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episode seventeen - a boy called saint?

There was a boy who lived round the corner whose name was Saint.

There WAS a boy who lived round the corner whose name was Saint.

There WAS a boy who lived round the corner whose name was Saint.

There was . . .

There was a boy named Travis Adams. Until he was thirteen years old, he believed there was a boy who lived round the corner whose name was Saint. You see, no one ever told him otherwise. Maybe it was all in conversations I imagined, or maybe everyone was like Haley and just never bothered to try to correct me, or everybody thought I was nuts, or thought it was cute, or . . .

How do you accept that someone, something, so integral to your world isn't real? It's like someone telling me my mother never existed, or that she never went away to Cedar Cliff, I imagined the whole thing. She's been home everyday, don't you remember, Travis? She's in the kitchen right now, making dinner.

But, my mother's never in the kitchen. She's never making dinner. She's in a room at Cedar Cliff. And, until now, she was the only Adams that saw saints. Until now, she was the only crazy one. My father was cruel, my father was a rapist, but I never thought he was crazy. A bastard, yes. Crazy, no. Ruby has never showed any signs of being anything but straight laced and normal. Hell, she married into the McMasters family (married a real McMasters, even, not some imaginary one) and has held down a steady job for over a decade. Aside from some difficulties conceiving a child, her life has been normal as could be, nothing special, nothing more notable than her mother being locked away in a mental institution. Evelyn has always been a bitch, not bothering to care much about anyone. But, that's not exactly insanity, is it? Carrie hasn't been more insane than any other teenage girl. Sam is down to earth, talented, intelligent, nowhere near insane. If there was a contest for who was most sane in our family, Sam would win, hands down. Danni is still a child. She's creative with her fantasies and her games, and she's had her share of imaginary friends, but she always understood what was real and what wasn't. She never based whole portions of her life on events that never took place, never threw away a relationship with someone she loved because of an interloping figment of her imagination. I am the heir to our mother's legacy. The sole heir.

There was a boy who lived round the corner whose name was Saint. Only, there wasn't. Saint, as was recently pointed out by Haley, was never real. I could get into the psychobabble of it, the things Dr Midthunder has been telling me lately in our regular sessions, about my insecurities and inadequacies and how Saint being so much better than me left me an easy excuse to never have to succeed at anything. But, what's the point? I was an Adams from birth. I couldn't succeed at anything, even if I had tried. I couldn't have saved Haley from falling off of King's Fate. I couldn't have pulled her up from those bushes beneath it. I couldn't . . .

There was a boy who lived . . . a boy who lived . . . He did live, didn't he? Even if he was only in my mind? At what point does he stop being real? He made decisions, choices, that effected my life and those of everyone else through me. He acted in such ways that certain key events in my life took shape. If not for him, Haley and I would have been closer when Olivia came along. Maybe I wouldn't have been such good friends with Olivia then. Maybe I wouldn't have been so attached. Maybe none of us would have even talked to her. And, none of us would have met Enoch in the church that day. And, without that angel, Olivia would still be alive. And, with Olivia still alive, I wouldn't have spoken to . . .

I've not told Dr Midthunder about Olivia's ghost yet. Haley thinks I should. The way I see it, this insanity thing must be taken in stages. My father can't just win outright.

That last line probably doesn't make much sense. How did my father win, you might be wondering. Well, I'll explain it better.

We hadn't visited Cedar Cliff much since Aunt Ellen died. Well, to be honest, we hadn't visited at all. My father still went occasionally, but there was no announcement beforehand, no fanfare. He just would mention at dinner some night that he'd been to see our mother, and she looked well. She always looked well, I suppose, or he just wasn't great at describing it any better, or he was too scared to describe it any better. Just imagine, he sits down at the dinner table with us kids, and, "your mother hit me a few times today. She thought I was Raphael D'Achertainne." Or, "your mother cried today. She thought she was Saint Joan of Arc about to be burned at the stake." Instead, it was always "she looked well."

Ruby, I hear, had visited our mother a few times in recent years. She and Daniel would go together. Samantha even tells me that the two of them had thought of trying to get our mother out of Cedar Cliff, letting her live with them. Now that they've successfully gotten Ruby pregnant, I seriously doubt that will happen. Of course, if it does, I wonder if they've got room for me too.

