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

  everything else later,” Mirna said, again reassuring me when it was me who should’ve been reassuring her. But that was Mirna. “Just tell me you’re staying.”

  Preppy answered for me, popping his head back in and unhooking a pink leash from a small rack on the wall. “If she’s smart like you, Mirna, she’ll be sticking around for a while.” He winked and disappeared again with the cow-colored, dog-sized, pig grunting after him down the hall.

  His words were disguised as a polite invitation, but I knew what they really were.

  A warning.

  When Mirna and I were finally alone I turned back to her, prepared to launch into a million questions when she yawned. Her eyelids were heavy. “I think you and I have some catching up to do, my dear,” she said, rubbing her temples. “The only cost of rent here is your honesty. I expect that you’ll tell me everything.” She turned my hand over and ran her fingertips up the raised scars on my arm, inspecting my shame. “And I do mean everything.”

  “Yes, ma’am.”

  Mirna patted my hand. “It seems things have changed quite a bit for the both of us, haven’t they?”

  I glanced at the wall that separated us from him, like I could see him through it, and wondered what game he was playing at. “Yes, it seems they have.”

  CHAPTER EIGHT

  PREPPY

  During the days that Dre was comatose I poured myself into work, determined to have two more Granny Growhouses set up by the end of summer, which was going to be hard, considering the amount of work each one took and I had no one around to help me. Work was all I did.

  Well, and I watched some porn.

  And then there was that wee bit of blow I did.

  While watching porn.

  And the smidge of weed I smoked.

  With that waitress from Presto’s who takes it up the ass like it’s her fucking job.

  I motherfucking digress.

  While Dre went through her withdrawals as a vegetable, I checked in on Mirna like usual. She did manage to have a few moments of clarity, but most of the time she was back to thinking she was in her twenties and waiting for her husband to get home from the war.

  During one of her clearer times she talked about Dre, and it was obvious that she adored her granddaughter, smiling and laughing while telling me stories of her devilish childhood, where apparently Dre had spent a lot of time breaking shit. There was even love in her voice when Mirna told me that she’d received cancelled checks back from the bank in the mail to the tune of $1,700. All made out to cash. All forged. She’d closed the account, but it wasn’t until Dre showed up that she knew who was behind it.

  I wasn’t exactly in a place to reprimand someone for their life choices, but ripping off her own grandmother made me so pissed, I was surprised that when Dre woke up that I hadn’t immediately grabbed her by the throat and pushed her out the door.

  Shit, if Mirna hadn’t come in and been with it, I just might have.

  I made a mental note to look into getting a trustee set up for Mirna’s finances so there was no chance of anyone ripping her off while her condition continued to get worse. Fuck, she shouldn’t even be living on her own anymore.

  “Why didn’t I get on that bus?” Dre asked from behind me. I turned to find her standing next to the table, her hands fighting with the sash of the robe that swallowed her small frame in billowing white cotton. Her long black hair was wild around her face. Her deep-brown eyes burned holes into me as she waited for me to answer.

  I turned my attention back to the stove where I’d burnt yet another pancake. “Motherfucker.” I tossed it into the trash bin and started over again, pouring a ladle of batter onto the hot pan. “Seriously, is this making pancake business some sort of holy magic? Do I need a wand and a Harry Potter spell?” I grumbled. “Maybe there is something wrong with this stove.” I adjusted the heat setting and again read the side of the box of mix to make sure I didn’t do something to it that somehow made the magical pancakes flammable, almost instantly burning. “Where’s Mirna?” I asked, ignoring her question and flipping my newest attempt which landed on the side of the pan, batter splattered on the burner with a hiss.

  “She’s laying down for a while.”

  “Excellent!” I exclaimed, pointing at her with my spatula. “It will give us a chance to have a little breakfast, a little chat, and a little bit of threatening. Doesn’t that sound nice?” I pulled out a chair from the little dinette table and made a grand sweeping gesture with the spatula for her to take a seat.

  Her eyes darted to the chair, but she didn’t move.

  “Sit down,” I repeated. “It’s not a suggestion,” I warned. She came forward, hesitantly. I pushed in her chair with a little more force than necessary, pushing her legs out from under her, causing her ass to plunk down hard onto the seat. I leaned over her shoulder. “Now was that so hard?” I whispered against her neck. Her shiver gave me a deep satisfaction I felt all the way down to my toes.

  I made my way back over to the stove and looked over the sad stack of six, lopsided, half-burnt pancakes that looked more like the sad survivors of the pancake apocalypse than breakfast.

  I took off Mirna’s “Kiss the cock” apron that used to say “Kiss the cook” but with one little swipe of a permanent marker, I had made it way more my speed. I set the stack of zombie pancakes in the center of the table and took the seat next to Dre. I placed a small stack in front of her and the rest I took for myself, pouring syrup over both plates. “Okay, now we can talk,” I announced, taking a bite of what tasted more like baking powder and foot than fluffy delicious pancakes.

