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| Category: || General Fiction |
Posted:|| April 26, 2015 Views: 77|
One never knows what will happen next.....
by Begin Again
It was bone-chilling cold. Bitter wind whipped the freshly fallen snow, covering Jay's footprints as he hustled toward the car idling at the curb.
"Dang...we must be crazy. Someone could get killed on a night like this." Agitation covered his face. Swatting the snow off his jacket, Jay slumped into the front seat and slammed the door. "It's nasty!"
Heavy metal tunes vibrated the steamy windows. Raucous laughter spilled out of the other occupants of the car, his best friends, Terence aka Master T and Duncan aka the Crusher..
From the confines of the back seat. Duncan's burly body leaned forward and his massive hand squeezed Jay's shoulder. "We got your back bro...You, Me and Master T... we're a team, man."
"That's right, fool! Ain't nobody gettin' killed while Master T's at the wheel." Terence flashed a wide grin at Jay, shifted the car into gear and fish-tailed away from the curb, barely missing the parked cars. Another burst of laughter reverberated around the car.
"It's a blizzard out here, man. Your cheap ass should be putting some new wipers on this bucket of bolts. How you even seein' the road?"
"Don't be goin' old school on me, J-Boy. Some snow flakes aren't going to dampen our party tonight."
"That's right, bro. You're looking mighty fine. The chicks be crawlin' all over you tonight. You be fightin' em off." Duncan couldn't resist the temptation to tease his friend a little more.
"That stuff you're wearin' didn't come from no dollar store either. I bet your mama sure didn't get a whiff of you as you left the house." The 260 pound football player's body doubled over, amused with his clever remarks. "She ain't got no idea what her boy be doing tonight."
Jay's mama's last words shot through his mind.
"Don't be doing anything stupid tonight, Jay. I want you home in one piece, you hear me? Stay safe." She said the same thing to him every night before he left the house.
He'd continued walking toward the door, without stopping, calling over his shoulder. "It's a Super Bowl Party, Mama, for Christ sakes. Instantly regretting what he'd said, he softened his tone and yelled, "I love you", before closing the door. He hadn't heard her response but he knew she'd said 'I love you, too'. It was their routine. The right of passage each time he went out with his friends.
"Now Dunc, don't be teasing J-Boy. You know my sister already got her brand on our boy here. There won't be no foolin' around if any of us wants to see the morning."
* * * * * * * *
Ice-laden trees creaked and moaned; their branches cast eerie shadows across the snow. Car after car was squeezed against the curb as their occupants scurried to their destinations. Porch lights glimmered up and down the street, beckoning guests carrying bags of snacks and cases of beer to their doors. Identical scenarios played out neighborhood after neighborhood. It was Super Bowl Night and everyone was ready to party.
With beer in hand, Jay found a recliner, nicely situated out of the main flow of traffic. Terence and Duncan sprawled out on a nearby sofa, devouring their second plate of snacks and chugging cold beers. A discussion between two inebriated party revelers over a referee's call slowly began to escalate.
Duncan pressed his hands against the sofa, needing the leverage to push himself to a standing position. Nodding his head toward the door, he beckoned his friends, "Come on. Let's grab some air."
Terence followed suit immediately, but Jay shook his head. "You go ahead. I'm doing fine right here."
A glass crashed to the floor, spilling its contents on the carpet. One of the men arguing bumped the table after a "friendly" push from his friend. Foul language and red faces quickly replaced the party mood.
"Hey, guys. We're all friends here, right? Let's cool your jets and calm down." A tiny brunette positioned herself between the two men and offered each a fresh bottle of beer.
Moving toward the door, Terrence and Duncan urged Jay to follow, "Come on, J-Boy. We're a threesome, a team. We gotta stick together." The two boys didn't wait for an answer, grabbing their coats they headed outside.
A sigh of resignation escaped Jay's lips. He swallowed the last of his beer and lifted himself out of the recliner. He didn't care to hang around if a fight was going to break out between two drunk dudes.
Zipping up his jacket, he pulled the collar up around his ears and stepped out on to the porch.
Terence and Duncan were in the midst of a snowball fight. The distinct odor of weed drifted over from the small group in the driveway. Looking up the street, he could see a couple waving at someone standing on the porch across the street. All was right in their world.
