Fitch's Kemper 1

Fiction By Damaris Ann // 4/4/2018

Normally, noise of any kind was unwelcome in the private library at Texas A&M, but somehow that same mellow voice was allowed to croon on by the hour.
It was also normal for Byron Fitch to be annoyed by even the slightest rustle of a page while he was studying, but today was different. The odd medley of sacred hymns and pop songs came across as ridiculously soothing when hummed by Kris Kemper's low voice.
But then again, Byron didn't even know there was such a person as Kris Kemper. He only knew that someone always sat in the far corner where the dusty poetry collections were shelved, and that same someone would sporadically break out into humming or singing in a low voice while they studied.
Nobody stopped Kris, and nobody seemed to mind. That is, not until Tony Reynolds came along. Tony minded very much.
"...and I will always love you, I will always love you. So I'll go because I know...hmmm hmmm hm hm hm...--river attendeth my way. When sorrows like sea billows roll...hmm hmm hmm..I love you, I love you, I love I love I love Olivia--"
"Stop that racket!! This is a library."
Five indignant heads came up as the low voice halted and stopped completely. A quiet sigh was heard from the back corner, and then silence ruled.
Several minutes later, Byron was walking across campus to his next class. He paused in the middle of the gravel pathway. He was sure there was a girl crying in that little alcove behind the bushes, but he wasn't sure if he should intrude. He saw the retreating back of one of the bigger football players and decided to forge ahead through the shield of green.
"Hey," his tone was soothing and served to calm the tempestuous storm which raged behind the girl's dewy eyes, though she started like a wild deer when she heard his footsteps. She was dressed all in black, from her jet black hair all the way down to the tips of her worn out sneakers. The only color about her was the bright blue streaks in her hair.
"Oh." She tried to dash the water from her cheeks. Her nose ring caught the sunlight and sparkled for a brief second. She was wildly beautiful, even with the tears streaming down her cheeks.
"Umm, here." Byron fumbled in the pocket of his red sports jacket for the folded tissues he always carried. His jaw became firm and solid at the red mark on the side of her face.
"Who did this to you?"
She hung her head. "I can't say," she mumbled softly.
"Would he do it again if you told me? You should get protection. Like, I'm sure you could tell the authorities here. They'd be able to do something about it, sure."
"No. No, it just isn't that simple. I can't."
He put his index finger under her chin and tipped her face to where he could look square into her eyes.
"Listen here. You call me if he ever tries to do that to you again. I'm going to give you my phone number. Text me now so I'll know you got it. There. And I'm not being creepy or weird; I won't use you. I promise. I just believe that men are supposed to protect women; not hit them. I promise I won't call or text you unless I have your permission."
She fumbled to wipe away fresh tears.
"I, I don't know how to thank you."
"It's sickening that you have the need to. I'll kick that dog's tail if I ever see him lay a finger on you or any other woman on campus or off, whoever he is."
"You're wonderful," she breathed. "You're the kind of friend I've prayed for."
"God always hears our prayers. My name is Byron, by the way. Seriously, feel free to call or text me for anything. Anything at all."
"I'm Kris, and I will."
He stood up and smiled down into her dark green eyes.
"Good. I've gotta catch my next class or I won't be here to don my armor when you need it." He winked, and she laughed. It was beautiful to him. Melodious.
Once his math class was over, he headed towards the cafeteria. He was greeted by a chorus of voices.
"Fitch!! Sit over here with us."
"No, join me! Come on, man."
"Fellas, I already asked him to sit with Breck and me."
Hands waved and beckoned from every side. Byron laughed before sliding into an empty bench.
"You'll have to race if you want to sit near me. Hey dude! What's up, bro? Long time no talk. Good to see you, Tate."
"Hey Fitch! Stoked to see you. How was practice this morning?"
"It was pretty good," Byron grinned. "I'm looking forward to summer break and late mornings, though."
"I bet." Andrew Tate smiled and took a bite of his hamburger. "Don't look now, but I see Dickson headed this way."
Byron frowned. "Shucks. I can't stand that guy."
"I know. He's such a self-righteous jerk."
"Hey, Fitch."
Byron sighed and turned to face Rodney. "What's up, Dickson?"
"Next time I lose a race it better be fair and square."
Before Byron could speak up there were half a dozen voices chiming together in his defense.
"Seriously? You're the one who tried foul play this morning."
"That's your word against mine."
"No, that's your word against the rest of the team. You know as sure as you're alive that the whole team stands behind Fitch. You'd never get anywhere with your slander."
Rodney Dickson stood still in a haze of wrath for a few minutes before stalking away in a huff.
Byron settled into his seat in the cafeteria. The cheerful hum of conversation filled the room, spreading a joy through Byron as he looked around at his teammates.
"Thanks, fellas. I really-" he smacked his forehead. "Oh, shucks, I can't believe that! I'll catch y'all later."
"What's up?"
"Dude! You hardly even touched your food."
"Already, Fitch?"
"Guys! It just occurred to me that I know that girl. I gotta find her."
"What girl?"
"Ooh, Fitch has a girl."
"You crazy? C'mon, man!"
Byron laughed. "I'll explain it to y'all later." He saluted playfully. "Save me two seats tomorrow, Breck?"
"You got it, man."
Byron was gone before he could hear anymore complaints. His sneakers thumped down the hall while he stretched his gaze to find her. He spotted her walking slowly down the hallway. "Hey! Kris! Wait up."
"Hey," Her tired smile was heartbreaking.
