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The Only Road I've Ever Known

 
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Simon Toews
Young Wyrm
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 5:20 pm    Post subject: The Only Road I've Ever Known Reply with quote

Nothing was the same. Tahlia was off on some vague scam with another man, and while the occasional visit or phone call was great, he was left sitting alone in an apartment that she got from a different “other man”. The place was a reminder that, despite everything, despite the L word getting dropped, she wasn't entirely his. Such time only brought images he didn't, couldn't bring himself to face.

He knew what often happened on cons she ran. He didn't want to hear the moans, envision the wandering hands. He didn't want...many things. What he needed was a distraction. He needed to clear his head, learn to live without carrying the self destructive hatred that he fueled him for so damn long.

He had vehicles stashed all over the city. Granted, none of them were really his, per se, but he had a way out. One call and a promise to Tahlia later, and he was ready to go.

Sliding into the driver's seat of a black 72 Charger, he felt a bit more comfortable. This felt familiar. The engine roared to life, the vehicle seemingly trembling and ready for their journey. There was no destination, but at the moment, that suited him just fine. A bit of Whitesnake crackled to clarity through the speakers, bringing a smile to his lips.

“Here I go again.”
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You could have it all. My empire of dirt. I will let you down. I will make you hurt.
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Simon Toews
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There was so much out there he'd often failed to notice. The relatively small area that made up the central hub of Rhydin could sometimes feel like the entire universe. But there was so much more.

There wasn't a building in sight on the dusty road. Just the sand and a sprawling, blue sky, cloudless and perfect. His tattooed arm hung out the window, the warm air whipping at his skin. This was good. This was peaceful. This was free.

The only thing he had to focus on was the road ahead, the white lines whipping past in a sort of visual staccato. Blue eyes stared out from behind dark sunglasses, for the first time in a week the doubts and confusion in his mind silenced.

As he continued on, the sun began to slowly disappear in the horizon, the sky turned to brilliant masterpiece of oranges, blues and purples. It called so many memories to the forefront of his mind. Things he'd forced himself to forget over the years. When he glanced over, he could almost see her sitting there. A tiny, smiling little one, her dark hair in pigtails, singing along to the radio, just a hint off-key. He'd thought it was the most beautiful sound in the world.

Cici. His Cici.

“Where are we going, Daddy?” She’d ask him.

He would reach over and flick one of those dangling tails, making her giggle.

“I dunno, baby girl.” He'd say with a grin. “That's why it's an adventure.”

“Like the stories?”

“Just like the stories. You and me, baby girl.”

“Always?” She'd ask.

“And forever. “

But she wasn't there. She hadn't been there for 11 years, and she never would be again. So many years had been spent trying to bury that pain. To avoid it. So many years in a haze of drugs, booze, women and violence. Then along came Tahlia.

The woman he never saw coming. Without meaning to, she'd filled a hole deep in his soul. Given him something to fight for, something to live for. So much time spent pursuing an end and suddenly there was this whole other purpose. A fire that spread and consumed him. That was Tahlia Faras.

Suddenly, none of the other things seemed to matter. Not the fights, not the next drink, and most definitely not the end.

The phone chirped out its warning, the smirking face of the redhead appearing on the screen, dressed to the nines. A grin crossed his lips as he snapped a quick shot of the sunset, his thumbs typing out a quick message.

“Wish you were here.”
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Simon Toews
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2017 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Day turned to night turned to day over and over again. Roadside motels, small town inns, and truck stop eateries became the way of life for the next week. All the while, he kept in touch as best he could with the redheaded con artist who he called his. Not particularly anxious to dwell on the particulars of what she was doing (or really, who), he kept conversation to the basics. Stuff he'd seen, how he was doing, where the next stop was. It wouldn't do to get all jealous and worked up. That was completely contrary to the agreement! The almost entirely unspoken agreement they'd made when they started shacking up together.

But, then...that was before the “L” word got dropped. Now, everything was far more complicated. Now he wanted her. He wanted her for himself, not to share. It was stupid, and naive, and completely against who he knew her to be. Simon had her love...but exactly what in the hell did that even mean with people like them? And was he even still that person? Was he even in a place to know what he wanted when even he wasn’t sure the man he’d been hadn’t been lost in that fire?

He shook his head, coming out of those dangerous thoughts and back to now. The window down, sunglasses upon his face, and wind whipping through his hair, Simon drove on. His attentions returned not a moment too soon as the engine made a whining noise and the Challenger began to cough and sputter. A frown pulled his lips downward as the vehicle rolled to a stop along the gravel shoulder of the road. “Great…” he muttered to himself, unbuckling his seatbelt and sliding out of the car.

