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If You Stay

Courtney Cole


  To anyone who has ever found comfort in oblivion.

  Chapter One


  I can’t be sure that the girl said my name. Her voice is muffled and unintelligible and hard to understand, mostly because my dick is in her mouth.

  Slumping against the black leather seat of my car, I push the girl’s head down further, wordlessly urging her to bury more of me in her throat.

  “Don’t talk,” I tell her. “Just suck.”

  I close my eyes and listen. I can hear the spit pooling in her mouth and sliding out the corners. Her cheek makes a soft sound as it grazes my open zipper. She moans periodically, although I don’t understand it. She’s not getting anything out of this. My hand is on her head, pushing, pushing. Guiding her movements and her speed. I grip the hair at the base of her neck, winding it in my fingers; pulling it, releasing it, then pulling it again.

  She moans again.

  I still don’t know why.

  I still don’t care.

  I’m high as fuck.

  And I don’t know her name.

  Everything is a fog, except this moment. I tune out the crashing sounds of Lake Michigan to our right, and the sounds of the cars on the highway a few miles away. I block out the glowing lights from town. I tune out the roaring quiet and the occasional thought that someone might happen by and see us. No one is out here on the beach, not at 11:00 pm. Not that I would care anyway.

  Right now, all I’m focused on is this blow job.

  I already know that I’m not ready to come, but I don’t tell her because I don’t want her to stop yet, either. I let her go for a few minutes more before I push her away.

  “Take a break,” I tell her as I settle back into my seat.

  I don’t bother to put myself away, I just sigh loud and long as I relax in the breeze. The girl turns her attention to the visor mirror, trying to straighten her mess of a face.

  “Wait,” I instruct. “Hold on for a minute.”

  She looks at me in confusion, her lipstick smeared. I smile.

  “I know you want some of this,” I tell her, grabbing a little bottle from my jacket pocket. I dump a few coke pebbles onto a little mirror on my console and crush them with a razor, dragging the powder into two straight lines.

  I offer her the little straw and now she’s the one smiling with her distorted clown mouth.

  She snorts at her line, coughs, then snorts it again.

  Settling back into her seat, she tilts her face to the car roof as she lets the drug take effect. Her eyes are empty as she thrusts the straw at me and I hesitate for only a second.

  I’ve hit it hard today and I’ve done more than I usually do.

  Of everything.

  But for some reason, the need to disappear into the black is strong today, stronger than usual. And it’s on days like this that I hit the hard stuff. I grab the straw and do my line, breathing in the powder that never fails to take me away. Even when I can count on nothing else, I can always count on this.

  The familiar burn immediately numbs my throat. The emptiness spreads throughout the rest of my body, dulling my senses, speeding up my heart. I can feel the blood pulsing through it, hard and pounding, carrying oxygen to my numb fingers.

  I fucking love this shit.

  I love the way it dulls everything but my attention. I love how it heightens my awareness while still turning everything else black and numb.

  This is where I am comfortable. Drifting here into this nothingness, this obscurity.

  Coke makes it easy to exist in the emptiness.

  I run my fingers through the traces of the remaining powder and slide it along the skin of my erection before grabbing the girl by the back of the neck. I shove her head back down and she opens her mouth willingly. This is most definitely not against her will. She wants to be here.

  Especially now that I have fed her habit.

  Especially now that she can lick her habit from my dick. If she moans now I’ll believe it because she’s getting something out of it, too.

  “Finish,” I tell her. I stroke her back while she moves and I can’t feel my fingers.

  Her head bobs for a few more minutes and then without warning, I come in her mouth. Her eyes widen and she starts to pull away as my ejaculate seeps from the edges of her lips, but I hold her fast by the back of the neck until my dick stops throbbing.

  “Swallow,” I tell her politely.

  Her blank eyes widen, but she swallows obediently.

  I smile.

  She gags, but she doesn’t heave.

  “Thank you,” I say, still polite. And then I lean past her and shove open the passenger side door. It creaks as it swings wide, evidence that cars were still made from iron back in 1968. I pull out my wallet and hand her a dog-eared twenty.

  “Get yourself something to eat,” I tell her. “You’re too skinny.”

  She’s got the look that girls on nose candy get. The way-too-thin look. That’s one downfall of the stuff. It’s good for drifting away into oblivion, but it’s hell on your appetite. If you don’t make yourself eat, you’ll waste away and start looking like shit.

  This girl doesn’t look like shit. Yet. She’s not ugly. But she’s not pretty either. She mostly looks hardened. Mousy brown hair, pale blue eyes. Bland, stick-thin body. I can take her or leave her.

