It’s already Saturday and time for the third part of Kharma’s Way. If you missed the first 2 installments, you can find them under the Saturday AM Serial tab. Please feel free to leave a comment to let me know what you think. Happy Saturday 🙂
I remembered one more thing that would help with my out-of-state travel I slipped my cell phone out of my purse and sent the following text: “how much 4 the works?”
I kept the phone in my hand. Edge was addicted to a lot of things–technology being the least destructive, so I expected a fast response.
“4 u babe 600,” flashed on my screen less than a minute later.
I immediately sent my counter. “450 cash. Need tmro.”
I met Edge during a brief stint in juvenile detention when I was sixteen years old. How I got there was all a misunderstanding, but I stayed for one month for vandalism of federal property after I got busted for a school prank that went wrong. That month taught me more than all my years in public school and college–and provided a permanent connection to the other side of the law. Because of Edge, I knew that a whole identity, complete with a background, was safer than a simple fake ID.
It occurred to me that I’d kept in touch with Edge for twenty-three years. My longest legitimate friendship was eleven years and now that Michelle was dead, I felt the shady side tightening its grip on what was left of my soul. I only had one tentative tie to mainstream society left–Rodney Fletcher. For five years, he has tried unsuccessfully to save me with the Lord’s word. I think he persists because he never failed at anything before I came along.
Riding on my Zinger-produced sugar high, I removed the scarf from my head, spruced up my hair and makeup and took a couple of headshots with my cellphone camera. Edge already had everything else he needed for my fake identity. He knew my birthday, mom’s maiden name and birth place; everything else he could find on his own.
After I sent the pictures to Edge via text, the thought struck me that bargaining the price of a new identity with a man who goes by the name of Edge might mean that mom’s right – I could indeed be crazy. She’s still wrong about Gill, though.
I finished the online payment to Jacked Up, Edge’s auto repair shop. The shop brought in legitimate money from auto repairs, but also served to flow money from his illegal earnings as well. The dual meaning of the business name never failed to make me smile.
Startled by my cellphone ring, I snatched it up and was surprised to see the caller: Sarena Hawke.
“Hello?” I answered tentatively.
“Oh thank goodness you’re okay!”
“Are you okay? You sound upset?”
“Upset isn’t the word for what I feel right now! After I closed up the salon tonight, I walked home. About a block from my house, it happened…” Sarena started crying.
“Did someone hurt you? What happened?” I asked urgently.
Sarena sniffled and more sobs escaped before she finally answered. “I saw a spotted owl. It sat in a low tree branch right in front of me!”
“Um, so?” I asked slowly, confused about how a little owl could evoke such terror. I thought owls were supposed to be a symbol of wisdom.
“Owls carry spirits of Apache dead; they are messengers of death,” Sarena said quietly, her voice shaky.
“That’s creepy, but it’s just myth. You don’t really believe it do you?”
She muttered some words in her native language; most likely another prayer that couldn’t save me.
“Oh, you should believe it too,” she warned in a voice reminiscent of one used to tell ghost stories around a campfire. “The last time my mom saw an owl, her father died three days later. Shiwoye Hastiin was healthy and strong, but he just collapsed and died in front of the entire family. I was five years old and remember it as clear as yesterday.”
That’s a compelling story, but what does it have to do with me?”
“Last night, there was an owl in my dreams. When an owl appears in a dream, it means that death is near. I was thinking about you when I saw the spotted owl tonight, so I’m sure the warning is for you.”
Goosebumps popped up on my arms, causing large patches of hair to stand at attention. I ran my hands over my arms, but the hairs defiantly refused to relax.
“Your aura’s bad,” Sarena said simply.
A chill ran through me. I may have skipped a couple breaths because I felt dizzy. My bad aura must’ve incapacitated my voice because it wouldn’t ask the questions that started building in my head.
“Jaime, please be careful,” Sarena pleaded. “I think you’re in danger.”
“Sure. Don’t worry about me.” I tried to sound casual, but my voice cracked with every word I spoke.
I hung up the phone. Even though I’m not spiritual, Sarena managed to thoroughly freak me out. I almost believed it was a sign, but I was too far invested to quit now. Besides, my one redeeming quality is that I’ll do anything for a friend and I didn’t do that for Michelle yet.
Twenty minutes later, my phone chimed, interrupting my packing to signal a received text message. It read, “Name?”
Could this be a sign? I gave Edge everything he needed for my new identity except for my chosen name. My rational mind fought off the panic tightening in my chest. “There’s no such thing as signs and superstitions,” I reminded myself, as if hearing my voice say these words would make me believe them.
I held the phone in my hand and considered calling the deal off. The struggle between lawful and criminal played out in my mind and I was merely a helpless observer waiting to congratulate the victor. Several minutes passed before the perfect name came to me, like a whisper in my ear. I knew it–lawful didn’t stand a chance.
I’ve always been drawn to names with meaning, so I laughed while I typed the reply revealing my new name: “Kharma Jones.”
Continued Next Week…