CH. 1 Xavier

A new year means: new opportunity for love, happiness, and success. Last year didn’t go so well, but don’t let that mere fact deter your will to conquer the next! After all, that’s life: many ups and downs, and at times it will seem as if the bottom is home. So much so, that the rise back up becomes daunting— unfathomable even. Suddenly, amidst the dust and grime will appear a way out of misery that you hadn’t yet considered, and just as quickly as you fell, you will rise, more useful than ever before. A young chestnut-colored man with many thick dreads grazing his waistline, stared at himself in the mirror—thinking after exiting the shower at home. His name was Xavier Jones from a small town in Florida, just outside of Tallahassee. Still unable to decide which University to attend, he needed the last few months of high school to go smoothly.

Xavier had been accepted to three of the four major Universities he applied to, and was waiting to hear back from the last, most important option, Auburn University. He didn’t know what it was about the school that appealed to him so strongly; maybe the Football team sparked the fuse. They were known to have top-notch teams over the years. Not yet being recruited, meant that he would have to work ten-times harder than everyone else to make the team; he thrived under pressure.

His mother, Demi preferred him to stay closer to home; maybe FSU or UF. Xavier was after all, her only son out of she and her husband, Alton’s three children. Their family was tighter than most; Demi and Alton were still together and very much in love. Mostly everyone got along well, except for Xavier and the oldest sister, Trina. But nothing was perfect in this world—any world rather. Maybe one day they’d get back right; Xavier didn’t care either way.

Tonight, there was a party that he and his boys were planning to attend on College Avenue; Xavier had never been before. It was a fraternity party with very much marijuana, alcohol, and wild energy. He told the guys that he would attend this one and maybe a few others before he left for college. Even though he was accepted to the local HBCU on full scholarship, he had no desire to attend. Too many familiar faces would be there. It’s not that he didn’t like the people he grew up with, it was just that he was ready for something new. There were girls there that he’d dealt with and with whom he’d shared some amazing moments, but he was more focused on his future. High school relationships were rarely strong enough to make it in the long run in his opinion. True love was a goal of his, but it wasn’t on the pressing matters list. So tonight, he would live life, indulge in some alcohol (probably a little weed) and a girl or two if he was truly lucky. In his eyes, these were the beginning of his glory days; it might be wise to take full advantage of every opportunity to make them memorable!

After showering, he chose to wear a classic Bull’s Jordan jersey with a white t-shirt underneath, and loosely-fit black Levi’s—he accented the outfit with red and black sweat-bands on each wrist. After pulling his dreads back into a ponytail and putting on a red fitted cap, Xavier was looking through his shoe selection and pondering over the important decision when his mother knocked on the door and popped her head in, “Hey boy, where you goin’ looking all handsome?” she was a little rounder and taller than most, but had high enough confidence and self-esteem to make those details trivial. When entering the room, you could feel her warmth—a presence that demanded respect and attention.

“Just a little get-together in the city, nothing too heavy.” Xavier inadvertently blinked one of his eyes.

“Looking like you stepped fresh off the cover of XXL? Try again. You forgot I know you like the back of my hand, child?”

“Ok Ma, I’m going to a ‘Q’ party, off College Ave.”

“Now, why do you feel like you need to lie to me about something so insignificant? You know I don’t care if you attend a party every now and again; you’ve earned it!” she pointedly glanced upward at the ceiling, giving her bangs a relieving upward blow with tightened lips.

Here she goes. He rolled his eyes and tilted his head backward, looking toward the sky in response to the brewing lecture that he knew was coming.

“Alright, alright. I’m leaving now. Just remember; never lie to a woman that you love, unless it’s to save her from extraordinary pain. Even that is debatable.”

“Yes ma’am.” He got up and kissed her on the cheek before she closed the door. He didn’t know why he felt the need to lie. Maybe because he knew he was planning on getting severely inebriated and didn’t want her waiting up for him to come home. It would be wise not to let anyone other than his peers witness this pending recklessness. He also knew that he should be catching a ride, but no one drove while intoxicated better than him (in his opinion) and it wasn’t just his ego that made him feel that way; he had many prior dangerous, yet ticket-free experiences.

After Xavier spent nearly half an hour looking for somewhere to park his Chevy, he approached the party looking and feeling like a million bucks. It was being held at a nightclub called Potbelly’s; he had heard that it was hands down one of the best in Tallahassee. Walking up to the line to get in, he scanned the area approaching the door. None of his friends were in sight so he pulled out his Android and sent a message in their group text. Xavier was happy to at least see a line full of beautiful girls, most likely all older than him. The party was supposed to be for college students only, but since he was cool with a few of the security guards, he had no worries about getting in.

It took about 15 to 20 minutes for him to pass through security and up the stairs to the party. By then, he received some response back from his friends that were already together at the bar. The place was so jam-packed with gyrating half-naked women and hot, sweaty men that Xavier could literally only move an inch per minute through the crowd.

Loud bass and drums vibrated through the thick, hot air. He could feel it bouncing off the floor and walls, even off the bodies he was forced to touch while maneuvering through the room. Drinks spilled everywhere around from the waves of people in motion— mostly already heavily intoxicated. What a time to be alive!

