All the rage, p.4
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       All the Rage, p.4

           T. M. Frazier
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  explosive jobs, I agreed like Golumn with a fucking ring. Next thing I knew, I was high up in a tree, in ninety-degree heat, straddling a branch while waiting for my target (of my babysitting services) to make an appearance.

  “You know how fucking boring this is, right?” I whined into the phone.

  “Sure do, that’s why I’m not fucking doing it,” Smoke said, sounding amused.

  “You suck.”

  “Nah, that’s what the bitches are for.” There was a pause, and I heard a shuffling followed by the faint sound of a woman’s voice. “You sleep at all this week?” Smoke asked, changing the subject.

  I sighed and adjusted my position on the branch, giving me a better view of the side of the house. I didn’t know why he always asked me that question. My answer was always the same. “I guess that depends on what you consider sleep.”

  “Rage, zoning out for an hour or two sitting upright with your eyes open is not sleep,” Smoke scolded.

  “Sorry to disappoint you then, Daddy, but no, I haven’t slept.”

  In years.

  “As much as I like to be called Daddy, I only like a woman calling me that when she’s underneath me and I’m holding her knees up while I shove my cock in her.” Smoke chuckled. “So unless you’ve changed your mind and given up your aversion to dick, then you best keep that shit to yourself.”

  Smoke learned very quickly when we met that whatever he considered to be charms were completely lost on me, but he never stopped trying to get a rise out of me anyway. He didn’t understand that in order to be offended by something, you have to care about it first.

  I didn’t.

  However, it seemed to amuse the hell out of him, so good for him, or whatever.

  “Uh-huh, sounds good,” I said, barely paying attention as a light inside the house switched on, bathing the windows in faded yellow. “What exactly am I doing here?” I asked again.

  “Just keep an eye on the boy. If anyone who looks like his parents come to the house, you call me. You think he knows where they are, you tell me. It’s simple. I need you to watch everything and report back. Get as close as you can.”

  I sat up on the branch and bit the side of my thumbnail. “You sure you don’t want me to just take him out? I’ve got to change the oil on my Vespa and—” Smoke cut me off before I had the chance to tell him about having to get back to watching the eBay auction where I was currently the high bidder on a six-inch serrated steel blade with Swarovski crystal handle. It looked just like the small tattoo on the nape of my neck and it had been on my wish list for months. Fuck if I was going to be outbid by SPONGE_BOB_DAD_6969.

  “No. Don’t fucking take him out. Not yet, anyway. Wait for my word,” Smoke sighed, sounding frustrated. “And I’ll change the oil on your fucking pussy scooter after I’m sure this kid doesn’t know where the fuck his shit-bag parents are. But you don’t do shit until you hear from me. Got it?” I heard the distinct sound of a lighter sparking, followed by a light blowing of smoke across the receiver.

  “How long do I have to be here for?” I asked, conceding to Smoke and reluctantly accepting my babysitting fate. The auction ended on Sunday, and I knew I couldn’t do it from my phone, not with the reception in this town that had Smoke’s every third word cutting out.

  “For however long it takes.”

  I huffed. “You owe me for this.”

  “I tell you what, Rage. You stop working for everyone and their uncle Albert and work exclusively for me, and I’ll stop throwing you these shit babysitting jobs,” Smoke offered.

  I shook my head as if he were in front of me and not on the phone. It was an offer Smoke made often. Often enough for me to already know that it wasn’t really an offer. It was a test. Smoke was a biker but he didn’t belong to any club. “No can do. You know that.” It was our number one rule. Our only rule. No loyalties to anyone, no ties.

  “I tell you what,” I started. I could practically hear Smoke’s smile through the phone. He knew exactly what was coming next. “I’ll agree to work exclusively for you…on the day you call the Bastards and get me patched in as an official member. I want a cut too. A pink one.”