The moment he popped open the hood he was hit in the face with smoke. He waved it away, coughing and peering down into the engine. Simon had many talents, but he was not a mechanic. He looked around, finding nothing but road stretching miles in front and behind him, and just miles of sand and dirt to either side, fading off into distant mountains. In short, he was a screwed. “Mother ****er!” he yelled kicking the tire in frustration.

Alright, he decided, you let the bad in, Simon. Now let’s deal with it. He could start walking onward and hope there was a town nearby...or go back 25 or so miles in the other direction...either choice wasn’t exactly appetizing with that sun beating down upon him. At least he had a few bottles of water stashed in the cooler, but even then...walking.

He decided to take one last look at the engine. Maybe a hose came loose or something simple. No harm in checking. Simon leaned in, peering down, not entirely sure what he was looking for, but dammit, he was looking. He barely even registered the sound of a truck pulling up ahead of him, grinding to a rest along the shoulder with him.

“Havin’ a bit a’ trouble?” A feminine voice called out to him.

Simon glanced over his shoulder, catching sight of her. 5’7”, brown hair streaked with dirty blonde highlights tied back in a pony tail, eyes hidden behind a pair of aviators. Her slender frame clad in a pair of tight blue jeans and a black tanktop. Behind her, a big Ford pick-up rumbled. It oddly seemed to suit her.

“Yeah…” he grumbled. “Was just rollin’ along and she took a ****.”

“Mind if I take a look?” she asked.

“You know about cars?”

“No, I just ask to see strangers broken down engines for fun.” She said, a little smirk appearing as she approached. The stranger pulled off her glasses, revealing big, round eyes that held a myriad of colors. Blue, green, brown...it was hard to pinpoint an exact color. Her brows knit together as she looked down. “Well...definitely somethin’ goin’ on with your radiator. Might be cracked somewhere. You been gettin’ this beauty take care off on the reg?”

He scrunched his face, and it was all he needed to tell her. The woman chuckled and shook her head. “C’mon, man...gotta give a little love to these older gals....”

“Well, I just kinda...picked this one up.” He explained. No need to tell her that it wasn’t...entirely legally procured.

“Tell you what.” she said. “My father-in-law loves this kinda stuff. He’s way better at this than even me. So, whattaya say we hitch the old girl up and I bring it on over them?”

Good lord, and he thought HE was naive. Part of him wanted to lecture her about picking up a stranger on the road. The old broken down car bit was a favorite of carjackers and thieves. And he would know...he was one back in the day.

“You sure?” he asked her.

“Yeah, not a problem.” She said, turning. That was when he saw the grip of a pistol out the back of her jeans.

Okay, he thought maybe not so naive.

The pair of them managed to hitch the car up and he climbed into the passenger side.

“What’s your name Sleeves?” she asked. Simon glanced at his tattooed arms a moment before responding.

“Simon.”

She put her sunglasses back on and threw the car into gear. “Kate. Kate Wilder.”
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2017 6:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kate gripped the wheel, side eyeing the man she'd picked up, his beautiful Charger dragging like a corpse behind them. A shame, she thought. Car like that would've been a dream for her.

Then there was the owner. Tough, rugged good looks drew you in, despite the tattoos covering his arms and creeping out beneath his collar telling you to stay away. But he was quiet. Reserved. Most men she'd met in these parts would've been staring at her tits or ass…made some sort of pass at her. But he looked her in the eye, spoke respectfully. That earned the stranger some points in her book.

“So, where about you from, Simon?” She asked, breaking the lingering silence.

“Out east. Towards the coast.” He informed her.

“City boy, huh?” She smirked.

“Somethin’ like that.” He grinned, hooking an arm out the window as he fished around his pocket for a pack of smokes. He drew a cigarette out with his teeth and paused. “Do you mind?”

Kate waved him off and he lit the cigarette. Simon blew the smoke out the window. “How ‘bout you?”

She nodded ahead. “Little town we're headed to called Noble. Few miles up ahead.” Kate knew Noble was a dead end. The sort of place where dreams went to die. If not for Pops and Nan, she'd have gotten the hell out years ago. She'd broached the idea to the old man, but Pops was nothing if not stubborn. “No,” he'd said, “This my home. I was brought into the world here, and the good lord’s gonna have to drag me out to get me to leave.”

She’d been immediately taken in by Charlie’s parents when they met. Her own were practically strangers. But the Marstons were good people and they loved her. That’s all that mattered and that was why she stayed.

She glanced over to him as she drove. “So, what brings a guy like you out to my little piece of nowhere?”

Simon turned his gaze to her. “Just needed a change of scenery, I guess.”

“Mm.” She nodded. “Vague.”

SImon laughed a bit. “Yeah, well, that’s kinda my way. I’ve been through some stuff lately, needed to clear my head. Let’s leave it at that.”

