This material is protected by copyright laws worldwide. It is used on this blog with direct permission of the author and publisher.
It is not edited for content.
Appropriate age: Over 18
Liv Spencer had never known Rich not to answer his door. She had called him twice and someone did pick up the phone, but had said nothing. She was worried, but more than that, she needed some heroin. She needed it. Rich always took care of her. Not only did she need his help, she had no idea where else to go for help like his… Caring like his.
She stood outside in the cold predawn rain for fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes. That had seemed like forever. Fifteen minutes was all the time in the world when you needed to fix. It was every clock, every watch in the world ticking away. Hell it was everything in the world. There was nothing else. Fifteen minutes and she finally started trying the doors. Front door, back door, locked. She hadn’t really thought about the garage door, but finally she tried it. It was unlocked and it was also badly damaged at the lock set. That had made her stop.
The rain had stopped. She stood on the wet blacktop by the door thinking what she could say…
“The door was unlocked, Richie… I found the door unlocked, Rich… I just touched the handle and it turned, Rich… It was busted… It was already broken, Rich. I turned the handle and it just sort of fell open… It fell open, Rich. I needed you, Richie, the door was unlocked… I needed a fix, Richie, where the fuck were you?”
She practiced more excuses in her head, but finally it didn’t matter that the door had been broken. She shut down the little alarm in her head that had begun to jabber about that. All that mattered was that the door was not locked and she needed to fix. She finished turning the knob and stepped into the garage.
The garage was lit, but only dimly. She made her way to the door that lead into the house, nearly tripping over a bunched up section of carpet someone had left laying by the door, and tried the door to the inside of the house. It wasn’t even closed all the way and began to swing open as soon as she touched it.
“Rich?” she called. Her voice was a rusty croak. “Richie!” She stepped further into the shadowy kitchen.
“Richie? The door was open, man. I called… The door…” She stopped when she saw the bodyguards lying in the hallway. They seemed tossed aside like big overstuffed rag dolls.
“Oh God,” she moaned. And immediately two things began to fight inside of her. The need to turn and run, because something was definitely fucked up here at Richie’s house: There was absolutely no doubt about it. And, the second thing, the need to get fixed. To stop the itch, even if it was only a little: Even if it had to be coke to tide her over… Something… And it didn’t look like anyone here was going to try to stop her… No… Nobody…
Run?… Stay?… Run?… Stay?… She stepped into the hallway, took a shaky breath and stepped carefully over the bodyguards.
The exercise room was off the living room. It was glass walled, you could exercise and watch TV on the big screen, or you could watch TV and the exercise room too. No one used the exercise room except the bodyguards and Richie’s oldest daughter. But this morning the view through the glass was anything but normal, and it took some time for her mind to wrap itself around it. When it did she bent over and threw up on the deep pile rug of the living room.
She looked back up from the carpet, staring through the glass for what seemed like minutes to her, wondering who would do things like that to another person; to people who were walking around, breathing, talking, living their lives just a few days ago when she seen them last. She’d never seen anything like it. Not even in the horror flicks she liked to watch.
She bent over double and threw up again. She continued to heave until nothing came up, not that there had been much to throw up in the first place. She staggered back into the hallway, got one more look at the two bodyguards, Karl and Geezer, still dead she saw: Karl’s brains were leaking out of the side of his head like some gelatin creation. She looked away quickly and staggered into the kitchen. She sat down at the stools that lined a small counter. The place she usually found Richie sitting. She sat there for a few seconds and then remembered the small counter was also a bar and sometimes rich kept a little something else back there too.
She got up and went to the sink, ran the water, drinking right from the tap. She swished the water around in her mouth and spat, then did it a few more times. She bent closer and splashed the cold water on her overheated face. Pushing the excess off her face with her hands. She straightened and walked back to the counter which, from this side, was open and stocked with all sorts of bottles of booze. All high test. All the good stuff. No bad ones in the bunch. She grabbed a bottle of imported Russian vodka. The label entirely in Russian, all the printing too: All that writing that looked like backwards writing to her that she could almost figure out. She snagged a clean water glass from the top shelf and filled it with the vodka. Her eyes fell on the small refrigerator under the shelves.
He kept some shit there. In the top. In the freezer section, she thought… Sometimes… Most times in fact that she could remember… He had said, “Wait just a second,” and he had walked right over to the bar, opened the small refrigerator, and come back with what she needed… Was it every time or almost every time, she asked herself?… She couldn’t remember. She was usually too fucked up to think about it, but she thought it was nearly every time. And she thought it was the freezer because it seemed to be where he reached.
