Turn Out The Light, Turn Up The Volume
Another unsuccessful night at pool. I swear if Boomer can't make up a good reason for why he sucks so much I'll rip him a new one for making me lose so much money. I mean, what kind of guy can't play pool? And he's my brother no less.
I sighed and stepped out into the night. The sounds from the bar behind me were familiar but annoying as my head pounded. Thankfully the smell of smoke slowly drifted away from my nose as I breathed in the fresh air around me. Maybe I was sick. The smell of smoke never made my head reel like this before.
"Three-hundred dollars," I muttered darkly. I'd lost three-hundred dollars because Boomer couldn't get the damn eight ball in the hole. We'd gone in aiming to hustle a few guys and in turn got hustled ourselves. I swore lowly as I shook my head.
I shook my head again, feeling disgusted with myself. And Boomer. But mostly myself.
If I didn't have such a short temper I could've still been inside, winning my money back, but as it were I had to excuse myself to keep from pounding the jackasses that beat us. I was edgy and I knew it.
Maybe I was really sick. I mean, I never had this short of a temper before. I'd always been quick to throw a punch but not for losing.. And now I did and it was all making my head pound with pain and slight anger.
"Three-hundred dollars," I repeated, taking a step out into the parking lot, further away from the door where a rough looking chick had just stepped out to take a drag f her cigarette in peace. She winked at me and I gave her what I hoped was a small smile but I knew wasn't much more then a grimace.
I began to walk out to the streets, my head feeling slightly better with every step I took. I looked up at the sky, the skyscrapers above me blocked out the moon and the stars were almost impossible to due to the city lights. I frowned.
Maybe I could hold up a convenient store real quick and get my money back. Plus some.
Yeah, that seemed to be a good idea. I was short on cash and could use the extra dough. Besides, I hadn't done a felony in about a month (maybe a bit more) and I was overdue. The thrill might do me some good, ease my headache a little.
I looked around at the shops. Most had closed up for the night…or morning. It was around three a.m. and most people had already retired. But down at the corner a sign still glowed and I walked towards it, my head feeling decidedly better and my temper quelling itself.
It must've been the bar that made me feel so sick. Sometimes places like that just get to me for no particular reason. I just…suddenly can't stand the idiots in it and have to leave. That must've been it. Even though I felt like I had a chill as well.
The bell above the door rang as I opened it, the bright fluorescent lights hurting my eyes. I walked in and went to an aisle, pretending to look at the magazines that were displayed while I checked around me out of the corner of my eyes.
It was just me and the clerk.
I grinned, liking my odds. Usually I could handle more people but tonight I was feeling off and I liked the easiness of my upcoming heist. I looked at the old man behind the counter, his eyes were drooping with sleep but he watched me closely, undoubtedly sensing the trouble that was coming.
"Can I help you?" The man asked, obviously feeling I had looked long enough at the magazines. I turned towards him and walked with my hands shoved in my pockets towards the register, my fingertips brushed idly at the gun embedded deep in my jeans.
The clerk watched me calmly.
"Have a busy day?" I asked casually, trying to judge how much money was in the register. The man's pale brown eyes narrowed.
"No," He said and his face grew tight as I laughed. He didn't seem to like my laugh.
"Too bad," I shrugged. I wasn't usually one to talk, especially during a heist, but the bright lights were making my head pound again I tried to ignore the pain by distracting myself. And talking was always a distraction.
"So, what can I help you with?" The man seemed eager for me to leave and I couldn't exactly blame him. I knew I still reeked of alcohol and smoke from the bar, even though I hadn't drank enough to be drunk and had barely taken a drag. And I also knew what my dark hair, cold eyes, and collected face usually did to people. It scared them. Badly.
Yes, I didn't blame him for wanting me to leave. But my head was pounding and I had to focus on something. Robbing him seemed to be as good as anything else.
"Did you hear me-" Halfway through his sentence the bell rang again and I turned quickly to see who had entered.
A blonde girl walked into the store, her hair messy and pulled back. She was frowning slightly, muttering to herself as she walked towards a shelf, oblivious of the hostility that was about to happen around her.
I sighed, annoyed, removing my hand from my pockets, my figertips still cool from the metal of my gun.
Tonight just wasn't my night.
"Where's your lottery tickets?" I asked the man, not even bothering to hide the barely controlled irritation that I was feeling. He pointed and I walked over to where they were, waiting for the girl to go and pay for her stuff. As long as she was here I might as well wait so I can get her money too.
"You believe in luck?" A voice asked and I turned my head slightly to see the blonde girl staring at me from where she stood in front of a shelf a few steps away from me. I glared at her but she didn't seem too put out and instead she just smiled. "Or are you just desperate?"
