Lost: Puck & Emily's Story

(unedited - title subject to change)

Chapter 1


Twelve years ago 


The glare of the sun over the water is blinding me even though I have my expensive sunglasses on.

My eyes fall to my boat shoes. They’re top of the line and way more expensive than one pair of shoes should be. Same can be said for my entire outfit.

I hear a whimper from behind me, but I don’t turn around to look. I know who it is. My mother. And she is crying. Again. She thinks that if she follows me around crying, I won’t leave. What she doesn’t understand is that I don’t have a choice.

The day started fairly well. I’m home from college for the summer, and I had plans to meet with my high school buddies, get drunk, smoke some dope, maybe more. That included fucking any available pussy in sight.

And then, my uncle happened. The almighty Kenneth Luther Adams the Third.

“Where the fuck do you think you’re going?” he asked in his commanding voice, stopping me in my tracks.

Mara, the housekeeper’s fifteen-year-old daughter who also works at the house, grabbed the dirty plates off the dining room table and rushed off, plates clinking together all the way to the kitchen.

“Out,” was all I told him, knowing it would get him all wound up.

“You better watch how you talk to me, Lucas,” he warned me in his perpetually unforgiving tone.

“Or what?” I smirked in the corner of my mouth. I was well aware that it only served to aggravate the tension between us, but I was at the point where I didn’t care.

“Or you won’t be able to attend the fancy Ivy League school you’re currently enrolled in. You think you’d be able to live like a commoner?”

I hated the condescending tone in his voice. It raised my hackles like nothing else.

“It doesn’t matter where you think I can or can’t handle going to school,” I retorted. “There were very clear instructions in my father’s will.”

I watched in fascination when his nostrils flared at hearing my mention of my father. His brother. The man who died when I was barely out of diapers, and whose death I am sure my uncle here had something to do with. 

I just can’t prove it. I may never be able to prove it even though I am trying really hard.

His cell phone started ringing just as he opened his mouth to spit more of his vitriol at me. His face changed in an instant, and his hands started shaking when he brought the phone to his ear.

“Bricks,” he mumbled into the phone. “Can I call you right back?” He eyed me with disgust and signaled for me to leave the room, but I refused to do it. Instead, I pulled the chair back out, taking my place at the table. If he wanted to get rid of me, it meant he didn’t want me to hear his conversation. 

I enjoyed every second of his discomfort when he turned to leave but saw my mother coming down the stairs, so he tried to hide from her.

“Mother,” I called out to her, making sure my voice would echo throughout the house. “Uncle Kenny wants us here,” I pointed at my uncle. Her dull from alcohol eyes brightened right up.

“Bricks,” my uncle repeated the name from before. “No, no, don’t do that,” his panicked voice called. “I’ll have all the money by the end of this week. I swear.”

Whatever the other person on the phone said made him red in the face. You could not pay me to leave the room right then.

His eyes clashed with my mother’s, and the psychopath I always thought him to be shined right through.

“This is all your fuckin’ fault,” he pointed a finger at my mother. She took two steps back, the joy from being called into the same room as her husband dying a quick death.

“Kenny,” she gasped in shock, one hand pressed to her chest. “I didn’t do anything. I…”

“You had to screw around with my brother,” he walked toward her. His tall stature was nothing my mother would be able to fight off. I wasn’t able to do it until three years ago when I had a major growth spurt. It happened to be around the same time I started working out, a fact that definitely put my uncle at a disadvantage.

“Having me just wasn’t enough for Princess Elaine, was it?” Kenny spit into my mother’s face as he got closer. “You just had to have Blake, too, huh? The golden son. The one everyone loved.”

You see, my mother was engaged to Uncle Kenny when she fell hard for his brother’s charms. They planned on eloping, but life got in the way. My grandparents found out, they talked my mother out if it due to all the money she was marrying into. And the second son would just not do.

My mother broke the news to my father, then went and married her intended. Around that time, she also found out she was pregnant. Kenneth’s name went on my birth certificate, but Blake Adams knew as soon as he saw me that I was his son. He changed his will, making sure to leave me enough money for a posh education worthy of the family I came from, and also to have a separate cushiony trust fund. 