  “You want to know why you’re here? Right? You’re here because one of your buddies decided to dose you full of heroin, drag you across the parking lot into some shit bag motel, and play hide the salami while you drooled all over yourself.” I turned my head and opened my mouth to mimic her facial expression.

  She winced.

  “Truth fucking hurts, Doc.” I shoved more of the awful tasting pancakes in my mouth, and I knew exactly what they tasted like. Failure.

  “Doc?” She wrinkled her nose.

  “Yeah, like Dr. Dre. Remember? Or do we have to start at the beginning again? Okay, lets do this. I’m Samuel Clearwater, my friends call me Preppy.”

  “I remember,” she said, her pancakes remaining untouched.

  “Anyway, saw what was happening and went and…retrieved you. Brought you back to Mirna’s ’cause she’s a nurse. Even when she’s a little out of it, she still remembers her training. Didn’t know you were her granddaughter,” I said, speaking with my mouth full. If I didn’t hate wasting food so much I’d have spit it out, but instead I swallowed hard and chugged my orange juice.

  “You could have just left me there,” she pointed out.

  “Yeah, I could of.”

  “Why didn’t you?”

  I stabbed my fork into another piece. I held it up and examined the food on my fork. I glanced up at Dre’s doll-like eyes that were as black as her hair. “I have no fucking clue.”

  “Why didn’t you take me to a hospital?”

  “Hospitals tend to ask a fuck of a lot of questions when you bring in a girl who’s doped up on H.”

  “Why would questions be a bad thing when you’re the one who saved me.”

  “Because, Doc, questions lead to answers, and in this case, answers lead to bodies.” She gasped.

  “Shit.” Her face paled.

  “There’s that realization I was waiting for. I was wondering when that would happen. Took you long enough. But I’ll chalk up your slow reaction time to just waking up from a semi-coma. Remind me not to challenge you to a game of sudoku anytime soon.”

  “Bodies?” she asked slowly, standing from the chair. I grabbed her by the shoulder and pushed her back down.

  “Well, body,” I corrected, “Just one, though. But you know, bodies sound better for dramatic effect and all that.” I took another gulp of juice. “So let’s just say that one of the
m is no longer available for shooting up in a dark alley, beating you to a pulp, stealing my plants, or long walks on the beach.” I set down the glass. “In the words of the oh-so-wise Taylor Swift,” I leaned across the table. “‘Never ever. Like ever.’”

  “Eric? You killed Eric?” she asked, and I knew she was confirming that it wasn’t Conner, whatever false sense of loyalty she had toward the motherfucker was really pissing me off. Until I realized that was exactly who I’d killed.

  Oops.

  “Yep, it was totally Eric,” I agreed, shoving more pancakes into my mouth and trying not to gag.

  “So he’s…”

  “Dead? Oh yeah. Very dead.”

  There was nothing readable about Dre’s expression, which was disappointing. I was looking forward to seeing her afraid. After all, I’d just admitted that I’d made good on my threat and had killed someone she knew, albeit not the person she’d wanted me to kill, but she didn’t know that.

  To-ma-to, to-mah-to.

  She was more out of it than I’d originally thought. “You killed him,” she said, slowly. It wasn’t a question, it was a statement.

  I held up my index finger and my thumb, slowly closing the gap between them, peering over at Dre through the tiny slit that remained. “Little bit.”

  “I don’t think you can kill someone a little bit.”

  “Oh, well then, a lot a bit. I killed him a lot of bit.”

  CHAPTER NINE

  DRE

  “So are you going to tell me now why you insisted on giving the Conner guy a pass?” Preppy asked, as I followed him into the back room of the house, where it looked like he was halfway done resetting up his operation. The other half of the room was still in shambles. Without being asked, I grabbed one end of the plastic tube he’d picked up and climbed the ladder on the other end of the room, setting it on the hooks. My robe fell open in the process and I quickly tied it back together, hoping Preppy hadn’t noticed.

  No such luck.

  “What, it’s not like I haven’t seen you in your birthday suit already,” he said. “I did witness your solo nudist party when we met, remember?”

  “Guess it doesn’t really matter,” I admitted. “I look like shit anyway.” I wasn’t saying that I was ugly. I was never a girl who lacked confidence. I was just stating the truth. Heroin isn’t exactly the drug of choice of models and pageant queens, and for good reason.

  “Yep, you do look like shit,” Preppy agreed, smirking like he was keeping a secret only he knew.

  “Then why do you keep looking?” I blurted, remembering his hardness against me on the water tower.

  “Cause, maybe that’s what I’m into,” Preppy said, like it was nothing.

  “Girls who look like shit?” I asked, not believing him in the least.

