Earning the Cut (Riding the Line Series, Prequel)

BOOK: Earning the Cut (Riding the Line Series, Prequel)
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Earning the Cut

Jayna Vixen

Earning the Cut 
Copyright 2013 Jayna Vixen

License Notes: This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Contents

Title Page

Copyright

Begin Reading

Author’s Note

About the Author

Other Works by Jayna Vixen

Earning the Cut

Hungry. That was the first sensation he could recall feeling. He was always hungry. Ravenous actually. Even when his stomach was full of whatever crap happened to be lying around after they were through he was still hungry. Like a dog, they only threw him the scraps. He was a half-starved afterthought. Just something to be tolerated. Even though he was young, the boy was old enough to understand that he was meaningless to them. Opening the fridge revealed a half-eaten pizza. He gnawed at it. It was cold and it tasted funny. His tummy gurgled a familiar warning so he stopped eating. Sometimes the stomachache that followed eating the funny food was worse than the hunger pains. Tired, he slumped down on the couch to wait for mommy.

***

Laughter met his ears but it wasn’t funny. The room spun around and around. It wasn’t like when you twirled in circles. It was worse that that time on the merry-go-round. Oh, that time was a rare fond memory. But, the dizziness passed once they got off the merry-go-round. This time was much worse. The bad feeling wouldn’t go away. He felt sick, oh so sick. He threw up on the old brown couch. Mommy was there. He thought she would be mad at him, but to his surprise, she was mad at the man instead. She yelled and he covered his ears. It was hard to tell if she was mad at him too. She was always mad.

“You gave him beer? He’s only six!”

The man laughed again. His head hurt.

“That’s the last time I leave you alone with him, Trey!”

***

They moved a lot so the schoolyard was always different, but the way he was treated never wavered. The other kids made fun of him. They pushed him around. They said his clothes were ugly. They called him, “Skunk,” ‘cause they said he stunk like one, too. He knew they were right. The other kids had new shoes with no holes in them. No dirt under their nails. They had shiny new lunchboxes filled with food. Sometimes, he had half a burger or some cold chicken nuggets from the night before. The red apples looked so good. He was so hungry. He tried to take one from Tommy Gill, ‘cause he had two, and Tommy pushed him. He fell in the dirt. A hole opened up in his patched, too-big jeans. His knee bled. The other kids laughed. They called him a loser and a reject. He wanted to fight back, but he was so tired. And weak.

The classroom was warm, even though it was cold outside. There were desks to sit at. He had his very own desk! With a nametag and everything. D-A-X-T-E-R. It was his own desk. He loved it. Inside, there were books and pencils and paints and everything. He wanted to stay there, in the classroom with his own desk forever, but when the bell rang he had to go home. He dreaded the bell every day, even though the other kids seemed excited when it rang. He was confused by their behavior. Why would anyone ever want to go home?

His teacher was pretty. She wore floaty dresses and she never yelled. But even though Mrs. Thomas had a kind smile, he was still wary of her. Sometimes when mommy smiled, she was not happy, she was mad. Mrs. Thomas smiled at him a lot. She ruffled his hair, even though he flinched when she touched him. He had to stay inside today, she said. No recess. He was in trouble and he was scared. No recess meant he broke a rule, but he didn’t know what it was. Breaking the rules meant a punishment. He had become quite adept at figuring out the rules. It was a survival instinct. But this time, he had no idea what he had done wrong. He looked down at his sneakers, his big toe poking out the front. He was too big, mommy said. He outgrew his shoes too fast.

“Is everything okay at home, Dax?”

He jerked his head up to look at Mrs. Thomas. Her belly was round and distended. She had a baby in it. He knew that, ‘cause mommy’s friend had a baby in her tummy too. Her name was Sheila. Sheila was nice, sometimes, but the last time he saw her she cried. She was upset ‘cause her belly was getting too big and she couldn’t ride the ‘cycle with Trey’s friend. Trey’s friend had a new Sheila, said mommy. Dax liked the ‘cycles. They made a loud, rumbly noise that was somehow comforting. You could just get on one, and ride away. Sometimes he wondered what it would be like to be big and ride one himself.