It would all be in my name once I turned twenty-one years old. That’s in six months. My mother is the trustee until then, but I am nervous. I know Kenneth is putting pressure on her to make him a trustee.

“Kenny,” my mother gasped for air when he wrapped both hands around her neck.

“Hey!” I stood up from my chair, the movement so abrupt, it propelled the chair into the table with a bang. “Let the fuck go of her!”

Kenny did the opposite. His fingers started squeezing harder and harder, and I watched in fascination as my mother’s face started changing color. Then, with no warning, he let go of her. The momentum pushed her into the wall where she slid all the way to the floor.

“What do you care what I do to her?” he growled at me with murder in his eyes, spit flying all over the place.

“Well,” I didn’t show him any reaction. Instead, I flicked at an invisible spot on my shirt and raised an eyebrow at him. “Say it, don’t spray it, Kenny.”

“You’re dead,” he pointed at me. “A dead man.”

“Hmmm, interesting,” I tapped a finger to my lips. “I hope you know that I just got you on camera saying that, and that the recording will be not only going to the police in case anything happens to me, but to all the news outlets as well.”

I was full of shit. I had nothing. But I did enjoy the feral look on his face when he started looking around at the ceiling, trying to figure out where a camera could’ve been hidden. He then managed to surprise me.

“I have this place checked every single day,” he smirked at me. “There is no way you would’ve had time to do anything since last night,” he called my bluff.

I just shrugged and gave it back to him. “You know I’m good with computers.”

I am very good with computers, but yeah, he’s right, not good enough to mess with anything over night like this. I’m still a rookie when it comes down to it.

Kenny just huffed in annoyance, turned around and left. I remained standing in the spacious dining room, staring at his retreating back while listening to my mother still whimpering on the floor. 

“Lucas,” she whispered. “I’m sorry, baby.”

“If you sign the papers to make him a trustee of my money,” I looked at her with cold eyes, “I will never forgive you. Do you think you can remember that?”

Alcohol and whatever pills she had taken that morning were mudding her thoughts, I could tell.

Now, it is hours later. The sun is setting over the lake, the glare off the water almost painful in its brightness. 

My mother is lying on one of the lounge chairs behind me, completely wasted and still crying. I told her I’d find a permanent place to stay at school until I graduated, and I’d never come back to this house again.

“Don’t go, Lucas,” she whimpers once again, making me roll my yes toward the sky. I have no idea why she thinks she has any power to persuade me one way or another.

I choose to ignore her and continue staring at the water. But her next words chill me to the bone.

“If you leave for good, I’ll sign the papers to him now,” she threatens in her slurry voice, one of her mood swings hitting out of nowhere. She always does that, almost like she has some personality disorder.

My shoulders tense up, an instant tension headache taking over. I force myself not to react, knowing that’s what she’s looking for.

“Did you hear me, Lucas? Don’t think that I won’t.”

I still don’t answer. Instead, I pray like I never have before, hoping that the gods will listen, and that she will have forgotten all this by the time she wakes up tomorrow morning.

“You think Blake would’ve been a better father to you than Kenny?” she snickers behind me.

“I guess we’ll never know that, won’t we?” I reply, then hate myself for it. Now she knows I’m listening, so she’ll continue talking for a while. It’s nothing I haven’t heard before though.

“Blake was a bad man,” she slurs. “What kind of a man sleeps with the woman betrothed to his brother?” 

“What kind of a woman cheats on her fiancé? With his brother, no less?” She really is getting to me tonight. And now I got her mad.

“You know nothing, Lucas!” she starts screaming like a banshee. “Nothing!”

I finally turn to look at her, and she calms down in an instant, tears running down her face. A face that used to be beautiful in her younger years but has since been ravaged by drugs and alcohol. 

“Why don’t you tell me then?”

She is shocked that I’m asking. That I am attempting any sort of conversation with her. It hasn’t happened in a while, not since I was a little boy. Me asking about Blake Adams used to start a full on war between her and my uncle, which in turn would all backfire on me. I was a constant reminder of what my mother had done to him, and he loved reminding me that fact any chance he had.

