Waking up with a migraine doesn’t help get the creativity flowing.  Were my muses beating me in my sleep?  I wouldn’t put it passed them.

This is one of those days where I know my writing is going to be abysmal, so I may as well just get it over with and move on.  Or I could go do some laundry.

Hmm, that’s pretty sad when I’d rather do housework than write.  Maybe I’ll just leave you with an excerpt from a novel I’ve had on the back burner for a while.

The setting is rural Missouri, incidentally where I grew up.

Burn Out

I dragged my eyes open.  The side of my face was still smarting from where I’d whacked into the wall as I’d tried to roll over.  The first pale rays of sun light were struggling to penetrate the frosted glass of the window overhead.  A tan arm smacked me across the bridge of my nose before thumping the wall.  I lay there blinking tears out of my eyes for a moment.

“Jeeze, Tabby.”  Shoving the limb off my head I struggled to sit up.  No wonder I had been trying to climb the wall in my sleep.

Tabby slept sprawled across the rest of the twin bed, her short blonde hair rumpled.  One muscular leg flung over mine.  A faded band t-shirt was hiked up around her midriff.  To top it off she was wearing a pair of my boxers.  Sighing I bit back the desire to yell at her.  She’d either beat the crap out of me or laugh if I made too big a deal of it.  Shaking her shoulder, I tried to wake her.  She’d made a habit of climbing into bed with me the week her dad moved in with my mom and me, almost ten years ago.  She’d been eight and I was six at the time.  I hadn’t liked it then, and I still didn’t like it even if she didn’t do it every night now.  Something must have happened last night or she would’ve slept in her own bed.  Hoping it didn’t have anything to do with what I thought it did, I tried to wake her.

“Tabby, hey Tabitha wake up.  Go get in your own bed.  Come on.”  Shoving had little effect and just when I’d decided to forget it and go to her room she opened one eye.

Stretching so that the t-shirt threatened to reveal way too much she grinned at me mumbling, “Mornin’ sleepin’ beauty.”

“Get the hell out of my bed you freaking weirdo.”

“That’s not how you say good morning to your loving sister.”  She yawned through half the sentence, rubbing mascara nearly to her temples.

“Step-sister and since when have you been loving?  And why in the freaking hell are you wearing my boxers.”

“They’re comfy.” The pout lasted all of two seconds.

“Ooof.” I shoved at her shoulder as she flopped over on me.  She was entirely too warm and heavy, not that I would tell her that.  Her weight made it difficult to breathe.

“Besides you are so cute and cuddly when you are sleeping.”  She mumbled into my ear sending chills down my neck.

“You are creeping me out Tab.  We need to get up.”  I didn’t need to tell her why.  She sighed and I tried to ignore the feel of her against me.  Step-sister or not, she had a nice body.

“Creeps you out, huh?  You never used to mind.  Besides, it’s not like we are related or anything.”  Hugging me to her she snuggled closer.

Pushing her away I propped myself up on an elbow. “Do you have any idea how crazy you sound right now?”

“What?  I can’t think my step-brother is cute?”

“No!  No you can’t.”  That pissed her off.  Shifting around she sat up, pulling the shirt down.  She glanced at me over her shoulder.

“You know for being a football player, you sure are a wimp.”  Shoving my head down into the pillow she got up.  “I get dibbs on the shower.  Unless you want to share?”

“Get out you sicko.”

She disappeared in the direction of the bathroom and I buried my head in the pillow.  Soon the sound of running water could be heard.  She was getting weirder by the day, used to be she was disgusted by me like any proper sister.  She needs boyfriend, was my next thought, her and Jasper split six months ago.  The last thing I needed was Gunner thinking I’d hooked up with his precious daughter.  Grossed out by the thought I decided I was going to have to get a lock for my door, as soon as I got a door.  Gunner had broken it last year in one of his drunken rages, or rather had used me to break it.  We didn’t have the money to replace it, so I went without.  Shoving that thought to the dark reaches of my mind with the rest of the painful memories, I made myself get up.

The carpet, matted into a nondescript brown was cold, must be pretty chilly outside then.   Trailers aren’t exactly known for being well insulated.  Without Tabby’s body heat the room was decidedly nippy.  Best to get dressed.  Stripping off the pajama pants I found a pair of jeans that were still decent, no holes in improper places at least.  Socks were another matter.  After a ten minute search I found a mismatched pair and threw a t-shirt and hoodie on.

Avoiding piles of clothes, clean and dirty piled in the narrow hall, I headed for the kitchen.  The living room had been relatively clean yesterday, until Gunner came home.  Now the coffee table, end tables and the floor were covered with beer bottles and cans and the occasional liquor bottle.  The ashtray was overflowing onto the table and there were three empty packs of Camel’s mixed in among the bottles.  At least the alcohol and cigarette smoke smell kind of covered the lingering cold greasy smell of last night’s dinner.  My mom, Alicia wasn’t known for her cooking ability.  Not cooking food anyway.