“Dax? Are you okay?” Mrs. Thomas’ voice sounded funny, like she was going to cry or something. He nodded mechanically, like mommy said to do.

“Well, honey we are going to have to call your parents. We need to talk about some things. I want you to know that you have done nothing wrong. Dax?”

He started to shake, his thin shoulders rubbing against the frayed material of his borrowed coat. He
had
done something wrong. He glared at Mrs. Thomas. She wasn’t nice at all! She was going to get him in big trouble. Mommy wouldn’t like coming to talk to teacher. It was early. Mommy didn’t wake up until after he got off the bus. She didn’t like getting up early. It gave her a headache. She would be mad. Trey would be mad. He hung his head quietly, imagining the beating that would surely follow teacher’s phone call.

***

They wouldn’t let him get on the bus so he waited in the office. Mommy came and she was really angry. She put on her smiley face, but he knew she was mad because her eyes were mad even though she was smiling. Even though she was angry, Mommy looked pretty. She had brushed her blond hair and she was wearing her good jacket and clean boots. He shuffled his feet and the nice lady showed him a place to sit and wait. He waited. His tummy grumbled. He could hear muffled voices coming from behind the closed door. He was afraid to listen.

The nice lady in the office appeared. She looked worried, he thought. Or mad. He wasn’t sure; it was hard to tell. Loud, angry voices came from the principal’s office. Everyone was mad mad mad. His tummy grumbled again. Tears stung his eyes as the shouting increased. Mommy was angry. He would be punished. Trey would get his belt. The nice lady tried to put her arm around him and he hissed like a snake, lurching away as though her touch burned him. She took her hand away. The lady’s eyes were sad. She held out a cookie. He was scared to take it. Sometimes Trey would offer treats and they would make him sick. But, he was so hungry. Warily, he accepted the cookie with a shaky little hand. He ate it quickly, licking the crumbs from his dirt-tinged palm. He curled up in the chair and slept.

***

Seeing the policeman had made him go wild, feral almost. The pigs would hurt you! Mommy and Trey hated the pigs and he did too. He struggled and screamed when the pig grabbed him. Teacher looked at him and he saw that she was crying. Mommy came out and she was crying too.

“Daxter! You ungrateful little bastard!” She was loud and angry but she was also grabbing at him, trying to yank him from the policeman’s arms.

A wail issued from his lips as he was hauled bodily out the door. Where were they taking him?! “Mommy!” he cried. Another pig held mommy back. They took him away. They put him in a police car. He was going to jail where the bad boys went. He was bad. He was very bad. He had tried to be good, but the pigs knew he was bad. He was bad inside, like mommy said. He shook and cried, feeling the cool leather of the seat against his dirty cheek.

***

Ten Years Later

“Mr. Jamison?”

The voice was annoyed. As usual. Why couldn’t these teachers give him a break?!

“Yeah?” He could hear the snickers of the damned jocks and nerds in the class as Mr. Jenner picked on him.
Fuck!
Jenner was always on his case. If it weren’t a condition of living with the Bodeckers, he would have bailed on school a long ass time ago.

“The answer, Mr. Jamison.” Mr. Jenner challenged.

“Which question?” He let boredom lace his tone, feeling a sense of satisfaction as Mr. Jenner bristled at his blatant disrespect.

“Eleven.”

Dax stole a peek at his seat partner’s book, and noted which page was open. He flipped his own textbook open and took a cursory glance at number eleven. “X equals four.”

Mr. Jenner looked surprised and Dax liked that. They always underestimated him. For some reason, he felt like that gave him an advantage.

***

Home? What was that anyway? Dax got off the bus and paused to stare at the house he currently lived in. He had never felt comfortable in any place that was supposed to be his home. Bouncing from foster care to foster care had been tough. He had seen it all. No one wanted a lanky, half-grown kid who was always hungry. But now, he had been with the Bodecker family for two whole years. They were the first family that didn’t kick him back like a fish that wasn’t big enough for the take. At first, Dax figured they took kids in for the government stipend. Lots of foster families did that.

