- chapter 6 -
(written for the TS lyric wheel)
"Hey Boss!" Harry calls me from the office upstairs, holding out the phone. "It's Dad. Sounds upset."
It takes me seconds to wipe my hands, climb the stairs and grab the phone. "Outta here!" I show Harry the door and watch him walk out reluctantly.
"What's up, Beecher ?" I ask, already worried because Toby never calls me at work so I guess something's wrong –and yeah, definitely we're in deep shit, I can tell just by the way he talks.
"Ronnie Barlog just left. He came to my office. He," I dread the silence, waiting for Beecher to go on, his voice strained and low, "he came for money. Chris, he said he needed 3000 dollars."
Bastard. "Did you kick his ass out, Beecher ?" I can't help growling.
"No." The silence's heavy, I can picture him sitting at his desk, playing with a pen, trying to find the best way to tell me. "I think he was high, or drunk, he looked very nervous and agitated, probably scared. Said his silence was worth it and that there were things I didn't know about you."
No. No, I don't wanna hear this. "You're crazy, Beecher . Ronnie…"
"Listen to me Chris, he made it pretty clear that he needs the money to get himself out of some bad shit. If he doesn't get the money he's ready to go see any FBI agent to get protection. Make a deal, tell them about you and those guys you killed."
I feel my heart sink, close my eyes, breathe deeply, try to figure out the whole thing, get a grip.
"Yeah. Allright," I say with as much calm I can manage, "what did you tell him?"
"Told him I'd meet him this evening at the garage. 11pm ."
" 11 pm ? Beecher , what's that? A fucking date?"
"It's a 3000 dollars date. I'll pay."
"The fuck you won't! You won't go there. No way," I say, keeping my voice low 'cause I don't want Harry or anyone downstairs to hear me, "did he say something else? Did he threaten you?"
"No. Well, he…"
I'm getting nervous. "C'mon, spill it!"
"He thought I didn't know anything, he told me I deserved to know the truth about you, that it was worth a… worth a kiss. I had to make sure what he really knew."
Blood roars in my ears, my mouth gets dry. I can't believe it. "You kissed him. You fucking bitch, you did."
"Yeah. You told him everything, every single detail, Chris. How could you be so careless?"
"I didn't give a damn at the time, I suppose. I trusted him, maybe. I don't know."
"Yeah, he told me about your… shared intimacy, too. Guess I'm the one who should be jealous now, huh?"
Shit, I don't need Beecher getting all jealous on me, not now... "He's a goddam liar! I never…"
Beecher snorts, "Yeah, sure, Keller, you're the faithful one here, everybody knows."
OK. Maybe I fucked him once or twice; I was often high on some bad stuff at the time, so it might be true but there's no way I tell Beecher and anyway the only thing on my mind now is the picture of Beecher kissing Ronnie and I'm really pissed off.
"You kissed him," I repeat, growling again, "how was it?"
"Lousy. Don't do that, Chris. I had to know."
"Yeah, sure, like you would've said no, anyway!"
He doesn't answer and I stand there feeling sick and weary. "You didn't have to do that. I hate the idea of anybody touching you, I just hate that." Fuck, I'm pacing the room now and in my mind, Ronnie Barlog is already dead.
"Yeah, I'd gathered that much," I hear him sigh, "Chris, maybe you should talk to him first," he says in his most serious tone and all I can do is laugh. Christ, some guys never learn.
"Tell you what? Seems to me we're far beyond talking. OK, I'll go to your… appointment, see what I can do. Just go home and stay there. See you later."
I hang up before he's up to anything else like trying to find out another way to deal with Ronnie, protect me from the demons I'm gonna face once more.
Harry leaves around seven and so do I, tell the kid that Bonnie needs some help at her place and that I'll be back home late.
"Behave, Boss!" he threatens me.
"Yeah. And cut your fucking hair, boy. You frighten the customers."
He laughs the way his father does, shakes his dirty dreadlocks, gives me the finger but really I don't give a damn right now, and we part.
