2007-11-03: Snitch

Starring:

Cam_icon.gif Lee_icon.gif

Summary: Cam witnesses something that makes him side against his 'friends' in the gang.

Date It Happened: November 3rd, 2007

Snitch


Brubaker Secondary School

The money comes easy and quick for Cam, his streetwise ways give him an edge as a runner, collector and lookout that a lot of the prep kids don't have, even in a corrupted place like Brubaker. He's become more popular, other kids want to hang out with him more, he has access to all sorts of social groups. Then one Monday the school has a half-day for "teacher inservice", some kind of faculty meetings and seminars in the main building. A few student groups are in outlying buildings and a couple of athletic teams are practicing, but there's no classes in the afternoon. Things are pretty quiet at Brubaker at the moment, when Marshall, now a more ranking member of the drug gang, approaches Cam on his way out. "Cam, wait." he says. He looks agitated, angry even. "Need you this afternoon if you want to make ten on lookout."

Cam blinks, and looks up to Marshall as he's stopped. He nods quickly and says, "Sure! Where do ya need me?" He looks maybe a little nervous at the angry expression, but confident enough not to be too scared. He adjusts the bag he's carrying on his (good) shoulder.

"Go down to the handball court." Nobody plays handball, the courts are a great meetup place. "Jakey will be there in a bit to meet, if anyone else comes in with him, count how many there are." Marshall snarls. He even peels off a ten and pays up front. He's serious about this.

Cam blinks, but then nods quickly and says, "Ok… just count? And then come back and tell you?" He pockets the ten before Marshall can blink…yeah, he knows better than to keep it out.

"No!" Marshall yells, practically spitting, "I'll come to you. You just wait outside the court and watch to see who comes in and tell me when I get there. Then wait outside and signal if anyone's coming too close."

Cam steps back a bit at the yell, and then blinks and nods quickly, "Ok, got it." He turns, running off towards the handball court. This… doesn't sound good. But, it's money, so he isn't hesitating. He slows as he approaches the court, taking a casual walk that won't draw attention until he's in a good position to see Jakey's arrival.

Marshall leaves in another direction.

The handball court is basically like a concrete shoebox with the lid off, metal gutter-slots slightly moldy and discolored, out in the athletic areas of the school grounds. The tennis team, fifty yards away or so, bounces balls off the wall of the gym, white-paint nets shining in the afternoon sun - th-THOCK, thunk, th-THOCK, thunk.

Jakey arrives, and he arrives alone. Jakey always smiles during school, but he looks at Cam like he's a harbinger of doom. "Hey Cam." he says, smile-less. "I, ah…you aren't…holding, are you? I mean anything. You're not holding anything." His face is ash grey, his eyes bloodshot, his hands jammed in the pockets of his hoodie. They still shake.

Cam looks to Jakey as he arrives, and when he comes over he gives a little wave, "Hi." Then he shakes his head quickly and says, "Nope. Not right now. Except my homework," he adds indicating his backpack, grinning a bit and obviously joking.

Jakey laughs too loud. "Homework, haha. That's good. Homework." He puts the heel of his hand to his mouth, says, of a sudden, "We're friends, right, Cam? We're friends, aren't we? I mean, you'd help me out if I needed help, wouldn't you?"

Cam nods a little to that with a bit of a frown, and says, "'Course, yeah." He looks a bit confused at the question, but then he asks, "You need help with something?"

Jakey says, "Yeah. I, I really do. Do you have any…any money I could borrow? Anything, anything you've got, really, that, that would be great." Borrowing money from the homeless kid when his parents are making six figures each downtown. Jakey has no class.

At that, Cam hesitates. He never has much money, of course, except what he makes from his 'jobs'. And of course, Jakey should know this. "Whatcha need it for?"

"I just need it, okay?" shrieks Jakey in terror and shame, then turns away. "Never mind, just never mind." he says, trying not to sob as he turns to go into the court, pulling open the thick metal door, the hinges squeaking. The tennis balls bounce. Th-THOCK.

