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Strangers on a Train
by J. A. Adkins
Part 7-Darren's Revelation
"So that's it then? You're just going to throw us off the train?!" Darren rolled his eyes in mock disgust. "How unoriginal, and-if I may-so out of character for you. It's almost pathetic!"
I know I was glaring at Darren hard enough the small rack of supplies on the wall at the front of the car on the other side of his head was starting to heat up.
"Pathetic? Out of character?" The man Darren had called Devoy said, pursing his lips.
"That's what I said," Darren replied boldly. I would have been more convinced if the look on his face held more confidence. He gestured subtly with his eyes-then his head when I didn't get the signal-for me to move even closer to the wind whipped edge of the open box car.
Darren glanced at the red-haired man. "And even if we were killed before we're thrown out... You don't have the guts to pull the trigger yourself!"
Devoy cocked his head a little to the left. "No?"
"No." Darren mocked Devoy's tone. "That's what the Cowboy, here, is for! Right?!" The broad-shouldered gorilla on my right stepped closer. I could smell the cheap cologne rising off his skin in stagnant streams of oily, musky waves.
"You wouldn't want to ever mess up your ivory hands and delicate manicure! A Harvard graduate doesn't murder his own victims! Does he?!"
Fire gleamed in the red-haired man's eyes. "I will have you know..." he started to say as he lifted his arm toting Darren's loaded gun in tightly clenched fingers with a steady, blurring jerk. "...That I graduated from Stanford!"
"Oh! What happened? Couldn't get into your safety school, then?!"
"Shut up!" Devoy screamed. "I'm going to count to three-"
Darren leaned close to my ear but didn't try to keep his voice down. "And he graduated from Stanford!"
I couldn't help but smile. Devoy cocked the pistol, destroying whatever joy I got out of Darren's comment.
"I'm going to count to three!" he yelled, trying again. "And then I am going to shoot you...myself!" He stretched his arm out to its full length. "Then, Mr. French will throw you out...or I'll do it-I don't know yet! I haven't gotten that far!"
Darren shifted his gaze to me again, drawing my eyes to his watch. He lifted his hands up in a sign of surrender, then put them behind his head; his left wrist facing out. I did the same, watching Darren's eyes. A storm of uncertainty raged fiercely against his firm belief in the direction his instincts were leading him...leading us.
"Good bye, Mr. Brasier. Enjoy the afterlife with your father!"
"I'll see you in hell, Devoy!"
Devoy smiled. "One!"
Darren blinked, keeping his eyes closed longer than normal for just a blink. When he opened them, he glared at me then blinked again, holding his eyes closed for several more seconds.
Darren's glare became almost hateful. I had no idea what he was trying to tell me. There was no time left to figure it out. Darren looked ahead towards the landscape rushing by outside. He closed his eyes as Devoy called out the final number.
I cringed as the darkened boxcar exploded with a whitewash of blinding light. Yet, there was no pop of a gun going off. No bodies hit the floor in a puddle of blood.
"What the hell," screamed one of the twinks near the back wall of the luggage car. "I'm blind," yelled the other.
At the same time I realized my own vision was plagued by an unending storm of strobing dots, I felt Darren grab my arm. "Jump!"
"Damn it! I said jump!"
I didn't have time to ask or argue any further. This time a gun did go off. I hear the tremendous crack-pop to my right and felt the swift rush of searing air behind my back. A short fissure of sparks I could barely see erupted off the wall to Darren's left.
"Now," Darren yelled, pulling my arm forward. The rush of air swallowed my body and the roar of the train became deafening as I sailed through the open doorway towards the ground. I could barely see any of it. But I certainly felt it all.
The hard soil met my body with a bone-crunching thud. Pain rolled in unbearable waves from my tailbone. I could taste the dry grass and dirt with each tumble I took. My eyes burned from the tossed-up debris, not helping my already impaired vision by any means. I quickly realized I wasn't alone. Near by, I could make out the sound of another body rolling closer and closer.
The blurred outline of a body filled my vision only seconds before I felt his weight on top of me. My heart skipped several beats when he made no other motion. I knew who it was, instantly. I could smell his sweet scent, etched with a musky hint of sweat. It was kind of gross, I know, but sexy all the same. I could almost make out the fruity essence of Skittles on his breath.
I didn't realize I was holding my breath until I felt his head lift off my best and I gasped in relief. I could tell he was staring at me, smiling even. His chest pushed against mine with each quick and shallow breath he took.
"Hi there," he said as casually as he could.
Both of us looked back at the same time. I could make out a dull flash in the inky darkness surrounding the train before the hill side at my feet exploded in a small fountain of dust. It was a muzzle flare. They were still shooting at us. Darren rolled off of me. "Come on!" he yelled, his hand already in mine and pulling me off the grass. Barely a moment later I heard the crack of another shot, several seconds late as a hungry bullet shell attacked the stirred up grass where I had been laying.
