Preppy the life amp deat.., p.5
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       Preppy: The Life & Death of Samuel Clearwater, Part Two, p.5
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         Part #6 of King series by T. M. Frazier

  But no matter how fast I run, she just runs faster.

  Soon I’m not chasing her at all anymore. She’s gone.

  I’m alone, standing on the train tracks. Unmoving.

  Staring into the blinding yellow headlight of a train as it grows closer and closer...until it’s too fucking late.

  CHAPTER FIVE

  DRE

  I was more awake than a college kid with a seven-cup-a-day Starbucks habit.

  It was the middle of the night and after a very long day of fighting against the jungle like back yard, armed with a rented weed-whacker and a borrowed lawn mower, I should’ve been dead to the world, but no matter how much I tossed and turned I couldn’t reach any sort of restful state.

  Not that night. Not any night since I’d been back in Logan’s Beach.

  The moon glowed orange through the dirt caked windows. Tired of battling with the sandman I decided that sleep and I were going to have to break up for the time being.

  I felt around for my glasses and put them on while I sat up with my back against the wall. I powered on my laptop while listening to the overgrown tree branches in desperate needed a trim, rustling against the roof. I fished a cherry sucker out of my bag and plucked the plastic off the top. Sucking on candy was a weird little trick I’d picked up in rehab that I used whenever I was feeling restless and that night I felt as if I was gonna jump out of my own skin.

  With the house being empty of all furniture the usual creaks and groans from years past sounded as if someone were slowly walking around inside on the hardwood floors, each little noise echoing through the tiny rooms. Brandon was sound asleep in the sleeping bag next to me, lightly snoring in a way that made me think it was adorable, and also want to kick some of his perfect teeth in at the same time.

  I clicked over to the local BY OWNER real estate website and decided to turn my sleepless night into a productive one by scanning the comparable sales in the area to see what else I could do in order to get the most money out of the sale that didn’t cost a fortune. With each stroke of the keys and click of the mouse the thought of selling the house grew from a nagging in the back of my head that told me it was wrong to a sickening thought of how I was going to live with myself after it was all said and done.

  You don’t have a choice, Dre.

  A noise in the kitchen, like something had fallen caught my attention.

  I snapped my laptop shut and looked around the dark room, my eyes taking a moment to focus in the black space after staring at the bright screen.

  I was used to hearing things at night. Being paranoid and exaggerating sounds in my head wasn’t exactly new for me. I looked over to Brandon who was still sound asleep and realized it was probably nothing.

  Finishing my sucker I reached into my bag for another but realized that I’d left them in my purse in the other room. Slowly I shifted out of my sleeping bag and tip-toed into down the hall trying not to cause too many more creaks on the floor so Brandon wouldn’t wake up.

  It was then I saw it. A tall thin figure standing at the screen door. I opened my mouth to scream but no sound came out. At the same time a flash of heat lightning lit up the backyard and for a brief instant I was able to make out the man wearing a black hoodie with the hood up.

  My knees buckled when the recognition hit me and fell forward onto the counte top for support.

  PREPPY.

  The facial hair was gone, his face sunken in, but it wouldn’t of mattered if he were standing there with a ski mask covering his entire face.

  I would know him anywhere.

  I pushed off the counter and darted for the door, throwing it open with such force it banged loudly as it crashed against the stopper. I stepped out onto the porch but I was too late. It was empty.

  I reached inside and hit the switch for the back light. It flipped on just in time for me to catch the rustling of the trees just beyond the fence.

  With my adrenaline racing I slipped my feet into my grass stained KEDS that I’d left by the door and took the porch steps two at a time. The latch on the fence gate was rusted and overgrown with weeds. It wouldn’t give when I tried to open it so instead I climbed over the small metal fence, it rattled and wobbled under my weight as I jumped down on the other side.

  The moon overhead was bright as hell and my only guide as I sprinted through the dark woods. I couldn’t help but remember that the last time I was running in those very woods I was running away from the man I was now heading toward.

  When I reached the clearing at the end and burst out from under the canopy the water tower came into view, bathed in the full moon’s light. I knew where I was going. Last time I was up there I was trying to end it all.

  This time I had no fucking clue what was in store for me.

  But I was determined to find out.

  PREPPY

  For the first time in forever I was outside in the crisp clean night air in the town I’d lived in and loved my entire life. The sky above me was cloudless and littered with a million twinkling stars.

  It was the usual 80-plus degrees. Hot as fuck, but with a cool breeze rolling off the bay waters, taming down the humidity that always threatened to make your shirt stick to your skin in South Florida.