Cam blinks, and calls, "Wait!" He bites his lip, pulling out the ten dollars he just was given, and an extra five he'd gotten somewhere else, and steps over to offer it, "Here… but you'll pay me back later, right?" Just too soft hearted.

Jakey makes it disappear in a way that Cam almost recognizes - the way that the desperate make money disappear. "Yeah." Jakey says, and he smiles the way he smiles at school. "Absolutely, next week when I get my allowance, you'll get it back and five more besides." he says, exhaling, getting control of himself. "Thanks man. Thanks." Cam gets to feel like the big man for a change. Jakey goes into the handball court, the door swings shut behind him. He's in there alone.

Marshall does not come alone. He comes with two others. Older kids, tenth, eleventh graders. One has a baseball bat. "How many were there?" snaps Marshall to Cam. "Just Jakey?"

Cam goes back to his position to wait then, and blinks as Marshall comes with so many. He nods quickly at that and says, "Yeah… what's going on?" He normally doesn't ask, but with so many bigger kids…

Marshall doesn't answer. "Just stand here and if any teachers or straight students come by, pound the door." he orders. "Earn your money and keep your mouth shut." They open the door and go in. th-THOCK, thunk. th-THOCK, thunk. There is a lingering moment after the door closes where Cam can hear nothing inside. Then Jakey's voice raising: "…by Thursday, she didn't even HAVE the prescription!"

Marshall's snap begins loud and then drops again: "You must think I look pretty stupid…" It fades. th-THOCK, thunk.

Cam listens for a moment, and then blinks as he hears Marshall's answer. As silently as he can, he glances around to make sure nobody's coming, and then opens the door a crack to peek inside.

One of the older kids has Jakey pinned in a corner, baseball bat across his chest, trapping him. Jakey has Cam's fifteen dollars in his hand, holding it out like a priest valiantly and uselessly fending off a vampire with a cross, trying to smile, but his face just won't.

But the door squeeeeaks. No one can sneak up on anyone in there. Marshall turns. "Cam, what the hell, do you not understand the 'out' part of 'lookout'? Look OUT." He points. "OUT."

Cam's eyes widen as he sees that, but as Marshall yells at him, he quickly backs out again, closing the door once again, biting his lip as he leans against the door, suddenly at a loss of what to do.

The argument rises in volume again. Marshall: "…give me fifteen fucking dollars, are you stupid?! It's five hundred, or those Valium you promised!"

And then the first cry of pain from Jakey. "I can't!" he wails. "I don't…" Another cry of pain.

Then the first blow that Cam can hear through the thick walls - Jakey hitting a wall so hard that the fleshy sound of his young body makes an audible 'smack'. And then the 'thunk' of the baseball bat. Only Cam is close enough to distinguish it from the sound of the tennis balls. Shoeleather scuffing. Marshall's voice rises again: "How about NOW?" Another cry.

Cam blinks as he hears that, paling a little. He considers, then turns and runs. Runs as fast as his legs will carry him to where he thinks the teachers are meeting, the only place he can think to go for help.

Lee is coming out, looking rather angry himself, running his hands through his hair, throwing away a packet of papers into a garbage can and gritting his teeth. He looks up as Cam comes running. "Cam?" he says, face turning to concern. Whatever he's angry about can wait, it seems that Lee's instinct is to put a child in need first.

Cam stops in front of Lee, a little winded but panicky, "They… they're beating up Jakey, in… in the handball court. With a baseball bat. Big kids, and Marshall."

Lee says, urgently, "Okay, go inside, go inside and sit in the…" No, not the office, he might get seen. Lee kneels down to get at Cam's eye level, hand on his shoulder, he begins again: "Go inside and sit in the library lobby area, by the doors? Sit there and wait for a teacher to come and get you."

Cam blinks, but then nods a little, saying softly, "Be… be careful. They're *really* big." He then turns to head towards the library, slower now. He hesitates a moment, though, looking back. Should he follow the instructions, or follow Lee to make sure the teacher's ok? If it looks like Lee himself is heading towards the handball court, he follows him, at a distance.

