Stroked long, p.1
STROKED LONG, p.1Meghan Quinn
Table of Contents
Published by Hot-Lanta Publishing
Cover design by Indie Solutions by Murphy Rae
Cover model: Jase Dean
Photo credit: Snooty Fox images with Love N. Books
Formatting: CP Smith
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This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only.
All characters in this book are fiction and figments of the author’s imagination.
Copyright © 2016 Meghan Quinn
All rights reserved.
Bodi at age twelve . . .
“Turn away! Turn away!” my mom screeches as Tom Cruise starts humping a woman on the TV. “Sweet Saturn. Thomas, turn the TV off!”
“I don’t know where the remote is,” my dad says, chuckling to himself while he looks around his recliner, clearly hiding it.
Eva and I giggle from our perched seat on the ground in front of the coffee table. It’s movie night and we are watching Jerry McGuire, a movie my mother apparently didn’t know had a sex scene in it. Eva is four years older than me and despite my younger age of twelve, I know what a sex scene is, thanks to the perverts on my swim team. I’ve seen my fair share of boobs in the boy’s locker room, but my mom doesn’t know that.
“Oh, for heaven’s sake.” My mom stalks over to the TV cabinet, an old converted jelly cupboard, and swings the door shut, closing off the view of our forty-five-inch tube TV. In forgetting to actually turn the TV off, the moans of the woman echo through the new surround system my dad installed last weekend.
I roll over into my pillow and laugh into the plush softness while my mom freaks out some more and shoves her body in a small crack of the cabinet to turn the TV off. Once the sounds evaporate from our family living space, my mom sighs.
With her hands on her hips, she surveys the room and says, “Midnight aerobics for those two. Interesting way to exercise, wouldn’t you say, Thomas?”
My mom is a firm believer in deniability. She’s mastered her skill.
“Mom, we’re not five; we know what sex is.” Eva huffs and flops down on her pillow next to me.
“They did teach us about ‘midnight aerobics’ at school, but I’ve never seen it standing up before, have you, Eva?” I ask, laughter in my voice.
“No, that was interesting. I didn’t think that was possible.”
“Any position really is possible with an imagination,” my dad cuts in just as my mom glares at him, a scolding about to rip through her.
“Thomas!” We all laugh. “Do not tell your children about creative sex positions.”
My dad holds up his hands in defense. “I thought we were talking about midnight aerobics.”
Rolling her eyes, she grabs the empty bowl of popcorn off the coffee table and walks to the kitchen. With the house’s open concept, she’s able to continue to talk to us from the kitchen that overlooks the family room.
According to my dad, my mom has kept a modest house for us to grow up in. Family pictures grace many walls, neutral tones in the furniture, and the honorary apple-print wallpaper in the kitchen. She doesn’t experiment much with color, but what she lacks in hues throughout the house she fills with unconditional love. It’s the perfect house for a family of four. Grandma once told me that we are the all-American family with our two-story home, a boy and a girl, a German Shepherd named Fritz, and a loving family dynamic that keeps us close together during the good times and the bad. I’m not completely sure what family dynamic means, but she assures me it is a good thing.
Although Eva is my older sister, she is one of my best friends. She still sits with me at the dinner table as we complete our homework before Mom pulls out some kind of homemade masterpiece from the oven. Since she got her license, she’s driven me to and from my swim practices, and cheered me on at meets. Our family operates like clockwork. We’re not rich, but we’re not poor. We go on vacation once a year, take family Christmas sweater pictures, and sit around in a circle during the Fourth of July, playing cards until fireworks start to erupt in the sky.
My dad works for an investment firm, and my mom, well, she volunteers at the local Boys and Girls Club and takes care of Eva and me. We’ve had it pretty easy our whole life, little blips here and there, but Mom and Dad give us the best life they can afford. I’m grateful.
“Now, everyone pick up your stuff and go brush your teeth and don’t forget to floss those kernels out. I want another year of a no-cavity report from the dentist.”
“But the movie isn’t over,” Eva points out.
“Yes, well, your father’s movie choice for tonight has been put on hold until I’m able to view the rest of it for myself. We don’t want any more wee-wees and hooeys touching on screen again, now do we?”
“I’m okay with it,” I say, raising my hand for a vote. Renee Zellweger is hot.
“Me too,” Eva chimes in.
“Seems fine to me,” my dad says, right before my mom raises a scary eyebrow at him. My dad clears his throat. “I mean, seems fine to me that movie night is over. Go ahead, kids. Listen to your mother.”
Huffing and grabbing her pillow, Eva says in an annoyed teenager voice, “We’re not kids, Dad.”
“Just because you have your driver’s license doesn’t mean you’re not my little girl still. Now come shake my foot and kiss me goodnight.”
