Across the Tracks Ch. 07

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Cole drove his car to its limits, cutting curves and blowing through yellow lights like it was nothing. He spat and swore every time the traffic made him slow, or a red light stopped him. He didn’t know what was wrong with his daughter, but she sounded scared and in pain. He didn’t recognize the address from any place he knew she had stayed at, and if he had to fight someone to get her out of there, he most surely would.

Ariel was his baby. It wasn’t like all fathers, as most fathers did love their daughter more than anything. Ariel wasn’t even his child by blood; it had been his choice to adopt her. His wife hadn’t wanted children, especially a 12 year old girl, who had been traumatized by the death of her family and the death of the man who had saved her that fateful night. It had been Cole who had slowly drawn the quiet, introspective girl out of her shell and helped her turn into the bright and nice person she was today. And if someone had ruined that, so help him, he was going to kill them.

JB was roused from his half sleep by a loud banging on the door, loud and hard. Checking the safety on the gun, he peeked out the eye hole and saw a man he did not recognize. Otis was still in the back with Ariel, and JB was reluctant to disturb them. Slipping the chain lock, he slowly turned the door knob, and spoke.

“May I help you?”

Whatever nice response he was hoping for was rather quickly disrupted by the crack of a shoulder against the door, ripping the chain lock from the wall, throwing JB into and across the arms of the recliner, and knocking the shotgun from his grip. As JB fell, he yelled for Otis, and Otis threw the door open, telling Ariel to stay there and lock the door. Charging down the hallway, he hit the strange guy standing over JB in a flying tackle, and they crashed to the ground, Otis trying to grab him in some way to hold him until he found out was going on.

Cole swung for the fences, trying to get the behemoth off of him. He’d smashed the door open in his haste, and now he had been hit from behind. All he was going to do was ask the boy were his daughter was. That was it. He probably shouldn’t have crashed in the door, but he was in a hurry and frantic. Then the next thing he knew he had been talked and was getting choked. Screaming for whoever it was to get the fuck off of him, he wildly swung his elbows and his head, trying to hit something.

Ariel recognized the voice that was yelling. It was her Dad! Running to leave the room, she ran straight into the door, forgetting she had locked it. With a thump, she fell on her ass. Shaking her head at her clumsiness, she scrambled to her feet, throwing the lock and pushing the door open, she ran for the living room. The scene she was seeing stopped her where she stood, and she almost burst out laughing. Shaking her head, she observed it with a small smile on her face.

Otis had her father on the ground, flailing around like a two year old throwing a tantrum. JB was on the ground for some reason, and Otis was very obviously trying to get her father to calm down. Stepping forwards, she decided that it may benefit everyone if she defused the situation.

“Dad, quit trying to hit Otis. Otis, can you please stop choking my father?”

Otis and Cole both looked up, Otis immediately letting go of Cole, and Cole getting to his feet and rushing to hug his daughter. Drawing back, he spat forth questions like an automatic rifle, asking her who these guys were, what had happened, what she was doing here. Ariel looked to Otis, and he nodded, and she asked her father to follow her and she led him to Otis’ room, where she told him the whole story, from entering the auto-shop to the moment she saw him and Otis on the floor.

Otis sat on the couch, waiting. JB had long since left, he had to get back to the halfway house or it was considered a parole violation. He looked down the hallway as his door opened and Ariel’s father walked out of his room and walked to him. Otis stood, and they basically looked at one another for a moment. Finally, Otis stuck his hand out towards the man.

“Name’s Otis.” He said as the man took his hand and they shook. Her dad flashed a brief smile, and let go.

“My name’s Cole, I’m Ariel’s father.”

The man sat down on the couch, staring at Otis.

“I’d like to thank you for what you did for her. You didn’t have to help her at all, and I’m glad you did.”

Otis looked at her father in disbelief. He didn’t have to help her? What other choice in the world had there even been? Leave her to that fate? Otis felt a small, rising, red tide of anger in his mind that her father would even think that he didn’t have to help. Pulling a smoke from his cigarette case, Otis lit it. He offered one, and Cole graciously accepted. When they had both smoked a moment, Otis spoke.

“Sir, I had to do what I did. I would have done it for any woman, and your daughter is much more than just any woman.”

