Ray, Jimmy and Jordan laid low for the longest two days of their lives following Dale’s recovery. They knew that if anything happened it would happen quickly. The kid had no reason to protect them if he remembered, and the police wouldn’t waste any time. Hell, they’d be lucky if they had even one day before they heard a knock on their doors. But the knock never came, and it soon became apparent that the kid didn’t remember anything. They were safe.
It was the afternoon of that second day that Ray and Jimmy met up in Ray’s garage, the place they and Jordan often hung out after school to smoke and drink and chill out. It was one of those garages that was used for everything except a car. Ray’s dad parked the car outside. The garage was filled with everything from lawnmowers, power tools and fishing rods to ancient television sets, broken furniture and books no one ever read. There was a miniature fridge filled with liquor in one corner; the walls were covered with pictures of naked women and expensive cars.
Jimmy knocked on the door and they nodded at each other, went into the dimly lit room and shut the door, went through the usual motions without saying a word. Ray dropped a couple of glasses on a little dusty table and filled each one from a fresh bottle of Jack. Jimmy sat down, leaned back and lit a cigarette, sliding the pack across the table. Anyone watching this would know they’d gone through the routine a hundred times or more. In fact, it had been a regular ritual since they were fourteen.
‘So,’ Ray said, rubbing his right eye. ‘He’s not talking.’
Jimmy shook his head and took a good sip of bourbon. Usually he started relaxing as soon as he got inside the garage, but he’d been feeling wired for days, now. He’d even stopped taking the ’roids, so intense were his rages, but they hadn’t slowed down at all. He was working out twice a day now and his biceps were like slabs of stone.
‘Seen Jordan?’ Jimmy asked.
‘Nope. He keeps making excuses. What about you?’
Ray shook his head, ‘nup. Not even since the fight. He’s in shutdown mode, man. Hasn’t left his house, probably. He’s broken.’
‘Jordan? He’s lost it,’ Jimmy said, breathing his first drag, still not relaxing. ‘Called him yesterday, he said he was planning something and leave him alone. That’s what he said.’
‘He’s planning something?’
‘That’s what he said.’
‘Shit, Jimmy. It’s getting crazy. I don’t want to go to jail, man.’
‘Yeah. We should do something.’
Ray eyed him for a second, as if he hadn’t heard right. ‘What, you mean to Jordan? You want to stop Jordan?’
‘Nah, man. Fuckin kids. Mess them up, then Jordan doesn’t have to do anything. Then we got control, we can do it just enough so he lets it go, and we don’t take too much risk. See what I mean?’
‘You think he’d just let it go?’
Jimmy shrugged. ‘Don’t know. Maybe. Anyway, worth a shot. If he wants us in on anything after that, we can just tell him to get lost, like we’ve already done it. Then if he does anything after that, it’s on him, yeah?’
‘Yeah, that’s good.’ Ray laughed. ‘I like that.’
‘Besides, don’t you wanna fuck Brian up, huh?’
‘Hell yeah.’ Ray’s eyes lit up, and Jimmy knew he felt just the same – so eager to get up and cause damage, get good and violent and see some blood, baby.
‘Let’s do it today,’ Jimmy said.
‘You read my mind. What do you want to do, though?’
‘Just do what Brian did to us, mess him up a little worse, maybe. Break a few more fingers or whatever. Doesn’t matter if we get caught for that, right? Worth it.’
‘Better than Jordan, yeah. He told me he wanted to kill one of them, once. Serious, he wanted to know if I’d help cover for him.’
Ray shook his head, staring into the dimness.
‘You don’t think Brian can pull anything again? Kid was fast.’
Jimmy laughed. His whole body felt tight with restrained energy. He was alive with a power he’d never felt before in his life, and he didn’t know or care where it came from. He was loving it. ‘No way,’ he said. ‘Don’t you feel it, too? The same thing?’
Ray looked at him and he saw it was true. His friend’s eyes were wide and full of fire, like his. He used to be a weedy, twitchy kid, now he had the look of a pitbull. When he laughed, it was a wild, manic laugh. ‘Yeah, man, yeah! I feel jacked!’
‘Good. It’s two thirty now. Maybe we’ll go hang out at the school and see if we can catch ‘em leaving.’
‘Done. Let’s do this!’
They clinked their glasses and downed the remainder of the bourbon. It burned their throats, but that burn was nothing compared to the creeping, scorching fire that lived inside each of them. They sucked down their cigarettes and left Ray’s, buzzed and full of adrenaline, laughing and pushing each other, punching each other on the arms hard enough to raise bruises, amped up and ready to cause some violence.