By Jack Llawayllynn
Chapter 31: Blasted
Sin spent the next few days in a slump. He did his agreed upon gigs with Country Range but the songs felt flat and empty and so his voice sounded flat and empty. The band members were not happy.
Twice now Sin had seen the mystery man in the black duster and cowboy hat, each time he had felt that jolt and the misery of the hole left by Matt's absence widen to engulf him further. Still though he had not been able to get a look at the man's face. He always came in near the end of a performance and left before the end, having only one or two beers and giving the music no attention at all.
Back at the hotel O'Neal was doing the same, giving Sin no attention at all. Corban had finally told Sin that he intended to hook up with the artist Printice Allen in England. Sin didn't need to Corban to tell him that they were already having cyber sex, he'd seen the old man jack off under the covers with the laptop on his legs several times now.
Sin began to drink more again. Staying sober and alone was no fun. The only person who still seemed to remember that Sin even existed was John Gooddeer who also put in appearances during gigs but left before the set ended, giving Sin the evil eye the whole time he was there, plotting something. What the little jerk off might be plotting Sin had no idea but he knew the kid meant it to be an unpleasant surprise. Sin couldn't care in the least. He would though make good on his promise to the kid, underage be damned. Sin had nothing to lose but his freedom and what good was that to him without Matt at his side?
* * * * *
Matt was in fact not so far away as Sin thought he was. He'd been to see Sin perform with Country Range several times, always careful to slip in late and leave early. So far he had been successful. Sin's eyes did seem drawn to him but then they would slid away again, uneasily, unsure. Matt couldn't say that Sin sounded terrible on stage, just that he didn't sound great, like he wasn't enjoying himself one bit. Matt found comfort in this. Through Corban's gossip to Nathan Matt already knew that though Sin was still staying with old man he was no longer having sex with him. This both left him relieved and worried. If he wasn't having sex with O'Neal then who WAS he having sex with? Matt knew Sin well enough to know that Sin wouldn't, couldn't actually, go long without some sort of release. Still though Matt dragged his feet about revealing himself. He knew what he wanted, knew what he needed, but had yet to find the confidence to execute his plan. He spoke to Estaban every night on his cell phone, or Drift. Both urged him to just jump right in and reveal himself. Matt also kept in constant contact with his mother and Miss Sylvia but refused to answer any questions about him except that he knew where Sin was but no, he hadn't yet spoken to him.
Matt had been spending his days with Sin's family. In Matt's own mind he had adopted them as his own. He didn't know how they felt about him though they had all thawed toward him considerably in the five days that he had been staying there. He'd even taken a turn at babysitting little Fawn while her mother ran to the store. Surely that showed a great deal of trust on the parents' part toward him? True, she had only been gone half an hour but still...surely they wouldn't allow even that if they had not come to accept him on some fairly deep terms.
Matt had come to realize he was growing rather attached to all of his host's family. In the mornings he would rise early and help Mary by keeping Fawn busy while Mary cooked breakfast. Fawn taught him to play childish games which amused Matt to no end. He could now play pickup sticks, jacks, hopscotch, old maid, and dress-up tea party with dolls. Often Mary would stick her head in the door to check up on them and would leave laughing. Nathan too seemed to appreciate the time that Matt took with Fawn and had softened considerably toward Matt. They would sit on the porch in the evenings, beer in hand and just talk. Nathan pumped Matt for information on Sin. Matt didn't mind it, it felt good to speak to someone at last who WANTED to know all about Sin's better traits and even some of his vices. No one else would ever appreciate the things Matt had to say other than Sin's own brother.
Matt though still continued to drag his feet about going after Sin. Late in the night he would lay awake, staring at the ceiling and fingering the collar around his own throat. Sometimes he would get up and retrieve the thing he kept hidden in his saddle bags, a gift for Sin, and turn it over and over in his hands as he sat on the side of the small bed that once had been slept in by Sin's mother, before she had died. Matt DID have a plan, he just didn't know if he could pull it off, or if Sin would LET him pull it off. Matt wanted Sin back but this time he wanted Sin back for good. He didn't want play this chasing game ever again and he wanted to make sure Sin knew the rules before they could ever hope for any kind of happiness together. Sin didn't do well with rules, other than to break them. These would have to be ironclad and Sin would have to agree to Matt's terms or it was well and truly over. That is what held Matt back, kept him from rushing into the bar and dragging Sin home. If Sin wouldn't STAY home once he got him there then Matt didn't want him. He'd rather just spend his life alone than go through all the pain all over again. Nights were torture for Matt. His body remembered Sin all too well and he suffered unrelieved hard-ons that he refused to take care of himself. Not in the same house with Sin's family. That just seemed too disrespectful. Instead he suffered through wet dreams, hiding the evidence deep in his backpack and refusing to let Mary near his laundry.
