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“I guess I am.” Preppy said. “I’ve done a lot of shit for King, but this is kind of new for me. I’ve never taken anyone on a run before. But he’s also never taken in a stray either.”

“Stray?”

“Well, you’re kind of like a stray dog, without the mange. Cute, but too skinny, and kind of scraggly.”

“Okay, I guess, but I wasn’t taken in. I’m here against my will,” I corrected.

“When King saved you from that bum the other night, was that against your will?”

“No, that guy was going to kill me.”

“Okay. So here is another question: you got somewhere else to be?”

I shook my head.

“See? He took you in. Just like a stray.”

That was the first time I considered being there as anything other than a violation of my free will, and Preppy made me see that.

“I mean, yeah, he saved me,” I conceded. “But on the other hand, he also expects me to pay off a debt that isn’t mine by bending to his psychotic will.”

“There are two sides to every argument. Two ways to be wrong. Two ways to be right,” he sang as we passed the fire pit in the back yard. It wasn’t just a hole in the ground as I’d previously thought, but a large brick circle built a few feet off the ground. Beyond the pit, at the end of the huge yard, was a wooden dock with mangroves threatening to swallow it on either side. From the dock was the mirror calm waters of the bay surrounded by nothing but nature.

No other houses. No other docks.

A bird took off from a nearby tree, shaking the branches. It hovered just inches above the glassy water. A small black snake dangled from its beak.

This place was as confusing as King. Hard edges, unfinished and unrefined, yet mysterious and beautiful in it’s own way.

A tattered frat house in some ways and a complete paradise in others.

“Who else lives here?” I asked as we entered a side door to the detached garage. Tarps at different stages of fading covered rows of what I assumed were cars and bikes. They hung thick with dust motes, like everything was wrapped a dirty fog. Specs of debris came alive in the one ray of sun that invaded the otherwise dark garage, through the corner of a broken window.

“It’s just the two of us in the main house,” Preppy said, lifting the tarp off of a shiny black sedan that looked like something right out of a movie from the fifties. “But Bear keeps an apartment here in the garage. He crashes here when he doesn’t feel like being at the clubhouse, which is a lot lately.” He gestured to the door at the far end of the wall that was covered from top to bottom with random bumper stickers.

Preppy started the car then ran to open the garage door. He drove the car out of the garage and put it in park so he could repeat the garage door routine except this time he closed it.

He rolled us down the driveway at an extremely slow pace. “Don’t want to kick mud up onto Busty Betty,” Preppy informed me, lightly smacking the steering wheel.

“You named your car?”

“Um…yeah, of course. Everything important should have a name.”

“Isn’t that the truth,” I said, no longer referring to the car.

“Oh come on. You are important. And you do have a name. We just don’t know it yet. Maybe, your name totally sucks. Like it could be Petunia Peoplebeater or something. You should be grateful that you are possibly avoiding a total name tragedy,” Preppy joked.

“I guess Doe is better than Petunia Peoplebeater,” I agreed with a laugh.

“Damn right it is.” Preppy accelerated once we reached the end of the driveway and turned onto the road.

The only town I’d been to before Logan’s Beach was Harper’s Ridge. Along with being a much more populated area further inland, it also held the dubious distinction of being where I had first woken up in that alley. Where Nikki had first befriended me, if you could call it that.

Fucking Nikki.

Something tugged at me from deep inside when I thought about her. A part of me wanted to mourn her loss like I’d known her all my life, instead of a few weeks. A piece of me wanted to cry for her, but I shook those thoughts away because she didn’t deserve my tears. She’d abandoned me.

The bitch shot me.

Preppy gave me a tour as he drove. When we crossed over a steep bridge, I learned that it was ‘The Causeway’ referred to by the graffiti on the side of the house.

I found myself sticking my head out the window like a dog. When I opened my mouth, I could taste the salty air on my tongue.

I could be back on the street at any minute, so I decided to enjoy the time I had free of the burden of my immediate survival.

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