Suddenly, the music was cut and there was a loud resounding stomping and chanting coming from somewhere that Xavier couldn’t see– an entire area of the party beyond the bar and outside the building; a rush of curious partygoers commenced toward the commotion. The distraction thinned the crowd, helping Xavier find his way to the bar and his friends.





Xavier laughed as he greeted everyone, participating in individual handshakes for each person. Marcus, James, Hector, and Ahmad were all going to either FSU, FAMU, or TCC. None of them desired to leave home yet; Xavier was the only one of the group that was ready. Ultimately, their plan was to show him a little of what he’d be missing. So far, Xavier was beyond impressed, but he was also convinced that the parties would be like this wherever he decided to go; college is college. They promptly started with three rounds of Jack Daniels, and then led Xavier to the party outside where Ahmad proceeded to roll up a blunt.

They smoked heavily, drank heavier, and eventually arrived on the dancefloor having the time of their lives. Xavier turned down a few drunken girls that weren’t really his type. For some reason he had someone on his mind preventing him from having the best time possible. Why am I even thinking of Her right now?

James and Ahmad were ready to head out, so they all did so. They had been there about three and a half hours, but the party hadn’t waned in the least bit. Xavier wasn’t entirely ready to go home, but still had to drive, so he figured now was as good of a time as any to make the trip.

On the way to the car, there were cop cars lined down the street with officers both in and outside of their vehicles, observing the party goers. Xavier pulled himself together long enough to walk decently in front of them back to his Chevy. He climbed in, located his keys, and cranked up. After putting on his favorite Jeezy album and turning the stereo up as loud as it could go, he looked at his phone and saw a few missed messages from her, shook his ponytail loose, and drove off dancing in his seat; what a night.

The next morning, while lying on his back, Xavier opened his eyes to minimum light seeping through the slits of the blinds. It must have still been moderately early since the sun hadn’t made an official appearance yet. He reached over to the left for his cell phone on the nightstand to take a quick peek at the time before attempting to return to his slumber. Much to his surprise, he didn’t feel a phone nor nightstand. Confused, he sat up to survey the room; had his dad rearranged the furniture while he was sleeping? He looked to the right and saw a nightstand with a bulky alarm clock, a small lamp, and an old-school, cord phone on top of it. The time read 5:00 AM. It was odd because he knew that he arrived home a little after 3. Have I only been sleeping for two hours? More importantly, this stuff wasn’t in here before I left. Continuing to look around, he noticed an out-of-place TV, a desk and chair that didn’t belong, and what appeared to be two doors; he concluded that he was in a hotel room. Unsure whether to jump up and run around in panic or close his eyes and go back to sleep in hopes of normalcy returning at the next awakening, he chose the latter. The only explanation he could think of, was that he was still heavily under the influence of marijuana and alcohol, either that or still dreaming. Regardless, he figured he just needed to sleep this off.

The next time he came to, he could hear the world around him, and almost didn’t want to open his eyes. The sounds that were invading his brain were relentlessly anomalous, even more peculiar than seeing his room rearranged to a hotel that he had never checked into. Why did I ever go back to sleep? Birds were chirping too loud for comfort, insects zipping about all around his head, and perhaps it was water that he heard moving softly in the distance. Keeping his eyes shut tightly, Xavier pinched his body all over. This has GOT to be a dream! Pinching himself more and more into consciousness, he noticed the soft cold grass where the bed once was. The sun radiated heat his way as he felt an uncomfortable bulge in his pocket. Digging down and finally opening his eyes, he pulled his cellphone out while simultaneously jumping up in fear; he attempted to mentally process his location. Maybe I unknowingly did some sort of hallucinogen at the party last night because what I’m seeing cannot possibly be reality. Surrounding Xavier were trees and shrubs, in the distance he caught a glimpse of some sort of animal. Was that a deer?

Trying not to hyperventilate, he sat back down on the grass and focused on his phone. My mom! She’ll come and get me— uh – wherever I am; not sure how I’ll explain myself. I can only tell her what I remember, and that’s very little. But hearing her voice will help put my mind at ease, then I’ll be able to walk to the nearest road to give her an idea of where I am. He called and initially heard nothing. It confused him because the phone signal was full, so there couldn’t be a reception problem. As he was about to hang up and try again, he heard his mother. She was crying and sniffling, and then she said weakly, “Come back son, please! Please Xavier, you have to come back!” Sobbing ensues.

“Ma! What’s wrong— why are you crying? That’s exactly why I called, need you to come pick me—” the call dropped. The next time he tried to call out, nothing happened; no ringing, no call time, nothing at all. So now, instead of feeling a little more at ease, a strong sense of panic enveloped his mind. It sounded as if she was in danger and needed his help. He wondered where his dad was. How could he not be around to help her right now? Ok it’s time for action; no more fear. I’ve never heard her sound so distraught; time to find my way back home. First thing I need to do is find my car, or a road, a person, anything besides this forest.



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