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 Like Normal People, Darrell McGuiness
Katerina Dimov
 Posted: Sep 20 2017, 12:03 AM
Quote
Newcomer
Kat


September 22, 2017

It had been over a week since she’d been hungover, seven days since she’d found a pair of earrings, and three days since she’d found the used condom in the bathroom trash. Katerina wasn’t certain what she was feeling, but she didn’t like it. She’d put herself to work on every project on her plate. Clothes were washed, the house was cleaned, and she’d pushed to get as much of her bedroom finished as possible. She’d promised the construction would be done before she left. How much longer that would be was beyond her, but she was determined to finish soon.

The day of Chilifest meant another hic-up on her new plans. She’d began avoiding spending time with Darrell two days ago, going so far as to start working at the grave yard when she needed a break from the house. Today She came back from work early to make up the batch of chili she’d been practicing once a week since she’d decided to go. The food by now had growing boring, but she had high hopes that her one bowl would pay for foods that were more exciting.

Dressed in her typical blue jeans and t-shirt, she still wore the straw hat she wore for work at the grave yard. The chili was now simmering, awaiting the cilantro. Kat stepped over Snake, opening the refrigerator for the glass of lemonade she’d tried making. All that time squeezing lemons and melting sugar had produced a potent mixture that she didn’t like. Still, she made it, she’d drink it. It was’nt as if she’d been putting much in her stomach as it was. Avoiding Darrell meant avoiding meals. The woman had grown mildly pale, but the glow of her newly acquired tan hid it from her in the mirror.. that was all she could ask for.

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Darrell McGuiness
 Posted: Sep 21 2017, 06:38 AM
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Stranger
Asa


Things had been a little strained since that night, Darrell hadn't mentioned it to her, what all she had told him and he didn't know how to react. Should he mention it, did she want to talk about it, was she distancing herself because she had said too much? He couldn't be sure but things had definitely been weird around the house, she spoke very little, left the house more often and immersed herself into her work. Darrell just waited, biding his time until she ultimately asked him to work on the RV then subsequently left.

Swinging by the gas station this morning afforded him a nearly empty station, devoid of people, the same couldn't be said for the trailer park. After seeing a few clients and stopping by Lamb’s for some quality time he found the man in high spirits. Apparently he had come into some money recently and was trying some kind of new treatment.

Returning home, he cut the grass in the high places, poured a little stab-il in the tank and hoped at long last as he put the mower away that it would be the last time until next spring. Hell he would probably have the property sold by then. Wasting no time, Darrell came into the house and could immediately smell chili, again, snapped the locks off Cujo’s cage and began plucking out the snake’s water dish, shelter and basking cork. The python didn't seem particularly pleased but he was a tolerant animal and barely reacted to also being removed from the tank and draped across Darrell's shoulders, still warm from being outside. He didn't bother speaking to Katerina, waiting for her to decide she wanted to conversate.

The snake hooked its tail around Darrell's chest, head stretched out in front of him as he walked passed the kitchen. A forked tongue curiously flicked the air,
“Smell the chili?” he asked the dark colored serpent, faint stripes lining his slender body, the lights of the kitchen reflecting off the ocher spots down his back like flakes of gold leaf, “Nummy stuffs.” Darrell took the snake into the laundry room bathroom and ran a warm bath, only a few inches of water, added some conditioner and placed the python into the tub. The dog had followed him this far until hearing running water, he retreated back to the kitchen.

Closing the bathroom door behind him, Darrell grabbed a towel from the hamper and stuffed it into the gap with his foot to prevent a possible escaped snake. Cujo was usually good about staying in the tub but Darrell wasn't taking any chances. Walking back through the house it felt a little strange, this distance she had created, it was as if they were pretending the other wasn't there. Gathering up the items from the tank he went back to the laundry room and washed them in the utility sink and left them there to dry. The old newspaper was taken out of the tank next and Darrell finally stepped into the kitchen to take the morning paper off the table,
“Done readin' this?” he finally asked her, rolling it up in his hands, “That thing’s t’day right?” he pointed the Lochland Times toward the simmering chili.


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Katerina Dimov
 Posted: Sep 21 2017, 10:39 AM
Quote
Newcomer
Kat


Always sensitive to the sounds around her, Katerina braced for company the minute the lawn-mower ceased outside. She’d hoped to finish before Darrell had come in. Now she stared over her lemonade glass at the crock pot as if it would simmer faster.

Six minutes.....

The woman sighed to herself, grabbing the tinfoil pan she’d picked up and laying out the tinfoil and shrink wrap she was determined to put over it. Already she had a list of steps to get out he door started in her head.