See, we came for a visit shortly after Ruby's announcement. It was my final visit to this place. I am here round the clock now. I have days when I can leave. One of my sisters will come pick me up and we'll go do something together for the day or something. Haley and her parents came once and we went up to Carlton Falls. Haley and I snuck a few kisses when Mr and Mrs Manning weren't looking. Phyllis Cross came once, took me for a drive. She didn't say much the entire time. She knows I killed Sam Carson. I'm not sure if she believes he was doing anything to Jaimie, especially in light of recent events involving me, notably my incarceration here, but she understands why I did what I did. And, her silence told me she knew what I knew, I'd done a good thing. I'd ridded the world of one of the bad men. Only one, but it's a start. I wonder who she's seeing now. I wonder if he's good to she and Jaimie. Maybe Olivia will stop by and let me know.

Or, maybe Olivia was just a figment of my imagination as well. I understand that's a possibility. Now, I don't mean that she was never real. She WAS real. I've had confirmation of that from Haley and from Samantha and from Phyllis Cross. Olivia DID return to Reverence with her mother and little sister three years ago. She DID join for a time our little band of friends. And, she DID kill herself. Whether or not her ghost was some real part of her back from the other side or a figment of my imagination, I don't know. I do know that she hasn't been back since I killed Sam Carson. But, maybe she's just been able to move on, knowing she did her part in saving her little sister from being hurt like she had been.

Now, if Olivia killed herself, you might be wondering if Enoch was real. Her belief that he was an angel was very important when she decided to kill herself. And, though I've argued otherwise at several junctures, there were definitely times that I believed Enoch was an angel. Well, Enoch was real. Haley confirmed that that day in the church did happen. She confirmed that there was a certain strangeness to it all, how we were all mesmerized by his story of that little girl and her father.

But, no one can confirm that he ever told me a second story. No one can confirm who he really is, or was. Maybe he's an angel. Maybe he isn't. Maybe I see saints and ghosts and angels, and my life in recent years had been made up of fiction and imagination and insanity.

Or, maybe, just maybe, it's all real. Even Saint. Just because he wasn't what I thought he was, just because no one else could see him, does not mean he's not real. Maybe he's a ghost, or just some guiding spirit. He saved Haley through me, maybe, guided my hands, but in my memory I saw it differently because somehow being shown up by a McMasters was easier than being possessed by my spirit guide. He joined me in watching Sam Carson because I needed some support that was more real than Olivia's ghost. I needed someone more substantial to stand by me when Jaimie wouldn't admit Sam was doing anything to her and I was too scared to tell Haley the details of any of it.

But, then, I must wonder, where the hell was he when I learned about my father? Where the hell was he when I had the chance to realize Olivia was going to kill herself? Where was he to tell me to go save her? Where was he when . . .

There was a boy who lived somewhere in my mind. His name was Saint McMasters. He was an aspect of my own personality, or so Dr Midthunder would have me believe. He was some sort of response to the Adams family not being that important in Reverence. Who better to have as my imaginary friend than a McMasters, right?

Except, Saint and I were never close. Until he saved Haley that day at King's Fate, Saint was hardly even on my radar. He was just another kid. What kind of person hallucinates an average kid like him? It's not like I could have known beforehand how important he would be in my life, right. It's not like I told him to . . .

A thought occurs to me now. What if I pushed Haley? She never said anything like that, I know. But, maybe she didn't even notice, or the trauma of the fall and the landing made her forget. Maybe I pushed her, so Saint would have the chance to step forward and save her, so Saint would have the chance to live up to his name.

But, of course, I never would have pushed Haley off that rock. I loved her more than anything. I still do. I would never do anything to hurt her.

She came to visit me right after I took up residence here. Her parents came with her, but they kept back, let us talk. She was tearful, sad. She apologized over and over.

"What are you apologizing for," I asked her.

"I just wish I could have done something earlier," she replied. "I wish I could have said something about Saint or--I don't know--something. Travis, how long has your mother been here? For years, and what's gonna keep them from keeping you for just as long? And, I can't help but think maybe I could have--"

"Haley, don't," I said. "You couldn't have kept me from this place. Even if they wouldn't have thought I was crazy, I'm sure my father would have convinced them."

"What do you mean?"

"He's afraid of me. I know something about him that he doesn't want anyone to know. What better way to make no one trust anything I say then to lock me away in here?" I paused, thinking. Then I looked Haley in the eye, and asked, "are you sure Saint isn't real?"

"How can you ask that? I wouldn't tell you he wasn't if he wasn't."

