The door was unlocked just like I expected. I didn’t even bother being quiet, I didn’t see the point.
"Finally!" I’ve heard Mickey’s voice from the living room. "Took you a while! I got bored, had to start without you. Hurry up already!"
I walked into the medium size living room. When I saw Dylan, I almost shot Mickey right then and there. Dylan was handcuffed to the old heater, his face so pale that it seemed unreal. Mickey turned around and literally froze in his spot when he saw me. He looked like he was wearing some demented Halloween mask. I smiled at him.
"Hey", I said softly. "Having fun?"
"What the hell…" he said and moved towards an old desk that was sitting in the corner of the room.
"Nope", I said lightly and pointed the gun at him.
He stared at me in disbelief.
"Connor", he said in a low voice. "I don’t know why the hell you doing this and I don’t want to know, okay? This is between me and this son of a bitch over there…" he nodded towards Dylan whose eyes were closed. "Did you know that I ended up in jail thanks to that bastard?!"
"Was it before or after you attacked Kay?" I asked politely.
"Kay was a mistake", he grimaced. "All I wanted was to beat the shit out of this prick… He killed my fucking dog, Connor! He sat it on fire, okay? I didn’t even know that Kay was home when I got there, okay? And the next thing I know, fucking cops are coming for me, okay? So I get arrested and thrown in jail, okay? My Uncle got me out and I moved here… And then I meet this dickhead in the middle of the street and…" he took a deep breath. "Look at me!" he pointed at his face. "Just look at me, okay?"
His manner of saying "okay?" every ten seconds made me smile.
"Uncuff him", I said calmly.
"Do it", I nodded.
He gritted his teeth and his eyes darted behind my back. I knew what - or rather who - was there.
"Come in, Tanner", I said evenly without looking back. "I am almost done here. Uncuff him, Mickey."
"I’m sorry, Mickey", Tanner said quietly from behind my back. "Do what he says, will you?"
Mickey looked dumbfounded.
"What the hell…" he muttered with a frown that made his already distorted face look even more distorted.
"He has Jenny", Tanner said helplessly.
Mickey blinked and looked at me in disbelief. I gave him a very small smile and nodded.
"I’ll do anything for him", I said simply. "Now uncuff him please. Otherwise I will shoot you and then I will do it myself."
Mickey blinked and slowly walked towards Dylan. He uncuffed him and Dylan’s hands fell down heavily. That made him hiss and open his eyes. He saw me and I almost laughed out loud when there was his old small smile stretching his bleeding mouth.
"You okay?" I asked him without letting Mickey out of my view.
"Peachy", he muttered.
Mickey looked at me with pulsating hatred in his one remaining eye.
"We should’ve killed this fucker when we had a chance", he said slowly.
"Later, Mickey", I said indifferently and pulled the trigger.
The shot sounded like a muffled hand clap thanks to the silencer. I sort of expected to see puzzlement on Mickey’s face right before he slides to the floor slowly, just like in one of those movies. Instead he staggered backwards, tripped on one of the chairs and went down like a sack of potatoes.
"Jesus Christ!!" Tanner yelled behind my back. "Are you out of your fucking mind?!"
"Probably", I agreed and turned towards him. "Give me your car keys."
He stared at me like I was devil incarnate. Pure horror. Finally he put his hand into his pocket, pulled out a set of keys and gave them to me. He looked like someone who believes that he is having an extremely vivid nightmare and expects to wake up any second. I took the keys and nodded.
"She is in the dark Ford on the other side of the road", I said calmly. "She was asleep when I left her. The door is unlocked."
He didn’t say anything. He didn’t even nod. He just turned around and stumbled outside. I glanced at Dylan who was sitting by the heater, his face as pale as before, breathing shallow.
"Be right back", I said softly and he just closed his eyes once for "Yes".
I went after Tanner and lit a cigarette once I was outside.
He was trying to open the passenger’s door frantically but it wouldn’t budge.
"It’s jammed", I called loudly and he looked at me blindly. "Get in through the driver’s side!"
He limped towards the driver’s door and I walked closer to the car. I watched him and once he got inside, I lazily flicked my cigarette away, making sure that it lands in the stream of gasoline that I left by the Ford. I thought of watching Tanner’s facial expression when he realizes that Jenny wasn’t sleeping but then I decided against it and walked back towards the house quickly.