1. Simmer.
2. Add Celantro
3. pour into tin...

Darrell’s footsteps through the door snapped her out of her thoughts. She took another long sip of lemonade as he turned to Cujo and started emptying his tank. It was hard to ignore him. “Smell the chili? Nummy stuffs.” It better be. She’d spent weeks trying different types of beans, tomatoes, meat. Instead of the one can of black beans the recipe called for there were two. Katerina didn’t have a talent for cooking, but she was stubborn enough to keep trying until she made something right. Including the stupid lemonade in her hand that she now thrust under the faucet to water down.

“Done readin' this” Kat glanced over her shoulder, spying the local paper in his hand. ”Yes. “ Putting down the newspaper, she hurriedly began step 4: clean up. “That thing’s t’day right?” The two plastic containers of turkey meat were tossed in the trash, mustard returned to the refrigerator. ”That’s right. I’m not taking too much chili so there should be plenty left over for later." She doubted he wanted to go anyway. "The entry fee is free. Instead of money to get in, all you need is a bowl of Chili.” The timer on the crockpot was being frustratingly slow. Katerina put the frying pan she’d used to brown meet in the sick then began scrubbing it. ”It starts at 5. “ She hesitated, trying to think of a better way to word’i’m going alone. ”I figure If I start walking soon I won’t miss anything. It’s at the Wallace Apple F-” She’d forgotten about the open cans she’d left in the sink. Dropping her sponge, the woman groped in the sudsy water, wrapping her palm around something circular with jagged edges. ”ssssssssssss” Pain.

Stupid stupid stupid. She cursed herself for being so distracted when he was there. Katerina didn’t want to open her fist, seeing the red quickly flood the wet folds of her skin. It began dripping so fast that she barely had time to realize it. She hastily wrapped her hand in partially used paper towels and started cleaning the floor. ”Shit.”

At least she'd finished the chili.. mostly.

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Darrell McGuiness
 Posted: Sep 22 2017, 07:24 PM
Quote
Stranger
Asa


The chili had certainly improved, though Darrell liked it, it never seemed to like him very much so he tried to be reasonable when treating himself. Things he had been able to stomach in his twenties weren’t so kind to him anymore and he hadn’t touch anything sweet in years after getting multiple silver fillings in his molars. Getting older sucked, that was for sure.

Kat answered him with a very quick, “yes” and Darrell went about adding the new paper to the terrarium, he had no shredded pine so this would have to do until he could make a trip to the pet store. It was always fun to try and figure out what kinds of animals people had by how they outwardly appeared in public, surprisingly, Darrell was usually wrong. Some young black thug lookin’ guy he would have sworn had a pit or a shepherd would be walking around with a Maltese on the end of the leash, baby talking “Lil’ Momma” the whole time he was in the store. It was actually kind of endearing. A sweet and innocent looking young woman perusing the aquarium aisle brought a bag of crickets to the register going on about her scorpion collection. Not many guessed that Darrell had a snake, either. When it came to Southerners, the only good snake, was a dead snake and regardless if it was a garter snake or a rat snake everything was a Copperhead or a Cottonmouth and you couldn't tell them otherwise. Decapitate first, ask questions later!

Lost in thought he was only half listening to her, something about a bowl of chili being an entry fee. Sounded like harmless, innocent fun, something he didn’t get to partake in often, it was almost soul cleansing and Lord knew he fucking needed it. Just as predicted, the cop he had wasted had an immaculate funeral with horses, flags, flashing lights, not without a young buck seated next to Darrell at the bar watching it all unfold and scoffing to himself about the pig parade. He could certainly go with some conscience clearing, especially after the chief choked up reading the eulogy, complete with crying wife and kids in the background.

Making note of the time, Darrell figured he could finish up with Cujo, get a shower for himself and be ready to go by the time they would have to leave. But then Kat mentioned walking and went silent as Darrell was bringing the snake’s accessories back from the laundry room and placing them into the tank,
“Well, I’m gonna drive so … see ya there, I guess?” he didn’t seriously think she was going to walk all the way there with a hot bowl of chili in her hands, that would be insane. It reminded him of something, “I need a pickup truck,” he pointed out, for deer season, obviously, “there’s a fella in town, sellin’ one, I’s thinkin’ I’d get it an’ we could have two vehicles, it’s a automatic so ya could borr’y it whenever ya need.” there was something off about the front tires, something Darrell was confident he could fix himself for a reasonable price. All thoughts ceased the moment he walked back into the kitchen to put what remained of the Lochland Times on the table, the classified for the Chevy truck, circled several times in black ballpoint, “Uh, you alright?” he asked with concern, leaning on the counter, “S’that blood?” it didn’t look too bad, so naturally he smiled a little, maybe just to annoy her for old time’s sake, “You are accident prone.” he teased and opened the drawer for the hand towels, giving her a green one that may not stain as badly.



