Author Topic: The Only Road I've Ever Known (18+ GraphicViolence\Language)  (Read 2293 times)

Simon Toews

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Re: The Only Road I've Ever Known (18+ GraphicViolence\Language)
« Reply #15 on: March 18, 2018, 10:00:14 PM »
Another early morning and another day of hard work ahead of him, Simon rose from his bed.  The floorboards creaked as he made his way into the bathroom, those battered, misshapen knuckles turning on the faucet.  The cool water splashed up onto his face removed what little sleep was left in him.  As he straightened back up, he saw the man on the other side of the mirror.  

As much as he?d like to pretend otherwise, that reflection was still the man he?d always been.  Last night was only proof of it.  All it took was one push and *that* guy stirred right awake.  The dangerous, angry, violent bruiser who wanted to bash that little prick?s face into mush.  It was only Kate and the man?s little posse that had held him at bay.

It was supposed to be done.  It was supposed be left behind, he thought.  A knock at the door pulled him out of his thoughts, his attention snapping to the sound.  

?I gotta potty!?  Came that little girl?s voice from the other side.  

Simon breathed a little laugh.  ?Be right out.?  He dried his face, took one last look and opened the door.  Millie beamed up at him and gave a little wave.  ?Hi.?

?Heya, little sprout.?

?Move.  Gotta tinkle.?  Her sweet, polite demeanor completely dropping as she brushed past him and slammed the door behind her, leaving him standing out in the hall.

Simon didn?t see Kate before he went out into the fields.  Nor did her see her all day as he worked with Virgil.  There was little conversation to be held there beyond the job.  They were focused on the tasks at hand, which suited Simon just fine.

It was about 2 PM when he finally went in to take a break and grab something to drink.  Kate was in the kitchen, pouring herself a glass of lemonade.  Both of them stopped at the sight of each other, an awkward moment of panic between the two that neither truly understood.

She managed a smile and offered the jug to him.  ?Somethin? to drink??

A little grin worked its way out and he nodded.  ?Please.?

Kate grabbed a glass and went to work as he made his way to the sink to wash up.  He heard the glass clink down hard on the countertop and glanced back to find Kate propped up on both hands, her back to him.  Something was up.

?Look??She started.  ?I?m sorry about last night.  I??  the words caught in her throat and she shook her head.  ?It was stupid to go back there.?

She turned around and wrapped her arms around herself, looking entirely vulnerable.  ?I just...that was my home.  I wanted-?

?I know.?  He said simply.  ?I get it.  I?m sorry I was short with you.  Just...nerves.?

Her eyes shut as she clung to herself.  ?God, I am just so...scared.  What if he comes here?  What if he finds out about this place?  About Millie??

?Then I?ll deal with him.?  There was no hesitation or doubt in his voice.  The things he?d done in his life, the men he?d killed...Wyatt Marston was nothing.

?Simon??she said as if he were being obtuse.  ?He?s a killer.  You were lucky you got out alive last night.  Now he knows who you are and what you can do.  And he won?t come alone.?

Oh, the irony, Simon thought.  He stepped up to her and put a hand on the worried mother?s shoulder.  He leveled those blue eyes on her?s.  ?Kate.  I will not let that son of a bitch do anything to you or Millie.  I swear.?

Her face wrenched up as the tears came and her arms wrapped around his shoulders, clinging to him tightly.  Hesitantly, his arms went around her, comforting her as best he could.

"You can run on for a long time.  But sooner or later, God'll cut you down."

Wyatt Marston

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Re: The Only Road I've Ever Known (18+ GraphicViolence\Language)
« Reply #16 on: March 18, 2018, 11:03:18 PM »
Wyatt sat on the front porch of Callum?s Ranch, a wet rag wrapped around ice pressed to his scraped face, his dirty cowboy boots kicked up on the railing.  Whoever that punk rolling with Kate was had got the drop on him.  He admitted it.    He?d underestimated the stranger, but it wouldn?t happen again.

?You look like hammered ****, kid.?  Came that familiar, raspy old voice.  Wyatt glanced up to see Callum standing over him.  The old man was a bit paunchier than he had been when they met and his hair gone silver and thinning, but that scarred face still had that trademark sneer.

Wyatt set his feet down to let the man pass and take the seat beside him.  Marks sat down and handed a beer bottle his way.  ?Wanna tell me what happened??

Wyatt glanced down at the bottle and then back up a moment before taking it and knocking it back for a good swig.  ?Saw Katie last night at Todd?s.?

Callum snickered and took a drink himself.  ?Katie Wilder.  Well, I?ll be God damned.  How she lookin? these days??

Wyatt?s brows rose.  ?Oh...she?s lookin? plenty good.?  He admitted.  ?Runnin? around with some sawed up prick covered in tattoos.?

?And he?s the one who sandblasted your face with concrete, eh??  
Wyatt looked off, his ego hurt worse than his cheek and brow.  He twisted his mouth around and spat to one side.  ?Yeah.?

?How, may I ask, in the **** did you let some punk get the best a? you??  Callum asked, a theatrically perplexed expression on his face.  ?That ain?t like you.  I thought you was a bad-ass, through n? through.  Ain?t nothin? Wyatt Marston can?t handle.  You know that?s what I tell ;?em.  So, how does some ****-kickin? inked up little **** get one over on YOU??

Wyatt gave him a look that was pure fire.  ?I underestimated the sumbitch.  Next time I see the ****er, he?s dead.?

That toothy, scarred sneer came back as Callum nodded slowly.  ?Hell yeah.  That?s the man I?m talkin? about.?  Marks took another pull off the bottle and stared off a moment.  

?So.  Where?s your girl been hidin???  Callum asked.  ?She got your old man with her??

Wyatt shook his head.  ?No idea.  They took off before we could get after ?em.?

?She talk to anybody??  

Wyatt glanced over and shrugged.  ?Maisie, I s?pose.?

?Dark hair?  Brown eyes as big as her tits??  Callum asked.

Wyatt chuckled and nodded.  ?Yeah, that?s the one.?

Callum gnawed on the inside of his cheek, thinking.  ?Maybe you oughta pay her a visit.  See what she knows.?

?Didn?t seem like she-? Wyatt began to say before being cut off.

?Maybe you misunderstood me, Wyatt.?  Callum said and polished off the beer bottle.  ?Last night, you got embarrassed in a room full of the very people we need to keep in ****in? line.?  

Wyatt froze.  Cal?s voice never rose, but the threat there was absolutely unmistakable.

?That ain?t gonna fly.?  he said shaking his head.  ?You find that little **** and you ask her how in the Hell Katie Wilder knew we was s?posed to be gone last night.  You find out where that little bitch lives.  You round up some boys and you go there and you burn that ****in? place to the ground and kill your sumbitch daddy and her boyfriend along with ?er.?

Wyatt nodded slowly.

?And??Callum added, pointing upward, hesitating a moment and shaking his finger.  ?Maisie Travers decides she don?t wanna talk?  You break her ****in? jaw so everyone knows what happens when you cross us.  This ain?t kiddie play time.  This is the big show, kid.  Either these people *fear* us...or we might as well be like them useless pricks in the Sheriff?s department.?

Callum tilted his head, catching Wyatt?s eyes.  ?You understand me??

Wyatt turned his head toward the older man and nodded.  ?I?ll take care of it.?

Cal nodded, the sneer back in place.  ?Atta boy.  Knew you would.?

