02 July 2009


They've hurt Jake, is the first thing Sam thinks and he doesn't know how badly. But the big fat one in front of him gurgles a laugh and raises the bottle to his lips and what happens next is so fast yet seems to go slow, it's all fuck-self-preservation-they-hurt-my-little-brother, and he wriggles an arm free and slams his hand into the bottom of the bottle, forcing the bottle and its contents an impossible distance into the man's mouth. Another gurgle as the man throws his hands up, he's a fat man and losing his balance means bad things will happen.
The other hand holding him lets go and he hears a yell of surprise as fat man slips, and not in the right direction, it's a good ten feet down to the stream behind him, boots frantically struggling to regain his drunken balance, but he's already drowning in a half gallon of whisky, and he disappears from sight, and the man behind Sam yelps out a name with a tone that only a brother can produce, and chases right after him, his mind just as blank as Sam's with fear, so blank he doesn't know or care the stream might be only a couple of feet deep there, so shallow there is barely a splash wherever he landed, just an ear-piercing scream of pain and thrashing.
Sam has the bottle and turns, Jake is blinking, but not aware enough to do anything to help, so Sam swings the bottle at the man holding him, this isn't like the movies, no, the bottle doesn't break, but something else goes crack really loud, something very bad, and the man's eyes start to fill with red before they roll back and he drops the ground, a rewarding trickle of death running from his lips. The fourth one stares at Sam, looking like he can't decide whether to fight or run or maybe he's just wondering if there's any Whisky left in the bottle. Sam's adrenaline is rushing now, and the man takes off into the woods.
Now all he can think about is Jake, who's stumbling a little now, and if the scrawny one is going to come back with more of them, and he picks his brother up, thinking to himself he hasn't picked him up like this since the boy broke his toe at soccer practice, and all he can think to do is run, back to the cottage, out of this place, away from this hateful world. He hopes the fat man drowned and pictures him trying to claw his head above the water in the soft slippery mud, hopes his mind is filling up with the rule of 3's, just three minutes is all he has, and hopes his half-breed brother shattered his legs, hopes they all die slow and painful, for hurting his love.
And he's running, he has their money and their clothes and dresses Jake, who's stumbling all over the cottage, dazed, and all he can think is run, like they talked about, run, somewhere no one will ever find them, and then they're on the road, almost into the path of a white BMW which swerves, because, well the man behind the wheel didn't expect two boys covered in mud to scramble out of the woods.
The man in a gray pinstriped suit leaps out of the car, seeing Jake, his slurring and mumbling.
"Please, sir, please, my brother, he's hurt," and Sam has enough presence of mind to not give details, just keeps repeating himself over and over before the man puts a hand firmly on his shoulder and says in a voice so calm and quiet, "I'm a doctor. I can help your brother."
And he tells Sam to put him in the car, keep Jake awake, his house only a few miles away, just keep him awake is all you have to do, and Sam is crying so hard the man speeds up. He's starting to feel calmer and now wonders what they've chosen, a life full of random terible and random lucky things, and knows he wouldn't have it any other way as he gently brushes Jake to keep him from falling asleep.

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