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Katerina Dimov
 Posted: Sep 22 2017, 09:22 PM
Quote
Newcomer
Kat


She had her plans, and then she had everything else that worked against her. There was no true way to control the world. Katerina wasn’t stupid or clumsy, but she still managed to topple into trouble. Usually it was even her fault. In this instance forgetting she had left cans in the sink. The jagged cuts on her fingers and palm were proof that her mind wasn’t completely in the present. Of course Darrell had to walk back into the kitchen. “Uh, you alright?” Kat glanced elsewhere, wrapping her hand in paper towels in a last ditch effort not to dribble watery blood on the floor. “i’m fine.” Her hands had seen worse than this. She’d abused them as a child, the scratches were akin to a wary barncat’s warnings.

Boy did they sting.

“S’that blood?” Katerina cringed internally. She glanced at Darrell with sarcasm on her tongue and saw the way he was smiling. It irked her. “You are accident prone.” Ugh. The worst part was that he was right. She tended to make fights instead of acquaintances and .. well.. here she was with a bloody hand the moment she couldn't concentrate. ”Could you get the medkit? Not everyone can have calluses like yours.” Frustrating... The sooner she could leave the better. Shit, she still and to put the celantro in.

While Darrell was busy, Katerina clutched the paper towels in a fist and got back to work. She put in the the remaining spice then picked up the crockpot bowl to pour her chili. The smell was amazing. It didn’t take much to fill the tinfoil container, but she didn’t need much. She didn’t have to look to know he’d returned. Just set it on the counter.” The hot crockpot felt terrible on her abused hand. Heat was a tricky business. She couldn’t put the food away until later tonight so she left it to cool ”Could you get the tinfoil and plastic wrap?” She’d use both. Then she’d simply wrap it up in a towel and start walking. Kat refused to show up at the event with him. They weren’t a couple, and she needed to get over the safety net he’d created for her. She was leaving soon. period.

”Don’t foget to pull the laundry out of the dryer. It’s your work clothes. I’ll fold them when I get home.” IDIOT. What did she just tell herself? Apparently it was ‘I’m leaving, as soon as I've sorted your laundry’.

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Darrell McGuiness
 Posted: Sep 23 2017, 12:41 AM
Quote
Stranger
Asa


She was pissed, understandable, not everyone was in the best mood after cutting themselves, especially on the hand, that was such a pain in the ass. For Darrell it was more than that since he worked with his hands so much not even a pumice stone could rid them of the dirt some days. To lose the ability of either hand would be detrimental. He couldn’t imagine pulling weeds would feel very good to her either after this. He wondered if she had been let go from her job at the laundromat yet, it had been a while and he didn’t think she had worked a shift since the incident in the trailer park. Surely it was considered job abandonment by this point.

He was surprised to see her no longer tending to herself when he got back from the laundry room, momentarily peeking in to see Cujo still enjoying his warm bath. Darrell winced as she poured the crock pot into the tray, placing the first-aid kit where she had specified, a blank look of uncertainty seeming to be a permanent fixture of his face, one may have described it as looking like a kicked dog. She was angry at more than just the can in the sink. He stepped around her to remove them, saying nothing as she asked for the foil and saran wrap. Getting them out of a drawer on the other side of the kitchen he left them on the counter in her view and stepped back out of the kitchen, barely hearing her say something about his clothes in the dryer, why get them out if they weren’t going to be folded right away? Instead he retrieved the python from the tub, wrapping him in the same towel he had used to block the door and carried the serpent back to his terrarium where he immediately coiled up under his hollow rock.

If she would just slow the fuck down and accept the ride he was offering she wouldn’t be in such a hurry and hurting herself. He supposed some assistance might have been nice with applying some sort of bandage to her hand but Darrell wasn’t much in the mood to deal with her recent attitude. He had told someone the other day that, no, he didn’t have a wife, but he was living with a woman who hated him. It really did feel like they were back to square one, just when he thought there was progress, it was one step forward, ten steps back with her.

A shower would help clear his head, Darrell closed himself off in their shared bathroom for a quick rinse. Maybe she would either be gone by the time he got out, or changed her mind about walking.



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Katerina Dimov
 Posted: Sep 23 2017, 01:19 AM
Quote
Newcomer
Kat


She didn’t have many talents, but she had them tuned to perfection. After years of avoiding people she could quite the merciless bitch. Her feelings were hurting her far more than her hand, and just looking at Darrell made them worse. She didn’t want to think too hard about it. There were plenty of things she needed to be doing. Food to prep. As she wrapped up the chili for her trip she tried hard to put up what walls she had, failing miserably.

Nothing says ‘i’ll leave this house soon for good’ quite like promising to do someone’s laundry.

Her hands were still bloody when she went out the door. Katerina had wrapped the worst of it then walked out holding a tinfoil container gingerly with her other hand. She was used to walking. If she could trust it wouldn’t spill in her purse she would have, but nothing was keeping her there. Just to be careful she took a side road and took the scenic way to the Apple Farm. It took longer, but she didn’t want to deal with Darrell stopping in the middle of the road and yelling at her to get into his damn jeep. She wasn’t feeling reasonable. If he did find her she’d make him follow her at 5 miles an hour all the way to the damn chilifest.

