Preppy the life amp deat.., p.17
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       Preppy: The Life & Death of Samuel Clearwater, Part One, p.17
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         Part #5 of King series by T. M. Frazier
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  “Why do you think you’re here? Why do you think he’s doing this to you?”

  “Shits and giggles?”

  “Power. He could have killed you, he could have let you die, but he let your friends think you’re dead and keeps you teetering on the edge of life and death because he loves power above all else. What better way to gain power than to take control of the lives of others? Besides, now every time Able pisses him off, he can come in here and beat on his friend or kill you or torture you. But that’s up to him. That’s what he feeds off of.”

  “And here I just thought he was a sadist and went and jerked off with a belt around his neck after he delivered his beatings.”

  “No, when he’s done he comes over to this side of the wall and he rapes me.”

  “See? Shits and giggles. I was totally right,” I said, and for the first time in however long, the voice on the other side actually laughed. “Preppy, One. Lady Chop rapes on the other side of the wall, zero.”

  “I think I might like you Samuel Clearwater,” she said.

  “I don’t think I care for you at all, whoever the fuck you are.”

  CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN

  DRE

  Mirna made it through the next two days and the assisted living facility called with an opening so arrangements were made to transfer her via ambulance to Sarasota, which was an hour drive away. When Preppy told me we had to go somewhere, I though it had something to do with Mirna’s paperwork or the documents I’d started on but hadn’t finished for King’s file.

  “What exactly are we doing here?” I asked, as Preppy pulled up to a small store with a neon sign in the window that flashed EVERYTHING IS ONE DOLLAR over and over again in different colors. I could still feel the effects of my orgasm pulsing inside of my body, like my core was searching for more. I crossed and uncrossed my legs, the unease I felt growing greater the closer our proximity.

  “You’ll see,” Preppy said. “Stay here.” He tossed me a wink and jumped out of the car before I could respond. He was only in the store for a minute or two before coming back out with a large black bucket which he placed in the trunk. When he got back in the car he tossed me a bag, something cold chilled my legs through the thin plastic.

  “Hot dogs?” I asked, pulling out a generic package of hot dogs marked ‘miscellaneous meat product’. A star shaped gold sticker over the label advertised its $1 price tag, like the flashing sign wasn’t enough.

  “Yep, hot dogs,” Preppy said, turning onto a side road between the trees covering the road sign.

  “What exactly is miscellaneous meat product?” I asked, turning the package over and finding another curious label warning that the hot dogs MAY CONTAIN PEANUTS. “Is this our lunch? Because I have to say I don’t even think that you can eat these,” I said, feeling my stomach turn at the thought.

  “They’re actually not bad. When I was a kid I survived on those things,” Preppy said with a smile, surprisingly not like it was a bad memory to recall, but one he looked back on fondly. My stomach flipped again but not because of the hot dogs, but because I realized how awful my remark had sounded.

  “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean…” I started. “I just…I can’t wait to try one.”

  “No!” Preppy said, laughing so hard he had to hold his stomach. “First of all, don’t pity my past. My past made me who I am and I love my life. Second, I should have been more clear, these aren’t for US to eat, although they do have something to do with lunch.”

  I stared at him waiting for him to give me more, but all he did was smile. “I have no idea what that means,” I admitted.

  “Well,” he said, parking the car where the small road was cut off by a wall of trees. “You’re about to find out. Bring the hot dogs,” Preppy said, opening the trunk and pulling out his bucket and another bag I hadn’t noticed before.

  I followed him through a maze of brush, glad that I’d changed my clothes as he suggested. Preppy turned and grabbed my hand and tugged me through a small opening onto a huge dock and seawall that had seen better days. It looked as if it had been abandoned for years, left to rot under the Florida sun.

  “It’s beautiful,” I said, and I truly meant it. Even with parts of it heavily coated with layers of barnacles and other parts falling back down into the salty water, it had an eerie sense of beauty about it. Almost like I could imagine how it used to look with a long pier stretching out into the water. The pillars where the boats would dock were far apart so I could only imagine what kind of large boats were parked there at one time. “This must have been some place,” I said.

  Preppy set down the bucket and rope. He let go of my hand but only to spin me in the opposite direction of the water, up to where a large yellow three-story house was peeking above a fence overgrown with grass and weeds. It was in the same shape as the dock. Windows boarded with rotting wood. Siding streaked in dirt, run off from the constant afternoon summer rains. “Wow,” was all I could manage to say.

  “Yeah, it’s pretty fucking great, right? It was built in the 1920’s,” Preppy said. “It was abandoned ever since I could remember. Kids used to dare each other to spend the night inside because rumor was that it was haunted or a witch lives there or some shit. It was always changing. Anyways, a few years back, when anyone and their Aunt Tilly thought they could make money in the Florida Real Estate market, a developer bought it to demolish it and turn it into canal front condo’s but the market went belly up and it’s just sat here rotting ever since.”

