Amber Dream

By Melissa R. Mendelson

The rain poured down on the Town of Chester as cars drove along Route 17M. People scurried into the supermarket, movie theater, or other stores in the shopping center as others stood by the bus stop and watched the rain fall. Further down the road was the Chester diner where a lone man sat silently as he gazed out a window at the passing cars.

Liam Derry sighed deeply as he rubbed his temples. He just turned thirty-two, but he felt like he was ready for the grave. He wore a black suit and white sneakers and made a mental note of all the customers and activities going on inside the diner. His eyes followed a couple out the door as they argued over something trivial, and his gaze shifted over to two men sitting next to each other and sharing a piece of apple crumb cake. His eyes wandered over to a ten-year-old girl humming as her parents looked over the check, and suddenly a black and white blob blocked his gaze. Liam looked up to see a fat, impatient, middle-aged woman glare down at him.

“What it be?”

“You’re not my regular waitress.” Liam continued to look at her.

“Everyone called out sick, and I’m the only one here. What will it be?”

“Grilled American cheese on white bread with a large pineapple juice, and I want a slice of that apple crumb cake those two men are sharing. Okay?”

The waitress just grunted and stormed away from the table as Liam tried not to laugh. He turned his attention over to the tv above the counter, where an old man sat and nibbled on a bagel, and he smiled as the eleven o’ clock news came on.

“I see that I have made the news again,” Liam said to himself as lightning flashed outside his window.

“Scarlet Ramino was found strangled earlier tonight in her apartment after testifying against mob boss Tony Scaletti earlier today. Ramino placed Scaletti as the central guy in the mob war that lasted in Brooklyn for almost five months. She made a deal with the District Attorney to testify to avoid jail time and was to be placed in the Witness Protection Program first thing tomorrow morning. The police who stood guard outside her apartment door did not hear the suspect slip in and were unable to seize the suspect when he escaped. One witness told police that a man crawled into Ramino’s bedroom and appeared to be in his thirties and was…” Liam tuned the reporter out as he focused on his own thoughts.

Scarlet had it coming. She created a mob war with the space between her legs, and she played everyone like a stack of cards. She had it all: money, sex, and power, but it still wasn’t enough for her. She just didn’t count on me to be called in.” Liam jumped as the waitress slammed a glass of pineapple juice down in front of him and stormed away. “Bitch,” he muttered.

Liam glanced up at the seat in front of him to see an eight-year-old boy wearing blue jeans and a white undershirt watch him. He groaned as the boy smiled at him. “Where did this kid come from, and why has he been following me over these past weeks,” Liam wondered. “Why don’t you go home?”

“I’m hungry,” the boy replied.

“I don’t want you here!”

“Would you let me starve?” Liam stared at the kid and chewed on his lip.

“Why do you follow me?”

“Because you need me.” The kid reached over to pat Liam’s hand.

Liam moved his hand away and slammed his other hand against the table, which made the kid jump back in his seat. Liam ignored the stares from the few people in the diner as he glared at the boy. “Listen, kid, you don’t want to know what kind of man I am.”

“Is that why you cry at night?”

Liam jumped as the waitress appeared in front of him and placed his food down on the table. Liam was about order for the kid when he realized that the boy was gone.

“Something else you need?” The waitress stared impatiently at Liam. “Did you want that slice of apple pie right now?”

Liam looked past the waitress and around the diner before looking back at her. “Forget the apple pie. Just leave me the check.”

The waitress muttered something under her breath as she flipped to Liam’s order on her pad. She crossed out the apple pie and handed Liam the check before walking away.

“Your tip just got smaller,” Liam muttered as he picked up his grilled cheese sandwich and analyzed it for foreign objects like a strand of hair.

A short time later, Liam left the diner and began walking over to his apartment above the small stores next to the diner. He paused as a Town of Chester police car passed by and smiled at the two police officers who were drinking coffee in the car.

“Get out of here, or I’ll beat you!”

Liam spun around as he heard screams coming from behind the diner. He ran past the dumpsters to see a cook in a dirty apron yell at a young woman holding half-eaten food in her hands that she took out of the dumpster.