Being out of shape meant taking breaks. Katerina took two. A few cars past her, and even a jeep. None of them were Darrell. Whatever time it was, she kept in mind she would have to walk home. Responsibility was a bitch. She’d have to be careful with her alcohol and make sure she had at least something to eat. Passing out on the way home sounded like a recipe for disaster. A normal person would be afraid, Kat had woken up in enough ditches to question her own sanity.

Was that Lamb and Charla?

Handing off her chli bowl to be put in the communal pot, she tentatively made her way in that direction. At least she could take her mind off of Darrell... boy, she needed to sit down. Her feet were killing her. ”Hey.” It wasn’t a very good greeting, but she was trying not to look tired or frustrated. ”I didn’t think you would be here.” She couldn’t bring herself to smile. ”Did you just arrive?” Shoving her injured left hand in a pocket, she adjusted her purse with her right so that it didn’t rest on the side of her neck.

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Darrell McGuiness
 Posted: Sep 23 2017, 10:42 AM
Quote
Stranger
Asa


He hadn’t slept well, yawning as he stepped out of the steamy bathroom and into his bedroom. Listening as he tucked his tank top into his jeans and fastened the belt he heard no other sounds in the house and assumed Katerina had left. Throwing on a gray plaid button up he rolled the sleeves up just past his elbows and opened his wardrobe to browse his choice in jackets. Hadn’t taken his old cycle jacket out in a while, oh yeah … that was why, oh well, maybe no one would notice the buckshot in the upper right shoulder. This jacket had likely saved him some years ago from taking a few pellets to the spine and immobilizing him for the rest of his life. Dropping the heavy brown leather jacket onto his shoulders and sneaking a Glock into the inner pocket, Darrell led Snake out onto the front porch, chained him and left. It wasn’t until he was about halfway there did he realize he had been daydreaming while an impatient sedan tailgated him five miles an hour under the limit. He cranked up the radio and sped up a little.

Pulling into the quiet apple orchard while blasting Nirvana, Darrell hadn’t actually planned on making an entrance but he was definitely here. A few farm animals fled from the fence line as the Wrangler rambled past. He was looking for Charla’s white Maxima, when he had visited with them earlier today they had told him they were coming to this shindig. But he didn’t see it and ended up parking next to someone’s Expedition instead. Popping a cigarette between his lips he headed toward the sounds of people and spotted them on the edge of the lot, a dark blue Harley standing proudly nearby as Lamb was speaking to Katerina, his helmet tucked under one arm. Well damn, he actually rode the bike,
“We got here a little early.” Lamb told her as the Jeep pulled up, “Didn’t think I’d feel up to it but sometimes you surprise yourself.” the sound of footsteps and the flick of a lighter told him Darrell was coming over to join them, “Damn, son I can hear ya comin’ from a mile away!” Darrell stretched out his arms as he came over, Charla had to wonder why he and Kat hadn’t ridden together, made more sense to her but she wasn’t one to pry, “Nirvana?” the question seemed judgmental,
“You don’t like Nirvana?” Darrell seemed disappointed, drawing on the cigarette, “Ain’t you from Seattle? All y’all are supposed t’ like Nirvana.” Lamb laughed,
“I’m from Portland.” well he was way off, completely wrong state, Darrell made a face like he had tasted something bitter, smoke rolling from flared nostrils, “Don’t worry, I got out before the liberals turned it into a shithole.” he assured his concerned looking friend and took a sip of his ginger ale. They had clearly been here for a bit, had already helped themselves to a few of the goodies. Charla was wearing a very festive orange, brown and beige outfit to celebrate the coming of fall, she was one of those women who couldn’t even bring herself to step out to get the paper in anything less than pants and a blouse,
“So, how are things?” Charla finally spoke up, standing hip to hip with her companion and immediately regretted the question, it seemed to sap out the happiness of the event as Darrell shrugged, a blank look on his face,
“Alright I reckon.” he answered blandly, but lit up again, “Ya gotta let me take ‘er for a spin, man.” he gestured to the bike so Lamb would know he wasn’t talking about Charla, though he might as well have been,
“That’s like askin’ a man if you can sleep with his wife.” it wasn’t the first time Darrell had asked,
"Please?"


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Katerina Dimov
 Posted: Sep 23 2017, 11:42 AM
Quote
Newcomer
Kat


She should have known the loud music was Darrell. He seemed to be cracking any peace she had like a bolder against glass. Her eyes lowered momentarily , glancing elsewhere as her hellos were forgotten for his. “Damn, son I can hear ya comin’ from a mile away!” Already this whole event felt like a bad idea. What was she thinking? She could have worked here instead. Katerina had tuned everything out completely for a moment as her internal monologue screamed at her.

