Preppy the life amp deat.., p.14
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       Preppy: The Life & Death of Samuel Clearwater, Part One, p.14
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         Part #5 of King series by T. M. Frazier
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  a deep breath and held my gaze. “Doc?”

  “Yeah?”

  “I volunteer as tribute.”

  Oscar came darting back into the room, running around and bumping into everything, squealing this high-pitched death scream, like he’d just escaped the slaughterhouse and was running for dear life. I was about to ask what was up with him, but before I could form the words Preppy was on his feet running down the hall. I was close on his heels, but felt like everything was moving in slow motion, including me. Frame by still frame, the realization of what was happening was revealed. Preppy’s voice calling out Mirna’s name. Oscar’s squeal as he pushed passed me in the hall.

  Mirna, laying on the kitchen floor.

  Blood pooled around her head.

  CHAPTER TWENTY

  PREPPY

  Dre was quiet when we followed the ambulance to the hospital. She was quiet when we sat in the waiting room. She was even quiet when the doctor came out from behind swinging double doors, calling for Mirna’s immediate family. We followed the doctor back through the doors to a room with a glass wall, the pale blue curtain peeled back, revealing a complicated web of tubes and what could have been Mirna somewhere underneath. Dre pressed her forehead to the glass. “We’re going to monitor her,” the doctor said. “She’s stable for now, but the next forty-eight hours will tell us more. She hit her head when she fell and we stitched that up.” She was a young Asian woman with a high bun in her hair, and at least three pencils sticking out of it. She didn’t look much older than I was. “But just know that even if she survives, the chances of a full recovery at her age, with her pervious diagnosis of dementia, isn’t likely. If the next two days go well, then she’ll be here for a couple of weeks. If she’s still stable after that then we’ll discharge her, but she’ll need around the clock care.” She looked up from her clipboard to Dre, whose eyes were still on Mirna, and then to me. “Probably for the rest of her life.”

  “She’s been on the waiting list for Sarasota Assisted for months,” I explained.

  “I’m going to the ladies’ room,” Dre muttered, hugging herself. Her Keds squeaking against the linoleum as she headed toward the hall with the restroom sign hanging from the ceiling.

  The doctor scribbled something down on her clip board. “I know some people over at Sarasota Assisted. I’ll give them a call, tell them about your grandmother’s situation, see if we can get her moved up the list.” She tore off a page from her note pad and handed it to me. “Here is the name and number of another facility. It’s a little farther away, but it might have an opening sooner if SA doesn’t work out.”

  “Thanks,” I said, folding the paper and tucking it into my pocket.

  “And I know it’s not my place,” she started, glancing to where Dre just disappeared. “But I saw her arms. I wrote down the number for another place. Just in case it could help.”

  I know the doctor was just trying to help, but for some reason her suggestion that Dre wasn’t okay infuriated me. “Mind your own fucking business,” I snapped, leaving the doctor and heading down the hall. I passed the elevators and waited across from the restroom.

  After a few minutes, I knocked on the door. The elevator dinged and a sad looking couple got off and checked the room numbers on the wall. The doors closed again, and that’s when I knew that when I burst into the ladies’ room that Dre wouldn’t be there.

  I was right. The single stall was empty. No windows. She was never even there.

  I jogged to the elevator and frantically pressed the button. I didn’t know where the fuck she went, but she had a five minute head start, which if she wanted to run from Mirna, from me, wasn’t nearly fucking enough.

  CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

  DRE

  There wasn’t enough time. Not in this life or the next. There were still a million apologies owed, a trillion cookies to be baked, a lifetime of hugs to be had.

  Life is short. Death is final.

  Dementia is a purgatory in which nothing matters.

  There just wasn’t enough fucking time.

  The voice in my head grew louder. The one that started as a whisper. A suggestion. A voice that told me that they knew what I needed to stop the pain. The one that told me that escape was only a needle away.