Debroy called Matt's cell phone on Friday night. Chains was sinking and fast. Calling in the singer from Der Munchies had worked for a few gigs, people were curious to see how that would work out, but the novelty of it had worn off and now Chains played to half empty bars and the clubs didn't book them at all. Chains would die without Sin. Matt wondered sometimes if he himself would simply fade away like Chains if he didn't do something about Sin soon.
O'Neal Corban also called on Friday night. He spoke to Nathan for some time and Matt sat miserably in the corner watching a man with Sin's face change expression from one sentence to the next, wondering what the man on the other end of the line was telling him. Matt wanted to snatch the phone from Nathan and tell O'Neal to stay the hell away from Sin. He wanted to stalk out, find the old man and beat him to a pulp. Instead he clasped his hands between his knees and waited, waited for the call to end so Nathan could pass on whatever information he had gleaned from O'Neal. Nathan's eyes were soft and sad on Matt's face by the time he finally hung up the phone.
"Here's the deal Matt," Nathan said at last after hanging up the phone. "Tonight is Sin's last gig with Country Range. He's told them it's time for him to move on. Corban says he thinks Michael just plans to drift, going nowhere. He's back to drinking heavy, he doesn't take care of himself, isn't eating, isn't bathing as often as he should. Going to hell in a hand basket Corban said."
"So, I have to make my move tonight, that's what you're telling me isn't it?"
Nathan nodded. "If you want him back. I could certainly understand if you didn't. Look, I wasn't meaning to spy on you but I saw your back. Those marks looked like you've been flogged."
"That wasn't Sin who did that," Matt admitted, head hung. "His name was Gunner."
"You live a rough life Matt. I don't understand it. You're very good with Fawn, you'd make an excellent father. Why don't you at least try giving it a go with a girl. Who knows, maybe you'll find true love."
"I have dated girls," Matt muttered. "Besides I have already found true love, for myself anyway. Now weather or not he loves me is yet to be seen."
"I just don't understand it," Nathan said shaking his head and downing the rest of his beer. "But that's between you and my brother and I've decided that I don't WANT to understand it. All I can do is accept it."
"I appreciate that," Matt said sincerely, "the acceptance part."
Nathan shrugged. "I guess what is just simply is."
Matt nodded. "I'll go get him tonight. He belongs to me."
"For your sake and your sake alone I will wish you luck. As for my brother, fuck him. He's an asshole."
"But you wish he weren't. You want a relationship with your brother. Give it time Nathan. Sin will come around. He'll apologize."
"Maybe, but I won't hold my breath."
* * * * *
Sin saw the man in the duster take a seat in the back of the bar. Damn but he reminded him of Matt! God how he missed that kid. It wasn't Matt, he knew that for sure. There was no way Matt would just walk in and sit down. He'd charge the stage and try to...well, something, he'd damn well do something, not just sit there. Looking at the man made Sin's chest ache though. Country Range finished their last song for the night but the man didn't get up and leave right away like he normally did. Instead he ordered another beer. Sin picked up his acoustic guitar and strummed it forlornly a few times then began to strum out a tune. It had popped into his head suddenly, brought there by visions of Matt, by what they had been together. For the first time in a long time his voice picked up the old magic, the depth of feeling, pouring out of him mournfully. The song was the acoustic version of "Crashed" by Daughter. His head was down, his gut clenched with self doubt. He didn't see the man in the corner jerk his head upright for a moment then bend into a slump of bone deep pain.
* * * * *
Matt knew immediately that Sin was singing that song to the memory of their relationship but he resented it. It was a lie. Yes they had crashed into each other but Sin had left. Left him mangled and broken after the crash. Did he really want the man back after all that Sin had put him through? The irrational but definite answer was yes. He had to have him back. Tonight. Matt wanted to hear Sin finish the song but knew he didn't dare stay that long. He pushed away his half finished beer and walked out the door before the last of the notes faded away.
* * * * *
Sin's mind was still on Matt as he slung his guitar case over his shoulder, collected his pay and headed for the back door. The others had already left. Only the owner remained, cleaning up and turning off lights. Sin had lingered to have a few beers before having to return to Corban's place. Tomorrow he would leave there, get on the bike and just ride. It didn't matter to where.
