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“Well, when you put it that way,” I said, realizing how farfetched the idea seemed now that King had said it out loud, but that didn’t change the fact that something about the girl didn’t sit right with me, although I couldn’t for the life of me figure it out. Which was fine with me, I wasn’t going to stick around long enough to figure it out either.

“What you been getting into on the road?” King asked, and again my old friend surprised me with the concern in his voice.

“Nothing good.” I answered honestly, but it’s better than being here. “Looking forward to getting back to it right after I see what this crazy bitch did to her family.”

“Did she say the second body was a family member?” King asked.

“Nope, just a feeling,” I admitted. “She killed her mom, and if she really is an innocent then it only makes sense that the other body isn’t some random, so I figured it’s probably another member of her family.”

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but why do you care? You said yourself that you don’t even know the girl and that the ring and promise thing was a fucking joke. Why do any of this?”

“I don’t care. Not about the girl. It’s not about her.” I hopped up into the truck and slammed the door. “But I told you already. The sooner I fix this, the sooner I can send her on her way and go back out on the road until I can figure out my next move. If I don’t do this she might cause problems, get loud, hang around longer than she’s welcome, which was already about the time I had to come riding back into town to see what the fuss was all about,” I said, not willing to admit that a little bit of my motivation was the evil five letter word that’s been haunting me for the past year.


“That makes a fuck of a lot of no sense,” King said, lighting a joint and passing it to me, I took a hit and passed it back.

“Didn’t think it did, man,” I said, starting up the truck and easing it out of the garage. I turned us around once we were clear of the overhang and started down the narrow driveway.

I pulled out onto the main road and waited for the radar detector to chirp, and even though King said he was tight with the local cops I was still relieved when it remained silent.

“You know what?” King asked, picking a stray bit of weed off the tip of his tongue before taking another deep drag from the joint.

“Huh,” I said. He passed it back to me.

“You might not wear a cut anymore…but you’re still a fucking bastard,” he said on an exhale, a deep burst of laughter exploding from his mouth in a puff of smoke.

“Haha, fuck you,” I spat, as he continued to laugh.

There was a question I’d been wanting to ask him since I’d gotten back that popped back into my head. “Remember the night we were talking about hearing Preppy?” I asked.

King nodded. “Yeah, the night we lit up Eli and his crew.” The vein in his neck started to pulse as he recalled the night I was tortured.

The night he saved my life.

“Yeah, that would be it. I was just curious. Do you still hear him?” When King raised an eyebrow I clarified. “Prep. Does he still talk to you? Do you still hear him?”

“All the fucking time man. He grew quiet there for a little while, but as we settled down with the kids it’s like he’s back with a vengeance. Sometimes when Max and Sammy are screaming at the top of their lungs, I think he’s even louder than them. Like a fourth kid who broke into a case of Mountain Dew at nine pm and instead of sleeping has decided to run laps around the living room.” King turned to me. “You?”

“Yeah. All the fucking time. Especially when I’m fucked up. Or fucking up. Or when HE seems to think I’m fucking up. You think that’s weird?” I asked, knowing damn fucking well how weird it really was to live with a second voice in your head who chimed in when he saw fit.

You flatter me, Care Bear.

“You mean do I think it’s weird that we both hear the voice of our dead friend talking to us?” He smirked. “Naaaahhhh.”

“Well when you put it that way.” I hit the joint again, holding the smoke in my lungs until it burned.

I pressed down on the gas and sped down the road towards the rotting bodies of Thia Andrews parents.

But all the hurrying was pointless.

We were too late.

We were WAY too fucking late.



I hadn’t meant to eavesdrop. I’d meant to LEAVE. But when I found out that yet another door had been locked, trapping me inside, I couldn’t help but to listen when I’d heard voices on the other side.

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