Mary Ann S.
16 year old Andi Carter turned a corner while following her brother through down town New York. She was thinking about the case her oldest brother Justin was working on.
Apparently, a boy had murdered his father and was put in a confinement center. The problem was the boy could hardly stand the site of blood. The neighbor had come in to see the boy kneeling over the body of his father completely in shock but the weapon was never found.
“Ow” said Andi as she ran into someone. She looked up into the clear blue eyes of a boy about her age.
“Stop them” yelled a man running at them.
“Come on” yelled the boy. Then Andi noticed a boy and a girl the same age as the other one and a boy around the age of 12. The girl grabbed the younger boy and shoved past Andi as the other two followed.
“Why didn’t you stop them?” asked the man that was chasing them. “They are runaways from the state pen.”
“We didn’t have legal right to restrain them” said Justin.
“Now if you would excuse us we have to go.” said Andi’s brother Mitch as he led Andi away from the men.
Back at the hotel all Andi could think about was the kids. “Who do you think they are?” Andi asked Justin as he was trying to do paperwork for the case.
“I don’t know Andi.” he replied “Why don’t you ask Chad and Mitch to take you to the park? It’s beautiful this time of year with all the lights.”
After Andi had persuaded her brothers to come with her they set off toward Central Park. They walked around in the night and came across a man that was playing the violin.
“May I have this dance Miss Carter?” Chad asked Andi.
“You may.” she replied laughing and he spun her in a waltz.
After the song ended Chad led Andi over to the side then she saw that while they were dancing, quite a crowd had gathered to dance. Chad had gone away to put money in the man’s cup and Mitch was talking to a man on the side.
Andi heard a sound in the bushes next to her. As she turned she saw two eyes looking out at the dancers. They shifted to look at her when they saw her looking at them the person in the bush ran.
“Wait. “ Andi called “I won’t hurt you.”
The person was still running and Andi—being Andi—followed. The person must have thought she stopped following them for they slowed down. They led Andi to a bridge with a fire under in and three people standing around looking off into the night.
“Josh.” one called out “Where have you been?”
“Watching people dance.” said the one Andi had followed. She noticed his voice sounded young.
“We need to stay together.” said a different person stepping close to the fire.
Andi gasped. It was the boy she had run into earlier that day!
“Sorry Aaron,” said Josh “I got bored.”
“Emerson,” Aaron said talking to the last person at the fire “can you and Adam go get Josh something to eat?”
“Sure.” said a girl’s voice as she turned away from the fire. As she turned Andi saw her bright red hair gleam in the fire light.
After they were gone, Aaron called Josh over to the fire.” Do you think anyone saw you?” he asked.
“Well, a girl saw me and tried to follow but I think she gave up.”
“Good” Aaron said. “We can’t let people know we are here or else . . .”
Andi slid away from the fire light and ran all the way back to the clearing.
“Andi where have you been?” yelled Chad “We have been looking everywhere for you.” Not waiting for her to answer, he hollered, “Over here Mitch. I found her.”
A few seconds later a relieved-looking Mitch came running up the trail wrapping her in a hug. “I’ve a mind to put you over my knee.” he said “But you are too old for that now. Don’t you ever run off like that again.” He reprimanded her gently shaking her shoulders.
“Yes don’t you know—”
“Chad please stop.” Andi cut her brother off. “I need to see Justin right now.”
“What happened?” asked Mitch.
”Nothing yet. Justin!” Andi hollered as she busted through the hotel room door.
“I’m in here Andi, and please don’t yell at people are trying to sleep.”
“Justin, I found them.”
“Found who?” Justin asked, glancing up at Chad and Mitch.
“The kids on the street this morning.”
“Andi why don’t you go to bed and we will talk about this in the morning.”
“OK.” said a not very happy Andi.
In the morning Andi woke up at 6:15 sharp and got dressed in a blue cotton dress and then went downstairs to join her brothers for breakfast.