“His parents promised to leave him destitute if I didn’t marry Kenneth,” she finally whispers.

I raise an eyebrow in question. “Did Blake know that?”

“Blake didn’t care,” she waves the question off, then reaches for the large glass of liquor she has on the side table. “He just wanted to play hockey for fun. And he was good, really good.”

I looked my father’s name up once. He was a great businessman with a reputation as a ladies’ man. But I think whatever relationship he had with my mother threw him off. 

“If he didn’t care, why did you?” I ask the obvious question.

“Because love doesn’t pay the bills, Lucas,” she rolls her eyes at me, then takes a large sip of whiskey from the expensive crystal glass she’s holding.

“So this is the life you envisioned for yourself, huh?” I lift my chin at her in disgust. “For me.”

“Well, no. Getting pregnant with Blake had never been a dream of mine,” she shrugs, and I feel literal shivers up and down my spine. “Kenny was ecstatic when I told him I was pregnant. His parents were as well. I prayed the baby was his, but… not meant to be,” she sighs.

“What about Blake?” I mutter through clenched teeth.

“Blake wanted to take you with him. He said Kenny was bad news once he’d learn the truth…”

He wasn’t wrong, I think to myself.

“Why didn’t you let me go with him?” My voice is shaking, and I can barely swallow the lump in my throat.

“I didn’t want to start a fight with Kenny,” she shrugs but refuses to meet my eyes.

It takes me a minute to process what she just said.

“Let me get this straight,” I manage to choke out. “He wanted to take me away from this,” I point to the mansion behind us. “And you said no. Because you didn’t want to get into an argument with Kenny,” I make sure to clarify.

I wish I could say that I see a small glint of shame in my mother’s eyes. She knows what me growing up around Kenny did to me.

“It is what it is, Lucas,’ she finally shrugs and takes another healthy sip from her glass.

I am frozen in my spot on the deck. Suspended in the air, unable to stop images from flooding my brain. What would have my life been if Blake Adams really took me away from his brother?

“You really hate me for it, don’t you?” Elaine Adams, the woman who gave birth to me, asks.

“More than you will ever know,” I murmur quietly. What’s the point of getting angry and lashing out at her anymore? 

Sadness washes over her face, but only for a fleeting second. The clarity I see in her eyes when she stares at me surprises me.

“I’ll make you a deal, Lucas,” she finally says in a pensive tone.

I really don’t want to enter into any sort of deal with her and, by association, my uncle. But curiosity gets the best of me.

“What kind of a deal?”

“I will have my attorney look into the trust Blake left for you. See if you can get it early.”

My heart is beating out of my chest, echoing into my ears and making me lightheaded.

“In exchange for what?” I know she’s not doing this out of the kindness of her heart.

“Leave Kenny alone. Don’t seek revenge. Lay it to rest.”

Her words are not slurred in the least when she tells me that. In all honesty, I haven’t heard her sober like this in, well, probably ever. But the fact she tells me this makes me think Kenneth Adams is hiding something. And now that she planted that seed in my head, I need to know what it is.

“Why do you protect him?” I will never understand this need she has to take his side in all things. He uses and abuses her, and she never blinks an eye to it all. In fact, she is content in her misery. Even when she cries.

“He is my husband, isn’t he?” she eyes me shrewdly. “In sickness and in health.”

“Even at the risk of your own health?” I can’t believe I’m having this conversation with her.

“That’s what marriage is, Lucas,” she smiles at me, looking almost scary when she does so. “You will learn that one day.”

“I will never sacrifice my child,” I point at her, “or any child for that matter, for some idea that doesn’t make any sense at all,” I vow to her.

“Never say never, Lucas,” my mother smirks. “Never say never…”

Chapter 2 (excerpt)


“Hey, Lucas,” a group of giggling girls are waving at me from the other side of the massive stretch of green grass we have on campus.

I push my sunglasses down my nose and give them a way too obvious wink. “Ladies.”

That just seems to throw them into another fit of giggles. I almost want to roll my eyes at how obvious they are, but I’m used to it by now. They’ve been flocking my way from the second I stepped on the campus as a freshman. Now, as I am nearing the end of my junior year, it is safe to say that I most likely fucked them all. Some, twice.

