Chapter 12

I can’t die like this. I have decided. I can’t die like this.

So I start fighting. I start struggling. I get all the strength I can and force myself backwards. The person trying to choke me bangs hard into the locker. The grip is loosened from around me.

I’m free!

I don’t look back at that moment. I just start running. I’m running as fast as I can down the hallway. I make a right and start running down some locker room aisles. I can feel the person at my back! I can feel the person chasing me…attempting to kill me!

I am all the way down the hallway when I turn the corner.

That’s when I feel a hard SLAM!

I fall back and hit on the floor.

“Fuck,” I hear a voice say.

I realize at this moment that I’ve bumped into someone. It’s Zion…

“Oh my god!” I’m screaming.

Zion helps me up off the floor at that moment. My towel is on the floor. He is looking at my body butt naked staring back at him. I’m in so much shock that I don’t even care that I’m naked. I don’t even care that Zion is staring at me up and down. He picks me up and he holds me for a second.

“Damn,” he says, “I was upset with you but I think I just forgave you.”

He is surveying my naked body.

I interrupt him, “He—he---help me!”

I am still finding it hard to breathe. I was almost suffocated a minute ago.

“Are you ok? Why the hell are you screaming?”

“Someone’s in here. Someone’s in the locker room. Someone is trying to kill me,” I say at that moment.

“Where are they?” Zion says look around.

We both look back, but no one is there. It is completely dark but I don’t see or hear anyone. Strange. The person was right behind me. They just fucking disappeared out of nowhere. As if they were never there. It was so strange.

“Let’s just leave and call Detective Logan,” I tell him.

“Yeah. Yeah come on. Let’s get out of here.”

He grabs the towel and hands it to me. I wrap it around my waist. I watch as Zion grabs my hand and leads me down the hallway. I want to feel safe with him. Even though I’m scared as Zion leads me out of the locker room I want to feel safe with him.

Zion moves quickly leading me out but by the time we get to the locker room I see him struggling to open the door. He keeps pulling at it and nothing is happening.

“Open it.”

“I’m trying. It’s locked…from the outside.”

“Since when do locker rooms lock from the outside?” I ask.

Zion looks over at me, “They don’t…someone must have tampered with the lock.”


I look at Zion again, “You were the last one through that door Zion…”

Zion shrugs and tries to pull at the door again, “Clearly. Someone must have locked it while we were talking…”

I look up at Zion. He seemed cool. He seemed a little too relaxed.

Then I notice something else. Something odd.

“Why are you here?”

“Um…for the showers…” Zion says.

I stare at him up and down.

“And why are you wearing black.”

“Who cares?” Zion asks raising an eyebrow.

“I think it’s weird that you’re fucking dressed in black.”

Zion smirks, “You’re joking right? I was in the weight lifting room working out. I always work out in a black sweat suit. It helps me sweat…”

“Do you know April, Zion?” I ask.

“Of course I know her. She’s the crazy bitch who tried to kill you,” Zion states.

“You know what I mean Zion,” I say, “Stop playing fucking dumb. Do you know her? Yes or no. Her name is Johnson…just like yours…”

I take a step away from him. How did he know April?

He takes a step towards me.

His face is serious. Dead serious.

“Now…James. Don’t do anything stupid…” he tells me, “We should stick together…”

He takes another step towards me.

I book it.

I turn and I’m running as fast as I can. I can feel Zion chasing me! He reaches out for me. His arm almost grabs me but I pull away. I keep running. I’m running so fast that I lose my towel again. I’m butt naked and I’m running in the darkness.

I hide out in the back, where the showers are. I don’t see Zion. I’ve lost him.

I don’t see Zion…but I can hear him.

“James! James stop being stupid. I’m not going to hurt you!” I hear Zion’s voice saying.

He’s circling around the different aisles in the locker room. I can hear him. I can hear his footsteps. My heart is racing. Zion keeps calling out for me. He’s getting closer and closer to the showers. I ball my fist up ready to hit him. Zion’s voice and footsteps are getting so close.

But then all of a sudden right before he enters the showers he stops.