Lee heads towards the handball court, and fast. In fact, he starts to run only a few steps away from the stairs, his huge long legs reaching out over the distance. Despite having a tie and vest and nice-looking shoes on, he's got good form as a runner, and he's motivated. He gets there long before Cam.

So Cam can see Lee coming out of the handball court half-carrying Jakey and talking on his cellphone, something about an ambulance at Brubaker Secondary. Jakey's bad leg is slightly turned in, it drags behind them as they go. There's blood and bruises on his face, his fingers bent, his lips swollen, hair matted. He's mumbling something. As Lee and Jakey pass Cam's hiding spot, he can make out what Jakey is saying: "…I fell off the wall. I was climbing and I fell off the wall. I was climbing and I fell off the wall. I was climbing…" And Cam can still see his fifteen bucks, splatted with blood now, in Jakey's spasming fingers.

Cam's eyes widen as he sees how badly hurt Jakey is, biting his lip. He waits until Lee's past, and then hurries back towards the library, where he was supposed to go in the first place. Now he knows Lee isn't needing icy backup, anyway.

Lee meets Cam there in a few minutes. He seats himself opposite the young boy in the entranceway of the library. "Jake's going to be all right." he tells Cam. "The nurse has got him. He has to go to the hospital though."

Cam fidgets as he waits there, until Lee shows up. He looks up, and his face immediately shows relief, "Oh, cool." He though nods more seriously at the mention of the hospital. "He hurt that bad?"

Lee says, "Yes. He says he was climbing and he fell off the wall." He leans forward and puts his hands together in front of him, slender elbows on his knees. "Cam. Did you see what happened to Jakey?"

Cam bites his lip, but then nods seriously, saying softly, "Yeah, I saw." He's suddenly a little nervous, fidgetting again, but he says it, looking to Lee's eyes.

Lee says, "What did you see?" Snitching. It's the first step to a beatdown like Jakey's…or worse.

Cam is quiet a moment, then says, "You can't tell I told, right? Swear it?"

Lee thinks about it a minute. He swallows hard. He thinks back to a conversation he had with O'Donnell just that morning, the one that had him so upset, what she snarled at him, what he snapped at her. He makes a decision, and says, "Straight out, Cam….if I don't tell…then they'll think Jakey told. And they'll come back at him twice as hard."

Cam is quiet at that a moment, then nods a little, "Ok." He looks down at the floor a moment and says, "I can protect myself. Sometimes." This last word is said so soft even Lee might not hear it. Then he says, "They were holding Jakey against the wall. He was trying to pay them fifteen dollars he borrowed from me, but they said he owed five hundred, and… and something else, something he didn't have the prescription for. Then, I couldn't see, but he was screaming and I could hear them hitting him."

Lee nods in return, he doesn't try to push Cam to say more on that. "Do you know why?" he asks. "Do you know why he owed them five hundred dollars?"

Cam looks down and shakes his head a bit and says, "No… just, he was really scared, that's why I gave him the money. I didn't know…" He trails off.

Lee watches Cam closely. "I can't ask you for more than you've given, so. Okay. Here's how it's going to go. Not a whole lot is going to happen right at first. I want to make sure Jakey is safe and okay. And I'll have the teachers keep an eye on you, make sure you don't get jumped." That's a joke, the teachers here are paid to be clueless. "But you did the right thing…it's very brave, Cam. All right?" He puts his hand on Cam's shoulder again, gives it a squeeze.

Cam nods a little again and smiles a bit. "I just… I mean, I just… I don't mind some of the stuff, but that… it shouldn't ever happen. And I'm not really that scared of them." Which is a lie.

Lee is quite serious: "Until we can get them out of the school and out of the area, you avoid them. Stay away from them. Understand?"

Cam nods a little again and says, "I will." He looks down a moment and then back up, "It'll be hard to, though. They know me.. all my classes and stuff."

Lee says, "Not for long. We just have to do it the right way. Okay, go on back home, don't miss the train." He rises, watches Cam go with uncertainty in his green eyes.

Cam nods a little bit to that and takes a breath, standing up and hurrying out towards the train. Yeah, he's scared, more now that he's thinking about it.

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