on the desk, the yellowing wallpaper and the red velvet drapes that surrounded the enormous bed.

This room had not always been his. After his grandfather had moved out to live in the Spanish countryside he gave it to him. His parents had offered to get rid of all of his grandfather’s stuff but he had refused. He liked the way the room looked. Old, slightly dilapidated but very pompous. His grandfather had told him stories about how his father decorated the room when he was young. How he himself had moved in after his parents had perished in an accident. He had spent hours telling Jack about how much he hated this house, this room and above all: This name.

The young mans’ name is Jackson Madison Wintermourne, the third. He was named after his grandfather, who was named after his father. Jack always called his grandfather Senior. Senior had fought with Jack’s parents when they brought their son home from the hospital, after he was born. He detested the name they had given the baby and vowed never to call him by it.

Whatever else anyone might say, that is their true family legacy: fighting each other. From that day forth Senior had referred to Jack as Junior.  When Jack’s puberty kicked in he had asked his grandfather not to call him ‘Junior’ anymore, as he wanted to be taken seriously as an adult. Senior had just laughed and told him that he could make up any other name for himself, and that he would call him by it. They tried a lot of names before Jack felt it to be so unnatural for his grandfather not to call him Junior; they just went back to using it. Jack did however ask him why he insisted not to use his real name. He told Jack it was because of freedom. Jack had never understood what he meant by that; he did like the sound of the word: “Freedom.” It sounds like the rustle of a great white sail in the wind, a sail that sets on an enormous war ship. One of those European galleons with cannons and an admiral. One of those ships were pirate stories always took place.

This was one of the things Senior passed on to his grandson: Imagination. No matter what age Jack had been, or what the circumstance, every Friday night Senior would tell him a story. Once, his birthday fell on a Friday, he had left the party early to hear a story. When they buried Jack’s grandmother it was a Friday, after the ceremony Senior told him a story. It did not matter what the occasion was, Jack would wait up all night if he had to. Just to hear another tale.

One night Senior would read the adventures of Peter Pan, another he would make up a story about pirates or cowboys or ladies at the court of Louis XIV. The next Friday he painted the picture of Dorian Grey. No matter what story he told the setting was the same. In the very room Jack now sat, he would lie on the rug next to the fire as Senior sat in the grand, high-backed leather chair next to the desk. Smoking, reading and talking. And all the while, filling Jack’s head with the most wonderful stories.

 

Excerpt from chapter 2

Jack lifted his head and grinned. The grin looked so out of place that his father paused his ranting for a second. “Well John, perhaps that would finally put us on equal footing. Sharing the disappointment of Senior, I always thought that after you there was no more to go around.” His father looked stunned, but Jack did not care as he continued: “Maybe you could violate the AMA’s ethics and medicate me, it’s not like it’s the first time.” Jack tilted his head as if to speak over his father shoulder and said in raised voice: “Is it, Mom? Or maybe ship me off to the Mediterranean, like Senior. Or just go all the way and give me one of those beautiful shirts with the long sleeves!”

His father moved so quickly Jack did not even see. The hand that connected with Jack’s face had an old golden ring on it. The cheek burned and Jack was sure it was turning red. He put his cheek in his own hand as he looked up at his father. The door to the living room opened behind his fathers back and Jack saw his mother hesitate in the doorway. “What’s going on?” She asked in a soft voice. When neither Jack nor his father answered her she moved into the hall and said: “Jacky, are you ok?” “He’s Fine, just…” His father hesitated for a moment. “Just go back in there and take your pills Millie.” Jack chuckled at this: “That’s right mom, this bastard wouldn’t want you to remember him hitting me.”

His mother looked confused and tried to move towards him but found her way blocked by one of John’s arms. “Just leave us Millie.” He said through gritted teeth. “Yeah mom,” Jack continued: “Or else he’ll start smacking you around too.” The next blow caught jack on the other side of his face and knocked him slightly off balance. Jack’s mother moved forward, his father pushed her back roughly and she stumbled. She grabbed the doorframe to break her fall. Jack shot at his father and grabbed the front of his shirt. “Try pushing her again.” He hissed into his fathers face.

Pushing his son of him, his father yelled: “Or what?” This was it, the last straw Jack had feared would one day come. He lunged forward and collided with his father’s chest. His father keeled over backwards and crashed to the floor. Before he could even try to get up Jack stamped on his hand. As his father screamed in pain as Jack yelled at him: “Try hitting me with that hand again!” As his father took hold of his ankle with his uninjured hand, Jack bent down and punched his father hard in the face.

