Sadie wasn’t having kids. She’d never felt a strong desire to be a mother, and whatever desire there might have been dwindled as Ronny sat running his mouth. She was worried about Meyer; she didn’t want to listen to the boy’s empty threats. “Could we get a gag or something to shut him up?”
“Gladly,” Karson answered. “Only thing I’ve got is these socks that I’ve been wearing for the past three days, though...”
Sadie looked at Ronny wearily, glad to see that he clamped his mouth shut to glare at them. She could handle dirty looks; all it took to ignore them was a turned back. Sadie glanced at the way his arms were tied behind him to the chair, wondering if they’d tied him too tightly. She would’ve been gentler if he hadn’t irritated her so much in the process.
She sat down in the recliner with fading blue fabric, bits of stuffing sticking out. She hadn’t known this place existed. It was scarcely more than a hut—a small, single room with a wooden chair, recliner, and sofa that were all worn out. The ugly wallpaper was peeling in most places. The tiny dorm-room fridge in the corner was dirty, inside and out. She was almost glad she hadn’t come here before.
Sadie closed her eyes, breathing deeply. It wasn’t a nice place to stay, but if it would keep Meyer alive, she’d move in here for the rest of her life. She tipped her head back, wondering if she would be able to sleep before Meyer came back. Karson could handle anything Ronny tried, and would wake her if anything else happened.
Sadie forced herself to focus on something, anything, other than the danger Meyer was in. He would be fine. He always was. He always got himself into hard situations; and he always got himself out of them. Sadie thought back to their very first date.
She’d met Meyer the weekend before, at her best friend’s graduation party. He showed up at the park where her crew was chilling, and she instantly saw he was different. He carried himself with a kind of purpose and self-confidence that was lacking in her other friends.
He’d approached her as she was working on her seventh beer. He sat down on the old, lichen covered stump next to her. “Hey.”
“Yo… I don’t know you.”
“No, you don’t.” He grinned. “I’m Meyer.”
“Sad...Sade…” She’d frowned. “My name is…”
“Sadie. I know,” he said gently. “I was talking to your friends over there. They said you’re chill.”
Sadie blinked stupidly in the direction he gestured, at the group of guys standing next to the back of the truck with a cooler. They were all staring. Sadie rolled her eyes. “They’re a bunch of… monkeys.”
“Monkeys.” Meyer chuckled. “Well, the monkeys want me to ask you on a date.”
Sadie hesitated. “The monkeys always want me on a date.”
“And do you say yes?” Meyer slid closer.
Sadie looked at him for a long moment. “Not to the monkeys.”
“What about to me?”
“Mm…” Sadie thought for a moment then shrugged. “Sure, why not?”
“Sweet… what do you say next weekend? After you’re a bit less…”
“Drunk?” Sadie offered.
“Yes,” Meyer agreed. “You know where Ernie’s is?”
Sadie nodded lazily. “Ernie’s my man… free drinks on Mondays.”
Meyer smirked. “Looks like you find enough to drink no matter what day it is.”
“Yeaaaaah,” Sadie laughed, looking down at her beer happily. “It’s really great… Cheers!” She lifted her can of beer in a toast to nobody, then downed the rest of it.
“You got someone to drive you home, Sadie? I don’t think you should be driving like this.”
“Meyer.” Sadie’s best guy friend Trey stepped forward. “Come on, man. She’s not even legal.”
“I didn’t mean it like that.” Meyer stood up. “But I take it you’re babysitting tonight… and I’ll take this as my cue to leave.” He turned towards Sadie again. “I look forward to seeing you.”
“I have to piss!”
Sadie opened her eyes irritably as Ronny started complaining loudly again. She turned in her recliner to glare at him. “If you don’t shut up, I’ll cut your dick off and shove it down your throat.”
“You can’t touch me or my—“
“Try me.” Ronny looked at her for a long moment, seeming to consider his chances. She looked at him coldly, daring him to keep talking. “You’re tied up, and I haven’t slept in two days. It’s hard to say what I might do.”
“You’re a crazy bitch.”
“Why do you think Meyer likes me? Now shut up.” Sadie turned around in her seat again and crossed her arms, nearly pouting as she snuggled back into her seat. Her smelly, mildewed, uncomfortable seat. She closed her eyes again, pondering her own question. She didn’t know why Meyer liked her. She didn’t know why they’d dated at all.
She asked herself over and over, as she was getting ready for her date, then as she caught a taxi down to Ernie’s, why in the world she was actually following through with this date. She’d been drunk when she agreed—surely he didn’t actually expect her to actually show up.
She checked the time on her phone, then walked up to the bouncer. He was a big black man named Charlie that she’d made friends with several years before. “Char-ley!” Sadie gave him a big hug. “How’s it goin’, man?”
“Aw, shucks, Sades. You can’t be hugging me here. I got an image to uphold.”
“Sorry, sorry,” Sadie moved towards the door. “Catch ya later, Charlie.”
“Later, Sadie. Hey!” Sadie turned back towards him. “Watch yourself tonight. I saw the Lovett boy go in a few minutes ago. There’s usually a fight whenever he’s around.”
“Thanks for the head’s up.” Sadie bit her lip and checked her phone again. She still had a full twenty minutes before it was time for him to be here. She walked through the door, into the wall of smoke that filled the entire room. Meyer stood as she walked in and beckoned her over to the bar.