It was him, an older girl, and two younger kids, twins, living in that house. Unlike the other homes they had tried to place him in, here he had his own room, up in the attic. As he grew taller, it got harder to stand up in there, but at least he had his own space. He liked that more than he would ever let on. He had learned early on that if you told your fake “parents” what you liked, they could use it against you. To manipulate you.

The Bodeckers were pretty strict. They made it pretty clear that he had to follow their rules or he would be out. Do your chores, go to school, keep your nose clean. At first, he balked at the rules. But, all in all, Dax had to admit, it wasn’t that bad. He got three meals a day, and Mrs. Bodecker liked baking too, so there were always cookies around. He accepted the cookies with a forced smile because he knew it would hurt the lady if he refused her overtures. He even choked a few down, trying to ignore the reflexive clenching of his stomach. He had learned it young:
Never trust a person bearing cookies
. Dax had decent fitting clothes and shoes. His hair was still long and unkempt, but now it was because he chose to wear it that way. Still, Dax knew that the clock was ticking. His seventeenth birthday was just around the corner. That meant one more year, and he would be on his own. Again.

Dax smiled ruefully, remembering his first day in this house. He had been sullen, angry, and he was sure he had radiated distrust. The last three places the state sent him had been nightmares, chock full of the same abusive bullshit he had been yanked out of when he was a kid. He refused to tolerate it anymore. No, after the third place, he had vowed that no one would push him around again. So, he fought back, and he got sent back. Six times. Like a defective machine, or a stray dog that kept getting sent back to the pound, he was returned like so much junk. He became jaded, depressed, and harbored a silent rage that started to manifest on the schoolyard. Soon, he had a reputation. What a surprise, no one wanted him. Just like his mom used to tell him.

What the hell was the point? He had entertained no hope of ever finding a tolerable living situation, so when the social worker’s car pulled up to a well maintained, three-story home with a porch swing and a picket fence, a jolt of irrational fear ran through him. The place was creepy in its normalcy. He met the wife first. Mrs. Bodecker was pleasant and calm, and she greeted him at the door with a smile and a freshly baked tray of chocolate chip cookies. Dax hesitated to eat them. He always had to choke down the first few bites of food offered by a stranger, especially cookies. It was an old problem.
No place could be this perfect.
There had to be a catch. But, it looked like there wasn’t.

Mr. Bodecker seemed like a total square, but at least he wasn’t a Jesus freak or a mean drunk. Sometimes, Dax got an odd vibe from the guy but he had never done anything to invite distrust. The couple claimed that they trying to give back or some such, by helping out the disadvantaged. Over time, Dax figured out that Mrs. Bodecker couldn’t have her own kids, or something, so that was probably why she filled her house with everyone else’s rejects. No, that wasn’t fair. Of the four of them,
he
was the only reject. The twins were cute and everyone loved them. The older girl kept to herself. She was seventeen, and she knew she was on her way out anyway. Determined to have a better life than she started with, Rachel had applied to several colleges and with her grades and circumstances, she was sure to get in on full scholarship.

Dax sighed, looking at the pile of homework that sat on the small wooden desk. Of all the sparse furnishings in his attic hideaway, he liked the desk best. It was old, but it had lots of little drawers and places to stash things. He pulled out the bottom drawer and found a space behind it, just big enough to slide his notebook. No one knew he liked to write. He was sure they would laugh at him if they did. Stories of his past, verses that belied his teen angst, wishes and dreams that would never come to pass, filled the pages of his journal, written in harsh, black ink. Pushing his algebra book to the side, he started to shade in a familiar sketch: it was a bike. Not a bicycle, but a bike. A hog. A
Harley Dyna,
to be exact.

BOOK: Earning the Cut (Riding the Line Series, Prequel)
3.67Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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