“Andi,” said Justin smiling up at her. “Have a seat honey. Now tell me how did you find the kids?”
“I followed a boy and they are hiding under a bridge.”
“So you left the safety of your brothers and followed a boy you didn’t know in the dark?”
“Well yes I did. But that was last night, and this is today. Those kids are still out there.”
“Well after your breakfast we are going to go down to the New York City Confinement Center and tell them all we know about the kids so we can be sure they are the right kids. Then you are going to take us to them, and they will be taken back there where they will be safe.”
After breakfast Andi and her brothers hopped on a streetcar and took it uptown. They walked a few blocks till they came to a large brick building with a rod-iron fence around it.
“This looks nice.” said Mitch.
“Let’s go.” said Justin.
At the gate a man looked at them, asked their names, and let them come through. Once inside, a women walked through a door leading a boy with tear marks on his face. “Wait in there.” she said motioning to the door she had just come through.
They walked into a room and sat on a couch. Andi sat between Chad and Mitch.
The lady came back through the door and walked through a door on the other side of the room. A few minutes later she came back and said, “Headmaster Spencer will see you now.”
“How may I help you?” asked a man sitting behind a desk. He reminded Andi of a predator bird just before the kill.
“I believe we have information about some kids who are yours,” Justin said.
“Oh yes please have a seat please.”
After they sat down Andi looked around the room. The fireplace was centered on the back wall and a desk was set in front of it with two chairs in front of the desk. Justin sat in one chair in front of the desk, and Andi, Chad and Mitch sat on a couch opposite the desk. There was pictures of people all over the walls.
“Andi,” said Justin as he woke Andi from her thinking “Will you please come up here and tell Master Spencer about the kids?”
“Yes sure.” She told him all she knew about the kids.
“Did you happen to get any names?” asked the Headmaster.
“One’s name was Aaron, and the younger one’s name was Josh, and the girl was Ember or Emery . . . Emerson. And the other boy is Adam.”
“Thank you for your help. Now let me get my coat, and your sister a can lead us to where they are.” He stood up and walked over to the door after putting his coat on.
As Andi turned she saw a glint and turned to see a thick heavy belt hanging on the edge of the mantle. Then she saw the boy that was led out right when they were led in. Had he felt the belt? What about Aaron, Josh and Emerson or Adam? Would he use the belt on them?
When they went outside Andi saw a box wagon waiting for them with a smaller wagon behind it with three men in it. Andi led them to the bridge, and as they started down the hill toward the water Andi didn’t fell right. Oh God, is this the right thing to do? She prayed it was.
They heard a laugh as they got closer and as they came around a corner Aaron stood up with Adam right next to him. They shoved Emerson and Josh behind them, their broad shoulders making a wall between their family and Andi and her party.
The men quickly overpowered the boys. As one reached for Josh, Emerson’s fist sent him into the dirt. “That is not very proper, Emerson.” said Master Spencer as he twisted her arm behind her back. “Come along Josh,“ he said as he led Emerson away.
Josh hesitated before following them. He let his eyes fall on Andi. “You?” he said, betrayal evident in his voice “Why did you do it?”
“I’m sorry,” she said. “Now I’m not sure if this is right.”
“You should have thought about that sooner. We only wanted to go home.”
“Josh’ yelled the Headmaster, “come along or I’ll have to punish you more than you already have coming.”
Andi and her brothers rode back to the center in the wagon following the one the kids were in. Once back, the Carters and the kids where put in the office.
“I only have to fill out some paper work,” said Justin “then we can go.”
“What is your name.” Andi looked up to see Aaron looking at her.
“Carter like Circle C Carter?”
“Yes, and you’re Emerson, right?”
“Yup but some people call me Em.”
“How old are they?” asked Justin.
“Aaron, Adam, and Emerson are all just 16 and Josh is 12. Now for your punishment,” said the Headmaster, grabbing the strap off the wall and turning to the kids. “Who is first?”