"I just wonder sometimes if maybe my father didn't somehow make all this happen. Like, maybe he convinced you to lie about Saint, or convinced the whole town to pretend Saint didn't exist, and somewhere else, Saint is living it up off of money my father is feeding him. Except, you wouldn't lie about Saint, would you? You wouldn't lie to me."

"No, Trav," she said, "I wouldn't."

"I believe you," I said. "If I didn't believe you, I wouldn't be here. I would have put up even more of a fight."

As it was, I had put up a pretty big fight. We'd come for a "visit" so Ruby could tell mom about her being pregnant. But, somehow in the midst of it all, my father got me talking to Dr Midthunder, and I didn't even realize it until after that it was my cursory exam, my initial interview. And, somewhere in it I said something wrong, or maybe my father just pulled some strings, and I never even got to go back home. I doubt they would have let me bring much in the way of personal belongings, but I still would have liked to go back home one last time. I never should have been tricked into this place.

It's not the same now, going back to Reverence to visit. That town is not my home anymore. It's some fairy tale place where I used to live. It's the place where I grew up and fell in love and became who I am today. It's the fantasyland where I made and lost two of the best friends I'll ever have. It's a blurry place, now. The silence is deafening sometimes, like the whole place slows down, becomes less real, whenever I'm there. It's not a town anymore. It's just some backdrop for dramatic moments of which I can no longer be a part. It might as well be the moon, as far away as it seems sometimes. And, Haley might as well be living on its dark side, as little as I get to see of her.

"I promise to make them bring me up regularly," she told me that first time she visited. She's not been back since. Maybe her parents won't bring her. Maybe there's policy here against it. Or, maybe she's just forgotten me. Maybe she's moved on to some other boy. "Travis is crazy," people probably tell her. "You need to find someone better for you."

There is no one better for her. We're perfect for each other. We always have been. From our days as kids, in our overalls, swinging on the swings at the park, we've been destined to be together. My father can't stop it. God and all his angels can't stop it. Dr Midthunder can't stop it. If I have to break out of this place, so be it. Haley and I will be together. I didn't kill . . .

"You didn't kill Kyle," Haley told me. I think her parents overheard this, even though they weren't too close to us at the time. They looked concerned.

"I didn't say I killed Kyle," I replied. I DIDN'T kill Kyle, of course. But, I had to wonder sometimes if I was responsible for his death. He died because he was in the way. Fate stepped in and cut him out of the picture. And, Haley was free to be with me again. And, what sort of coincidence was it that he died right there where I could see it. I think there's a chance he was even on his way to find me. Maybe Saint had told him where we would be . . . Except, Saint couldn't do that, could he? "I'm just saying, he was there at that intersection for a reason."

"Coming to see you," she asked. I hadn't as of yet, told her I'd killed Sam Carson, and she hadn't voiced any suspicion regarding the matter. But, I could tell now, she knew. I nodded. "Travis, how would he have even known where you'd be? And, even if someone else knew and told him, or if he followed you from someplace, you didn't put that car there."

"But, something did. Fate, God, the universe itself."

"We're not that important," Haley said to me, and it felt like she'd slapped me, like she's punched me in the gut. How could she say such a thing? We weren't important? She and I were everything. The whole world had moved on our behalf when Kyle was killed. The mistakes Saint had made by saving Haley beneath King's Fate were reversed when Kyle was killed. The door for Haley and I to be together was open again. And, my stay in Cedar Cliff would only be temporary. Fate would step in again. Fate would leave a door unlocked or a window open, and I'd be out of here.

"We're all that's important," I told her. "We're in love."

"We're thirteen," she said. That was her whole argument.

She didn't see it. She just didn't see it.

"You're everything to me, Haley," I said. "You're all that matters. This place, what these doctors have to say--it means nothing unless, in the end, I get to be with you. I'm only here because I want to be better for you."

"Travis," she said. "I've got to ask something."

"And, you want me to promise not to be mad again?"

She shrugged. "Is Saint real?"

"You know he's not."

"Do you?"

"I'll believe whatever you want me to believe," I said.

"Don't believe he's not real because I say so, Trav. Don't believe he's not real because the doctors say so. Don't believe it because he's not been around to visit--he hasn't been, right?"

I shook my head. Saint had been a no show. I hadn't seen him since he'd gone around to the back of the Cross house.

"Believe he isn't real because you know in your heart and your mind that he actually isn't. Believe it because you know you imagined him."