  “It would be a shame to tear it down. She just needs some work,” I said, shielding my eyes from the sun. I could only see from the second story and up behind the brush, but if I squinted hard enough I could almost see what the home looked like at one time. Wrap-around balconies where families could sit and have lunch overlooking the water or entertain guests. A sitting area or reading room making up the entire third story loft area, lit only with natural sunlight in the evenings.

  “That it is. There isn’t anything like this around here anymore.”

  “Who do you think lived here?”

  “I’m not sure, but Thomas Edison and Henry Ford had winter places not too far from here, so maybe someone who brushed shoulders with that crowd. It’s definitely possible.”

  “Wow. There is a lot of history in this town.” I never knew that. Slowly, I felt myself falling back in love with Logan’s Beach.

  “This town is not exactly historical, although hysterical might fit just fine.”

  I was still staring up at the house, imagining the boats that must have docked there and the parties the original owners must have had. It was a true piece of southern perfection. Like a southern bell with a dirty dress.

  “One thing is for sure,” Preppy said. I turned around to find him tying off small hooks to the end of each of the nylon ropes. “Whoever lived here, they probably weren’t the type to do this.”

  “What exactly is this?” I asked.

  “I’m taking you for lunch. Sort of,” he said, opening the pack of hot dogs and breaking off pieces to set on the end of each of the hooks. “But we have to catch it first.” Preppy dropped the hook in the water slowly. “Gotta make sure it’s on the bottom,” he explained, tying off the line at the top of one of the pilings, then repeating the process with the other three ropes.

  “What are we catching?” I asked, whispering, like whatever was on the menu could hear us and be spooked by our voices. I stepped up to the end of the dock and glanced down into the murky water where I couldn’t see anything but brown.

  “You’ll see.” One of the ropes started moving and that’s when I realized that whatever Preppy was catching, it wasn’t fish because the line didn’t just dart away like it was eaten by a fish, but rather looked like it was…walking away?

  “Here,” Preppy moved me in front of him so that his chest was to my back. He held up the line in front of his body for me to take so I did, but he didn’t move away, just bent over so his chin was resting on my shoulder. “The trick i
s to pull it up slowly,” he said, his breath tickling my ear. I tried to concentrate but I could feel his body, his nearness. It was like a low vibration or whistle that no one else could pick up on but me and it was so close I had to bite my lip to keep myself from pushing back against him. “Slowly,” he repeated, dragging me back to the task at hand. I did as he said, crossing my hands over one another, pulling up the rope like Preppy had showed me. Preppy stepped back for a moment, appearing again by my side with the bucket. He crouched down just as a face appeared just below the surface of the water, staring back up at me.

  The face of a crab.

  “Now don’t move or you’ll scare him,” Preppy whispered out of the side of his mouth, still as a statue. “The second you get him above the water, that’s when you have to move him over to the bucket as fast as you can before he let’s go and drops back into the water.”

  For the sake of staying still, I didn’t answer. “You can talk,” Preppy whispered, trying not to laugh.

  “Oh, yeah. Got it,” I whispered. Even slower than before, I raised the rope until the crab was free of the water. I quickly whipped the rope over the bucket, but a little too eagerly because Preppy had to dodge getting hit by the crab, who released his hold on the hot dog just a tad earlier then I expected him to. Preppy set the bucket back onto the seawall and I glanced inside at the blue crab who was only a little larger than the palm of my hand. He circled the bottom of the bucket, snapping at the plastic walls with his claws.

  “Wow, how did you learn to do that?” I asked, looking down at my achievement with wonderment as he snapped at the air with his claws. Preppy didn’t immediately answer, so when I looked up to the other side of the bucket I found him staring at me, his mouth partly open. “Preppy?” I asked, my voice sounding scratchy and rough.

  “Oh,” he said, coming back from wherever he’d gone. “This guy King and I used to sell weed to when we were kids taught us. There was one summer we ate so much of these fuckers we had to stop when we realized we started to smell like them too,” he said with a laugh, recalling the memory.

  “They’re so small,” I pointed out. “Hardly seems like enough for two growing boys.”

  “It’s not. That’s why we need more,” Preppy said, yanking me by the hand back to the end of the dock. We caught seven of them before Preppy declared that was enough for our lunch. We drove to what looked like an abandoned shack in the middle of similar looking shacks in the middle of the causeway. The smell of freshly fried seafood wafted from the little building making my stomach growl. “Hungry?” Preppy asked, guiding us into the small space which only held a few mismatched tables and an old Pepsi cooler.

  “Starving, you?” I asked, surprised when we didn’t take a seat. Preppy pushed passed the counter into an even tinier back room where a large man with silver hair was standing over a pot.

  “Preppy, my good man, what do you have for me?” he asked, taking the bucket from Preppy’s arms.

  “The gift of crabs,” Preppy announced.

  The man chuckled and set the bucket on the ground next to the stove. “This might be the only time when crabs make a good gift,” he said. “You want them the usual way?”

  “You got it,” Preppy said, tugging me by the hand out the back door. “Oh, and this is Dre,” he called back my last minute introduction. “That’s Billy.”

  “Like Dr. Dre?” Billy asked.