I was almost by the front door when the car exploded behind me. The sound was so great that I went deaf for several seconds. I swayed on my feet and grabbed the doorknob, shaking my head furiously. Holy shit, that was loud! My hearing returned to me and I couldn’t understand what was that strange shimmering sound I’ve heard. I looked up and started to laugh. The explosion blew every single window in the house out.
I kicked the door open and walked inside. Dylan was still sitting on the floor, his eyes closed again.
"Hey", I said softly after I stepped over Mickey’s body and got closer to him.
He slowly opened his eyes and looked up at me.
"Come on", I muttered and pulled him up by his shoulders.
He hissed when I tried grabbing his hand and I immediately relaxed my grip.
"What is it?" I asked, holding him up by the shoulders.
He wrapped one arm around my neck and bent his elbow.
"He owed me several broken fingers", he muttered, his hair hanging in front of his face.
I winced and looked at his hand. Sure enough, four of his fingers were bent at very unnatural angle.
"I am taking you to the hospital", I said and dragged him towards the door. "Do not argue with me."
"I wasn’t going to", he muttered. "What about the house?"
"I’ll take care of it", I said calmly. "Let’s get you in the car first."
It wasn’t Tanner’s car, I realized when we got closer. Apparently he never fixed those tires. This was a rental. Well, even better. I shoved Dylan into the passenger’s seat and closed the door. Taking care of the house was easy. Mickey had crapload of gasoline in the garage. And as I said before, the house was old.
Twenty or so minutes later the house was nothing but a huge bonfire. I looked at it for a full minute, marveling at how magnificent it was. Finally I got into the car and started it.
"Stop by your place first, will you?" Dylan muttered. "I want to clean up. I probably look like shit, huh…"
I laughed at that.
"Yeah", I agreed lightly and started driving.
- XXI -
Two Months Later
"Ah, crap…" I muttered when I saw flashing lights of a cop’s car behind me.
I pulled over obediently and shut off the engine. Dylan opened the door and got out of the car.
"Are you crazy?" I demanded and he just gave me his trademark smile. "He’ll shoot you for all we know!"
"We are in the middle of nowhere", he answered evenly. "The last town we passed had population of five hundred… Do you seriously believe that cop is going to do something drastic?"
"If he shoots you, I’ll just say I told you so", I said and he closed the door.
I watched him in the rearview mirror. He walked slowly towards the cruiser, leaned into the opened window and a couple of minutes later he was walking back, his posture as relaxed as ever. I watched him with growing suspicion. He slid into the passenger’s seat, gave me a small smile, and said:
I looked in the rearview mirror again. The cruiser was just sitting there, lights flashing. I frowned and looked at Dylan.
"What did you do?" I asked quietly.
"I killed him", he said indifferently and I just stared at him.
Finally he looked at me and rolled his eyes.
"You are so gullible", he sighed. "I gave him fifty bucks. Now move it before he starts wondering why the hell you just sitting here."
I blinked and glanced into the mirror again. The lights on the cruiser went off. I muttered something under my breath and turned the car on. Dylan laughed softly, lit a cigarette and rolled down the window. I started driving, making sure that I go speed limit this time. I had no desire to get pulled over again.
"So where we going?" he asked after several minutes of silence.
"Don’t care", I replied. "Give me a cigarette, will you? Thanks… I’ll just drive. When you see something you like, speak up."
"Sounds good", he said solemnly and turned the radio on.
I just snorted when I’ve heard Axl Rose scream: "And I’m going down, all the way down… I’m on the highway to hell!!" You’ve got that right, buddy, I thought with a small smile playing on my lips. Highway to hell, indeed. At first I was wondering why I didn’t feel even slightly bothered by everything I’ve done. I mean, I didn’t have a single bad dream, can you believe that? Finally I stopped questioning myself and just shrugged the whole thing off. Who cares.
I wrapped my fingers around the gear stick and glanced at Dylan when his hand slid on top of mine.
"It will be very ironic if you get into a wreck right now", he murmured after I just kept staring at him. "Either keep your eyes on the road or pull over."
I grinned and shifted my gaze towards the road. Ten minutes later I pulled over to the shoulder and turned the car off. We relocated into the back seat without even unlocking our fingers. He was pulling my shirt off when I grabbed his chin and pulled his face up.
"Mmm?" he asked quietly.
"Kiss me", I muttered and he didn’t smile this time.
I closed my eyes when his fingers sunk into my hair and I felt his mouth on mine. I realized that the past, the present, and the future had exactly the same name. That name was Dylan. I also realized that the feeling of getting lost was one of the best feelings on the face of the planet.