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Authors: Patrick de Moss

Like Clockwork

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Like Clockwork
Kings of Nowhere [0]
Patrick de Moss
(2012)

From the forthcoming "Kings of Nowhere" collection - After a "girls night out" gone wrong, Evie stumbles upon the strangest of things - a man made of bronze rusting in a clearing in the woods. What wakes in that clearing, and in herself, are more than she may be able to believe, much less handle. 

A short story, approx. 14,500 words.

 

 

 

Like
Clockwork

by Patrick de
Moss

Copyright 2012 by Patrick de Moss

 

No portion of
this work may be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the
author. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents
either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any
resemblance to actual events, or locales or persons, living or dead, is
entirely coincidental.

Acknowledgements

 

Very special
thanks to
Lee Burton, who was the editor of this story
, and fantastic to work with.

Like
Clockwork

By
Patrick de Moss

 

“Where u at b1tch?” Smiley face.

That was how Evie found Adam: sitting at a
bus stop, on the curb, in the rain.

It was two in the morning. Evie saw the
message, and was about to finally give in and tell Jenny where
this b1tch
was truly @. That she was @ the bus stop, soaking wet, her makeup a mess, her
hair a mess, and that she’d had enough, and she was going Home. No, she di-ent
want a drive. Or a cab. She was tired, weary, weaving a little, but that last
was okay. Her hair was clinging to her face, and on top of everything, her
stupid phone was getting wet every time she had to pull it out of her purse
when it chimed. This had been going on for a good twenty minutes now, and she
was tired of lying, as tired as she was of Jenny’s lunatic shorthand. Honestly,
it would have taken her just as much time to type “bitch” as b1tch. Besides,
she was drunk, and hated lying (and filling in vowels) when she was drunk since
she was so terribly, awfully, bad at it, even under the best of circumstances.
Which this wasn’t.

She liked Jenny, really. She liked Jenny
and Ames and even Tori from collections (even though Tori could be a real,
authentic b1tch). She wouldn’t have gone out with them if she hated them,
obviously. But she
did
hate being called a b1tch. Hated seeing that
stupid one in the middle, and the obligatory smiley face at the end. She
pretended she didn’t mind, and even, occasionally, full of self-loathing,
replied in kind. But she just … she just hated all of it in the end: the high
fives, the ass-checking with high fives, the endless tilt o whirl of hugs and
hugs and shots and hugs and b1tches b1tches b1tches that was a ‘girls-night-out.’
It sort of, kind of, like, you know, really wore her out. Maybe it was where she
was a little older than them and hadn’t wanted to be a snobby b____, so she’d
just left. And when Jenny had sent her a text to find her in the bar (wr u @?)
she’d said she was in the bathroom, then on the dance floor, and then out on
the patio, when really she’d been walking (stumbling, really, let’s be honest
here) to catch the bus. It had been so crammed in the bar that all of those
lies had been plausible. But by now it was two, the bar was emptying out. The
jig, so to speak, was up.
It’s a fair cop
, she thought to herself, and
smirked in the rain.

“OMW Home. Threw up.” Sad face. She hadn’t
though; she seemed particularly obsessed with lies tonight for some reason. But
the reply made her feel quite vindicated.

Sad face. “Boston wz l00king for u” winky
face. She made an actual face herself, and snorted, but it turned into a sneeze
instead. Sad face back. Boston. God. Thank god she was out of there.
Meathead.

She’d thought he was nice to begin with.
Boring, but nice. Jenny had elbowed her, and nodded to his ass with an ’okay’
sign, and he’d looked back while she sat there, mortified, and came to talk to
them at their table. He had that Red Sox hat on backwards, but he wore it well,
and brought his own little cadre of smooth criminals on their own ‘Guys-night-out’
with him. He was in construction, concrete and cobble, really, and
blah-blah-blah. “Creeper” was the guy that kept bumping into their table while
he looked down Ames’ top, and another guy in a Misfits t-shirt told a few
jokes. Well, maybe not jokes, though Tori had laughed way too loudly. They were
more like …
bon mots
, really. Though not even that. They were
mal
mots
, but he told them with a wink that Tori seemed to like.

Her phone buzzed again.

Sad face. “C u l8er!” She smirked at it.
Mal
mots
. That wasn’t too bad. Just another girls-night-out.

But not really. Not for her. She’d actually
done her hair in really nice curls tonight.
Christ
, she thought, wiping
one thick, stuck auburn lock from over her eye,
what a waste of time
that
had been.
She’d slipped into one of her favorite dresses, a blue oriental
print number that was more a wrap, and hardly even a dress at all. She’d even
used a sample spray she’d hoarded out of an old Elle, and “Stepped Out,”
feeling dangerous, vivacious, brilliant.

But really, that only lasted so long. The
breaking point for her was the “she’ll do” face from Fuck-You-Boston.
Sad
face my ass. If I could find a stupid
I-don’t-give-two-shits-because-I-loathe-you-you-mouthbreathing-meathead, Mr.
Red Sox asshole, I’d use it. Probably one out there somewhere too.

“Boston Face,” she said out loud, and put a
hand over her mouth, giggling even though no one was around.
Drunk. Shit.

That was when that little voice in her head
decided to chime in, the one that always asked whether she’d left the stove on,
or if she had her keys with her. That little snide voice that said it knew
about looking after her better than she did.