  “Hey, some people like chicks with dicks, some people like to fuck dressed like Smurfs and painted blue. I look because you intrigue me, but I don’t have a fucking clue why. I’ll keep you posted, though.”

  “Are you always this brutally honest?” I asked. Finding his statements both offensive and oddly refreshing.

  “Yes and no. There are times when a lie can’t be helped. Honesty is a fickle bitch like that. I don’t believe in filtering, though. When you start walking on egg shells around people, that’s when you know that those are people you don’t need to be around. Life’s too short to pretend to be anyone else. I’m just me. I say what I want to fucking say. I do what I want to do and I don’t fucking apologize for it.”

  “I think I need to adapt that kind of honesty,” I admitted. “But I have a lot of apologizing to do.”

  “You can start your trip down honesty lane by answering my original question and telling me why you gave that guy a pass.”

  I sighed. “For now let’s just say that Conner is someone I hurt.” Oscar came running into the room, rubbing his head on Preppy’s leg. “The kind of hurt that can’t be fixed. That can’t be brushed over with an apology or flowers.”

  “Must have been something real bad,” he pointed out, leaning down to pat Oscar on the head.

  I looked to the floor then back up at Preppy. “It was,” I admitted, and like every time I thought about the event that lead up to me making bad decision, after bad decision, it was like I was bringing it back to life so it could stab me in the gut over and over again.

  My thoughts quickly turned to using. The immediate euphoria. The relief from the guilt. Preppy cleared his throat.

  I opened my eyes, although I didn’t remember closing them, to find that Preppy was now standing next to the open window, lighting a joint and leaning against the ledge. “Where’d you go there, Doc?” He took a long drag. “You thinking about hooking up with your lover? I’ll let you know that it’s probably not a good idea. That bitch heroin gets around and in the end, the break up is brutal, but she’ll never leave you, so you either dump her on the side of the road like a hitchhiking hooker, or you stay and she’ll kill you.”

  “I know,” I said, needing to desperately change the subject. The thought of using too fresh on my mind. “This said by the man smoking weed.”

  He held up the joint. “This shit won’t kill me. You don’t see anyone smoking weed and going on a murdering spree, or hitting a bong and going out to start a fight at a bar. Besides, weed’s not a drug. It’s a plant.” He picked up one of the glass bowls and shook the leaves.

  “Is that what you tell yourself so you can tell people you don’t do drugs and actually believe it?”

  “Fuck no, wouldn’t work anyway. I do bowlfuls of blow when I feel so inclined,” Preppy said, taking another long drag and blowing it out the open window. “There’s a big difference between a party, and a problem, though, especially one that ends with an attempted high-dive off the water tower.”

  “Point made.” I’d never needed a change in subject so badly in my entire life.

  “Who’s been taking care of Mirna?” I asked. I felt stupid that I had to ask this question from a virtual stranger.

  “I look in on her and so do a few of her friends and a few people from the church. She’s on a waiting list for one of those assisted living places in Sarasota. They could have an opening tomorrow or in six moths. They’re not sure.” He looked like he was thinking about something before adding, “It’s getting worse and worse, you know. She’ll have a few days where she’s out of it, but then suddenly she’ll go for weeks being just fine. This past week she was in and out, but mostly out. That’s the most I’ve seen her like that for,” Preppy said, confirming what I’d already thought but hoped wasn’t the case.

  My heart sank. “Can I have time with her? I don’t deserve it. But once you tell her that I was one of the people involved in stealing from her, she won’t want anything to do with me, but I just want some time.” I paused. “Before it’s too late.”

  “You can have time,” he said, eyeing me warily. “But I’ll want some stuff in return.”

  “What…what do you want? I’ll do anything,” I asked, immediately regretting my choice of words. His amber eyes reminded me of rich dark honey as he stalked across the room. He stopped in front of me and startled me by untying the sash at my waist and pushing my robe over my shoulders onto the floor. I felt the heat of his stare as he raked over my naked body, lingering on the place between my legs. I pressed my thighs together and he laughed, biting his bottom lip.

  I shivered, unsure if it was because of his intense inspection of my body, the air conditioning vent kicking on above me, or from good old fashioned fear. “Just tell me what you want,” I said, wanting whatever this was to be over.

  Preppy chuckled. “Take care of Mirna. Help me fix this shit, too.” The glimmer of something evil sparked in his eyes, the same spark I’d seen on the water tower, and that time my shiver was because of fear. “And get yourself together. I need you to not look like the kid from the Jungle Book for what I have planned for you. Think less Courtney Love, more Jennifer Love.”

  “Haha, funny.
Is that all?” I asked, wary that I was getting off too easy and trying to avoid the need to knee him in the balls.

  “Oh, that’s far from all, Doc.” He stepped back, and I bent down to gather my robe, covering myself quickly. “Far, far from all.”

  Preppy went back to his work, and I left to find some real
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