“James?” he says.

Then he turns and goes the other way.

I let out a low sigh at that moment. I need to find a way out of here. I look up at the windows across the way. The locker rooms have small windows the lead out into the field. I could make a run for it. I could get out of there. Or I can make a run for my locker and try to get my cellphone. I don’t know if I would have signal down here.

Either way is a risk.

So I’m sitting there thinking.

And I go for it!

I make a run for the window at that moment. I’m running as fast as I can and right before I reach the window I hear a piercing scream.


It’s Zion.

I stop. Could he be trying to fool me? Could he be trying to lead me into a trap? Why would he be screaming out for help?

“HELP!” the voice says again.

This time I notice the voice is desperate. The threat is real. This is definitely not him pretending. He is dead serious.


I’m running as fast as I can. I finally make my way to the end of the hall where I see him. He’s struggling with someone. The person has a bag over Zion’s head!

The person is trying to kill Zion.

I charge at the person. I tackle the person off of Zion. A few seconds more and he probably would have killed Zion. And that is when I see who the person is.


Houston is looking back up at me. His eyes are angry. As I look at him, there is madness there. I have him pinned down on the ground. I’m looking down at him. I don’t get it. I don’t understand it.

I see Zion behind me, “Oh my god…”

“Call the cops,” I tell Zion at that moment.

He pulls out his cellphone.

I look down at Houston. He never liked me. He always had something against me. But to kill Sydney? To try and kill me? What was his reasoning behind it?

Houston looks up at me, “It should have been me. She should have loved me.”


“Do you think she only wanted you?” Houston asks, “She wanted me too you know…you are nothing special.”

That was when I remembered. Houston was right. April had told Ms. Johnson that she only wanted to adopt Houston and I. Maybe April wanted to fulfill some sick perversion she had chasing boys. Everything made sense now. It made sense why he was so mad at me for sleeping with her. It made sense why he didn’t like me in the first place.

As I look at Houston I know that he did it for love.

Houston was in love with April…

“I feel like a part of this is my fault,” my father tells the counselor.

“How so?” the counselor asked, “You didn’t know April was sleeping with some of your sons.”

It was my idea to have group counseling after Houston was arrested. Our family was torn apart. We couldn’t hide behind basketball any longer. Yuri, Rami, my father and I go once a week. It brings us closer together as a family. I am starting to really appreciate them as people. I never had real conversations with my father aside from basketball.

“It was April who sold me on adopting all these boys. I should have thought it was weird because they were all attractive. I should have thought she only wanted them around to fulfill her desires,” my father stated.

Yuri pats him on the back, “Don’t blame yourself. She took advantage of James…”

“And Houston,” I add.

I know that he killed Sydney. I know that he turned into a murderer, but I feel like it had to be some of April’s madness that rubbed off on him. Maybe some of it rubbed off on me too. Luckily I didn’t remember much about my relationship with April. She seemed poisonous. And I was glad she was behind bars.

“I should have protected you boys more,” my father states, “I was just so concerned with basketball. I was concerned with getting you boys to the NBA. I didn’t see the issues around us.”

It was ironic. I was the best player on the team at one point. I was clearly going to the NBA. Now I would be lucky if I was drafted for college basketball.

The counselor is the one who speaks at that moment, “Well…maybe it’s time to put down the basketball and pick up your lives…”

Put down the basketball and pick up our lives.

That was exactly what I intended to do.

“Can’t believe Dad resigned,” Yuri says.

“He has some savings. I think he wants to be a stay at home dad until we graduate,” Rami responds to him.

“A little too late for that. Half the family is in jail or dead,” Yuri responds.

I know he means it as a joke but no one laughs. We are sitting there in the lunch table. There are no other people around. We are sitting by ourselves. We aren’t the popular kids at the lunch table any more. But I think it’s more because we don’t want to be.

We prefer to just stick to ourselves.

“Listen. As long as you guys aren’t going to try to kill me, I think we’ll survive this,” I explain to them.