Virgil Marston

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Re: The Only Road I've Ever Known (18+ GraphicViolence\Language)
« Reply #17 on: March 22, 2018, 11:05:07 PM »
Virgil wiped the sweat from his brow on his sleeve, squinting at the setting sun. He?d sent Simon inside while he finished up with his duties.  

Strange young man, that one. Looked like a punk, but he seemed a decent enough fella.  Good worker, respectful.  Outgoing, friendly, but also sorta sad.  There was just something he liked about the stranger.  

The sound of laughter drew his attention toward the house.  Katie was leaning against the kitchen counter, smiling brightly as he and Millie were goofing around.  It had been a while since he?d heard the woman laugh like that.  Even longer since he?d seen that smile.  And Millie was quite taken with the fella, too.

It should have filled him with joy, he thought.  But, instead, it just worried him.  Those sharp hazel eyes lowered a moment and he set off to go inside.

They were sat around the dinner table, quietly eating, a bit later.  Simon glanced beside him to Millie.  The little girl gave him a saccharine sweet smile.  He quickly stuck his tongue out at her, a small smirk forming.  

Millie?s face scrunched up like she was comically angry.  Simon grinned and crossed his eyes at her, so she tucked her lower lip over her bottom teeth and rose her brows, looking at her nose.

Simon suppressed a laugh and mimicked the same look, jutting his jaw to one side and tilted his head, getting a giggle from the little one.  

?Kids.?  Kate said with a playfully reproachful tone.  ?Knock off the theatrics and eat your dinner or no dessert.?

?She started it.?  Simon said, acting all put out.  

Millie?s eyes went wide as she gasped.  ?Nuh Uh!   Oh, You?re a liar!?

He gasped theatrically, putting a hand upon his chest, mouthing ?Me?!?

Kate smirked at them both. ?Eat.?

Simon smirked to Millie and gave her a little wink, a giggle leaving the girl.  

Virgil couldn?t help the smile that came to his face, despite the misgivings he felt.  Dinner finished, he nodded to the girls.  ?We?ll get the dishes, ladies.?

Kate blew a raspberry.  ?Oh no.  I?ll get it, Pops.?

?Nah, go on kid. You cooked, we?ll deal with this.  And get this girl some ice cream.  She looks famished.?  He smiled to his granddaughter.  

Millie was thoroughly onboard with this plan. She immediately tugged her mom?s arm and got her to make them a couple bowls.  

Simon wasn?t stupid.  He could tell something was up, but he could play along.  The two men were at work again, cleaning the dishes as the sound of tv filtered in.

?So.?  Simon said. ?We don?t have long.  What?s wrong??

?You ?n Katie seem to be gettin? on.?  Virgil said.

?Yeah, she?s a lotta fun.?  Simon nodded.  ?That a problem??

Virgil glanced up from his plate a moment.  ?I don?t know what your angle is, kid.  What you?re plannin? on doin? here.?

?I?m not-?

?Listen.  Them girls been through enough.  Katie especially.  She?s seen more?n her fair share a? hurt.  And I think you?re just settin? her up for more.?

Simon looked taken aback. ?Whoa, whoa, ain?t like that.  We?re-?

?Friends.  Yeah.  I get it.?  The old man nodded. ?And I?m sure you mean well. Sure you ain?t out hurt her none...but some men are born unto trouble.  Ain?t always their intent, but?no matter what they do, trouble follows ?em.?

Virgil looked him dead in the eye.  ?I smell trouble comin off you like stink on a cow pie.?

Simon opened his mouth to speak but changed his mind, opting to remain silent.  

?Them girls are all I got.  All I?ll ever have.  Don?t you dare put yourself in a position to hurt ?em.?  He rumbled.  ?You understand me??

Simon simply nodded.  

? day, you?re gonna leave.  And, if you break their hearts n? leave me to pick up the pieces??

?I get it.  I do.?  Simon turned those blue eyes down to the sink.  ?Just been a while...forgot what it felt like.   Family.  Kinda got lost in it??

It wasn?t that he loved Kate or anything. They were strictly platonic as far as he was concerned.  This was something else. But Virgil was right.  Trouble followed Simon wherever he went and good people paid the price.  

Virgil watched him a moment.  ?You?re a good man, Simon.  Don?t let nobody tell ya different.?

Wyatt Marston

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Re: The Only Road I've Ever Known (18+ GraphicViolence\Language)
« Reply #18 on: March 24, 2018, 12:35:44 AM »
The sun was just rising when Maisie finally returned home from a long shift behind the bar.  Working that bar was absolutely draining sometimes and last night was no exception.  Everything hurt, from the throbbing in her temples, the burning in her eyes from the haze of cigarette smoke, and the aching muscles of her legs from being on her feet all night.  She was ready for a long bath and a full-day?s sleep to recharged.

That was the plan, anyway.

She stepped into her crummy little apartment, tossing the keys on the table by the door, completely failing to notice the figure sitting in her kitchen.  She just walked to the closet and pulled off her hoodie.

It was the drum of fingertips on the cheap wood of the table that snapped her into reality.  Maisie?s heart nearly leapt out of her chest, a startled yelp escaping her as she rapidly backed up into her front door.

Wyatt sat there, those aqua blue eyes, regarding her with a touch of amusement.  ?Heya, there, Maisie.?

She hadn?t seen him in the two days since Katie came back to town.  The usually ruggedly handsome man was looking a little worse for wear.  One side of his face was scraped and scratched to hell, a nasty bruise circling his left eye.  Something inside of her screamed for her to run, but the terror she felt stayed her tired limbs and all she could do was try not to tremble.  Besides, he was no doubt armed...and if he so chose, she could not outrun a bullet.

?W-Wyatt...what-what are y-you doin? here??  She stammered.

Wyatt sniffed at the air of the place.  A musty, old smell that mingled with the scent of her perfume and beauty products.  It probably could use a good cleaning.  ?Nice place you got here.?  He said.

Her eyes were darting like mad, probably searching for a weapon to defend herself, he decided.  ?Thanks??

A derisive laugh escaped the intruder.  ?I?m kiddin?.  It?s a ****hole.?  

Maisie didn?t so much as blink in response.  Just waited.

?But hey.?  Wyatt said, holding up his hands.  ?Ain?t my place to judge.  You should see my place.  Makes this your?s look like a royal ****in? palace.?  He grinned to her, letting that oppressive silence hang between them.

He gave the chair beside him a little kick, pushing it out for her.  ?Why don?t you have a little seat, Maze??

She hesitated, looking very much like a dog who?d caught one too many beatings in its time to trust him.  But those eyes stayed on her, promising all manner of unpleasantness if she refused.  Finally, she made her way over and sat.

He kept up that amiable facade, smiling to her from the other side of the table.  ?So.  Hell of a thing the other night, huh?  Katie Mae.  Runnin? around town again after all these years.  You believe that??

Maisie didn?t respond, she just watched him with those wide, terror-filled eyes.

?And on the night we was supposed to head out of town, too!  Don?t that just beat all??  He asked her, knowing damn well she wouldn?t say a word.  ?Y?see?.that there?  That bothers me.?

Wyatt ran his tongue along his teeth and squinted as if thinking.  ?How does the illusive beauty...know that?  Hm??  He asked her.  ?How?  Unless...well...she knows someone in town.  And they mentioned it to her.?

Maisie?s eyes flicked to the knife block by the stove.  She tried to do the math on how quickly she could get to it before he got her.  It just wasn?t in the cards

?But...that can?t be right?  Because ain?t a soul in town don?t know that I been wantin? to know where the hell that little bitch gone to back in the day, right??  He leaned into her field of vision, making her look at him.  ?Right??