  And I’m leaving her.

  She glares at me as she wipes her mouth.

  “My car is in town. Aren’t you at least going to take me back to it?”

  I look at her and note how there are three of her that blur into one, then back into three, before I shake the blurriness from my head and try to focus again.

  Nope. Still three of her.

  “Can’t,” I tell her, dropping my head heavily against the headrest. “I’m too fucked up to drive. It’s not that far, anyway. It’s not my fault that you wore five-inch stripper shoes. Just take them off. It’ll make it easier to walk.”

  “You’re a fucking asshole, Pax Tate,” she spits angrily. “You know that?”

  She grabs her purse from the floor and slams my car door as hard as she can. My car, Danger, shakes from her efforts.

  Yes, I named my car. A 1968 Dodge Charger in pristine condition deserves a name.

  And no, I don’t care that this coked up little bitch thinks I’m an asshole. I am an asshole. I’m not going to deny it.

  As if to prove that point, I can’t even think of her name right now even though it only took me one second to recall the name of my car. I might remember the girl’s in the morning or I might not. That doesn’t matter to me at this point. She’ll come back. She always does.

  I’ve got what she wants.

  I strip off my jacket and lay it on the passenger seat, zipping my pants back up as I watch her stomp away. Then I open my own door, dangling one black boot over the doorsill, letting the cool breeze rustle over my flushed, overheated body.

  The landscape up and down the coast is jagged and rolling and wild. It is so vast that it makes me feel small. The night is inky black and there are barely any stars. It’s the kind of night where a guy can just disappear into the dark. My kind of night.

  I rest my head against the seat and allow the car to spin around me. It feels as though the seat is the anchor that is holding me to the ground. Without it, I might drift off into space and no one will ever see me again.

  It’s not a bad notion.

  But the car is spinning too fast. Even in this state, I know it’s too fast. I’m not going to worry about it, though. I simply pull out my vial and take something to slow things down. My vial is like a magician’s hat. It’s got a little bit of everything in it. Everything I need; fast or slow, white or blue, capsule, pill or rock. I’ve got it.

  I wash the pill down with a gulp of whiskey. I don’t even feel the burn as it slides down my throat. I consider it for a minute, the speed that things are turning and blurring around me. I decide I should take another pill, maybe even two. I put them in my mouth and take another slog of Jack before I toss the bottle onto the passenger side floor. I realize that I don’t know if I put the cap back on or not.

  Then I realize that I don’t care.

  The drug-induced fog blurs my vision and all of the blacks and grays swirl together and I close my eyes against it. I still feel like I’m moving, like the car is spinning round and round.

  The night swallows me and I am propelled into the darkness, far above the clouds and into the night sky, sailing through the stars, past the moon. Reaching out, I touch it with a finger.

  I laugh.

  Or I think I laugh.

  It’s hard to say at this point. I don’t know what’s real or not real. And that’s just the way I like it.

  Chapter Two


  I love the night.

  I love everything about it.

  I love how the blackness hides things that I might not want to see, yet at the same time exposes things that I wouldn’t see in the light of day. I love the stars and the moon and the velvety wetness against my skin. I love how Lake Michigan turns black in the dark and shimmers like shattered onyx glass in the moonlight.

  It always feels a little bit dangerous. Maybe that’s why I like it, too.

  I grip my camera as I step over the soft, damp sand of the beach. The breeze is always cool here, but it’s just because the air is cold as it blows in from the lake. The water is always frigid, summer or winter, like God dumped a big glass of ice water into it. I wrap my sweater more tightly around me before I look through the lens again.

  The moon is full tonight and it hangs just at the edge of the horizon, right where the water meets the sky. It’s got a reddish tint to it, something that we don’t get to see very often. The sailors call it a Blood Moon and I can see why. It’s ethereal and beautiful; haunting, actually. It’s why I’m here tonight.

  I start snapping pictures; kneeling, standing, then kneeling again.

  When a large wisp of fog floats partially in front of the moon, I gasp. I’ve never seen a more perfect picture. It will make an amazing painting. And the framed print will look good, too. Either way works for me since I’ve got customers for both.

  I take at least a hundred pictures before I’m finally satisfied with the light, the luminosity and the angle. As I tuck my camera into its bag, I take a huge breath of the fresh, crisp lake air and enjoy my walk back along the beach. I love the way my bare feet sink into the thick silvery sand and I take care not to trip over random pieces of jagged driftwood.

  It’s a good night to let my thoughts drift. The air is so still and the silence is enormous. Even the seagulls have gone to sleep, so there is no one here to bother me. Complete and perfect solitude.