  “Fuck you, Rage,” Smoke said, without the slightest trace of anger in his voice. Sometimes I changed out which MC I wanted to be a member of and tell him I want to be Warrior, the other big MC in Southwest Florida, but the gist of my joke was always the same.

  Smoke was not just my mentor he was a client and I agreed to always do his jobs first. I also agreed that if anyone ever hired me to kill him, I’d as least give him a few hours heads-up.

  Well, maybe at least a few minutes.

  Maybe.

  “How ’bout this,” Smoke started. “You do good for me. Watch that kid and find out where his parents are holed up and I’ll let you take them out like the dogs they are, any way you want. Car explosion maybe?” Smoke paused and lowered his voice. “Would you like that, Princess?” He knew exactly what he was doing. He might not have been able to seduce me with his body, but he sure as shit knew how to seduce me with the promise of creating my art in the form of destruction. My heart sped up and I bit my lip. Closing my eyes tightly, I soaked in and reveled in the whole body shudder that consumed me with want.

  The want to destroy.

  The want to kill.

  “Yeah, I thought you’d like that, baby,” Smoke said.

  “I didn’t say anything,” I whispered, trying not to give anything away, but he knew he had me right where he wanted me.

  “You can fool some of the dumb fucks out there, but you can’t fool me. I know you only shut that mouth of yours when you’re excited about something.”

  Sometimes I hated that he knew me so well. After Cody, I didn’t want anyone to know me at all. The thought of Cody sent me crashing back into reality, the present, and the job at hand.

  I focused my attention on the picture I pulled from my pocket. It was one of those school pictures with a typical blue background and the name of the photography company in the lower right corner. The boy had brownish red hair and hazel eyes. A faded bruise on the top of his right cheekbone. His smile was big and bright, although his teeth were too big for his face and he was missing one of the front ones. He was wearing a Tampa Lightning hockey jersey and had a dimple on his left cheek.

  “Why is this kid all alone in a shack on the beach, anyway? Shouldn’t he be in school or something?” I asked, again scanning the windows for any signs of life within, aside from the newly turned on light.

  “Shouldn’t you?” Smoke quipped. “Besides, I think he’s a few years older than that picture, but that’s all Cannon could scrounge up.”

  I rolled my eyes, again like he could see me. Maybe my parents weren’t the only ones who didn’t fully grasp how the phone was really supposed to work. “Yeah, ’cause Cannon is five hundred years old and probably drove to the library to look in the archives when he could have just googled him,” I said, knowing I wasn’t that far off from the truth. Cannon was Smoke’s sometimes assistant.

  Smoke laughed again. “Probably,” he admitted. “But I already looked the kid up. He’s got an Instagram account, but nothing on it I need.”

  There was movement low in the window of the house. Just a passing shadow followed by a continuous barking. “Great, Smoke, he has a fucking dog. You didn’t tell me he had a fucking dog.” I cringed, remembering the Myth Busters episode I’d watched where they debunked the myth about dog saliva being cleaner than human saliva.

  “How the fuck was I supposed to know? That picture and the address was all I got,” Smoke said, sounding less than amused. “You watch your mouth with me. I give you a lot of leeway because we’re cut from the same fucking cloth, but you remember who the fuck you’re talking to.”

  I ignored his I’m-a-big-bad-independent-biker-who-deserves-respect speech. “Did you know it’s a fallacy that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s mouth?” I asked. “They actually contain ten times more bacteria and most of t
hat bacteria is harmful in some way. Getting licked in the face by a dog is ten times more hazardous then licking the rim of a public toilet. One swipe of their tongue could send you to the hospital and you could die of some horrible disease that causes incurable diarrhea. You could literally shit yourself to death. I mean, can you imagine? SHITTING yourself to death?”

  “I can now. Thanks for the fucking image,” Smoke said flatly.

  I continued, “And what they can carry on their skin? There are thousands of types of bugs—”

  Smoke cut me off again. “Rage, I actually have shit to do today, and as much as I’d like to hear every little factoid you want to spew about your germ shit, if you keep on complaining, I’m going to cut the brakes on your fucking pussy-scooter,” he warned.