Cole looked at the young man searchingly, casino oyna taking a drag from the cigarette, letting the harsh smoke fill his lungs, savoring the taste before he exhaled. “What do you mean Otis?” Otis tried to line his feelings and thoughts up, subconsciously mimicking Cole. He finally spoke, the raw emotion in his voice almost shocking Cole, even though he hid it well.

“Ariel… She is beautiful. And very kind. And trusting in a level that is not very practical, but of such a sweet feeling to be trusted, that it is welcome. She is strong. She showed me how strong with how she has handled this. Not many people would handle this half as well, and most of them would crack. She’s amazing sir. That’s just how it is.”

Both men jumped as Ariel cleared her throat from the hallway, a faint glimmer of tears in her eyes. Cole stood, quickly trying to hide the cigarette. His wife had forbidden him smoking long ago. Otis stood, staring at Ariel like he could see into her soul. She faintly grinned at her father, and he grinned back. She walked forward, speaking.

“Don’t worry daddy, I won’t tell momma.” She walked to Otis, and spoke again. “I’m going to go; I need the comfort of my room. Thank you Otis, for everything.”

She went to hug him, and Otis returned her hug, and Cole could see the look in his eye, as if he never wanted to let her go. He missed his daughters’ whispered words.

“If it’s ok, I’d really love to see you and spend more time with you Otis.”

The large man gulped, and softly whispered back.

“All the time I have in this world is yours dear one.”

With that, the ended the embrace, Ariel’s fingers softly trailing down Otis’s arm until they met his hand, where he captured them for a moment. Everyone said their goodbyes, Cole and Otis shaking hands. Cole reflected on this was the first boy he had met through his daughter who actually shook hands like a man, and showed him respect. As the door closed behind him, Cole wrapped his arm around his daughters’ shoulders, and sent a thought of thanks to the heavens, to whoever was listening.

When the door closed, Otis leaned his head against the door, his heart pining for her already. Her scent had permeated everywhere, especially his bed where she had lain. It was like a delicate torture, like the scraping of semi-sharp fingernails on his back, to lie in his bed to try and sleep. It was a long night for him, one he didn’t know if he enjoyed or was tortured by. Ariel’s night was not looking any better. Otis had let her keep his hoodie, her shirt was still ripped and all her clothes were at home. Her mother was already in bed, thankfully, when her and her father came into the house. Her father had hugged her and told her he loved her, and then he retreated to his ‘man cave’, where he slept to escape her mother. Ariel had slowly walked up the stairs, wanting nothing more than to crawl into her bed and never leave it. She slowly took off the hoodie, savoring the scent that was Otis.

She used the restroom, and then changed into some pajama pants and a t-shirt. She stared at her bed for a minute, and she had the strangest feeling that she was unprotected here and that no matter how many blankets she was under, that she’d be cold. She spotted the hoodie where she had put it on her computer chair, and it was like a lifeline in a storm. She grabbed it and pulled it over her head, spotting herself in the mirror. She couldn’t help but laugh.

Otis’ hoodie was a 5x, mainly because that meant when it was cold he could wear extra shirts under it. She didn’t know that, of course, but she couldn’t help but smile at the comical image presented in the mirror. The sleeves extended well past her hands, at least 8 inches. She looked like a little girl wearing her father’s jacket. But, to her, it didn’t really matter. She immediately felt safer, and warmer. Maybe it was the smell on the hoodie, reminding her of him so much…

She lay down on her bed, curling up underneath the covers, her nose buried inside the soft fabric of the hoodie. It had a strange combination of smells, grease, motor oil, wood smoke, cigarettes, and something deep and earthy, which she could only guess was Otis himself. She rolled restlessly in the bed, trying to fall asleep but unable to. Her mind was too hectic. She kept thinking about him. She wanted to ask him about more of his tattoos, more about his life.

From what JB had told her, she guessed the three quarter sized scars were the bullet wounds. Now she wanted to know why they had tattooed designs around them, drawing attention to them. She had noticed them when he had taken his shirt off, had in fact, traced one of the swirling designs with her own fingers. She also wanted to know the story behind the dragon he had climbing his back, with its wings spread and dripping flames from its jaws. She had almost thought it was one of those Asian or tribal dragon tattoos complete tools got, but it wasn’t.