He jogged over to wear she stood and gasped for breath. "Kris, do you have a moment?"
"Yeah." She looked worried. "What's up?"
"Let's talk in the Library. That okay with you?"
"Sure."
They walked in step. At the end of the gravel path, Byron held the library door open for Kris. Silence reigned inside, and Byron momentarily wondered why the mystery girl wasn't singing in there. Kris's voice brought him back to the present. "What's up, Byron?"
"Does my name sound familiar to you at all?"
"Hmm? I mean, I knew a Byron once. A really long time ago."
He tentatively touched her arm. His fingers were warm, and Kris appreciated how gentle he was. He said her name, and she brought her eyes back to his face.
"Kris. Kris, look at me. Do you remember the library in Burnet? Footsteps Across Texas?"
Her stare was blank for a second, and then her eyes widened to their limit. She vaulted onto her tip-toes and threw her arms around his neck, squeezing tightly.
"Whoa! Whoa there, Kris. It's good to see you, too."
He chuckled, hugging her back. After a moment, she pulled her arms away, apologizing. But he didn't seem to mind.
"I'm so sorry, it's just-oh my word I can't believe this. After-after I left, I had nobody."
Byron put his hand on her shoulder, and gently squeezed. "You gonna be okay?"
She nodded slowly, dabbing at her eyes with the sleeve of her shirt. He laughed and offered her a tissue.
"Kris, that was four years ago. You've changed."
She playfully punched him in the shoulder. "Ha. Yeah, I have. You have, too. You have no idea how much I've missed you."
"I've wondered what happened to you ever since you left the library so abruptly that day. I really liked you, even though we'd only met a few times. Where have you been?"
"I moved in with my aunt here in College Station."
"That sudden, huh?"
"Pretty much. I was-" she heard footsteps behind her, and that old look of panic spread across her face. "Well, I need to get going."
"Oh. Okay. Talk soon?"
He saw that old pleading in her eyes again.
"Yes! Yes. Please. I'll call you. Or, well; I'll see. Goodbye."
"Goodbye. Hey, Kris?"
"Yeah," She paused in the middle of the hallway. "What's up?"
"I'll always be here for you if you need me. You can talk, or not; whatever you need. My offer still stands."
"I know. Thank you."
"Any time."
She gave him a quick hug and ran out the door, disappearing down a side path. Byron scratched his head and sat down at an empty table. The library was pretty quiet, and he pulled out his books to study. Sunlight was streaming through the windows, and he could hear birds singing from somewhere outside. Byron ran a hand through his hair and slammed his textbooks shut. "Sorry," he whispered to a disgruntled student who sat nearby. He shoved his books into his backpack and went out the front door, slowly sauntering down the path towards the garden nearby. He smiled and waved at a few students who passed him, then settled down onto an empty bench. He put his ankle across his knee and his spread his textbooks around him. "Much better," he muttered to himself.
"Hey, Fitch."
Byron looked up to see Andrew Tate standing there, shading his eyes with his hand, disregarding his backwards SnapBack. "Hey Dude." He grinned up at him. "What's up?"
"So, you know Dickson, right?"
"Yeah man. We all know him."
"Oh, right. Well, so..." he scratched the back of his neck and wrinkled up his forehead. "So, I heard him and Reynolds talking about a girl, and it wasn't good."
Byron cleared the space next to him and motioned for Andrew to sit down. "What kind of stuff were they saying?"
"Dickson said something about messing with her ever since they were young. I don't remember specific words, but like I said, it wasn't good. Reynolds was laughing like it was some hilarious joke, then he said something like 'I gotta get me some of that'. I didn't like the sound of it at all."
"That's not good at all."
"No, it's not. And there's more! They talked about meeting at some small neighborhood on the outskirts of town, but I couldn't catch what they were planning on doing. I can only guess that it involves that girl somehow. What should I do, Man?"
Byron groaned and rubbed his temples with his fingertips. "Did you catch the address? Maybe you should report it to the police."
"I just caught the street; not an actual house address. Would you go with me to the police station to talk to them?"
"Sure, Man. I'll go with you. I have..." he tipped his wrist up and looked at his watch. "I have one hour until my next class."
"Awesome. We can take my car."
"Okay. Let me gather up my stuff real quick." He shoved his notes and textbooks haphazardly into his backpack and then shook it to let all of the papers settle. "Lets go."
After the short drive to the police station, they walked up to the front desk. They sat and talked with an officer while he took notes, then walked outside feeling relieved to have the situation out of their responsibility.
Byron slid into the passenger seat of Andrew's old Nissan and pulled at the old seatbelt. It stuck the first three times he pulled, then finally released with a snappy hum.
Andrew put his own seatbelt on and started the engine. "Thanks again for going with me, Breck. I'll feel better knowing the cops will have an eye on that neighborhood. I just hope that girl (whoever she is) will be okay."
"Me too, Tate. Now let's get back to the campus before we're late for history."

Comments

This is becoming

This is becoming interesting--I look forward to more!
One thing, but I was a little confused who was who and what was going on where. Specifically when you described the girl with jet black hair and blue tips--was that Kris? Or someone we haven't met, yet?
Sorry! As I said, can't wait for more!

Libby | Sat, 04/07/2018

“The gospel alone is the power of God unto salvation.
Therefore, suffer, yes. Be misunderstood, yes. Be shamed, yes. But do not be ashamed. For the joy set before you, take up your cross, follow Jesus, be shamed and despise the shame!" -- John Piper

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