Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Owen Taylor - Chapter 1 - part 2

Anyway, just as I finished packing, Tone saw the story run on BBC News and muttered, “It’s gone global.”

“Their own damn fault,” was my only response.

He didn’t say another word till we’d hit the terminal and I mentioned I wasn’t going through Amsterdam, this time.

“You’re meeting Mira,” he said.

“She asked me to.”

“Shit, Jake, that story,” he muttered, his voice breaking. “It won’t matter. That story. ‘Cause I told her everything. Couple days ago. I wanted her to understand – what happened was all on me.” He was sneaking into one of his shaking fits, he was so scared of how I’d react. He continued with, “I got her number from your uncle Ari. I – I didn’t want her to hear about it from anybody else. You know how the press makes shit up and -- .”

I’d just held him close and let him take his time calming down. I’ve never known anybody who could work himself up like my big bad Tone. Well, he thought he was big-bad. And considering some of the shit he’d pulled, I could see how people would agree. Because he can get this focus going that’s so damned intense, he forgets everything else and, to use his own phrase, goes batshit-crazy.

When we’d lived in Copenhagen, he’d had control of it. Even when we had to come back to Texas, he’d found this guy in Austin who knew how to talk to him. So every Monday he’d borrow his dad’s Chrysler, pop up there, unload for an hour, have lunch and book it on home. The routine made him easy as aces.

But the last few months, if he had to give me any news he didn’t think I’d like, he’d start shivering like a Chihuahua and his words would stumble out, and I’d have to reassure him that everything’d be fine. I had a pretty good idea what was causing it; a new probation officer, in Austin, had taken over his case and had arranged for Tone’s every-other-week meeting to fall on the same day as his therapy. Apparently he was a bigger dick than any of the ones I’d had to deal with, and he was pulling a stupid piece of control-mongering meant to smack Tone around. So after the second time I’d had to beg a ride up so I could drive Tone home because he was too freaked out to even start the car, I started going with him on those days and working with the old version of Photoshop on my laptop while waiting through both appointments. Then when he left the asshole’s office, I’d put my arms ‘round him and hold him till he kissed my neck to let me know he was just my Tone, again, and we’d go have a slop of greasy Tex-Mex and a Margarita and drive home.

Just my Tone. A little taller than me. A little leaner than me. A little lighter in skin (thanks to my Persian/Irish mix and both our ability to tan easily). And a hell of a lot crazier than me. The second I saw that clean face and mop of brown hair mixed with wary eyes that screamed, “Be careful; I’ll hurt you,” I knew he needed someone to protect him, especially from himself.

I never knew what went on in his therapy sessions. Didn’t want to, and I made damn sure he understood it. I don’t want him to hold back anything for fear it might freak me out. The only thing I asked was that he trust me in every other way, which he seemed to be doing. Man, it was almost like we were being a couple, again, instead of just two guys supporting each other.

But the last few months, it’s like he can’t believe I’m okay with what happened, that I don’t think less of him or won’t leave him. It’s like he flat refuses to understand that I know how people are. In prison, I dealt with guards who were full-scale jackals and convicted killers who were on God’s side. A lifetime of learning got jammed into those eighteen months. I’d done things in there I’d never thought I was capable of doing, and I was halfway to being a hard-ass when I was sent in. So I know that nobody, absolutely nobody, has the right to judge anybody else, because you never honestly know how you’ll react to hell till you’ve been there.

But now Tone was building up his secrets, again, and seemed less willing to believe me when I said I loved him, and it bugged me. In Denmark, he’d been so happy and I’d felt easy. My artwork was kicking ass with my uncle’s advertising agency, and a graphic novel I was working on was slowly coming together. He was giving kids tennis lessons and could already speak some Danish. I mean, we got so close, we could read each other’s minds. And man -- when Tone gets close to you -- and turns his focus on you -- it makes you feel like you’re the only guy in the world. That you’re all that matters. He’s granite under your feet, he locks in on you so tight. That year gave me back all the confidence I’d lost in the previous three. Rebuilt my meaning and reality, and more than made up for his recent freak-outs.

That’s why I was willing to live in Texas, again, as much as I fucking hate that fucking state. It’s been a year and a half since Tone was nearly killed in that jail cell, but its judicial system was still trying like crazy to figure out some way of blaming him for the corrupt scumbags who grabbed control of the police, jails, and DA’s office of one fair-sized county so completely, it was like a private fiefdom. Tone’s phrase, not mine. But Fernandez, his attorney, was pretty good, and for every feint the assholes in Austin would try they got a parry in return. I figured that’s what was bringing on these sudden shifts in his mood; it’d been dragging on for so long, even I was wondering if it’d never end.

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