Her phone vibrated, and she hooked slot oyna the charger cord with her finger, dragging the phone from her night stand, off the edge, then up to her bed. As soon as she went to check it, it vibrated again, meaning she now had two messages. She decided to check them, even though she didn’t really want to talk to anyone. She checked the newest message first.

–New Message— From: Otis Subject: Hey, I’m sorry if you’re asleep. I just wanted to make sure you got home ok.

Ariel couldn’t help but smile. She had never had anyone that had cared or worried about her enough that they would check up on her, besides her parents. She quickly replied, feeling the ‘warm and fuzzies’ in her stomach that her and her friends always joked about in high school.

–Sent Message— From: You RE: Yea, I got here safe, and I’m up in my room, safe and sound. Just can’t sleep. Why are you still up? As she waited for a reply, she checked her other message.

–New Message— From: Danny Subject: I’m coming for you bitch. And I’ll get you when your little protector isn’t around, and can’t save you. And don’t worry slut. I’ll take care of him to. He won’t save you or anyone after I’m done.

Ariel stared at her phone dumfounded for a moment. Today hadn’t taught him anything? Otis had broken his arm two days ago. Tracked him down today, and only the fact there had been others with him had saved his life. Now he wanted more? It made her wonder how stupid he really was, and why she had ever let her mother talk her into dating him. She decided to ignore him. She wasn’t going to tell Otis either, it would be pretty hard to get to know him through a mirror and phone arrangement. Her phone started vibrating again, and she checked it for what she hoped was a new message from Otis, and it was. She contained her girly squeal noises, but only barely.

–New Message— From: Otis Subject: Can’t sleep. To many thoughts, not enough skull to keep them contained. 😉 How are you feeling?

–Sent Message— From: You RE: I’ve been a lot better, but I think I’m doing really well for the circumstances. I’m just so tired of all of this going on and happening.

Otis nodded to himself. He bet she was tired of all this happening, especially with what she had been through today. He really hated texting, his fingers were so big, and the keys so small. He thought hard for a moment, and then made his gamble, because he knew if he waited too long, Ariel would either fall asleep or think he had fallen asleep. So, he slowly typed what he wanted to say, and then, taking a deep breath, hit send.

Ariel waited and waited, hoping he hadn’t fallen asleep. She really wanted to keep talking to him. She wanted to actually talk, not text, because she loved the raspy, smoky thing that was his voice. She knew that Otis was shy though, so she didn’t really want to push him to talk to her. If he waited for more than two days to talk to her though, she would push. He wasn’t getting away that easily.

–New Message— From: Otis Subject: Hey, if you don’t mind, can I call? I really hate texting cause of my fingers being so big.

Ariel stopped breathing for a minute, she was sure she did. Nodding vigorously, it took her all of three or four minutes to comprehend that Otis couldn’t see her nodding. She couldn’t figure out what she wanted to do! If she texted him, he might think she was trying really hard, or that she was desperate. She chewed her fingernail on her left index, a nervous habit she had never broke.

–Sent Message— From: You RE: Sure, I’d love for you to call.

Otis hit the call button on his phone, and breathlessly waited. After three and a half rings, he heard the button get pushed, a deep breath get taken, and that beautiful silk voice say softly and hesitantly…

“Hello?”

Ariel waited, not really breathing. She was worried that Otis would let his shyness win out, and he wouldn’t speak to her or something. She really did not want to deal with rejection right now; there was only so much in a day she was willing to take. About the time she was considering saying hello again, she heard that raspy rocky voice he had, that voice that was doing way to well at making her giddy.

“Hey Ariel… “

“Hi.” She said back, not knowing what else to say at that moment. It felt weird to have already gone through so much with him, but this is one of their first real conversations. So, she asked the same thing that everyone asked for the first time on the phone together.

“What’s up?”

Otis didn’t really know what to say, like at all. He just kind of sat there and basked, if that was the right word, in the beauty of her voice. Finally realizing how stupid it was to just kind of sit there and not say anything, he merely replied with not much. They sat on the phones, wordless for a few more minutes until Ariel started laughing. Otis couldn’t help himself.

“What’s so funny?”

Ariel choked back her laughter.

“This. We aren’t canlı casino siteleri talking like at all, and we’ve been through a lot all ready as friends, the time comes to talk, we have no clue what to say. It’s just funny to me.”