They chose two stools near the edge of the room and ordered drinks. As they took their first shots, Sadie noticed a wide berth cleared out around them. Even Ernie was keeping his distance. Sadie was quiet for several minutes, answering the barrage of questions Meyer threw at her with the fewest words possible. A few drinks in she found her courage.
“Why are people so scared of you?”
“What do you mean?”
Sadie gestured at the rest of the room. “Usually I’ve got guys all over me… and Ernie’s keeping his distance… Charlie told me to watch it… seems like I’m the only person here who’s not scared of you.”
“You’re not scared of me?”
“No.” Sadie met his hard gaze. She looked down at his body—his muscles were toned and hard. The outline of a gun lifted his shirt slightly on his side. A knife in his pocket. He could easily kill her if he wanted to—yet she didn’t think he would. Something about him put her at ease. “But why are they? Are you a hitman or something?”
“You think I’m a hitman?” Meyer smirked.
Sadie shrugged. “Look like you could be, if you wanted to.”
“Nah.” He smiled, taking another drink from his beer. “I help out a man with his crops. I market and deliver. That’s it.”
“Crops?” Sadie lifted an eyebrow. She’d never heard anyone put it that way. Everyone at her school knew Meyer was the man to talk to if you wanted to get high. Even now that he’d been graduated for several years, he still made sure enough weed made it back to the school to keep everyone high enough that they stayed out of trouble. “I heard about your farming when you still went to my school.”
“Same guy,” Meyer answered. He shrugged. “It’s good money.”
“Then I’d sure like to see some of all that money,” a voice interjected. Sadie and Meyer both turned to see a man was starting toward them angrily. He was short and stocky, with dark brown hair and dull brown eyes. His face had a thin scar that went from his right eyebrow to the left corner of his mouth, but otherwise it was an indistinctive face. “Brother isn’t happy that you’re not paying up.”
Meyer cursed under his breath and stood up. Ernie suddenly appeared, baseball bat in his hands. “No! Not in my bar! Take it outside!”
Meyer stared at the stranger for a long moment, then smirked. He bowed mockingly and gestured towards the door, eyes locked on this new man’s. “Ladies first.”
The man lurched forward, color flooding into his cheeks. Ernie stepped forward, grabbing the man’s shoulders and bringing him to a stop. He pushed him toward the door, grasp never wavering. “OUTSIDE! OUT OF MY BAR!”
The man resentfully looked toward the door, and saw Charlie coming in. He jerked away from Ernie and stormed outside. Meyer took another drink of his beer and then dumped a fistful of cash on the bar. “Don’t think I’m coming back in tonight, Ern.”
“Don’t.” Ernie said. “I’ll call the cops now.”
“Six and a half minutes.” Meyer smirked, a crazed look in his eyes. He looked at Sadie, still grinning, as they both headed towards the door. “Hold my beer and I’ll give you a show.”
Sadie took the beer he was holding out to her. “Who is that?”
“Nate Reneve,” Meyer answered over his shoulder. “I have to beat him up every few months… don’t worry, it won’t take long.”
Sadie frowned, but followed him out into the dark parking lot. The other people at the bar were slowly gathering their things, preparing to leave. Sadie stood close to Charlie. She didn’t know what was about to happen, but she was pretty sure he’d keep her safe.
“Brother isn’t happy with you,” Nate spat.
“I’m not happy with your brother, either,” Meyer answered.
“He said you’ll regret it if you don’t pay up soon.”
“How’s it feel?” Meyer said. He hesitated a moment, kneeling down in the gravel parking lot to pick up a handful of dust. He let it slip through his fingers, as he stood up, then rubbed his hands together. He met Nate’s confused glare. “Being big brother’s little bitch?”
Nate lunged toward him, throwing a punch towards Meyer’s face. Meyer caught his arm, then twisted and landed a blow solidly on his abdomen. Nate growled in frustration, and head-butted Meyer. Meyer stumbled backward, but quickly back on the offensive, throwing another punch at Nate’s abdomen.
Sadie looked up at Charlie uncertainly. He shrugged, taking his eyes off the fight just long enough to look down at Sadie and give her a sympathetic smile. “Don’t worry. Your boy always comes out on top.”
Sadie watched breathlessly as Meyer and Nate fought for several long minutes, each landing solid blows that Sadie was pretty sure would knock her off her feet. Still they fought. Soon she could hear sirens coming in the distance. She felt an impulse to run… yet something made her stay.
She watched as the fight went a few more blows, before Nate swayed and fell to the ground. Meyer kicked him once more in the abdomen, then leaned down. “You can tell your brother I ain’t paying him shit.”
Meyer turned towards Sadie, reaching for his beer. She handed it to him, then looked down the road, where flashing lights appeared around the far bend. She looked back at Meyer, and saw the crazed look return to his eyes. “I guess we gotta go.” He turned and started for his truck. He looked at her over his shoulder. “You coming?”
Sadie hesitated, looking back at Nate, then at the flashing lights and sirens heading towards them.
“Don’t worry about the cops—they’re nothing. It’s big brother Karl that you’ve gotta watch.” Meyer stretched his hand out to her. “But I promise nothing will happen to you if you come with me.”
Sadie didn’t know why she’d put her hand in his, or why she’d ran with him to his truck. She didn’t know why she kept following Meyer, wherever he led. Why she always backed him.
Sadie opened her eyes as she heard a vehicle pull up. Guess that means big brother is here.