I’ve decided to compile a lot of my flash fiction and short stories into a free eBook. I’m re-editing (if that’s a word) each story, then uploading the book to all eBook sites for free. Be sure to look for it later this month.
I played football all the way through college, so I had fun with this football related story.
“What the hell do you mean, ‘Do I do it?’ Of course I do,” Curtis said. He shot Henry a strange look. “Hell, we all do. You can’t take a beating week after week and not have something that gets you ready to play when the time comes. I know you’re a fan of the game, so don’t let it surprise you. I came to you because I hear you’re the best—that’s all.”
Henry nodded. “Okay, we can get you fixed up. Your test is today, right? If it’s tomorrow, new urine now won’t help.”
“Two hours away. This isn’t my first rodeo.”
Satisfied, Henry took the needle and jabbed it into the place where he thought the bladder was. He didn’t have any formal medical experience, however, he was Cedar Ridge’s expert in urine transfer.
Curtis winced. For a split second, Henry thought he had messed up and stuck him in the wrong place. But when the almost clear urine came out of the tube, he relaxed. “That’s the tainted stuff. We’ll flush it all out of your system, then replace it with clean stuff that won’t test positive.”
Yours? Curtis was going to finish with, but broke off his sentence instead. He didn’t want to know.
Henry raised his eyebrow, in an effort to get the question out of his ‘patient’, but Curtis wasn’t having it—he remained silent. This made Henry uncomfortable, so he made an attempt at small talk. “So what are you taking anyway?”
Curtis sighed. “I don’t know, to be completely honest with you. Obviously some P.E.D. that my trainer gives me for my shoulder, but I don’t know the specifics—something hydrate, I think.”
“You don’t know? Have you thought about any side effects?”
“I make five million a year for running at eleven guys that wanna take my head off. Do you really think I give a shit about side effects?”
Henry smiled. “You don’t exactly run at them. You run around the for the most part. That’s why you get paid five million to do it.”
With that, Curtis snorted laughter. “I guess, man.”
“It’s true. You’re actually my favorite player, and the Mammoths are my favorite team. That game you rushed for 250 and four touchdowns was insane! Have you on my fantasy team too. You’re a beast.”
“That’s not what Trey Schwartz thinks. Trey wants to take my job—with my shoulder acting up on me, he just might. Just need a bridge till the off-season. You’re the bridge. I hope you’re as good as they say.”
“That guy is a fucking scrub. He’s neve—”
“He’s a professional football player, man. You know how hard it is to be the last player on the fifty-four man roster? You know how good you gotta be to just ride the bench the whole season? The man’s got skills. If I don’t stay healthy, he’s gonna be the guy you try to get on your fantasy team next year, believe me.”
“I’m just saying, he’s not you—nobody’s Curtis Gardner.”
Curtis shook his head. “Well, Curtis Gardner is sitting in some slap-dick wannabe clinic, getting his urine replaced so he won’t lose his job. Curtis Gardner is thirty years old—old man for a running back. Just trying to hold on another year or so.”
Henry took the needle out of his torso.
“We done here?” Curtis asked.
“How much do I owe you?”
“No charge for my favorite player. Maybe seats at will call if you can manage.”
“Done,” Curtis said. Henry couldn’t tell if it was a serious voice or not, but he chose not to ask.
Curtis stood in the middle of the bathroom in nothing but his towel.
“Drop ‘em,” the doctor said. His team doctor forced the players to stand it front of him, stark naked, in order to ensure an honest test. Although he claimed it was league rules, Curtis doubted it for some reason.
Curtis obliged, anyway, and relieved himself into the small cup.
Henry instructed him to hold his urine until the test. His bladder remained swollen for a full two hours until he was finally able to release the pressure during the test. Usually he had trouble peeing if someone was standing next to him in a stall, but now, with a man squatted in front of him like an umpire in baseball, he had no issue with stage fright.
After the test, the team doctor set him outside in the lobby. Curtis grabbed an issue of Sport Illustrated with his own picture on the cover and thumbed through its contents. He didn’t read the magazine, but merely flipped through all its pages so that he would be able to see all of the pictures the colorful magazine had to offer. Before he even got all of the way through the magazine, the doctor called him back into the office.
Shit! He usually just walks in here and says clean, then sends me on my way, Curtis thought. He looked around the room with dubious eyes, then followed the doctor.
“Did I test positive for something, or what? I’ve been taking this new protein shake lately, so I hope it’s all good.”
The doctor waved off his explanation. “Nope, nothing like that,” he said, then smiled. Curtis didn’t like the smile on his face, but he grinned along with the man just the same. “Trey told me to look at your sample veeerry closely, so I did.”
That fucking guy, Curtis thought. He didn’t let his frustration show externally, however.
“So if it’s not positive, then what’s the deal?”
“I just want to say congratulations,” the doctor said.
Curtis raised his eyebrows.
“You’re pregnant. Coach Winters asked me to tell you to clean out your locker, and turn in your playbook.”
Well, I’m either getting brave or just too pissed off at my computer to edit the flash fiction story that I completed yesterday.