  “Yep, she has a sister named Snoop,” Preppy said, opening the creaking screen door. We sat on yellow chairs at the single rickety patio set that looked like it had been rotting in the sun for quite some time.

  Preppy leaned in closer like he was studying me.

  “What are you doing?” I asked, leaning back from his intense glare.

  “Trying to figure you out.”

  “Huh? Me? Why?”

  Preppy pointed to my face. “You have these huge eyes and although they’re dark as hell, they’re still bright somehow. You’ve got seriously black hair, so black it’s almost blue, but your skin is only slightly tannish. What are you? Some flavor of Spanish? Oh! I got it, a little Asian? No, that’s not it. Caribbean islander, maybe? Barbados? Antigua? Narnia?”

  I shook my head. “Narnia? That’s not even a real place. It’s fiction.”

  “Have you ever been there?” Preppy challenged.

  “No.”

  “Then how can you be so sure?”

  “I guess I can’t be.”

  “I rest my case.”

  I laughed. “Well, real or not, I’m not…Narnian. My mom’s background is English if you go way back and my dad’s side is French Canadian.”

  Preppy slid his sunglasses down his nose. “So…you be a white chick then?”

  “Like, I totally be a white chick.”

  Preppy sighed. “Bummer. Here I thought we were all interracial and shit.”

  “Disappointing, I know.”

  “The struggle is real.”

  After a few moments of comfortable silence, Preppy spoke first, “What are you thinking about over there, Doc? I can see your wheels turning.”

  I shrugged. “You’re just always so comfortable. Around everyone. You know, when you’re not threatening me or trying to teach me a lesson or dragging me around somewhere.”

  “And?” he asked, swallowing hard.

  “And I was wondering how someone…in your line of work can be so relaxed all the time.”

  “And what line of work is that?” Preppy asked, leaning in toward me and grinning like he was up to something.

  “You know, dealing the drugs,” I said, wincing when my sentence came out as awkward as I felt.

  “Well, Doc, I can tell you that, although I deal in the drugs, the reason I look so comfortable is because I am.”

  “Don’t you have enemies? Business deals gone bad? I mean, you carry a gun so you have to be worried about something.”

  “You’ve seen too many movies, Doc. Although sometimes I do have to use it for more than putting it to your head while I make you come,” Preppy said. I blushed. “It’s BECAUSE I carry a gun that I’m not worried.” He looked out over the water. A rusted shrimp boat was slowly pulling up to the dock. One man jumped off onto the dock, while another shouted instructions and tossed him a rope. The gentle breeze blew Preppy’s sandy-blond locks around the top of his head. He turned back to me “And you’re wrong you know.”

  “About what?”

  “I’m not always a hundred percent comfortable around everyone,” he said, locking eyes with me. “There is this one person. This girl who I think…” Just then Billy pushed open the door.

  “Hot plate!” he announced, setting down a huge platter of newly steamed crabs in the center of the table. The platter actually wasn’t a platter at all I realized, but an upside down lid of a metal garbage can.

  “What’s that amazing smell?” I asked, leaning in over the crabs and inhaling the spicy-sweet scent coming off the crabs that were still steaming.

  “Old Bay seasoning. It’s great on any kind of shell fish. I make my own version of it. It’s my secret ingredient,” Billy said.

  “Billy, I hate to be the one to tell you this but when you tell everyone about it, it’s not much of a secret anymore. And copying a name-brand isn’t exactly an original creation.”

  Billy smacked Preppy on the shoulder with his rag. “Touché, my friend,” he said with a burst of laughter. He placed his hand on the back of Preppy’s chair. “Listen, I wanted to thank you for helping me get the stoves working again. I’d be cooking blue crabs under a bridge right now if it wasn’t for you making that call and getting me those stoves.”

  They shook hands and did the secret handshake all men seemed to know, the one that ended with a half hug and a clap on the back. “Couldn’t have my favorite chef without a kitchen, who would feed me?”

  “Oh, I don’t know, maybe one of the dozen old ladies who make you whatever you want. Maybe Grace. Maybe one of the biker whores,” Billy said, with a smirk. He turned to m
e. “Sorry about the language ma’am. I mean the ladies that are associated with the Beach Bastards.”

  “No worries,” I said, deciding right then and there that I liked Billy.

  “Dude, I wouldn’t do you wrong like that,” Preppy said. “None of them make seafood like you do. Nobody.” Preppy reached for the crab with his hands and set one on a plate, handing it across the table to me. Billy gave him a knowing look. “So are we cool?” Preppy asked, adding, “It’s not you, it’s me?” He held up his arms in surrender as Billy swatted him again with a dishtowel. He thanked Preppy again and headed back inside, whistling along to a staticky version of the Billy Joel song playing through the small radio on the floor, where it was also keeping the door propped open.

  “I almost forgot to give you these,” Billy said. The door swung open and he tossed two plastic yellow crab crackers over my head and onto the table.

  I’d successfully ripped the first leg off my crab and was doing my best with the cracker to rid my lunch of his shell when I looked up to find myself locked in Preppy’s intense stare. “This looks so great, doesn’t it?” I asked, trying to break the thickness of the air between us.

 
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