You heard that correctly. My dad shows affection in three ways: kisses, hugs, and shaking his foot. It’s weird, it’s strange, but it’s our family.
Gladly, Eva shakes my dad’s foot, giving it a good hard jolt, before leaning over and kissing him on the cheek. Standing in line, waiting to hold his callused toes in my hand, I move in when Eva steps aside. My dad smiles up at me as I grip his foot and then pulls me in for a hug.
“Love you, son,” he says into my ear before pushing me away. “Now brush those chompers.”
Eva and I race up the spiral staircase of our house, fighting each other the entire way, while Mom and Dad clean the downstairs. We share a bathroom, which Eva HATES, but I don’t mind as she always cleans it. Makes my life easier. The good thing about our bathroom is it’s a Jack and Jill bathroom, both of our rooms connect and we have our own sinks. It
With a mouth full of foaming toothpaste, Eva turns to me, her hip leaning against the bathroom sink and says, “You didn’t take out the trash.”
“Crap,” I mutter, toothpaste foam coming out of my mouth. “Why do I always forget?”
“Because you’re a teenage boy with zero regard for responsibilities.” She spits out and rinses her brush while I do the same.
The creak of the stairs indicates my parents coming up to bed as well, so I rush out to catch them in the hallway.
“What are you doing?” my mom asks. “Your bed is in the other direction.”
Sheepishly, I toe the carpet and say, “I forgot to take out the trash.”
“All right,” my mom steps aside, “take it out, lock up, and then go to bed.”
“Okay.” I smile quickly and run down the stairs, taking them two at a time. I rush out to the back door that leads to the side gate, give Fritz a pat on the head, and open the wooden gate to the front. Running back to the giant garbage cans the HOA provides, I wheel them out to the curb, listening to the big plastic wheels crunch against the cement. Following the garbage can, I pull out the recycling as well and head back to the house. Fritz is waiting next to his doghouse, and before I go back inside I grab his head, scratch the sides of his face, and let him give me a giant lick.
“Have a good night, boy.” With one last pat, I head back in the house, shut the door, and sprint up the stairs.
“Night, everyone,” I shout as I hop into my top bunk, sinking into the plush comforter of my Oakland Athletics bedding. I love baseball, but I’m not very good at it; that’s why I swim. I’m a natural. But for a guy my age, there isn’t much swimming paraphernalia, so I cling to other sports to decorate my walls. Going to baseball games with my dad is one of my favorite things to do.
Even though I love baseball, I love swimming more. Above my bed there is a poster size picture of an Olympic pool from the Atlanta games. I stare at it every night before I go to bed, envisioning myself being on that athletic stage one day. With my determination, I know it will happen.
Drifting off into a dream-filled sleep, I’m unaware of the time when Fritz starts barking, a kind of bark I’ve never heard before. My body starts to sweat as I sit up and look down at the clock on my desk.
One in the morning.
What’s going on?
My heart races as Fritz barks louder and faster then noticeably quiets down to a whimper, increasing my heart rate even more. I listen for Fritz, for anything, but hear nothing but the sound of my own heavy breath until . . .
The sliding glass door opens. I recognize that high-pitched squeak. My mom hates it and has asked Dad to fix the door many times.
My stomach bottoms out as I wrack my brain, trying to remember if I locked the door or not. Did I lock it and put the bar down in the track?
I didn’t. Shit. I didn’t.
Bringing the blankets up to my chest, I whisper to myself, “Please be Dad. Please be Dad.”
The stairs creak as someone comes up to the second floor at an even pace, never really taking their time, as if they know the layout of the house. Must be my dad.
My throat grows tight, my body heats up, and sweat breaks out on my upper lip.
“Please be Dad. Please be Dad.”
The footsteps go toward my parents’ room and I hear their door open. Thank God. It was my dad. I wonder if he was checking on my trash cans? Maybe he forgot to throw something out.
Exhaling, I lean down on my mattress just as I hear, “What the fuck?” and then two unmistakable gunshots ring through the air. My mom screams, only to be followed by two more gunshots.
A cry escapes me as I hop off my bed, run through the Jack and Jill bathroom that connects with Eva’s room, and right into Eva who is crying. She guides me back into the bathroom, my mouth covered by her hand, and takes me into the shower where we both hunker down in the tub.
We hold each other and try to keep our cries silent as we wait for the footsteps to near us, but they never do. Instead, they retreat back downstairs, leaving us alone.
I don’t know how long we wait in the tub, how long we hold each other crying, waiting for our parents to tell us it was all a joke, for them to come see us, to let us know everything is going to be okay.
But they never show up.
Instead, Eva slowly stands up and says, “We need to call 911.”