  I swallowed down the lump in my throat and pushed open the back doors. I ran across the parking lot to the shell road behind the building, picking up speed, running with no destination in mind until I could no longer see the lights from the hospital behind me and my tears dried on my cheeks. I passed a few scattered houses before stopping when I came to a cemetery lined in wild growing hedge.

  My heart was beating fast from exertion, but suddenly it started to pound erratically but it wasn’t my heart. It was bass from music. Some poppy dance tune. Laughter floated in the air from behind the bushes. A house slowly came into view. A three-story run down Victorian that looked as if it had been abandoned. The hedge gave way to an open iron gate. A sign reading DO NOT ENTER was hanging from a cut chain. Young people, around my age, were scattered all over the lawn and the porch. Candles lined the railing.

  “Hey,” someone said, startling me. I spun around to find a petite red-headed girl with a glazed over look in her eyes. “Do I know you?” she asked, her words slurring slightly.

  “I don’t think so. I just heard the music.”

  “Well if you’re looking for a party, you’ve found it!” She raised the bottle of vodka she was carrying in the air and took a swig, splashing some of it onto her face.

  I shook my head and was about to turn away, when the breeze rustled the trees and a very familiar scent snaked its way from the house, through my nose, and into my brain. The sensation of awareness that followed was like smelling the cologne or perfume of an ex-lover. With one little sniff, I remembered every touch, every taste, every euphoric feeling, almost like we’d never been apart.

  My ex-lover, the only real lover I’d ever had, was calling to me.

  And the bitch’s name was Heroin.

  * * *

  I don’t remember moving my feet. I don’t remember entering the house. What I remember is the couple having sex against the wall of the foyer. The smell of body odor and feces. The graffiti marking the walls. The peeling wallpaper.

  A small room off to the side, what could’ve been a sitting area at one time, was aglow in candlelight, the scent of my lover stronger, sticking to the inside of my nostrils. A group of four sat around in a circle, in various states of chasing their dragons. One, slumped over against the wall. Another, smiling with anticipation as he flicked the syringe with his finger. There was one person that stood out to me above the others. I could only see the top of his greasy brown hair as he tied off an elastic band around his arm. I didn’t see his face until he was tightening it with his teeth. His eyes met mine, and I gasped. Shock. Pure fucking shock shot through me. My stomach rolled and my heart pumped wildly. Every single hair on my arms stood at attention. I took a step back and shook my head because there was no way what I was seeing was real.

  Eric.

  It couldn’t be. He was dead. Wasn’t he?

  I heard a bang, which turned out to be someone tripped over a chair. When I looked back into the room, the man was gone. Either I was seeing things or my Eric picked a really shitty night to start haunting me.

  “Come on out back,” the girl said. “We got a taste of everything out there.”

  I followed her through the house and into the backyard which butted up to the cemetery. We hopped the small gate where a larger circle of people were gathered under a large tree, sitting on the big bulging roots which had upturned several headstones as they grew through to the surface.

  “That’s Dom,” the girl said, pointing to a dark haired guy unrolling a ball of foil. She cast me a knowing smirk then glanced down to my arms. I folded them around my chest, instinctively protecting my scars from her knowing gaze. “He’ll hook you up with whatever you want.” She clucked her tongue. “My guess is
that you like to chase the dragon.”

  I didn’t say anything, there was no use in denying something I wore the evidence of.

  A few minutes later, I was sitting next to Dom, Indian style, while he fired up the heroin, getting ready to reintroduce me to my old lover. I salivated for a taste of her. I already felt her in my blood. My knees bounced anxiously. The second he held the needle up to my arm, I pulled it back. “Second thoughts, pretty girl?” Dom asked, leaning close enough to me where I could smell his rancid breath.

  I didn’t get a chance to answer. Not him. Not my own question about why I’d hesitated. Because the needle was yanked from Dom’s hand and plunged into his neck by a masculine arm covered in tattoos.

