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My Sister's Keeper By Bill Benners Characters: 10033

Updated: 2018-05-28 11:25


MARTHA QUERIED AN ON-LINE phone directory for the Methodist Home for Boys in Yonkers, dialed the number it gave her, and asked to speak to someone about a former student. After several minutes, a deep, gravelly voice came on the line.

"This is Geoffrey Lord. How can I help you?"

"Mr. Lord, my name is Martha Baimbridge. I'm looking for a former resident of the home who was there back in the 1980s. A man named Dane Bonner?"

The man remained silent for a moment. "From where are you calling?"

"North Carolina."

"So Dane Bonner still lives."

"Then, you do remember him."

"Miss, I remember every kid that passes through here. Especially the troublemakers. Bonner came with a lot of baggage and left with a lot of baggage. Probably the most emotionally crippled child to ever leave here. Killed his own father when he was nine. Hacked him up with a Cub Scout hatchet because he took away his marijuana. I figured he'd be in prison by now. Or dead. It's scary to think he's still alive."

"I believe he might be."

"You don't sound very sure."

"The name came up in an investigation."

"You're with the police?"

"I'm—working with the police on this particular case."

"What's he done?"

Martha picked her words carefully. She knew the next few sentences would determine whether or not she got his help. "We think he may be involved in a recent murder here. Perhaps more than one."

"I figured it was something like that. And the last we heard he was in North Carolina."

"So he keeps in touch with you?"

"Oh, no. We haven't actually heard from him since the day of the accident."

"The accident?"

"When Dane first arrived, an honors student by the name of Bob McGillikin was assigned to him as his big brother, to help Dane assimilate into the system here. But Dane was a deeply troubled, violent young man, and was more than Bob could handle on his own. So another resident was also assigned to Dane. But Dane saw that as a weakness in Bob and taunted him even more for it until Bob finally graduated and went off to college."

"Where'd he go?"

"He did his undergraduate work at the University of North Carolina and received a full scholarship to Wake Forest Law School."

"Smart fellow."

"Yes, he was. He was valedictorian at his high school and at the top of his class at Carolina. He wanted to dedicate his life to taking care of the legal needs of orphaned kids. Bob even wrote an important paper on it while at UNC that is still the legal standard for protecting the rights and properties of children whose parents have passed on."

"You said there was an accident?"

"Yes. After graduating from UNC, Bob came back for a visit. And once again, Dane latched on to him. Bob again felt sorry for Dane and thought he could help him to see that you can't just go around bullying people and taking what you want. That there are other ways to get the things you want in life. And, for the first time since he'd been here, it looked like somebody might

I'm sorry, but I can't." Sydney looked at her watch as the clerk examined her credit card. "Can you hurry, please? I'm a dance teacher and I'm going to be late for my first class."

Scott touched her arm. "Listen. I called Freda and told her what happened, and she's calling in a sub for you. Can we go someplace and talk?"

She jerked her arm away. "No! I can't." The clerk pushed a credit card ticket through the window and Sydney leaned to sign it. "We've got competitions coming up. They need to rehearse." She signed the charge ticket, pushed it back through the window, and slipped her cards back into her wallet. "Can you drop me off?"

"Of course. Anything you want. I'm here to help."

She folded the receipt into her purse and hurried to the exit. "I appreciate your being there for me today, Scott. I really do. I know how busy your schedule is, but this doesn't change anything between us."

"I just want you to think about it."

As the automatic door opened and she plodded through it, the impact of what had happened began to sink in. All my things are in the van. What am I going to do without a vehicle? Sydney's eyes misted over.

I STOPPED BY MY STUDIO, shuffled through a stack of junk mail, and checked email. Having nothing that really needed my attention, I headed to the hospital to check on Dad. As I down-shifted the bike and turned into the parking lot, my eyes fell on a man and a woman getting into a silver Porsche. It looked like Scott's Porsche—the one I'd ridden in once—and the couple looked like Scott and Sydney! As the car backed out of its parking space, I came to a full stop and set both feet on the pavement waiting for them to pass. As the car pulled forward, the woman looked up and my heart cracked in half. Even with the sky reflecting off the windshield diminishing my view, I felt sure it was Sydney. The car abruptly veered to the left and snaked through the parking lot heading for a different exit as a colossal weight settled on my chest.

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