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Authors: Angie Merriam

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Havoc

BOOK: Havoc
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Havoc
By Xavier Neal

© Xavier Neal September 2013

Published by Entertwine Publishing

This version is not to be copied or
distributed. All rights reserved by the author and Entertwine
publishing.

 

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

Thank you for downloading this e-book. This
book remains the copyrighted property of the author, and may not be
redistributed to others for commercial or non-commercial purposes.
If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download
their own copy from their favorite authorized retailer. Thank you
for your support.

 

All character, places, and descriptions come
from the imagination of the author. All are fictional and any
resemblance to real life persons or places is purely
coincidental

 

Prologue

 

Why couldn't he have died that day instead?
Why couldn't it have been him who melted before my eyes? It's not
that I don't care about him. I just cared about her more. I
actually loved her. She gave a shit about me. It didn't take a
rocket scientist to figure out that much. I learned that the first
time I remember him leaving on deployment when I was four. I know
he had left many times before that, but that was when I was still
asking, if he loved us so much, why did he leave? Why was he always
gone for so long? Being the angel that she was, my mother often
told me a soft excuse to cushion my feelings, but when I turned
four, I began to pick up on why he left. There was something he
loved more than her. More than me. More than us. He loved being
close to death. Being that close to death all the time, it would
make sense for him to die. Death could've taken him with due cause!
Instead, it took her. No warning. No heads up. No text on the
go.

I've played the heartbreaking moment again
and again in my head, like my mind is on some screwed-up instant
replay you see on ESPN. She convulsed. At first, it looked like a
set of hiccups. Innocent. Funny even. Then, she shook. Sweated. I
called 9-1-1 and waited, watching jerking go out of control as if
there was a demon in her. Once that demon was free, though, she was
dead. Gone. Nothing. It’s a very strange concept to me, even now.
No life in your body. No light in your eyes. Just darkness. I cried
the whole time. What ten-year-old kid wouldn't? I cried as 9-1-1
arrived. I cried as the EMT took her away. I cried as Mindy lied
when she said, “It's gonna be OK.” and “Don't worry, Striker's on
duty,” God's own hospital angel if there ever was a God. At that
moment, I didn't believe it anymore. At that moment, I already knew
she was dead. Death had come. And I was once again alone.

 

Mindy pushes a plate of fresh-baked cookies
toward me and a tall glass of milk. Her hand on mine is warm.
Motherly. She always means well. She always has. I imagine she
always will.

“Wanna talk about it, Slugger?”

“No.” You’re safe here, she wants me to know.
It’s her place. I know I’m safe. But, I’m not scared. I’m mad.

“You sure?”

“Yeah.”

The pause is too brief, “I think we need to
talk about it. Don't you? I really feel it would be best. What
happened?”

“Before he yelled at me and told me I needed
to suck it up or after when he broke Mom's things? Destroyed them.
Tossed the family videos. Ripped the photos. Of her—and of me.”
Mindy looks like she wants to say something, but I don't let her,
“How about when he raised his hand to me? When he told me to be a
man about her death?”

“Slugger–”

“No,” I shut her down, snatch a cookie, and
break a piece to shove in my mouth. “I don't wanna talk about
it.”

And I don't. Three days pass before I even
walk back into my house. I would have stayed hidden longer, but
Mindy said, if I did, that she would call him to come and get me. I
didn't want that either.

The moment my foot slips inside the door, I
feel a heavy weight on my shoulders. There's vomit rising in my
throat now from the sight in front of me, at the betrayal I'm
staring at in my own living room. My mother's things, in brown
boxes, packed.

My dad walks down the stairs, another box in
his hands. From the looks of it, it’s dresses, including the one
she kept sacred—just for homecomings and deployments. I say
nothing, rage and hatred alike boiling inside of me. I want to
swing my bat and break things. Break him. I want to swing it at him
and scream, “It should've been you!” I merely watch in horror, my
mom quickly fading from light into a distant memory, forever to be
stuck in my head like an almost-forgotten lyric. The one that's
always on the tip of your tongue, but you can never remember the
words, just the tune. Death’s refrain.