“Well, THAT, I can get my head around.” She smiled. God knew she’d seen her share of troubles that made her want to just pack up and drive and never stop. “And how’s that going for ya?”

“Not great.” He deadpanned.

Kate couldn’t help the chuckle that left her. “Well, hopefully Pops will take a looksee and get you back on the road to self-discovery.”

“You put it that way, sounds like I should be writing a book.”

“Oh yeah. A book full of vague references. 200 pages of ‘And then someone who mighta been me did a thing and there were consequences for better or worse.’” She said with a smirk.

Simon eyed her a moment, a little smile on his lips. “You’d read it.” he said in a confident tone.

“Oh yeah, stranger. Cover to cover.”
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 28, 2017 11:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The truck rolled to a stop at the foot of a dirt road right before sunset. The farm spread out far and wide, stalks of corn surrounding the place like a miniature forest. A barn and a stable off to one side while a cozy two story farmhouse was set in front of them. Simon peered around as Kate hopped down. “Here's home.”

“Katie-girl? That you?” An elderly male voice called out from the barn.

“Yeah, Pop. I brought company.” She called back.

The man who stepped out looked every bit like an old cowboy. Tall, lean, with silver hair swept back and a thick grey mustache upon his upper lip. “So I see.” He said, looking over the stranger on his property.

Simon could tell the man immediately smelled trouble on him. He moved over to him and offered a hand. “How's it goin’? Simon Toews.”

The old man glanced at his tatted, deformed hand a second before taking it in a firm handshake. Not to be outdone or mocked as a city boy, he squeezed right back. That got a little grin out of the old cowboy. “Ya got a good handshake, kid. Too many young'uns come at ya with a dead fish. I can respect that. Virgil Marston, though most folks round here just call me Pop.”

Simon smiled and released his hand. “Nice to meet you, Mr. Marston.”

Virgil laughed “****, kid, you ain't the girl’s prom date. Virgil. Or Pop. Whichever suits ya.”

The old man glanced around him at the downed vehicle, grey eyebrows rising as he stepped around. He whistled, approaching the vehicle. “Now, that is a thing of beauty. What is she? 71?”

“72.” Simon corrected with a smirk. He watched the old cowboy lean into the window and look around.

“What’s wrong with ‘er?”
“Well, that’s what I’m hopin’ you can tell me.” Simon responded.

Virgil snickered, shaking his head. “Damn kids. Driving a work of art around, don’t even know how to take care of it. Pop the hood will ya?”

Simon walked up to the door, leaning in and hitting the release. Virgil planted himself over the engine compartment. “So, where’d Katie find you, kid?”

Simon came over, watching him with his tatted arms crossed. “Broke down in the ass end of nowhere.”

“Yeah...that’s where she finds most of her strays.” He said, squinting. “What brings you out to my little piece of nowhere?”

“Had to get away for a bit.”

Virgil eyed the tattooed stranger. If trouble were personified, it would look like Simon Toews. “You in bad with the law?”

That gave Simon a laugh and a shake of the head. In all reality, he probably should have been...but this was Rhy’din and Calloway was gone. The Watch didn’t seem to have much interest in taking him down, so...no. The law wasn’t what he was running from.

“Ah.” Virgil said with a knowing smirk. “Lady, then?”

“Something like that.” He responded.

“Well, kid...not much I’m gonna be able to tell ya right now. I’ll wanna get ‘er in the garage and get a better look at what’s gone wrong here. You’re welcome to stay, if ya want.”

Simon shot him a bemused look. That wasn’t an offer he’d much recieved from random strangers. Not when you looked like him. “In your house?”

Virgil shrugged. “Don’t see why not.”

“You ain’t worried I’m gonna do somethin’?”

“You plannin’ on it, kid?” Virgil eyed him...Simon knew that look. It was one he’d often used. It was confident and threatening and calm all at once. Virgil wasn’t one to mess with.

“No, sir. Just sayin’.”

“Kid, one thing you oughta know about me...I’m always ready, I’m always armed...and if ya make a move on me, Katie, or my little Millie, I’ll put ya down before you even know what hit ya.” Virgil said cooly. Nothing in the man’s tone suggested that it was an idle threat or hot air. Simon liked him.

“Millie?” He asked. He hadn’t been told of a Millie.

“My granddaughter. Katie’s girl.”

Something cold spread through Simon’s chest. He hadn’t really spent any time around a kid since Cici. The mere idea gave him an uncomfortable, panicking chill.
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You could have it all. My empire of dirt. I will let you down. I will make you hurt.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 01, 2017 1:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Simon stepped into the guest room of the cozy little farmhouse. The smell of mothballs and wood on the fire permeated throughout the place. The room was sparsely appointed, a dresser with a mirror, a night stand, and a brass framed bed the only furniture to be found.

