Home > Trust(2)

Trust(2)
Author: Kylie Scott

I was going to die, here, tonight, in the Drop Stop in my fucking pajamas. This was it. Out in the parking lot, someone screamed.

“I’ll kill her!” he yelled, foul breath hot against the side of my face, holding the door ajar with his body.

“Don’t.” The cop sounded panicky now. “Don’t. Let’s talk.”

The gunman didn’t respond. Instead, the hand that had been in my hair grabbed the store door handle, pulling it closed. Next he locked it, dirty fingers pushing the deadbolt home. No escape. Not with the gun in my mouth, trembling just like his hand. All of the things I’d never do if he pulled the trigger filled my mind. I’d never get to go home again, never say good-bye to Mom, never become a teacher.

“Back up,” he said. “Move!”

The gun pressed deeper, making me gag. I dry-heaved. It did no good. Slowly, I put one foot back, then another, panting as we took baby steps. Racks full of magazines filled the front glass wall; nothing could be seen of us below chest height. Above that line, the world was red, white, and blue. It looked like some messed-up disco, colors flashing between the posters advertising drinks and other stuff. In the distance, I could hear the blare of a fire engine getting closer.

Then he pulled the gun from my mouth, pushing me to the floor. I lay there, sucking in air, trying to keep calm, to make myself small, invisible. High above me chrome flashed, his arm swung in a mighty arc, and bam. The pistol’s butt slammed into me, pain exploding inside my skull.

“Stupid whore,” he muttered. “Stay there.”

Then nothing.

He did nothing else. For now.

Honestly, I couldn’t have moved if I tried. When I was eight, I’d broken my arm falling off the top bunk at camp. That had sucked. This, however, was on a whole different level. Agony crashed through me in waves, flowing through me from my head to my toes, turning my mind to mush. Staying aware of him wasn’t easy between the hurt and the blood flowing from my forehead, dripping in my eye. I peered out from behind my hair, the world a blur.

No movement, no noise at all. I tensed at the sound of footsteps, but they were moving away from me this time. I breathed as shallow as I could, crying silently.

Everything turned to shadows as he switched off the overhead lighting. There was still enough light coming in from outside to see, though. Guess the policewoman had run out of things to say. The rain on the roof was the only sound.

“Don’t shoot,” said a male voice. Muffled footsteps. “We’ve got our hands up. You’re Chris, right?”

“Who the fuck are you?” spat the gunman.

“Dillon Cole’s little brother, John,” said the same voice.

“Dillon . . .”

“Yeah.” Footsteps moved closer, toward the front of the store. “Remember me, Chris? You came around to see Dillon a few times at our house. You two used to hang together, back in school. You were both on the football team, right? I’m his brother.”

“Dillon.” The gunman rocked on his feet, voice slurred. “Yeah. How the fuck is he?”

“Good, real good. Keeping busy.”

“Shit. Great. Dillon.” The muddy boots moved back, both coming into view. I could see bits and pieces, my face mostly shielded from view by my hair. The gunman leaned against the blood-spattered counter. “What are you doing here, ah . . .”

“John,” he repeated his name. One of the guys who’d been standing by the beer fridge. It had to be. “Just re-upping. You know how it goes.”

“I know, I know,” said Chris. “I was just . . . I was picking up supplies too.”

“Right.” John, the guy in the hoodie, sounded friendly, relaxed. Probably drugged to the gills like Chris, our friendly neighborhood psycho. I didn’t know how else you could be calm at a time like this. “You should try the back door.”

“Yeah,” slurred Chris. Straight away, he headed for the door in question, disappearing out of sight with a wave of the gun in our general direction. “None of you three fucking move.”

It was so quiet. The click of the lock on the back door and the slamming of the same door a second later came through clear as day. Chris swore bitterly, striding back to the counter. “No good.”

“Damn,” said John.

“Not a bad idea, though . . . you know. Shit. Forgot this was open.” Out of the topmost corner of my eye I could see Chris reaching over the counter, pulling cash out of the register. “You need any?”

“Twenty never hurts, right?”

“Right,” laughed Chris, handing a couple of bills over. “Go around and grab me some cigarettes, would you?”

“Sure. What do you smoke?”

Chris huffed out a breath. “Marlboro.”

“No worries,” said John, moving around behind the counter. “Man. What a mess.”

Squelching noises came from back there, the kind you get when a rubber-soled shoe meets something wet. My stomach turned, bile burning the back of my throat. I swallowed it down, trying once again to calm my breathing, trying to stay still.

“What’s your problem?” asked Chris.

“Slippery back here,” said John. “Never been great with blood.”

“Pussy.” Chris giggled like a lunatic. “You’ve gone gray, man. You going to puke?”

A grunt. “Go easy, I’m still in high school. I got a few years to get hard like you. Mind if I grab a pack?”

“Sure, kid. Help yourself.”

“Thanks.”

I stayed still, taking it all in. And wasn’t it beautiful that John and his hero Chris the meth-head could spend this quality time together? Fucking hell.

Chris cleared his throat. “Who’s your friend? Grab some for him too.”

“Ah, that’s Isaac,” said John. “A friend from school. He’s on the football team.”

“No shit?” said Chris. “What position?”

“Receiver,” came a quieter, less assured voice.

“I was fullback, Dillon was quarterback,” said Chris proudly. “Those were the days.”

Isaac mumbled something agreeable-sounding. A match flared and the acrid scent of tobacco smoke drifted through the air.

“Want me to get us something to drink?” asked John, like he was helping to host a damn party.

“Mm.”

Squelch, squelch, came the footsteps toward me. Faded green Converse, the soles stained red with blood. I stayed still, sprawled on the ground, blood puddled around my face. At least the cool floor eased the ache in my head a little. A very little.

Chris’s friend, John, stopped beside me, watching for a moment. Without a word, he about-faced, leaving a trail of bloody shoe prints behind him.

“Better not go past the door,” he muttered.

“No,” said Chris, giggling again. “That’d be bad.”

Bottles clinked against one another. Outside I could hear car doors slamming and lots of different voices. The flashing red, white, and blue were brighter than before, as if a whole squadron of cars had joined in with the light show. Please, God, let one of them do something constructive to get me out of here. I’d go to church; I’d do anything. I was only seventeen, still a virgin, for fuck’s sake. And while I knew I’d probably never make prom queen, I’d at least like to live long enough to attend the damn thing.

“Nice,” said John. “They’ve got Corona.”

More noises. The pop of beer bottles being opened as the boys settled in to celebrate the whole hostage situation. I couldn’t see the other kid, Isaac, just Chris the tweaker and John. They were sitting on the ground with their backs to the counter, hanging out. It was ridiculous. And they might’ve known each other, but I don’t think John did drugs. At least, not seriously. His shoulder-length hair wasn’t patchy and greasy like Chris’s. Scruff covered his jaw, framed his mouth. But his lean, angular face didn’t have the same sores or emaciated appearance.

“What’s your name?” he asked when he caught me looking.

I licked my lips, trying to summon up some moisture. “Edie.”

“Eddie?”

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