  “Good shit, right?” Preppy asked Dom, pulling his gun from his waistband and pushing it to the back of Dom’s skull. Screams erupted, and the partiers scattered like cockroaches exposed to light. Dom’s face was contorted in both fear and pleasure, which proves that even with a gun to your head, heroin wins.

  Heroin always won.

  I untied the elastic from around my arm and let it fall to the ground. Preppy’s hair was mussed. His face was red and his eyes were angry and determined.

  “Get the fuck out of my town. I see you here again and it will be a bullet in your neck instead of a needle next time,” Preppy warned. “You understand me motherfucker?” Preppy pulled Dom’s head back by his hair so he could see the seriousness in his threat. He then released him, and Dom nodded sluggishly until his eyes rolled back in his head and he fell over in a heap onto the grass.

  “You don’t know what else he’s had. He could die!” I said, standing up.

  Preppy shrugged, his face uncaring and hard. “Oops.” He scratched his head with the barrel of his gun. “You know, it’s not very nice to run off like that. You could have at least said bye first. Maybe a ‘Hey Prep, just gonna go shoot some dope into my fucking veins. BRB.’”

  I couldn’t deal with the possibility of never having Mirna back and Preppy’s sarcastic bullshit at the same time. “Fuck you!” I spat, taking off into the cemetery, jumping over thick roots and tripping over small triangular shaped headstones, barley visible over the grass which was the same height. It was pitch-black and my eyes weren’t adjusting well. I fell into half a dozen statues and headstones, like a ping pong ball, before I stopped to catch my breath under a crumbling mausoleum.

  My head was on my knees when I heard Preppy approach, his heavy footsteps a hard thud on the wet ground. “You know what the really fucked up part is?” I asked. “Well, I’ll tell you. The really fucked up part is that I thought I saw Eric in the house when I got here.” I lifted my head and glanced at Preppy, who had his arms crossed over his chest. His biceps flexing. “I mean, I know he’s dead so it’s impossible, right? But I’m fucked up, more than I ever thought. So much so that I imagined I saw him. But even after that, during that split second when I thought he could really be alive and there in that house, ready to shoot up, I’d made the decision that I was going to stay, anyway.” I ran my nails up and down my calves. “That’s how badly I wanted it.” I paused. “WANT it.” I corrected.

  The desire was so great inside of me I groaned out loud. Preppy crouched down in front of me, his gun hanging from his hand between his legs, pointed at the ground. His finger stroking the trigger.

  “Look at me,” he demanded, tilting my chin up so I was looking into his eyes. “There are no old junkies, Doc. You either make the decision to stop inviting it into your fucking veins or it kills you.”

  “I…I know,” I stammered, staring up at him through a curtain of my own dark hair. But I just don’t care.

  Preppy pushed the hair from my face, tucking it behind my ear, and trailing his fingertips over my cheek in a sweet gesture that both thrilled and frightened me. I wasn’t expecting that, especially after what he’d just done to Dom.

  Preppy sighed and withdrew his hand. “I need to point out that letting the H kill you is the same as leaping off that tower, because it’s still you making that decision to die.” He trailed the barrel of his gun up my leg, from my ankle to my knee. The cool metal set my skin to prickles and made me shiver so hard, my teeth chattered. I sucked in a breath. Preppy’s voice slowly turned from an eerie calm to a violent rage. “You were going to use,” he said, but it wasn’t a question, it was an accusation. A fact.

  I nodded, my eyes on his gun as he rested it on my thigh. “And you still want it?” he asked. I nodded again, too ashamed to speak the words out loud.

  “Say it!” Preppy demanded, turning the gun so it was now pointed at me, but his finger wasn’t on the trigger. “Tell me you still want it. Tell me that you want to die.”

  “It’s not that simple,” I tried to explain.

  “Tell me!” Preppy demanded.

  “Why?” I asked, trembling. I scattered backwards until my back hit the cold marble of the mausoleum, but Preppy crawled over the step and hovered over me before I could get any further.