He drops the box in the living room. “These
things leave in the morning.” He clears his throat and reaches for
the shot of whiskey in the glass on the coffee table. “I left a box
in your room. Take what you want. Keep it in there. I don't ever
want to see it. Any of it.”

I stare at him coldly. How can a man be so
cruel after losing his wife? Can he be a man? It's not human to be
so indifferent about the death of a loved one, no matter what the
Navy may have drilled into him. He's a monster. Any shadow of what
used to be my father, the man who bought me my first bat, bandaged
my first skinned knee, gave me my first “It's not about losing but
how you play the game” speech, gone. Vanished. Nonexistent as
quickly as Mom. Death stole him too. Death now owns my family.
Might as well own me too.

“You hear me, boy?”

This man is not my father. He's an animal. An
alien. A foreign creature. An empty vessel in which life once lay
but does no longer. Being immediate kin to death now, I join the
man I used to call father. I enter the blizzard of bleakness ahead,
knowing I cannot take it back, any of it. Death wins all in the
end.

“Yes, Sir.”

 

 

89 Days Till Deployment

 

Alcohol ruthlessly overflows from shot
glasses and bottles, claiming victory. Success. Another tour
survived. Another round won. Mission impossible complete. That's
the true job of a Marine. And at the rate I'm going, the way I live
for my job, I'll be in Special Ops at 25 or die trying.

“God, Grim, could you put a smile on that
dull mug of yours?” Glove, one of the only friends I have, says.
Glove was the first person I spoke to at training when he insisted
he sit at my table saying he’d need a wingman for all the hot ass
he was gonna pull now that he's a Marine. Apparently, chicks melt
at the word alone. This was a true fact I later learned—and even
lived myself time and again. But, Glove's arrogance is constant and
nearly gotten him killed a couple times, except that I was sniping
for him. Doing his job for him.

“Indeed,” Lordy, the other member of our
clan, the other man I trust on the field and usually off, chimes in
his southern drawl made even heavier thanks to Jack and Coke.

“Live a little,” Glove encourages, his
lightly tan, lanky arms swinging around the hips of one of the
blond college girls flocking at our table. It's beginning to look
like a Girl's Gone Wild commercial.

I hate this town. I hate drunk college girls.
I hate this day layover bullshit before we fly home. But, if I had
it my way, I’d never go. I’d take duty after duty, dancing with
death again and again, turning it into my pet on a leash. Owning
it.

My lips press to my beer bottle. I refuse to
let myself get out of control like them, like some drunken frat boy
with too much money and not enough talent. Making a mockery of my
job. My unit. Myself.

I lean back in the uncomfortable wooden
chair, and a girl with platinum-dyed hair straddles herself on my
lap, low-rise jeans exposing her red, very lacy thong. She pushes
her boobs at me. They're popping out of a see-through halter top.
Her body smells as cheap as she looks.

“I love a man in uniform,” she coos, her
breath fruity, her tone slutty. They're all slutty. They always
are.

She runs her hands through my brown hair and
follows by touching my strong-cut jaw, staring into my blue eyes
with her own. Her finger intertwines my dog tag chain. I cringe. I
hate when they touch my tags. My lifeline. Honestly, makes me wish
to end theirs.

With a smug grin, I remove her finger and
retort, “You'd probably love it if I make you call me Daddy, too,
huh?”

She wiggles her hips in excitement, “How'd
you know?”

'Cause you're oddly predictable? 'Cause
you're one step away from swinging around a pole? 'Cause you reek
of Daddy issues and Victoria Secret perfume? 'Cause girls with more
to offer don't dangle themselves like dog treats in front of
mangling mutts?

Repulsed, I shove her off, “Lucky guess.”

She raises her eyebrows at me, finally
offended, “Jerk!”

“Buh-bye,” I wave her away.