His phone vibrated against his thigh. Glancing at the screen, he just shook his head and answered, "Yah!"
"Jay, you still at the party?"
"Yeah, Mama. Terence and Duncan are here with me. Everything's fine."
"You know I can't help but worry. There's just been too many young people getting killed lately. I don't think I could go on living if anything like that happened to you."
"I know, I know, Mama. Don't worry. Everything's fine. Just havin' a few beers and then I'll be home."
"The news says there's lots of acci-"
"Pop! Pop!" A loud crackle broke the silence of the night.
He heard his mother's scream and his gut tightened. For a fleeting second, he understood her fears.
"Jay...Jay...what's happening?" Her shrill words blasted against his ear drum.
"It's just some dudes setting off firecrackers. It's nothing. Relax. You're getting all worked up over nothing."
A burst of laughter erupted from the group in the driveway as another round of firecrackers was lit.
"I gotta go."
"Please be careful, for my sake, okay?"
He could hear the desperation in her voice and he was sorry she was so worried. If only she'd relax a little. He could take care of himself and besides Terence and Duncan always had his back.
"It's all good. Nothing's going to happen to me. Now, I gotta go. Love ya." A small smile crossed his lips as he waited for her response.
"Love you, too, J-Boy. You're the best son a mother ever had."
"I know and you're the best mother a son could ever have. Good night, Mama."
A chill ran up his spine as he disconnected the call. Pulling his jacket tighter, he decided it was just too cold out here for him. He walked into the yard toward his snowball dueling friends. Duncan flashed a smile as he aimed at Jay's head, knowing that Terrence would follow suit.
Jay dodged the first one as it whizzed by his head. Seconds later, he felt a blast to the back of his head and everything went black.
* * * * * * * *
Leaning against the porch railing, Jay struggled to piece together the last few minutes. He'd been dodging snowballs when he heard the pop, pop, pop again. It hadn't sounded quite the same as the firecrackers. He wasn't sure what it was. His mind was flooded with questions.
'Oh man, had the fight escalated inside the house?'
'Who was that running up the street, darting between cars? Was that black SUV chasing him?'
'What was going on? Why's everyone screaming? Whatever's happening, its sure not good.'
Jay spotted Terrence and Duncan standing by the tree, shaking their heads. "Oh my God, they're crying. Master T and Duncan can't be crying.This is crazy, man. Somebody, tell me what's happening!"
He moved off the porch and walked towards Terrence and Duncan, calling their names, but they didn't hear him.
A woman was kneeling on the ground. A girl handed her a blanket and she spread it out. A man yelled he'd called 911 and the ambulance was on it's way.
'Ambulance? Who needed an ambulance? Who was hurt? Had Terrence or Duncan thrown a snowball and injured someone?'
He edged closer to the woman, trying to see over her shoulder. Her gentle words drifted up to him, "Hold on...It's going to be okay. Just hold on. The ambulance is on it's way."
He couldn't stand the suspense, the not knowing. He stepped around the woman so he could see who was hurt. He tried to recall exactly who had been outside in the yard. 'Maybe it was one of the guys with the firecrackers. Did one explode and hurt someone?'
Finally, able to see the person lying on the ground, Jay's eyes flew open in disbelief.
'It can't be?'
He tried to scream at his friends, but nothing came out of his throat. Not one sound could be heard.
Red and blue lights were flashing everywhere. Sirens pierced the frigid air. Police wrapped yellow tape around the trees and ordered onlookers to step back. The man held the woman close to him as she fought to control the inevitable tears, "I couldn't do anything. I tried, but I couldn't."
A Sheriff was asking questions. "Did anyone see the shooter? Anyone know what happened here?"
Several officers with dogs picked up the trail of the running man.
More and more police cars arrived on the scene.
The EMT pulled a crisp white sheet over the body. She shook her head, speaking out loud to anyone who was listening, "What's this world coming to? Another young life ended for no apparent reason."
Jay watched as his friends clung to each other, hysterical sobs racking their bodies.
Suddenly, he wasn't cold anymore. His mother's words echoed in his mind, "Stay safe."
'I'm as safe as I'm ever going to be Mama. I love you, but I gotta go.'
One wistful look at his friends and he was gone.
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