I stopped in the living room watching her through the pass-through window as she got her breakfast in the kitchen.  Her personal cupboard was padlocked so we couldn’t raid it when she was gone.  As always she looked completely out of place in our dump of a single-wide.  Long blonde hair swung from a ponytail down to the middle of her back.  Anytime she showed up for a football game all the guys would stare at her.  She was pretty if not downright beautiful and she knew it.  Why she’d ever hooked up with Gunner was beyond me.  Maybe it had been desperation or something else, I didn’t pretend to understand it.  She glanced up and I felt my pulse quicken.  Please let her be in a good mood this morning, I begged whatever god cared to listen.

“Mornin’,” I ventured.

“Good morning Corentin.  Make sure you fix Gunner’s breakfast before you leave for school.  I’ll be gone all day, there is a realtor’s meeting in Springfield that I’m going to attend.  Don’t expect me home before ten tonight.  You and Tabitha are in charge of getting dinner on and make sure you clean the kitchen this time.”

I nodded as I headed to the refrigerator hoping there was something edible in it.  As usual she was lying.  I knew her real reason for going to Springfield.  It hadn’t been much of a shock to find out the realtor bit was a cover for her drug running for Gunner.  It was just really disappointing.  I guess it had stopped being a shock when Gunner had made me help him at a couple of his meth labs.  I hated it with a passion; it was hard, dangerous and smelly work.  I’d rather do something legal and safe.  My refusal to help often started many of our fights.  They normally ended with me bleeding on the floor.  Distracting myself with the task at hand I opened the fridge, almost welcoming the stench of rotting food.  Half a dozen eggs and a nearly empty gallon of milk meant breakfast wasn’t going to be much.  I’d have to see if we had enough money to go by the Save-A-Lot after school.

“Morning Alicia,” Tabby’s voice was muffled, probably by a towel.  Grabbing the eggs and milk I shut the door with my foot.  Sure enough Tabby was toweling her hair dry as she stood in the living room.  I rolled my eyes and set the food down on the counter.  She always pretended to be so polite, but I knew what she really thought of Alicia.  I agreed with her too.

“Good morning Tabitha.  Mrs. Coontz said they have a job opening at the Pizza Hut in Camdenton.  You should go apply today.”  Today was stressed in a tone that meant you did it or you suffered major consequences.

Tabby’s smile was as fake as they come, “I’ll check it out after I drive Ren to school since he missed the bus.”

“I was going to take my bike.”

“No,” They chorused glaring at me.

“It’s getting too late in the year and I don’t like you riding it anyway.”  I almost snorted, she didn’t like me riding it ‘cause it meant I had wheels faster than hers.

“It’s a lot cheaper on gas than the Dodge.” I countered.

The Dodge was a 1978 Ram Charger more suited to off-roading or mudding than driving down the road.  At least it was it better shape than the Chevy Gunner drove.  He’d nearly totaled it last year running from the cops.   Alicia drove a new Beamer that none of us were allowed to even look at much less touch.  If she really cared why didn’t she use some of that drug money to make our lives a little easier?  I knew the answer even as I thought the question.  She don’t care ‘bout us, not any more than me and Tabby are tax deductions.

“Tabitha has to go into town anyway.  No more discussion Corentin.”

I flinched at the tone.  Cringing as she walked behind me I was not spared the smack to the back of my head.  She was the only person who ever used my full name and I hated it.

“Tabitha, I want him home immediately after football practice.  You are not to go anywhere else.”

“Okay.”  Tabitha’s false meekness wouldn’t have worked on anyone else, but Alicia never seemed to notice.

One last check in the mirror by the door and she was gone.  Rubbing the back of my head I set about making breakfast for the rest of us.  Scrambled eggs and toast just isn’t filling especially when we had to leave half of it for Gunner.  Tabby came up behind me ruffling my hair.

“You know you shouldn’t argue with her.  Now she’ll think about it all day and be totally pissed by the time she gets home.”

I shifted away from her, cracking the eggs into the skillet.  “Doesn’t matter.  She’ll come home in a bad mood anyway, like she always does.”

“So you shouldn’t make it worse, shorty.”

“Hey, it’s too early for name calling.”

Tabby and I were cleaning up the mess when there were several thumps from the back of the trailer where the master bedroom was.

“We’d better hurry.”  Her voice was low and shook a bit.  “He had to move another lab yesterday.”

Swearing under my breath I hurried to put the dishes away.  Tabby, white lipped and silent wiped the counters clean with swift economical movements.  Moving a meth lab was always risky especially with the local highway patrol already watching Gunner like a hawk on a snake.

 

Well, it’s a start anyway.

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