Prologue - Valencia Street

The sandy-haired boy sailed along Valencia Street, the afternoon was clear and the street was quiet – plenty of people walking dogs and stuff, but not too many cars. In fact, he'd just waved to a neighbor and his beagle, Gracie. I wish mom'd let me get a beagle, he thought with a scowl and youthful irritation. The man waved back with a smile. The boy knew Mr. Jacobs thought he was an efficient, trustworthy and responsible caretaker for Gracie when he was away. Normally, he was all of those things, but today he wasn't – not really. Little did Mr. Jacobs know he'd just ditched his homework and his sitter. The boy looked up at the setting sun and knew he'd have to hurry to get back before dark. His scooter carried him along the hilly street and towards his destination: Aquarius Records. It was just a few blocks from his house. Marjorie won't even realize I'm gone, he thought with a sly smile. He looked over his shoulder to cross the street and was happy to see no traffic in either direction…sometimes he had to wait ten minutes to cross Valencia on a busy day – but it was nearly 5:30 …most people in the neighborhood were home already, setting the table, waiting to have dinner, like a normal family, he thought with a frown. Well, his family was anything but normal. If you could even call what we have a family.

He left his scooter just inside the doorway on the rack that Aquarius provided for its youthful clientele, and saw the display for the CD he wanted right up front. He grabbed the rap CD and paid Alvin, the cashier, with the last of his allowance from the previous week. He put on his helmet and left the straps undone as usual. He grabbed his scooter and was back out on the street sailing home. That's what it felt like on the scooter, like sailing…the breeze felt good on his cheeks and the sun was still warm. It was a wistful, bittersweet sensation, although the boy couldn't yet put those types of words to the feeling, but he felt them all the same. Sailing. As suddenly as it had come, the good mood, the thrill of being free, vanished. It was replaced by anger and an overwhelming need to punch something, and an equally strong urge to protect his mother. His father had taken him on a sailboat once. Before he left again, the boy frowned at the memory of his mother crying over that jerk who called himself his father. He was so wrapped up in thinking about his rat-fink father…I hate him, basketball tryouts…the cut list would be posted tomorrow…I have to make it, that idiot father of Mitch's…hitting on his mother… The guy was married, a dad, and still hit on my mom, his new CD…I can't wait to crank this on the stereo when I get home, and the way the scooter let him fly…I wonder if driving feels this good, he didn't notice the car that had crawled down the block to end up beside him as he scooted down the bike lane in the street. A tingle on the back of his neck alerted him and made him look up and over his shoulder. He shook his head, he was not sure he'd seen what he thought he saw.

He looked back over and said with surprise, "Hey! What are you doing in that car?" When he tried to get closer, the car swerved away and then forcefully towards him again. He leaped back off his scooter in surprise and shock. The driver of the burgundy Ford was trying to hit him. Then he looked around and realized no one would believe what had just happened, so he got on his scooter and pushed as hard as he could to get up some speed. He was able to get the scooter up on the sidewalk at the next driveway indent. The car followed him, speeding drunkenly up the steep hill and then, just at the crest, jumped the curb onto the sidewalk and barreled into him forcefully. With that, the boy really was sailing – through the air. He landed in a crumpled heap on the sidewalk ten feet away, CD case crushed in the bag under his arm, helmet lying beside him, scooter mangled beyond repair.