Page 7 of The Stay

Font Size:  

Ash was reading his soul. This guy who'd known him a few hours was fucking reading him like a church sign with some doom-laden quote up by the highway. He had never fit in. No one understood, he’d felt like the odd one out. And so he’d played up, played the fool, the trouble maker. And he liked all the trouble he got into. He liked the shame, the guilt. It set him on fire from the inside, the fires of hell. He knew he was a sinner and he was going straight to this place called hell that he was constantly threatened with. But as he got older, he liked it more and more. And he hated himself more for liking it. But the cycle of feeling ashamed only fueled the fire and he felt so good he almost felt high off it. Until he’d gotten high later on, he hadn’t been able to identify that feeling. Blurry, suffocating, hot. Loose. Mellow. Alive.

But he’d always been alone in that. Always alone. And Ash knew it. Ash spoke of being alone, too. Could this cocky little dick know that feeling? Could it be that anyone else could share in that feeling of blissful sin that Nix loved so much?

"I'm just as alone as you then," Nix was surprised how quiet his voice was.

"Nah, I'm not an abandoned pup any more. I've got people at my back," Ash sounded smug.

"Oh yeah?" Nix said, humoring him, finding himself drawn into conversation when moments ago all he wanted to do was sleep in silence. But this was easing a part of him that even sleep couldn’t restore. He felt it. Ash’s cocky chatter. Reaffirming Nix’s sense of humanity. Taking him out of his cycle of shame and self loathing for just a moment.

"Yeah." Ash took a breath, Nix practically heard his chest puff out with pride. "I'm part of... something bigger, shall we say..." Ash was enjoying stringing out the secret, being cryptic.

Nix had mellowed a degree or two but wasn't in the fucking mood for guessing games. "Well?"

"Oh, they’re just a powerful group of individuals-"

"If it’s the church, I'm going to fucking-"

"Woah, alright, it's not the church, though no prizes for guessing where you've been kicked out of, hey? Your parents were-"

"Evangelical Christians, yes. It was a community of… it was a cult, anyway… I left. Wasn’t kicked out.”

Ash made a noise and Nix could imagine him nodding in the bunk below. “That explains the garden of paradise on your neck and the cross tattoo on your hand.”

Nix gritted his teeth. Yes, around Nix’s wrist he had a rosary bead necklace tattoo. Further up on his forearm, the rosary bead necklace was broken and the loose beads scattered and then morphed into tear drops on a statue of Lot’s wife. She looked back at her cities burning because a wrathful god had decided it to be so. Cities of sin, with a wistful look in her eyes. Yeah ‘cause she was tempted to stay. And Nix had sympathized with Lot’s wife. He would have longed for a city of sin, too, and he wouldn’t have cared if some god somewhere up in the sky had decided it needed to burn to the ground. Nix would have stayed just to feel the thrill of the fire.

“And the Tower of Babel on my arm, and the city of Sodom…” Nix cleared his throat. "So, who are your powerful pals, then?"

"Oh I don't know if I should say," Ash said coyly.

"You should say," Nix said flatly. He hated how Ash was stringing this out but he also hated how he, himself, was being pulled in. How he was now wide awake like a kid at a sleepover, hanging on the every word of the geeky kid, telling a ghost story.

Nix held his breath.

Ash dropped his voice to a stage whisper that somehow ended up being louder than his usual voice he was speaking with moments before. "I'm part of a motorcycle club."

Of all the things Nix expected Ash to say, this was not one of them. “Oh yeah, the guard mentioned that.”

Ash huffed below him.

"I must say… an MC... you?" Nix couldn't hide the incredulity from his response.

“Yeah, me, an MC,” Ash said defensively.

Nix grinned. "Okay, so biker boy, what ride you got?"

"Harley. But I was pulled over by the pigs on a sweet vintage Triumph." Nix raised his eyebrows. Okay, the guy knew his bikes, fine. "So what’s this MC called?"

"Black Coyotes MC. NorCal."

Nix had never heard of them. But he hadn’t been in Northern California long.

“You got their colors on your back?” Nix probed.

“Not yet,” Ash snapped back immediately. “There wasn’t time before I got arrested, you know how it is…” Ash trailed off, sounding world-weary, like a long standing veteran of the 1% MC circuit. Which Nix knew was utter bullshit.

"NorCal, like there’s a SoCal branch, other chapters across other states?"

"Well, no... not yet, but-"