F U R T H E R
S O U T H
E V E R E S T I N K S
The characters and incidents depicted in this book are fictitious and a product of the author’s imagination. Any similarity to actual persons is purely coincidental.
A Severest Inks book
Not A Fucking Beach Read
© 2014 Eryk Pruitt
Cover design by
Severest Inks & Khalid Patel
All rights reserved
This book or any portion thereof should not be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated. Truly.
First published in Great Britain in 2014 by Severest Inks
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F U R T H E R
S O U T H
Melinda Kendall saw the two headed her way and figured she was in no mood for this shit.
She instinctively drew her legs to a close, but knew it was too late. They had seen her and made steadfast plans to fuck with her. Other days she could make sport of them, turn whatever nonsense right back on them. Hell, she even thought the taller of the two was kind of attractive and could even have afforded him a go with the right ration of spirit to mixer.
But not today
. For today, she had begun to kick and her attitude on life could use some improvement.
And sure as the sunrise, they were on her, funniest guys on the planet, probably the pride of whatever dipshit fraternity had released them into the wild. They took turns challenging and daring each other, arguing which would be the first to make an ass of
himself. The taller one won and could barely contain himself as he approached her.
"Hey, little missy," he said, his Louisiana accent a gumbo of drawl and polished mumble. "
You having some car trouble?"
Options presented themselves to her, although she'd prefer a proxy handle her decision-making, due to her condition. True, this car had gone about as far as it was going to go, especially with her in it. She'd ridden it hard since Nacogdoches and had no more money for gas.
But these guys had money
. Maybe they could even give her a ride. She had an arsenal of tactics at her disposal to get what she wanted. The only question would usually be: Which one would work on these two?
But not today.
She'd sat outside the bait and tackle shop for over an hour after the car had quit on her, at first trying to figure out what to do and then just trying to get her thoughts to quit racing. She was in a fix alright and the only thing that would cure it was miles. Distance. Putting a lot of highway between her and her troubles. Running out of gas had done a number on her plans.
All morning people went in and out of the bait shop and minded their business. In empty-handed and out with bags of minnows, cans of
grubworms and various other whatnot. She knew she had to look a fright, but most folks had the decency to let her be.
TallBoy and Pudgy didn't strike her as the
type. Instead of acknowledging them, she only stared back from behind her sunshades. This threw fuel on their fire.
"What's the matter, baby?" asked Pudgy. "You need a ride? I can give you a ride." He fell over laughing. He'd come at her with his best material.
Again: options. She weighed each and every one of them. She could ask for help -- beg, even. She wanted to give them the finger, offer a few suggestions to what they could do with their fancy, rich-kid fishing poles, but she couldn't see an endgame with an outcome in her favor. Guys like this had a violent streak in them that didn't mesh well with their entitlements. She also had a .22 in her bag and thought about a round bouncing in their skulls. But she knew her limitations and reckoned now wasn't the best time for her to make these kinds of decisions. She said and did nothing.
sensed something. He popped Pudgy's shoulder with the back of his hand. "Let's get in there and get our stuff," he said. "Leave this one alone. She looks like she's been through the wringer and something ain't right with her."
"She's just how I like them: skinny and skanky." Pudgy wasn't ready to give in. "It don't look like that long ago since she's been hot."
Melinda lowered her head. They walked past her and up the dry, wooden steps of the bait and tackle shop, then disappeared inside.
Best thing for them
, she told herself. Actually, she knew it was the best thing for
As much as she'd love teaching a couple of idiots a valuable lesson on how to treat a lady, one that should have been taught a long time ago, she didn't need the attention. What she needed was to get as far away from Texas as possible and to do so quietly.
So for starters, she'd need a ride.
The Oldsmobile Cutlass wasn't even hers. She'd stolen it from her boyfriend --
-- when she'd made out two days earlier. It was also the last time she'd done any crystal, which explained why such problems surfaced for her now. She needed to ditch the car and find another one. Sam would have someone looking for that car, and the sooner they found it, the sooner they'd be that much closer to her. For so long, avoiding Sam had been a game. She could dip in and out of his periphery and the only consequence would be a shouting match, a little session of who could hurt who's feelings, silly revenge fantasies. Most often the result was angry sex, as if the public humiliation dramas were only foreplay. But she knew she had crossed a line and the consequence this time would be more significant.
She massaged her temples. Since waking up Friday morning, she'd hardly the time or ability to process everything that had happened. Her brain fired through images of Thursday night, the past week, the past month and so on and jumbled them t
ogether in a narcotic mishmash of surreal episodes and she constantly needed to remind herself that
this was her life.
This was not scenes from an after-school special. No, this was her life and if it would just slow down for a second, she'd try and get a handle on things.
She'd been making mistakes for a while now, starting with skipping a Literature class during her Freshman year, which led to her running into Sam
Tuley, and culminating into Friday morning, the day she'd high-tailed it out of Nacogdoches. With the wooded little college town in Deep East Texas in her rearview, she replayed the events of her downfall, wincing with each bad decision she'd made. She watched the horror unfold --
this was her life
-- and knew there was no undoing what had been done.
She met the B
oy at the bar on Thursday night. She hadn't seen him around campus, but had she really been going to campus much this semester? He said all the right things. She was in the mood to do all the wrong things. She and her boyfriend Sam were going to the mattresses lately, and not in the good way. It never mattered what started these fights, or even what finished them really. All that mattered was how bad one could hurt the other before it was finished. And this time, Melinda was bound to leave a mark.
She let him buy her drinks, but that wasn't really necessary. Usually a bump or two of the stuff Sam sold these days killed any appetite she had for booze, but
when in Rome
... The Boy figured out the score and asked if he could have some, she said sure, let's go back to my place and party. He was down and she figured this would be the perfect way to show Sam he shouldn't have fucked with her. If indeed he had.
