The man marches to the bedside table and tears open the drawer. “Is this what you want Jadyn?”
“No!” she shrieks. Her face is wet and burst vessels in her cheeks paint her whole face a painful red. “No! Owen, no! Please!”
Owen hefts a steel pistol from the drawer and raises it to his temple. “You hate me, you don’t give a shit!”
Jadyn leaps at Owen and grabs hold of the gun arm, trying to wrench the weapon free of his hand. Owen grips her high on the arm and drives his shoulder into her chest. She ricochets off the queen size bed and falls, crying, to the floor. “It’s not even loaded yet,” he says. “Hold your horses.” He yanks the slide back and the bullet snaps into place. “Now it’s loaded.”
The blaring of a bull horn jerks Owen awake. The horn comes again. Owen twists on his butt and freezes mid-turn to groan and reach for his back, only to cry out again at finding this movement just as painful. He shuffles down the hallway to the bathroom, following the horn. “Time is it Jadyn?” Owen’s foot recoils from the ground, “Shit, what’s this?” Owen wobbles on one foot as he examines the sole of the other; he picks out a sliver of glass and blood. The alarm sounds again and Owen continues, watching the carpet for more glass.
In the bathroom, shards of mirror are strewn over the Spanish tile and where the mirror above the sink had been, only a gray slab scribbled with adhesive residue. The next time the horn comes, Owen pinpoints its location to the sink basin and has to leave and return with a pair of black motorcycle boots to transverse the debris and silence the phone.
Owen’s eyes are bloodshot and half-closed in front of a computer monitor. He clacks the keyboard keys in short bursts, pausing with mouth agape to check his work, then resumes. There is a light knock at the door. Owen keeps his eyes on the screen. “Working, what is it?” There is no answer, but the door creaks open and a steaming cup is set just under his nose. “Thanks.”
“Can we talk?”
Owen stops typing and sighs. He glances at the tall black safe beside his desk, waits, and shakes his head. “Not now, I’m almost done.”
Owen curls his nose; tightens his lips. “Sure.”
“Fhuh, ffuh, ffuh…” Owen brings the barbell up to his chin once more than lowers the weight to the rubber mat. The wall in the workout room is entirely glass. Owen puts his nose to it and lets his heat fog Newport Beach from his view. He returns to the weights and continues curling.
Jadyn is in bed when Owen appears in the bedroom door. “Room looks good.”
“It wasn’t hard to pick up.”
Owen goes to the dresser across from the bed and starts to change into his night wear. “You said you wanted to talk to me?”
“About last night?”
“I’m sorry about the stuff. I’ll get it fixed first thing tomorrow alright? I know a guy who does mirrors.”
“I don’t care about that.”
“Oh. What then?”
“The drinking? Owen I know how hard it is with alcohol. You know I do. But, I’ve never been scared of you like that before. Like last night.”
Owen climbs into bed and lies facing the wall. “I don’t like it. I hate it.”
Jadyn’s hand is on his shoulder. “Then don’t. I won’t ever drink again, and I can help you.”
“I don’t need your help.”
“I can’t handle this, Owen.”
“I didn’t say I would drink. I said I didn’t need your help.”
The hand squeezes and relaxes. “Thank you.”
The next morning Owen wakes up to the smell of warm vanilla and eggs. At the top of the stairs he can hear the sizzling of oil and the rush of running water. He smiles and returns to his room where he crouches beside the bed and pulls out a nearly empty bottle of brown liquid. He unscrews the cap and, making sure no one is at the door, takes three large swallows and replaces the bottle. When he returns to the stairs the doorbell chirps frantically followed by pounding at the door. He descends the stairs and turns the opposite the kitchen to answer the door.
It’s a tall, wide-shouldered man with rough facial hair and a bulbous brow. “Owen. I need to talk to my sister.”
Owen drops his head back and curses. “What do you want Steven?”
“Hey, asshole, I got some weird texts the other night from Jadyn telling me that she was in trouble, then a few hours later, when I’m already in town, she texts me to say never mind.”
“So why are you here?”
“I’m not here for anything from you Owen, I’m just worried about Jadyn is all. Where is she?”
Owen steps aside and gestures to the kitchen with his arm. “She’s just making breakfast now. Pancakes. Ever heard of them? They cost money to make though, so maybe not.”
Steven tries to cross the threshold, but Owen blocks his way again. “Don’t even think about stepping foot in here. We’re doing great Steve-o. So great in fact that we absolutely need no help from you. I think you’ve helped your sister enough, don’t you?”
“Jadyn!” Steven shouts; Owen slams the door shut.
Owen turns the lock and makes his way toward the kitchen. “You damn brother just showed up at the door you know. He said he got some weird tex—” he looked up but found the kitchen empty; the water still running, a bowl of yellow batter on the counter, and two black disks smoking on the stove top. Owen rushes to douse the fire and thrusts the pan into the cold water with a violent hissss.
To be continued…
I haven’t written a new periodical in a while, so here is one I started this afternoon. If you enjoy it, I will post the second half in a few days. Cheers!