  I bit the corner of my thumb. “First of all, stop calling her that. Her name is Delilah. She’s a good scooter and never did anything to you, so cut it out. Second of all, that’s fine with me. Do what you want to my brakes.”

  “And why is that?” Smoke asked, sounding confused and taking the bait.

  I lowered my voice and mimicked Smoke’s fake seductive tone from earlier. “Yes, go, cut my breaks, but then good luck figuring out which of your guns I may or may not have tampered with.”

  “Wait, what the fuck did you do?” Smoke asked as I clicked the END button and shoved the phone back into my bag. I laughed when it immediately vibrated again. I let it ring.

  I hadn’t really tampered with Smoke’s guns, not recently anyway, but the thought of him carefully inspecting each one to figure out if I had was just enough payback for him calling Delilah, my trusted powder blue Vespa, a pussy scooter.

  Dick.

  My newest job, under protest, was taking place in Harper’s Ridge/Logan’s Beach area, which was a fishing community turned vacation spot for the rich and famous on the Gulf Coast of Florida.

  The entire five miles of beachfront had all been taken over by condos, hotels and high rises. In between those buildings was the occasional small cottage being held on to by the owners for the best offer or the stubborn owners who wouldn’t take any dollar amount for their little shacks. These little houses were all built in the twenties and in need of some sort of repair. They had charm, though, unlike the contemporary architecture of the newer buildings. No floor-to-ceiling glass windows. Just sliding glass doors, chipped siding, and country shutters.

  An overly tanned, overly wrinkled, seasoned fisherman sat in a chair at the water’s edge, half asleep. His fishing pole, which was set in a plastic pipe dug into the ground, bent at a harsh angle at the top, where either the tide or an awaiting fish was pulling on the line. The fisherman, his chin resting on his chest, was oblivious to his possible catch.

  The tiny beach cottage I happened to be watching was up on half pilings with a storage space underneath concealed by white strips of lattice, half of which were missing. On top of that was a deck with a small pool desperately in need of care. The water was at least a foot lower than the rim and was as green as the mildew growing on the faded yellow siding. It was more mote than pool.

  There was a condo building to one side and a small fenced in area containing several trees to the other. A sign on the fence read Conservation Area. Keeping five trees out of harm’s way in exchange for all the condos you could build seemed a bit ridiculous to me, but I wasn’t in real estate. I didn’t build or create anything.

  My job was to destroy.

  From my vantage point, up high on a branch of one of the very special conserved trees, I was concealed from anyone walking by on the beach or glancing through the narrow alley from the main street. Most importantly, I had a great view into the house and of the driveway in the front by the street in case the boy had any visitors. Unfortunately, I’d been there for three hours, and although I knew someone was in there, judging from the sounds of the dog, the TV, and the lights occasionally flipping on and off, not so much as a door had been opened or a window shade drawn.

  Just as I’d set my thoughts in stone that the next few days or weeks would be the longest of my life, the back door of the cottage slid open and suddenly, my target was in view. Although he was…different. Because the person who appeared on the deck was the same kid from the picture, the boy.

  Except he wasn’t a boy at all.

  A little black French bulldog with a white face emerged from the house, snaking around my target, who was still in the doorway. He panted his way around the deck and into the bright sunlight. I assumed it was the little tic dispenser responsible for all the barking I’d heard earlier. He drooled his way around the pool, long lines of foamy, white saliva trickling out from both sides of his permanent frown. His long pink tongue was in the shape of a playground slide, scraping the splintered wood as he waddled from one end of the pool to the other, happily lifting his leg on the hedges, then the two chipped garden gnomes on the pool’s edge. He brushed his paws against the deck like he was trying to bury a bone, then darted away to his next target.

  Little fucker.