Andi saw that Aaron and Adam had put Emerson and Josh behind them, but Aaron was grasping Emerson shaking one. Andi knew he had hurt her before and she couldn’t stand to see him, whip the kids. “Justin,” Andi said. “I need to go right now.”
“We will be leaving you now,” Justin said maybe a bit too loud.
“Oh yes,” the headmaster said as he pulled Aaron from his sister’s trembling grasp. “Thank you for your help again.”
Justin led them out, but Andi turned to see Master Spencer bring the belt down on the boy. Her eyes clouded, and Chad stepped in front of her and closed the door but it did little to stop the sound of smacking nor the groans of the unfortunate boy.
At the hotel room that day Andi could no longer hold back the tears. That night when Justin was gone Andi prayed, “Please God, help me help show me a way to get them out of that horrible house.”
When everyone was asleep Andi woke and dressed, left a note for her brothers, and left for the center. She got in through a hole in the fence and by crawling through a window. As she walked around she looked in room after room, looking for the kids. When she passed a stair way she heard someone singing “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus.”
She walked down the stairs hoping that Emerson was the one singing. She was right as she looked over the door she saw Adam and Aaron lying face down on two of the beds and Emerson sang to Josh as he lay sobbing on his own bed.
“Psss Emerson. Wake up the boys and let’s get going.”
“Andi what are you doing here?” hissed Aaron standing up.
“I came to get you out of here. Now wake Adam up and let’s go.”
“He’s not asleep, he’s in pain. Do you think anyone could sleep after the beating he gave us?”
“I said I was sorry. Now are you to be mad at me or let me help you?” Andi started to feel her own anger rising.
“I’m not mad at you Andi.” Aaron said. “I’m mad at Spencer and everyone else that hurt us. But you have to go. Spencer won’t stop to think if he finds you here.”
“I’m not leaving you all here,” Andi said in a determined voice.
“Think about Josh and Emerson. How much longer do you think they can handle this?”
“It’s Josh and Emerson I’m thinking about, Andi. If we get caught again, Adam and I will get sent to real prison, Emerson will gets sent to a girls’ home, and I don’t know what Spencer will do to Josh, and we won’t be here to protect him. I can’t risk hurting us anymore than they already have. Go home to California, to your family, and tell Justin to drop Zack’s case. He won’t win.”
“How do you know all that and where I live? Who are you all?”
Andi gasped. The Farrells owned the biggest spread in Nevada, and Mr. and Mrs. Farrell where good friend of her mother’s.
”How did you get out here?” Andi asked.
“Spencers’ men nabbed us off the street and had us brought here. The more kids here, the more money Spencer gets paid to keep us here. Zack’s father was shot by one of Spencers’ men, so now he gets to stay here till he’s 21. Thats 7 years, Andi. Think how much they are paying him for that. Anyone that doesn’t like it, Spencer has taken care of the same as Zack’s father. Now, you get out of here before the night watch comes.”
Andi turned to leave and heard a sound on the stairs.
“To late,” Aaron said. “Andi, the door only opens from the outside. Get in here.”
“Then we all will be locked in.”
“That is a chance we are going to have to take. Here is Emerson’s necklace.”
Andi opened the door and slipped through, while Aaron wrapped the necklace around the handle then closed the door.
Adam, who was now up, shoved Andi in a corner out of view of the window.
A man walked up to the window.” How are ya’ll?”
”In a lot of pain.” said Adam walking up to the door.
“Well here, take these” he said handing them four apples. “Just don’t tell where you got them from or I’ll get it for sure.”
“Thanks Zeke.” Emerson said as the man walked away.
“It’s all or nothing.” Adam said.
“I know,” Said Aaron. “Emerson, get ready, we are leaving now.”
“Josh can’t walk. Someone will have to carry him.” Emerson said.
”We will take turns.” Adam said.