He set his bag upon the bed and looked in the mirror. The bags under his eyes showed a man who had pushed the limits of how long he could stay awake behind the wheel. The car breaking down was probably a mixed blessing. What he wouldn’t give for the redhead back home to wrap her arms around him from behind, press her cheek against his back, and then curl up against his side in bed.

Simon was pulled out of his revery by the sound of a creaking floorboard. He turned his gaze toward the sound finding a young girl, maybe 8 or 9. Dark brown hair, light blue eyes and her hair up in the same kind of pigtails Cici used to wear. Something squeezed at his heart seeing the kid, words completely escaping him as he saw her.

“Who are you?” She asked him in that sweet, curious tone.

He eyed her a moment before putting on a friendly smile. “I’m Simon.” He said turning toward her. “And you must be Millie.”

Her brows raised. “You know me?”

He couldn’t help the chuckle as he crouched before her. “The famous Millie? Sure do, little lady. Your ma told me all about ya.”

She grinned bashfully, a little giggle leaving her. Simon offered a hand to her, the little girl taking it. “Nice to meetya, kiddo.” He said

Millie cocked her head, looking at his tattoos. “You got lotsa drawings on you.”

He glanced down. “Yeah, s’pose I do.”

“You use a marker? I did that once and mama was ready to whup me.” she said with all the seriousness of a secret agent.

He couldn’t help but laugh, his head shaking. “No, these were a little more difficult to get than just a marker.”

“...a crayon?” she asked with a squint, trying to imagine what would be more difficult than a marker. That one had Simon belly laughing.

“Millie.” Kate said stepping up the stairs. “Don’t bother the nice man.”

Simon waved her off. “Ahhhh, she ain’t no bother. We’re fast friends, right?” He said raising a hand for a high five.

“Right! Simon was telling me his doodle arms!” Millie said and slapped his hand.

She gave the stranger a questioning look and he mouthed “tats.”

“Oh, he did, did he? Well, fast friends.” She said, a pointed look at Millie. “I hate to break up the gab sesh, but it’s time for someone to go wash up for supper.”

The little girl whined, but Kate just shot her a look. “Go on, now. Git.”

As Millie ran off, Kate turned those brilliant eyes on Simon, a little smirk tugging at the corners of her mouth. “You’re pretty good with kids, I take it?”

“Yeah, I’m alright.” he shrugged.

The single mom leaned against the doorway, eyeing him. “Got kids of your own?”

His face barely changed, despite the sinking feeling inside. “No. Not anymore.”

Her lips parted, her face flooding with sympathy. “Oh...oh, Jesus. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean-”

“It’s fine. It was...a long time ago.” He said, holding up a hand.

“Well...I’ve got some dinner cooking, if you wanna get settled in and join us, you’re more than welcome.” She smiled. “Until then...make yourself at home...Doodle arms.” A smirk played across her lips as she left Simon standing there.

Cici weighed heavily on his mind. How that little girl reminded him of her. It brought that old, familiar ache. The one he used to suppress with violence, drugs, alcohol or women...now, he didn’t know just how to deal with it.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 2:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Heat. Screams. Gunfire. It was all around him. Simon ran towards the door, back in his room at the old factory. The second his hand touched the knob, he was scalded and withdrew. Smoke filled his vision, his nose, his lungs. Those screams continued from the other side, urging him on desperately..

Simon reeled back and kicked the door open with all his might. Fire filled his old living space, so bright and hot he could barely see. The screams continued as he brought his arm to shield his face and pushed onward, his limbs becoming heavier and heavier with every step. It was like somebody had attached a chain to his back and kept pulling. Figures ahead were barely silhouettes in the raging flames as he fell to the ground on his hands and knees.

He remembered that scream. It was one he’d heard in his nightmares for years. Simon couldn’t see her face yet, but it was etched on his memories, clear as day. Cici. Terror in her young eyes as he crawled, helpless to save her.

And the other...blonde. Curvaceous. Trouble personified. Tahlia had swept through his life like a tornado. Reawakening a fire in him that had died with Cici. Now, the two were together, struggling against invisible bonds, screaming for him to help them.

Simon’s muscles ached and strained, dragging his impossibly heavy body across the hot floor. Every bit of his body and soul felt overexerted, drained. And then the third figure stepped forward. He’d half expected to see Cotter standing there. Just as it had been the day Cici was ripped away from him.

But it wasn’t.

As Simon’s gaze turned upward, all he saw was himself.

A cigarette hung from his lips, his eyes lost to shadow. The cherry glowed with a hellish orange light as he took a drag. The smell of gasoline filled his nostrils suddenly, and he wasn’t in his old home anymore. Suddenly, he was in that old warehouse from 11 years ago. Cici and Tahlia knelt in the puddle of gasoline, both of them drenched and wailing.

