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“So, you’re gonna beat me, kid? Is that it? Gonna teach me a lesson now, boy?” Tim looked up at me from the floor.

“No,” I said, an eerie calm washing over me. The rage took a kind of precision-like control over my actions. “I’m not going to teach you shit.”

Fear registered in Tim’s beady little eyes.

“Then what, boy? You gonna call the cops? Cause I know the cops round here. They ain’t gonna do shit!”

“No,” I said, taking a step toward him, the gun in my still hand pointed toward the floor.

“Then, what the fuck, boy? You gonna kill me?” Tim laughed nervously until he saw the affirmative look in my face.

I raised the gun, aimed it at Tim’s forehead, and fired.

“Yes.”

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Doe

The only time King spoke to me in the days following Preppy’s death was to ask me to go into Preppy’s room to find something I thought he would like to be buried in. At least, that is what I took from the grunting and nodding that he’d been using in place of actual words. King was hurting, and I couldn’t do anything to make it go away.

I’d never been in Preppy’s room before, and when I opened the door, I noticed that his room was huge, much bigger than King’s. Preppy had the master bedroom. The room was neat and tidy but full of random things. Shelves of books, video games, action figures, and knickknacks of all kinds.

On his dresser was a single picture. A selfie of the three of us. He’d taken it one morning when he rushed into King’s room and bounced on the bed to wake us up, which he did frequently. King and I were on either side of him, tangled hair and half–asleep. King was covering his eyes.

He’d never wake us up like that again.

Preppy’s closet was a large walk-in, overflowing with clothes of all kinds. One wall was lined with storage bins that were all neatly labeled. One bin was partially opened. The label read Shit random chicks leave in my room and was filled with women’s clothing. I guess that solves the mystery as to where Preppy was getting all my clothes from.

I chose a yellow shirt and the loudest bow tie Preppy owned, a multi-colored checkered pattern, from a bin labeled Awesome Fucking Bow Ties.

Suddenly, holding his clothes in my hands, the final clothes he would be wearing at his funeral, it all became too much. I crumpled to the floor and held his jacket to my chest. My heart felt a million times its size. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t do much of anything except silently cry, holding onto a little piece of the only true friend I’d ever known.

I don’t know how long I was down there, but I must have cried myself to sleep, because I woke with dried tears on my cheeks and Preppy’s suit wrapped around me in a crumpled mess. I stood up and rehung the jacket onto a hanger and just as I was about to hang it on the back of the closet door in an attempt to dewrinkle it, I saw something taped to the back of the closet door. A small white envelope. And in Preppy’s messy handwriting the words:

OPEN ME MOTHERFUCKERS

*     *     *

King insisted on taking his bike to the funeral in what I think was his way of continuing to avoid any sort of conversation. When we pulled up, there were already several bikes parked along the road that wound through the lush grounds of the cemetery as well as Gladys’s old Buick.

We were the last ones to arrive. Bear and a handful of bikers, Grace, and six of the ‘Growhouse Granny’s’ were already seated under the portable canopy covering the rectangular hole in the ground that Preppy’s shiny black casket hovered above. All were dressed in black. Some of the grannies wore matching black floppy hats. King wore a black collared shirt and jeans.

I threw caution to the wind and wore a yellow sun dress. I think Preppy would have liked it.

As we took our seats on the damp plastic chairs in the front row, King grabbed my hand and set it on his lap, intertwining our fingers, bringing me as close as he could bring me without sitting me in his lap.

The preacher nodded to King, then started speaking about life and death. He even tried to say a few words about Preppy, although the two had never met. I had to stifle a laugh when he referred to him as a wholesome and well-respected member of the community. For a fraction of a second, King’s stoic face gave way to reveal a hint of a smile, while Bear downright let out a blast of laughter from where he stood against one of the canopy poles. The preacher paused to collect his thoughts, then continued.

“Who has words for our dearly departed today?” His voice was mechanical, like he was reciting a manual.

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