  Every few intakes of breath, the dog made a sound as if he was having an asthma attack. A deep whooping noise barked its way up through his nose and throat and it was like he changed from a dog to baby sea lion.

  The sound of this dog’s erratic breathing didn’t seem to concern the guy sitting in the doorway. No, he was very busy staring off blankly into the dirty water of the pool that probably contained everything from the bubonic plague to scurvy, to syphilis or whatever else you could catch on the fucking Oregon Trail.

  The guy wore a tight white wife-beater style tank top, his shoulders were broad, the lines of his muscular biceps danced and flexed as he moved his chin from resting on top of one closed fist to the other. He had some sort of tattoo on his back, but I could only make out the part that reached over the tops of his shoulders, stopping just short of his collarbone. His hair was still the color it was in the picture, light brown, tinted with red. It fell over his eyes with a slight curl at the ends. Long enough to push behind his ears and fall around his chin. I couldn’t see much of his other facial features from my aerial tree position, but I could make out a slight bend in his nose.

  I was still observing my new target when the dog bent over guy in the doorway was still staring out into space as the dog splashed, huge-head first into the pool. It was then, when he didn’t make a move to save his dog, that I noticed the reason why he wasn’t moving. He was sitting. His right leg stuck out before him, bound in a black cast of some sort and resting on a stand attached to his chair.

  His wheelchair.

  When my target finally pulled his head out of his ass and noticed his drowning dog, he frantically rolled forward toward the edge of the pool. He called out, “Murray!” as he attempted to reach down into the water for the dog who’d already sunk too far. When that didn’t work, he tried to get up out of the chair, but all he managed to do was tip it over, and with a much larger splash, he joined his dog under the water.

  Then nothing.

  CHAPTER FIVE

  Nolan

  UNCLE CALLING flashed across the screen of my phone. With a sigh I pressed the red END button, sending him to voicemail for the third time since I’d been back in town. I didn’t have time to deal with my uncle, or anyone else, because I was busy. Super busy. I was smack dab in the middle of week two of having myself a grand ole pity party of epic proportions. Booze and weed in mass quantities were the only things on my immediate schedule.

  My summer should’ve been filled with my old friends, parties, then moving into my new dorm in the athletic center of State for my junior year. Instead, I found myself staring at the wall in my grandparents’ old beach cottage, waiting for my circumstances to somehow miraculously change.

  I’m gonna be waiting a fucking while.

  I’d given up so much to get where I was. The sacrifices I made were well above and beyond what most college athletes were expected to give up. But I did it anyway. For a while it was worth it. A few short months prior t
o my injury, I was on top of the fucking world. No, I was king of the fucking world.

  How the hell did it all go so wrong so fast?

  Oh, I know how. Injuries, shit parents, and an athletic scholarship that was pulled out from under me the second the team doctor hinted that hockey wouldn’t be part of my future plans.

  Fate is an evil and vengeful bitch.

  My hockey dreams headed south faster than the Zamboni could clear the ice and before my skates even touched the rink for the upcoming season.

  To top off the shit cake, was of course, the shit candles. Namely, Jessica. More specifically, Jessica and her sudden decision to fill her mouth with all the cock from Harper’s Ridge to Jacksonville Community College. Finding out what she was up to via an Instagram video of her doing said cock-sucking, wasn’t exactly a moment destined to make the highlight reel of my life. It’s not like she was my girlfriend; I’d never had one of those. But I thought we had fun together and she was someone I fucked on a regular basis. To me she might have just been the closest thing to a girlfriend I would ever have and I’d just been thinking that maybe we could talk about being more to one another.

  My gran used to say I had the stomach of a mountain goat and that I could probably eat tin cans and be perfectly fine. However, after seeing the video of Jessica’s grand tour-de-cock all over the Internet, my stomach rolled.

  In truth, it wouldn’t have lasted much longer than it did anyway. We weren’t in love by any means, we were just comfortable.

  At least I’d been comfortable.

 
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