?R-right??  She nodded quickly.

?So.?  He nodded with that joyless smile.  ?I?m not sayin? I don?t trust you, Maze.  But...I gotta ask.  Do you know where she is??

Maisie shook her head almost desperately.  It was the truth.  She kept in touch with her, but she had no idea where her friend was living.  Kate was being careful.

?No.?  He nodded.  ?Damn.  That would?a made it easier.?

Wyatt stood up slowly, towering over her as she began to whimper, the tears filling her eyes.  ?Please?.?She managed in a strangled whisper.

?Please, what??  He said with a theatrically puzzled expression.

?Don?t hurt me??

Wyatt?s lips curled up in a bit of a sneer, not too far removed from Cal?s.  ?You been talkin? to her.?  He said simply.

His hands ran through his hair as he paced.   ?God damn it, Maisie!  I-?  He sighed, like he was just annoyed.  ?That was stupid.?

For a moment, he put on a show of mulling over his next move until finally, he turned to her.  ?Your phone.?  Wyatt held out of his hand.

She fumbled through her purse but managed to pull it out, handing it over with shaking hands.  Wyatt flipped through her contacts and landed on his target.  He smirked and then held the phone up, gesturing with it.

?I?m taking this.  I?m gonna have one of my friends in the department run this number.  And you?re gonna keep your mouth shut.?  He said. ?I hear even a hint that you called her and warned her?  It?s gonna get very bad for you.?

Maisie?s eyes clamped shut as she tried not to sob.  Wyatt took her gently by the chin.  ?Hey.  Look at me.?

Those big brown eyes slowly opened, red with tears.  She was a cute little thing, he thought.  She had all those tattoos, trying to toughen herself up, but at heart, she was just some scared little girl.  All he had to do was press her a bit.  Like so many others, she fell in line.

That gentle smile spread across his battered face.  ?Hey.  Smile.  I just saved your life.?

Hank Austin

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Re: The Only Road I've Ever Known (18+ GraphicViolence\Language)
« Reply #19 on: April 01, 2018, 01:54:24 AM »
His name was Hank Austin.  A thin, wiry, jittery sort of man.  He constantly seemed on the verge of snapping, his nervous energy setting people on edge.  The drugs that nearly always inhabited his system didn’t help, nor did that lack of sleep.  Dark bags under his eyes were hidden under dark sunglasses while his fingers drummed agitatedly against the steering wheel.  Blonde, receding hair was kept short and bristly atop his head.

People underestimated Hank, due to his appearance, but he was equal parts brilliant and dangerous.  One time a rival crew tried to jump him and Hank killed all of them with a pocket knife and left a severed head upon the hood of their leader’s old Buick.  He then went to the leaders house, bound and gagged his wife and children, and caused a gas leak that killed them.  Nobody messed with him from that day on.

Hank was a killer, an assassin.  When a situation called for scorched earth, you called Hank.  Today, he was there in case Maisie said no.  Wyatt opened the door and slid into the passenger seat.  Hank recoiled in surprise before he saw who it was.

“Easy, Panky.”  Wyatt said.  “Just me.”

Panky.  He hated that ****ing nickname.  “Hanky Panky” had followed him since childhood, and Wyatt loved to tease him about it.  Most people would have been too afraid to even dare, but not Wyatt.  Hell, most people would have gotten a knife to the jugular, but Hank liked Wyatt.  He was solid, and despite the teasing, he was dependable.

Hank scratched his neck and let out an annoyed sigh.  “I have asked you repeatedly to stop calling me that.”

Wyatt smirked.  “Lighten up, Panky.  It’s a beautiful day.”  He leaned over, pulling Maisie’s phone from his pocket.

Behind those dark sunglasses, bloodshot green eyes flicked to the phone and then back up to Wyatt.  “She put up a fuss?”

“Did your phone ring?”  Wyatt smirked to him,.  “No.  I might have mentioned something...unfortunate might happen if she didn’t start runnin’ her yap, and she spilled like a broken dam.”

Part of Hank was a little disappointed.  He wasn’t fond of playing the part of chauffeur.  But Callum paid well, so how much could he really bitch about it?  Wyatt fished a cigarette out of his pack and started lighting it.

“I want you to take that phone, trace that number, and find where they’re hiding.”  he finally got the cig lit and took a long drag. With an exhale through his nose, he glanced to Hank.  “Then I want you to go there and do what you do.”

“Quick?”  was his only question.  Wyatt’s expression softened, then as he considered.

“For Katie...yeah.  The old man and her boyfriend...go nuts.”

Hank had heard about the guy.  He’d taken the job out of town on his own, that night.  He was almost impressed when he’d heard some tatted up city *** hole got one over on Wyatt Marston.   Hell, the kid might even prove to put up a fight.  If there was one thing Hank liked, it was a challenge.

Simon Toews

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Re: The Only Road I've Ever Known (18+ GraphicViolence\Language)
« Reply #20 on: April 01, 2018, 02:39:17 AM »
He sat on the porch, a sandwich in one hand and a butterfly knife in the other.  Simon chewed his lunch, staring out at the mid-day sun.  Virgil had gone to meet a contact out North to get the parts for Simon’s car.  The old man had insisted he stay behind “just in case”.

The knife whirled around, blade out and then just as quickly, the knife was closed.  

“What’s that?”  He heard Millie’s voice.

Simon glanced over to find the girl standing in the doorway.  He smirked and held up the sandwich.  “Ham and salami with swiss.”

Millie gave him an unamused look.  “No.  That.”  she pointed to the knife.  The tattooed man glanced to his blade and whirled it shut, offering the object to her.  As she reached for it, he moved it out of her reach, looking authoritative.  “Be careful with this.  It ain’t a toy.  Got it?”

“I got it.  I’ll be real careful.”

“No lost fingers?”  It was more of a command than a question.

“All of ‘em.”  Millie nodded firmly and took hold of the folded knife to her.

With two hands, she unlocked it and unfolded the blade.  There was a hint of annoyance in her face.  “How’d you do it?  I wanna do it like you.”

“You want to know how to flip it like that?”  He grinned.  Millie nodded excitedly.  Simon smirked, thinking about it a moment.  

“Eh.  What the hell.”  He shrugged.

“That’s a bad word.”  She said.  “You shouldn’t say ‘hell’.”

“You’re right.  Heck.  What the heck.”  He nodded to her.  “Alright.  Close it up.” Simon gestured to her weapon.

Carefully, she folded it shut and held it in front of her, looking a tiny bit awkward.  

“Make sure you got that clasp on there.”  He said as she double checked.  “Good.  Now...with your pinky, flip the clasp and give it a flick with your wrist.”

She looked at him like he was a madman.  “We said no lost fingers.”  

Simon chuckled.  “I promise.  You’ll be fine. It’s the blunt part of the blade, it won’t cut you.”

Millie gave him SUCH a look.  She was going to trust him, but she had her eye on him.  She gave it a flick and the knife opened, but the other side of the handle dangled over her knuckles.  

“Good job.”  He said.  “Rotate it around...and then flip it back and catch the other side of the handle.”

Millie did it and gasped, her eyes wide and excited.  “I did it!  I did the thing!”

Simon glanced around with clenched teeth, though his amusement was impossible to miss.  “Easy with that, I don’t wanna get in trouble with your mama.”

Millie hunched up and looked around in mild panic, her voice dropping to a whisper.  “Oh right...right.  But yaaaaay.”  

