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Strangers on a Train
by J. A. Adkins
Part 6-The Funeral
My eyes are closed. I don't remember closing them. The air around me feels different: cold and sterile. There's a smell in the air I can't identify; not at first, anyway. Then I recognize it. It's the smell of hopelessness. A wafting odor that exists at the threshold of death. A symphony of smells that srceams, gunshots, explosions, and the like would be sounds for the ears. They bring no hope. When I open my eyes I know where I am before the heavy fog blanketing my vision even clears up enough for me to see.
Machines beep and whir irhythmically around the narrow bed I'm laying motionlessly on. The room looks empty, swathed in icy shadows. It must be night, I think to myself. Realizing I am in a hospital, bound and wired to an array of complext machines doing a number of tasks for me I would much rather be doing myself. Suddenly, I feel a presence shift beside me, staying just out of view. My brain sends a message to my vocal chords. My dry, split lips calloused by the dragon-scales of scars part slightly, allowing the course breath that should have been words to escape painfully from my throat.
The stranger standing at my bedside leans into view: a nurse...a friend. Jamie Ellett. Her dark skin looks warm in the cold room. Her rich, dark eyes stare sadly down at mine. I suddenly remember this palce from what seems like a short time ago. Memories rush forward, cascading through my hesitant brain. A doctor had said my parents were dead...killed by a drunk driver. The look in Jamie's eyes confirmed the blotch of heart-ravaging memory I have. She looks like she is about to cry. I know why. I change the subject by, first blinking, then trying to speak.
"H...How lo...lon...g have I...bee...n...o...out?"
She sobs. Her chest heaves with a heavy breath of mild relief. "About a week," she says. Her voice is shaky, ready to crack. But she does her best.
"Oh," I whisper.
Jamie looses it. Her one sob shatters into a handful of tears and then another one. "I'm sorry, Taylor. I'm so sorry."
I look over at her. "Why? Yo...You didn't...do anything."
Those words pull Jamie's tear-stained face out of her hands. She looks almost offended. I simply close my eyes again; out of strength already.
The heavy din of the train barrels through my consciousness, bringing me back to the poorly lit box car crowded with four...no, wait...five frozen bodies. My eyes blink open, taking the scene in again. Only a few seconds had passed since I heard the gun,pressed firmly against Darren's head, cock. My eyes shot back and forth around the room in a looping arch between Niel and Guy in the doorway; Darren near the luggage racks with his gun pointed at the two twinks; and the silver magnum pistol held by shadow cloaked hands resting against the back of Darren's sweat covered scalp.
His frame looked as rigid as a jagged rock. His shoulders were raised and set close to his body. His tan arms held steady and unshaking. His eyes remained locked on the bois standing in the doorway. He was biting his bottom lip. It looked adorable. After several more seconds, the gleaming silver body of the heavy-duty pistol pushing against his skull pushed a little harder.
"Oookaay. Message received, Cowboy." Darren lifted his arms, tossing his own gun to the floor.
I thought at first he was just giving a sarcastic nickname to the gunman holding him at bay. But when the mysterious entity urged Darren forward and closer to the light spilling in from behind the boys, I realized Darren may have actually been calling him by his name.
A broad shouldered, gray suited man with a gangly, pale face half hidden in the shadow cast by the wide rim of his ebony ten gallon hat shuffled into view. He greeted me with a brown-toothed grin. His gaze quickly shifted and his seven inches of height seemed to gain another inch as a sixth figure emerged from the darkness, swallowing the rest of the car.
Darren's eyes narrowed in disgust. "Hello, Devoy."
The short man with curly red hair, olive skin, and a cigarette held loosely between his middle and forefinger walked casually toward Darren. His gait seemed rehearsed. Whe he spoke, his accent seemed fake. Everything about him reaked of an image that was only an illusion. "Well, well. Mr. Braiser. You're looking well. How do you keep your skin looking so young?"
"Ha, haa...funny, Devoy. You're a regular comedian."
"Yes, I know. Tell me...why are you here? Your father too worried he might not succeed so he sent his absent-minded and cocky young son to die for him?"
Darren's gaze grew colder. "You know exactly why I'm here, you son of a bitch." The words rolled off his tongue smoothly, all in one breath.
The short man stared at Darren. "Why is he alive?" His question shot sideways toward Guy and Niel. They stood up with a start under the impact of the man's words.
"An honest mistake, sir," Niel stuttered in reply. "We didn't know he was sharing a room with someone." Niel's eyes found mine. "We accidently got the roommate instead."
"Didn't he give you his name?" Again the man's question flew sideways across the boxcar. He stared at Darren, studying him.
"We thought it was fake. It made sense, you know..." Guy stammered, his voice hesitant. "Why would he use his real name?"
"And what did you do with him?"
"We got...rid...of...him... ." Niel's voice had almost completely trailed off by the time he finished his sentence.