“Ya gotta let me take ‘er for a spin, man.”
Take what for a spin? Lamb cleared some of the concern, but Katerina was still uncertain.
“That’s like askin’ a man if you can sleep with his wife.”
Wrong choice of words.
Please
”I’m going to go get some chili.” She interjected, managing a nod to Lamb and Charla before heading off on a quest for food.

She should have eaten more today. Now she was here she hoped to remedy the situation, and look around. It was.. not impossible. There near the bonfires was a monstrous caldron hanging over a firepit. Katerina walked past it to the tables of salads, desserts, chips, and other littler foods people had brought as sides. She didn’t even bother with the chili. The little things were enough to fill her plate. Feeling depressed, she settled herself as far from everyone as she could and quietly nibbled on a piece of ham wrapped in a paper thin shell. The taste of cream cheese and ranch dressing wasn’t bad. It didn’t help how she felt, but it assured her she wouldn’t be hungry for long.

From her table she scanned the area for drinks. There were several coolers on a table surrounded by children and a bar surrounded by adults. One section in particular was manned by a bored woman who probably should have been her. How much did they pay? She couldn’t remember from last year. Kat chewed a tortilla chip until it was paste then got to her feet and wandered to the table more out of a need to be near someone than anything else. ”Hello! Would you like to try some Apple pie moonshine a la mode?” Nodding, she took one and drank it carefully. First it was delicious. The burn after gave her pause.. trying to think of a response. ”This-” Words. NICE words. ”It’s good.” Going out of her way to talk to people felt like a chore. ”Wait, do I know you?” Katerina lifted her chin to look over the table at the person who.. did look a little familiar. ”We worked together at the charity ball! Actually I’m pretty sure you’ve worked at all the events I’ve ever worked at. Omy gosh! I don’t even know your name.” Ugh.

”Suri.”

Really? Usually she went with 'Sheena’. Great, thank you Darrell. She was losing her mind. At least she doubted the woman would remember it.

”Ohh , Suri? That’s really trendy. Did you know there is an Ap named Suri?” Was there? He named her after an ap? ”It tells you anything you want to know. It almost sounds like a real person but it’s a little robotic and monotone.” Not a bad description of how she wished she sounded now. ”Is it alright if I have a few more of these shots?” Her patience had thinned. ”Oh, yeah. For someone who has been around as long as you? Take as many as you like. No charge. It’s really good. I could get you a cup of it if you like.” Kat nodded, glancing back at her food to make sure it was still there.

She returned with a large glass of something that should at least taste good. If only she was more hungry.

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Darrell McGuiness
 Posted: Sep 23 2017, 01:58 PM
Quote
Stranger
Asa


Charla couldn’t blame the younger woman for wanting to distance herself from the men as they drooled over a Harley Davidson, to her it had always been so trivial but Lamb loved the damn thing, claimed they had been through everything together,
“You even know how to ride?” he had to ask,
“Man, I can drive anything with wheels.” Darrell answered confidently, “Had my license for a while but I let it expire.” he had always had a dirt bike or a four wheeler as a young’un, wheels were his thing and he had planned on eventually becoming a mechanic but after getting fired by the guy that was practically apprenticing him, Darrell was no longer hireable with his reputation as a thief. That reputation might have been playing a little bit against him as Lamb was seriously questioning whether or not to let him just take off on his most prized possession.

So he deflected, changing the subject,
“Something the matter with you and Kat?” this brought back Charla’s attention as well,
“Yeah I couldn’t help but notice you showing up separately, and I know she hasn’t moved back into the RV, I would have seen her.” if Lamb were to venture a guess he would say Darrell had done what he was pushing for and told her about what he really did for a living,
“She ain’t moved out,” he assured them, taking a drag off his cigarette, “but she wants to.” the smoke clouded on the cool autumn air, curling over his right shoulder and dissipating on the breeze,
“What happened?” Charla seemed more interested than Lamb,
“Honestly, I have no fuckin’ idea, she won’t hardly say two words to me, makes things real unpleasant around the house, ya know?” he hated to say it but some days he had to ponder if he was looking forward to her leaving. Maybe he would surprise her one day with the news that he had serviced her RV, so she was free to leave, “I mean if she wants t’ leave I don’t give a shit, she’s such a goddamn pleasure t’ be around.” from his tone of voice Charla could tell he did care, he was just frustrated, that much was obvious in the way he flicked his cigarette into the grass and stomped it out with the heel of his boot. She had been married before, was living with Wally now, she knew what it was like. Not that Darrell and Kat were a couple,
“Well, it is what it is I guess.” Lamb spoke up and handed his helmet over to his melancholy friend, he looked like he needed some cheering up but also seemed taken aback by the sudden offer,
“Ya really mean it?” the smile was back and he galloped over to the motorcycle like a giddy little boy,
“Darrell, take the helmet!” Charla half laughed but she was serious, the man waved her off as he straddled the Harley and stood it up, tucking the kickstand away,
“I don’t need that, too small anyways.” at least he had worn the right jacket. Kicking the bike into ignition it fired right up, puffs of dust from the gravel popping up at the rumbling exhaust,
“That man is a nutcase.” she said more to herself as they watched him drive respectfully down to the main road before opening up and roaring off into the distance, the gears screaming into the red as they shifted,
“And yet, we hang out with him.” Lamb admitted, almost awestruck,
“I’m gonna go run off to the ladies room, where are you gonna be?” she patted him on the arm,
“I’m not leavin’ this spot ‘til he brings my bike back.” he laughed, nervousness in his voice.