“Please…” he tried to shout. But his voice only came out as a whisper. His doppleganger stared down with those dark eyes and flashed a bright, toothy grin. The shadow Simon held up that cigarette as if presenting it.

“Please…” Simon begged again.
Simon’s stomach turned as the shadowy version of himself flicked the cigarette away, sending it tumbling slowly into the puddle. The trapped fighter screamed and writhed, trying to move, but couldn’t budge even an inch as the flames burst to life, rushing towards Tahlia and Cici, his cries echoing into nothing as the inferno engulfed them.

He lurched upright in his bed, his body covered in a cold sweat. That world was gone. Here, it was quiet. Peaceful. The sound of crickets creeped in through the window as he tried to catch his breath. A dream. It was only a dream…

Simon wiped the sweat from his brow and tried to even out his breathing. He closed his eyes and then grabbed his jeans.

Moments later he stood out on the porch, the sky littered with bright, brilliant stars. A cigarette raised to his lips, the flame illuminating his face briefly as he lit the tip. It *was* incredibly peaceful out here. Coming from a place that was full of noise and bodies, standing along in the middle nowhere surrounded by nothing but open land as far as the eye could see was an odd comfort.

The screen door behind him creaked open, drawing his attention back. Kate stood in a pair of PJ pants and a tank top, her hooded sweatshirt pulled tight around her slender frame. She lifted her chin toward him, a little smirk on her face.

“Night owl, huh, Doodlearms?”

Simon grinned. “Yeah, that’s me. Burnin’ the midnight oil.” He took a drag and blew it out the corner of his mouth. “Didn’t wake you, did I?”

Kate shook her head and stepped out, surveyed her property a moment. Simon had to admit, she was a looker. There was a time not so long ago, those eyes alone might have done him in. She turned those multi-colored hues upon him, glancing at the cigarette in his hand. “You bring enough for the rest of class or what?”

“Oh. Right.” He said, fishing in his pocket. “My manners.” He let her draw one out and quickly lit it for her.

Kate took a drag, holding that smoke in a while before letting it glide out from her nostrils as she gazed at the farm in the moonlight. “So, what do you do, Simon?” She asked appraising his tatooed form. “I don’t imagine you’re a kindergarten teacher or a preacher, lookin’ like that.”

Simon looked down at his arms a moment. “You implyin’ somethin’?” he said, feigning offense.

She snorted. “Nah. You’re a picture of well-adjusted. The tats and scars wouldn’t terrify a room full of children at all.”

Simon smirked, a quiet laugh escaping him. “I’m sorta in-between things at the moment...”

Kate watched as if waiting for him to finish. When it became clear he hadn’t planned to, she continued for him. “Buuuut, Kate, I used to...what? Ride dirtbikes for a living? Hand-model?”

That got a genuine laugh out of him. “I don’t imagine they’d want mangled hands for that gig.”

“Hey, you don’t know.” She smirked. “Those meat hooks are so messed up, they’ll make the jewelry look even better.”

Kate leaned her hip against the railing and looked him in the eye. “Come on. Level with me.”

“I was a fighter.” He admitted.

“Like a boxer?”

“Cage. Bare knuckle.” he clarified.

“That makes sense.” She said, squinting and nodding. “Were you good.”

“Well, not to brag, but oh yeah. I was awesome. Totally blow your mind.” He nodded with faux vigor.

Kate shot him a toothy grin, taking another drag. “So? What made you quit?”

He snorted. “What makes every man quit something he’s good at?”

“Castration?” She deadpanned, getting a laugh out of him. “So. You found yourself a girl, huh? And where is she on this road to self-discovery?”

“Off somewhere with some other guy.”

Her brows raised. “Wow. Damn. That’s some ****y luck.”

“No,” Simon laughed, “It’s not like that. She’s working a job.”

Kate leveled a stare at him. “Why do I feel like that job’s not entirely legal?”

“It probably isn’t.” He admitted. If he was honest, he didn’t quite understand the point of the whole thing, other than getting money, but it wasn’t like he was some pure, good intentioned angel his whole life either. Hell the amount of blood on his hands alone would terrify Kate if she knew.

The young mother took a long drag, studying the stranger before her. “Do I need to worry about you, Simon?” She asked slowly, pointedly. “Are you gonna be a problem for me?”

The corners of his mouth twitched just a bit before he shook his head. “No. I’m just a guy trying to figure things out.”

Kate nodded. “Good. Because you do anything to put me, Pops or my little girl in trouble? They ain’t gonna find your body. We clear.”

She was ballsy. Tough. Simon liked that. “Crystal.”

“Good.” She said stomping out her cigarette. “Then we can be friends!”

Kate smiled and went past him, giving his arm a squeeze. “Don’t stay up too late.”