Call me lazy but I can’t get anything done on my computer without it freezing every ten minutes (I’m writing this post from my phone right now).
OR I could be getting braver because I’m letting more than a handful of people see this for once. Why not open it up to the world if I plan on publishing it next month anyway?
I’m going to go with option number two because it makes me sound better.
Without further ado, here’s an excerpt from my first novel, Deadly Colors! If you find it interesting, shoot me an email or contact me through my (duh) contact page, and I’ll email you a free review copy. Visit my ‘Books’ page to get a full[er] description of the book.
Deadly Colors Excerpt
Garrett’s desire to change the past led him astray. When he walked through Rashaud’s office door, butterflies rummaged through his stomach.
Through the doorway, he surveyed the man that would be his new leader; soon, his new father figure.
Rashaud’s six foot three, muscular figure was an intimidation factor in and of itself; but it was his leadership of the Krown Bloods of Cedar Ridge that intimidated those around him the most.
That being said, Rashaud’s smile seemed welcoming enough.
But those eyes, Garrett thought. He could see Rashaud didn’t smile with his eyes. The cold, dark caves gazed holes into Garrett’s soul. Those are a killer’s eyes.
“Thanks for coming through, Garrett. Go ahead and take a seat,” Rashaud said, gesturing to the flat-black leather chair facing his desk. Even Garrett could tell the desk was something special. The exquisite patterns across its shiny dark brown surface suggested luxury and value. Garrett took note of the desk’s color—the wood was stained the exact shade of Rashaud’s piercing eyes.
“So how’s the eye?” Rashaud asked, pointing at the dark edges that circled Garrett’s left eye.
Speaking of eyes, he thought, and then shrugged the idea away. “It’s fine—a little sore—but okay.”
Rashaud nodded. “Yeah I know it’s hard to go through that. But it’s part of the process, you know? Everyone has to get jumped in—even me. You wanna wear that color, you gotta do what it takes to earn it, ya got me?”
The color Rashaud referred to was red. Below Garrett’s bloody forehead, black eye and busted lip, a red bandana hung from the front of his neck like a cowboy would wear in an old western.
“Yes sir, I got ya. Ya know I’d—” Garrett broke off. He tried to think of the best way to complete his thought without breaking down in his new boss’s office. “I’d do anything to follow in my brother’s footsteps, man. He was my hero.”
“I understand that, but he’s gone. If you need someone to look up to now, let it be me.”
“Yeah, for sure,” Garrett said
Nobody ever accused Rashaud of being modest. Garrett didn’t know too much about the dangerous man sitting in front of him, but his arrogance, he knew all too well.
Garrett was anxious to get his real question answered, but couldn’t think of a good way to ask. He looked all around and saw art, expensive furniture, flat screen T.V.’s and numerous other items littering the room that screamed wealth. He couldn’t help himself, he had to know.
“So what made you call me in here? I mean…I know you don’t like most of the guys hanging around your business. Kevin told me that—” he trailed off once again thinking of his brother. The wounds embedded themselves too deep in his psyche for him to think about it without feeling the hurt that inevitably followed.
For the first time Garrett saw Rashaud’s eyes soften. He saw the understanding and sympathy in them.
“That’s exactly why I called you in here. Kevin was one of my best men. I’m sure you already know what he brought to the Bloods—he was your hero after all. Let me fill you in on even more detail if ya don’t mind.”
Garrett nodded in approval.
“Kev was one of my top guys. He ran kilos and did a few bank jobs. I’m not sure how much of the story you know, but he died doing a bank job. Some guy he had run ins with in the past set the whole thing up.
“I just want you to know, when the Crips killed your brother, I shed a few tears. He meant as much to me as he did you—I believe that,” Rashaud gestured all around the room, “without your brother I’m not sure all this would be possible.”
No fucking way. My brother was everything to me, Garrett thought, but of course he didn’t say; couldn’t say.
“When I saw you at his funeral, I saw him in you. The spirit of Kevin Moore is in you, Garrett. I believe that. I need you to fill his shoes. When I need a man to push grams on the street, I’m calling you. When I need someone to make a deal with the cartels for kilos, I’m calling you. When we need to erase a Crip—” Rashaud paused to emphasize the magnitude of what that meant, “—I’m calling you. You got it? You’re gonna be the new Kevin. Why? Because I need you to. Or in terms one might understand better, because you need you to.
“Your mom ain’t gonna be able to support you and your little brother by doing hair. You’re gonna have to grind for it, G. If you want your family to eat, it’s on you now. How does it feel to be the man of the house?”
Garrett tried to think of a strong, masculine answer, but came up with nothing. He decided on the truth instead.
“It’s hard, sir. I don’t know how I’m gonna be able to keep it going, ya know?”
“See this place? This was nothing before me. Now this is the top high-end furniture store in Cedar Ridge because of me. You know how that feels?” He paused to take a sip of the whiskey in front of him.
Garrett assumed the question was rhetorical, so he kept silent.