I come back an hour later to make sure there's nobody around, nobody hidden anywhere inside or outside the garage. Four years ago, I found Harry locked inside with some friends, that's how I discovered he was doing drugs, and I'm not gonna take the risk once more. When I'm sure, I settle down and wait for Ronnie. My old friend Ronnie, wants to fuck my man, ruin my whole life, my future, my happiness, and agrees to meet Beecher here, hopes I won't know, hopes Toby won't tell? Fuck, he must've been really high, or stupid. Of course Ronnie's always been a bit dense and really naïve, never able to know when he was going too far, but this looks a lot like suicide to me.
At 10:15 I begin to hope maybe he won't come after all, maybe it's not true, maybe it's just Beecher 's imagination, Beecher 's mind working on overdrive. I'm not gonna take the risk anyway, not take the risk of leaving anyone like him, anyone who knows the whole truth alive.
It's 10:30 when Ronnie parks his car in front of the garage, gets out and steps back, frozen, when he sees me. I think maybe he's gonna run away, but he doesn't and I walk to him, smiling.
"C'mon, don't be stupid, Ronnie. We're friends, we can talk this out, I can help," I say in my kindest voice, approaching him slowly liked he's some kind of scared animal.
He's shaking badly, knowing that Toby treated me to their little business conversation but I soothe him with words, remind him the good times we had together and tell him I'll pay, I'll help him with whatever he needs 'cause he's my friend, I'll fight for him if he needs me to and I keep touching him, a hand on his shoulder, or on the back of his neck, until I feel him relax, let me come close to him, take him in my arms, kiss him, hug him, hold him tight.
"What are you afraid of?" I ask softly, "I won't kill you, you're my friend, fuck, get a grip Ronnie, it's me!"
And he believes me, follows me inside, not letting go of me, ready to give me anything I want, but I'm not in the mood, –Ronnie's a fine looking man, even now, but it won't be enough to save his life. He probably believes it will be, right until the end, until it's too late. He doesn't see it coming, and he doesn't suffer.
The real kick I get out of killing, how long does it last? Time for adrenalin to kick in, time to feel the heat, see the white light, feel my cock twitch and it's gone. I stand there shaking, heart still pounding, watching the dead man lying on the floor. Killing's a lot like having sex; you get off and then you have to talk, pretend to care, kiss some more and all the shit but what you really want deep inside is clear off as fast as possible and forget about the girl or the guy –I know the feeling, I know it and killing's a lot like that. I've forgotten about it, and after the rush I feel worse than I ever did. I think maybe I'm gonna puke or pass out, so I just sit down on the floor and close my eyes waiting for the sickness to recede.
After that, it takes me a full hour to clean up the mess, get rid of the body, make sure nobody will ever find it, wash my hands, my face, rest against the cold sink and try to reconnect with the man I truly am –or want to be. The man Toby loves and who loves Toby, his kids, his comfortable life and runs a garage, lives an honest life, doesn't break the law and fuck, it's so hard, I feel like I don't know who I am anymore, like all I've done until today was useless, and like I'm not better now than I was before I met Toby.
When I managed to pull myself together again, I walk back in the warm summer night, breathing deeply. I left my car far enough, hidden and it's about 2 am when I eventually get home and find Beecher waiting for me, sitting in the kitchen. I walk pass him, go to the sink to wash my hands again, barely giving a look at his tired face, his worried face.
"How did it go?"
"Fine. Just fine," I answer hoping he understands what my kind of mood is right now and won't push it. "I did a good job. Nobody will find out."
Yeah, I'm good at covering my tracks, always been and poor Ronnie… No honourable friend, no family, no devoted lover so nobody really cares, nobody will look out for him.
Beecher looks like shit and I realize that he hoped I'd find another way to deal with Ronnie but I'm no fucking god, Beecher, I have no magic power so I couldn't turn this nightmare into a sweet dream and I'm sorry for that because it makes you feel so bad. I feel bad enough too; I don't need to hear anything about all that shit and he must guess because he just says nothing. There's nothing to say: I killed a man who was my friend once, I'll go to hell for that, but it's not like I have a soul to save, or something.
"I could use some sleep, I guess," I whisper after a while and Toby nods.