“Ugh, fine, Mom.” He whined.

“Don’t you use that tone with me!” She called back, playing along.

He made a noise like a whiny teenager.

“Hey, I brought you into this world, I’ll take you out!” She said with faux anger. “Little ****...” she muttered, heading on in.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 14, 2017 6:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Morning came early on the farm. The unwelcome sound of a rooster letting out an ear-splitting crow tore Simon out of a dreamless sleep. He bolted upright in the bed reaching around frantically for some kind of weapon that wasn’t there.

It took a moment before he got a grip on where he was and the embarrassment set in. Well, he thought, at least nobody saw. Simon stood, clad in a form fitting tanktop and pajama pants, and walked to the window looking out on the sprawling field, the early morning sunlight warming his inked skin. Virgil was heading out to start his work in the fields.

A knock came from the door. “You decent?” Kate called.

“Yeah, I do alright.” He joked.

She mimicked the sound of a rimshot and peeked her head in. “Breakfast is on if you’re hungry.”

“Breakfast.” He said with a squint. “I gotta say, I cannot remember the last time I had a real breakfast.”

“Oh, hoho…” Kate chuckled. “Well, you’re about to enter the thunderdome of Breakfasts, my friend. Bacon, eggs, toast, pancakes if you want, I made us up some ham hash, and we got fresh milk and freshly squeezed orange juice. The woiks.” she said, affecting an accent.

“Jesus.” He said, dumbfounded. “That’s a lot of food,”

“You’re gonna need it, doodles. Trust me.” She said ruefully.

“How about coffee?” He asked with a smirk.

“I think I can arrange that.” Kate told him, pushing off the doorway. “See you downstairs.”
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You could have it all. My empire of dirt. I will let you down. I will make you hurt.
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Simon Toews
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 16, 2017 12:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kate brushed past Millie, leaning down and planting a kiss atop her head without breaking stride. The little girl put on a big cheesy grin, letting out one of those little kid “heheeeeeee” giggles that never failed to get a chuckle out of her in return. The stranger in her house probably should have been some concern to her. The tattoos, the scars, that quiet sense of danger about him...it should have been off-putting.

But here she was, making a space for him at her breakfast table, letting him sleep in her home. Maybe it was the kind, quiet way he spoke to her, or the somewhat sad, weary look in his eyes, but there was something about him that she trusted. Most men seemed to only have eyes for specific parts of her body, but he didn’t seem to give her a second glance in a way that suggested an attraction. Plus, he’d earned points by being nice to Virgil.

Pops was the one man in her life she truly counted on. Tough, seemingly fearless, but kind, protective of those he loved. How he’d managed to retain such a good heart with everything that had happened…

Her thoughts were interrupted as a creak came from the stairs. Simon stood at the foot of the staircase, a plain white t-shirt and blue jeans on his slim, toned form, his blonde hair just short of messy. That man must have broken hearts wide-open back home, she thought.

“Mornin’ Doodlearms!” Millie said with a happy little wave as she loaded up her plate.

“Millie!” Kate exclaimed, a little mortified, but also trying not to laugh. “Rude.”

“I’m sorry. MISTER Doodlearms.” Millie corrected herself with a sullen tone.

Simon’s face lit up in a laugh. “Mornin’ Ms. Munchkinface.” He said, moving into the kitchen and to the plates, offering a nod to the blushing single mother. “Kate.”
“Don’t encourage her.” Kate gave him a comically weary look. “How do you like your coffee?”

“Black.” he responded.

Kate let out an exasperated sound and rolled her eyes. “What is it with guys and black coffee? Is that supposed to make you tough because you drink something that tastes like burnty, sweaty ass?”

Simon laughed, loading up on ham hash. “I don’t know, I just like it like that.”

“Well, have you TRIED cream and sugar? I promise, it’s WAY better.”

He put on that bemused little smirk and shook his head. “Can’t say that I have.”

Kate’s eyes bugged out. “Okay. That’s it. You’re trying this.”

Simon looked over to Millie, deadpanned. “She always like this?”

Millie’s eyes flicked from her mother and back to Simon. And she nodded.

“Hush, you. You’re supposed to be on my side.” Kate said, pointing at the child while pouring the cup. She added two cream and sugar, stirred it, and slid it over to him, a smug, confident look on her face as she crossed her arms.

Simon’s blue eyes stayed on the light brown concoction a moment before shifting up to her. He reached over and took the cup in his hand. The mug was raised in a form of salute to her before being brought to his lips for a sip.

Simon froze for a moment, staring off at nothing as Kate waited with bated breath.

“Ohmygod…” he whispered.

“RIGHT?!” She said, slapping the counter.

“Seriously?” He said, taking another sip. “Yeah. Yeah, that is WAY better.”