Finally, the red haired man with the smoldering cigarette looked in my direction. "Yes, I see that. Remind me to thank you boys on a job well done." He was so angry. I could hear it, my skin crawling. Guy and Niel could hear it. They moved closer together. Darren and the Cowboy were the only ones who showed no change of emotion or posture.
I closed my eyes again as the short man started speaking, mostly to himself. The sound of my racing heart beating against my chest took me back to times and places I was trying not to go.
I can't hear the red-haired man anymore. A sermon glides over my ear drums. I open my eyes. I'm in a sea of black clothing. White roses surround twin cherry red coffins. Behind them, a priest with no hair and frail, black eyes is encouraging God to pluck my parents from this place and carry them into heaven.
I hope they make it.
I look around. It isn't raining. A bright sun throws its light across a crisp, blue sky. I hear birds chirping, talking quietly to themselves in the weathered branches of surrounding oak trees. A few bees buzz around the rainbow of flowers stuffed in a row of pots near my feet. I'm standing at the back of the procession. Women moan and sob. Men hold their heads bowed. Many are just trying to console their loved ones. Others are silently sobbing, hiding their weakness...their vulnerability. I feel out of place here-like in the boxcar on the train. I've been alienated by the events unfolding in the half-darkness. The beginning or end of a scene from a world I do not exist in. In my memories, I remember being cast out by those wishing my parents farewell. The mourning eyed me suspiciously. The remainder of my extended family avoid my gaze and only look down on me. They blame me.
I see Jamie. I don't talk to her. I have nothing to say. Even at the funeral she seems to glow with an iridescent warmth that never fades. In the unbroken sunlight of the afternoon I see the scar on her neck just above the top of her chest. Images flash in front of my eyes. Wild images. The flahses are all that remains of that night. The rest is burned away, destroyed by too much alcohol and chemicals the human mind was not meant to be exposed to. I remember tasting flesh. The smell of sex hung in the air. I can still smell it above the cut grass of the cemetery; over the sweet scent of fresh flowers. I can taste the cum on my lips, on my tongue. I'm in one corner of a smoky room. Jamie is in another. She's naked and beautiful. Still glowing.
I look at her now, at the funeral. She was involved. She had been there in the car. I shake my head and look away, avoiding the smile she tried to give me.
The funeral service ends. The thick cluster of black veils and suits falls apart. A hundred people walk whispering back to their cars. I keep my head bowed, walking alone through the rows of headstones. A pair of shoes in my path brings my gait to a halt. I lift my head to meet the pained stare of Max Aralia.
"I'm sorry, Taylor," he says above a whisper. But his words are lost as my eyes and ears...all my senses...are bombarded by the images again. I'm on my knees, naked. A tongue is on my nutsack. My thighs are wet from its early explorations. I feel it start to lick at my asshole, diving deep inside. My hand is on their throbbing cock. It's warm. Precum is slick on my fingers.
But my real attention is on the flesh in front of me. The sensative, pink head spilling its steaming contents onto my lips and tongue-my cheeks and hair. I love the smell of it. The taste. My eyes track up the smooth stomach and chest to the thankful and lust filled eyes of Max Aralia. The smoke surrounding him casts a halo around his head.
I blink and am back in the cemetery. Again my eyes make the journey from his stomach to his face. He has clothes on now. He's wearing black, but that is the most effort he put into his "funeral attire". I gaze into his face, looking at his milky green eyes and stubble-ridden chin and cheeks. There was a time when I thought he looked so angelic. That his face was created from smooth, soft angles perfect in every way. That his body was a feather pillow. That his eyes gave way to a sensitive soul.
The face in front of me, though, was hard and chiseled. He looked like he had been chipped away out of eroding rock. His breath hinted of alcohol. His eyes did not hid the haze around his mind.
"What, Max?" I finally said.
"Are you okay?"
"Never been better." I didn't smile. My voice never changed pitch or tone.
He stares at me, speechless...unsure of what to say. For the first time, I see the little boy he really is. An immature runt sealed within the party boy, beaten body of a twenty two year old. Before he says anything else, I start to walk away. Over my shoulder I hear, "If you need anything, call me."
I sit alone in the gray darkness of my house. Streetlights reflecting off the veil of misty clouds gathering over the city cast pale streams of light through the untouched curtains. The silence deafening, the loudest in the den where my parents had spent most of their time. My eyes are fixed on the open liquor cabinet. I am only just barely aware of the open and half empty bottle of vodka in my hands. I'm in my dad's chair. I'm in the nesting place of my childhood. I'm in the house I shared with a family I had forgotten how to love. And yet, I can not cry.
I'm lonely. I'm wounded. Never before had I felt so utterly alone and vulnerable. Never had I felt so judged by the unwatching eyes haunting my sleep. I have to get out of the house. I have no car, so I walk...or stagger weakly down the sidewalk. There are a thousand places I could go. I choose one. Before I have the strength to stop myself, I'm knocking on Max Aralia's door. He lives twelve floors up in one of the tallest buildings in our city. His family is one of the wealthiest in the state.