The dots swimming in my eyes slow dissipated as Darren led me into the outskirts of a clearing. He pointed to a nearby roll of hay, dragging me behind it. The top coughed; another shot rang through the air on the tail of the bullet long since fired.
"We'll be safe here," Darren said, crouching against the bundle of yellow grass.
I moaned loudly. The stress of the evening finally wearing on my frayed nerves. The ruckus of gun fire rang painfully in my ears, echoing annoyingly through my brain. My eyes still burned from the light in the boxcar. My thoughts churned and turned over on themselves as they wrestled to grasp the reasoning behind my current situation. Finally, I had to ask, "What the hell is going on?!"
Darren looked over his shoulder at me. "Shh! Will you calm down. Things could be a lot worse!"
"Oh really? How?"
"Well... You could be dead. Or, it could be raining."
Just like in a movie-the timing just perfect-lightning jumped out of the clouds, striking the mountains in the distance ahead, illuminating the train as it rolled further and further away. A quick sprinkling of rain became a frustrating downpour. Darren looked away from the sky to meet my unhappy glare. "Well... You could be dead."
Taking a deep breath, Darren stood up, watching the last of the train before it disappeared from sight. "Come on," he said. "Let's find someplace dry to wait out the storm."
"No! Not until you tell me what the hell is going on!"
Lightning punched the ground only a hundred yards away in an earsplitting and eye opening display of force. The heavy bellow of thunder sent my heart into my throat and my legs following quickly behind Darren's as he hustled across the grassy field. I couldn't see much through the rain and hoped Darren's vision was better than mine. The occasional fleck of neon still danced across my eyes and was now joined by the temporary tattoo of the lightning bolt. I'm going to go blind before we even reach Chicago, I thought to myself. If we reach Chicago.
Darren had stopped his quick march though the soggy grass and was looking out over the quiet landscape of an old ranch. I hadn't realized he wasn't moving until I fell into him, nearly knocking him to the mud. "Sorry," I mumbled.
"There," he pointed to a small, time-beaten shack near the base of small hill. "That looks like it will do." I nodded and followed closely as he hurried towards the haggard looking structure.
Its dismal walls were gray and swollen, the wood untreated and left to fend for itself in the elements for too long. The door wasn't hard to open. The challenge would be closing it. Unlocked, it teetered on one hinge that cried mournfully when Darren pushed the rickety barrier into the dusty, grimy darkness. A single window was cut into the far wall, letting in the quick flashes of light from the heavy storm. Rain tapped against the nail ridden floorboards in all four corners.
"It's cozy," Darren said. His sense of humor was not very amusing to me at this point.
Lightning danced outside the window, throwing a shaft of blue-white light across the shack and onto the angry face of a cast-iron furnace. A brown-furred rat hissed and squealed, finding itself under the sudden brilliance of the natural spotlight. I jumped, gasping as I painted at the vermin in front of me. Darren swept passed me, shooing it away into the darkness of one of the corners. "Ahh, good. Luck seems to be going in our favor." He patted the gothic looking iron mass.
"You can't possibly be serious? Look where we are!"
"Yeah, I know, Taylor. But things-"
"No!" I yelled, stopping him from saying the rest. "I know they could."
"You should look at things like this: We are out of the rain. This thing will give us a place to light a fire; and-probably most important of all-we are still alive."
"It wasn't raining in the train. It was nice and comfortable in it. There was light to see by. There were no rats in it. It was peaceful and relaxing until people started leaving certain people on top of it And holding them at gunpoint! And shooting at them!"
Darren threw the small bundle of splintered wood he had found under the small, square window into the furnace. "I'm sorry Taylor! I never had any intention on dragging you into this."
"Into what? You still haven't answered my question. What is going on?"
Darren stood up, keeping his back to me as he sighed. "I'm a bounty hunter."
I suppressed a laugh, unsuccessfully, at his answer. "A what?"
"A bounty hunter," he answered, angrily. He turned around, looking me up and down. Only, this time his eyes didn't look as tender or caring the first time he did it on the train. Without saying anything else he walked briskly up to me. I could feel his warm breath on my face and neck as he stood just two inches from my body. Through the soaked tank top clinging to his skin I could feel the heat radiating from his chest onto my bare chest. My nipples stood at firm attention. I could feel myself blushing, thankful it was dark.
His arm brushed mine. Our tiny hairs touching sent sharp, electrical tingles through my rain-chilled body. His fingers touched the waistband of the jeans stuck to my wet skin. Our eyes were tightly locked. My breathing was quickening. I couldn't believe this was happening...now, after I just laughed at him. My penis was more than acutely aware of the closeness of Darren's own package and strained against the soaking denim to reach his boxer-clad prize.
But the moment passed when his fingers dug into the left front pocket, pulling out a small, blue plastic lighter. I let out a long breath as he turned away from me and back to the furnace. It seemed like hours before I broke the uncomfortable silence that really only lasted a minute or two.
"You're serious, aren't you? About being a bounty hunter?"
"Yes," he said simply. I could hear the click-click of his lighter inside the black, iron skin of the old furnace.