“Dude, you ready for tomorrow?” Brandon, one of my closest friends on campus, hooks his arm around my neck and tries to give me a noogie. I try to push him off me, but the fucker is huge and won’t let go. “We’re gonna get wasted,” he promises after he’s finally released me.

“You mean, just as we always do?” My sarcasm is thick.

“Well, it’ll be legal this time. For you,” he snickers.

Brandon turned twenty-one a month ago. Ever since then, any sort of alcoholic beverages have been flowing a lot easier than before. He is the first in our group of friends to be of legal drinking age, and it’s helped a lot. 

And starting tomorrow, I’ll be of legal age as well. The thought is sobering. I am so happy the day is finally here, but at the same time, I am nervous as all fuck, and I don’t want to jinx myself. A look at my expensive watch tells me I have eighteen hours and twenty-two minutes to go. They’ll be the longest hours of my life.

“I got us some good stuff, too,” he murmurs in the corner of his mouth, looking around to make sure no one is listening. “It’s gonna be lit, dude!” 

He claps me on the back so hard, I take a few steps forward. The fucker is huge, and he works out all the time. He is attending the prestigious Ivy League school we’re both enrolled in, on a hockey scholarship, even though he’s family has even more money than mine, and that says a lot. He is good enough where he is being watched to get drafted into the NHL.

“Don’t you have a game the next day?” I’m not sure doing drugs on the night before a big game is something he should be doing. If he gets caught, his career playing professional hockey will be over before it even started.

“Fuck ‘em,” he shrugs. “It’ll be fine.”

“Let’s save that for the break, okay?” I elbow him in a teasing manner, but I am dead serious.

Brandon eyes me for a few seconds, then lets out a big sigh.

“I hate that you’re right about this,” he finally admits. “So that’s why,” he hooks his arm around my neck again and starts dragging me with him, “you’re gonna help me practice tonight. You’ll be my puck.”

“Deal,” I say as I try to fight my way out of his hold.

“Let’s go, Puck,” he teases me.

I’m a decent size for a guy at around six feet tall. Brandon is on a different level though. He stands close to half a foot over me, and that’s without his skates on.

As we start walking toward the hockey arena we have on campus, my cell phone vibrates in my pocket. I pause to answer when I see it’s my mother. Her name showing on my screen today is making me nervous.

The lawyer she had looking into releasing the trust fund to me early said that it was locked tight, and nothing could be done. I had to wait until my birthday.

“Mother,” I greet her short and to the point.

“Lucas,” she murmurs into the phone. She doesn’t sound drunk, but she doesn’t sound exactly sober either. Just a happy medium, I guess. “I just wanted to hear your voice today. I know you’ll be too busy celebrating tomorrow to answer your phone,” she teases me. I don’t remember her ever doing that before.

“Well, thanks,” is all I say, unsure of where she’s going with this. I am nervous and I hope to God she didn’t do anything stupid. That trust fund I’ve been waiting on will release me from Kenneth Adams’ clutches.

“I need you to do me a favor,” she says after a slight hesitation.

This is new. She’s never asked me for any favors either. 

“What’s that?” I bark into the phone.

“I know you don’t care for me much,” she starts laughing. “Actually, sometimes the feeling is mutual, right?”

“Right.” My response is dry and to the point. I know she most likely wishes I was never born. There were complications during her labor, things happened that prevented her from getting pregnant again, which in turn left Uncle Kenny with no sons or daughters of his own. He loves to remind us all of that during one of his rages.

“Everything will probably be okay,” she continues snickering. “But I just felt I owed it to you to tell you that if you ever need help, you should look up Bricks. He is the president of a motorcycle club from the Austin area,” she explains.

My eyebrows go up in surprise. Or shock, more like.

“Since when you know a biker, Mother?” I burst into laughter myself. “President of a club at that.”

“All you need to know,” her voice becomes harsher, definitely not amused now. “All you need to know,” she repeats, “is that he hates Kenny as much as you do. Or maybe not quite as much. But he hates him. And you will be the key to get Kenny to him. So he’ll help you.”

