I haven’t had the opportunity to work any further on the cover, so this week it’s the same as last.
For those who haven’t already read them, you can find links to the previous chapters here:
By the time I got home Mom had already left for the dinner shift at Max’s Place. Everyone called it a diner, but it was barely even that. The place had a couple tables, four booths and one long bar that held a half-dozen people if you didn’t mind sitting a little too close to your neighbor, which most people in town seemed to enjoy. Not me, though. I preferred having some space of my own. So even though I could have gotten a free burger and fries if I’d gone to visit her, I just grabbed a cold-meat sandwich and a bag of chips and went to my room.
Being the first day of school, only one teacher had assigned any homework but I didn’t even feel like doing that. Instead I popped in an old John Candy film, something to take my mind off everything. And it worked for a while. Around 1:30 in the morning I woke up, realizing I had fallen asleep and missed most of the movie. The TV was still on, but with only static coming from it so I rolled out of bed to shut it off. The static stopped just as I reached for the power button.
“Are you ready to live up to your end of the deal?” His voice asked. It might have been coming from the television, but unplugging it didn’t seem to help. He just laughed.
“You want me to go kill someone at . . . 1:36 am?” I asked, glancing at the clock beside my bed.
“You are already up.”
“I also have school in the morning,” I replied towards the TV, unsure where else to direct it.
“The choice is yours,” he continued. “You get to choose when and how, but you will honor our deal.”
“Of course I will,” I said, still feeling a little self conscious about talking to an unplugged television. Sitting back on my bed, I thought about what he said. He wasn’t wrong, I mean I was already up, and I fell asleep early so I wasn’t exactly ready to go right back to sleep.
“Are you serious about giving me an assignment?” I asked, not sure what to expect.
“Then I guess I could at least check the guy out,” I said, standing back up.
“Who said it’s a guy?” The voice asked, and I just stopped in my tracks. I hadn’t even considered that I might have to kill a woman.
“Relax,” he continued. “I’m just messing with you.”
A face appeared on the television screen but it wasn’t Lucifer’s, or at least it wasn’t the same as he’d looked the other night. This one was rough, covered in scars and tattoos, like he was purposely trying to make himself as unattractive as possible. I couldn’t make out the lettering tattooed on his eyelids but I knew the tear drops inked beneath both eyes were most likely prison tattoos. And the SS and 88 on each side of his neck meant he probably part of a white supremacist gang.
“This is the guy you want me to go kill?”
“No, I want you to take him to brunch,” the face on the TV snarked back. “Yes, he is your assignment.”
“Are you trying to get me killed?”
“If I wanted you dead, would I have made the deal with you in the first place?”
He had a point.
“I guess not, but this isn’t the sort of guy I can just walk up to.”
“So find another way, unless you just want to call off our deal.”
It didn’t really matter which face it came from, I was just really beginning to hate Lucifer’s voice.
“No,” I replied, I’ve got this.”
On the television, beneath the face, was an address, flashing like a late night infomercial phone number. “
He’ll be there for a little while yet,” the voice said. “If you hurry you can take care of him and be back to bed in no time.”
I wasn’t thrilled about leaving the house in the middle of the night, but I was a little excited to have an excuse to take the KZ so I grabbed a scrap of paper and a pen, jotting down the address, then grabbed my helmet and keys. With mom out of the house I didn’t have to worry about sneaking the bike out of the driveway before starting it so I fired it up while I was still behind the shed and let it run while I tightened the helmet on my head.
“I can’t believe I’m actually doing this,” I thought as I pulled out onto the road and headed towards the address one town over in Southview.
Even at two in the morning the temperature was in the 60’s so the ride was quite comfortable with only a jacket on. The moon was mostly full, which meant there was plenty of light, and had I not been on my way to try to kill some ex-convict, it would probably be a relaxing ride.
Southview was only fifteen minutes from my house in Rosewater but even the short ride had calmed my nerves a little by the time I pulled up across the street from the address I’d written down. Then I saw exactly where I was.
“Seriously?” I asked myself as I looked over the biker bar where I was supposed to find my first assignment. Normally I figured spotting a guy with facial tattoos would be pretty easy, even from a distance, but at a place like that I didn’t like my chances.
The sign out front said “Dogtown Pub”, and unfortunately I’d heard some stories about that place. I don’t know how many were true and how many were just urban legend, but I knew for a fact that I wouldn’t be able to just walk into that place. I was parked across the street with my helmet on, so it would be hard for anyone to tell I was underage, even with my faceshield up. And it wasn’t like being in proximity to a bar was illegal or anything, but I still felt a bit out of place.
Even at that time of night, though, a few cars drove by, and each made me feel a little tense until they continued past without stopping to ask what the hell I was doing.