“To close it, basically do the same thing.”  Once again, she did it in slow motion.  Simon smirked to the kid.  “You’re a natural, kiddo.”

She looked SO proud of herself.   “Now,” Simon said.  “Can you do it quick?  Like all in one motion, no stoppin’?”

Millie’s brow furrowed as she stared at the object in her hand.  She was determined.  She really went for it and just kind of ended up flopping the thing about.

“Grrrr….” She snarled, frustrated.  “I can do this.”

Again and again she tried until finally, in a whirl of motion she had it.  A gasp left the little girl as she looked up to him with an ear-to-ear grin.  “That was COOL.”

Simon chuckled and took one looked around.  “Yeah, that was pretty cool.” He agreed.  The events of the past few days went through his mind.  Dangerous men were no doubt looking for them.  Millie’s father would be one of them.  It wasn’t enough to hope for the best right now.  They would have to be prepared.

“Millie?”  He ventured.

The girl was busy practicing.  “Yeah?”

“I want you to hold onto that knife.”  He said.

NOW she looked at him like he was insane.  “You…you’re giving it to me?”

Simon nodded.  “There are bad men out there in the world.  Any of them tries to take you, hurt you...whatever.  You keep that on you, and first chance you put it right here.”  He pointed at the spot just above his knee.  “You bury that thing all the way in and you run.  Got it?”

Millie looked concerned.  She wasn’t sure what was going on, but she wasn’t stupid.  Her mother had spent hours crying after the trip into town.  Now, their new visitor was giving her a knife and telling her to stab “bad men” who might try to take her.  

“Are we in trouble?”  she asked him.

Simon did his best to give her a reassuring smile.  “No.  But it’s good to be prepared, right?”

Millie didn’t look convinced but she nodded anyway.  

“You keep practicing.  Get real good with it...and remember… don’t tell your mom.”

"You can run on for a long time.  But sooner or later, God'll cut you down."

Simon Toews

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Re: The Only Road I've Ever Known (18+ GraphicViolence\Language)
« Reply #21 on: April 03, 2018, 01:05:19 AM »
Simon stirred in his sleep.  He was back there, in that old warehouse, the smell of gas in his nostrils.  He tried to crawl, to beg  as Cici’s screams filled the air.  She begged for help, begged for salvation that would never come.  Simon screamed for her without sound as the flames engulfed the car, his little girl struggling and fighting in vain.

And suddenly, he was awake.  Kate hovered over him and she was shaking him.  “Simon!”

He panted, looking around, his tank-top drenched in cold sweat.  Kate looked a bit panicked, trying to calm him.  “What the hell were you dreamin’ about?  You were practically screamin’, I thought you were possessed or somethin’.  I was two minutes away from gettin’ a pair a’ priests out here!”

Simon looked around perplexed, his fingers going to the bridge of his nose as he took in a breath and released it with a “Guh….”

His chest rose and fell evenly as he caught his breath.  Those blue eyes landed on her’s, staring a moment.  “Sorry...Just...just a bad dream.”

“No ****.”  She said.  “Come on.  Let’s get some air.”

Moments later, Simon was sat upon the porch steps, a cigarette dangling between his lips as he fished around for his lighter.  Kate stepped out, pulling on a hoodie, though she still wore shorts.  She settled in beside him as he lit up.

“I thought we were getting FRESH air.”  She said wryly.

He took in the smoke, holding it in his lungs a moment before letting it come out in a plume, a smirk forming.

“Does this not count?”  He asked.

Kate watched with those brilliant eyes of her’s.  She glanced back at the house and stole the cigarette from him and took a drag herself.  

Simon grinned over to her. “You know those things ain’t good for ya?”

Her eyes widened as if he’d told her something she didn’t know.  “What?!”

Simon chuckled and shook his head.  “Hypocrite.”

“So.”  Kate said, letting the smoke leave her nostrils.  “What was it?  The dream.”

For a moment he didn’t answer.  Simon sat and thought...but finally decided to trust her.  “My daughter.”

Kate’s brows knit together as she passed the cig back his way.  “You don’t talk about her.”

“Ain’t exactly a pleasant story.”  He said.

Kate looked him in the eye and steeled herself.  “Alright.”

“‘Alright’ what?”  He asked.

“Alright, Tell me.”

He turned to her gravely.  “You don’t wanna hear this.”

“Simon...what happened?”  She asked as gently as she could muster.

“Same thing that always happens.”  He responded.  “Found somethin’ good...somethin’ pure...and I ****ed it up.”

She tilted her head doubtfully.  “I don’t think that’s true…”

“You don’t know.”  He said with a shake of his head.  “I was supposed to protect her.  Keep my little girl safe.  But I couldn’t.  Now, she’s gone and me?  I’m still here.  I’m ALWAYS...still here.”

“You can’t hate yourself for survivin’.  That’s insane.  Being alive doesn’t make you a bad person, Simon.  Frankly, from what I seen, you’re a damn good one.”

“You don’t know a damn thing about me.”  He snapped suddenly, making Kate recoil.  “Who I am.  What I done.   You don’t know me.  If you did, if you were smart, you’d run.  Run and never look back.”

She blinked at him, perplexed.  “Simon…”

“Kate.  I ain’t any better than that sumbitch you ran from.”

She gawked at him.  “Okay.  I ain’t one to rain on anyone else’s pity parade...but that’s bull ****.  Wyatt is a murderer and a lowlife.  He don’t have a decent bone in his body.”

“And I’m not?”  He looked away and off into the distance.  “I’m a killer.” He said simply. “I’ve taken so many lives, I’ve long ago lost count.   I’ve tried so many times to wash that blood off, but it just don’t come off…”

She studied him a moment.  “You don’t seem the type.”

He snorted. “I don’t?”  Simon knew what he looked like.  He was a walking red flag.  

Kate smirked at him and snatched his cigarette and took a drag before handing it back. Simon stared at the smoldering butt a moment, before bringing it to his lips.  

“They burned her.  Made me they burned my daughter alive.”  His voice wavered.   He flicked that cigarette away and looked to her.  “So, I killed them.  Every last one of ‘em.  Burned the entire damn organization to the ****in’ ground.  And a few weeks ago, others came for me.  And I killed them, too.  That’s why I’m here.  Why I’m not sitting in a cushy penthouse, sipping champagne in a hot tub.”

“You feel guilty about that?”  She asked him.  “ lost a child.  They took your little girl from you.  I can’t imagine how far I’d go if someone did that with Millie…”

“And you don’t want to know.”  He said simply.  “It’s so easy.  It’s disturbing how easy.  You pull a trigger and they’re gone forever.  Never hurt ya again.  But after awhile, you end up carryin’ that weight.  Because you know what?”

Kate watched him with a furrowed brow.  

“I killed all those people and my baby’s still dead.  I didn’t feel like I won nothin’.  I just felt empty.  Aimless.”  He said.  “I wished I’d died instead.  In some ways, I guess I kinda did…”

She reached out and put a finger to his neck, feeling his pulse.  “Still kickin’.”

Simon smiled, his head lolling to one side. Kate pulled her hoodie over her legs and hugged her knees to her chest. “Look...I’m not going to pretend to know what it was like to go through and carry that for so long...but I think it’s important to...let the past be passed. You find something or someone knew to live for.  For me it was Millie.”

She swept a strand of hair behind her ear. “I lost my home, my friends, and everything I’d ever known except for Pops.  I didn’t know what to do.  I was just depressed and lonely.  I cried myself to sleep every night… I considered ending it more times than I care to admit.  But, 8 months later, there she was.  My reason to go on. My purpose.”