Glove freaks, “Seriously, dude? Do you hate
sex? Or just sex with women?”

The comment doesn't bother me. “'Cause I
won't sleep with every woman with a pulse, I either hate sex or am
gay?”

“Pretty much,” Glove nods. “It seems like the
only logical conclusions.”

My head slants, “The only logical
conclusions?”

“Uh-huh,” Glove chuckles as a girl slides her
tongue along the side of his neck. Pleased by the feeling and the
attention mutually, I'm sure, he continues, “Fine, if not every
girl, how about just one? Any one. She just has to have a pulse.
Hell, maybe not even that.”

Not in the mood for the public ridicule
that's about to ensue, I stand and toss a twenty on the table, more
than a generous tip for the one beer I had. “See you in the
a.m.”

They call my name. Once. Twice. Three times.
Then, the begging begins. They beg for me to stay, but for what?
For another hour of Glove drunkenly pretending to be witty while
making slightly homophobic comments?

I shrug them off, pop the collar of my gray
jacket, and take a deep breath, bracing myself for the cold,
unforgiving D. C. air. I head toward the hotel, taking a left
instead of a right, knowing I could use some Arctic air since it's
not going to follow me back to Texas. The sounds of taxis honking,
public buses with screeching breaks, and live music pouring out
from bar after bar are ones I enjoy. And dread. Being in D. C. only
means two things. I'm either coming or going. I prefer coming to
duty. Coming to work. Coming to an escape. Making a difference.
Forgetting how fucked up my home, if you can call it that, is. This
place feels like home. Allows me to forget that I'm human. To
forget emotions, empathy and sympathy, two scores that weren't the
best on my evaluation test. God, I love that feeling of operating
myself like a machine and not a person, the numbing sensation being
in the field provides. Feeling human is uncharted territory for me
nowadays. Anything I can do to forget, I will. It's the only way
I'll survive. The way I was taught. The only way I know how.

 

 

88 Days Till Deployment

 

I hate Glove. Michael “Glove” Love has been a
literal pain in my side since boot camp. He's selfish. Reckless.
Annoying. Everything I imagine it'd be like to have a little
brother who acted like a shit. He's always breaking rules for the
fuck of it. Expecting the world to clean up his mess and revolve
around him like he's some fucking prince. Prince of the land of
Privileged Assholes. Take this moment, for instance. We're due on
the first flight out. Yeah, I'll be the first to admit it's a bit
early, but this jerk has locked himself in his hotel room most
likely pants-less, hungover, and carefree. All hail the prince.

I watch Lordy lean against the washed-out
white wall, looking defeated, “We could always leave without him?”
Seeing the look on my face, he shakes his head, “I know. I know.
Leave no man behind.”

“Yeah, even when the man's being a complete
dick,” I mumble as my eyes slide over to a young woman coming out
of her hotel room. Black skirt, high slit, tight top, four-inch
heels. She'll do. I call out, “Excuse me, ma'am.” She looks up, her
brunette curls bouncing. “Can I ask you for a favor? It'll just
take a sec.”

She pauses and places a hand on her hip. I
sure hope she falls for this. Her eyes look me over, assessing the
amount of danger I propose. In my jeans, fitted, black T-shirt, and
jacket, I imagine she's wrongfully assuming not much. Her heels
bring her to us, and Lordy smiles widely as if I delivered her for
him.

In almost a whisper, I ask, “Is there any
chance I can get you to say 'housekeeping' in a sexy voice?”

Her eyebrows lower. Can't blame her. I’d give
me the same look, too. Honestly, the way it came out sounded a bit
pervy, almost in creep territory. I’d knee me in the nuts and walk
away if I were her. Instead, she slides her body between us. Lordy
peers around her to mouth 'goddamn!' and leans back, offering her a
phony smile. Much like Glove, he's easily pleased when it comes to
women. Tries to act holier than thou, but two beers in, and he's
just as sleazy as Glove.

BOOK: Havoc
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