By Any Means
By James Morris
Publication date: January 2nd 2019
Genres: Adult, Thriller
How Far Would You Go To Save Your Son?
Lucas Turner is an ordinary teenager with an extraordinary genetic mutation: the cure for cancer rests in his body. When his father discovers that the only way to harvest the cure will result in the death of his son, he kidnaps him from the hospital, setting off a calamity of events from which there is no turning back.
Meanwhile, the doctor, intent on a cure at any cost, hires a female bounty hunter to bring the boy back by any means. She’s never failed before and doesn’t intend to fail now.
While on the run, the estranged father and son build a relationship on the road that brings them closer to the mistakes of the past and the consequences of the future. By Any Means is a literary thriller, and at its core is about a relationship between a father and son against all odds. The remedy, after all, may be less about science and more the human heart.
It was amazing how much Charlie could learn from a person by walking through their home. If tidy, they might be organized, exact, purposeful. Messy: go-with-the-flow, in the moment, chaotic. This place was neither. Charlie stood in Keith’s apartment wearing white surgical gloves and eating a cup of yogurt. She’d merely rung the buzzer outside and claimed to have lost her keys. Most city dwellers were too busy or annoyed to ask questions, and as predicted, she was buzzed inside. No one gave her a second glance. Once in the hallway outside of Turner’s door, she’d picked the lock.
Inside, she was hit with the stench of cigarettes. A smoker: someone unable to quit, overtaken by his addiction; weak. Already she knew Keith Turner was a financial disaster. He lived in a Spartan, two-bedroom apartment, devoid of a woman’s touch, nothing custom, and rented. Carpet: clean enough, no stains. She ran her finger over the doorframe. Dust: a man who couldn’t be bothered. An expensive flat-screen TV: a man who thought of himself first. No video game consoles: a man who thought himself above “juvenile” pursuits. A pile of dumbbells in the corner. No dust on them; chipped, frequently used. No plants; no pets; nothing alive.
She moved into the kitchen. Unwashed dishes filled the sink. Nothing on the refrigerator, no report cards or photos. Did he encourage his son at all? The dates on the low-fat milk cartons inside hadn’t expired; as expected, he hadn’t been gone long. She opened the cabinets. A hodge-podge of plates and glasses, probably stolen from various restaurants. Ironically, high quality pots and pans, seemingly never used.
No art hung in the hallway. Only clocks. No diplomas, either: no education? No maps or trinkets from traveling; he’d probably never left the United States or even the Tri-State area in his life. Flat, white blinds adorned the windows, the same ones that came with the rental. The bathroom was definitely male. Toilet seat up. Stray hair and soap scum decorated the shower. The medicine cabinet contained nothing of note beyond the usual Aspirin and extra deodorant.
Lucas’s room offered more insight: clean, tidy. He liked movies and books. Not a reader herself, she still recognized the classic nerd bible, Lord of the Rings along with neatly stacked rows of comic books still wrapped in cellophane. She surmised Lucas was smart, did well in school, and didn’t exercise. If necessary, she could take him down. There were no pictures of him with any girls from his school: a virgin. She could seduce him. The desk had a small rectangular water stain; she wondered what had been placed over it.
In Turner’s bedroom, she found condoms and lube in his dresser drawer. She’d noticed no computer in the house: no interest in technology. She could’ve looked up his computer’s cookies and seen the trail of websites he visited. In the absence of a computer, she looked under his bed and in his closet for a possible hidden box of porn. His preferences could shed light on the type of man he was: dominant, perverted, or vanilla. She found no box. Maybe he didn’t need any. His closet was small and he didn’t own many clothes. A couple pair of pants and button down shirts, otherwise Turner was a jeans guy, a man who lived light in order to move fast. Dangerous.
On a shelf, she found a small photo album. A few pre-digital pictures of Turner as a boy, probably from the 80’s, going by the brightly colored clothing and Flock of Seagull haircuts. A few pictures of Lucas as a baby with a young woman, too young, holding him. They shared a resemblance. His mother, perhaps? She flipped it over. No name. She pocketed the photo.
There had to be more. She searched the pockets of his pants. Nothing. Then she dug into the one sport coat in the closet. A folded picture of a woman, Filipino by the look of her, a nametag on her cocktail dress. Charlie recognized the background as one of the casinos that dotted the area around Chicago. Bingo.
James Morris is a former television writer who now works in digital media. When not writing, you can find him scoping out the latest sushi spot, watching 'House Hunters Renovation', or trying new recipes in the kitchen. He lives with his wife and dog in Los Angeles.
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