“But we don’t know what’s going on,” I say nervously.
She looks at me sadly, her eyes conveying all her worries. “You stay here. I’ll g-go check things out.”
“No,” I stand up quickly. “I’m the boy, I’ll go.”
What I really want to say is: I’m the one. I didn’t lock up properly. This is my responsibility.
“Bodi, you’re too young.”
“I’m not!” I shout, pushing past her and storming to my parents’ bedroom, hoping to see them on the phone with the police.
Without even thinking, I walk through the double doors that lead to their bedroom and stop in my tracks.
I see my dad’s arm lifelessly hanging off the bed.
White sheets covered in red.
A roar of a cry rips through me as I fall to my knees.
Both of my parents are covered in blood.
“Bodi!” Eva shouts as she comes up next to me and cries herself, falling to her knees, her shoulder bumping with mine.
Her arms wrap around me and her head buries into my neck, tears falling onto my skin. She holds me tight, gripping me in her warmth, but I don’t feel it. I can’t feel it. I’m completely cold. Everything in my body freezes over.
This is all my fault.
I didn’t lock the back door. I didn’t lock . . . the back door.
This is all my fault.
I feel like I’m in a dark tunnel with only a small light at the very end.
This is all my fault.
I killed my parents. I killed my parents.
I’ll never hear her laugh.
I’ll never feel her hugs.
I’ll never shake my dad’s foot.
I’ll never hear his husky voice telling me he loves me.
This is all my fault.
They are dead . . . because of me.
“Charlie, I know you’re excited, and you’re two cookies over your sugar intake capacity right about now, but I suggest, before anyone gets hurt, that you put down the glue and glitter and step away.”
An evil grin stretches across the face of the shaggy blond-haired boy I’m squatting in front of, willing him to hand over the craft supplies.
Sticking my finger in the air, trying to reason with the five-year-old, I say, “I know what you’re thinking, Charlie. You like to make messes—gluey, gooey, glittery messes—and honestly, who doesn’t?” I shrug my shoulders, trying to pal around with him, gain his trust. “Personally, I like to swim in a vat of glitter and glue every night before I go to bed. It’s a sparkly way to exfoliate. You end up feeling like a magical unicorn.” He frowns from the mention of a unicorn, and I panic that I might be losing him. “Did I say unicorn?” I back pedal. “I meant a fire-spitting dragon. Grrawww—”
My pretend dragon roar is cut off by the squirt of the glue bottle followed by a puff of glitter dust, covering my face completely. Before I can retaliate, Charlie drops the bottles, giggles like a crazed hyena, and takes off toward the building blocks.
“Little rat bastard,” I mutter under my breath, removing my thick-rimmed brown glasses to glance at them. I see the definitive coating of teal glitter over my lenses. “Perfect.”
When I applied for the local art instructor job at the Boys and Girls Club, I didn’t know it was actually a glorified babysitting job while parents got their jog on in the cardio room. Having a master’s in art history wasn’t my best idea. Did I enjoy every sing
Can you imagine no jobs for art history majors coming out of school? Weird, right? Thankfully, my friend, Eva, had some connections at the local Boys and Girls Club and helped me find this job. Unfortunately, we were both unaware of the glitter bombs that would be thrown at me on a day-to-day basis. One would hope I’d get a clue and put the glitter away—seems like a smart and educated decision—but I’m not that intelligent.
It’s just so . . . sparkly. Everyone needs a little sparkle in their life.
For me, I apparently need it in my face every day.
“Got caked again?” Lola asks from the sink where she’s cleaning glue off paint brushes. She’s in high school and volunteering with the club. She’s a big help, but I also sense her annoyance with my need to spread the glitter around.
“A little,” I answer, brushing my bangs to the side but failing miserably due to the drying glue. It’s just one of those days.
“Should I say, I told you so?”
“I think you should keep that to yourself this go around,” I answer with a smile.
Glancing in the mirror, I look at the glitter perfectly circling my eyes, thanks to my glasses. Whoever thought of using spray glue with glitter is a genius! Whoever thought of giving said spray glue and glitter to a five-year-old is an utter moron.
“Ruby, may I speak with you?” Rita Harrington pops through the door, my boss and the center’s director. She pauses and shakes her head with laughter. “Still letting the kids play with glitter?”
“I don’t think I can ever make it stop.” I shrug. “I will forever let those kids sparkle.”
She motions to my body with her reading glasses. “And looks like they feel the same way about you. Do you have a minute?”
“Yes, of course.”
She guides me to the side, out of the way of all the energetic children. Energetic is the politically correct way to describe them. Demon children is not.
“I’m aware you’re friends with Eva Banks.”
STROKED LONG by Meghan Quinn / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes