Dark Rain: 15 Short Tales

BOOK: Dark Rain: 15 Short Tales
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© 2015
J.R. Rain

Cover Art by Eugene Teplitsky

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“It is rare to catch a glimpse of us. But when you do, be afraid. Or not. For we are not evil. Just hungry.”
—Diary of the Undead


didn’t go into Starbucks very often, but when I did, I saw him.

He sat in the far corner, his back to the wall, cowboy-like—as in, good luck sneaking up on him, if you were so inclined. Just your typical Starbucks geek. Laptop, headphones, wires everywhere. A too-big phone roosting next to him. Like most Starbuckians, he appeared hard at work on something, tapping away furiously, only sometimes pausing to look off into the near distance. Or the far distance. Or perhaps, checking out an ass or two. How the hell would I know?

Either way, he seemed to toil as hard or harder than most of the other Starbucks geeks. Typing, typing, typing. Fingers flying, keys being hit with vigor, energy, and confidence.

He was also a big guy. Not as big as Kingsley—few are—but impressive nonetheless. Very nearly handsome, too, if not for his slightly-too-big head. Also, I didn’t like his half-ass beard, somewhere between a real one and something Don Johnson might have worn in the 80’s. Pick a beard or not, big guy. At least, that’s what I said.

Anyway, the only reason we’d been hitting this Starbucks was that Tammy had developed a penchant for coffee. Go figure. The madness started when a relative had given her a Starbucks card last Christmas. Who gives an eleven-year-old a Starbucks card? At any rate, her favorite drink was now a caramel macchiato, and so, these days, when I was in a particularly good mood (or had recently cashed a client’s check, which was just as rare), she and I would stop by the local Starbucks.

A vampire at Starbucks. Why not?

Not often, granted. A nine-dollar cup of joe diluted with enough sugar to fuel a Smart Car wasn’t something I was very keen on. But… my daughter liked it. Sitting at a Starbucks, sipping her flavored coffee like a true-blue adult had also probably had something to do with her addiction.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about that, but she seemed happy, and I like when my kids are happy. So sue me.

Anyway, business must have been good this month because we’d been in nearly every week—and each time, there he was:

The blond guy with the pseudo-beard and big head, his back to the wall, pounding away at his keyboard. Who he was, I didn’t know. But I found myself drawn to him. He wasn’t hideous to look at, but he certainly wasn’t my type. I don’t generally go for blonds, and I most certainly don’t go for half-assed beards.

Still, there was something about him. I’d noticed it before, but had mostly ignored it. After all, I had enough men in my life. Too many, some would say. At least, my interest in him wasn’t romantic. No, there was something else about him. Something intriguing… and familiar. I generally kept a low profile, and I was certainly not one for catching up with old friends. Old friends asked a lot of questions.

an old friend? I didn’t know, but I was sure I knew him from somewhere. And, as we ordered our drinks today—a caramel foo-foo thing for Tammy and a bottled water for me—I found myself glancing over at him again and again.

And yes, today I had cashed another client check. Wahoo! A nice-sized one, too, although my client, I suspected, had seriously considered not paying me.

Bad idea.

You see, I had been promised a bonus if I found something—a hidden treasure of all things—and I had. Except a crazy ghost had had other plans. Yes, a ghost… who very much didn’t want me to reveal the location of his buried fortune. So, instead of disclosing the location, I had shown my client evidence of its existence. I had, after all, been hired to find the treasure,
reveal where it is.

Yes, a loophole in my agreement. My client had not been pleased. That might cost me a bad review on Angie’s List, but that was a price I was willing to pay. In the end, a dead man got his wish, I got my bonus, and now, here we were at Starbucks.
Life goes on.

As Tammy placed her complicated order, sounding like a true Starbuckian, I glanced over at the blond guy. He wore one of those 1920’s paperboy caps, sometimes called duck-billed caps. Nerdy, but kind of cute, too. His sat at a slight angle. Jaunty. While we waited for our drinks, Tammy launched into a rather elaborate and disturbingly well-thought-out plan to have Anthony move in with their dad so that we girls could have the house alone. When she was done, I told her that a) that wasn’t going to happen and b) she would miss her brother, whether she wanted to admit it or not.

“I won’t miss his farting.”

“No one would miss his farting, Tammy.”

“Maybe he can live with Dad half the time.”

“Or not.”


“No buts. Not even Anthony’s stinky butt.”

Tammy giggled, and when our drinks arrived, I led her over to a table and told her to sit and wait for me.

“You’re going to talk to that man,” she said.

“Yes,” I said, “and it’s not polite to read other people’s minds.” Which my daughter could really do, God help me.

“Well, you keep looking at him.”

“I know.”

“Who is he?”

“No clue,” I said. “But I’m going to find out.”

“Hi,” I said, except I’m pretty sure he didn’t hear me. So I leaned down and waved just over his laptop.

That got his attention. He gasped a little and looked up, then pulled off his pink—yes, pink—headphones with the words “Virgin Airlines” written on them, slipping them down around his neck. I caught what might have been some New Agey music. I didn’t take the big guy as an Enya type, but go figure.

“Hi,” I said again.

He smiled and sat forward and promptly knocked his cup off the table. As it went flying, I reached down almost casually and caught it before it got very far. I returned it to its wet ring on the table next to his keyboard.

“You better be careful,” I said. “I hear iced coffee is hell on keyboards.”

He stared at the coffee that, just a few seconds earlier, had been flipping through the air. Then looked up at me, his mouth hanging open a little. I get that a lot these days.

“Er, right. Thank you…” His voice trailed off. “That was incredible.”

I shrugged. “Lucky catch.”

“No, I mean… that might have been the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.”

“You need to get out more,” I said. “This seat taken?”

He blinked some more, then shook his head. He had been prepared to work today. Prepared to lose himself in whatever it was he was writing. He hadn’t been prepared for a nosy woman with superhuman reflexes plopping herself down across from him.

BOOK: Dark Rain: 15 Short Tales
10.03Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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