  As the breeze blows my hair away from my face, I absently think of my to-do list in my studio and what I need to order tomorrow when I re-stock my supplies. I also wonder if I remembered to lock my house, although it won’t be a huge issue if I didn’t.

  In a larger city, I’d have to be more careful about that, and definitely more careful about walking alone at night. But here in Angel Bay, I’m as safe as I’m going to get. We have a crime rate here that belongs in a 1950’s Mayberry kind of town. The most crime we see is jaywalking during peak tourist season.

  As I climb over a dune and into the parking lot where I left my car, I’m surprised to find a black, glistening muscle car facing the lake. It hadn’t been here when I arrived earlier.

  I sigh. My solitude has been interrupted. But honestly, it doesn’t matter. I’m leaving anyway.

  Slipping my shoes back on, I pad across the pavement toward my car, but as I do, I notice that the other car’s door is standing wide open. I can hear the dinging sound from here. Apparently, the keys are still in the ignition.

  That’s strange and I pause, staring at the lonely car.

  I’m uncertain, because it’s dark and I’m alone. But the insistent buzzing ding of the open car door pulls me to it. I can only hope that the owner isn’t a mass murderer. I curl my fingers around the cell phone in my pocket, as if it could actually shield me from danger. Regardless of the ridiculousness of that thought, I keep the phone planted firmly in my palm.

  As I draw closer, I see a black battered boot dangling through the doorsill of the car. It isn’t moving.

  Normally, I wouldn’t think anything of it. I’d think that the person attached to the black boot was just asleep. But something seems wrong here. Something tangibly ominous seems to hang about like a cloud. Not many people could sleep with that annoying buzz coming from the open door.

  I creep up on the car and gaze inside, covering my mouth with my hand as I do. There is an overpowering stench of vomit and I immediately see the reason. The guy in the driver’s seat has passed out in a large pool of orangey-red puke. His mouth is slack, hanging open, and sticky tendrils of vomit stretch from his chin to his chest. I shudder. It’s definitely not this guy’s finest hour.

  He’s very, very still, but I know he’s breathing because he’s making strange gurgling noises. The tiny snorts vibrate through the cartilage of his nose, muffled by the vomit bubbling around his mouth.

  That can’t be good.

  I gag from the smell and shake his shoulder. His head lolls loosely around and hangs to his chest. I shake him again, but he doesn’t come to, his head just jerks limply from side to side, like a doll with a broken neck.

  Holy crap.

  I feel more panicky by the minute, my heart thrumming like a hummingbird trapped inside my ribcage. I’m not sure what to do. He could’ve just passed out from drinking too much. In fact, I see a bottle of whiskey on the floorboard that could attest to that. But there’s something wrong. Something that I can’t put my finger on, but my gut is screaming at me now.

  So I do the first thing that I think of.

  I pull out my phone and call 9-1-1.

  They answer on the second ring and ask what my emergency is. I stare at the young guy.

  “I’m not sure,” I say uncertainly. “But my name is Mila Hill and I’m down on Goose Beach in the parking lot. There’s a guy here, passed out in his car. I can’t wake him up. I think something’s wrong with him.”

  “Is he breathing?” the woman on the phone asks calmly. I check again, then tell her yes.

  “That’s good,” she tells me. “Do you feel comfortable waiting there until help arrives?”

  “Yes,” I tell her. “I’ll wait with him.”

  Knowing that help is on the way calms me down.

  I move a couple steps away and watch the unconscious man.

  He still isn’t moving, except for the slow, ragged rise and fall of his chest. I swallow hard as I glance over the rest of him. He’s got tattoos on his toned bicep and a jagged scar in the shape of an X at the base of his thumb. I know this, because his arm is now dangling outside of the car. Vomit runs down his forearm and drips onto the pavement. I cringe and move back to him, lifting his hand and placing it on his stomach.

  His stomach is hard and flat. And covered in vomit. If he weren’t lying in that vomit, he’d be handsome. That much is certain, even in the dark. He looks to be in his mid to late twenties. He’s wearing black jeans, a black t-shirt and has brownish-blonde hair. He’s got day old stubble and I find myself really wishing that he’d open his eyes.

  “Wake up,” I tell him. I don’t know him, but I definitely want him to be okay. I’ve seen friends pass out from drinking before. This isn’t that. This is far worse. The strange gurgling coming from his nose is proof of that.

  I glance at his car again. I’ve seen it around town, but I don’t know him. I’ve never bumped into him before…until now. And this isn’t a great first impression.

  I am trying to wake him again when I hear
a woman’s angry voice.