Book Excerpt – Chaser: A Novel
Copyright © 2009 Simon & Schuster, Inc./Miasha No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission from the publisher or author. The format of this excerpt has been modified for presentation here.
Kenny, Stop, Pleeeease! Kennnnyyy!” I cried for my life. It wasn’t even about the baby anymore because I was sure it was dead. There was no way it could have withstood the blows Kenny delivered directly to my stomach. Not to mention his dragging me around on the concrete floors. My poor baby was gone. I was feeling weaker with each punch. I was losing consciousness, and I realized Kenny was trying to kill me.
“Please, Kenny, don’t kill me,” I said with what little energy I had. “Please.”
Kenny turned me over on my back and straddled my neck and upper chest. He looked in my eyes as I gagged for air. He was blurry to me. In fact, everything was blurry. I turned to my right and the door to one of the guest bedrooms was opened. The furniture in it looked like it was floating. All of the colors from the sage-colored paint on the walls to the olive-green silk drapes on the windows and the multicolored Oriental rugs on the hardwood floors blended together, forming one big rainbow cloud. When I looked up at the recessed lights that lined the ceiling in our hallway, I felt nauseous. I wanted to close my eyes to avoid the dizzy feeling I had, but I was afraid if I did I would die. So I fought with all my might to keep my eyelids from drooping. And just as I was beginning to give up on trying to stay alive, I felt Kenny’s weight lift off me and heard him walking away from me and down the stairs. I felt a sense of relief, as I believed he was finished with me.
I had a moment to think about everything I had done to end up in the position I was in, and I wondered if it was worth it. Was it really worth my life? I wished I could turn back the hands of time, but I couldn’t, and before I wasted any more time pitying myself, I needed to focus on what I could do to get help.
Relief was short-lived. As I lay there on the cold hardwood floor, clinging to consciousness, I could faintly hear Kenny’s footsteps once again on the steps.
I opened my eyes as much as my strength would allow and saw Kenny pouring what I figured was gasoline on every step as he walked backward down our spiral staircase. I wanted to protest, to try to plead for my life, but I had no energy at all to do or say anything. I felt completely paralyzed, helpless, as good as dead.
“This’ll teach you to wear a wire on me, bitch!” Kenny yelled.
Then I heard the sound of the gasoline can being dropped at the bottom of the steps and, seconds later, a loud poof. A panic came over me. My mind was telling me to get up and run, but my body wouldn’t move. I thought about my mom and how she’d tried to tell me time and time again to leave Kenny alone. Had I listened to her, I would not have been preparing to meet my death. I thought about Nasir and wondered what he would say and how he would feel once he found out that I was gone. I wished I could have had one last moment with him. Even if it was just to say good-bye. My life nearing its end, I began to muffle the Twenty-third Psalm.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”
I closed my eyes. I thought about the date: May 30, 2008. So my tombstone would read Leah Cecily Nicole Baker, July 17, 1983, to May 30, 2008. Then I had second thoughts. I’m not ready to die and especially not like this. I want to fight. I want to fight badly. But I can’t. Please, God, spare my life. Please, God, intervene. Please don’t let today be my last.