All the rage, p.5
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       All the Rage, p.5

           T. M. Frazier
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  I didn’t have Jessica, but at least I’d had hockey.

  Until I didn’t.

  I’d been destined for the NHL. Now my only future looked more like I was going to be working for my uncle, which I’d been doing every summer until that beautiful bitch named Hockey Scholarship knocked on my door and presented me with a new future on a silver fucking platter.

  The truth of the matter was that even though I loved my Uncle, any job after having my dreams crushed was going to seem like a shitty one. Any life other than the one I had envisioned in the NHL was going to fucking blow.

  No matter what I knew I had to do, I wasn’t in a rush to do it anytime soon.

  It was safe to say that I’d been in a pissy fucking mood, sitting in that dark living room feeling sorry for myself while inhaling the strong smell of mothballs and getting piss-ass drunk and higher than high. The mothballs used to be a smell that was comforting to me while Gran and Gramps were alive, but after they both died, it became a constant reminder they weren’t there anymore.

  So there I sat, bouncing a blue rubber ball off the wall, jealous of the fucking ball because I couldn’t maneuver my god damned wheelchair close enough so I could bang my head against the wall in place of the ball.

  Murray, the ancient French bulldog I’d had since I was a kid, who I was pretty sure was even older than me, had been yapping for five minutes to be let out. I’d tried to ignore him, but the little shit grew more persistent as he aged, and since he was like seven hundred, he’d grown to be quite the annoying little fucker. Besides the cottage, Murray was all I had left of my grandparents. “Come on,” I mumbled, wheeling myself over to the back of the house. Murray ran out the second I slid the glass door wide enough for him to scoot his little round body through. I positioned myself in the doorway while he did his business. I continued to contemplate the suckage my life had become when I had a thought.

  Maybe I just need to get laid.

  I’d been coming to Harper’s Ridge every summer since I was a toddler and had moved in permanently after Mom and Dad took off when I was in middle school. I was a local. I knew plenty of girls who would be willing to come over and let me fuck them into oblivion for a few hours.

  The kind of company that ended in orgasms and cigarettes.

  I was trying to remember where I put my phone, when I heard a splash.

  FUCK.

  Murray was in the pool.

  Sinking.

  His little legs weren’t nearly strong enough to carry him back the surface or propel him back over the side onto the deck. A few small whines escaped his little mouth before his head disappeared beneath the surface and he became completely submerged.

  I leaned to one side and tried to reach out to him, but it was an impossible thing to do while sitting in the wheel chair, so I tried to maneuver myself out of it so I could lie on my stomach, but in my haste I tipped over my wheelchair and suddenly my wasted summer no longer mattered.

  Neither did all my whining and bitching.

  Neither did hockey.

  Or Jessica.

  No. None of the complaining about the shitty hand I’d been dealt mattered either, because in the next few minutes, I wouldn’t have a life to complain about.

  I was drowning. I was drowning and I was dying. I knew that because as I was sinking just like Murray had. I opened my eyes under the water and looked up to the surface. Standing up there on the deck was the absolute hottest girl I’d ever seen. Long blonde hair, wearing a tiny white bikini. She was on her cell phone looking down at me. It looked as if she was bickering with whoever was on the other end as she pointed down at me. As each second passed, I knew I was getting closer and closer to the end. I felt helpless, but wasn’t ready to give up. I flailed my arms, about to get her attention, but she held up her index finger to me like she was demanding for me to give her a moment to finish her call.

  What the fuck was going on?

  This couldn’t be real. I was dying and my last vision before I went couldn’t even be a girl who liked me. I blame that one on Jessica and her lack of gag reflex. It had to be her fault I was imagining the most beautiful chick I’d ever seen and my own imagination couldn’t even pretend to be concerned that I just inhaled a lungful of water.

  And then another.

  In fact she looked pissed off. Like my dying was annoying her.

  Fucking figures.

  Black circles started to take over the edges of my eyes, growing larger and darker as I faded further and further away. My cast, which was seven thousand pounds and ironically scheduled to come off in the morning, pulled me down like an anchor. Further and further I sank until my feet hit the bottom.

  I was helpless to do anything but watch the girl above me, her face distorted and blurred by the rippling green water. With one last frantic effort, I called upon every muscle in my arms and shoulders to try and swim my way back up to the surface, but it was useless. I never made it more than an inch or two off the bottom.

  I must have been nearing the end because after inhaling another burning lungful of water, I imagined that the beautiful girl up on the surface had dove into the pool to join me, her golden hair splayed out all around her like a mermaid. Bubbles floated out of her nose as she swam toward me. I even imagined that she grabbed me by the wrist. I could actually feel her skin against mine as she hoisted me up through the water, dragging me toward the surface with a strength most grown men didn’t possess.

  I guess mermaids are strong like that.