  It was a beautiful night. Perfect in every single fucking way.

  The kind of day that people up north only dreamed of.

  It was a tropical paradise some wait their entire lives to experience.

  And I fucking hated it.

  ALL. OF. IT.

  It was too fucking bright even though it was night. The moon too fucking high. The sky too cloudless. The air too clean.

  I’m pretty sure there is a special place in hell for people that cursed a beautiful night like that one.

  Didn’t matter to me. I’d already been there.

  Even the chirping birds flying overhead seemed so loud that at one point when I’d been climbing up the tower I had to cover my ear with one of my hands thinking that I was under attack. It was like sitting in a surround sound theater and having seats next to the speaker during a screening of Alfred Hitchcock’s, The Birds.

  The familiar light scent of saltwater wafted into the air. I used to inhale it like a drug that could get me high, but now it made my stomach roll and lurch to the point where I had to clutch my stomach to prevent the rising bile in my throat from spewing out, all because of the stench determined to invade all my senses.

  The world I came back to was a spinning ferris wheel of sounds and light, assaulting me at every turn and I was helpless to make it stop, when all I wanted was to get off the fucking ride I never signed up to be on.

  Logan’s Beach used to be my place. My security blanket. But coming out of the dark and into the blinding light I’d been craving for so fucking long wasn’t at all what I thought it would be.

  It was a new kind of hell.

  I was finally home, and all I wanted was a piece of normality. Well, normal for me. But being there, looking down at the only town that had ever been home to me, I felt anything but normal.

  And anything but at home.

  It was right then. In that very moment. While inhaling the clean air I once thrived on that now made me want to vomit. While listening to the familiar sounds that used to give me peace, but now echoed through my brain like jack hammers on pavement. It was right then I knew I would never find the kind of normal I used to know. The peace I once had.

  Not there.

  Never again.

  My only hope was to find a new kind of normal, but to me that thought was scarier than any kind of torture I’d faced at the hands of Chop.

  Which might explain why I’d sought her out.

  Although the truth was I had no idea why I went to see her. Fuck, I didn’t even know if she’d be there. But once the shock of Grace’s death started to set in I remembered that Doe said Dre had been at the house and it kept playing those words over and over again in my head on repeat.

  By the time I realized what I was doing
I’d already snuck out in the middle of the night like some kid breaking curfew. Remembering that the window over the kitchen sink had a broken lock it wasn’t too hard to shimmy the window open and crawl inside.

  The house was dark. Quiet.

  Empty.

  Yet the second my feet hit the floor I knew she was there.

  I FELT her.

  All the doors in the hall were shut except for the room at the end the one that used to be the grow room. It was open but just a crack. Just enough to see the back of her head poking out of a sleeping bag along the wall beneath the back window. I wanted to see more of her so I’d opened the door slowly and was about to step into the room when she sighed heavily. That’s when I realized she was awake. Slowly I stepped back out of the room until I was in the safety of the kitchen. I pulled myself up on the counter and crawled out the window I’d came.

  I was on the porch about to leave when I saw motion in the corner of my eye. That’s when I turned and saw her for the first time in what seemed like a lifetime.

  I don’t know what I expected if and when I ever saw her again. But I certainly didn’t expect to feel like all the wind was stolen from my lungs.

  She wore a plain white t-shirt just long enough to make me wonder if she was wearing shorts underneath, the hem brushing the tops of her thighs as she walked. Her shiny black hair was pulled into a high ponytail on top of her head. Against the moonlight it looked so dark it appeared almost blue, like the feathers of a black bird. I’d never seen her wear glasses before but she wore thick dark frames around her dark eyelashes that she pushed up the bridge of her nose as she shuffled into the kitchen.

  I couldn’t move. I couldn’t bring myself to do anything but wonder again why the fuck I was even there in the first place and stand there like an asshole, gawking at the most beautiful fucking girl I’d ever seen. Even more beautiful than I remembered. More EVERYTHING than I remembered.

  A flash of lightning in the sky caught her attention and that’s when her attention shifted to the door and she spotted me. Our eyes locked. My aching heart pounded against my chest and my every instinct screamed, go to her.

  And I was going to. My brain had already sent the message to my leg to move and take that first step and I was about to when a flash of lightening interrupted my thought and instead I turned and darted back the way I came. Over the fence and through the woods when I realized that I couldn’t.

  I wanted to. I wanted to with every fiber of my white trash being.

  I just fucking COULDN’T.