"I don't know that."

She started crying then. I moved to comfort her but she backed away. Her mother moved forward and touched a hand to her shoulder. Her father glared at me.

"I'm sorry," I said. I didn't try to keep my volume low. I didn't try to make it so only Haley heard me. Her parents needed to hear this as well. "I'm sorry," I said again. "I can't help what I see. I can't help who is real and who isn't. I don't know why I saw Saint when he wasn't there. I don't know why I couldn't just pull you out of those bushes three years ago. If I could have just jumped down there and pulled you out, if I could have just saved you--"

Haley reached out to me now, touched my hand with hers.

"If I could have saved you, everything would be alright. But, I couldn't save you. I didn't save you. Saint was there. And, he was so brave. He just ran down the hill and dropped into those thorns like it was nothing."

"That was you, Trav."

I yelled, "it wasn't me," and Haley backed away from me again. Her father moved closer. "It wasn't me," I said, quieter this time. "I wish it was, but it wasn't."

I was quiet for a moment. Haley and her parents remained where they were, watching me, waiting. Waiting for what, I don't know.

"I wish it was me that saved you, Haley, but it wasn't. It should have been me. I loved you so much. I believed we would never be apart, we'd go straight from being friends to being boyfriend and girlfriend to being lovers to being married, living happily ever after. But, you fell off that rock, and it was like something snapped, like the world twisted around me for an instant, and I couldn't breathe. I couldn't live. I couldn't live with you gone. And, you'd just disappeared from sight. You coulda been dead, for all I knew. And, you know what I wanted to do right then?"

Haley shook her head.

"I didn't want to run down and save you. I didn't even think you could survive that fall. All I wanted was to run to the edge of the rock and jump, myself. I wanted to die. I wanted to be with you. Everything was quiet. The whole world held its breath. And, I just wanted to fly off that rock into your arms.

"But, then your cry broke the silence. And, I wanted to save you. But, when I went to move, I couldn't. I was paralyzed. The love of my life was down there, dying maybe, and I couldn't move. I couldn't move.

"And, I never deserved to move again after that day. Every moment after that one has been me existing on borrowed time. I failed when it mattered most."

"You didn't fail, Travis. Don't you get it? You were there. You ran down there and you helped pull me out."

"Helped," I said. "Helped. That's all I did. I should have saved you myself. I should have had the strength to get down there in an instant, pull you out, and nurse your wounds. I should have saved you.

"Just like I should have saved Olivia. I saw the same signs her sister did. I knew what was coming. I knew she wasn't well. I knew she was prepared to give up. But, I did nothing. And, she killed herself. She practically announced it to me beforehand, too. Did you know that?

"She did. She asked me if I'd take care of Jaimie if anything ever happened to her. I told her I would. And, she killed herself. She left Jaimie to me.

"Well, I didn't fail the third time. I saved Jaimie. So, God, or Fate, or whoever it is that keeps fucking with me can just leave me alone now. I won this time. And, I'll win next time. I'll get out of this place, and I'll make sure my father never hurts anyone again, and I'll make sure Jerry Sedgwick never hurts anyone again, and I'll make sure Carl Silvers never hurts anyone again, and I'll make sure Paul Lodge does his job and is a good cop like his brother is. And, whoever else is out there hurting anyone--I'll stop them."

Haley's mother looked scared. I wondered if maybe there wasn't something she was doing that was bad. Was she cheating on her husband? Was she hurting children? What was it?

"We should go," Haley's father said.

Haley nodded.

I leaned closer to her and whispered, "I'm the powerful one now. That's why I'm here." A little louder, I added, "they are afraid of what I'll do out there in their world. But, I won't be in here forever."

"I'll see you again soon," Haley said. It was a lie. But, I forgave her even as she said it. Afterall, her parents were right there. She couldn't say much with them there to hear her.

She hugged me, then she said goodbye and left, her mother going first, her father waiting in my room briefly after they were gone, just looking at me, sizing me up, or maybe wondering what I'd do to him if I caught him doing something wrong. "Don't you ever do anything to hurt her," I said to him. "You stay with your wife and you stay happy and you make sure your daughter is happy."

He hurried out of the room. Scared, I'm sure. They're all scared of me. They know that I WILL act now. It's not like it was before. Saint won't save anyone anymore. He's stuck on the sidelines now. I'm the powerful one. And, this place won't change that. This place won't change that at all.


the end