“Yeah, I’ll get right on that,” I tell her but don’t mean a word of it.

“You should also know,” Elaine adds like I never said a word, “that there was this woman a few years ago. Before you were born actually. She and…”

“Puck,” Brandon booms from the entrance to the hockey arena. “You coming or what?”

I raise my arm to wave at him that I’m coming, then start walking faster that way. Seeing that my mother’s call is not what I was fearing, I don’t need to stand here all day and make small conversation with her.

“I need to go,” I cut her off. “Thank you for the call and for the well wishes.” I then hang up and get on with my day.

I follow Brandon to the back where their lockers are located. We both change into hockey gear, him with his own stuff, and me with what he borrowed from one of the other guys’ lockers, one that’s more my size.

When we step on the ice, I take a moment to inhale the cool air. I’ve always loved hockey, mostly because I knew Blake did before he died. I never got as passionate about it as Brandon, but I do have some moves from the few camps I attended over the years when Kenny allowed it.

I do a couple of laps around the rink to warm up, then get in the position with Brandon. We push the puck around the ice, him with a lot more ease than I’d ever be capable of, with me trying to take it from him.

I manage to take him by surprise in a second when he looks to the side, and I skate away with it. I am so close to pushing it into the goal when he comes strong from behind and hooks his stick around mine just as I’m about to do it.

“Hey, not cool,” I yell at him, but I’m laughing.

“You just got lucky there, rookie,” he teases me.

“Yeah,” I agree. “I’m gonna keep this puck. It’ll be my lucky one.”

An hour later, I am completely out of breath and ready to die. I skate to the gate and walk to the benches where I drop on my back and refuse to move. Sweat is running down my face and onto the floor underneath, drenching everything in its path.

Brandon is not ready to be done, so he skates around some more. By the time he’s done, I feel like I am getting enough oxygen into my lungs.

We walk together to the showers, then change into the clothes we wore when we came in.

“Here,” Brandon presses something to my chest. My eyes grow big when I see what it is.

“Is this…”

“Your lucky puck,” he winks at me. “That way, when I’m a famous hockey player with ice bunnies following me around, you can watch me on TV and say, hey, that guy gave me my lucky puck!”

I start laughing. “I thought they called them puck bunnies, not ice bunnies.”

“Either way,” he shrugs, “bunnies.”

I smile big when I look at the puck he gave me.

“Bran,” I call to him. “If you’re the next Wayne Gretzky, I’m gonna put this on eBay. Sign it for me,” I think on second thought. 

He takes me seriously and starts digging through his backpack until he comes up with a silver marker that would show on the black puck.

“How convenient,” I smirk at him.

“You’re not my first puck,” he shrugs like the giant goofball that he is.

“That’s just great,” I mutter. “That means the value just decreased by about fifteen percent if you got all these signed pucks around.”

“Nah,” he waves me off. “I’ll make this one special,” he promises, tongue sticking out in the corner of his mouth as he writes something. “Here,” he finally gives it back to me.

“This is your lucky puck from Brandon Karlsberg,” I read out loud and start laughing.“This is great, dude, thanks.” 

We give each other a very manly bro hug and pat on the back, then split. He wants to go looking for pussy, and I want to go call this one lawyer I found who said he could help me with the paperwork tomorrow. The dude is some second cousin of this girl I dated for two days or so, and he has recently graduated law school. So, I can afford him.

I glance down again and smile at the puck Brandon gave me. Getting it in my backpack feels like a chore right now, so I just decide to stick it in the large chest pocket of my long sleeved polo shirt.

The campus is eerily quiet right now, the gaggles of girls following me around having left. 

The walk to the parking lot where I parked is a little ways away from the hockey arena, so I take my time as I stroll through the soft and inviting looking grass. 

The quietness of the normally busy campus is giving me the creeps, and I almost jump out of my skin when a small rabbit pops out of nowhere. It seems as if I startled him, too, and I trip over my own feet as I try to step sideways.