I continued to stare across the street as several guys left the bar, none of them trying to be quiet as they made their way to the parking lot next to the bar, and each one revving their engines louder and longer than necessary before taking off one direction or the other. It was really hard to make out any identifying marks from my distance, but each of them had really long hair and the guy I was looking for was practically bald. None of them seemed to pay any attention to me, until a pair of large guys stepped out. One headed to the parking lot while the other stopped to light a cigarette and looked directly at me. Every ounce of my being told me to get the hell out of there, but then I noticed the tats on his face and neck. It was quite possible they were an SS and an 88, but even with my visor up I couldn’t tell exactly what they were from across the street. I needed to get closer but as I racked my brain trying to come up with a plan, I realized I didn’t have to.
“That’s a KZ isn’t it?” He said, crossing the street and walking towards me.
“Yeah,” I replied, my hands starting to shake as I tried to figure out if I should split or not.
“Man, that takes me back,” he continued getting a little too close for comfort. Even with my helmet on I could smell the alcohol on his breath. I wanted to leave but from up close I was finally able to get a good look at him and his tattoos and I was sure he was the guy I was looking for.
“My first bike was a KZ,” he said, bending down to get a better look at the engine. “I rode that thing like it was the baddest bike on the planet, and I thought it was, until I tried my first V-twin. Even though it doesn’t have the torque of a ‘twin, it was still a great bike. No matter what I did, I couldn’t kill that thing. It took every bit of punishment I threw at it and it still kept going.”
Sure he was a bit drunk, but he didn’t really seem like a bad guy. Which didn’t make things any easier. I mean, could I really kill a guy just because some voice told me to?
“This one’s a little rough,” he continued, “but I bet she still runs like a scalded dog, huh?”
“Oh yeah,” I replied, trying not to let on what was actually going through my head.
“Just remember to keep an eye on the spark plugs. They tend to foul out a little too easily.”
“I appreciate the advice,” I said, still not sure how I could make my move.
“Hey, anything for a fellow biker. And I appreciate this little walk down memory lane,” he said, leaning in and putting one hand on my shoulder and holding out his other. I knew it was probably my only chance, so I shook his hand and Instantly focussed on trying to see what sort of things he’d done that might have earned him a death sentence, only I wasn’t prepared for what I saw. Images of him slashing a throat and stabbing a chest were only the beginning. My mind was flooded with so many violent visions it was overwhelming. Murder, rapes, and bassically every deadly sin; he’d done it all. And I was seeing all of it through his eyes, but I wasn’t just seeing it, I was feeling it; feeling how much he actually enjoyed it. His enjoyment scared me, but it also fuelled my own anger and I suddenly knew I could do it. I could picture him dead, not just because of the deal I’d made, but because he deserved it.
He’d been drinking at the bar, so of course my first thought was of him having an accident, but a simple wreck didn’t seem fitting enough. There was a set of train tracks just outside Southview. I pictured him racing to beat the train as the crossing guards started to lower but not making it. A shiver went down my spine, and I felt the hairs on my arms stand on end. All at once I felt electrified as an ice cold yet burning energy passed through me. That’s when I knew there’d be no open casket for him.
“I’ve got to get going,” he said, suddenly. “My old lady would kill me if I’m not home soon.”
I’d never even considered him having someone to go home to. If he had a wife, or a girlfriend, he might have had kids. How bad would things be for them without him around?
“You be careful, and take good care of that bike,” he said, over his shoulder as he made his way to the parking lot beside the bar.
“You too,” was all I could think to say.
I stayed where I was until he’d fired up his bike, revved the engine and headed towards those train tracks. Only then could I finally kick the KZ back to life, riding away in the opposite direction.
Unlike the ride to Southview, the ride back home was anything but calming. Had I actually done what I thought I’d done? I mean, I didn’t pull a gun on the guy or anything like that; I’d only pictured him hitting a train. There’s no way an image in my head actually had actually done anything, or at least that’s what I kept telling myself. But then I remembered the energy rushing through me. Clearly something had happened. And if what I saw in those visions was true, then he really didn’t deserve to keep living his life. He wasn’t a good man. If I’d done anything, it was justified.
Parking the bike behind the garage and making my way to my room seemed like a dream. I was so lost in my thoughts that I didn’t even change out of my jeans and t-shirt before climbing back into bed. Pulling the blanket up over my shoulders didn’t get rid of the chill I felt throughout my entire body but I clutched it tighter anyway. I laid there just like that for several minutes until another jolt of energy hit me, then sent a gentle warming flow through my body. The chill was gone, replaced by an almost euphoric sensation. It was better than any high I’d ever experienced. I wanted to go tell Weed, or Shawna, or …someone. I wanted to share the feeling, but I also wanted to keep it all for myself. For the first time in my life, everything felt great, everything felt right. I continued to lay in my bed, enjoying the sensation until it started to fade, and taking with it every ounce of energy from my body, leaving me feeling empty.