Then he shook his ankle out of his father’s grip and strolled off into the living room. As he passed his mother he squeezed her shoulder as if to say ‘sorry’. “Where the hell are you going?” rumbled his father. Jack turned around to see a lot of blood streaming from under the hand that was clutching his nose. “Calling an ambulance.” Jack said without any emotion.

He picked up the phone, dialed 911 and clenched it between his shoulder and his ear. As a voice said: “911 operator, what’s your emergency?” Jack dug in his pocket for a cigarette. “My father slipped and fell in our hallway.” He put the cigarette between his lips and lit it. “Please send an ambulance.”

 

Excerpt from chapter 4

A jangling of keys woke Jack and he sat up as he heard the key being turned in the lock. His entire body was aching due to the uncomfortable bed-like concrete he had slept on. Officer Hoffman walked in and after he had asked Jack how he had slept, he told him he had a visitor. “Who?” Asked Jack while stretching his arms. “His name is Henry Weiss, he says he’s your lawyer.” Hoffman said. “He’s not,” Jack answered through a yawn. “What do you mean?” said Hoffman looking a little confused. Jack got up and stretched his legs while answering: “He’s my family’s lawyer. Why do you think it took him all night to get here?” “I don’t.” stuttered Hoffman. “He was with my father,” Jack said now looking Hoffman straight in the eyes. “He was with my father to discuss what he wants to do, before he came to me. He probably has some kind of deal in mind.” Then Jack turned away from the officer and put his hand in his pocket. Then he remembered that the jailer had taken all his possessions and he turned back to Hoffman. “Could you get me my cigarettes, please?” He asked. Hoffman smiled while groping in his own pockets. “No I can’t.” he said with a slight smile. “But I can give you one.” He handed Jack a cigarette and offered him his lighter while he said: “So, does that mean you don’t want to see him?” Jack looked up and contemplated his answer before he gave it: “I’ll see him. But tell him to bring more cigarettes.” Hoffman gave him a quizzical look so jack explained: “You must have spend time taking to lawyers, right?” Hoffman nodded. “Then you should know,” Jack continued smiling. “A stiff drink is required.” Hoffman grinned. “But seeing how you will not be able to get me that, a cigarette is the least.” Hoffman grinned and left the cell.

It quite some time before Hoffman came back and took jack out into the hallway. “Why did it take so long?” Jack asked. Hoffman grinned again and answered: “Your request took a while.” It was Jack’s turn to look quizzical. “He needed to run down to the gas station to get you a smoke. Jack laughed out loud as they walked down the hall. As Hoffman put his hand on the handle of a door Jack stopped him. “Could you do me a favor?” he asked. Hoffman turned and said that a drink was really out of the question. Jack grinned at him and said: “No, could you handcuff me?” Hoffman looked slightly taken aback. “I’ve never had a prisoner ask me to cuff him. So can I ask why?” Jack nodded while Hoffman got his cuffs out and said: “If it looks like you take this very serious, he’ll be a little more sympathetic.” Hoffman closed the handcuffs around Jack’s wrists and said over his shoulder: “Has anyone ever told you you’re to smart for your own good.” Jack smiled at him as he made to open the door again and said: “Most people call it manipulative.” Hoffman paused for a second time and mumbled: “I’m a cop.” Jack had to suppress a grin as the door finally opened. Officer Hoffman led him into a small room in which there stood a table and two metal chairs. In one of the chairs sat a small balding man in an expensive looking suit. He veered up as Jack and officer Hoffman entered. He made a tutting noise as he saw the handcuffs. “Is that really necessary, officer?” he said as he looked at Hoffman. “We take this case very seriously, counsellor.” He answered with a straight face. “Well,” the lawyer said looking a little perturbed. “Could you take them off for the duration of our talk, please?” Hoffman nodded and did as he was asked. Jack rubbed his wrists dramatically, and the lawyer asked him if he was ok. The truth was that he was perfectly fine. He had rubbed his wrists because he’d seen people do it in the movies, but he wasn’t going to tell him that. So instead he just shrugged.