“You’ll learn how it feels to build something in time. Truth be told, I hate this place. Its main use is to pump drug money into the system.”
Garrett squinted, showing the slightest look of misunderstanding. Rashaud decided to go into more detail after sensing Garrett’s confusion.
“How it works is—my runners pay me. I buy some furniture and sell it for a higher price. To the IRS it looks like a legit furniture store, you see? That’s all it’s there for. I don’t like selling couches to rich snobs, but I’m proud of this, Garrett. I built it. If you build a better life for your family, you’ll know the feeling I have. You don’t have to like what you do. You just have to be damn good at it. If you put everything into it, you’ll see all the benefits in the end.”
“I understand, sir. I wanna see my little brother in college, and my mom in the suburbs.”
“And what about you?”
“I don’t know,” Garrett said. He told the truth again. He cared about what happened to his family, but didn’t have a care in the world about what happened to himself. His brother’s murder numbed him. It took his innocence in a way.
“Well, you need to figure it out. That’s a choice you’re gonna have to make.”
“It’s only about three more miles up University, then a left on Pine. It’s the last house on the street. If you drive off the road, you’ve went too far,” the clerk said.
Erik looked down at his phone’s Google Maps image. “Are you sure, man? It says it’s right around here.”
The clerk shook his head. “There’s not but three hundred people in this town. I know where most of ‘em are. The Bryant’s house is on Pine. If you don’t find it come back and hit me in the face.” The clerk grinned at this.
Erik countered the clerk’s sick sense of humor with a grimace. “Whatever you say. I still want this coke, though.”
Erik paid the clerk and walked back to his car. His nine-hundred and fifteen mile journey was coming to a close, yet there was still no relief. His anxiety rose the closer the blue triangle indicator got to New Cannon, Texas. A first time meeting with a father who abandoned you would do just that, he figured.
He put the car in drive and started on the last four miles of his journey.
When Erik reached the sign that said Pine, he stopped in the middle of the road. Normally he’d worry about getting flipped off by a mob of traffic for doing this, but in New Cannon, he figured he’d have a better chance of coming across an angry coyote.
Staring at the small green sign that said Pine Rd., Erik couldn’t help but think about the past. His mind went to the memory of his fifth birthday. His mom did her best to set the timer on the camera in order to get a shot with him as he blew out the candles. Time and time again she couldn’t get back to the cake in time to catch the magical moment. When the candles finally burned all of the way down, she gave up and cried. It took Erik twenty years to figure out that she didn’t shed tears of frustration on that muggy August evening. She cried because there was nobody else there to hold the camera. She cried because raising a boy by herself was so damn hard.
For some reason, that image stuck with Erik for years. After thirty seconds or so of staring at the sign that said Pine Rd., he took a left to face his past.
Sitting in the passenger’s seat was a letter that was near and dear to Erik’s heart; a letter he wrote his father in college. It was a heart felt message accompanied with his Senior college football picture. Erik remembered the joy of sending it USPS priority, knowing he’d finally open the first lines of communication with the man who forgot he existed. When the letter came back several weeks later, he was devastated to the point that he couldn’t bear to open it. He remembered staring at the yellow ‘return to sender’ label that rested just below the lime green delivery confirmation. He splurged on the confirmation because he just wanted to know that his father did, in fact, receive it. To Erik, that green label seemed to be the saddest memory of his absent father.
Well I’m hand delivering it today, he thought.
Sure enough, the mailbox claimed the house belonged to the Bryant’s.
The Bryant’s, he mused. Finally, a place that has my last name on it. I’m home.
Erik walked up the white steps, past a rocking chair with a stuffed animal sitting on it. He smiled, realizing the stuffed animal likely belonged to one of his nieces or nephews. According to the ancestry website, he had four brothers and sisters that he had never met. Only for a second did he stop to wonder why he was the only one that his father abandoned.
He knocked on the door. Within fifteen seconds, he came face to face with the father he’d never seen.
“Can I help you, son?” Frank Bryant asked.
Did he just call me son? As in his son? He wondered.
When he saw the puzzled look on his father’s face, he thought not.
“I, uh—” Erik broke off. After twenty-nine years and a drive across the country, he had no idea what to say.
He composed himself. “I found this package. I hear it belongs to you.” He handed Frank the package face down. For whatever reason, Erik didn’t want to see his reaction when reading who it was from.
Frank looked down at the package with a dubious grimace on his face. “Where’d you get this?”
“I found it. It looks old. I’m gonna take off, I have my wife waiting on me at home.” Erik didn’t know why he was afraid of sticking around for a discussion with his father, but he was. When Erik came face to face with Frank, his father seemed like less of a mythical figure and more like an irresponsible asshole. For the first time in his life, he cringed at the idea of getting to know the man.
“Alright—what’s your name, son.”
“The name is Erik Bradley,” he said, and stuck out his hand to shake with his father.
You don’t deserve to have my last name, pops.
“Well, nice to meet you sir—I better get going.”
Erik turned toward his car. More importantly, he turned away from his past for the first time in his life.