And With Madness Comes the Light

Page 6

I quickly handed him the five dollars and snatched my wine up off the counter. I eyed her form differently now, the jerky way her limbs moved, the fact that I always saw her in the same place, doing the same actions. She wasn’t a zombie, but she was in fact dead.

I got myself out of the store, feeling the heebie jeebies crawling up and down my skin, and Fat Rabbit and I practically ran across the road to my apartment. Even though the lady wasn’t a threat (not yet anyway), I was scared shitless. I wasn’t used to seeing them alone, and I suddenly needed Perry’s embrace and comfort more than anything in the world.

Fortunately, it didn’t take long for Dean and Seb to show up. Unfortunately, I’d drunk the bottle of wine already. They never even had a chance.

“You’re getting a nice head start, aren’t you?” Dean said as he placed a six-pack of beer in the fridge. I guess he figured he’d need to bring his own.

“Well, I just saw a ghost, so I’m feeling a bit…uh, on edge.”

Seb and Dean exchanged a look. Dean frowned, his eyes cautious underneath his glasses. Seb just laughed and tucked his long hair behind his ears.

“Awesome,” he said, cracking open a beer. “You saw a ghost, that’s rad.”

Seb was always kind of a stoner. Swap kind of for totally. I had a feeling he was a cast member on That ‘70s Show at one point but he got fired or something and now just lived his life stuck in that world. I mean, it’s an off the wall theory, but I see ghosts, so what the fuck do I know?

“Yeah, Seb. A ghost. And it’s not awesome. It’s scary as shit.”

“Right on.”

I shook my head and wished I had more wine. “Beer me,” I said, holding out my hand. Dean sighed and tore a beer off the rings, handing it to me.

They pulled up the barstools and we tried to talk about a chick, Clarissa, that Seb was attempting to bang, but the conversation kept coming back to ghosts. As if ghosts were more interesting than sex. Nothing was more interesting than sex.

“So, like, I totally thought Perry was like ghost whisperer,” Seb said, rocking back and forth on the stool, “and you were just the camera guy. I didn’t know you saw ghosts too, dude.”

I twisted the metal ring around and round until it snapped off the can.

“Normally I don’t. I’m…” I shot them both a quick glance. They were watching me intently. “I’m off my medication. I was put away in a mental institute back in college because I saw ghosts. They thought I was crazy. They put me on meds—robbing me of my real life while they were at it—and I stopped seeing them. I haven’t taken any pills since December.”

Both of them grew silent. Seb looked confused and Dean’s face hadn’t changed. He still watched me carefully, judging my sanity, or if perhaps I was a big fat liar. I didn’t blame him. I hoped he’d still be my running buddy, but if he wanted to hang out with saner people, I definitely wasn’t the right fit for him.

“But you’re not crazy,” Seb offered slowly, as if reading my mind. “Just because you see ghosts doesn’t mean you’re crazy.”

I shot him a smile. “Doesn’t it? That’s never what the doctors said.”

He took a long yet thoughtful sip of his beer. “I think doctors don’t know shit. I bet if you see ghosts, it’s not because you’re mental. You’re just different, Dex. And that’s okay.”

This was getting borderline heartwarming. Must put a stop to it.

“Anyway, that’s neither here nor there,” I said, raising my beer in the air. “Forget ghosts, let’s say thanks for sex and get Seb here laid tonight.”

We rammed our beer cans together, foam spilling over the sides.

“Just Seb?” Dean asked, wiping beer off his can.

“I thought you and your new lady friend were exclusive,” I told him.

“Naw, we are. I meant you. You’re not getting any tail?”

I snorted at his choice of words. “Tail. No, I’m not.”

Seb slammed his drink down and wiped his mouth. “Why not? Dude, you’re single. Maybe Clarissa has a hot sister or something. Or maybe one of the bartenders she works with will dig you.”

“I really hope you’re talking about female bartenders, Sea Bass,” I warned him. “I know I’ve been spending a lot of time sweating with Dean here, but…”

“So that’s it?” Dean asked. “You’re just going to spend your life pining after her?”

I narrowed my eyes. “Dean, if I’m not mistaken, you’re the one who said I should build a temple for her or something.”

“That was then. I thought maybe you’d have gone after her. Isn’t this why you’re…what was it again…becoming a better man?”

It was. But just because I wasn’t going to her now, didn’t mean it was off the table.

“When was the last time you got laid?” Seb asked.

I didn’t have to think. I’d been jerking off to it ever since. “With Perry. After the Christmas party.”

His jaw dropped. “Oh man, you so need to get some action tonight. Hell, you can have Clarissa if you want.”

“Oh, like you’re doing me a favor by passing up the chick you haven’t even fucked yet.”

“Fine. Offer is off the table now. Your loss.”

