I know I’ve been MIA from the blog recently, but that comes with the territory that I have been relocating my entire life to a new city (San Diego). Unfortunately, I had to put writing on hold, but I did manage to squirrel away morsels of time here and there to finish my latest short story. I’m not back full-time yet, but enjoy Second Chances:
The garbage can rattled—something inside scraped around violently. Adrian turned around and saw a raccoon clambering to the top with a bruised banana clenched between its teeth. It paused, considering which way to go, and then scampered off into the night; its feet scuffled up a chalky layer of dirt from the baseball field.
Calm down. He was on edge. Part from the critter, and part from the excitement of being in the park so late, ready to hookup.
Brown’s Park was deserted except for him and a couple of light posts on both ends of the park. The opposite one to him lit up the chain linked basketball courts, while the one closest to him flickered in and out of existence. Adrian kept far enough away from the light’s ring to remain in relative darkness. He sifted his phone out of his back pocket and checked the time. 1:26am illuminated across the screen.
The time was overlaid on a picture of him, his mom, and his girlfriend Samantha. His mom’s face sat underneath the colon in the time, but her blond hair shined through nonetheless. He was definitely her child with the same blond, and he also knew she definitely would kill him if she knew he had snuck out the house. Adrian rubbed his feet in the dirt, grinding his shoe against the field.
Adrian felt his skin nearly dislodge itself from the rest of his body for the second time. His phone dropped to the ground.
“I was hoping you wouldn’t be here.” Adrian turned around to face Anthony, whose mouth creased into a frown.
“You’re the one who told me to meet you here,” Adrian said. He bent down and picked up his phone.
“I know. I know,” Anthony said. He put his hands in his pocket and shifted around in his shoes. “I don’t have time to explain.”
He stepped closer to Anthony. Adrian always felt a fiery attraction when he was around him, and it was no different this time. It drove him crazy. Although Anthony didn’t seem like his usual collected self. “What’s with you?” Adrian asked. He saw something flash up in Anthony’s blue eyes. As if to answer for him, Adrian heard the sound of car doors opening up and feet hitting the ground quickly.
Anthony’s hand wiped his eyes. “I-I’m sorry. I didn’t have a choice.”
“What are you talking about? Can you just make sense?”
Anthony lunged at him. Adrian was quick to move, but Anthony was faster. His arms came crashing around him in a bear hug, his muscles flexing over him.
“What the hell are you doing?” Adrian shouted into Anthony’s chest, his voice muffled. The sound of shoes scraping up dirt died down as they approached. Anthony twirled him around to face a couple of people wearing ski masks, flanking him.
“Hey fag,” a voice said. It had a baritone edge that bespoke authority. His instinct to escape made him think to thrust a kick back to Anthony’s package. A punch came, barreling out of his peripheral vision—ruining his plan. An elbow cracked against his skull. His head popped to the side. Pain pulsated near his eye and it went black. He cried out, but a kick to his stomach knocked the wind out of him.
Adrian felt something rise in his throat and Anthony’s grip tightened around him. He tried to squirm free, but blows pounded down on his torso. He lost track of everything and wasn’t sure when they had pushed him to the ground. The bitter dirt from the field caked on his lips, the grit and blood mixed to form viscous chunks. He tried to get up but felt a kick slam into his ribs. Pain ruptured throughout his body.
“Let’s go!” a voice yelled. Someone grated their boots on top of his back, crunching him further into the ground for good measure before their steps faded away. Adrian’s body wracked with spasms of pain. He tried to move his arms but they didn’t seem to respond. He coughed up blood and found it hard to breath. It felt like something heavy was pressing down on his chest. He closed his one functioning eye, hoping to drive away the nightmarish transition to the night. It all went black.
His eye shot open again and he saw Anthony staring over him.
“Can you hear me?” Anthony asked. A stream of light lasered into his eye and he tried to move his hand up to shield it.
“You have to stay still,” he said. It wasn’t Anthony, but he had a similar mop of brown hair.
Adrian felt something clamp down on his mouth and a flow of air pushed down into his throat. “I need you to stay with me. We’re on our way to Trinity Memorial Hospital. You’ve been badly hurt.”
He tried to assess the damage with his hand, which seemed to partially respond. The man restrained him. “Please stay still.”
“I don’t want—“ the pain swelled up in his chest again “—to go to the hospital,” Adrian said.
I just want to be left alone.
He closed his eyes and he felt his face mold into a frown. And then he lost it. Tears etched down the sides of his tightened cheeks. They wouldn’t stop pouring down and he felt them make rivulets in the dirt smeared on his face.
“I don’t want to be gay,” he said, on the verge of sobbing. No response from what he was guessing was the EMTs. The ambulance shook violently and searing white light flashed against his eyelids. Adrian groaned.
“Can you quit it with the light?” No response again. He didn’t want to risk opening his eyelid, because he knew how ridiculous he probably looked. He didn’t want that pity staring back down at him.
Maybe they gave him some drugs, because the pain subsided. He felt light. He was lanky, sure, but he felt light in the sense of all his worries seemed trivial. Adrian opened both his eyes. Or he thought he opened them, but it was pitch black. In total darkness, he wondered if he had dreamt it all. Maybe he was in his room waiting for his eyes to adjust to the light. . .
Catch the full version of Second Chances when I finish the Chronos Universe Anthology!
[Featured photo credit: Lindsay DeMarchi]