  When the sun hit my face like a hot wet towel, I opened my mouth to gasp for air but I couldn’t draw it in. I was floating in and out of consciousness at that point, but I’m pretty sure the girl was standing over me, tapping her bare toes on the deck. She growled like she was frustrated and I’m positive she rolled her eyes before pinching the bridge of my nose and tipping my head back. I could feel the side of one of her breasts against my chest through her tiny bikini top, and if I wasn’t about to fucking die, it would have been one of the best days of my life. Who wouldn’t want a to feel a little mermaid tit on their last day? She leaned down lower, her face hovering just over mine for a were about to connect with mine…and it all went black.

  I was pulled back to reality with a cough that felt as if I’d been stabbed in the lungs, along with a feeling like I’d smoked every one of the cigarettes my gran smoked during her eighty years on the planet. And as a lifetime three-pack-a-day-er…it was a lot. I gasped for air, finally able to pull a little through my windpipe, but as it entered my lungs, it burned worse than the water. Suddenly, I was shoved over onto my side where I threw up over and over again, replacing more water with air in my lungs. This seemed to go on for hours, although it was probably only minutes. I was seeing stars by the time I could actually inhale again without feeling like I was being ripped apart from the inside.

  A little tongue licked my eyeball. Murray. He stood over my face, drooling like we hadn’t almost gone down the fucking river. He shook out his wet coat, sending a spray of water and a dusting of little black and white hairs over my face and into my mouth. I wiped at my tongue with my hand as he sauntered back into the house through the open back door.

  She saved Murray too?

  Was she even real?

  I turned over just in time to see a high and tight perfect ass, which was barely covered in a tiny scrap of white. The bottoms of her ass cheeks on display as she, and said ass, headed down the stairs at the back of the deck.

  She was real after all.

  She was real, and she was leaving.

  I tried to call out to her but all I managed was to cough some more. My throat felt as if I’d taken up gargling glass. “Wait!” I finally managed to scratch out. I struggled to bring myself into a sitting position.

  The girl turned around and flipped me off, in the process giving me a great view of her rack, which heaved up and down as she caught her breath. Water trickled down her face framing bright blue-green eyes. I followed the drops as they fell fro
m her chin into the valley between her tits, and suddenly, I wanted nothing more than to be the thin strap of white that was holding the tiny triangles of her top together. “Because of you,” she said, pointing at me accusingly. She then pointed into the house. “And that little tick dispenser, I now have to go visit the nearest HAZMAT unit to ward off the fucking plague that’s been incubating in that cesspool of yours.”

  “Say what?” I asked, not fully able to comprehend what she was saying, but clearly this chick was not happy with me for some reason. I wasn’t unfamiliar with girls being pissed off at me. Actually, I was quite used to it. I’d crawled out of one too many bedroom windows in the middle of the night without ever calling again. But this chick was on a whole other level of mad.

  It was hot.

  Everything about her, from the way she glared at me, narrowing her eyes, to the pure anger radiating off of her, screamed hatred.

  Fuck, maybe I did know her.

  No, there was no fucking way I’d forget that face or that body…or that scowl.

  “Clean. Your. Fucking. Pool,” she snapped, enunciating each word separately before turning and disappearing down the steps.

  What in the actual fuck?

  I felt this deep-seated want. No, a need, to run after her and drag her back onto the deck by her fucking ponytail for yelling at me when the bitch didn’t even know me.

  And I would’ve run after her, if I could walk, or move…or breathe.

  Maybe I was dead after all, because nothing that happened since I’d opened the back door had made any fucking sense. Or since I’d gotten injured for that matter. I lay back and let my head fall against the deck. I could see the clouds passing over the sun through the thin skin of my closed eyelids.

  My headed pounded with the questions.

  Who the hell was she?

  Where the hell did she come from?

  Why the fuck was she so pissed off?

  Why the fuck am I so goddamn hard?

  CHAPTER SIX

  Rage

  “Are you sure it was him?” Smoke barked through the phone, sounding a lot more agitated than usual.

  “Yes, I’m sure. Although you were right, he’s older than he is in that picture, and much more…” I paused, trying to find the right word. “Muscley? Is that a word?”

  “I got no fucking clue. But you’re positive it was him?” Smoke asked again. “Tell me, what exactly did he look like?”

  “Like the picture,” I started, trying to recall his features. I shut my eyes and took a deep breath. In my mind I was again standing on the deck, looking down at him while he sunk deeper and deeper into the water. “He has a dimple in his left cheek. He has hazel-colored eyes, not quite green, not quite brown, but bright and big for a man. He’s got a long nose that’s slightly crooked like it’s been broken. He’s pretty tall, I could see that even though he was in the wheelchair. He’s got a busted up leg. The right one. It’s in a cast” I recalled the way the ridges of his ab muscles contracted as he struggled to take his first breath after I pulled him from the pool and tossed him back onto the deck. “He’s got thick lips,” I said thinking of how I was just about to press my lips over his to give him a quick CPR breath when he started hacking up water.

