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  • Shadowgod - Almost Home
  • Shadowgod - Almost Home
  • Shadowgod - Almost Home

Adermoor Cove Part 1: The Rainbow Beret - 2. Chapter 2

It was close to the end of the shift and the bar was closed. Everything was quiet except for the jukebox, which was playing a Johnette Napolitano song (Lane’s choice). Jamal, the cook, having already cleaned up the kitchen, had left. Phil was back in his office, counting the cash today’s business had brought in. Business this evening had been good. Lane hadhis own nice wad of cash in his pocket from tips. Quite a bit of the cash had come from Brendan. Lane was caught between hoping he would make another appearance and hoping he wouldn’t - not because I don’t find Brendan attractive but because it’s safer for him and easier for me, Lane thought, as if he had to justify the reasoning.

After he was finished with everything, he dumped the dirty mop water and told Phil he was leaving. Phil didn’t even look up as he mumbled, “Go on, get out of here”, his eyes scanning the paperwork before him. Lane wonders if the man was married, if he had a wife and children, or if he lived alone with maybe a cat to keep him company. A cat would be the only one capable of putting up with his shit, Lane thought

The parking lot was mostly empty except for Phil’s red Toyota, an outdated Honda Civic, and Lane’s 1969 Mustang that he’d watched Charlie put back together with his own two hands: it was the only physical thing Lane had left of Charlie. He went to the car, pulled out his car keys, opened the door and popped the trunk. He shoved aside trash bags full of clothes and grabbed the Ziplock bag of pot. He tucked it carefully in his pocket, looking cautiously over his shoulder, even though marajuana was legal in the state of Colorado. Just a habit of caution he hadn’t yet shaken. He was still used to the Bible-Belt way of things which werestill ass backwards. This is my treat for surviving another day of work, he thought. He tried to treat each day in which he was alive as something to celebrate - this wasn’t always an easy thing to do, especially on the nights when he wondered why he didn’t just give up and let it all end.

He unlocked the door to his hotel room and stripped down to his underwear. There was another tattoo that covered his whole back: The Grim Reaper with a shit-eating grin on his skeletal face, scythe in one hand, giving the finger with the other. He showered, dried off, and sat at the cheap little desk, completely naked, and rolled himself a doobie. The kush was good stuff and soon he found himself laying back in bed, staring up at the ceiling, with the sensation he was floating

For a little while at least he could forget the pain he was in, the hell he’d been through.

 

...

 

The next night he made a phone call. He called the only person there was left to call. He sat on the edge of the bed, phone pressed to his ear, facing the door of the hotel room.

“Hello?” the voice of a woman said hesitantly, cautiously. Hearing that voice filled him with relief and pangs of misery and guilt.

“Hey, Mamma,” Lane said. He prayed he sounded more cheerful than he felt.

Lane?” She sounded just as relieved to hear from him. Hearing such relief brought tears to his eyes. He’dbeen spending too much time in the company of strangers, a man living on the very edge of the world where no one had names or cared about the well-being of anyone but themselves. “Oh thank God! It’s been...months since I’ve heard from you. I’ve been worried sick, wondering if something happened to you, wondering if you were still...”

She didn’t say the last word. She didn’t have to.

...wondering if you were still alive.

He remembered the last time they’d spoken to each other. It’d been a year. She’d come to the cabin in Michigan from Indianapolis to meet Charlie. But something had happened...the weekend hadn’t ended well. The only thing he could remember was coming to in the armchair and Charlie standing beside him in a T-shirt and boxers, screaming at Mamma, enraged. The memory was fuzzy. Dreamlike.

“Where are you? Or can you tell me?”

“Not far from Denver.”

“You’re in Colorado.”

“Yep.”

“You’re up in the mountains.”

“Yep.”

“Are you working?”

“For the moment.”

“Where at?”

“A bar.”

She groaned as if this was the last job she wanted him to be doing, but reserved comment. She knows he had to work wherever he could, take whatever job was offered.

“Are you staying somewhere?”

“A hotel.”

“Do you need money?”

“Even if I did you know I won’t take it.”

Her voice was on the edge of tears. He knew what was coming next: She was going to plead. She was going to plead and just like always; but he wouldn’t let her tears sway him even though it hurt like hell. “Lane, I’m sorry about what happened with Charlie...I’m so sorry about him...Come home. We can figure it out, we can figure out how to stop it, together, you and I. You shouldn’t be out there dealing with all this on your own.”