“I’ll have to go find myself a Millie, huh?”  He smiled.

“Or you could just stay…”. She said, not making eye contact.  

“Kate…” he said.

“I know.  You’ve got a girl back home, could have a family here.  Millie,” She looked so hopeful, but the fear was impossible to miss.

“Kate...I would be lucky to be with you.  To call this place home…” he said.  “But I love her.  Tahlia is...she’s worth it.  I don’t know for sure, but she might be my reason.  My Millie.”

Kate lowered her eyes, her head hanging low. “I’m sorry.  I just… You’re a good man.  No matter how much you deny it. There are so few of you out there. I hope she’s worth it.  I really do.”

She wrapped her arms around his arm and leaned against his shoulder.  “I’m glad I met you.”

Simon rested his cheek to the side of her head.  “Me too.”

"You can run on for a long time.  But sooner or later, God'll cut you down."

Hank Austin

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Re: The Only Road I've Ever Known (18+ GraphicViolence\Language)
« Reply #22 on: April 11, 2018, 09:43:30 AM »
This ****ing heat, Hank thought, sitting on the side of the road.  His banged up 09 Charger was covered in dust and tiny dents. The trace he’d put in wasn’t exact, but it put the pair of them somewhere in the vicinity.  Even the occasional gust of wind offered no respite.  It just moved the heat around.   He lamented the fact that he never got the AC fixed on the damn thing, as he was sweating like whore in church.

He leaned out the window and spit some of the dip out of the side of his mouth, most of it splattering against the outside of the door in big, brown, runny glop.  If Hank noticed or cared, he didn’t show it.  Behind those dark shades, those wired, sleep-deprived eyes flicked up and down to his phone, the rough location marked on his GPS.  

But there was nothing.  Just this long, dusty, lone stretch of highway that seemed to go on forever.  No side roads, no signs anything had come around these parts in some time.  

“Panky.”  Wyatt’s voice crackled over his FRS.  Hank glared down at the hand-held radio as if it could translate the pure burning hatred he had for that stupid ****ing nickname.  Slowly, he brought it up near his lips.  

“Yup.”  He uttered around the wad bulging behind his lip.  

“What’s it looking like out there?”  he asked.

“A hundred fifty miles of dirt,farmland, and swamp-nuts with absolute butt-**** nothin’ in every goddamn direction.  You?”  the skinny man drawled.  

“Ain’t nobody out here but us chickens.  Keep your eyes open, yeah, Panky?”  Wyatt said, the teasing tone in his voice barely evident toward the end.  

One last wad of gooey spit splatted against the side of the car as Hank leaned out before he put it into drive.  He squinted ahead, just barely making out something in the distance.  Through the wavering heat, he almost thought it was a mirage.  But, as he pressed the accelerator, he began to realize it was actually there.  From the best he could see, it was likely a truck.  

Best to keep his distance, he thought.  It wouldn’t do to spook his prey.  The Charger rolled along down the dusty road, his brain formulating a plan even as he pursued them.  There was only one place they could be heading.  

Sterling was about 30 miles down the road from Noble.  The nearest semblance of society for a couple hundred, Give or take a rest stop or two.

So, hang back it was.  The further he went, the more he questioned just where in the hell it was they had come from.  There was no road on the map, that was for damn sure, and this ****hole wasn’t exactly crying for development.

The car slowed as he came to the “road”.  It could hardly be called a “road”, in reality.  Just a gravel path that lead off into the distance.  Hank glanced to the shrinking dot down the road and turned his gaze back to the drive beside him.  

The odds that it had actually been them were slim...but something inside Hank told him he was on the right track.  He turned the wheel and headed down the path.  If his hunch was correct Hank was about to have himself some fun.

Wyatt Marston

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Re: The Only Road I've Ever Known (18+ GraphicViolence\Language)
« Reply #23 on: April 11, 2018, 07:58:00 PM »
Wyatt sat in his truck, a hand rolled cigarette burning between his lips.  Those sharp, alert eyes scanning over widespread nothing.  It was amazing to him that, at some point this expanse ended and became a city.  None of that mattered out there. Out there, it was just Noble.

His gaze flicked down to the old revolver in his lap. “The Dead Man’s Gun”  The thing was damn near ancient.  Were it not so well cared for, he was certain it would be little more than a fancy paper weight.  The colt revolver had been in his family for generations.  It had been handed down from father to son since it was taken in a duel in 1882 by Wyatt’s great-great-grandfather, according to family lore.  A stranger had wandered into town, thinking he was a real cold son of a bitch, when Edwin Marston drew down on him and put him, forever, into the ground.  Nobody ever learned his name.  He was just known as “The Dead Man”.  

Wyatt had taken it from his father the night he shot him.  It was his birthright.  It belonged to him.  He only expedited the process.  The night he’d pulled that trigger hadn’t exactly been an easy one.  If you asked him, that night, he’d been betrayed by his father AND his girl.  It pained him to put the old man down.  

Or so he thought.  Virgil would never remember, but as Wyatt knelt over him, his hands shook and tears fell down his face.  When he’d taken the revolver from the old man’s hand, he whispered to him, “I’m sorry.”

It haunted him, even today.  He could hide behind that false bravado and tough guy swagger to convince everyone else he was cold as ice, but deep down, it ate at him.  Somewhere inside, he was terrified. Wyatt never thought he’d come survive.  Never thought he’d see a reckoning, but here he was.  

Virgil Marston was alive.  And he hoped to God Hank finished the job first. Because he wasn’t sure he could face his father again.  

Lyle Marks’ voice crackled over the radio, calling his attention away.  “Wyatt?  You around?”

Wyatt brought the FRS up and thumbed the button.  “Go.”

“Nothing down south.  Y’all got anything?”  

Lyle was the elder of Callum’s boys.  A big, dumb brick of meat with a beer gut and a mullet that thinned up top.  Emmett wasn’t much better, either.  There was a reason Callum trusted Wyatt over his boys.  He generally just gave them busy work like this to keep them from ****ing everything up.  

“Nothin’.”  He responded. “Panky’s going a little further out, but it’s looking like a bust.”

“We’re gonna come out your way.  Drop us a line when ya hear from him, hear?”

He didn’t particularly need or want their help, not with Hank out there.  Together, they were far more capable than the two boys put together.  But, they were Cal’s kids.  “Yeah.  I’ll hit ya back anything comes up.”

Again, it was quiet.

Hank Austin

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Re: The Only Road I've Ever Known (18+ GraphicViolence\Language)
« Reply #24 on: April 12, 2018, 01:16:41 AM »
Hank  parked the car off the side of the road behind a few trees, keeping his distance from the farm.  If they saw him, it could end up a firefight he didn’t have control over.  That meant things would get messy.  He didn’t want messy.  Hank Austin liked to have a plan.  To know the exits, the hiding spots.  See the target in their comfort zone.  He viewed it like directing a scene.  He had to have complete control over everything.

No, he would keep his distance and watch.  He settled into the tall grass, looking out at the cozy house surrounded by crops, alongside a large barn.  He barely took his eyes off the place as he unpacked a rifle.  He could see at least one figure moving from here, his hands pulling down the weapon’s tripod.  At this range there wasn’t much to see.

Hank shouldered his rifle and leaned in, eye to the scope.  His vision enhanced, he could now see who that figure was.  Tight, white t-shirt clinging to a slim, muscular form covered in tattoos.  That must have been the sumbitch roughed up Wyatt.  Hank breathed a laugh.  He wasn’t intimidated.  All that muscle and tough-guy exterior wouldn’t matter when Hank got ahold of him.  It never did.

