Cover image for Simon says : a novel of intrigue, betrayal-- and murder
Title:
Simon says : a novel of intrigue, betrayal-- and murder
Author:
Dixon, Collen.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Villard, [2003]

©2003
Physical Description:
xiii, 320 pages ; 21 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780812968811
Format :
Book

Available:*

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Call Number
Material Type
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Status
Central Library X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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Summary

Summary

LIFE'S A GAME. ARE YOU READY TO PLAY? The blood rushed from Alex's head, and his body went limp. As he passed into an abyss of darkness, the chilling final words of The Deliverer rang in his ears, words that would haunt him for the rest of his life. "The next time you pull a knife on someone, you better know why. It's not a toy. It's not a plaything. You be prepared to either use it for real or have it used on you.You either kill or be killed. Always remember that." --fromSimon Says Alexander Baxter is a young man from the heart of D.C.'s most notorious ghetto and seems destined for a life of crime. But his intelligence triumphs over his fists when Simon Blake, the city's illustrious mayor, plucks him out of the clutches of a violent fate and guides him to achieve his every wish. For Alex, it's a fairy tale come true. But this isn't a fairy tale--and no good deed ever goes unpunished. In this riveting story of murder, intrigue, romance, suspense, and political high jinks, Alexander Baxter learns to be careful what he wishes for, who he trusts, and where he leaves his heart. And he learns it the hard way.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Chapter 1 Alexander "Chip" Baxter stood near the middle of the long line that stretched from the pharmacist's counter, in the back, to the front of the cramped drugstore. People's, the only drugstore within a ten-block radius of Shaw, was on overload as usual. Shaw was a desolate place, full of decayed remnants of days gone by. Days and times when people took pride in where they lived. Now they just took. Despite it all, it was Chip's home. And this was one of the more upbeat days, the first of the month, or Mother's Day, as it was called in the 'hood. Everyone was in high spirits, laughing and joking. Mother's Day was the busiest day of the month, as the welfare recipients conned, coerced, and cajoled in order to make their monthly pittance stretch against the rules and the sky-high prices of the Establishment. Children scurried about, begging their mothers to buy the dime-store toy of their dreams. Meanwhile, adults tried to make a dollar out of fifteen cents, using their modest windfalls to purchase diapers, Kool-Aid, cigarettes, and Similac-the staples of a struggling community. Shifting his weight, Chip clutched the prescription until his nails left deep indentations in his sweaty palms. The perspiration smudged the doctor's signature to the point of illegibility, but that was okay. He'd gotten so many prescriptions filled there that the pharmacist knew exactly what he needed. Unless there was an evil clerk aching to give Chip a hard time. He dreaded the aggravated counter girl going off on him. He'd seen her do that often enough. Chip tried desperately to suppress the loud yawn straining his small ten-year-old body, but it was a losing battle. The yawn forced his bloodshot eyes shut, like the snap on a mousetrap. He had deep bags and dark circles etched under his eyes, and he looked like one of the drunks or sleep-deprived addicts who hung out on the corner. His "Feed the Children" poster-child appearance was a direct result of last night's disturbing nightmare and the intense migraine that followed. The dream had been exceptionally vicious, and it was lingering longer than most. Almost two hours had passed since he'd left the ratty old free clinic over on First Street for a temporary fix and rushed over to the drugstore, just to hurry up and wait. The line had barely moved, and the few times that it did, some bigger person would bogart his way in front of Chip. There was nothing he could do about it, so he just waited for relief to come. The yawn brought welcome tears to his dry eyes, and he stretched while carefully guarding his place in line. Sleepy tears dribbled down his gaunt cheeks, and Chip nearly gagged. Nausea was one of the side effects of the migraines, which were sometimes