“Told you! I told you!” She grinned ear to ear. “Next time we’re going out and getting a fancy coffee.”

Millie just gave them both a look like they were crazy. Kate sipped her own cup, catching the look. “What?”

“Coffee’s gross and you’re both weird.”

Simon snorted into his drink.
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2017 10:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To say that working on the farm was hard would be an understatement. Every bit of that big breakfast served him well as Virgil ran him ragged doing odd jobs. How the old man had the energy and strength to do it all was beyond Simon, especially with the hitch in his step. It was sunset when he was finishing up repairs on a gate. 4 hours had spent wrangling up escaped pigs.

Simon was hot, sore and exhausted. His shirt left hanging on a fence post, his tattoos and scars were left on display. The sound of boots crunching on the dirt caught his attention. When Simon looked back, Virgil was approaching. “How’s it goin’ kid?”

Simon rose up, turning to face him. “I feel like I went 20 rounds with a minotaur.”

“Pigs get the best of ya?” the old man asked with a smirk.

Simon grinned and glanced over his shoulder. “Bastards are persistent, I’ll give ‘em that.”

Virgil glanced over the ink that covered his arms, shoulders and creeped down onto his chest like tendrils. “I gotta ask kid...what’s with all the ink?”

“Reminders.” Simon said simply.

“Well, ****, kid, that’s why they got these little gadgets called notebooks...” Virgil chuckled.

Simon shot him an amused little smirk. “I been through some things. Things I need to carry with me. These are my way of keeping them alive and owning them.” He grabbed the shirt and pulled it on, buttoning it closed a he went.

Virgil regarded him curiously. “Who are you, Simon?” He asked, walking with him. “What did you get yourself into?”

“Long story.” Simon responded. “What about you, Virgil? What’s your story? You don’t strike me as a lifelong farmer.”

“I don’t? What makes you say that?”

Simon shrugged. “Seen a lot of injuries in my time. Don’t imagine that limp came from a milking mishap.”

Virgil studied him, considering whether or not to share that with him. The boy had a lot of questions for someone who played things so close to the vest. “I was a sheriff.” he said, finally.

“That makes sense.” Simon nodded. “What happened?”

“Town went corrupt. Most of the department went corrupt. Those who didn’t...well.” Virgil canted his head toward his leg. “Katie n’ me packed our bags and hightailed it outta there.”

Simon furrowed his brow in surprise. “You ran?”

“You disapprove?” Virgil asked with that sly little smirk of his. “Suppose you think I shoulda gone in guns blazing. Takin’ the whole corrupt system down or died tryin’?”

Simon shrugged. He had to admit...it WAS what he’d have done.

“I had Katie and Millie and a bum leg to worry about.” He said. “Those girls are what matter to me. Protecting them is what’s important to me, not revenge. I ain’t sayin’ I’m entirely proud of what I did...but they’re alive and safe because of it and I’d do it again.”

“You don’t wish you’d tagged ‘em back?”

Virgil’s grin dropped slowly, his eyes drifting away. There was something there behind his body language. A sadness or more likely, regret. The old man turned his eyes back up at him and shook his head. “No.”

Nothing about it suggested that Simon should press him further, so Simon just walked with him back to the house.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 09, 2018 1:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Simon stepped out of the bathroom, freshly showered, drying his hair with a towel. His muscles ached from the strain of a hard day's work. Even for a man in his physical condition, it wasn’t easy working on a farm. He snatched up a t-shirt and walked up to the window. Virgil was out in the barn already, working on the car.

Old man had more energy than he would have imagined. Simon smirked, shaking his head.

“Darn it!” He heard a young voice exclaim across the hall. Simon stepped out and into the doorway, leaning a shoulder on one side.

“What’s with all the not-cussin’ in here?” He asked. Millie sat at her desk looking frazzled, a math book open in front of her. The little girl looked up at him pitifully. “Math. I hate it.”

“Yeah?” Simon pushed off the doorway and stepped over, peering down.
“Multiplication, huh? Never really got the hang of that one, myself.”

Millie frowned up at him. “It’s hard.”

“Well, let me take a look…” he squinted. “Alright...5 times 13…”

Simon screwed up his mouth, thinking. “That’s...18, ain’t it?”

She gave him an unimpressed look. “That’s addition.”

“Oh, right, right. Which one is multiplication?”

Millie did not look amused.

“Hey, I didn’t get much schoolin’ growin’ up.” Simon said, hands up. “Explain it to me.” He at least looked genuine.

Millie eyed him a moment before speaking again. “Okay. So, like, you have...like...2 times, I don’t know...4. That’s like going two plus two, but four times in a row.”

“Ohhhhh…” He said, feigning like he just figured it out. “So...basically, what we have here is…?”

“It’s double digits.” She said dejected. Simon smirked. The doubt was in her head.