The owner locked the back door behind Sin and Sin walked head down, toward his bike. Why had he ever let himself get in so deep with Matt? And Chains, could he really let those guys down, just leave them in the lurch? He'd promised them he wouldn't but going back to Chains also meant having to face Matt again. He just didn't know if he could do it. Matt was better off without him. Sin was so deep in thought that he did not at first realize that something was wrong. It took him a moment blinking in the dimness of the back door light at his motorcycle to absorb the realization that it had been vandalized. Quit thoroughly vandalized. Both tires were flat, the headlight and mirrors shattered, the gas tank spray painted in green and red paint. At a chuckle from the shadows Sin whirled around, ready to do murder.
"I told you I'd get you back you butt fucker," John Gooddeer sneered from the shadows. "Let's see you catch me now bitch." Gooddeer was straddling his own motor bike. He slapped his face shield down, fired up the bike and tore out of the parking lot in a spray of gravel before Sin could even take two steps. Cursing he slung his guitar to the ground and stood staring after the little shit as his tail light grew smaller.
* * * * *
Matt was still in the front parking lot struggling with his emotions. He hadn't planned this out well enough. He wasn't sure what to say first. That he loved Sin, wanted him back, demanded him back? Just walk up to him and attack him? Kiss him? Plead with him? No, pleading was useless. It took violence to rouse Sin, acting like a pathetic pussy would do no good. Finally he decided to put it off a little longer, to follow Sin back to the hotel parking lot and confront him there, make his claim there right where this damn O'Neal Corban could watch it all but where was Sin? The place was closing up and still no sign of him on his bike. Matt glanced up the deserted road. About half a mile away to his left was a crossroads, to his right the road that led back to town. Which way to Sin's motel?
Suddenly a motorcycle shot out from behind the bar, the lone streetlamp in the parking lot barely showing Matt a glimpse of black bike, a black leather jacket and long braided ponytail hanging down the rider's back. The bike was already flying as it left the parking lot, the rider lying low on the tank as he geared up again as soon as he hit the road. He sped toward the crossroads even as Matt fumbled with the truck keys. The baritone blaring of a truck horn brought his head up in time to see the bike fly right into the path of huge tanker truck at the crossroads. The motorcycle had not a chance in hell against that monster. Matt watched in horror as the bike disappeared under the big rig. He was sprinting away from his pick-up, his ears tortured by the screaming of the rig's breaks uselessly trying to stop the heavy vehicle and its load but it was already too late. A shower of sparks showed where the bike had hung up under the truck and drug against the pavement. The tanker began to slide, then jack knife. Matt's brain went into full denial. Sin couldn't be under there, he couldn't! Matt ran full out, every muscle straining, covering ground like an Olympic sprinter. The truck began to tip, the bike still grinding sparks from under it. Suddenly the tanker flipped and exploded. The blast was powerful enough to send Matt flying like a leaf in the wind. His body slammed hard into the pavement, his eyes seared from the flash of the flames. There was pain everywhere in his body but none of it compared to the pain in his heart. Sin was dead.
* * * * *
Sin watched in horror as the kid sped right into the crossroads, daring to try to beat a gas tanker that bore down on him like a locomotive from hell. He stood frozen, unable to move as he saw the motorcycle disappear under the truck then he saw a man running from the front of the bar, racing toward the scene of the horrible accident. Sin followed, only vaguely aware that the man was the mystery man in the duster. The cowboy had a large lead on him, was running faster than Sin could believe. Even his long legs didn't seem to have enough stride to begin to gain on him. Suddenly his boot hit a crack in the pavement and sent him sprawling. Sin fell headlong, flat on the pavement even as the truck exploded. Instinctively he covered his head with his arms. A large chunk of metal landed somewhere off to his left with a clanging rumble as it skittered away. Sin raised his head slowly. The truck, along with the motorcycle, was nothing more than a huge fireball blazing in the crossroads. The cowboy was stretched out on the pavement, motionless, maybe killed by flying debris. Sin shook his head, trying to clear it even as he staggered to his feet. His heart was in his mouth, beating double time. Something in his gut told him he'd just lost something very dear. He began to run again, falling to his knees when he finally reached the fallen cowboy. His hat had blown off, his duster was spread wide beneath him like the broken wings of a fallen angel. Sin could see a chunk of metal shrapnel protruding from the man's head, just above the right ear, another in the man's chest, near his heart. The wounds looked fatal and in the dim light there was no mistaking that beautiful profile. Matt. Sin suddenly couldn't breath at all. He couldn't think, couldn't move. Matt coughed weakly and blood spilled out of his mouth, down his cheek and chin. Sin tilted back his head and howled like a maddened wolf bereft of his mate by a merciless a hunter, a hunter whose trap Sin had helped to set.