Otis grinned as well. He could see the comedy in that, sure. They both sat in silence still, but the silence was more comfortable than anything now. After a few minutes, Otis started asking Ariel question, what her favorite color was, her favorite band, things like that. They slowly started to discover a lot of things they had similar interests in, like music, movies, and books. Otis had not struck Ariel as a strong reader, but he had some impressive reads under his belt. She hadn’t really talked to people before that could talk about some of the best fantasy and then without changing pace, talk political theory and philosophy. Ariel hadn’t really seemed a heavy metal kind of girl, but she showed Otis just how much she was by her knowledge, especially of Agents of Oblivion, one of his favorite bands.

Ariel startled both of them by yawning so loudly that her jaw cracked. Otis laughed quietly at her attempts to apologize; it was 3:30 in the morning anyways. He smiled briefly. It felt good to talk to someone besides his regular group, which were basically his grandfather and JB. She was like a fresh breeze. Ariel was smiling on her end of the phone as well, her smile bright enough to almost be seen in the dark room. Otis was the one to say good night first, and Ariel shyly replied the same to him. He followed with something that almost melted her heart, telling her to have sweet dreams, then hem hawing around to ask if he could text her when he went on lunch at work. Ariel didn’t have to work on Saturday morning, but Otis did. She told him she’d love for him to text her, and the finally got off the phone, 20 minutes after they had originally said good night.

As Ariel and Otis started their phone conversation, Cole was awake and in his little den, or ‘man cave’ as Ariel liked to call it. It was just a room for him. It wasn’t very large, but it had a couch with a pull out bed, a TV that was big without being huge, and his toys. Cole had always been a child at heart, and he really loved video games. It was something him and Ariel did a lot, was play video games in the man cave. At the moment though, video games were the furthest thing from his mind. He had his daughter to think about right now. He turned on the air purifier to indulge in one or two of his hidden cigarettes while he thought. What Danny had attempted…. That took it too far. Cole didn’t care if his father was the mayor or the fucking King of England; this was not going to stand. As his mother would say, God takes care of all, but sometimes you have to give Him a little nudge.

Cole slowly drew in a lungful of the harsh smoke. It had been a long time since he had done anything that didn’t fit in to the whole ‘Upper Class Snobby Buckman Estates’ image his wife wanted him to project and be a part of. He knew he was still strong and could still scrap, and probably knew a few tricks the boys from this area didn’t, but he wasn’t a River Rat anymore, hadn’t wore that particular patch and vest of honor for a few years. He was an old man, who had sat behind a desk and went a lot softer than he had ever expected. He was going to protect his daughter though; there was no way in hell it was changing beyond that. He may not be able to help her as he could have 20 years ago, when he could run and gun, but he had made a few friends in the new circles he moved in, men who were like him, men who wished they had time to work on cars themselves or go fishing, not sit behind the desk of a company all day cause they had been groomed to do it their whole life.

Cole rose from the couch mattress, and walked to the closet. Reaching in, he pulled out a large, dusty box. Sitting on the edge of the bed, he slowly opened the top and began to look through the things inside. His old leather vest was inside, a black, dusty, and very musty smelling thing. It was covered in patches, things like ‘Loud Pipes Save Lives’, ‘Smart Ass White boy’, ‘That’s Mr. Sunshine to you Motherfucker!’, and last but not least in his memory, the River Rats MC back patch. He had worked very hard, moving from prospect to member, from member to Sergeant-At-Arms. Then he had met Trish. Well, she was Trish back then; she wanted to be called Patricia now. Trish was to ‘low class’ she said, ignoring him when he had said she used to hate being called Patricia. He laid the vest on the corner of the bed, and began looking through pictures from his younger days. There were the pictures of him as a young child, just being crazy. One of his favorites was the picture of him knee deep in river mud, holding a red Ryder bb gun. As he dug deeper, the pictures showed him getting older, his first car, his first tattoo, his first bike. The picture of him receiving his GED, no High School graduation for him. The picture of him going to the Persian Gulf for Operation Desert Storm, and the pictures of him returning home, Purple Heart on his chest for being wounded in action. Even further down was the first picture of him and Trish, sitting on his bike.

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