Charla didn’t make it to the porta potties, halting once she spotted Kat at a table by herself. Admittedly she didn’t seem as if she wanted company, but Charla came over anyways, her sheer, autumn leaf patterned scarf billowing over the shoulder of her ivory knit cardigan,
“Hey girly!” she tucked her chocolate brown skirt and sat across from her neighbor, former neighbor? “Little early isn’t it?” she gestured to Katerina’s drink of choice, “Not judging you,” she laughed, “how’s things with Darrell?” she hadn’t spoke up earlier when Charla had asked, only Darrell, so she was inquiring again, “You both seem kinda … I dunno, is upset the right word?”


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Katerina Dimov
 Posted: Sep 23 2017, 03:13 PM
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Newcomer
Kat


The tiny egg pies weren’t bad, but nothing on her plate really satisfied her. Kat stared off into the distance feeling sorry for herself until a dark shep stepped in front of her; Charla. She wasn’t certain she should feel relieved or not. ”Hey girly!” Katerina took in a breath, taking a long drink of her solo cup. “Little early isn’t it? Not judging you,” The comparison she could make with Darrell floated to her lips and she swallowed it quickly. ”Ho’s things with Darrell?” The look on her face was hardly her normally disinterested expression. There were volumes on it. “You both seem kinda … I dunno, is upset the right word?” Upset....

Taking a deep breath, she took another sip of her drink and propped an elbow on the paper-wrapped table. Some kid’s blue crayon masterpiece was now covered by the soft brown of her hair as she set her chin on her palm. ”I think he’s tired of me.” She answered simply, swirling the liquid left in her cup. ”I don’t belong there, Charla.” It was probably the most honest she could be with herself. God she missed Sheena. The other woman was there for every painful emotional melt down... was this a melt down? No. This was just her being an idiot like some teenage girl with a crush. ”If anything it’s my fault. He’s a single man living with a woman he isn’t interested in and sneaking women into the house to fuck when he knows I’m not there.” She didn’t even ask herself if that was too much information. ”I realized it about... two days ago.. three? There was a used condom in the bathroom trash. “ She felt her eyes glass slightly and she took another long swig.

Enough..

She looked at her food and nothing looked good. ”It.... doesn’t matter. I’ll do what I can to pay him for.. everything. He’s been really good to me.” Her throat constricted slightly and she realized she was feeling weaker than she thought she would just talking about it. ”You want to walk to the bathroom?” There was no way she could have told Charla to get lost, but she could step away.

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Darrell McGuiness
 Posted: Sep 23 2017, 03:52 PM
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Stranger
Asa


Pursing her lips, the blonde lowered her eyes to the crayon drawings on the picnic table’s paper covering. She knew the feeling, when a man just wasn’t into her anymore, happened more often than she cared to remember. Sometimes he would at least let her know himself without her having to find out he was sleeping with one of her friends and former coworkers, that had been an interesting divorce. But, at least she had gotten their daughter. As for Katerina not belonging in the house she supposed she had the right to feel that way, it wasn’t her home and her worried neighbors had been anxiously awaiting her return, all the while knowing the man she was staying with was fresh off a two year stint in a state corrections facility. He could be a dangerous man, or attract dangerous people. It had always been temporary, right?
“You been gone a while,” she pointed out with a knowing nod, “we figured it’d just be for a few days but then days turned to weeks, months … it’s been at least a month or even two. We figured ya just liked stayin’ with him.” so hearing this was, surprising to say the least. She drew a deep breath and sighed.

Her brow raised at what Kat had to tell her next,
“Wow,” it was mostly the choice of words that had her a little floored, the younger woman’s bluntness spoke of her anger, possibly even her betrayal, at this revelation, “Honey, men are … dumb,” she scoffed, “unless ya make it crystal clear to ‘em that you like ‘em, they’re gonna sleep around.” she explained, having had many boyfriends in her life to know this, it was the curse of being a good lookin’ woman nearly her whole life.