“Right, but it’s pretty much 13 plus 13, but five times in a row. Isn’t it?” He rose his brow, looking to her. “Ooh, or 5 plus 5 thirteen times?”

Millie furrowed her brow “No, because…”. And then it clicked. Her eyes went wide. “I get it! I get it!”

She went right to scribbling down the problem. There weren’t very many academic topics he could help out with, but finding easier ways to get an overthinking mind around simple math concepts was a specialty.

He slinked out of the room as she worked. Even from the hall, he could hear the tension in hushed voices coming from downstairs. Something was up. When Simon reached the bottom of the stairs, Virgil and Kate were in the midst of an argument.

“Look, she told me they’re out of town. I haven’t been into town in-” Kate was saying, pushing through the screen door.

“You don’t know when they’re comin’ back, kid! What happens if they do?” Virgil asked her.

“They won’t!” Kate countered.

“You don’t know that!”

Kate wheeled around on him. “Look. I can’t just stay here and hide the rest of my life. That town is my home. I should be able to go back there when I want.”

“Yeah, kid. You should. In a perfect world, ya would. But this ain’t a perfect world.” Virgil’s tone changed from chastising to soothing.

Kate’s eyes lowered a moment. “Pops…” Those brilliantly colored hues turned back up to the old man. “I’m going.”

“God damn it, girl, you ain’t got the sense the good lord gave a gopher.

Them boys find you there, how brave you gonna be?” Virgil rumbled.

Simon stepped into the room before Kate could respond. “What’s goin’ on?”

Kate gave him one look. “You. You’re comin’ with me.” She turned to Virgil with a smirk. “See? Now I got back up if somethin’ goes down.”

The old man gave Simon a once over. He certainly LOOKED the part of someone you didn’t want to tangle with. “Fine.” He finally relented. “But things go south, you get the hell outta there, y’hear?”

“We will, Pops.” She said, grabbing Simon by the arm and leading him away.

“Where...where are we going?” Simon asked, confused.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 7:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The actual town of Noble wasn’t exactly a metropolis. A few shops, a bunch of bars and a restaurant or two were about the only attractions. The police force was small, but everyone knew who was really in charge.
Emmett and Lyle DuCheyne had used their daddy’s money and influence to treat the town like their personal playground. Cops were paid off to look the other way while the boys ran their illegal operations. Drugs, weapons, gambling were all rampant with no signs of stopping.
But with the boys and their gang off on business in Teleford, the place was safe. Simon wasn’t entirely sure what Kate’s history was there, but he could tell there were some lingering demons. Whatever those were, Virgil seemed pretty concerned. It would be up to Simon to help if they came back.
Kate was behind the wheel of her pickup, a palpable enthusiasm running through her entire being. “Usually, I have to go all the way north to Sterling to get anything. It’s, like an hour drive. Total pain in the ass.”
Simon divided his attention between her and the setting sun. She seemed content in chattering away, so he just gave her a slight, amused little smile.
The truck passed into the town proper. A somber, wistful air fell over Kate. “I was born here.” She said. As they passed the grade school, she nodded. “My mama used to teach there.”
“Where ARE your parents?” He enquired.
Kate frowned and didn’t look over. “Gone.” She said simply.
Simon watched her a moment before turning away. “Sorry to hear that.”

She was silent for a long moment, her eyes focused ahead before a distant, wistful little smile crept onto her lips. “Mama was a teacher. Fourth grade. Loved her students, worked her ass off until she got sick. Used to say there wasn’t a soul alive could say they didn’t love Lily Wilder.”
Simon could see the fondness and pride in her eyes as Kate talked about her mother. It was something he couldn’t exactly say he knew, given his childhood...but the loss and pain in her voice was something he knew all too well.
“What did your old man do?” he asked.
“Daddy was a miner.” she told him. “Had the hugest hands...hands the size a’ your head. He had one of those voices, sounded like he gargled rock salt for a livin’. Tough, hard-drinkin’ man, but a total sweetheart. One time, I wanted play beauty shop, ‘n he let me put all manner of terrible make up on him.” she chuckled. “Mama said I made him look like a two dollar whore.”
Simon breathed out a little laugh. “I never knew mine.”
Kate glanced over from the wheel. “Your fam?”
“Nope.” he shook his head. “Ma never wanted me...don’t really know anything about my old man. Spent most of my time in and outta foster homes.”
“That sucks.” She said sympathetically. It was simple, non dramatic, but genuine.
“Yeah, it does.” he sighed. “Made it alright, though.” Simon smirked to her.
Kate pulled into a parking spot in front of a bar. “Todds”, the sign read. She pulled down the visor and checked herself in the mirror.
“Alright…” she said, fixing a stray hair. “Let’s do this.”
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