Authors: Lisa Amowitz
Copyright © 2014 by Lisa Amowitz
Sale of the paperback edition of this book without its cover is unauthorized.
Spencer Hill Press
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.
Contact: Spencer Hill Press, PO Box 247, Contoocook, NH 03229, USA
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First Edition: September 2014
Vision: a novel / by Lisa Amowitz – 1st ed.
A teen boy sees visions of brutal murders as his world goes dark, but instead of believing him, everyone thinks he’s the killer.
The author acknowledges the copyrighted or trademarked status and trademark owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this fiction: BMW, Chivas Regal, Culinary Institute of America, Dumpster, Formica, The Grateful Dead, Ivory soap, Jeep Grand Cherokee, National Geographic, Popsicle, Poughkeepsie Journal, The Rolling Stones, Spider-Man, Stevie Wonder, Stratocaster, Styrofoam, The Terminator, Volkswagen, Wii, YouTube
Cover design by Lisa Amowitz
Interior layout by Marie Romero
ISBN 978-1-937053-99-4 (paperback)
ISBN 978-1-937053-47-5 (e-book)
Printed in the United States of America
For Benjamin and Rebecca;
The flame burns so brightly in you…
Also by Lisa Amowitz
itting in his beat-up old pickup, Bobby absorbed the silence. Mist swirled lazily over the green, mirrored surface of Scratch Lake, the low-hanging clouds perched on the mountaintops like the sky had gotten sick of holding itself up.
Pete, the border collie/golden retriever mutt, panted beside him on the front seat, tail slapping gently against the shredded vinyl, white-tipped ears erect. Bobby had named him after Pete Townshend of The Who, a nod to his nearly irrational love for the big rock bands of the sixties.
Smiling, Bobby visualized the plump, unsuspecting creatures that would soon meet his hook. Last Sunday, he’d caught and released three wide-mouth bass. Wouldn’t be right if Bobby Pendell snatched up all the best fish in the lake. The eight perch he’d hooked were small, but fried up with some potatoes they’d made a good Sunday-night meal for the three of them.
When you’re seventeen and the main breadwinner for the family, fishing is serious business. And fishing was sacred for Bobby—the few hours each week that belonged to him and Pete alone.
Bobby unloaded his gear from the back of the pickup and lugged the outboard motor down to the skiff, Pete scampering ahead to the dock. In better days, Dad, who hadn’t been in a boat for nine years, had built the small motor himself, but like pretty much everything else that belonged to the Pendells, it was one step away from a sad and rusty end.
Bobby fastened the outboard motor to the clamps and the balky old thing sputtered, then roared to life with a steady growl. He tugged Dad’s army cap over his long black hair for extra luck and glanced up at the sky. The cloud cover was thick and ominous, but the rain would hold off. Just the kind of day fish loved. Pete waited on the dock. Bobby could never coax him into the boat.
It took a while to chug to the center of the large lake. Bobby cut the motor, his tight muscles releasing their tension with each bird squawk and fish splash.
Scratch Lake was the only place where he ever felt completely at home.
I went down to the St. James Infirmary, I saw my baby there…”
he sang at the top of his lungs, letting his raw, throaty voice boil up from deep in his chest. “
Stretched out on a cold white table, so sweet, so cold, so fair
“Saint James Infirmary” was one of those depressing songs Dad played once a month with his so-called band of fellow vets, The Hurt Rockers. But like most old music, Bobby loved it.
And here, in the lake’s calm green center, he could sing as loud as he wanted. For some reason, the fish didn’t scare. On sunny days he even brought his guitar along. Yeah, he supposed it was crazy, but no one had to know that Bobby Pendell liked to sing old blues songs to the fish.
Bobby waved to Pete, now a speck on the dock. He chuckled to himself, peered over the side of the boat, and threw out a few minnows to see who’d stop by. Dad swore some wide-mouthed bass in Scratch Lake were as long as his leg and older than Bobby himself. He hadn’t seen one that big, but then again, Dad liked to talk. What else was he going to do with his time, besides complain and pluck away on his battered old guitar?
Bobby stared at the evergreens reflected in the silvery water. He’d offered to bring Dad down here and carry him into the boat. He was certainly big enough to carry him now.
“Nope,” Dad had said flatly. “My fishing days are over. My ass is never getting in a boat again.”
With his work schedule, Bobby had never found time to teach his eleven-year old brother Aaron to swim, so that left him out.
. Dad drowned his troubles in beer and guitars. Bobby could never tell if people came to the Woods Café to see the wheelchair-bound vet strum his heart out because they enjoyed the music or to honor his sacrifice. Didn’t matter. At least it got Dad out of the house, and drummed up some business for Dad’s best friend, Jerry Woods.
Dealing with Dad wasn’t easy, but self-pity was a luxury Bobby couldn’t afford. Someone had to work, and bussing tables at the newly reopened Graxton Grill six nights a week left Bobby little time for anything else.
A loud splash from beside the boat jarred him from his drifting thoughts. He peered into the green depths, hoping to spot Mongo, Dad’s name for the legendary bass he had been trying to catch ever since he could hook a worm.
The dark waters stirred, pulling the boat slightly backward. Bobby dipped the oars into the water to paddle away from the disturbance, but the gently insistent pull kept him from making progress. The boat was being slowly dragged into some kind of current and had begun to pick up speed.
In his whole life, Bobby had never seen more than windblown ripples on Scratch Lake. Mongo was rumored to be huge, but he doubted striped bass grew large enough to churn up the waters like that.
Bobby thrust the oars into the water, paddling harder. The back of his head hurt. And the harder he rowed, the more his head throbbed like a dull drumbeat. A whirlpool was forming. No fish could ever disturb Scratch Lake like that.
Unnerved, Bobby yanked at the engine cord, but the motor only coughed, sputtered, and went quiet. The boat was captive to the steadily spinning water and Bobby could only squint helplessly into the depths as the headache hammered behind his eyes.
The lake’s center was rumored to be fifty feet deep. No one really knew, but as the boat sped in dizzying circles, Bobby could see clear down to the lake bottom inside the whirlpool’s tapered funnel. He gasped. On the slimy rocks, in a bed of pond weeds, lay a pile of bones with a split, unmistakably human skull resting on the top.
Bobby swallowed hard, breathing fast and shallow.
It can’t be real. I’m not seeing this
He’d been so eager to get on the lake that morning he’d forgotten to eat. And he should have. The headache was creeping to his eyes, and now he was seeing things. Feeling and experiencing things that couldn’t be happening.
The pile of bones at the bottom of the lake was as sharp and clear as a photo.
Nausea clutched his insides. His head felt like it was about to split open. Bobby clamped his eyes shut. Sucking in deep breaths, he tried to slow the rising panic and listened to his heart slam against his chest wall. He had to get a grip and get away before the water dragged him and his boat to the bottom of the lake.
This can’t be happening
Was it a migraine? His mother had suffered from those.
But did migraines make people
In the distance, Pete’s barking bounced off the opposite shore. The ache at the back of his head now a white-hot knifepoint, Bobby paddled wildly to break free from the water’s pull, but he made no headway.
The boat continued to spin slowly at the edge of the vortex. Bobby tried to peer down into the whirlpool to make sure the horrible thing was gone, but his was sight filmed with a deep red overlay; a black smudge at its center obliterating details and reducing the world to a featureless bloodstain.
No matter how many times he blinked, he couldn’t see the water that smacked against the metal flank of the boat. He could barely make out the dim outline of the hand he held up in front of his face.
The pain was too much. Again, he groped for the throttle and tugged at it three times, but still the damned engine wouldn’t catch.
The pain bore down on him, the red film thickening to a dark mass.
He couldn’t see at all. He could only feel the boat slowly spinning, stuck in the water’s strange rotation.
“Pete!” Bobby called out at the top of his lungs, “Pete!”
And then, as abruptly as it had started churning, he felt the water go still.
Pete’s nervous bark reverberated across the lake. Unable to see, Bobby dipped the oars into the water and began to paddle slowly toward the distant sound, praying he was headed in the right direction.
There’d be no fish for dinner this week.
he first thing Bobby felt was the wet tip of Pete’s nose nuzzling his face. He reached for the furry head but was unable to make out more than a vague, dog-shaped outline against a bright red background. The pain was gone, but his eyes still weren’t working right.
Bobby pushed himself up to a sitting position. Cold drops splattered on his head and plunked on the wood of the dock.
Had he moored the boat? Rain would rust out the motor. He didn’t even remember climbing out.
Feeling along the side of the dock where the boat should have been, Bobby’s searching hands found nothing but the cold shock of water and a swarm of fish mouths nibbling at his fingers.
Damn. He hadn’t secured the boat and now it was adrift somewhere in the lake. He could take someone’s rowboat out to get it. There were oars in the old metal shed where weekenders kept their kayaks and life jackets.
But everything still looked like someone had splattered thick red paint across a windshield. He’d be lucky if he could find his way back to the truck. Even when he did, how was he supposed to drive it?
Bobby got unsteadily to his feet, the red-washed world swaying around him. He lurched after the patter of Pete’s paws across the dock, tripping from the wood onto damp sand, his bearings lost. The rain came down harder as he crunched across the beach, following Pete’s happy bark.
Once he finally made it to the truck, he buried his nose in Pete’s scruffy head, the smell of wet fur soothing his frayed nerves.
“You saved my ass, boy. Two treats for you.”
Light streaks had begun to pierce through the red haze, but there was still no way he could drive. Clambering inside the truck, Bobby located the dog treats in the glove compartment. He gave two of them to Pete, sat back, and listened to the contented chomp of the dog’s teeth as they gnashed the treats to bits.
He considered calling his best friend, Coco, on the pre-paid phone he kept in the glove compartment. But he couldn’t see the numbers to dial. And what would he tell him? He was seeing things and going blind? Coco would just think he was nuts. He’d wait it out. The spell would pass.
He couldn’t let himself think about the skiff floating aimlessly to the other side of the lake—or how he would never scrape together enough money to replace the motor. Or how even a mechanical genius like Coco couldn’t bring a rusted-out hulk of metal back to life. Or that they’d never eat fish again.
But it was safer to focus on that instead of on what was wrong with his eyes and what would happen if they never worked right again.