A slash of a knife, the squeeze of a trigger, and they all crumpled, bleeding and wondering how the skinny little junky had brought them down and where the hell he came from.  The hint of movement caught his attention and he swiveled the rifle to the left.

There she was.  Katie Mae Wilder.  Looking damn fine, if he said so himself.  Litt’e black tanktop, long brown hair tinged with blonde swept behind her ears, and a pair aviators resting on top of her head.  It was going to be a shame to kill her.  He’d always liked her.  Wicked sense of humor, kind.  And smart.  The average IQ among the women in Noble seemed to be in the double digits, he often mused.  Katie Mae was sharp.  

Yes.  Killing her would be a shame. But it  wasn’t personal.  It was business.

If he could isolate the pair of them, he could work quickly.  Wait ‘til nightfall...cause a distraction.  It would be important to get him out of the picture while he did her in.  Then when he came back he could-

The sudden movement from the door caught his attention.  What the hell, he thought?  There were supposed to be 3 of them, sure, but who the hell was it driving on down the road?  But the figure who stepped out wasn’t an old cowboy.  Wasn’t even an adult.  

She was a tiny child.  Maybe 7 or 8.  Brown hair, cute little face that reflected so much of her mama.  But those eyes...those were entirely her daddy’s.  And that blonde bruiser was most assuredly NOT her father.  No, he’d seen them all too often.

Well, that complicated matters.  He wasn’t above killing a kid.  Wouldn’t be the first time.  But this was Wyatt’s kid.  He’d want to hear about this.  Suddenly, so much made sense about Kate’s sudden disappearing act.

He fished around  by his belt and brought the radio to his lips.  “Hey, Wyatt?”

“What’s up, Panky?”

Hank practically growled before responding.  “I found ‘em.”

“No ****?!  Where they at?”

“Hold up.  There’s somethin’ you should know.”

Wyatt Marston

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Re: The Only Road I've Ever Known (18+ GraphicViolence\Language)
« Reply #25 on: April 14, 2018, 02:03:46 PM »
A daughter.  He had a daughter.  

The road back to Callum’s lay ahead, but Wyatt was only vaguely aware of it.  That little bitch hid this from him.  Ran away with his father and his child.  In an instant, everything changed.  Hank’s usual scorched earth tactic was no longer on the table, as far as he was concerned.  There would be reckoning, yes.  But, he would take his daughter back, unharmed.  

The car rolled to a stop, dust kicked up from the dirt road in front of Cal’s. Emmett and Lyle were already there, passing a handle of Jack back and forth in between tokes from a blunt the size of a premature baby’s arm.  Great, Wyatt thought.  The two ****-ups were going to be ripped out of their skulls when **** went down.  Lyle lifted his chin in greeting as Wyatt stepped out of the vehicle.  

“Where’s Cal?”  Wyatt asked, receiving a pair of blank stares in return.  “Hello?  Cal?  Where is he?”

“Oh yeah...he’s uh…”  Lyle managed to mutter.

The sound of Callum’s boots clomping against the floorboards announced his approach, ending the futile line of questioning.  The stubby, smoldering remains of a cigar between his teeth, a look of slight confusion on his scarred face.

“Cal.”  Wyatt approached, nerves getting him a bit jittery.  “I found ‘em.”

“So I heard.” He responded as Hank’s car pulled up.  “Question I got is, why you’re over here havin’ a ****in’ pow wow instead of staring at the smokin’ ashes of your daddy’s place?”

“Things have changed, Cal.”  He said.  “Cal...I got a daughter.”

Cal stared at him nonplussed.  “Well, ****in’ good for you.  ‘Don’t answer my question, though.  Why ain’t you over there right now, bringing hell and vengeance on them sons a’ bitches?”

The confusion set in.  He’d just TOLD him why.  “I...I mean...I can’t-”

“You *CAN’T*?”  Callum interrupted.

“’s my daughter.”  

Callum glanced over to Hank a moment, silent as can be.  He reached up and took the cigar from his lips, let it drop and stepped towards Wyatt, looking the younger man in the eye.  “And?”

Wyatt could feel the blood coursing through his veins, his heart thudding against his chest.  He went to speak, but nothing came out.  Callum just stared at him, disgust and something new in his eyes.  Distrust.  The old man took a step toward him, and Wyatt, without thinking, took a step back.  For a moment he cursed himself for looking like a beaten dog.

“You think I care that you went bareback 8 years ago?  You got unfinished business, Marston.”  He said.  “You gonna turn into a pussy on me over a kid you don’t even know?”

“It ain’t like that.”  Wyatt said, a dangerous edge to his voice.  

“I think it is.  You don’t even know that little brat’s name and you’re over here, flappin’ your gums and cowerin’ like a little bitch, when you SHOULD be over there puttin’ an end to it.  Maybe you ain’t man enough to do it anymore.”

Something inside of Wyatt burned.  A white-hot rage that filled his stomach and spread out all over.  But Cal either didn’t notice or didn’t care.  He glowered at Wyatt and kept backing him up and away.  “You used to be worth a damn, boy.  Used to have a good head on your shoulders.  You used to have balls!”

“Shut up.”  Wyatt managed quietly.  Callum relished this.  He stoked those flames to perfection.

“Maybe I was wrong about you.  Maybe you’re just a gutless ****in’ coward.” Cal pushed on.

Wyatt could feel that bile burning, his heart pounding away.  His teeth clenched so hard, he thought they might crack.  His fists in tight, shaking balls.  It was as if a great pressure was rising, filling his whole body and it was about to reach the limit.

Callum’s voice rose as Wyatt backed into a post.  “Maybe Panky and me...we go over there and end it ourselves!”

And the dam burst.  In one swift motion, Wyatt shoved him back, drew his Glock and leveled it at Cal’s head.  The old man stumbled back, laughing as his boys drew their weapons, pointing them at Wyatt.  Hank, however, just stood there.  He didn’t so much as twitch a finger toward the trigger of the rifle slung around his neck.

The old man was terribly amused by the whole thing, just grinning away.  “THAT’S what I’m talkin’ about, boy!  Hell yes!  I need you MEAN!  I need you tough!  I need you ready to do goddamn ANYTHING to get the ****in’ job DONE!”

Wyatt panted, slowly trying to  get control back.  He was suddenly aware of the shotguns currently pointed his way, but he didn’t lower the gun.  He was like a cornered animal, eyes wide.  

Cal never took his eyes off him, never dropped that jagged grin.  “Boys.  You lower them shotguns now.  Everything’s good.  Ain’t that so, Wyatt?”  

There wasn’t a hint of fear in the old man’s eyes as his boys lowered their weapons.  He knew he’d won.  He got what wanted.  Callum Marks always did.  “We’re gonna take Wyatt out there.  Get him his baby girl...and we all gonna finish what he started.  We big happy family, ain’t we?”  That toothy sneer sent a chill down Wyatt’s back.  “Ain’t we, Wyatt?”

Hesitantly, he lowered the pistol.  Cal stepped up and put a hand on him.  “See, boys?”  He said.  “Big happy family.”

The pair of rednecks laughed their dimwitted laugh as Cal leaned in, his voice dropping so only Watt could hear.  “You ever point a gun at me again and I’ll rip your Goddamn throat out.  Got it?”