"I'm sorry I laughed."
He shrugged his shoulders.
"I'm listening if you want to tell me. I would really like to know why they were trying to kill me."
A red, amber glow began to squeeze out of the ashy darkness consuming the inside of the furnace. Darren pulled his hand away from the opening. "Someone certainly thinks highly of himself."
I watched as he sat down near the furnace. He leaned his back against the cobweb encrusted wall and stretched his bare, fire-lit legs across the floor. Beads of rain drops grasp the tangled, damp hairs covering each of his muscular limbs. I wiped the drool I thought was falling from my mouth and sat down across from him, keeping my legs close to my body.
"What do you mean," I finally asked in response to his comment.
"They weren't trying to kill you. Not at first anyway. They were trying to kill me." He wiped the rain off his face and neck, staring into the growing flames inside the furnace as he spoke. "You know that handsome, red-haired fella' in the luggage car who stole my gun?" His description of the man was mocking. It made me smile again. "His name's Devoy. Orville Devoy.
About a year ago he and his silent sidekick shot my father in cold blood. Before he died a few days later at the hospital, my father told me that men like Devoy could not be allowed to beat justice. He had to be brought down. He never actually asked me to go after him. But I knew I had to. I had the training. I spent every summer since I was five at my grandfather's ranch in Montana learning how to fight and take care of myself. My grandfather had hoped by learning these skills I would never have to use them. He...and my father...they wanted me to break the chain."
"The chain," I asked softly.
"Let's just say my family has been in this line of work for a while. My father was a bounty hunter. So was my grandfather, great-grandfather, and beyond. Somehow, it always managed to pass itself down."
"Apparently it still does."
He bit his lip. His face was sad. He looked adorable. I wanted to hold him Darren right then; to kiss his candy scented lips. He kept talking though. I never moved a muscle.
"For now...yeah, it does. I picked up the last few contracts my dad had. I hate this job, believe me. I don't like violence. Killing people is not my idea of balanced career."
"And I'm sure the union meetings are a bitch." Darren laughed at my joke. I felt proud, letting myself laugh with him.
"Devoy is my last mark. The FBI wants him captured, dead or alive. Either way I'm going to get him. And the reward..." Darren looked at me for the first time since he sat down. "Well, let's just say I'll finally be able to pay for college."
I smiled warmly at him. "Wow. That's great."
He nodded his head. His gaze left mine and found the soft glow of the fire in the bosom of the furnace again. "Taylor, I'm sorry again about getting you into this. Those two idiots left you for dead on top of that train because they thought you were me. They knew I had switched rooms but didn't know I had a roommate."
I shrugged my shoulders. "I can't say that is the most pleasant memory I have. But, it's definitely not the worst." I was surprised by the drop in my tone, the remorse that burdened my words. I looked up at Darren to find him starting curiously at me. That tenderness had returned to his beautiful eyes. I knew hew was curious as to why I said it like that. I just shook my head in response, not wanting to tell that story right then.
Darren nodded his head kindly, understanding. He took a deep breath then leaned forward, putting more of the dirt-stained wood pieces in the small furnace. "I guess we should try and get some sleep then. We have to catch a train in the morning."
"Yeah, no kidding." I looked at Darren as he sat back against the wall. He looked so calm, so at ease. "Thank you for answering my question," I said, grinning slightly.
"You're welcome," he answered. His eyes were already closed.
Silence swam into the shack under the steady tapping of the falling rain. I stared into the glowing embers under the narrow flames, letting my mind and thoughts wander. I could feel myself trembling but didn't know how much noise I was making until...
"Yeah," I said with a start, clenching my chattering teeth together and looking at Darren who still had his eyes closed.
"Are you cold?"
"A little," I admitted.
He nodded his head. "Come here, then."
I hesitated a moment, wondering if he was serious. "I'm not going to bite you , idiot. I'm just thinking practically." His smile returned.
I smiled back at his closed eyes before crawling between his legs. I turned myself around, laying my bare back against his damp, clothed chest. He wrapped his arms around me, drawing me even closer against him. My dick responded once more, anxious for freedom from the damp, stale jeans.
"Goodnight," I whispered to Darren. His steady, sleeping breathing on my ear was the only response I got.
I reveled in the knowledge that I was sitting in the arms of my boy-god. That my ass was against his crotch. I couldn't be sure, but I was fairly positive I felt something pushing against the back of the denim. Tempting fate, I leaned my head back so it was resting on his shoulder. The way his own head was turned, I could clearly see his lips in the glow of the furnace. We seemed to fit together so perfectly. My heart thundered in my ears as I inched my lips closer to his until finally, slowly, they made contact.
The kiss, something I had wanted since I first laid eyes on this beautiful specimen of masculinity at the train station, was one sided and short lived as the door of the shack flew open, slamming against the wall where I had been sitting. Darren's eyes flew open as we both jumped with a panicked start. Lighting flashed outside, illuminating the shadowed and faceless figure who had kicked the door open and now stood staring at Darren and I.