"What?" I bit out, annoyed at her already and my vision swirled slightly as the pain in my head increased.
"I don't know," The woman (she looked more like a girl) shrugged, her smile still wide and her disheveled hair slipping into her eyes. "I just figured most people who buy lottery tickets either believe in luck or are desperate for cash."
I looked away from her, deciding to ignore her and hoping she'd just go pay so I could hold up the store and get home. But she just laughed softly and I frowned at the sound. Was she laughing at me?
"I guess anyone who's out at three a.m is desperate for something," She continued, not taking the hint that I really didn't want to talk to her.
"What're you desperate for?" I asked, turning to face her. I made my tone perverted and gave her a once over and a wink, hoping to scare her off. However the blonde just smiled, making me wonder if she even got what I was trying to imply.
Maybe she wasn't all there, like she had a screw loose in her head or something. It seemed likely.
She then pulled a small box off the shelf and held it out for me to see.
"Tylenol," She explained, laughing slightly at herself. "I've had a killer headache all day and I'm desperate."
"And so you came out to buy it at three a.m." I derived, ignoring the fact that Tylenol sounded really good about now.
"I've been up late trying to unpack," She continued and I wondered why she felt the need to elaborate. I didn't care why she was here or what she was buying. I just wanted her to pay so I could do my deed and leave. "Finally I decided to call it a night but my head was hurting too much. They say there's a virus going around with headaches, nausea, and dizziness. I'm worried I might have it."
I frowned, realizing that virus was exactly what I had. God, I hated being sick.
She didn't seem to care that I was quiet. "So then I realized I didn't have any medicine, or at least I hadn't unpacked it yet, so I had to go out and find some. Only, I'm new to this part of town and it took forever to find a store still open…"
She continued but I tuned her out, wondering if the ten dollars her purchase would be was really worth the increasingly painful headache her constant rambling was giving me.
"…and so I turned to the left and there was still no store…" She continued, oblivious to my growing frustration. I gritted my teeth, the pain above my eyes making me feel sick to my stomach. "…and the dog just kept barking…" I wanted to scream.
"Here," I snapped, making her clamp her mouth closed quickly in shock. I grabbed the box of pills form her hand and walked to the counter, practically slamming them down on the surface beside the register.
"Will that be all?" The clerk asked, his tone amused and his brown eyes dancing.
"Yes," I said lowly, making sure he remembered his previous fear of me.
He rang up the box just as I felt the blonde girl's presence next to me, her heat seeping through my hoodie and warming my arm, even though we weren't touching. I frowned. She must have a fever.
"That'll be thirteen dollars and forty-nine cents," The man said with a small smile at the girl beside me. I muttered something profane beneath my breath before slapping a twenty down on the counter.
"I have money," The blonde her said, her voice holding amazement at my actions. I just ignored her, slightly angered at how my night had turned around for the worse…again.
The man handed me my change and I tossed the box at the girl before stalking out, shoving my hands into my hoodie. The city around me was dark and I began walking towards my apartment, my head pounding and the last of my patience gone.
"Three-hundred, thirteen dollars and forty-nine cent," I mumbled to myself, counting up my losses.
"Hey!" A voice called and I ground my teeth together and quickened my pace slightly. "Hey, wait up!"
The blonde girl ran up until she reached my side, my pace not once slowing down. She fell into step beside me, panting slightly from her short jog. What was she, a lost puppy?
"Thanks," She said once she caught her breath and I kept my eyes firmly ahead of me, eager for my bed and some sleep. She didn't seem to mind me ignoring her too much. "I mean, I could've paid for it, but it was really nice of you to."
It was quiet for a minute and I wondered briefly how long she was going to follow me but I didn't really care. She could do as she wished as long as she didn't start to annoy me again.
"I'd offer you some, but…" She trailed off and I saw her shrug out of the corner of my eye, looking down at the Tylenol box in her hand.
"I just need two," I said and she seemed startled that I had talked. And then she realized what I had said and her eyes widened a little.
"Oh, okay!" She smiled, carefully opening the box in her hand and ripping two tablet packets off. She held them out and I took them, my finger's brushing her palm for a short second and she jolted. "I think you have a fever," She said, sounding slightly worried.
"Do these help that?" I asked, not really caring but asking anyway. I could handle a fever and a headache without medicine if I needed to, I'd done it before.
She read the box. "Yepp! It says here that these reduce fevers!" I just nodded slightly, ripping open the packet and swallowing the tablets. She watched me, seemingly astounded. "You don't need a drink with that?" She asked after I sent her a harsh glare for staring.