  “Because I’ve been holding back.” He leaned forward and grabbed a handful of my hair, yanking me up to him roughly, his lips hovering above mine, his cool breath on my face. “So I need to know if you give a shit about your life.” He pulled me up to a standing position by my hair, my scalp screamed in agony. He slammed me back against the wall. “Because the way I see it, is if you don’t give a fuck about your life,” he leaned in and ran his nose along my jaw and chuckled deep and dark, the sound vibrating to the depths of my soul, “then I don’t have to give a fuck about it, either.”

  I looked over his shoulder, scanning the cemetery to see if there was anyone nearby. Anyone I could call to for help. No such luck.

  Preppy must have been reading my mind. “Nobody’s here to save you. Nobody can save you, except you. So fucking tell me, Doc. Do you want to fucking die?”

  “I told you! It’s not that simple. It’s just that I feel…” I started, but the words wouldn’t come.

  “Tell me damnit!” Preppy roared, pushing his knee between my legs to better pin me to the wall.

  “I feel like I’m fucking bleeding out!” I screamed. Preppy’s face remained hard and impassive as his eyes frantically roamed my body for wounds. But he wouldn’t find any, not on the outside, at least. “No!” I said, grabbing his wrist and bringing his hand still holding the gun to my chest, pressing it between my breasts. “Here. I’m bleeding out here, and I don’t know how to make it stop. You told me before that you could make the call. You said you could get me what I need. I need it. I need it so bad. Can you? Can you give me what I need?” I hated the desperation in my voice. I hated the weakness. One brief encounter with my ex-lover, even though I’d only watched her across the room as she seduced others, had me falling under her spell once again.

  “Oh, I can give you what you need,” Preppy growled, pinning me to the wall with his hips. His erection hard against my lower stomach, taking me off guard. My pulse spiked with fear, then fell with disappointment. “But no fucking H.” He ground his hips against me, his hardness taking me off guard. I pushed against his shoulder, but I might as well have been attempting to lift a car because he only held me tighter.

  “Why? Why won’t you help me? You can help me! You said we were friends. Friends help each other, right? And this is how you can help me.” His stare grew more intense, which infuriated me because he didn’t say a thing. Instead, he let me cry and wail and pound my fists against him. “Why won’t you help me!” I screamed. My throat was tight and sore. “Pleeeaaassssse!” My yell turning into a sob. “I don’t want it,” I cried, my head falling back against the wall. “I don’t.” I shook my head. “But I don’t know how to stop the bleeding and make the pain go away. I don’t know how to dull the edge that makes me want to scratch off my skin without running back to that house and sticking a needle in my arm.” I met his furious dark eyes. Preppy’s body as unyielding as his drilling stare. “So, pleeeeeaaassse,” I cried, bouncing slightly on my knees as I begged. I covered h
is gun with my other hand. “Please help me.”

  I don’t know if it was me touching his gun, or the begging that did it, but the spark was back, glistening wickedly in his eyes. His pupils grew large. He licked his bottom lip and ground his hips against me. I gasped, my blood turned red hot. I instantly regretted everything I’d said. He rocked his knee against my core and a flush of wetness soaked through my panties. I didn’t want this, there was too much going on in my head. Too much to sift through and process, but my body didn’t seem to care about what I wanted, because my nipples tightened under my tank top. “Do you trust me?”

  My brain wanted heroin.

  My body wanted Preppy.

  “No,” I answered honestly, my chest heaving from fear and anxiety and anticipation. “I don’t trust you.”

  He pulled his gun back and turned it over in his hands, examining it as the moonlight glinted off the metal. He smirked. “That’s good, Doc.” He leaned in close, his beard bristling against my cheek, his lips brushing against the sensitive spot behind my ear as he spoke. “You shouldn’t,” he said as he held the barrel of his gun to my head.

  Finger on the trigger.

  CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

 
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