“I’m hungry!” The girl noticed Liam and snarled at him.

“You’re crazy! Get lost!” The cook glared at Liam, who watched them. “Can I help you?”

“Don’t touch her.” Liam approached the girl, who growled at him.

“Why? She’s like a rodent that keeps coming back to scavenge for more food.”

Liam ignored the cook’s comment as he stood a few feet from the girl. He watched the girl shove a half-eaten sandwich into her mouth as she watched him. Liam waited for her to swallow before he lunged at her and pinched a nerve in her neck that rendered her unconscious.

“Holy shit! You killed her! Shit!” The cook ran back into the kitchen as he almost tripped over his own feet. “Someone call the cops!”

“Idiot,” Liam muttered as he held the girl in his arms.

Liam hear thunder crash over him as lightning streaked across the sky. He looked over at the dumpster to see the boy standing there. He felt the cold rain pour over him as he carried the girl to his apartment while the boy followed behind.

Liam carried the girl into his apartment and lowered her onto the couch. He ignored the boy, who slipped in as he closed the apartment door. Liam flicked the light switch on and winced when the overhead lights came on. Liam stared at the unconscious girl on his couch.

“Can we keep her?” Liam glared at the boy and realized he was drenched.

“No.” Liam walked toward the bathroom.

“You send everyone away!” Liam froze in his steps and looked at the boy. “You kill to kill the feelings inside of you! It won’t work. You’re still alive!”

“Stop it, damn you! Who are you!” The boy vanished, and Liam looked at the girl on his couch. “I don’t regret who I am,” Liam muttered as he noticed words tattooed on the girl’s right arm that read: AMBER DREAM.

The graduation ceremony ended as the college students screamed with joy except for Liam, who spotted his grandmother in the audience. He sat down next to her in a row of empty chairs after the ceremony had ended and nodded at graduates, who walked by. He felt his grandmother stare at him, and he returned the look.

“Congratulations, Liam.”

“Thank you, Grandma. How is my mother?”

“Don’t call me, Grandma, Liam. Call me, Ann. Do I have to remind you? Because of you, your parents had to marry, remember?” Liam was hurt by her words, but he held back his tears. “Your mom is doing better and engaged to a rich man.”

“A cold man.” Ann glared at Liam. “What do you want?”

“I came to see you today to see what your plans are now that you are done with private school and college. How is Hazel doing?”

“She left me. I wonder why.” Liam glared at Ann.

“I put a large sum of money into your account, and I expect you to go away and not visit your mother anymore. Start over, Liam. Do something that makes you happy.” Ann stood up from her seat and moved away.

“I would like to pay you back for ruining my life because you were the one who made my father leave with your threats before taking my mother away from me!”

A gunshot went off, and Ann fell silently to the ground. Another gunshot went off, and Liam woke up from his dream.

Liam forced a hot mug of coffee into the girl’s hands. “Drink it.” He watched the girl drink it as she stared at him, and she almost gagged on the scotch mixed in with the coffee. “Did that wake you up?”

“Yes!” To Liam’s surprise, she finished it instead of handing the mug back to him. “What happened?” She wiped her mouth with her hand.

“You’re kidding me? You don’t remember?”

“I do. I’m Amber.” Amber held out her hand to Liam, but he didn’t take it.

“Liam. Well, since you’re awake and okay, do you mind leaving my home?”

“You brought me here.”

“What was I supposed to do? Leave you out in the rain?”

“Why not? I’ve been living off the streets for almost two years now. Why do you care?”

“I don’t.”

“You don’t?”

“No. You going to leave now?” Liam looked at her.

“How about breakfast first? I’m in the mood for IHOP and lots of pancakes.” Amber noticed photos scattered on Liam’s desk and saw Scarlett Ramino’s picture. “Who’s she?”

“IHOP sounds good. Let me get my wallet.” Liam walked toward the bedroom.

“Is she dead?”

“What!” Liam spun around and looked at her.

“Is she dead? I saw her on the news.” Amber stared at Liam. “You’re that guy the police are looking for.”

“How much money will it take to make you quiet?” Liam crossed his arms over his chest.

