I am, officially, a slacker. A severe lack of posts lately… The only thing I can plead is work. DockRat has taken over every available minute of my life. There is news there, of a sort, but I will save that for the next post.
For now, I wanted to put up another snippet from the book. This is a scene between Connor and Oz, before shit began to fall apart. I wrote it very early as a way to work on the tone and dynamic of their relationship. It is not in the final draft of the book, but I still like the peek at ‘everyday life’ for the boys.
When the music was running into itself, and surroundings became a blur, Connor knew it was time to quit. He always wanted to be the last one drinking, but a body could only take so much. And just then his body was protesting and fighting like mad, but what good was that against the urge for another drink? The urge always won.
A throw of his head and the shot went down his throat, just like so many others had that night.
A hand on his arm, then, and a voice gentle and quiet. “Easy, Spog.” The only voice that could break through his alcoholic fog. A face swam into view to go with that voice.
“Oz? What the fuck are you doin’ here? You’re s’posed to be workin’,” Connor slurred. His tongue didn’t seem to want to obey.
A laugh from Connor’s best—only—friend, then Oz sat his small, slight frame in the next seat, a hand still on his shoulder. Connor badly needed that hand to help him focus. The room was really spinning.
“Shit, son, I did work,” Oz laughed. “I’m done, and you’re still here gettin’ fucked up. Marie ‘screened me, said you were gonna need a hand gettin’ home.”
“Heia!” Connor replied with his own laugh, and no small bit of drunken bravado. “I don’t need no fuckin’ hand, I’ll make it home jus’ fine!” He proceeded to prove his point by springing to his feet and sprinting out the door.
Well, that was the plan anyway. Unfortunately his chair didn’t cooperate, and the table tried to trip him and send him onto his face. And then the floor…the fucking floor…that traitorous aho started twisting and wobbling like the universe was ending.
Connor dropped back into his seat with a loud thud and an even louder sigh. Then a laugh and he looked again at Oz. “Okay, so maybe I do need a bit of help. Why the fuck am I so drunk, anyway? I only had a couple.”
For years both men and women had found Oz irresistibly beautiful. For years clients had competed to buy his time, and his favors. But to Connor, however, that face meant not beauty or attraction, it meant trust and care. This was the closest thing he had to family in the whole damn universe. The rest of The Beat was a blur, but Oz’s face clear. As was his laugh.
“Spog, it’s four in the morning. You’ve been pouring booze down your throat for almost twelve hours. You might be twice my size, but not even you can keep up that pace.”
It took Oz’s help—a lot of Oz’s help—to get Connor to his feet. He pushed away, tried to stand on his own…and lasted about three seconds before gravity tried again to tackle him. A steadying hand from Oz, then, and Connor smiled his thanks.
“C’mon, you big bastard,” Oz laughed, “let’s go pour you into bed.”
It was a long, slow walk from The Beat to the cramped, rundown unit the boys called home. A walk not made any easier by Connor’s need to stop and vomit…frequently.
Of criticism there was none, just Oz’s hand on his back and a bottle of water to rinse his mouth. Mumbled apologies and thanks. And laughter…a great deal of laughter, from both.
With no one else in the universe could they trust and relax like this. Only with family…only with each other
Connor was still spinning and nauseous when they reached the steep, ladder-like stairs that led to their third-level unit. “Umm, Oz…we might have a problem…”
It took some doing—and more than a couple of falls—but finally Oz was able to half-carry and half-lead the much larger Connor to their door. The flimsy door was palmed open and the two stumbled inside, neither needing a light to navigate the cramped confines. Ten square feet of stained and decrepit plastic…a pair of bunks and a table…home.
Connor wasn’t sure which was harder: removing the shoes and clothes that suddenly seemed far too heavy and complicated, or climbing into his upper bunk. He lay back and tried to close his eyes, thought about sleep. That was a mistake. That room was spinning far too fast for that; he felt like he was about to fall out of that bunk. His eyes snapped back open and he tried to focus on the roof just inches from his face, all grey steel and rust.
A water was pressed into his hand and guided to his mouth, the touch still gentle and caring. “Drink, Spog.”
He took a long, long drink. A sigh, then, and he sank back onto his pillow. Blankets came up over his chest as if by magic, then his friend’s voice, “Go to sleep, Spog.”
“G’night, Oz. Thanks for helpin’ me.” There was more feeling, and more history, to that statement than either boy would ever admit.
A gentle touch and a chuckle. “I’m always here for you, dumb-shit.”