unshakable. Sunlight and noise also heightened his discomfort. Needless to say, time served in the chaotic drugstore only made them worse. The dank, shabby store was stifling in the extremely humid July air. Instead of being a place that offered refuge for the sick, it was dark and depressing. Fighting the urge to simultaneously vomit and cry, Chip leaned against a rack of feminine-protection products and instead yawned again. Eyes shut, he prayed. Chip's thoughts drifted back to his bad dreams. As young as he was, he remembered when they had started. It was right after his mother's death. For a while, they had occurred every night, and then they had become less frequent. Sometimes they were confusing, but most of the time they were scary, until his mom appeared. She was a calming presence, and offered him comfort he didn't get in his waking moments. In the midst of utter turmoil, she'd wrap her arms around him, and he'd often awaken reach- ing for her, only to be met with the raucous snores of his older brother, Ivan. At the end of one of these episodes, Chip would be dazed and drained. His pajamas would be soaked with sweat, damp through to his rumpled cowboy sheets. Only snippets of the startling visions remained, enough to leave him disoriented, trembling, and afraid. Ceiling fans hummed and stirred the suffocating air. Chip rubbed his aching head. Last night he had awakened Ivan, and to Chip's surprise, he'd been pretty sympathetic. Normally, Ivan was kind of grouchy if his sleep was interrupted. So it had made Chip feel a whole lot better when Ivan talked to him until Chip drifted off to sleep. It beat the times Ivan mumbled incoherently, uttering gibberish and snoring in the middle of Chip's sentence. Chip scanned the line. A teenage mother was at the front, engaged in a heated dispute with the pharmacy clerk. They were truly going for it. With a baby hoisted on her hip and a toddler playing with a colorful condom display, she cussed and shouted as she and the clerk argued over the expiration date of her public assistance card. Folks in line were getting restless, and the noise level rose as they began shouting at the clerk and the mother to hurry the hell up. Impatience, poverty, and the choking humidity of the D.C. summer made a volatile mix. Chip squeezed his eyes shut even tighter in a futile attempt to block out the heat and the brewing turmoil, an ugly vortex that threatened to suck him in at any moment. Suddenly, the back of the line surged forward, shoving Chip and sending his prescription fluttering to the floor. He quickly leaned down to pick up his precious piece of paper, as a commanding voice rose above the rumblings of the crowd. Chip stood motionless, too frightened to even breathe. "Everybody get your asses on the floor! Get on the damn floor! Right now! This is a stickup!" "Don't nobody move, or else you gonna get some of this heat!" another guy yelled from the front of the store. His tone was also deep and extremely agitated, and he sounded like he was itching to shoot somebody. Anybody. "Everybody drop they purses. Now!" the first robber yelled, this time even louder. "Don't nobody try no stupid shit and try to be no hero." Pandemonium erupted and most folks dove for the dirty floor, scattering their unpaid merchandise all over the cramped aisles. Knocking over displays, mothers grabbed for their children, and screams resonated at a feverish pitch, yet Chip's feet were nailed in place. This had to be another bad dream. Except it wasn't. This was a living nightmare. Trembling like a wino down to the last drop of his Wild Irish Rose, Chip just couldn't move. Fear riveted his maypop tennis shoes to the floor, and his knees knocked like the rhythmic drumbeats from the go-go bands that played at the free concerts in the park. Two hooded gunmen wearing black ski masks rushed toward the pharmacist, demanding cash and drugs. A wet, warm sensation trickled down Chip's pants. He had wet himself in front of all of these people, but he wasn't ashamed. This wasn't a matter of social protocol or embarrassment. It was reality. The intense fear that caused his bladder to release was real. Witnessing an actual armed robbery was nothing like what he had seen on his black-and-white TV or in the Technicolor-enhanced movies. One of the gunmen yelled, his lips spraying spit at the hysterical clerk, and she cried fitfully as she tried to get the cash register open. Yet Chip couldn't hear anything. He saw their mouths moving, but everything was muted. There was a rapid succession