“I’ll tell you what. You let me crash here for a while, and I won’t say a word.” Liam was going to say something when he saw the boy sitting on the couch. “I won’t question your life, if you don’t question mine.”


“Let her stay. Let her help you. You need this. I want to go home!” The kid vanished when Amber stepped in front of him.

“Fine, but only for a short time. Now, let’s go to IHOP.” Liam walked into the bedroom and grabbed his wallet off the dresser.

One week later, Liam and Amber were eating take-out Chinese food in the living room and watched the last scene of Fight Club, where Edward Norton confronted Brad Pitt one last time. Liam stood up from the couch and stretched before turning to look at Amber, who was still watching the movie.

“It’s been a week, and I still don’t know anything about you.” Amber glanced at Liam as she swallowed her food. “And I haven’t seen that damn kid for almost a week too,” Liam thought.

“I’ll tell you what.” Liam glanced at Amber as she turned the tv off. “I’ll tell you something personal about my life, if you promise to share something about your life. And it has to be personal. Are you game?”

Liam smiled at Amber as he walked over to the couch and sat down next to her. “I’m game.”

“Alright then.” Amber put her plate down on the floor before looking at Liam. “I am not who or what you think I am. I graduated college. I have a degree, and I did not have to be living off the streets.”

“Why are you then?” Liam leaned back on the couch, but his gaze never left Amber.

“You don’t know what it’s like having parents, who make you think that everything you do isn’t good enough and that you’re better off marrying a rich guy, who will take care of you.” Amber looked away. “I tried to find a job after 9/11, but the economy went downhill. Everyone was getting laid off, and I couldn’t find a job. I couldn’t go back to my parents either.”

“Why did your parents even suggest that you couldn’t take care of yourself?”

“Try living in a household where your parents are both workaholics and your baby brother is a spoiled brat!” Amber fell silent as tears filled her eyes.

“I’m sorry.”

Amber laughed at Liam’s remark. “Your turn.” Amber gave Liam a sharp look. “Don’t hold out on me.”

“My grandmother made my father leave and took my mother and I to her mansion to live with her.” Liam made a sour expression. “My parents hated each other, and they had to get married because of me.”

“I’m sorry.” Liam grinned at Amber’s response. “How old were you when your grandmother made them get a divorce?”

“Eight. I was eight.” Liam looked up to see the eight-year-old boy by the door. “Why are you here?”

Suddenly, a high-pitched ringing echoed throughout the apartment. Liam jumped to his feet as Amber looked around to see where the noise was coming from. Liam answered the cell phone on his desk on the third ring as Amber watched him.


“F.B.I. is in town, looking for you. Leave town after you collect your money at its destination, and keep your gun with you.”

“How was I traced to this town?”

“Someone leaked. Be careful, and lose the girl.” The phone went dead in Liam’s hand.

“What’s wrong?” Amber stood up from the couch as Liam looked at her.

“Nothing. I’m tired.” Liam walked past Amber and locked the apartment door.

“What’s going on?” Amber watched Liam turn the lights off.

“Nothing. Get some sleep.” Liam walked toward the bedroom when Amber grabbed him by the arm.

“What’s going on!”

“I don’t know if I can trust you. That’s all. I want you gone by tomorrow.” Liam looked down at Amber’s hand still on his arm.

“You’re kidding me! I thought we were getting close. I thought I felt something between us.” Liam looked at Amber. “Was I wrong? Was I?” Amber let go of Liam’s arm.

“I just need time to think.”

“Time to think? You didn’t answer my question, Liam.” Amber kissed Liam on the mouth before moving away. “It feels right, Liam. The two of us.” Liam looked over at the boy, but he was gone. “Liam?”

Liam looked at Amber and grabbed her by both shoulders. Liam looked at her as Amber tried not to show that she was scared. Liam moved close to Amber’s body and kissed her. Liam felt Amber kiss him back as they moved to the bedroom, closing the door behind them.

Liam awoke with Amber resting against him. He carefully moved away from her in his bed as he glanced at his alarm clock on the dresser that flashed 7:15 a.m. He slowly got out of bed and walked across the floor toward the bathroom.

