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 Category:  General Fiction
  Posted: May 12, 2020      Views: 18

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Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.
Not yet exceptional. When the exceptional rating is reached this is highlighted
Part 3 of a 5-part story
"Dog Rebel & The War Machine Pt.3" by BlueTiger

They had come in a cloud of dust, engines roaring down the long dirt driveway. Mud-caked boots and leather jackets, tattoos scrawled across skin like runes.

On evenings like this, the empty house became filled; with smoke and laughter, music and clattering, the smell of sweat and whiskey.

Dog could hear it from the driveway as he brought The War Machine to a stop beside the porch. The last rays of sunlight were fanning out like tire spokes across the sky. Dog saw them and thought of the woman who painted daffodils, the woman who had run from all of this.

He let the screen door slam shut behind him; the sound was drowned by the noise of the house.

Most of the faces were ones Dog recognized; scrawny Wayne, his wife Melissa; Randy, a bearded mountain of a man who had been like an uncle to him. There were others he didn't recognize, like the red-haired woman clinging to his father's arm in the living room.

She was whispering something in his ear, as one of John's friends made a joke and the rest of them laughed. Dog could feel the rage rising like a fire, like a flame climbing up his body from the soles of his shoes. He couldn't have said why he felt it then. Perhaps it had slept long enough, this thing that lived inside him like a wild beast. It was waking now, waking to the noise and smoke.

John locked eyes with his son. There was an expression in that icy blueness of -- uncertainty, or maybe fear -- and John gave his son a smile and gently tossed a beer can his way.

Dog caught it awkwardly, surprised by the gesture and the welcoming nod his father gave, inviting him to join in.

But Dog didn't want it. He wanted nothing to do with this life, with this raucous world his father had raised him in. His rage grew until he felt it would explode through his skin, and he hurled the beer can back through the air, striking John Rebel on the side of the face.

The house grew quiet as the laughter and conversation came to a halt. Only the thrumming beat of the music continued, as all eyes turned on Dog.

John turned towards his son, the anger coming over his face slowly, like clouds moving across the sun. His eyes narrowed to two shards of blue ice as he burst forward, shoving the red-haired woman out of his way.

Fear coursed through Dog's veins as he turned to run. He shot down the hall and through the screen door -- then tripped on the loose porch step, the one he was always so careful of.

He started to fall just as another force hit him from above, driving him face-first into the dirt. Dog covered his head as the blows began falling like hail. Dog heard Randy's voice through the ringing in his ears.

"Leave him alone John! Get offa him!"

There was a scuffle above him; then another silence, followed by a click that resounded through the twilight air.

Randy's voice again.

"John...put the gun down. Just give it to me."

Dog felt the weight shift above him. He heard his dad sob drunkenly, felt his body relax as the gun dropped to the ground beside his head. He felt the weight lift off his back, as two of the bikers took hold of John and dragged him off.

"Take him in the house," Randy said. He knelt by Dog, helping him to his feet.

"You alright, kid?" Randy asked. Dog ran his fingers through his hair, loosing bits of dirt and gravel.

"No," he answered. He straightened his jacket, wiped the dust from his eyes. The horizon was a haze of gray smoke, darkening with the slow fade of night.

"I need to get out of here," Dog said. Randy stood beside him, his tattooed hands in the pockets of his jeans.

"I'm sorry, Dog," he said, "I tried to tell him not to drink so much tonight. You know how he gets."

"More than anyone," Dog scoffed.

"He's in a lot of trouble," Randy said, his gaze following Dog's to the horizon, "There are people he owes money to...dangerous people. He won't talk to me about it, but I got that much out of him. Do you know what's going on?"

Dog shook his head.

"I don't know," he said, "and I don't care."

Randy sighed.

"He loves you, Dog."

"Sure has a funny way of showing it."

Randy nodded, scuffed his boot against the driveway.

"He wasn't always like this," he explained, "I knew him, back before everything happened. He was a good man; I hope you believe that. But he wasn't a strong man. And when she left-"

"He told me she was dead."

"I know. He thought it would be easier on you."

"Since when has he cared about being easy on me?"

"Dog, you need to know this; he might be broken, but he cares for you. Your mom..."

"Don't say anything about her," Dog snapped, swinging around to face him, "you don't know why she left, but I think I do. You know what I think? I think she looked around this hellhole and couldn't imagine going on another day. I think she was so scared of being trapped here, of being stuck with him forever, she had no choice but to run. I don't know why she left me here..."

Dog looked towards the east, where the stars were already lighting the navy sky. He snatched up his helmet and swung back onto The War Machine, his eyes set on the highway.

"I don't know why, but I'm going to find out."
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