“Bus fare?” it whispered, sounding not a
little like her mother, but a little more cruel.

“Fuck,” she said to the little voice, and
out loud. She grabbed her purse with its stupid buzzing chiming phone and dug
through it, and as always it offered up everything she could possibly need
except the one thing she wanted while she cursed at it in her head. But even as
her hand wrapped around the little change purse inside, she had a sinking
feeling and a half memory of her blushing to the bartender and dropping a few
dollars into his jar, proud of her own self-control. Or, well, her poverty as
means of self-control.
Aren’t I a smart cookie,
she’d been thinking at
the time.
Don’t I know how to look after myself. I can cut myself off …
cause … well … I can’t afford another drink.

“Fuck,” she said again, quietly. She
rattled the coin purse in her hand while that little voice told her how much of
a smart cookie it thought she
actually
was. A quarter short. Well …
shit.

I just want to go home
, she said to that voice and the rain and the lack of buses and the
cold. She sneezed.
I just want to go home. Why, oh why do you punish a poor
girl so?
And sneezed again.

She’d caught that look out of the corner of
her eye. That “She’ll do” look. It’s one of those faces a girl isn’t supposed
to catch when it’s shared between a pack of testicles. The pack in question had
retreated to their own table for a moment, leaving the Raging B1tches of ACOA
Electronics and Services to their high fives and shots, and she could see the
“guys” talking among themselves, looking over at the “gals,” separating them
like a pack usually does. Calling dibs. Boston had been looking her up and down
(and that had pissed her off even more, that he was either too drunk or too …
fucking ...
man
to not see that she could see him looking at her), his
eyes running up and down her oriental wrap, her perfectly set curls, her
breasts (of course), and the rest of her, putting her on the scale in his head.
You reject me cause you think I’m
fat
,
I will fucking kill
you,
she’d caught herself thinking, and refused to shift her legs on the
stool, even though one had fallen asleep. She continued to pretend that she
wasn’t aware of being measured by his scale, or felt up with hypothetical hands
in his own imagination. Already, her own hypothetical Boston in her bed doing
wicked things clumsily was fading rather fucking quickly, being replaced with
old faithful, reliable Mr. Rabbit, and some reading material.
Oh, Peter
Rabbit,
she’d thought while Boston tried to stay on his feet while
fantasizing on her from his table,
You go through too many batteries these
days.
And then she saw Boston shrug. That shrug and look on his face that
said, “Guess she’ll do for tonight”
That’s it.
She’d stumbled to her
feet.
That’s fucking it. Cheque, please.
She’d wobbled away from the
table, half from her whole leg being asleep, half from wine-weave.

“Be back.” And Jenny had been going to go
with her, for a little calling dibs themselves and a philosophical discussion
of asses in the bathroom, but Evie had waved her off, and had lost her in the
crowd of people in the bar. So, yeah, part of it was the shrug, but part of it
was also that there had been this perverse (and now that she thought of it, really
,
really
perverse) part of her that was happy with even that faint (very
fucking faint) praise. Sucker. Peter Rabbit and his magic finger would take care
of that pathetic desperation but quick.

 

“Dude. Dude!” Evie’s head snapped up from
her self-pity and saw three guys stumbling down the hill to the bus stop. They
were pretty far away, but loud. “Dude, you’re all over the fucking
road
,
dude.” A harsh bray of laughter. Speak of the devil. Son-of-a-bitch. For a
second, she gripped the curb, frozen, but they were laughing and trying to keep
each other from tripping over the curb and hadn’t sniffed her out yet, alone,
and as drunk as they were. That was when that same old, same old, hot curdle of
fear rose in her stomach: that fear of being a girl-out-alone. Much as she
hated it, it did come in handy, as it made her move now. She got up off the
curb and almost sighed when she remembered there was a thicket of trees just
behind the bus stop. It took her only a few seconds to slip into them, watching
the oncoming testosterone out of the corner of her eye to make sure it didn’t
catch a whiff of estrogen.

I can wait for the next one,
she thought to herself, working further into the trees.
Not that
you’re
not
a bunch of gentlemen, I’m sure. It’s really no biggie. Half
an hour? No problem. An hour? It’s fine. I’ll wait.
She sneezed, but they
were talking about UFC or some other brain-bashing senselessness as they got
closer. The rain had stopped, but she was squidging through mud between the
chestnut trees and her poor ballet slippers were
soaked.
Shit,
she thought, turning around and backing further in, pretty sure they couldn’t
see her now.
Shit shit shit shi-

She caught her breath just before she let
out a scream. There was an arm outstretched beside her. Evie bit her lip, eyes
wide with panic and shivering. Someone was
behind
her in the woods. Her
breath came out in short bursts as steam, quick jets in the cold night air.
There was an arm to her right as well, she could see it from the corner of her
eye, both frozen in the moment, maybe of wrapping around her. If those arms
moved, she would scream.

Fuck you, mouthbreathers. Come save a
goddamn damsel in distress.
But the arms didn’t
move a hair.

“Please don’t kill me,” she whispered.
“Please.” But the arms didn’t respond. The blind panic receded enough for her
to catch a glint on the outstretched fingertips. A glitter of metal, slightly
rusted, covered in kudzu. She could see now in the half-light from the road
that the fingers were bronze and copper bands jointed with some ebony black
material. One upraised hand had a beer can stuck into it. She turned then, and
looked up.

BOOK: Like Clockwork
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