After showering and getting dressed, Liam checked on Amber who slept soundly in the bed. He quietly left the apartment and headed down the stairs to the street. After crossing over Route 17M to the shopping center, Liam looked back at his apartment when he realized the eight-year-old boy was standing next to him.

“I know who you are.” The boy stared at Liam. “Why are you…”

“Mom died.” The boy vanished as a black van stopped behind Liam.

“How could I forget?” Something hard slammed into the back of Liam’s head.

Liam came to in the back of the van with his hands handcuffed behind his back. He tried to lift his head, but the inside of the van spun around, pain flashed through his head.

“Good. You’re awake.”

Liam knew the owner of the voice was close, but he could sense someone else was present. His vision cleared as he made out a heavy-set man sitting in the driver’s seat as another man stood over him.

“Where’s the money, Liam?”

“What money?” A fist buried itself in Liam’s stomach as Liam’s head struck the side of the van.

“Do you know why you are still breathing?” Liam looked into the eyes of the F.B.I. agent, who grinned at him. “You’re not worth my time, but I want that money you’re picking up.”

“What money?” The agent punched Liam in the jaw, who winced in pain.

“Did you know that mob boss, Tony Scaletti, died in prison yesterday and all loose ends are being tied up? Guess what those loose ends are? After I had your contact call you, he was taken care of. You’re the last on the list, and that money that you are collecting doesn’t belong to you. I can’t let you have it because then I would have to kill you, so where is the destination?”

Liam raised his head and looked at the tall, muscular man standing over him. Their eyes locked, and Liam shuddered. “He’s almost like me, if I had a brother, but the question is: Can I win this? How do you know Amber?” Liam watched the man smile.

“Did you enjoy fucking her? Did she tell you all her little secrets about…”

“Maverick, we’re being called in. Kill him or get rid of him. We don’t have time for this!” Maverick glared at his partner, who remained in the driver’s seat.

“Hey! Shut up, Gregory!” Maverick looked back at Liam. “You’re lucky I have something more important to do, but we will finish our conversation later.”

“What is your location? Please respond.” Gregory lowered the walkie-talkie and turned around to see Maverick punch Liam out. “I hope this is worth it because if the mob finds out that we took their money, they’re…”

“Hey! The mob will blame this piece of shit and kill him, if we don’t do it first. Now, we have to hurry and help our fellow police officers before those crooks finish them off. Then, we’ll come back and finish this.” Maverick dragged Liam toward the backdoor of the van.

“You can finish it.” Maverick looked at Gregory before pushing Liam outside onto the sidewalk.

Liam opened his eyes to see Amber leaning over him with a wet washcloth pressed against a swelling bruise on his face. Liam’s eyes met Amber’s before looking around his surroundings and realizing he was back in the apartment on his couch.

“What happened?”

“You tell me. I found you unconscious in the shopping center’s parking lot. What happened?” Liam pushed Amber’s hand away and traced the bruise on his face with his fingers.

“You followed me, didn’t you? You watched them pull me into the van after they knocked me unconscious?” Liam sat up and got off the couch.

“What was I to do? What could I do?”

“You can tell me who you really are and what is really going on!” Liam glared at Amber and saw the eight-year-old boy standing next to her.

“I don’t know what is going on, but I haven’t lied to you!” Amber rose off the couch and approached Liam.

“How did the F.B.I. know about you?” Amber looked away as Liam nodded. “You haven’t been honest with me, and I want you gone before things get worse.”

“You stupid bastard. I have nothing to do with the F.B.I.! I saved you from…”

“From what? From what! I don’t know you. I don’t know how I was traced here or who leaked. It could’ve been you for all I know, but what I do know is that I’m fucked.”

“I can help you, Liam.” Amber tried to hug Liam, but he pushed her away.

“Just get out of here.”

“What about last night? It wasn’t just sex we had. It was…”

“It was only sex and nothing more.”

Amber stared at Liam before slapping him across the face. “You want me gone? Fine, but the best thing you ever found just walked out the door!” She left the apartment.

“Amber!” Liam walked outside the apartment, but she was already gone. “I’m sorry.” Liam looked at the boy, who stared at him.