She sat on the stool and sipped at the vodka. Loving the fire that it ignited in her stomach. No one would know… No one would know at all… She had seen Richie’s BMW in the other stall of the garage. She could take that to get away… If the keys…
She looked over at the small hooks just inside the kitchen door. The BMW keys looked back at her. She could see the little BMW medallion on the leather fob. She licked her lips, took a deeper sip of the vodka, let it burn its way down into her stomach. And now she could feel it inside, working its way down further, making her thighs warm. Hot even. She looked at the small, compact refrigerator again. She licked her lips once more, got up and swung the small door open.
Her eyes bugged out of her head. She had never seen the inside. She had only assumed that it was a refrigerator, but it wasn’t. It was shelf after shelf packed tight with shit. Pot, cocaine, heroin, crack, crank and pills… Probably E, she thought. And at the very bottom stacks of money. She forgot to breathe and nearly toppled over off the stool before she remembered to take a breath again. She took several deep breaths and then went over to the kitchen sink and found the garbage bags underneath. This is not real, she told herself. It’s just not real… But it was. She knew it was. She could feel that it was. She took two bags, slipped one inside the other, and then loaded everything in the refrigerator into the bag. All of it. She hefted it and then went back and got a third bag and slipped it over the first two.
She was on autopilot now. She crossed to the rack, took the keys to the BMW and walked into the hallway. Gelatin, she told herself, just gelatin, as she stepped over Karl and Geezer and then started down the steps that lead down into the garage.
She nearly tripped over the carpet again, looked down, saw one slim dusky gray hand that had slipped out from under the carpet edge when she tripped over it, and quickly looked back up before it could cause her to lose her happy thoughts again.
She opened the garage door. She had thought it would be so hard. She had been convinced it would be, but it was easy. Push the button, the door went up. She climbed into the BMW, set the black plastic bag on the passenger seat, backed the car out of the garage, and then came back and pushed the button to close the door. She stepped back out the side door, shut it as well as she could, then opened it back up, turned the knob on the handset to lock it, and swung it closed once more. It was broken, but maybe it would lock anyway, she told herself. She looked at the dented gold handle of the knob for a moment wondering what had happened here, and then turned and walked back toward the BMW. No going back, her mind said. No going back.
She was nearly to the BMW when she bent double and heaved. The vodka came back up. Burning her throat raw as it did. She slammed down onto her knees, skinning them, and retched until the nausea finally passed. She got up slowly, straightening her clothes as best she could, turned, and that was when she saw the kid standing on the sidewalk. She tried to smile as she staggered toward the BMW.
“You okay, lady?” the kid asked.
She looked at him. Sunday morning, before dawn. The newspaper carrier bag slung over one shoulder. Sunday papers. Maybe he was 16. Maybe 17. Well built. Healthy, unlike herself. She needed to dry out. Funny, a few minutes ago all she had wanted was a fix. Now she didn’t want to ever touch heroin or anything else again. Dry out, be normal. She’d been sixteen herself not so long ago.
“Are you?” the kid asked again.
She shook her head. “Probably not… But I will be… You got a girlfriend?” she asked.
The kid shrugged.
“You want to have an adventure?” She straightened up and looked at the blood running from one of the cuts on her knees. She raised her eyes to the sky and then looked back again. “Maybe get out of this crappy fuckin’ town?” she asked quietly.
“With you?” the kid asked.
“Yeah, maybe I’m not so hot right now, but I clean up real well… Yeah, with me. There’s no one else here. Want to deliver fuckin’ newspapers the rest of your life? Or maybe get some shit-job flipping burgers someday?” she asked. She allowed a little laugh to slip into her low voice.
“No,” the kid answered.
“Can you drive?” she asked.
The kid looked at the idling BMW, the driver’s door hanging open. “Yeah,” he said a little breathlessly. He looked back at her. She smiled.
“I’m… I’m going to be sick for a while… Kicking the shit, you understand? The big H. The big H… I’ll need help… You’ll take care of me… Won’t run off and leave me?” She wobbled a little on her feet.
“Took care of my mother before she died… I can take care of you… You won’t die though, right?” His eyes looked worried, but he shifted the carrier sack from one shoulder and let it drop to the wet pavement.
“Nope,” she answered. “But I’ll probably wish I did…” She looked at him, “You’ll really stick it out?” She watched his eyes.
“Yeah… I’ll do it,” he said.
“Liv,” she said.
“Brian,” he said. He stepped toward her.
“Well, Brian, better get me into the fucking car before I pass out,” she said as her vision blurred. She wobbled, but he was right there. More substantial than he had looked. Stronger. He pushed the plastic bag off the passenger seat, belted her in, and then went around to the driver’s side. He backed out into the street.
“Where… Where to, Liv… Where are we going?”
“Down south… Stop and buy a map at a gas station. Take us south. Get a motel when you need to. When I… When I get crazy… Okay?”
He nodded as he drove. The BMW accelerating smoothly on the rain slicked streets. “I only have about 20 bucks,” he said.