The alarm jolted me out of bed, though I had no idea what time I actually fell asleep, if I did at all. Images of that guy getting hit by the train played over and over in my mind, each one more graphic than the previous, some of the images not even making sense. The television was still broadcasting a continuous stream of static, but this time when I went to shut it off, there was no voice. I began questioning if I’d even left the house in the middle of the night, or if I’d just dreamt it; then I saw my homework assignment laying next to my school bag. I knew I hadn’t done it, but somehow it was sitting there completed, with a little post-it note stuck to it. There were no words, just a grinning smiley face hastily drawn across it.
I felt like the walking dead and thought a shower might help; it didn’t. And while mom routinely enjoyed a cup of coffee, I had no idea how to brew a pot. Instead, I scrounged around the kitchen cabinets until I found the instant coffee. It tasted like dirt but the caffeine allowed me to at least keep my eyes open long enough to grab my keys and helmet.
Once on the bike, I felt a little more alive, and even though it wasn’t a long ride, it really helped wake me up. What helped even more was seeing Weed in the school parking lot.
“Thanks,” I said, pulling off my helmet and grabbing the can of Jolt from his hand. I had it chugged before he could even get a word out of his mouth.
“You’ve got no idea.”
“Step into my office and tell me about it,” he said pointing to the Weed Wagon.
“No Chevette today?” I asked, climbing through the sliding door.
“I need to pick up a few parts after school,” he replied, lighting up a cigarette and handing me the pack.
“Maybe I’ll follow you, let Finkenbine check out the KZ.”
“Sounds good to me,” he said, “now tell me about last night. You didn’t go after her again, did you.”
“No, it had nothing to do with Shawna.”
“Then why wasn’t I involved? You know I’m always down for a little trouble.”
“No, you usually cause the trouble, but that’s beside the point.”
“So what happened?”
“Should I bring out the good stuff to loosen you up?” He asked, nodding towards the monster box beneath the dash. The monster box was a ridiculous lunch box that looked like a monster’s face. It hinged at the mouth and roared when it was opened. It was one of the places Weed kept his stash.
“Not today,” I replied, “I’m so exhausted I’d never make it to class if I lit up.”
“Then just spit it out already.”
“I’ll try, just don’t give me any shit about it, okay?”
“You know I can’t promise you that.”
I needed to tell someone, and despite Weed’s mouth, I knew he wouldn’t say a word to anyone so I decided to tell him everything. When I was done he just sat there for a minute, then turned to look me right in the eye.
“I don’t think we can be friends any more.”
“You fell asleep watching a John Candy movie. That’s just wrong on so many levels.”
“That’s what you took from everything I just said?” I asked, as the grin started to spread across his face.
“It had to all just be a dream,” he said.
“I don’t know …”
“You fell asleep, dreamed you woke up and went for a ride, yadda yadda, and never left your room. Why else was the TV still on this morning?”
“Maybe you’re right,” I said, silently wishing he was, “but what about the post-it note?”
“Tell you what,” he continued, “forget about it right now and tonight we’ll check around for someone wrecking their bike into a train. When we don’t find anyone, then you’ll know it was only a dream.”
Just talking to him about it made me feel better. It also made me realize how silly it all sounded. The more I thought about it the more I realized he had to be right; there was no way I’d killed a guy last night just by thinking about him dying.
A knock on the window made me jump.
“It’s way too early for that,” Shawna said through the window. I slid the door open and stepped out.
“Just a cigarette,” I replied, dropping the butt and grinding it out with my foot.
“I thought he might have finally passed all of his bad habits on to you.”
“Almost,” Weed said, climbing out of the Weed Wagon, “but I still have a little more work to do.”
“Well don’t try so hard,” she said, “the world still needs good guys.”
“Anyways…,” I said, trying to change the subject to anything else.
“Anyways,” Shawna said, “I feel bad about bailing on you at the party the other night so I thought we could maybe hang out after school.”
“What about your living Ken doll?” I said, before I had a chance to stop myself.
“Hey,” she said, hitting my arm before laughing a little, “he’s, uh busy.”
“Too busy to hang out with you?”
“He’s got to work.”
“And what sort of work does he do?” Weed asked, the size of his grin matching the size of her discomfort. It was obvious that she didn’t want to talk about it, but there was no way Weed would let it go, and she knew it.
“The kind that pays really well,” she said, glancing down at her watch seemingly hoping she’d be saved by the class bell.
“And that would be doing…?”
“Fine, but you guys can’t say a word.”
Weed and I both crossed our hearts.
“It’s a photoshoot.”
Weed and I both burst out laughing at the same time.
“You both promised, she said, her face turning red.”
“We didn’t say a word,” Weed replied, between laughs.
She just turned and stormed off.