of bright lights and gunfire as the man blasted her in the chest; blood and guts splattered everywhere. He mercilessly shoved her lifeless body aside and grabbed the contents of the cash register. Chip's eyes stuck on him like cheap tennis shoe soles on hot asphalt. He knew he risked his life by looking, but he couldn't help it. Chip was mesmerized, yet acutely repulsed. He'd never seen bloody body parts splashed before his eyes, and while his mind said run for your life, his feet and soggy briefs said no way. Swearing at the store's sweltering heat, the murderous gunman snatched off his mask and hurdled over the counter. He stopped dead in his tracks when he noticed Chip, standing in the pool of urine and staring straight at him. In a split second, Chip's abbreviated life flashed before his eyes, and he swore he saw the angelic apparition of his mother. The gunman had blood in his eyes, and he looked at Chip as if he were going to be next on his hit list. But in the distance sirens began to sound, and the other gunman yelled for the murderer to run. Calmness swept over Chip, for he knew that his mother was looking out for him as his life precariously hung like laundry on an overloaded clothesline. The murderer laid a long finger next to his throat and made a slicing motion. It was code for what would happen to Chip if he ever recalled the gunman's face. Squealing or dropping a dime on him would mean certain death. Running past Chip, the robber nearly slipped on the slick trail of pee. Angrily, he took a moment to exact revenge on Chip, with his wet pants and a splitting headache. The robber slammed him into the row of tampons and sanitary napkins. When Chip awoke, EMTs were shaking him into consciousness, as he lay sprawled out on tiny pillows. As they assured him that he was going to be okay, some snaggle-toothed old lady shouted out that Chip had seen the robbers. He hauled ass before the cops could catch him. As the smudged prescription slipped through his fingers, all he could think of was escaping. Energized, he slipped under the yellow police tape and past the numerous policemen. Chip had proven he was a survivor. He had stared down death and survived. From that point on, he'd trust his instincts. Later that evening, a still-breathless Chip, now freshly changed, waited anxiously on the fire escape for Ivan to come from basketball camp. The window fan barely stirred the suffocating heat in the Baxters' modest apartment; Chip often sought refuge on the escape during the summer's sweltering heat. When Chip finally saw Ivan kung-fu fighting down the block with his best friend, Fortune, Chip crawled through the window to run to the door to meet him. With perfect timing, he swung the door just as Ivan was about to open it. "Hey, Ivan, you'll never guess what happened to me today." Ivan shot him a dirty look as he nearly tumbled through the doorway. "Hay is for horses. You're right. I'll never guess, because I don't care. But I bet you'll never guess what happened down at the drugstore." Ivan tossed his gym bag onto the sofa and karate-chopped his way into the kitchen. He opened the freezer and refrigerator doors and stuck his head inside the freezer compartment. "Man, is it hot in here. I swear we need an air conditioner or something." Chip ran into the kitchen and stood behind the refrigerator door, the cool air blowing on his skinny ankles. "I bet I do know. I was there." "You're lying." Ivan jerked his head from the freezer section, then rummaged through the rest of the refrigerator. "I'm not, Ivan. I was." "You saw all that killing and whatnot?" Ivan looked at Chip and stuck an apple in his mouth. He bit off a big chunk and shook his head. "That's far-out, dude." He grabbed a bottle of orange juice and shoved the door closed. "Yeah, I guess. But it was kind of scary. I even wet on myself when I saw the guy that shot the clerk. And the cops tried to stop me, but I ran." Ivan nearly dropped his apple. "Don't feel bad. I would've probably shit a brick if I'd seen it. But you didn't say nothing, did you? You know you can't do nothing like that. They'll come after you if they even think that you'll drop a dime on them. You catch my drift, Chip?" Chip nodded with widened eyes. "But I feel bad about the girl. She was mean sometimes, but it's still sad that she got killed like that." Excerpted from Simon Says: A Novel of Intrigue, Betrayal... And Murder by Collen Dixon All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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