This book is dedicated to my real life Kace Meadows.
Jessica, this one’s for you.
Life is simple, just breathe in and breathe out.
And let me love you between breaths.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual events, locales, or persons living or dead, are coincidental.
Copyright © 2014 by Scott Hildreth
All rights reserved. In accordance with the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, the scanning, uploading, and electronic sharing of any part of this book without the permission of the author or publisher constitute unlawful piracy and theft of the author’s intellectual property. If you would like to use the material from the book (other than for review purposes), prior written permission must be obtained by contacting the author at
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Covert art by Jessica
“Jake, get your shoes on and hurry up, the bus sill be here in a few minutes,” mom yelled down the hallway.
“Got ‘em on ma,” I yelled back.
“Be sure to bring home your homework, I want to see what you’re studying,” I heard her say as she walked away.
“I’m stopping at the bar tonight. I’ll be home late, so eat without me,” I heard my stepfather say.
“Okay honey, I love you,” my mother whispered.
“See ya when I get home,” he said.
I heard him walk down the hallway and go out the front door. Mom says we’re not supposed to hate anyone, but I come real close to hating him, especially when he drinks. He’s not nice to ma, and he calls me a
. He says my real daddy was a dip-shit. I don’t know my real daddy, but I bet he was a good man. Better than Jasper, that’s for sure. My real daddy wouldn’t talk to ma the way he does. And he sure wouldn’t push her and slap her, either.
“When are you going to be home from school,” ma hollered.
I shoved my arms through the straps on my book bag and lifted it up to the middle of my back. As I bent over and grabbed my gym bag, I yelled down the hallway.
“Probably 6:00, ma. I’m going to the gym, it’s Tuesday.”
“Okay,” she responded.
Going to the gym is the best thing ever. They have a program for teenagers for free. They give us free boxing training if we have no grades worse than a “B”, and we don’t have any juvenile delinquency problems
we start the program. Anyone breaks the law, lies to a trainer, or drops their grades below a “B”, they’re out of the program. No exceptions. Since I started learning to box, I’ve been a straight “A” student.
The trainers have a classroom for us to learn in. They teach us about respect, manners at home, manners in the gym, and discipline. They tell us that it will make a difference in how people see us. They say we’re an extension of the gym therefore we must walk proud, act proud, and be proud. Ma says she can see the difference already.
“I love you, ma,” I said as I looked into the bathroom.
Ma stood in front of the mirror, putting on her makeup. With or without makeup, she was the prettiest woman in the entire state of Texas.
“Want me to pick you up at the gym? Jasper has to work late, maybe we can get a pizza,” she said.
“Sure, around 6:00?” I smiled as I adjusted my book bag.
“Okay. What’s the name again?”
“Awwe, ma. You can’t miss it. On Picadilly, a few blocks from here. Geez.”
“Okay, see you at 6:00,” she said.
“Okay ma. I love you.”
“I love you too, Jake.”
No one knows better than I do. Not a single soul. Sometimes life, when you least expect it, throws a curve ball your direction – the one that breaks at the last minute and flies right past you – leaving you standing there wondering
what the hell just happened
The happiest moment in my life was the day Kace told me she was pregnant. I have never felt the level of joy, depth of emotion, or the height of anticipation I experienced from hearing her say those words. Sharing a child with the woman I loved so dearly was something which excited me greatly.
One person created by the love of two others.
He’d have Kace’s smile – my facial structure. Her smooth skin – my muscles. Her compassion – my reasoning. One human being – comprised from the souls of the two people who loved each other so much they chose to bring him into this earth.
The happiest day of my life.
The joy lasted all of twenty-two weeks, three days and roughly four hours.
Today anger fills me. Today I am – and will remain – an empty shell which houses the host of demons residing inside of me. The small portion of my blackened heart which prevails is incapable of feeling true emotion. We are who we are, and there is nothing I can do to change this one simple fact. I am filled with demons, therefore I am.
The tall bearded guy wearing the
Keep Austin Weird
baseball cap eagerly stepped to the front of the group. As he reached up and twisted his hat around until the bill faced backward, he grinned and gave his honest opinion in my odds of winning the brawl we were preparing to get into.
“There’s three of us, and
of him. This ain’t a movie, John. Nobody can take
all of us
on and win. Fuck this guy. And he’s wearin’ boots and a goddamned hoodie – fucking weirdo. He ain’t about to do
Get behind him, Steve.”
“Yeah, fuck this dude,” Steve responded as he stepped from away from the booth and began to walk in my direction.
The other two men stood directly in front of me. Earlier, the taller one with the beard had begun talking shit about my wearing a hoodie in the eighty degree Dallas heat. Although I would normally just sit and listen to such talk, I had come to the bar with the intent of fighting. After repeated attempts to get me to react to his rude behavior, he eventually did what all men do, and questioned my manhood. My standing from the booth, turning to face their table, and staring blankly as I finished my non-alcoholic beer was enough to get them to slide from their seats, stand up, and take their trash-talking to the next level. As I placed a twenty dollar bill on the table under my empty beer bottle, I’m sure they suspected I was going to attempt to leave without incident.
But I came for a fight.
Now, the man with the big mouth was making it easy for me. I’d had just about enough of his mouth, and he was having a hard time keeping it closed. Although I had not planned on him having his two friends help out, I wasn’t necessarily opposed to it either. This definitely wouldn’t be the first time I found myself in a bar brawl with three people at once. I slowly widened my stance and spread my feet shoulder width apart
“Steve and John, huh? What’s your name,
“What did you call me?” the man with the backward baseball cap asked.