Henry Weiss had been a lawyer his entire life, as his father and grandfather had been before. All of them had worked, as Henry did now, for this one family. Before his father retired Henry had spent some time in New York city, working for the District-attorneys office. He had worked on all sorts of cases but his favourites had always been the ‘organized crime’ cases. When he returned home to take over his fathers duties as a family lawyer, his father had joked that this work would be very similar. But now he would work for the mafia, instead of fighting them. Henry had laughed at this. He was a few years older now, and had seen why his father had made the joke. The eldest member of the family had been a United States Senator when his father had worked for him. When Henry worked for him he had been a Governor and a writer, both things had landed Henry plenty of work. This mans son was a doctor and a psychotherapist, now director of an institute for the ‘mentally unstable’. This had meant even more law-related work for Henry. And now the youngest family member was sitting across from him in a police station. This boy had been the reason Henry had so little hair left. He was always getting himself into trouble. Not that Henry had ever been to a court for him, there had been some near misses. When this boy was fourteen he had burned 100 copies of his principals’ newly published book on the schoolyard. While leading a protest that stated the book to be racist and that it reflected badly on him and his fellow students. Then when he was 16 he had stolen a 12-foot high statue from his school’s lawn. Leaving a letter that stated the statue paid tribute to a save trader. Henry had to settle the matter by paying off the new principal, and no one had ever found the statue. The last time, two years ago, Henry had gotten a phone call from the local judge; warning him that his client had sued his new school. After Henry had smoothed it all over the boy had told him that all-boys schools were un-constitutional, and he had been fighting injustice. Although Henry had always liked this boy and had always understood why he did the things he did. He had always feared that this boy would, one day, go too far. And here they sat: in a police station.

 

Henry sighed as he sat down. “Jackson,” he said while nodding at the boy. “Henry,” Jack answered with a similar nod. “I would like you to call me Mr. Weiss or councillor, while we are here, please.” Henry said without looking at Jack. “No, I don’t think I will, Hénry.” Jack said and placed extra emphasis on the name. “Why not?” Henry asked curtly. “Because,” Jack said in a calm voice, “I fear we might soon be sitting in a room, were I will be forced to refer to you as ‘opposing council.’ So let’s keep this meeting informal, shall we?” Henry chuckled at this and opened his briefcase. “Don’t be ridiculous. You don’t honestly think your father would press charges?” Jack grimaced at this so Henry continued: “I spend the entire morning with him, and he is very angry. But he knows that both of you did not mean what you did or said.” Jack smiled an evil smile but before he could speak Henry continued: “I’ve brought you another gift.” He took a packet of cigarettes out of his briefcase and slid them, together with a matchbook, across the table. Jack nodded in thanks and started smoking. “You know that is really bad for you, right?” Henry mumbled. “Why don’t you give it up? You’ll live longer.” Jack grinned at him. “My dear Henry, I won’t live longer. It will just seem longer.” Henry smiled and shook his head before saying: “You father would like it if you came home.” Jack considered this for a moment and then asked: “What if I don’t want to?” Henry frowned and answered: “surely you don’t want to stay here?” “If you compare this to the punishment he has in store for me I think I’d rather,” Henry but Jack off by saying: “If you stay here there will be a trial. You will be accused of assault and perhaps even battery.” Jack puffed out a large cloud of smoke and said more to the ceiling that to Henry: “That almost sounds serious.” “It is serious!” Henry almost yelled at him. “You could face some severe punishment!” “Such as?” Jack asked again speaking to the ceiling. “Such as prison, and a large fine! Remember Jack; you’re not a minor anymore. This could turn nasty.” Jack said nothing but kept staring at the ceiling. “That is why,” Henry continued in a calmer voice. “Your father has agreed to something else.” Jack snorted as his eyes snapped back to Henry’s face. “I bet he has.” Jack said. “What is it?” Henry sighed again and pulled some papers out of his briefcase. He nodded at them after sliding them under Jack’s nose. “What is this?” Jack asked as he looked at the top sheet. “A contract.” Jack snorted again. “A contract to what? Stop me beating his ass like a little girl?” Jack asked sarcastically. “No,” Henry answered while rolling his eyes. “It’s a work contract.” Jack did not know what to say to this so Henry continued. “It’s a temporary contract in which you agree to work for your father during the time his hand heals.” Jack looked even more confused and asked slowly: “Carry his briefcase, make him coffee and serve him breakfast?” “Excuse me,” Henry answered as he flipped to the second page of the contract. “I meant: work for your fathers hospital.”