Wyatt turned his head to the man, eyeing him.  For years Callum Marks had been the father figure he’d always wanted.  Encouraged every little whim he had, given him money, power, women, drugs...whatever he asked.  Lately, though...he’d  begun to change.  That mellow, friendly exterior cracking.  More and more, he’d begun to feel manipulated.  Used.  This...was just confirmation.  He stared at the man he’d so long considered a friend, seeing only a monster whom he could not escape.  Finally, he just nodded.

Virgil Marston

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Re: The Only Road I've Ever Known (18+ GraphicViolence\Language)
« Reply #26 on: April 21, 2018, 12:50:46 PM »
The old pickup rumbled to a stop upon the dirt driveway, the suspension creaking as it settled.  Virgil’s trip out North had been uneventful, but fruitful.  A couple beers, a cigar, a chat between old friends, and a bite to eat later and he had a restored radiator in the bed of his truck, ready to be installed in Simon’s car.  An easy enough task.  And then the boy would be gone.

The setting sun cast its orange glow over the farm, a bit of warmth still clinging in the air.  Virgil’s boots clomped against the dirt driveway leading to the house.  The warm light inside, inviting as ever.  Even from out there, he could hear them inside.  The muffled sounds of Simon talking followed by Kate and Millie laughing.  It had been awhile since the place had felt so homey.  

Strangers came and went over the years. Some friendly, some withdrawn and quiet.  Simon, however, was different.  For the first time, Virgil was genuinely sorry to see one of their visitors go.  He was a good worker, never complained and always did his part.  He was respectful, not only to Virgil himself, but to the girls.  He was good to Kate, and sweet with Millie.  Better than anyone had any right to expect of a drifter, picked up on the side of the road.  Yes, Vigril would miss the boy.

A lopsided grin formed upon his mustachioed face, the door closing behind him. Simon glanced up from the ground pot he was stirring, that confident smirk on his lips.  “Hey, Pops!  Just in time for my famous chili.  Pop a squat.”

Virgil glanced to Kate questioningly.  She just shrugged.  “He insisted.”

The old cowboy sniffed a laugh. “Famous, huh?”  He asked making his way to the dinner table. “You sure that ain’t INfamous, kid?”

“Well, none of you have heart valves, right?” Simon deadpanned before the smirk returned.  “Used to have to make it with whatever meat I could find.  Didn’t have this fine ground beef like y’all got.  But y’know what?  You’d be surprised how much rat meat...tastes nothing at all like beef.”

Millie giggled, but clearly thought about it a moment and followed up with “Eeeeeeew…”

Simon pointed at her with his spoon.  “Hey now, what’s the old sayin’? Hunger is the best sausage?”

Kate chuckled and shook her head.  “Close enough.”

Simon mixed some rotini into a bowl with the pasta and brought the dish over to let them fill up their bowls. He wasn’t exactly a world class chef, but this, he could do.  Virgil helped himself to a few spoonfulls, loading himself up.  Simon took a seat across from him, cracking the top off a bottle of beer.

“How’d it go?”  He asked before taking a swig.

Virgil finished chewing and swallowed, a bit surprised that it actually tasted good.  “I got what we were lookin’ for.”

“Cool.   Wanna get ‘er put in after dinner?”

Simon might not have noticed the looks on the girls’ faces, but Virgil did.  They were hurting.  He glanced over and back to him and just nodded.  The uncomfortable silence that followed hung over the entire room.

“You’re just gonna leave?”  Millie said, finally breaking the quiet.  He voice was quiet, full of sorrow.  It wasn’t often she got make new friends, and now her newest friend was about to abandon her...and it didn’t seem to bother him in the slightest.

Simon paused, mid-chew and glanced to Kate, silently asking for help.  But she couldn’t even meet his gaze.  She just lowered those bright, brilliant eyes, fiddling with a bit of meat in her bowl.  

“I have to.” he finally managed.  

“No you don’t!”  Millie said, getting worked up.  “You can stay here!  You don’t have to go!”

“Mill..” Simon said gently.

“My name is Millie!”  She demanded, tears beginning to form in her eyes.  

Virgil eyed the man.   God, he was trying to be so careful.  He truly felt for him.  He knew Simon never wanted to hurt them.  He knew Simon was just being decent with Katie and Millie...but the old cowboy knew this day was coming, eventually.

“Millie.  I have a life back home.  I have to go.”

Millie was NOT having it.  She shoved her bowl away and got off her chair.  “Fine!  Go!  Go away and don’t ever come back!”  She shrieked at him, a full blown sobbing mess.  That pain was reflected in his eyes as well.  Virgil knew the story of what happened to his daughter, it wasn’t hard to imagine that there were reminders there.  Bits of the past that had come and hit the boy in a way he had not expected.

“Come on, Millie, don’t do this.”  Simon pleaded.

“No!  I hate you!  Go away!” Millie screamed, storming off.  She halted by the stairs and turned to him.  “And your chili sucks!”  

Well.  That was an exit, the old man thought.

Once again that silence settled over everything.  Simon pushed away from the table, but Kate stopped him.  She held out a palm.  


It was one word, but it held so much behind it.  Anger, pain, confusion, longing, disappointment.  It all swirled around inside her like a hurricane.  

Simon looked to her pleadingly.  “Kate…”

It was the look on her face that stopped him.  It wasn’t rage, it wasn’t anger.  It was hurt.  He had hurt her and Millie, just as he had said he wouldn’t.  Virgil knew it would happen.  He’d seen it coming a mile down the road.  He watched as Kate went after her daughter, leaving the two men alone.

Kate Wilder

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Re: The Only Road I've Ever Known (18+ GraphicViolence\Language)
« Reply #27 on: April 25, 2018, 07:01:49 PM »
It had taken an hour but, Millie finally stopped crying and fell asleep.  She hadn’t thought the girl would get so attached to Simon, but here they were.  Mille’s head lay in her lap as she absently stroked her daughters hair.

From the sound of it, dinner was cut short for the guys, too.  The clanking and occasional muffled voice from the garage gave it away.  Just another step closer to the inevitable.  Kate understood.  Of course she did.  It was clear from the beginning that he would eventually go.  Hell, they’d talked about it themselves.  She just didn’t imagine it would hurt this bad.

Why had she let herself get so attached?  She knew better than that.  Hell, just taking one look at him should have told her not to let him in the way she had.  You let people in and they, inevitably let you down.  Everyone except Pops, of course.  If there was one man she could depend on it was him.  When Simon was gone, she knew he’d help pick up the pieces for Millie.  And once again, they’d be at square one.  Praying not to be found.  Hiding in the ass-end of nowhere.  

Her eyes turned down to the little girl in her lap.  She seemed so peaceful, despite the dried tears on her cheeks.  She deserved better than this life.  She should be out playing with friends, getting into trouble.  Not hiding out with an old man and her mother because her father was a dangerous criminal.  

How long could they keep this up?  Until she was an adult?  Then what?  When she and Virgil settled here, they didn’t have a plan.  It was a way-station before they decided on something better, more permanent.  The years passed and it started to look like THIS was going to be the permanent situation, as much as that thought did not sit well with her.  There were times she wanted them to pick up and move.  But, for all his good qualities, Virgil was still stubborn.  He clung to some misplaced sense of pride.  Staying just out of reach from his hometown and living his life.  

“He isn’t going to be around forever,” she thought.  “Maybe then.”

Immediately, Kate hated herself for even thinking of Virgil’s death as a release for her and the little girl he’d give everything to protect.  Just thinking of life without him made her ache in the worst way.  She loved the old man.  He had a heart bigger than anyone she’d ever known.  The night she’d run to him, a few weeks pregnant with Millie, he’d wrapped her in his arms and held her until the tears just stopped.  