I tilted my head from side to side and popped my neck. As my hands weren’t going to do me much good in the pockets of my hoodie, I cautiously removed them and clenched my aching fists.
I curled the left side of my mouth upward slightly and smiled, “Mouth. I called you
– because you’re the one doing all the shit talking.”
“Look at his hands, Cody. Look at ‘em. He’s a fuckin’ scrapper,” John said as he pointed toward my hands.
I had spent the last few nights around Garland, a city north and east of Dallas. My time here was no different than the other cities I had stopped in; I came here looking for a fight. With my hands clearly showing the wear from my previous night’s events, I carefully raised them a little closer to my chest. As Steve reluctantly walked along my right side, I gave my typical speech regarding my beliefs on respectful behavior.
“You know, if you guys weren’t acting like a bunch of assholes, it would have never reached this point. You shouldn’t be disrespectful; especially to someone you don’t know. Hell, you never know who he or she might be or what they’ve been through. Now, I’m going to give you one chance to apologize, Cody.
. Tell me you’re sorry for being a dick and I’ll go out to my bike and ride out of here. Or, choose not to, and we’ll settle this in a more brutal fashion,” I hesitated as Steve began to clear my field of vision.
“Fuck you…” he responded.
Although Cody continued to talk, I didn’t hear one single legible word.
Forgive me lord.
I stepped forward slightly with my right foot and swung my right forearm toward Steve’s neck. Curling my arm around his neck, I thrust his body backward as I swept my right foot rearward – knocking his legs out from under him. As his upper body was forced one direction and his legs the other, he appeared to float in mid-air.
Steve’s body hit the floor and remained motionless beside me.
“Holy shit,” I heard one of them scream.
“Don’t get up,” I screamed as I glanced down at Steve.
Lying there groaning, he didn’t look like he had any intent of doing otherwise.
Shocked at Steve’s immediate elimination from this bar brawl, and probably partially from my hand speed, Cody stood still and stared straight ahead – with his hands at his sides. Not a particularly good defensive posture for a bar fight, but it seemed to be his current choice. Although I could have knocked him out in a single punch, I wanted him to at least raise his hands and
to defend himself.
Almost playfully, I threw an intentional and extremely slow left jab, making sure it fell about two inches short of his jaw. As he raised his hands reflexively, he snapped out of his trance and gave me fair warning.
“I’m gonna beat the shit out of you,” he growled.
I’m going to guess you’re sadly mistaken, Cody.
He threw a well telegraphed right hand as he continued to babble expletives and unnecessary warnings.
I blocked his right with my left forearm, and responded with a quick right of my own to his mid-section, directly below his ribcage. As he gasped for breath and doubled over in pain, I was fairly certain this brawl was just about over. An immediate left uppercut to the chin connected perfectly, and provided a subtle reminder of the fact my knuckles were swollen and needed a rest. As Cody fell unconscious to the floor, John immediately raised both hands in the air to surrender.
“I uhh. I don’t want any trouble,” John stammered.
“Neither did I,” I responded as I glanced down at a still motionless Steve.
A small crowd of four or five curious people had gathered around us as the argument began. As things started to unravel into an actual fight, the crowd tripled in size. Now, fifteen or so people were standing around us and blocking my path out of the bar.
I motioned toward the crowd with my right hand, “I’m going to walk out of here and get on my bike. If any of you three follow me, it won’t end well.”
“We won’t,” John assured me.
I nodded my head sharply once in the direction of the crowd.
“You know who that is?” I heard someone whisper as I walked toward the parting group of people.
Shame on Dekkar
,” I heard someone else respond.
“Excuse me, fella’s,” I said as I walked between them, making my way toward the door.
“Yep. Sure as fuck is, that’s
,” the first voice acknowledged as I walked past the crowd.
“Ain’t he getting ready to fight for the Heavyweight Championship of the World?” the second voice asked.
I shoved my swollen hand into the pocket of my jeans and looked down at my ragged boots. As I pushed the door of the bar open with my shoulder and pulled my keys from my pocket, I shook my head in frustration. Slowly, I felt a rush of warmth wash over my body.
Not anymore, he’s not.
When I got the news, I told Kelsey to postpone the championship fight. Continuing to do
seemed impossible to me. Simply breathing became difficult. Training became impossible. Fighting any form of organized fight was out of the question. The only thing I wanted to do – or felt that I was able to do – was run.
As I walked to my bike, the anger continued to fill me. I looked over the dozen or so cars which littered the parking lot and studied the traffic on the highway in the distance. Wednesday night in a bar outside of Garland, Texas isn’t necessarily a busy night – the sparse traffic and empty parking lot was a clear reminder. As I raised my leg over the rear fender of the motorcycle and lowered myself into the seat, I began to dwell on what my life had become.
Clear your head Shane or this is going to be an extremely long life you’re about to live.
I started the bike and stared at the highway as the V-Twin motor warmed to operating temperature.
North to highway 40 and I could head east to unchartered territory. South on 20 would take me to highway 10, and I could head west to Compton – where all of this started. I pulled the clutch lever, shifted the bike into gear, and released the clutch. As I pulled through the underpass to the highway, I studied the road signs.
East or West?
As the warm westerly Texas wind blew into my face, I would have sworn I heard familiar voices calling my name scattered throughout the breeze.
Compton it is.