Standing from the table she seemed relieved at the suggestion they head to the porta johns,
“Yes, please,” she gathered her bag and scanned their surroundings for the blue containers, “never have kids, makes your bladder about as weak as iced tea left out on a hot day.”

Meanwhile Darrell navigated the winding back country roads, taking his time with the bike and avoiding heavily populated areas where a cop may spot him riding without a helmet, and a valid motorcycle license. He just felt the need to get away for a while, the wind on his face brought back so many memories, taking him back to simpler times, when he was a kid riding the trails behind his uncle’s Florida spread. No responsibilities, no criminal record, no warrant, no women, no worries.



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Katerina Dimov
 Posted: Sep 23 2017, 04:27 PM
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Newcomer
Kat


“Honey, men are … dumb. Unless ya make it crystal clear to ‘em that you like ‘em, they’re gonna sleep around.” Katerina’s shoulders lifted and fell in a tired shrug, not agreeing with the statement at all. Darrell wasn’t an idiot. She’d met enough idiots and smart men to know. Some men were dangerously smart, vicious, manipulative. They could use words that caused pain.

..but was he really the type to do that? To her?

Enough. She needed time alone, and the only place she was going to get it was at the bathrooms. “Yes, please. Never have kids, makes your bladder about as weak as iced tea left out on a hot day.” No problem there. ”I’ll keep that in mind.” Together they headed towards the bathroom leaving her food behind. Katerina sipped her moonshine with quiet irritation, but she did feel somewhat better talking about it. She had a mildly protective spot for Charla. It was probably the only reason she was so honest.. that and how lonely she felt.

”Where is Lamb?” She left Darrell out of the question, figuring he had moved on to whatever else he intended to do while there. ”He looked a little better. “ Under the innocent question she wondered if the man had taken up the advice she’d left on their doorstep. As bad as she felt, she liked the idea of truly helping someone who deserved it.

Teaching the porta-johns, she noticed that all were full but one. She glanced at it momentarily before gesturing with her solo cup. ”Go ahead. I’m not in a hurry.” Alone time could wait another minute.

While she was waiting, Katerina wandered around the grassy area near the apple trees. She didn’t go that far, but just far enough to feel as if she was alone. There wasn’t much wind. It felt good to get lost in her thoughts. Well, the ones she wanted to get lost in. Her bandaged hand stung, probably slightly infected. It was her fault for not taking the time to clean it properly, but she couldn’t ignore the opportunity to bolt before she had another round with Darrell. It could only get w-

Usually she created trouble. She’d picked fights, created chaos, and bluntly crushed egos. Cutting her hand today had been a maddening error of her own stupidity... getting kidnaped? That was usually not her own fault.

Back in May Katerina had made an enemy. It was a conflict she’d never resolved, and it now came up behind her with malice. One minute she was enjoying what was left of her moonshine. The next? A rough hand has wrapped around her mouth and jaw. She probably would have fought it off, but the sharp blade of a knife in the late day sunlight stopped her. For a moment she froze. Men’s sense of fight or flight was far more prevelant. A woman’s? They were more likely to freeze, suddenly petrified. Kat wasn’t any different. She staggered uncomfortably as she was forced to move, eyes dilating as a sense of deja vu sent her heart beat skyrocketing. She felt faint, but pushed through it.

”Don’t .. reach for.. your gun.”

That wasn’t Alex’s voice.

Her whole form was trembling, but a strange sense of anger and jittery irritation began to work it’s way through her. The big form behind her must have noticed. They’d reached a dirt road in the middle of the orchard when she was dumped onto her stomach, a heavy knee pressed into the small of her back. ”Now... where is that gun of yours? You shouldn’t have waved that thing at Ashley. Not so tough, are you?” The leather of her purse strap was pulled tight across her shoulder and chest as he lifted the bag to look at it. ”Idiot.. do you feel strong right n-” Weigh increased. god it hurt. ”Ashley said you were a bitch.” The strap suddenly went loose, slipping out from under her as he cut the leather.

He wasn’t going to have eyes when she got through with him.

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Darrell McGuiness
 Posted: Sep 23 2017, 11:14 PM
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Stranger
Asa


“Ugh, Lamb’s watching the road, waiting for his baby to come back.” she laughed, “He talks to that bike, calls it Legion.” because it was “many” an assortment of different parts, technically a chopper but all Harley parts. All she knew was that when she said it was a shovelhead it turned heads, she had no idea what it meant, something about the engine, “He’s uh … he’s been trying this new thing, I’m not too sure about it, sounds like that holistic herbal remedy that the naturalists push for, I’m more of a science kinda gal. But his spirits have definitely improved, I’m just worried it’s a placebo effect, told him this doesn’t mean he can just stop chemo.” she explained, though he desperately wanted to, was getting sick and tired of being sick and tired, this damn cancer just kept coming back and one of these times he just knew he would hear that one dreaded word, “inoperable.” That would be the end of him, the end of them. Charla had honestly become so attached to him she didn’t know how the hell she was going to function when and if he lost the battle. They would cross that bridge when they got there, "It's kinda weird though, it's called Charlotte's Web and ... my name is Charlotte."