“It’s gonna be okay.”  He assured her.  “I won’t let anything happen to you.”

When he’d said it, she fully believed it.  Everyone in town knew that if you needed to depend on someone, it was Sheriff Virgil Marston.  He was tough, honest, and brave.  All the qualities you wanted in a lawman.  She watched from the little hiding space he’d stashed her in his old barn back in Noble.  Wyatt and Callum’s boys sauntered up, some words exchanged.  Virgil’s eyes never left the boy.  Never before and never since had she seen so much pain behind someone’s eyes.  When Virgil went to reach out to his son, Wyatt pulled the trigger.

She pulled her arm up to her mouth to stifle the scream that wanted so desperately to ring out.  Panic had filled her body back then.  If he was dead, surely she was next.  They would find her.  Even if she ran, they would see her, run her down and kill her...or worse.  But they never did.  When she finally worked up the nerve to look outside again, they were hopping into their trucks and driving off.

Relief was short-lived, though.  Once she found Virgil still alive, she knew she had to do something, though every bit of survival instinct told her to leave him and get out of there.  It took every ounce of strength she had to get him up and into the truck.  There were times on the drive to Sterling where she was sure she’d lost him.  

That was the night her old life ended and this new one began.  In their brokenness, they’d found a family in each other.  He was a better father and grandfather than she deserved.  If there was anyone she could talk to honestly about all of this, it would be him.  

Tomorrow, she decided.  Tomorrow, they would seriously talk about the next step.  There was always tomorrow.

Simon Toews

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Re: The Only Road I've Ever Known (18+ GraphicViolence\Language)
« Reply #28 on: April 26, 2018, 12:08:17 AM »
The hood slammed shut with a clang.  The installation of the radiator was easy enough.  An hour or two of work and they were good to go.  Frankly, Simon was glad for the distraction.  When Virgil suggested they get to work, it was like a godsend.  The look Kate had given him and Millie’s blow up lingered in his mind, and stabbed at his heart.  He’d seen it before, a few times...but that was a long time ago.  Cici had had her share of blow ups when she was...there.

God, Millie reminded him of the little girl he’d lost.  That sweet, stubborn, innocence.  The bold, sassy personality.  He knew she hadn’t meant what she said.  He wasn’t even mad.  All he wanted to do was go in there and tell her he would stay and everything was going to be okay.  Of course, it wasn’t true.  Mille was not his daughter.  He would leave and likely never see her or Kate again.  It wasn’t the first time he tried to comfort himself in a lie, and it certainly wouldn’t be the last.

No.  He would feel this guilt.  Own it.  

“Accept it, Simon.”  He told himself.  “You’re abandoning them to a *****y situation that you made worse.  Go back to your life.  Go back home.  But don’t forget what you did here.”

“You’re up here, ain’t ya?”  Virgil said, taking a swig off his beer bottle and tapping his forehead.  That wry grin upturned a mustachioed lip.  “I can almost hear ya thinkin’.”

Normally, he’d throw off a smart-ass quip and smirk his way through it.  Instead, he looked Virgil in the eye.  “I hate doing this.  Leavin’ y’all to fend for yourselves while they’re out on the hunt for ya.”

Virgil tossed him a bottle.  “You done enough for us, kid.”

Simon sniffed a laugh and leaned against a table, twisting off the cap.  “I did?  Guess gettin’ your kid and his buddies on your ass is help, huh?”

“You think that’s all you did?”  Virgil tilted his head.  “You made them girls happier ‘n I seen ‘em in years.  You put in a lotta good work here.  You been a good friend, kid.  I don’t think Katie woulda made it home that night if you weren’t there.”

Simon’s brow furrowed as he took a pull.  “They were only there because of me.”

Virgil just looked amused, his brow quirking.  “Ah, hell.  Katie woulda gone anyway.”

That, Simon did not buy for a second.  He looked to the old cowboy incredulously.  “You’d have let her go?”  he asked, doubtful.

He shrugged.  “I might bark a lot, but I ain’t the head dog around here.  Once that girl puts her mind to doin’ somethin’ ain’t nothin’ you can do to stop ‘er.”

That brought a smile to his face.  “Yeah...that sounds about right, actually.”  Simon said with a chuckle, pulling out his pack of smokes..

“What you gonna do when you get home, kid?”  Virgil asked.  

Simon thought a moment as he lit up, offering a shrug.  “I dunno.  Probably crawl into bed with the lady for a month…”

The old cowboy laughed at that and shook his head.

“Then, I guess...find myself a fight, make some money.  Maybe get into some trouble.”  

Even as he said it, Simon didn’t fully believe in it.  Judging from the look on his face, Virgil didn’t either.

“You’re gonna go back to that?”  He asked, a hint of disappointment in his eyes.

“Yeah, I mean...what else is there?”

Virgil eyed him, silent for a long time.  “You’re still young.  It ain’t too late to change.  You just gotta want it.”

“Maybe it IS what I want.”  Simon said.

The corners of Virgil’s lips tugged upward, that knowing look in his eyes.  “I don’t think it is.  Not anymore.”

He was right.  Fighting just to dull the pain inside.  Getting completely obliterated and drowning his sorrows in pointless violence and wasn’t him.  Not anymore.  Not since the fire and Tahlia.  There had to be more.  To life and to him.  When he got home, he’d find out what exactly that was.

"You can run on for a long time.  But sooner or later, God'll cut you down."

Wyatt Marston

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Re: The Only Road I've Ever Known (18+ GraphicViolence\Language)
« Reply #29 on: April 26, 2018, 01:39:54 AM »
They parked far off the property, lights off before they could ever be seen from the farm.  Wyatt’s nerves were fully on-edge.  Tonight had been a long time coming.  Tonight, the past was going to be put away and his future secured.  Just one bit of distastefulness to get through and it was set.  He’d have his daughter and everything else could just...fade away.

The knock at his window startled him out of his thoughts, his head snapping to the sound.  Panky’s gaunt face stared into him, those dilated eyes giving away the substances flowing through the skinny little psychopath’s system.

“You comin’?”  He asked, his voice muffled through the glass.

Wyatt forced a smile and nodded.  “Be right out.”  He checked the chamber of the Dead Man’s Gun one last time and opened the door.  Callum’s guys were strapping up, pistols holstered, shotguns and rifles slung.  For a moment, Wyatt thought it was a bit overkill for an old man, some punk, and Katie.  Then of course he remembered what the punk could do unarmed and the abilities of his father.  No, this was about right.  

He grabbed a couple extra clips and put a glock in the back of his jeans.  Callum walked through the small posse approaching Wyatt, his sneering eyes on his young protege.  He had that swagger like he was a general walking amongst his troops before going into battle.

“What do you say, kid?”  He asked.  “Ready to put an end to this ****show?”

Wyatt eyed him a moment before forcing another smile.  “Let’s get it done.”

Cal grinned brightly, a chuckle leaving him as he slapped the younger man’s shoulder roughly.  “Atta boy.  Let’s burn ‘em down.”

Wyatt put on his game face and walked ahead. Callum might take joy in this, but he did not.  This was a means to an end.  He didn’t hear what came next.  He wasn’t supposed to.  Callum stepped up close to Hank, his voice lowering.  “You remember what we talked about.”  His eyes flicked to the skinny killer. “No loose ends.”

Those dangerous, tweaked-out eyes turned to his boss.  “No loose ends.”