I've Got My Eyes on You
How can someone of limited intellectual ability understand the reality of seeing one you care about being hurt? Twenty-year-old Jamie Chapman watches out his second-floor bedroom window one Saturday night while his next-door neighbor and friend, Kerry Dowling hosts a pool party. Kerry usually invites him to swim with her, and he feels sad to not have been invited this time but understands Kerry and her friends are having their last celebration before heading off to college.
Jamie's oxygen had been cut off when he was born, limiting his aptitude, though Kerry never makes him feel different. She always treats him with respect and kindness. After the partygoers leave, Jamie decides to help Kerry clean up. As he enters her backyard, he sees a guy walk out from the woods. The man picks up a nearby golf club, hits Kerry over the head, and pushes her into the pool. He leaves quickly and Jamie calls out to Kerry, believing she is swimming. She doesn't respond, so as he wades in the pool he realizes he is wearing new sneakers. Knowing his mom would be angry, he goes home and hides his wet clothing.
The next morning Jamie hears that Kerry is dead. Jamie's mom, Marge discovers his damp clothes, and when she asks why they are wet, he mentions what he witnessed the night before. When he says, "A 'big guy' hit Kerry," she panics for Jamie's deceased dad always called him "big guy."
Deciding to pick up Jamie from work that afternoon, Marge prays in the parking lot of the market where Jamie is a bagger: "'Dear merciful Blessed Mother, please help the Dowlings find a way to cope with their tragedy. And please, don't let it be that Jamie had something to do with it. Jack, if only you were here to help us. He needs you.' It was a prayer she had made to her husband for the five years since he had his fatal heart attack."
"Dear God. You know he would never hurt anyone. But if he thought he was just playing, and he's so strong—please—"
Marge worries her sweet, childlike son will be charged with Kerry's death. Detective Mike Wilson takes the case and questions neighbors and several kids who attended the party. He learns about a fight between Alan and Kerry, making Alan the lead suspect. Marge sighs with relief upon hearing of Alan's arrest and assumption he is the killer. But guilt tears at her remembering Jamie's tale of the "big guy!"
Meanwhile, Kerry's sister, Aline is starting a new job at the high school as a counselor. She confers with Detective Wilson who asks if she will question Kerry's friends that are still students there. With her parents being inconsolable—especially her mother, who insists Alan has murdered her baby—Aline's gut instincts differ, and she wants to help find the true perpetrator.
Alan's arrest torments Marge, for the information Jamie told her means he is innocent. Is it fair he should be charged when Jamie can prove he's not the killer? But if she tells of Jamie's witness to the crime, will they accuse him due to his disability with the supposition he did not know what he may have done?
This fast-paced and simplistic tale is a quick and easy read. The insight into Jamie's immature mind is endearing and poignant. The distress Alan and his family endure is all too believable and heartrending, especially in light of his involvement and love for Kerry.
Though the plot contains suspense, and each character is well defined, there are subplots highlighting Aline's part in the story, adding touches of romance to counteract the sadness of a death.
There is a lot of inner dialogue, which is superfluous and slows down the movement, however, the information regarding investigative work, the duties of guidance counselors, and the effects of birth defects add to the drama to make this novel work.