Only one porta john was not “occupied” when they wandered over, Charla’s hands tightening around the strap of her purse, she was grateful when Kat allowed her to go before her,
“Thanks, I’ll be quick!” she promised, reaching out to give her arm a squeeze before high stepping through the trodden, muddy ground in her knee high brown boots Lamb had told her not to wear. She was doing just fine!

Darrell stopped the Harley at a dead end, peering over the guardrail into the valley below, he could see almost all of Lochland from up here, for a brief moment, a smile flicked there just passed the painful memories of home. He missed Georgia and he would like to say he felt like he was fitting in here, but honestly he felt totally out of place. With a heavy sigh he turned the throbbing bike toward the road again and walked it to the intersection, sitting a moment to gather his thoughts before opening up that shovelhead engine and rocketing off toward the apple farm, wind whipping at his jacket and hair as the shadows of passing trees flashed over him.

Charla stood outside the porta potties, waiting for the doors to open and reveal her neighbor, who had apparently managed to snag a toilet while she was occupied. She was beginning to get the bad feeling she had been ditched. Blowing a tendril of blonde hair from her face, she hung on the strap of her bag impatiently. The last door opened and her expression of impatience changed to one of concern as that door thumped closed, waving in the wind. A quick search of the area revealed no Katerina, she left to go find Lamb just as Darrell was pulling off the main road,
“I can’t find Katerina.” she told him, clearly a little put off, “I don’t think she’d just walk off and leave me.” that would be rude. Lamb shrugged,
“According to Darrell she’s been in one of her moods, lately.” ah, but Charla knew better,
“Well, that’s Darrell’s fault, she told me. She’s not mad at me, I don’t think she’d just leave me standin’ there like a fool.” oh, wow was that panic beginning to edge her voice? Was she really that scared? It must have been some sort of intuition, some sort of instinct, something was wrong,
“Calm down honey, we’ll find her.” Lamb assured her as she frantically scanned the crowd and Darrell pulled up, stopping the bike and adjusting his seat, sinking the rear fender onto the tire at his weight,
“Find who?” he asked after killing the engine, the hollow ticking of the hot motor crackled on the chill air,
“Darrell, I can’t find Kat anywhere, she was with me and just disappeared.” he knew far more than she did and Lamb threw his arms as the bike fired up again and spun the gravel, taking off further into the farm,
“Great, now ya got him all riled up.”



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Katerina Dimov
 Posted: Sep 23 2017, 11:44 PM
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Newcomer
Kat


Boiling, vicious; this was anger. Katerina rarely experienced the emotion, It was usually easier to disconnect herself, bathing in apathy. The vulnerable feeling she had been dealing with had eaten away all of her patience. At that moment she could have easily plucked out the eyes of the man pinning her in the dirt. Every time she tried to get up he shoved her face into the grass like some kind of naughty pet. The pressure on her back was painful, his knees heavy on her spin. The claw marks in the mud were only a symptom of her maliciousness.

”You know.. this was easier than I thought. Last time Kiefer saved you.” She dug deep exhaling in a struggle to breath normally. ”The Nnnnpolice... saved you.” At the time he was inconsequential. A kid wrapped up in someone else’s business. An idiot. This time he was stepping over that line. ”God your skinny.” Kat’s body tensed, feeling him test his weight. ”I could snap one of your little pinkies with two fingers. “ Try it. ”I can feel the gun.. it’s.. is there a secret pocket. ”Purse.... mmmagic.” In a better frame of mind,and sobriety, she would have kept her mouth shut. ”What am I going to do with you? Cut your hair off? Maybe send you running naked through the main event? Ashley would die. I could put it on snap chat.” What was a snapchat?

The low rumble of something moving in the distance caught the man’s attention. Kat froze, recognizing the sound as mechanical. What it was exactly was beyond her, but she pushed back just enough to get a lunch full of air and SCREAMED. The sound was cut short by the sudden surgence of weigh across her body. She couldn’t breath. ”shut UP.” The sound of a camera clicked , a flash flickering to the right side of her face. ”There.. Ashley will like that. She can’t say I don’t do anything for her.” The rumbling sounded as if it were coming in their direction, Katerina swore she could see dust. ”Guess I’ll have to take this to go.

oh no he wasn’t.

Katerina was thin and long legged. Her body turned as weigh finally lifted off, wrapping her legs around .. whatever his name was.. She managed his right leg, digging her thin fingers into the meat then biting through his jeans. His howl was music to her ears.

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