Sunday, October 1, 2017

Black & Blue Excerpt

Release Date: 11/9/17

I can’t catch a break. Every move I make kicks me a step back in life. I thought running from Leto would give me the fresh start I needed. Instead, I’m still running, broke, and stuck in a dump off the highway.
Hungry to the point of dry heaves, I need cash for food. I try begging, and a few men respond by shoving me into the road. Panhandlers aren’t welcome here, they claim.
Desperate, I even talk up a couple of truckers at the gas station and offer to trade blowjobs for cash or food. This gets me punched in the face by one guy and threatened with a gun by another. Doesn’t anyone just say “no” anymore?
I have one option left, and that’s to steal. In the convenience store, I walk down one aisle after another, trying to snatch anything I can. Unfortunately, the woman on duty watches me the entire time. I see her in the corner mirrors.
Disappearing into the bathroom, I hope to lose her attention after a few minutes. I spend ten minutes hiding inside. I wash my face and drink from the faucet. Using the water, I try to smooth down my scraggly beard and organize my blond hair. If I can look halfway presentable, I might be able to hitch a ride. Or at least, the clerk won’t give me the stink-eye. Of course, I hope she’s forgotten I’m even here.
Instead, I find her waiting for me when I come out. “Buy something or leave.”
Searching the gas station parking lot for fallen change, I find two pennies. The trash cans are nearly empty, and the crap inside isn't edible. So, I’m left with the plan to rob the next person who pulls into the gas station.
The rain and darkness conceal me squatting behind a black ashtray dome. I considering going after a family in a mini-van, but the kid staring from the back window kills my confidence. What if I traumatize him and he never recovers? Am I willing to ruin a child’s life for a few bucks?
So I wait and wait. People come and go, but there’s always too many at a time. The weather conspires against me too. Cold mist soaks through my shitty black jacket, leaving me to shiver violently. By the time a Harley-riding man shows up, I’m ready to kill or die just to get shit over with.
The biker is bigger than me, but I’m desperate, and he looks tired. His frame grows bigger the closer I get until I realize he’s several inches taller than my six feet. With a face covered in a thick, dark beard, he might not even feel my punch.
“Not even close,” he says without flinching as he easily deflects my strike. “Are you even trying?”
“Yes, I am.”
He pushes me back but not too roughly. I even suspect he wants me to give it another try.
“Just give me your wallet,” I say, puffing out my chest and standing as tall as my tired legs will allow.
“Why would I do that?”
“To avoid me hurting you.”
A smile twitches at his lips. “I’ll think about it while I’m inside. You wait here.”
Standing dumbly near his bike, I don’t know what to do. Should I look for something to hit him with? I laugh at the stupidity of the thought. The biker isn’t getting his ass kicked by me. No, I’ll find someone else. Or try dumpster diving again. There must be food around here. An unguarded dog’s bowl perhaps.
“Hey!” someone yells, and I immediately panic that the biker called the cops. I turn to find a few guys my age approaching from the back of the gas station. “Are you still offering blowjobs for cash?”
I long ago learned not to trust a smile. My uncle smiled a lot when he beat on my aunt and me. Then she ran off, and I was the only one around to see him smile. These guys are smiling with their lips, but their eyes shine with menace.
“Naw, man. That was a joke,” I say, backing away and nearly toppling over the Harley. “I say dumb shit when I’m drinking.”
“Are you sure? I mean, you sounded convincing earlier.”
The blond guy in the front does all the talking, but I don’t remember him. Plenty of people have come and gone in the last five hours. Maybe he was one of them, but I doubt it. However, the scrawnier guy in the back does look familiar. Yeah, that’s the little twat who ratted me out to his friends. Now they want to roughhouse with the queer.
“I’m good,” I mumble and fist my hands in my jacket. “Just waiting for my friend.”
“You’ve been hanging around for hours, asking to suck guys off. Now that someone wants a blowjob, you get shy,” the guy says and reaches for me. “Don’t be a teasing bitch.”
I smack away his hand just like the biker did with mine, but my tough stand only pisses off the guy. Grabbing for me again, his fingers snag my jacket. I instinctively kick him in the shin, putting what’s left of my strength into this one move. I pathetically hope my meager attempt will hurt enough to give up.
“Fuck him up,” he growls while bouncing around on his good leg.
Two of the guys start throwing punches while the scrawny fucker backs away. I really wish I could hurt him, but my main concern is to remain in one piece.
Shoving my shoulder into one guy’s stomach, I manage to shove him back. I picture myself as a linebacker taking down the quarterback. Except this asshole refuses to go down, and his friend punches me in the kidney so hard that I think I’ll fucking die.
My knees hit the concrete, sending blinding pain through my half-frozen body. I cover my head and realize I can’t even crawl away. Balling up, I pray they don’t kill me. Though after the way this day has gone, I’ll end up with a broken back. On the upside, maybe I can get a damn meal at the hospital.
My wildly beating heart makes me nearly deaf to my ass-beating besides catching a muffled cuss word and a wounded grunt. I count in my head to distract from the pain. I reach twenty when the blows suddenly end, and I look up to find a new scuffle a few feet away.
The biker slams two of the guys into each other. Their faces collide, and I hear their teeth shatter. Crawling away from the fight and past teeth chunks, I spit up blood. Numb from the cold and pain, I glance back at where the biker casually beats the absolute crap out of the assholes. They end up bloody on the ground by the time the scrawny asshole tries to run. My bearded savior rips the shoes off one of the fallen losers and throws it at the coward.
Even in pain, I laugh at the sound of the twerp crying out when the shoes knock him down. My smile fades as soon as the biker stalks in my direction. I stare up at him, praying he’s done with kicking ass for the night.
“Stand up, kid.”
I do as I’m told. Unsteady on my feet; I force my gaze to meet his. I pretend I’m not a starving, battered, and exhausted piece of shit looking to survive the night.
The biker studies me from my feet to the top of my matted blond hair. Finally, he shakes his head and lets out a deep sigh.
“You’re more pathetic than a wet kitten,” he says and kicks a pair of teeth away from his boot. “Do you have anywhere to go?”
I know I should lie, but I can’t when he’s staring at me with his smoky eyes. He hands me a candy bar and can of soda.
“I assume you haven’t eaten in a while.”
Shaking my head, I tear open the candy wrapper with my teeth before biting into the chocolate. I follow each bite with a gulp of soda. Through it all, the biker silently watches me until I shove the last candy chunk into my mouth.
“If you steal from me, I’ll skin you alive. Do you understand?” he asks. Without waiting for an answer, he throws his strong leg over his Harley. “Get on back, and I’ll let you bunk at my place for the night.”
No way would I normally climb on behind a stranger capable of the kind of violence I just witnessed. I’ve been called dumb plenty of times in my life, but I’m not that fucking dumb. This guy might be another Jeffrey Dahmer, and I’ll end up in his fridge. If anyone’s unlucky enough for that shit to happen, it’s me.
But I do climb on behind him because I’m out of options, and he’s the only person who hasn’t treated me like shit today.
I’ve never ridden on the back of a bike before, so I grab onto his jacket and struggle to keep my balance. He never looks at me, asks my name, or shares his. The biker revs the engine, and we ride off into the misty night.
I glance back at the bloody assholes and find them still reeling in pain. My mouth hurts like a motherfucker, but I still smile like a fool.

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