Paybacks Are Hell by Dave MacMillan

This is chapter one of my one bi-sexual novel. It's not even especially erotic, though there is a lot of sex. The themes are about something different than getting laid. It's also an early novel - about 12 years old - so it may feel the slightest bit dated. Finally, its protagonist is not the easiest person to like but, I hope, you will finally develop a level of sympathy for him.

I'm serialising Paybacks in the Bi-sexual folder to introduce myself to readers who aren't about to define themselves as gay (you shouldn't - it's your definition). The other five novels being serialised on Nifty are to be found in the gay folder.

Please kick back and enjoy.


Chapter One

He opened the car door for his mother and held it as she slowly stepped onto the macadam of the car park, using the door to steady herself. Pain flashed across her face as her arthritic hand grasped the door tight. Michael Sullivan was struck at how gnarled her hands had become since the last time he'd really looked at them. He looked away as she struggled into her gloves, his face gaunt and pale in the cold stillness that was morning.

He realised suddenly that she was old. That she looked old. He knew her age, of course; but he'd seen this old-ness become ever more evident over the past sixteen months - more and more each time she'd come to visit him while he was rotting in jail. It was only now, however - here at the St. Mary's county courthouse - that he realised how old she looked on a conscious level and had to accept its reality. And all that that implied. She was sixty - but she seemed somehow much older. His father was older than his mother - he was sixty-eight. But, somehow, he'd resisted age creeping up on him. Michael wished he knew how the old man had done it.

Michael shivered as he closed the car door behind her and turned to stand beside her, waiting for his father to round the bonnet of the car and join them. It suddenly seemed to him that, since he'd been paroled this last time, they did everything together. Him, his father, and his mother. Through some unspoken agreement, they were always in step.

It was February and cold this early in the morning. Blustery and clear. His parents wore overcoats and fur-lined gloves. Michael suddenly wished he'd worn something warmer than the unlined leather jacket with HELLIONS across the back that was his trademark here in St. Mary's. Had been his trademark, he grimly reminded himself. In that life that was now gone.

He allowed himself to wish one of his parents had told him to wear something warmer when they were leaving the house. That one of them would have finally, after twenty-five years, been a parent and made him do what was best for him and not just permitted him to do what he wanted. Just once in twenty-five years!

They'd always let him do what he wanted, though; and Michael could see where that had got him. Sixteen months in the county detention centre on the state charges and, now, this interview with the federal prosecutor which he was sure was only the prelude to twenty-five more fucking years in a bloody federal pen!

He glanced at his watch. Eight forty-five and the interview was for nine. Michael hoped the bastard was on time. He wanted it over with - this assignment to hell. He knew he'd spend at least ten of those twenty-five years in the pen -maybe, even fifteen. Probably fifteen. He would be forty or thereabouts before he'd finally be free again. Alone would be more like it, because these two with him would be gone - long gone - by then and, he was damned sure, the bitch of a fucking sister he had wouldn't even give him the time of day when he was finally out on his own again.

He allowed his anger to well up inside him, permitting it to concentrate on his sibling. That was safe. She wasn't anywhere about. All he had to do was keep it centred on her and nothing bad would happen.

"I'll be glad when this finally is over with," his mother commented to her husband in a low voice, almost as if Michael weren't with them and had not - could not - hear her. As if he were already gone, taken away in chains, he told himself silently. As if he were somehow dead. Already put away, he reminded himself forcibly. If anything, death couldn't be much worse than what he already faced.

His father nodded silently and slid his arm inside hers, becoming a support for her to lean on as they walked up the steps of the courthouse.

Michael stared at the brick Georgian structure looming before him, coming closer with each step he took. It was like it was going to devour him, tearing him limb from limb. His knees grew weaker or his legs became rubbery - he wasn't sure which - with his first step to the gallery. Above him, already on the broad porch of the old courthouse, his parents stopped and waited for him in the cold. He caught himself wondering if this was how a condemned man felt as he took that last walk to the little room where men waited patiently to strap him down for the last time. Pulling on his growing sense of fatalism, he straightened his back and jutted his jaw out.

He wanted to run, though - the feeling almost overpowered him now. But he forced himself to take the rest of the steps up to where his parents waited for him one by one - each one harder to negotiate than the one before it.

"Don't dawdle, Michael," his mother called to him as he approached them. "We'll be late for the meeting-"

He looked around him slowly, staring out at the visage of the historical little town from the gallery of the courthouse. It seemed almost as if this was going to be his last view of the place - of what and where his life had been. In too few minutes, he was going to find out how long it was going to be before he would see anything else he'd known again. That was what this interview with the federal prosecutor boiled down to.

Michael knew he would walk back down these same steps in an hour or so and look back over the block or two of old brick commercial buildings that constituted downtown St Mary's. But it would be after the Fed had already told him how long they were going to nail him for and when it was going to happen. This was free, then would be after they'd put a ball and chain on his leg - even if it were only in his mind at that point.

He caught up with the old couple and swallowed the fear spreading through his throat like bile as his father opened the door for them. Everything he had ever known would end once he stepped inside the now opened door. Michael forced himself to follow them into the building towards the end of his world that waited there for him.