Just as I think I’m safe, a silent whooshing sound breezes my way, and, as if in slow motion, I feel something hitting my chest. The pain is almost unbearable, and the element of surprise throws me to the ground.

Before I know it, I am lying on my back on the soft grass I was admiring only seconds ago. I stare at the blue sky, wondering why I am not dead. 

I have no idea how long I just lie here for. My cell phone starts ringing at some point, but I don’t have the energy or state of mind to reach into the pocket of my dress pants to grab it.

“Fuck,” I grunt when I am finally able to form words. I lift my head a little and look around. I am surprised when I lock eyes with the captain of the lacrosse team. He is just shaking his head at me in disappointment.

“You need to lay off the hard stuff, man,” he tells me. “Look what it’s doing to your body.”

I don’t even understand what he’s telling me, so I just drop my head back on the grass.

A few minutes later, or maybe hours, who knows, my cell phone is vibrating with a message. 

I bring my hands to my chest and start patting around, making sure that I am indeed alright.

“What the fuck was that?” I talk to myself like a lunatic, but seriously, it’s like a got hit by an invisible train. No one is going to believe this shit when I tell them.

I frown in confusion when I feel a small tear in the chest pocket of my shirt. I look down to take a look. I know it wasn’t there before…

“Holy fuck,” I murmur again when I pull out the puck Bran gave me only minutes ago. Now it feels like a lifetime.

This is your lucky puck… I see the words written on the puck, but I can’t figure out what’s wrong with it. It seems as if there’s a deep indentation in the middle of the O in your.

It’s as if…

I take a moment to regroup, scared to death to look around me, worried about what I might find.

This was no invisible train. Invisible trains wouldn’t leave a perfectly rounded hole that went almost through the puck and into my chest. 

When my eyes fall onto something glistening in the grass, my suspicions are confirmed.

I’ve been shot at.

Someone tried to kill me right here and now, on the campus at my college. There is no question in my mind that this was no accident. I would lay money it wasn’t. Just as I would on the one name I suspect of being responsible for it. Not that he would do it personally, but he knows shady people.

Uncle Kenny tried to have me killed.

On the eve of my twenty-first birthday, only hours away from gaining ownership of the trust fund my father left for me.

Houston, we have a problem.


Chapter 3


Getting back to my apartment was nothing short of a one-man unit military operation. So intense, I thought I’d have a heart attack and drop dead. But I fought through the panic attack, because I’d be damned if I gave Kenneth Luther Adams the Third the satisfaction of knowing he won.

Now, I am staring at the hockey puck that saved my life. It saved my life. It truly is my lucky puck. Holy fuck, I could kiss Bran if he was here right now.

I start pacing back and forth, unsure of who to go to for help. The lawyer who’s supposed to help me with my legal papers wouldn’t know what to do with something like this. 

Should I call the police?

While I’m sure most people would do exactly that, I have reservations. Something tells me that if I did that, I would just make the situation worse.

Something my mother told me when she called earlier pops into my head all of a sudden. She told me that if I needed help, I should go to Bricks, a biker from Austin. Why would she tell me that today out of all days? Why would she tell me that at all? 

“Fuck it all to hell!” I scream at the ceiling.

In a moment of clarity, my eyes fall to my laptop. I rush to it and get the internet browser up. I need to focus and try to get on the dark web undetected. 

My fingers fly over the keyboard as they furiously type away until I get to the screen I’m looking for.

I am decent on the computer, but I never purposely tried to do anything illegal. This will be a true test to my sort of rusty skills. 

Lucky Duck: looking for Bricks mc

I post the message and wait. I know that chances of me getting a response right away are slim to none, but one can hope. My knees bounce in place as I stare at the screen, the cursor blinking in a hypnotic move.

All of a sudden, a ding comes through. I need a minute to focus and read what the response to my request says.

TallDude: bricks who

Why would they even respond if they don’t know who I’m asking about? But then, I wonder if this is a test. Fuck, I’m so not good at any of this bullshit.

Lucky Duck: Bricks, president of MC outside of Austin. Message from Elaine Adams

For a fleeting second, I wonder if I gave them too much information. Then again, fuck it all to hell. What am I supposed to do? Thank fuck I even know how to get on the dark web. If not, how would I have even gotten to this point this fast? 