I don’t think there is anyway of stopping it, he thought. “You know I can’t...even though I want to.”

There was something inside of him, trying to break free, a memory perhaps, or a dream. Powerful hands forcing his head under cold water. Trying to break free, but being unable to do so. That hadn’t happened with Charlie so who had it happened with? His mother’s voice calling his name in the dark, a pendant swinging in her hand.

Now she was really crying. “Oh Lane.”

“Sorry I made you cry.” He hated it when she cried.

“Oh no, it’s not you. It’s just...a mother worries over her child.”

“Even when he’s been adopted.”

She chuckled wetly, making the phone crackle in his ear with static. “Especially then. Thanks for calling and letting me know where you are. You’ve made my day.”

“Yeah, sure. Listen I have to go.”

“I love you, honey.”

“Love you too. Bye.”

Lane hung up. He stared at the phone for a long time. He felt as though he might cry. But he knew he wouldn’t because tears didn’t change anything. They were only wasted. I’ve cried out all the tears I’m going to, he thought.

 

...

 

Brendan surprised himself by going to The Rainbow Baret the following Wednesday. For almost a whole week he hadn’t thought about anything else but the new bartender Phil had hired. He stepped into the bar with his stomach full of butterflies, a sensation he hadn’t felt in some time. He was afraid Lane wouldn’t be there.

But to Brendan’s relief Lane was there.

Lane gave him a curve of the lips when Brendan sat at the bar. The young man was wearing a black shirt with blue flames sprouting everywhere and black jeans. “Hi there. Can I get you anything?”

“A beer will do me just fine. Heineken.”

“Comin’ right up.”

Brendan took a swig from his beer and let out a satisfied sigh. “Where are you from, if you don’t mind me asking? You have an accent. Midwestern from the sounds of it.”

“Indiana,” said Lane. “Why?”

“Just wanting a conversation.”

“Well it is pretty slow tonight. Real slowwww.

Brendan looked around. Sure enough there were only a few people in the bar. Johnny Cash played on the jukebox. “So what brings you all the way to Denver from Indiana?”

Lane cocked an eyebrow. “Do you always chat up the bartenders like this?”

“Only the cute ones.”

The bartender laughed. It was a genuine sound, not embarrassed or disparaging. Brendan noted that he seemed less reserved this time, not so nervous. “You’re funny. I got bored with the midwest. Wanted to see the mountains, breathe the mountain air. What about you, where are you from?”

Brendan spread his hands. “Born and raised. I’ve never lived anywhere else. The mountains is where I belong. When do you get off tonight?”

“I close tonight.”

“What about tomorrow?

“I’m off tomorrow.”

“Any plans for the day?”

“Not really. Mostly just driving around and trying to find something to do.”

Here goes nothing. “I was wondering if you’d want to have dinner with me tomorrow?” There, Brendan had asked the question. Now he held his breath, waiting to be rejected. Perhaps Lane would spit in his face - and if he did Brendan wouldn’t blame him. He felt insane, like a horny old man with an itch he couldn’t scratch.

For a long moment Lane just stared at him, still as a statue. The jukebox had switched from Johnny Cash to something Brendan had never heard before: a mix of retro 80’s pop and modern synth.

“Okay,” Lane said after a moment. “Some Northern hospitality would be good.”

Feeling like a high school boy, Brendan said, “Yeah?”

Lane gave him another smile. It was small, more like a smirk. Again, not disparaging. Brendan noticed the way Lane’s eyes seemed to gleam when they smiled, perhaps showing some flash of inner light, a contrast to the eyeliner and tattoos. He’s beautiful, Brendan thought, and realized he was hard. Achingly hard.

“Yeah,” Lane said. “What time?”

“Seven.”

“Perfect. Do you have a phone number where I can reach you?”

“Yes.” Lane reached for a napkin and a pen and wrote a phone number on the top. “This is the number to my room.”

Brendan glanced down at the phone number written neatly in black pen. “You don’t have a cell phone?”

“I have a cell phone. We just don’t know each other well enough for you to have it. Call me later, though.”

Brendan said he would, finished his beer, and left with his spirits soaring.