Later that night when Liam was sure that he wasn’t being watched, he slipped out to the Chester diner. He looked around before entering the diner, and a hostess led him to a small booth. Liam’s eyes roamed the diner, trying to detect any undercover feds or Amber before sitting down in the booth.

“What it be?” Liam and the waitress recognized each other. “Oh, it’s you. Do you know what you want?”

“A cup of black coffee and grilled American cheese on rye.” Liam watched the waitress walk away before turning his attention to the news on the tv above the counter.

“F.B.I. Agents Alex Maverick and Thomas Gregory were caught in a crossfire earlier today in the Town of Chester when they cornered F.B.I.’s Most Wanted, Charlie Jones in Camp LaGuardia. Sources say that Jones’s girlfriend had led F.B.I. agents to LaGuardia before the shooting began. Agent Gregory was killed in the crossfire along with Jones and another unidentified shooter. Agent Maverick was taken to Arden Hill Hospital where he was treated for a gunshot wound to his leg…”

Liam barely noticed his coffee and grilled cheese being put down in front of him when he turned to look at the waitress. “Check, please.”

“Sure.” The waitress held back the rest of whatever she was going to say when she picked up the plate and coffee. “It’s on the house. Have a good night.” She stormed away.

Liam reached into his pocket and pulled out a leather wallet. He threw a hundred-dollar bill on the table but then looked at it. He snatched the bill and put it back in his wallet. He took out a fifty-dollar bill and left it on the table.

“Have a good night.” Liam walked past the waitress, who was carrying a tray over to the booth behind him when she stopped and stared at the tip left on the table.

Liam left the diner and began to look for Amber. He walked along Route 17M and looked in alleys and behind stores. He called her name and asked people if they saw her. He soon found himself drenched as the skies opened up, and Liam walked down Route 17M to the Shortline bus stop, where he collapsed on the bench in front of the terminal. Liam looked up at the small roof that protected him from the rain before looking down next to him to see the eight-year-old boy crying.

“It’s okay.” Liam held the boy in his arms. “It’s okay. We’ll find her.”

Liam awoke on the bench as a Shortline bus drove by. He rubbed his eyes and reached toward his pocket where he kept his wallet. He smiled as he patted the wallet and stood up from the bench. He scratched the stubble on his chin as he looked around the parking lot. He watched the commuters park their cars and walk past him into the terminal.

“Nice day, isn’t it?” Liam turned to see Maverick standing behind him with his hand resting on a gun concealed by his coat.

“Very. Where’s Amber?”

“She’s around.” Maverick watched the commuters walk by. “This the destination spot?”

“Yes.” Maverick tried to hide his surprise when he turned to look at Liam.

“Have you decided to actually cooperate with me?”

“On a few conditions.” Liam turned his back on the commuters and looked at Maverick.

“Name them.”

“You allow me and Amber to…” Maverick laughed, shaking his head. “Or were you planning on killing both of us after you got the money?”

“Come on, Liam. I’m not a bad guy, but if word got out about an F.B.I. agent taking the mob’s money, I would have too many people asking questions and making everything a mess. No loose ends, remember?” Maverick moved closer to Liam.

“Then, I can’t help you.”

“Then, you’ll never see Amber again.”

“I guess we’re at a stalemate.”

“I could shoot you.” Maverick grinned.

“In broad daylight?” A woman glanced at Liam and Maverick as she walked by.

“I’m F.B.I., remember?”

“I know where the money is, remember?”

Maverick stopped grinning. “Okay, if you want to play this game, I’ll play. Bring all the money to your apartment in an hour, or there will be so many pieces of Amber floating around that it’ll take weeks to identify her. If you continue to screw with me, you won’t just have to worry about the mob because the police, the state troopers, the F.B.I, everyone will be looking to kill you on sight. One hour!” Maverick walked away.

“I’m done playing games.” Liam walked into the terminal.

Liam entered the men’s room and waited for two men to finish at the urinals. Liam washed his hands as he looked in the mirror to see the two men walk by him and leave the bathroom. Liam dried his hands and walked into a stall by the window. He reached behind the toilet and put his hand through a hole in the wall. He pulled out a dirty, brown bag and opened it. Liam saw three bundles of hundred-dollar bills stacked together and closed the bag. Liam washed his hands again and left the bathroom.