She laughed, worked her way into the bag, drew out one of the stacks of money and handed it to him. She pawed through the bag taking out all the money, stacks of it: Slipped the bottom bag off, put the money in it and then tied the bag with all the drugs in it.
“You saw all the money? That bag’s got a lot in it. Take it wherever you go and be careful,” she said. “This shit?” She lifted the other bag and pressed the switch to roll down the window. The air felt cold, but good. She flung the bag into the woods that lined the side of the road. And then she burst into tears. It was gonna be so hard.
She pressed the button and the window whispered closed.
“Take care of me, Brian. Take care of me,” she said. She closed her eyes, rested her head against the glass and passed out.
“Liv… Liv… Come on, Liv, you got to do this on your own. There are people watching… They’ll think it’s funny if I carry you… Maybe call the cops,” Brian said.
“Oh God, I’m sick… I’m really fuckin’ sick… Leave me the fuck alone, I mean it,” Liv said.
“Liv?” he bent and pulled her upright from the car. They were in Pennsylvania. Near the Catskills. The night was not just cool, it was cold: The cold air brought her awake.
“Okay, Okay… Where are we… Where are we… Fuck… Lead the way… I’m okay… Not so goddamn fast… Slow… I hate to puke,” Liv said.
Brian had toed the door to the cabin open after he had unlocked it, and then edged it partially shut with his foot as he left to get her. He would get her into the bed, lock the door and set the alarm, then he’d get the stuff out of the car after he got her settled… Maybe a shower first too.
He had rented the cabin for three weeks. It was the best he could think of and he thought it was pretty smart. They would have privacy while she got better.
He asked himself a dozen times today why he was doing this, but he didn’t have any solid answers. Maybe because he had no family left. Maybe because he was tired of living in Foster Care with people who didn’t want him. Maybe because he had watched his mother die from this same shit. Crack had done her in instead of heroin, but it was all the same shit. Maybe it was Liv too. Maybe it was a little of both. He had never known anyone who had walked away from their life like this: Never, it was like starting over. Like getting a second chance. He had decided that, that was the main reason.
They passed one couple on the way to their cabin. He smiled politely, helping Liv along.
“A little too much to drink,” he heard the woman whisper to her husband after they had passed by.
He smiled. Good. Let them think that, by the next time that they saw Liv, she would be on her own two feet. He helped her into the cabin and laid her down on the bed. She instantly curled up into a ball holding her stomach. He got her into the bathroom just in time.
Once he got her cleaned up and into the bed, it was close to midnight. He made his way back out to the car, retrieved the stuff he had bought today: Leaving her sleeping in the car; panicking the whole time that she would be gone when he got back, but she had still been there. It had been okay. He grabbed the bag of money too, and carried everything back into the cabin.
It took a few minutes to get the loose cotton pajamas on her. The room had a huge bathtub, and after he had helped her into the bath and bathed her when she couldn’t stay awake to do it herself he was a lot less embarrassed. Besides, there was no one else to do it. He put antibiotic cream on her knee and bandaged it up. She drifted in and out while he did it, mostly to tell him to leave her the fuck alone, but he knew she didn’t mean it. He got some vitamins in her and got her to take a couple of aspirin and drink some juice: She was out cold a few minutes later. He turned the TV on low, smoothed her hair away from her brow and found something to watch.
Los Angeles, California
Liv and Brian
Liv sat next to the pool. Her skin was dark, healthy, and glowed under the hot California sun. She had never been to L.A. until now and it was beautiful. In fact she had never been straight long enough in her life to do much more than think about where the next high would come from.
That wasn’t exactly the whole truth, back in junior high school there had still been a real, vulnerable girl inside of her. That was only five years ago, but it felt like it was closer to five hundred years ago. Five million years ago. She almost felt young again, hopeful. Like the young girl she had been back then.
She looked over at Brian in the chair next to her. Somewhere in all of what had gone on in the first months: the sickness, the crying fits, the depression; she had stopped being so mad at the world and had fallen in love with him. He seemed so naive to her, but he wasn’t. The only other woman that had ever mattered to him had died a crack addict, still using, HIV positive with full blown AIDS for the last six months of her life. The two had used her up, what the crack didn’t kill, the AIDS virus had.
They had talked about it for hours. She had no idea how he had managed, he’d only been fifteen. Fifteen and he had taken care of her. And then when he should have been able to go on with his own life, the state had snatched him up and put him in Foster Care. Life had been tough, but she thanked God for him and the fact that his life had been so tough: Taught him such hard lessons. Someone else would have left her on her own. Not Brian. He had stuck it out.
His hand came over and touched hers. He squeezed lightly. She liked the feel of his hand in her own. She bought it to her stomach along with her own and held it as she drifted off to sleep.
I hope you enjoyed the free short story. You can get more in the Crime Time Collection this short story came from.