 

 

Lane watched Brendan leave with a bounce in his step, the door swinging shut behind him. What did I just get myself into? he thought. I should have told him no.

But you didn’t,” Charlie said. He was leaning against the counter with his arms crossed over his chest as if he’d been there the whole time, watching and listening. “You do what you’ve always done, which is deny the truth.

Lane felt his heart lifting against the rush of guilt within him. “Don’t I deserve some relief? Some indulgence?” Making sure no one else in the bar was looking at him, he turned to look at the apparition.

Charlie grinned back at him, knowingly mockingly. He looked so much like the real Charlie and didn’t at the same time. The real Charlie had never been bitter or cruel. “But we both know what happens when you try to indulge yourself. The people you love die.”

“Fuck you,” Lane said.

 

  …

 

The phone was ringing when he let himself back into his room. He felt his heart flutter excitedly, a curious feeling to be having over someone he’d just met. He hoped it was Brendan - who else would it be? No one else but the hotel manager would have his number, and maybe his mother.

“Hello?”

“I thought I’d just give you a call, and wish you good night.”

“Brendan?”

“Yeah.”

Lane sat on the edge of the bed, staring at the bar of light across the wall. “Jesus, it’s almost four o’clock in the morning. Shouldn’t you be in bed by now?”

“Normally I would be but I guess I got caught up in thinking about you.”

“You just met me.”

“I know.” Brendan chuckled, a heh heh sound. “You must think I’m some creepy pervert. I can promise you I’m not.”

“Well if you were I wouldn’t exactly know before it’s too late. For all I know you could be some serial killer or something.” Lane kicked himself inwardly. Shit, I have no filter. “That was a joke.”

“Heh, heh, heh. I know.”

Now would be the perfect time,” said Charlie’s ghost. He was leaning against the doorway. “Tell him off. Tell him you’re not interested. It just might save him.

You don’t know that. You don’t know anything. You’re not even really there. “Listen, I’m pretty beat. I need to go to bed. I’ll see you at seven tomorrow, okay? Good night.”

“Good night.”

Lane put the phone down in the cradle. He turned out the light, stripped naked, crawled under the covers, and wondered if he was making another big mistake. Within moments he was asleep.

 

...

 

He woke up sometime later, shooting upright in bed, his chest heaving. He’d dreamed he felt hands grabbing the back of his hair and dunking his head into cold bath water. And he could see eyes as black and depth-less as avoid. Only they hadn’t been human eyes, but the eyes of something inhuman.

He gasped, the warm syrupy feeling of tears on his cheek. He had the overwhelming feeling something bad was getting ready to happen. It was inescapable, smothering. He reached for the lamp, expecting something to pop out and attack him, try and strangle him.

With his hair sticking up in wild tufts and eyeliner smeared and dripping like ash-tears, Lane stumbled out of bed. He wrapped the sweat-coveredcomforter around his naked body. He opened the door and stared out into the night.

A gust of wind blew his hair back, causing his skin to break out in goosebumps. The chill felt good against his heated flesh. The sky twinkled with a thousand stars, congregating around a full moon. There were no cars in the parking lot except his own. The Rainbow Beret was a dark outline. Without the lights on, it looked desolate and haunted and full of ghosts.

He closed his eyes and reached out with his mind, searching.

Searching.

Where are you? I know you’re out there.

But there was nothing. Nothing. If there was anything he would have felt it. And the feeling - the feeling of impending danger - was gone.

He exhaled and closed the door. Before crawling back into bed he made sure to lock it.

 

 

Copyright © 2019 ValentineDavis21; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments

Okay, so Charlie wasn't an ass until after death and there is a something out there. Is there significance to Lane's tattoos?

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On 7/4/2019 at 8:26 PM, dughlas said:

Okay, so Charlie wasn't an ass until after death and there is a something out there. Is there significance to Lane's tattoos?

I'm wondering about the significance of the tattoos as well. Particularly the Grim Reaper one on his back.

Twice in this chapter Lane seems to have a 'memory' of having his head being forced under water. In his dream whoever/whatever was doing it to him seems not to be human. I've a feeling this is important to the plot. I'm also wondering if the fact that Lane was adopted may be of significance...

Yep, @ValentineDavis21, you've drawn me into this story! :) 

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I am really being drawn into your story. Not sure of enough things to ask question, but I am going to read the series. Best Wishes

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