  That’s when my feet moved on their own accord and I found myself perched on top of the world I once conquered, wondering if I’d ever feel normal again when the platform rattled.

  My neck snapped to the ladder that shook as if someone were climbing it. A set of feminine hands appeared, reaching up and gripping the handrail. It wasn’t until she was fully up on the platform, dusting herself off. Her dark hair blowing all around her face that she finally spoke. “You know, if you’re looking for a place to jump from, someone once told me that The Causeway has a mostly five-star rating on Yelp for best places in Logan’s Beach to end it all.”

  CHAPTER SIX

  DRE

  “Doc,” Preppy acknowledged. I knew he was there yet nothing could’ve prepared me for the impact of hearing his voice again. It hit me like an unexpected left hook, knocking me off my center of balance. I stumbled, grabbing on to the rusted railing in an attempt to make it look if it were the height causing my unsteadiness.

  “Preppy,” I replied, clearing my throat when my voice came out scratchy and high pitched like a prepubescent boy.

  There was no mistaking his sharp intake of breath.

  “I heard you were dead. They had a funeral for you and everything you know,” I said.

  “I was never really a rule follower.”

  “You were never a law follower either but I never expected you to not listen to the laws of nature. You know. Life and death and all that. Most people don’t come back from that.”

  “I’m not most people.”

  “That I know.”

  Preppy was sitting on the ledge on the far side, cloaked in the shadow of the tower. I could only make out the outline of his frame. There was a click of a lighter, the glowing flame hidden by his hand as he lit a cigarette and snapped the lighter shut.

  “I heard the Causeway is a total tourist trap now,” he said, responding to my earlier statement. “I heard everyone offs themselves there. It’s too trendy. Every hipster from here to Miami is throwing themselves off that thing. I don’t know if you know this about me, but I’ve never been much of a crowd follower.”

  “I think I might have heard that somewhere,” I replied. I took a step toward him.

  “No, Doc. Stay there,” he demanded, the seriousness in his voice froze my foot mid-step. I lowered it back to the platform and was about to ask him why when he plead softly, “Please.”

  Not knowing where else to go I stepped over to the railing, stopping at the same spot where things could have turned out so much differently for me. I looked over the railing at the ground below.

  “Long way down,” Preppy pointed out.

  “Would’ve been,” I agreed, “but I never found out thanks to this guy who didn’t want me haunting his precious tower.” When I lifted my head I felt suddenly dizzy and had to close my eyes and take a deep breath, tilting my chin up to the bright moon and swaying on my feet.

  “Steady there, Doc,” Preppy said, his voice smooth, warming over me like a much needed blanket. “I didn’t do shit. I followed the girl who stole from Mirna and by the time I got up here I saw a naked chick and wanted to touch her before she went splat. That’s all that was.” Preppy adjusted his position, his clothes rustling against the tower. “How is Mirna?”

  “She passed. Six months ago,” I said. “She held on for a really long time, longer than most hang on with her kind of dementia. Funny thing was that when she died she hadn’t been herself in so long, that in a way I was relieved.”

  “Sorry. For an old chick, she was a pretty fucking great one,” Preppy said.

  I thought about the way she forgave me after I stole from her. Gave me a place to stay. Gave me the benefit of the doubt when I didn’t deserve it. “Yeah, yeah she was.” I cleared my throat in an attempt to keep the tears at bay. “For never thinking I’d talk to you again; this is...”

  “Fucking weird,” Preppy inserted.

  “Yeah,” I agreed. “I was going to say amazing, but weird works too.” I wrung my hands together and bit the inside of my lip.

  “Amazing is just weird’s older more mature sibling,” Preppy pointed out.

  I looked to the sky. “I had this list of things in my head. A list of things I would say to you if I ever had the chance again and now...”

  “And now?” Preppy asked, like he wanted to know how that sentence ended.

  “And right now I can’t think of a single one of those things,” I admitted.

  “The weather,” he said, suddenly.

  “What?” I turned toward the shadowy corner, wishing I could see his face again.

  “When people don’t know what to say to one another they talk about the weather right? So.... shit’s kind of hot tonight.” A line of silver smoke from his exhale billowed into the air, grey smoke on top of black shadows.

  I swallowed hard. “Yeah, it’s hot,” I said. “But if you want to talk news and current events I’ve heard there is a stalker out on the loose in Logan’s Beach. He stands on back porches and glares into the windows of unassuming women.”

  “I think I heard that too. But it was just the window of one unassuming woman. And he’s not a stalker.”

 
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