“Yeah. I’m not in love with my adopted mother and not willing to kill for her. So I think you are in the green,” Yuri states shaking his head, “What about you…Rami. You in love with a family member?”

Rami pauses.

He looks at me. I can feel him brush his foot against my foot under the table. He winks at me.

“No…no I’m not…”

Yuri laughs, “Well then we are good. Finally getting past this bullshit. I’ll see you guys later. I got me a hot date.”

“With who?” I ask.

“Tanya. Hell. I want to be popular again and you clearly don’t want her,” Yuri laughs.

I roll my eyes and sigh a little bit as Yuri walks away. He leaves Rami and I at the table together. I look across the table at Rami.

“You know I was lying about that?” Rami states.

“Lying about what?”

“Not being in love with a family member,” Rami states, “I know it’s sick. But I can’t help it man. I’m all the way in love with you.”

The words echo through me.

I would have killed to hear Rami say that to me at one point.

And so I pause before responding. I think about it. I know he wants me to say it back but I’m struggling to find the right words.

“Listen, Rami…”

“I don’t like the sound of that,” Rami states.

“Listen, Rami,” I continue, “Besides the fact that you are my adopted brother…we have a lot of things that make us not compatible. Do I care about you? Yes. Are we always going to be close? Yes.”

“But you just don’t love me?”

“I can’t allow myself to love you…” I respond.

Rami takes a deep breath, “Why the hell not?”

“What are we going to be doing? Kicking each other under the table and hiding in closets, literally? I mean let us be reasonable. You are never going to want to come out of the closet. And us being together would hurt Darryl. I don’t want to hurt Darryl anymore. He’s already lost two wives and a son. Right now the last thing I want to do is hurt him.”

Rami is resilient.

“You can’t live your life for someone else.”

Just at that moment I see him. Zion. He was sitting at a table by himself as usual. We haven’t talked since Houston’s arrest. I don’t know if he’s mad at me for thinking it was him who was trying to kill me. Maybe he’s in shock because he almost lost his own life.

I’m not sure.

But as I’m talking to Rami, I realize I much rather be talking to Zion.

“I’m not making this decision for someone else,” I tell him, “I’m making this decision for me.”

I smile at Rami and get up from the table.

And I go chase after the person who I really want.

I find him in the gym. He has his shirt off. He’s shooting hoops.

When he sees me he stops all of a sudden.

“Shit…I thought no one would be in here. No one usually is in the gym around this time on Thursdays,” Zion states.

“It’s cool,” I tell him, “I’m glad to see you here. I was actually looking for you…”

Zion seems confused.

“You were? Why?”

I’m looking him up and down. Zion is dripping with sweat. He is sexy. He is more in his element playing basketball than I can ever remember me being. He holds the ball. The sweat makes his muscles glisten. He looks flawless.

“I just wanted to see you.”

Zion shrugs, “Rami knows you out here trying to see me?”

“It’s over between Rami and I?”


“Because I want someone else,” I tell him.

Zion doesn’t seem convinced. He grunts a little bit, “You sure? I mean you never know. I could be a killer. You know. My last name is Johnson. Even though there are 2.5 million people named Johnson in the United States. You know. I could be related to the killer somehow…”

He’s being a smart ass. For some reason that turns me on.

I find myself smiling, “I deserve that. But no…I’m not scared of you. See?”

I get close to him. I get really close to him. I get so close that I can smell him. Zion still seems resistant.

“I’ve been waiting on you forever. Maybe I’m not ready now?”

“Zion Johnson, not ready? You scored 50 points in the last game…”

“This isn’t basketball…” Zion tells me.

“I know.”

At that point I pull Zion’s basketball shorts down. I fall to my knees. We are in the middle of the basketball court. His dick is inches away from my face. Within seconds Zion’s body betrays him.

I put his dick in my mouth.

Zion drops the balls, “Shit…”

The ball rolls around the floor at that moment. I begin to suck him.

I can taste the salty precum mixed with sweat in my mouth.

“This isn’t about basketball. Life isn’t all about basketball…” I quote him.


Read another story the next story by Staten on Nifty called Piece of Mind