"Go to bed, I'll tuck you in," he answers softly. I watch him rise and go to the main door to lock it, still silent –he didn't even ask how I did it, trusting me on that like he always does- then I climb the stairs, realizing that my leg hurts –well, that's what getting old is like, I suppose, everything hurts.
I'm lying on the bed when Toby arrives, picks up my discarded clothes like he always does and folds them with the usual slightly exasperated sigh before sitting beside me, his back against the pillows, pulling up the blankets over us. I feel so tired I can't even keep my eyes open, but I can't rest, my mind's racing, I look at him.
"I'll go to hell, Toby," I whisper.
"If you go, I'll go too. We'll go to hell together."
"It's Hell. They'll tear us apart. Eternity knowing you're there but never being able to see you again, touch you again. That's what hell will be like," I say in a shaky voice, unable to pretend anymore.
Toby leans over me, kisses my mouth softly, his thumb stroking my cheek, smiling, his eyes full of love. "I don't believe in hell. I don't see the purpose of it. I don't think there's anything when we die and if there is, I highly doubt that there are such things as hell or heaven. And right now we're alive together."
He speaks in a reasonable voice, a confident voice, the one that kept Holly's nightmares at bay years ago or convinced Harry that no monsters were hiding under his bed, and I feel better.
"Are you sure?" I can't help asking.
"Yeah. Absolutely sure."
I find some comfort in his words, comfort in his strength and I talk, Christ I can't believe I never told him before.
"First guy I killed… We kissed and danced in the bar for hours, it was nice. We drank a lot, shared some coke. Then I took him for a ride on my bike, far enough. I stopped in a wood and we fucked. He wanted me to tie him up and fuck him senseless, hurt him, he fucking begged for it, so I did what he asked. Then he wanted to do the same to me, hit me and hurt me… I lost it. I don't know what happened, something… snapped inside me," I don't know how I can explain that, I'm not sure I can, I'm not sure Toby wants me to, "I killed him, snapped his neck. He wanted rough trade, I suppose the result exceeded his wildest dreams," I say bitterly, feeling empty and sick. I'm drowning in fear again, I'm sure Toby will be disgusted, appalled, but he watches me thoughtfully and shakes his head.
"Nothing will change the past, there's no point in trying, Chris. What you did to Ronnie… You did what you had to."
He speaks to me softly, gives me this serious look and I close my eyes, pull him to me to rub my face against his chest, feeling his hot skin against my mouth. Christ I love him, I really do.
"Wanna sleep?" I whisper.
"No. I'll stay awake, make sure you're OK. Look after you."
Fuck, who's the strong one here, actually? Toby's arms are around me like a shield and I'm slowly drowning into sleep, securely held in his embrace.
When I wake up, a grey dawn's creeping inside the room and I turn my head to see Toby still sitting, still watching.
"What the fuck are you doing, Beecher ? Come get some sleep, you need it."
He shakes his head and gives me a tiny smile.
"I don't want to sleep. I just want to watch you, make sure I don't miss a single second of you. I could stay lost in this moment forever. Well, every moment spent with you is a moment I treasure."
Fuck now I wanna cry and I can't speak, but I feel strong again, alive again, safe again and I don't want to think about Ronnie anymore, I don't want to feel the fear so I pull Toby closer and trap him beneath me, and he's smiling, still looking tired, his eyes red with unshed tears, but no guilt on his face, just love – Guilt will come later but I probably won't even know, he's learned how to hide it, keep it all deep inside, because he doesn't want me to worry.
"I love you Toby," I whisper and he pulls me closer, kisses me, "I'm sorry we had to go through this."
"The worst thing was kissing the bastard," he whispers in my ear, his voice tight and angry, "I hated that."
"Don't remind me, don't even dare!" But I laugh and he laughs and it's kind of a relief in the middle of this shit.
"I wanna keep you forever. Nobody can come between us. Nobody," I whisper, before kissing him again, "never."
Yeah!" he answers, kissing me back, his hands clutching my shoulders, bruising me, and I want to be bruised, I want to be marked, I want him to hold me, squeeze me, own me, shelter me in his arms, until I'm strong again.
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