Chapter 1 1
Jamie was in his room on the second floor of his mother’s small Cape Cod house in Saddle River, New Jersey, when his life changed.
For a while he had been looking out the window to watch Kerry Dowling’s backyard. She was having a party and Jamie was mad because she hadn’t invited him. When they were in high school together, she was always nice to him even though he was in special classes. But Mom had told him that it was probably just a party only for Kerry’s classmates who would be leaving for college next week. Jamie had graduated from high school two years ago and now had a good job stocking shelves in the local Acme supermarket.
Jamie didn’t tell Mom that if the kids at the party started swimming in Kerry’s pool, he was going to go over and swim with them. He knew Mom would be mad at him if he did that. But Kerry always invited him to swim in her pool when she was swimming. He watched from the window of his room until all the kids went home and Kerry was alone outside on the patio cleaning up.
He watched the end of his video. He decided to go over and help her, even though he knew Mom would not want him to.
He slipped downstairs, where Mom was watching the eleven o’clock news, and tiptoed behind the hedges that separated his small backyard from Kerry’s big one.
But then he saw someone come into the yard from the woods. He grabbed something off a chair and came up behind Kerry, hit her on the head, and pushed her into the pool. Then he threw something away.
You’re not supposed to hit people or push them in pools, Jamie thought. The man should say he’s sorry, or he might get a time-out. Kerry’s swimming, so I can go swimming with her, he told himself.
The man didn’t go swimming. He ran away from the yard and back into the woods. He didn’t go in the house. He just ran away.
Jamie hurried toward the pool. His foot kicked something that was on the ground. It was a golf club. He picked it up, carried it toward the pool and put it on one of the chairs.
He said, “Kerry, it’s Jamie. I’ll go swimming with you now.”
But she didn’t answer him. He started to walk down the pool steps. The water looked dirty. He thought maybe somebody spilled something. But when he felt the water in his new sneakers, soaking his pants up to his knees, he stopped. Even though Kerry always said he could swim with her, he knew that Mom would be mad if he got his new sneakers wet. Kerry was floating in the water. He reached out, touched her shoulder and said, “Kerry, wake up.” But Kerry just floated farther away, to the deep end of the pool. So he went back home.
The news was still on the television, so Mom didn’t see him when he sneaked back upstairs and went to bed. He knew his sneakers, socks and pants were wet, so he hid them on the floor of his closet. Maybe they’ll dry before Mom finds them, he hoped.
As he was falling asleep, he wondered if Kerry was having fun swimming.