Aaron used the chain he had wrapped around the door to open it then they headed out into the dark.
“Wait.” Emerson said as she headed of the other direction. She came to a door near the end of the hall and opened it, then led a boy of 14 toward them. “Andi, this is Zack. We are going to get you out of here.”
They went up the stairs and the clock chimed 3 in the morning.
“Shift change.” muttered Emerson. “Zeke is no longer on shift so we have to hurry.” They rounded a corner and walked into Headmaster Spencer.
“Hello,” he said. “Going somewhere?”
Emerson shoved him aside. ”Run.” she yelled.
They headed out the gate with voices following them.
“Oh God help us” Andi prayed out loud.
“Amen” the others all said.
The people chased them till they came to a bridge.
“Hurry get down.” Aaron ordered.
“No” Andi said. “If we go down there we will get caught.”
“Aaron I can’t do it,” said Zack. “I can’t go back. They will hurt me again.”
“Zack,” Adam said, “we won’t let them hurt you, now come on.”
And with that he led them down the hill to the bank below.
“They are coming.” Emerson said.
“Aaron please,” Josh said. “I can’t do it. I can’t stand it.”
“Josh, listen to me” Emerson said “God is with us. He will get us through this like he always has.”
“The reeds,” Andi said “Get in the water.”
Aaron led them into the water and over to where some cattails had grown up and hid them in them.
Andi listened for men to come. As she did she looked over and saw Aaron with Josh held close with Adam next to him and Emerson holding Zack’s hand praying.
Emerson held out her other hand to Andi, who took it and they were all praying for God’s hand of mercy to save them. God answered their prayers and after a while the voices had gone away.
Andi led the kids back to the hotel. She tried to come up with a story to tell her brothers and settled on the truth. When they walked into the hotel room Andi saw her brothers looking over the note she had left.
”Andi what are you doing?” Chad asked.
“I had to do something, and so we ran and then went in the water . . . Can I tell you later?”
“Yes” said Justin taking a sleeping Josh from Adam’s arms. “Let’s get you all to bed and we can talk this all over later.”
Andi knew there was something she needed to tell her brothers, but she couldn’t think what it was. Only when she was settled in bed did she remember.
“Ferrell!” she yelled as she ran into the next room where her brothers were.
“What?” Mitch asked. “That doesn’t mean anything at all.”
“Aaron Farrell. That is who they are. They are Montgomery Farrell’s kids from the Lucky Star in Nevada.” Andi felt herself falling then Mitch caught her and carried her to bed.
She felt him kiss her on the head and say “A friend that sticks closer than a brother.”
Two weeks later the Carters, Farrells, and Zack were on a train pulling into Virginia City, Nevada. Spencer had been tried and convicted of murder, kidnapping, child abuse, and child labor and was sentenced to hanging.
The Farrells were contacted and train fares were bought and arrangements were made for Zack to stay with the Farrells.
“Look, that’s them.” Josh yelled out the window, pointing to a family of three older boys, a young boy and girl both younger than Josh. When the train stopped, the Farrell kids were the first off.
They were immediately engulfed in hugs and tears. “Andi,” said Emerson, pulling her into the crowd, “This is my oldest brother Steven and this is my younger sister Maria and my kid brother Mark, and my other two brothers Grant and Blake.”
Andi said her hellos then stood to the side while the family interacted. She noticed that the oldest Farrell boy Steven who was 22 didn’t let go of Emerson the whole time.
“Oh Mother,” said Adam “This is Zack.”
Zack held out his hand to Mrs.Farrell. “How do you do ma’ma?”
Mr. Farrell flung his head back laughing.” Welcome to the family son” he said pulling the boy into a hug.
Zack started to cry, and the rest of the Farrells gathered to comfort the new member of the family.
Andi smiled at the family and prayed, “Thank you, God, for giving Zack a good family, and thank you for bringing them back together. Amen.”
A man of many companions may come to ruin. But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.