, she meant the place she shared with Sam Tuley, her boyfriend of eleven tumultuous months. Ever since he started dealing, the place had transformed from a study pad to a drug den and, most of the time, the phone never stopped ringing. Wanting a little privacy so she could do the deed, she unplugged the line and led the Boy into the living room.
"You said you had a boyfriend?" the Boy asked. "He won't like, come home and shoot me, will he?"
"He won't come home," she told him. "Not tonight, anyway. We got into a big fight and a large part of him getting even -- which is the most important part -- is not coming home." The Boy appeared to relax, but Melinda didn't buy it. He never seemed to lose control or get nervous. He seemed to have it all figured out. "I ain't worried though," she said, "because Sam Tuley will always come back for me."
"What did y'all fight about?" the Boy asked.
"I really don't even remember." Melinda scooted over closer to him and pulled out some of Sam's shit, dropped a small pile of it onto the back of a CD jewel case -- Skynyrd's
-- and began to chop out some lines with her student ID card. "All we do is fight anymore. I think it's the drugs, honestly. All the damned drugs. When we met, I thought he was smarter than all the other boys I met on campus. We first tried crystal to help us during a late-night cram session, studying for a Poly-Sci exam, and then the next thing you know..."
"It happens to the best of us," said the Boy. He watched her work the shit, the student ID chop and slide, slide and chop until four skinny lines snaked across the CD case. She offered him the first one,
then took hers.
They got to talking.
"So he starts dealing," she said. "He swore it would only be for a little bit, to get us over a hump, but one thing Sam Tuley ain't all about are
. It's good stuff though, ain't it? Real clean, not like the bathtub stuff you usually find out here in East Texas. So you go to Stephen F. also? I haven't been making it to class lately. I was Dean's List for the first three semesters, but not this year. Next semester will be totally different. God, I need to get things back on track. It seems like when we're doing all this damned crystal, things are much clearer than they ever were, but at the same time, it comes at you so fast..."
He smiled. "And then when you come down, it
ain't no picnic."
"We won't have to worry about that tonight, partner." She stood up and walked into the bedroom. He heard her shuffle around a bit,
then she walked back into the living room with two large baggies of snow-white powder. "Sam's buddy hides this shit over here when they're making a run."
Boy tensed a little. "And they aren't coming home? With all that shit in the apartment?"
"Relax," she cooed. She sat so their legs touched, snaked an arm through his, set the baggies down on the coffee table. "They're on the run and he's pissed off at me. Trust me, as much as this is, they probably have another baggie this size or bigger. Last I heard
, they had to drive clear out to Longview to move some of this shit to some rednecks. They won't be coming home tonight."
"He's that deep into it, huh?"
"Lately, he is." She rubbed at her nose and the shit drained down the back of her throat. "At first it was fun. We made enough money to pay for what we put in our faces. People calling, knocking on the door all hours. People in and out of here and trust me, tweakers never know when to go home. Soon, they quit dropping by. Just one guy, JoJo, coming in and out. And JoJo and Sam would go on long drives and Sam would hide these big bags in here, then be gone."
"How come you don't leave him?" asked the Boy.
Before she answered, she took in his impossibly blue eyes, let herself be hypnotized. "I don't want to leave him. Not most the time anyway. I want him to quit treating me like shit. I want him to quit thinking I'm lying all the time. To always think I'm cheating on him."
The Boy laughed. "Why would he think that?"
"Don't get me wrong, I'm not a cheater." She leaned and kissed him full on the mouth. "But right now, me and him are broken up. And he needs to learn to respect this. I'm always getting accused of cheating on him. Him screaming and throwing things and calling me names in front of everyone. So if I'm going to do the time, I sure as hell want to do the crime."
So she did and a half-hour later, they scrounged up their clothes scattered about the living room floor, did the other two lines, and she immediately began to regret it. She'd punched Sam in the face, keyed his car, once called the cops when he got a little rough, and set his schoolbooks on fire. She'd never fucked another dude and couldn't help but feel a line had been crossed. Her mind raced. Could she repair this? Could she make it go away?
Still, she talked: "It's the drugs. That's why he is like he is. Not just the meth, either. He gets so riled up on crystal that he needs a Rufie or a Xanax to get any sleep. You think that don't have side effects?" She held up her pointer finger, then let the finger droop. "He cries in his sleep. I wake up sometimes and he's just sobbing and carrying on and I massage him and stroke him and then in the morning, he feels like he has to even the playing field. He reads through my journals, listens in on my phone calls, follows me to class... We fight, then make up, then fight again. He tells me all the time he's going to leave me."
The Boy put a hand on her shoulder, then both hands, and soon he was massaging. "Calm down, Melinda," he said, his voice velvet. "You're getting all worked up over nothing. This is between you and me and don't
nobody ever have to know about it."
"That feels great," she said, trying like the dickens to relax. He could massage until Christmas, but they'd done too much crystal.
"We need to take the edge off," he said. "You got any booze?"
"There's some vodka in the freezer, I think," she said. He got up and she heard him clinking around in the kitchen a bit. She looked around the room. Two giant baggies of
JoJo's high-grade shit on the table, couch cushions tossed askew from their little bout of screwing... they'd knocked over an ashtray and the carpet now dusted grey.
I didn't make him use a rubber
. She thought she'd cry. Part of her was fool enough to wish Sam would walk in the door right now and make everything better, but only a very small part. If Sam walked in right now...
In came the B
oy carrying two cocktails. He set one in front of her. "Drink this," he said softly. "You need to relax a bit, okay?" He leaned in and kissed her neck. Soft kiss. Nice.