  I shuddered, but I was pretty sure that was only because human mouths carry almost as much disease as dogs do. I’d been about to risk potential deadly illness and infection to save some guy just because Smoke said I had to. “Rage?” Smoke asked, interrupting my train of thought.

  “Yeah?”

  “If I didn’t know any better, I’d think you liked what you saw when you looked at this guy,” Smoke said slowly, sounding wary.

  I huffed, growing irritated at his incorrect assessment. “You really wanna know what I saw?”

  “I do,” Smoke answered honestly.

  I paused until I could practically hear Smoke’s anticipation of my answer. “I saw a job that needed to be done and I saw you pissed off at me indefinitely if your target left this world before you got the information you wanted.”

  Smoke chuckled. “That’s my girl.”

  “But I guess now that he’s seen me, you’ll have to get someone else. Total bummer. Oh well. Win some you lose some.” I was relieved my babysitting days were over. I was practically skipping over to where I’d parked Delilah in an alley between two hotels. I tucked my bag into the storage compartment under the seat and pulled out my keys.

  Smoke chuckled again. “Nope, now you get your ass back there, Princess.”

  I growled and kicked at the wall. “Smoke! I just spent three hours at an urgent care facility making sure there wasn’t hazardous mold growing in my lungs from that pool…and you want me to go back?” I asked. “I saved him for you! Isn’t that enough?”

  “No, it’s not Rage. I need this information. You’re going back and you’re gonna fucking get it for me.”

  I leaned against the wall of the alley, shifting the phone from one hand to the other. “He’s seen me!” High up between the two buildings, there was a slit of an opening revealing the sky. A cloud rolled over, coating the small space in temporary grey.

  “So he’s seen you? He doesn’t know who the fuck you are. Go back. Make friends with him. Get to know him. Ain’t no better way to find out information from him than to actually talk to him,” Smoke said. There was a little bit of desperation in his voice. Something I certainly wasn’t used to hearing from him.

  I sighed. “You do realize that I’m a horrible actress and a really bad liar, right? I mean, I’m okay at first but after twenty minutes with me, the guy is going to want to wheel himself in front of traffic or call the cops.”

  “So don’t act.”

  “What?” I asked, growing more confused by the second. “How am I going to…?”

  “Don’t tell him the truth, but don’t act either. Be yourself. You’re actually pretty funny if you leave out all the death and destruction shit. Lies only work when you believe them, so don’t lie. Tell as much of the truth is possible, but leave out the gory details.”

  “You mean the fun,” I grumbled.

  I checked under my nails for any lingering signs of pool funk I might not have found between all three of my showers. Smoke was delusional if he thought that somehow this guy would let me get within ten feet of him if he knew anything about the real me, regardless of what I didn’t tell him.

  Smokes voice sounded tired. “Rage, I didn’t want to have to say this, but you fucking owe me and I need this. Go to the kid. Make friends. Find out what I need to know and keep an eye in him while I figure shit out on my end. Do this…for me.” Smoke paused before adding one word he’s never said to me in the years that I’d known him. “Please.”

  He continued. “You said he’s got a bum leg right? Tell him you’re there to help him for the summer in exchange for a place to stay. If he argues with you, just tell him his uncle sent you. It’s all set up already. Do this for me, Rage. Please.”

  Fuck.

  I raised my clenched fist to the sky and retrieved my bag back out of the storage compartment of my scooter, slinging it over my shoulders.

  “You got me?” Smoke asked.

  Puffing out my cheeks I blew out a breath. “Yeah, yeah. Friends. Help. Uncle. Please. Got it.”

  “But if the shit fucking hurts you in any way, you let me know, and I’ll gut him in his fucking sleep. I need this info, but I need my right-hand girl more,” Smoke said, breathing fire through the phone.

  “Yeah, I got ya. Tries anything. Gutted. Duly noted.” I squared my shoulders and set off down the beach. “Don’t worry about a thing, Smoke. We’re gonna be total besties. What’s his name, anyway?”

  “Nolan. Nolan Archer.” Smoke said. I clicked the call to an end.

  Dread consumed me as I stopped short of the small shell driveway. The old house looked even more decrepit from my new position on the ground. I’d done some shit in my few years. Things most people couldn’t even conceive, but I could do those thi
ngs as easily as going outside and checking the mail.

  What I couldn’t do was old and dirty. I looked back up at the house and cringed. I also didn’t do FRIENDS.

  I’d only had one other friend and that hadn’t exactly ended well. But then again, this friendship wasn’t going to end well either. For one of us at least.

  Remembering the look on Cody’s face the last time I saw him still makes me cringe.

  It was for the best. I reminded myself. He’s happy now. He has a girlfriend. One who probably doesn’t like to kill people or blow shit up.

 
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