He answers the door, half drunk and half naked. A Cranberries song bleeds from hidden stereo speakers and hovers softly in the dope-smelling air of his apartment. I don't look at his eyes. Instead I stare at his boxers. Row after row of smiley faces look back at me...teasing me. It is the last time I see them that night.
In the next heartbeat we're on his bed. He wrestles me onto my back, pressing his lips fiercely againt mine. Our tongues battle each other. He rips my shirt open. I don't care. There are vomit stains scattered across the purple colored cotten. I feel his teeth on my nipples, his tongue in my navel. His fingers sheer open the fly of my pants and he opens the button with his teeth. The stuffy air of his bedroom washes over my naked skin before he covers it with his own. Our mouths are tangled together again. Hot breath blankets our faces as breath heavier with each grin our cocks make against each other. His precum drips around the width of my shaft, covering my pubic hair. My hands dig down his back to his ass cheeks, spreading them open as I search for his beckoning hole. I find it and stab it with my forefinger. He grunts and moans into my mouth. He tears his mouth away, letting his bottom lip drag under my top teeth.
The tepid air of the apartment wraps around me as Max sits back on the bed between my legs. He grips my ankles and pushes my knees forward to my chest, exposing me to his eyes, lips, tongue...his drooling shaft stretching a throbbing eight inches from his groin. Two heavy balls rest on the crumbled mass of bed sheets underneath it.
I loose sight of his face but feelt his tongue slide into my anus. I gasp and moan, closing my eyes. It feels good, but suddenly I find myself wanting to be someplace else. I imagine a setting far away, someplace I've never been to...Chicago. My thoughts suddenly disappear, though, when I feel the swollen head of his dick push against me. Slowly it starts to enter. My insides draw him further in, pulling him like a magnet to a place he's been too often.
The thin bush of his pubic hair, dyed blue to match the disheveled mat on his scalp, rubs against the naked skin of my ass cheeks. He rests, motionless inside me for what seems like hours. I can feel every pulse and twitch drum against my prostate. Finally he starts to pull out, sliding all the way backwards until only the head of his tool is still within me. I squeeze my muscles together, constricting the narrow passage around the spongy skin. It holds him like a vice. He moans, pleased, before pushing back down again. Harder this time, then back again. Faster he starts to move, in and out of me. Turquoise sweat drips from his chin onto my chest. The harder he fucks me, the more my body wants it. But my mind drifts away, back to Chicago. A city I've never been to but always wanted to go.
Max's attack on my ass is relentless. The pleasure is all his own, however. He's doing it without me. I feel his throbbing mass of hard, smooth, golded flesh swell against my prostate in the seconds before he lets out a long groan, filling me with his milky jizz. His body shutters after the tenth blast of love spunk. When he pulls out, I see a thin strand of his own juice stretch between my leaking hole and his softening prick.
He doesn't even kiss me. He's already forgotten I'm there. In the minutes that pass and the silence returns-broken only by Max's sleeping breath-I climb out of the bed and walk out of the aparment. My aching legs carry me weakly up the final two flights of stairs to the roof. They don't hurt because of Max. They hurt because of me. I open the door, letting a cold rain now falling out of the night dance over my face as I walk on. The heavy door slams shut behind me. Thunder coughs in the coulds weeping down on the city. My bare feet find their way across the roof to the raised ledge jetting up only a few feet above the growing puddles.
Lightning illuminates the city below my naked body. My skin is soaked. My heart and spirit are broken because of me. Only me. It is on this ledge, contemplating whether or not to take the next step forwards or backwards, that I finally cry.
"... I suppose this is why if you want something done right, you do it yourself," the red-haired man finished saying. I looked back at him, lost in his speech. He picks up Darren's gun, pointing it at him. He nods to the Cowboy. The tall man wearing a Marlboro cologne lowered his gun and walked across the width of the luggage car. His heavy arm brushed against mine as he passed me, his weight nearly knocking me all the way over.
Oddly knowing exactly what he was doing, the Cowboy unlocked the latches holding the sliding door of the car in place. With one hand, he pushed it aside then stepped out of the way.
"Thank you, Mr. French," the red-haired man said, pointing his gun at Darren. He gestured with it for Darren to stand next to me.
"Now, it seems I have no choice but to get rid of you both! I hope you understand, Mr. Chapman-"
"Taylor," I said as loud and flatly as I could over the noise of the air rushing past the car.
The red-haired man glared at me. Finally his thoughts reorganized. "You can blame Mr. Minnfield and Mr. Edergly for this!" His eyes shot a quick loot to the Cowboy. The well-tailored gorilla raised his gun again.
Darren stepped closer to the edge of the car. I looked back at Guy and Niel. Their faces were nervous mix of worry and excitement.
"Good bye, Mr. Brasier. Give my best regards to your father, won't you?" He looked at me again. I only saw the barrel of Darren's gun. I realized then why I was remembering the days after the funeral. It was the only other time I had been so consciously close to death.
The red-haired man didn't smile as he spoke to the Cowboy. "Throw them out!"