“I don’t need anyone’s help getting laid. I never have.” I didn’t mean to brag but…okay, yes, I totally meant to brag. I pulled back the sleeve of my t-shirt. “And look at these guns.” I eyed Dean. “Don’t you dare show off yours, cuz that’s not fair. But seriously, with these guns and my face and my dick, women are completely powerless.”

Dean sat back and crossed his arms. “Maybe not all women.”

“Perry hasn’t been invited to the brand new gun show yet,” I told him, as if there was a chance in hell that she’d see me now. “When she does, all will be forgiven.”

“I see,” Dean mused. “So, before that happens, whenever that happens, are you going to get busy with some fine ladies tonight or keep sitting here talking about your guns?”

I pushed back my stool and stood up. “That sounds like a challenge.”

“As your running coach, it’s my job to challenge you.”

“Hey now, we’re running partners.”

“You guys sound really gay,” Seb spoke up.

We both glared at him in unison. He threw up his hands. “What, I’m not judging. I’d be happy if you were gay—I’d get more action that way.”

I rolled my eyes and pointed my beer at Dean. “You want me to get some tonight? Challenge accepted.”

He grinned in response before chugging the rest of his beer.

Seb looked between us with a dumb smile on his face. “So are you getting some men or women tonight, Dex?”

This was going to be a long night.


A few hours later, we ended up drunk as skunks at this really divey metal bar called The Funhouse. The band playing was loud as fuck, pure metal, and the bartender was Clarissa, the fairly hot chick that Seb was pining over. I say fairly hot since black lipstick and bleached hair wasn’t really my thing, but he seemed to be head over heels for her. Clarissa, on the other hand, had a range of suitors to deal with, all hanging around the bar.

We ended up doing the same for a bit, hiding from the noise of the venue’s shitty PA system. While Clarissa didn’t have a sister or a bartending buddy, she did have some friends who were there to see the terrible band. Seb was doing his best to get in good with them so he could then score in good with her. Men were so fucking predictable. The women ate it up though, as Seb played his harmless stoner card. I suppose all you had to do was wear a puppy dog face and women would do anything to help you.

Well, it didn’t work that way with me. I never had to work very hard for women, which was both a blessing and a curse. Mainly a blessing, since I never complained about having too many chicks to fuck. Still, I did feel a bit off balance as I watched Seb do his thing. I had been with Jenn for so long that I’d forgotten what it was like to be single again. With Perry, everything was easy and effortless. It wasn’t a matter of a girl wanting to suck my dick, but a matter of me wanting to suck hers. I mean, her proverbial one. Man, Seb had done a number on me.

There hadn’t been anyone in the bar who remotely caught my eye until I went to the ATM to get more money out. The damn machine was taking forever and had the nerve to charge me a four dollar transaction fee. I was ready to throttle the thing until I turned around and saw an interesting face looking back at me.

She was tall, maybe my height (damn my height!), with long, wavy red hair and matching lipstick. Her eyes were glazed like she’d just been fucked and fucked good, and her lips were held in a half snarl, as if she was about to blow cigarette smoke in my face.

“Sorry,” I apologized. I didn’t know why I apologized since I hadn’t run into her or anything, but then I found my eyes focusing on her amazing rack that pulled her thin white tank top tight across her chest. Her nipples had made themselves known, speaking to me, whispering “bite me.”

I rarely got caught with my eyes where they shouldn’t be so I quickly averted my eyes back to hers. It was hard to tell in the bar, but they could have been a dark blue. They were nasty looking, like she was going to eat me alive and enjoy every crunch. I liked that.

I liked it a lot. I had a boner in two second flat and was hard as fuck, straining against my pants. Part of me wanted to feel embarrassed, the other part wanted to rub it up and down on her while I rejoiced that I had finally gotten a hard-on over someone other than Perry. I finally found a woman’s proverbial dick to suck.

I needed a better saying.

“Are you with the band?” the woman asked in a low, husky voice. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. She had a nice pink tongue that probably matched the rest of her nice pink bits.

I smirked at her. “These fucks? No.”

She smiled back, totally bitchy, totally hot. “Well, I am. I guess I’m one of these fucks, too.”

Oh mama. I loved the way her lips looked when she said fuck. I loved the way her eyes looked when she said it, too. She wanted some of this, and judging by the heat I was packing in my pants, I couldn’t blame her.

“What were you saying about fucking?” I asked, taking a step toward her. I wasn’t normally so forward, but I obviously didn’t have any blood left in my head.

She grinned and touched my shirt. “I asked because you have an eyebrow ring and a shirt that looks like it used to fit you in the ‘90s. I didn’t say anything about fucking, but now that the card is on the table, maybe you can prove to be more manly than you look.”

I grinned right back at her, my eyes drifting over her shoulder and toward the bathroom door. Nailing someone in the bathroom of a grungy metal bar was probably one of the grossest, dirtiest things you could do. But I felt like bathing in dirt after being so clean for the last month.

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