No response comes, not as quickly as the first one. I stand up to stretch my back, the pain in my chest reminding me of this afternoon’s adventures. 

I have a bruise in the shape of a circle about the size of the puck I had in my chest pocket. It’s been turning progressively darker over the last few hours, and it hurts like a motherfucker.

Noise from the hallway outside my door makes my heart jump in my throat. My anxiety levels are through the roof right now. If my uncle tried to have me killed, he should know by now that the attempt was unsuccessful. 

A glance at the clock on my laptop shows that we are fifteen minutes away from midnight. My life will finally change for the better in fifteen minutes.

Sweat breaks down my back, making me shiver even though it’s warm in the apartment. Fifteen minutes. That’s all I need, I think to myself.

There’s still no response on the dark web, and now I start debating if I should try a different channel. I basically just picked one at random and prayed it would do something. It’s obviously doing nothing, so I need to move on.

However, I continue pacing, unable to focus on what I should do next. Six more minutes go by, which means I have to survive these last nine minutes of the day. Then, I’ll be free.

The cursor on the screen is still blinking furiously on the computer screen. Between the stress of it all and the pain in my chest from where the hockey puck pressed into my skin, I feel light-headed and like I may throw up.

Four more minutes pass, and now I am down to five.

One Mississippi, two Mississippi…

I start counting in my head, hoping like hell that I can make it alive to three hundred Mississippis.

I am at sixty-three when the computer dings with a message. My cell phone vibrates on my desk at exactly the same time. I get confused for a second, wondering which one I should check first. 

I notice that the message on my cell phone is from my mother, and I instantly get a bad feeling about it.

“What the fuck,” I murmur. I don’t want to look, but at the same time I just know it in my gut that whatever she sent me this late into the night is nothing good.

I look at the computer screen as my fingers blindly type in the code to unlock my phone.

TallDude: 12512 Industrial Rd, Bedford, tomorrow at 10pm sharp – only chance

I let out a huge sigh of relief that at least that’s going well for me. Now I’ll have to figure out where the fuck that address is and how I’ll be there tomorrow by ten at night. I have classes during the day, and Austin is hours away.

Distracted by my planning of this weird trip, I finally look at the screen of my phone. And freeze. 

The message I received is a video. The preview of it shows that it is a recording of my mother. She is smiling into the camera, hair brushed down to her shoulders, makeup in place. Her eyes sparkle, but I can’t tell if it is from alcohol, drugs, or just the flash of the camera. 

I don’t want to watch whatever the hell this is that she just sent me, but since she’s never done this before, I have a feeling it could be important.

I finally press the Play button on the screen, then wait.

At first, it’s nothing interesting. My mother is dressed in a flowy white dress. It almost reminds me of a wedding dress. Actually, now that I think of it, I’m pretty sure this is the dress she wore when she married Kenny.

“What the fuck is she doing?” I murmur to myself.

It seems as if she’s just walking around the back yard, the high heels of her elegant shoes sinking into the soft grass. She then heads toward the water. When she gets to the dock, the heels click with every step she takes.

The dock reminds me of that day six months ago when she said she’d make a deal with me. I was sitting in the exact spot she is now standing in this video.

I am surprised when she turns toward the camera and smiles. She looks beautiful and carefree, nothing like the image of the woman she’s been in recent years. It’s as if the weight has been finally lifted off her shoulders.

She doesn’t say anything, just smiles and stares into the camera, then looks down at the bouquet of blood red roses she is holding in her hands. 

I’m about to stop the video because it’s creeping me out. I have no idea what the point to it is, but she can play her little games with Kenny, not me.

My finger is poised over the screen to end this torture, when I feel my breath leaving my body.

My mother drops the roses to the ground. They spread at her feet in a picture perfect design. And now she is holding a pistol.

“What the fuck are you doing?” I whisper again, knowing she can’t hear me.

She smiles again at the camera, the red lipstick on her lips making her teeth look impossibly white and perfect. 

“For you,” she winks and blows a kiss to the camera.

(c) Andie Bale 2022

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