"No," I said shortly. Who did this girl think she was? First she ruined my heist, then she annoyed me to a point of severe pain, and now she won't go away. If she was a boy I'd cuff her ears for just one of those things.
It was quiet for a while and we both kept walking. At every available turn that she didn't take I wondered exactly when she was going to stop following me. I mean, she had no idea who I was for God's sake. Who followed a stranger in the dead of the night?
"It's a pretty night," She said, sighing up at the sky. I didn't pay her any heed, remembering that the stars and moon were impossible to see. What was so nice about it? "When I was little I use to look for shooting stars at night." I wanted to tell her that she was annoying, and that you couldn't see shooting stars in the city, but I kept my mouth closed.
Was she lost? I frowned at that. It was possible, especially if she was new to this part of town like she said. I looked around at the rundown buildings, the graffiti, and the occasional bullet hole in the concrete or glass.
This wasn't exactly the part of town you should be lost in. Especially if you were a girl.
"Do you know how to get home?" I asked, my voice dull and bored, fatigue catching up to me. A side affect from the pills maybe?
She glanced around.
"Yeah," She laughed softly. "I'm pretty sure." She turned and looked at me and I glanced down at her from the corner of my eye. "Do you know where Muskeg Street is? My apartment is near there." I noticed she had blue eyes.
"Keep going straight and turn left by the old theatre; you'll see the street sign from there." I replied, thinking of all the apartment complexes around Muskeg Street. I lived near there too and the idea of walking with this talkative girl the whole way there made my fading headache pound a bit more. I had to ditch her. "Later," I said quickly before turning down a random street. I knew another way home. It would take longer but I didn't care.
"Oh, bye!" The girl yelled after me, sounding startled at my sudden departure but thankfully she didn't follow me. "Thanks again!"
I said nothing, just continued down the alley I had gone down, my hands warm in the pocket of my cotton hoodie. I kicked a beer bottle out of my way and watched dully as it ricocheted off a nearby wall and hit a metal trashcan loudly.
I was too tired to try and rob another store. I'd have to get my money another way tomorrow. I sighed at that pathetic thought and walked a bit quicker, wanting to make it home before my body fell asleep without my consent.
When had I got so tired?
"Hey sweetheart," A woman called from where she stood on a corner, her fish-net stockings were torn and her makeup was caked on to cover a bruise on her cheek. "Want a wild night?" She asked, her voice low and husky.
I just ignored her, looking her over in a bored manner but not stopping.
I'd already blown over three-hundred dollars that night, I wasn't about to go in debt for a quick lay. Even if it would calm my nerves a bit. I shook my head and continued walking, my mind slow with sleep and my head feeling better from the pills.
A baby was crying, I could hear it through the thin walls as I walked down the hall. My apartment building was crowded and cheap, the lights flickered occasionally and everything looked dirty and inexpensive. But the rent was good and affordable and the people here made the best with what they got.
I stopped at my door, the '6' in my '16' had been stolen the week after I'd moved in here…and that'd been forever ago. And so I was in room '1', even if you could still see the outline in the door from where the six was supposed to be.
The smell of the apartment building was stale and the lights flickered as I dug the key out of my pocket.
I sighed and shoved my key into the lock and it clicked open after a hard turn. The baby wailed louder and I realized it was from the Anderson's apartment and I looked down the hall at their door, knowing everyone else was trying to sleep with that insufferable noise. But I knew we'd all grown used to sleeping through such noises. You had to.
I noticed a few boxes stacked outside the apartment next to mine and I frowned. It seemed my new neighbors had moved in while I was at work. I opened my door and walked in, not bothering to turn the lights on. Even though my fever had subsided the light would only annoy me.
I listened for a minute, trying to hear any sounds coming from the neighboring apartment. There was a slight shuffle but no talking and thankfully no baby cries. I smiled a bit at this, hoping for an older couple that wouldn't cause too much racket.
Shaking my head, I walked towards my bedroom, avoiding taking a shower in hopes of getting a few hours of sleep. There was no more shuffling from the new neighbors and I shrugged out of my hoodie and fell onto my bed.
I'd meet them soon enough.
If you suffer your people to be ill-educated, and their manners corrupted from infancy, and then punish them for those crimes to which their first education disposed them, what else is to be concluded, sire, but that you first make thieves and then punish them?
No, I'm not giving up on 'If You Scream For Adventure'
I just love Butch and Bubbles and had to get some ideas out. This was originally going to be a one-shot but while writing it I realized I wanted to continue. Hope you don't mind. I know nothing really happened but it'll get better!
Thanks so much for reading!