An hour later, Liam walked into his apartment to see Maverick stretched out on his couch. He looked around the apartment but didn’t see Amber. Liam turned to close the apartment door when he heard a click behind him and turned to see Maverick’s gun pointing at him.

“Bring the money?” Maverick stood up from the couch.

“Where’s Amber?”

“Behind you.” Amber stepped out of the shadows with a gun pointing at Liam. “Just give him the money, Liam, and it’ll be all over with.”

“I knew I couldn’t trust you.” Liam raised his hands over his head.

“It’s not what you think, Liam.”

“Isn’t it?”

“Enough!” Maverick glared at Liam and Amber. “The money, Liam. Now!”

Liam looked at Amber before turning to face Maverick. He reached into his coat pocket and threw two stacks of hundred-dollar bills at Maverick. He watched Maverick pick the money off the floor before turning to look at Amber.

“That’s it!”

“Yes, that’s it. Unlike most hitmen, I don’t care about the price. I’ll just do the killing, and the mob won’t hunt me down because it is not worth their time or effort over a little sum like that. Still, you got the money, so now what?”

Holding the money in his hands, Maverick turned and stared at Liam. He threw the money aside. Scratching his head, Maverick almost laughed when he looked at Amber and Liam.

“You’re really something. Do you know that?” Maverick laughed. “I was trying to make this easy, but now I’m going to have to kill you.” Maverick aimed his gun at Liam.

“Maverick!” Maverick looked at Amber. “Remember our deal. I’ll kill Liam not you.”

“Amber, Liam was right about one thing.”

“Which was?”

Maverick shot Amber. “I can’t trust you.”

Amber fell to the ground and closed her eyes. Liam ran to her side and looked to see where she was shot. He felt for her pulse before turning to look at Maverick, who aimed the gun at his head.

“Last chance, Liam. Where’s the rest of the money?”

“Up your ass.” Maverick’s finger was about to push back the trigger when Amber sat up and shot Maverick in the head.

Maverick stared at Amber before falling to the ground. He rolled onto his back and looked up to see an eight-year-old boy stand over him. He turned his head and died.


Amber opened her shirt to reveal a bulletproof vest and smiled at Liam. “Did you really think that I trust Maverick not to kill me?”

“Were you going to kill me?” Liam stood up from the ground and helped Amber up.

“No, but the thought did cross my mind.” Liam stared at Amber. “You hurt my feelings.”

Liam watched the eight-year-old boy approach him. The boy smiled at Liam, and Liam smiled back. The boy vanished as Liam turned around to see Amber pick up the money that Maverick had tossed aside.

“Is this it?”


“I was just asking.” Amber and Liam looked at each other. “I was only asking, Liam.”

Liam continued to stare at Amber. “What does Amber Dream mean?”


“Your tattoo.”

“It means…” Amber stared into Liam’s eyes. “My father used to call me his Amber Dream. He said I was meant to do great things… Then, he passed away, and my stepfather came into the picture.” Amber looked down at her feet when Liam kissed her on the lips.

“Let’s go.”

“Where?” Amber looked at Liam.

“Away from here and because I hear sirens approaching.”

“Where will we go?”

“Does it matter? We can start over. Come on.” Liam led Amber out the door as the sirens got closer, and they ran to the Shortline bus stop.

Bio: Melissa R. Mendelson is a Horror, Science-Fiction and Dystopian Author.  She is also a Poet.  She recently re-released her Sci-Fi Novel, Waken on Amazon and Amazon Kindle.  She is also the author of a poetry collection called, This Will Remain With Us published by Wild Ink Publishing. She also has two short story collections “Better Off Here” and “Stories Written Along Covid Walls“, both of which can be purchased at Amazon, or found on our Bookstore page.

She can be found at her website HERE

She has several stories posted on The Yard: Crime Blog, and they can be found HERE.

Read more Organized Crime stories at The Yard: Crime Blog

Photograph by The Yard

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Publishing Editor for The Yard: Crime Blog.

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