Author Note: This chapter contains heavy sexual references and crude language. If this bothers you, please exercise discretion when reading.
Bill arrived at the pizza parlor a respectable seventeen minutes after closing. No amount of swearing, kicking the door, or even peeing on the establishment convinced the owner to reopen, even for his business. When the employees threatened to call the police, he gave them the middle finger. Bill smacked the building with his fist and zipped his fly as he walked away from the front door.
“Damn!” he muttered. “I was really wanting pepperoni.”
Since Rachel was gone for another day or two with his father and Hope, Bill had been wanting to get in some time with the guys. He had hoped to organize a little poker night complete with extra-large, extra-hot, extra-greasy pizza, cold beers, and maybe even a Unión cigar. Those things were hard to come by since they were illegal in the Nation and most of the world. He would’ve thought the boys would’ve been sufficiently bribed.
DeAndre begged off to be with his girl, that Gala woman who was Rachel’s best friend. The two lovebirds had pretty much settled in for winter, even though the snow hadn’t fallen yet. Bill wondered when DeAndre would be hitching himself to the old ball-and-chain. He snickered to himself. Good one! Ball-and-chain! Get it? Gala… Ball-and-chain?
DeAndre was practically drooling over his much younger girlfriend and bragging about her every chance he got. Bill wished he could be happy for the man, but he was convinced happiness was an illusion, and like all fairy tales, the Wolfe-Ball train would crash somewhere outside the station. No one gets hitched and happy for life. His parents sure weren’t, especially since his mom went batshit crazy and Max spent more time with his hooker friend than at home. Yeah, yeah. Good old Maxie. Thinks he’s so clever. We all know he’s not. Bill stopped at a storefront window to make the crazy finger motion at his head.
His own brother, Dennis was playing games with his mom. Of all people! Dennis was hanging with Mad Mari? The woman had more screws loose than a broken… Bill shrugged as he continued walking down the street, wondering where he parked his car. …something.
Buck Green, like the pansy he was, was crawling back to his much-much-much older sugar mamma, Kat Hunter. The kid needed to grow a pair, Bill shook his head, disgusted. Kat wasn’t even all that pretty. Who knows what kind-of witchcraft the woman used to keep Buck coming back for more? The couple broke up and got back together more often than Bill changed underwear. And that’s saying something, because sometimes I don’t change my briefs for three days or more, he thought smugly as if that were a fact to be proud of.
Skeet Bayless was spending time with his kids. Ever since Gwayne had kicked the man out, Skeet had been bumming around town, trying to get odd jobs. Bill had hired the guy to help pass out fliers advertising his blog, Inane Domain. Skeet used the money to get drunk at the family’s night club, Shady’s. Or he’d turn around and lose it on poker night with the guys.
This was why Gwayne hadn’t accepted the man back yet. Bill said “Good riddance.” The woman was a religious nut anyhow. She tried to talk to Skeet about being a good Peteran and all, come-back-to-church mumbo jumbo, and her pray-to-the-all-seeing Maker voodoo crap. Skeet was trying, and that befuddled Bill. He wanted to be a better dad to his what?… six… eight… ten kiddos? Bill had lost count. That woman of Skeet’s could pop out kiddos faster than strawberry frosted toasties. She always had a bun in her oven, that Gwayne. Bill still hadn’t the heart to tell Skeet his first kiddo wasn’t actually his. It was Bill’s brother, Dudley’s kid.
Dudley had never wanted the family business, Bill recalled as he kicked an empty can in his pathway, startling a nearby cat. The creature shrieked and ran off down the alleyway and Bill stuck out his tongue like a two-year-old. Good riddance! Dudley never tortured animals as a child. Everyone knew a master criminal tortured animals as a child. Bill pulled the neighborhood cats tails when he was in grade school and he drove over his mom’s cat purposefully after he got his license. The cat had it coming. Even Dennis had thrown the occasional obligatory tennis ball at a cat on their walk home from school. But Dudley? Nah… he was goodie-two-shoes… and even more than that smug wannabe Goodwin Goode.
Max sent Dudley to Shang Simla when he turned twenty-one for a test run. His oldest son was supposed to try and expand overseas operations. Dudley had, of course, failed, and the Racket family enterprise stayed stateside. Max had been horribly disappointed.
Dudley had confided in Bill when he returned, and for the last time too, not that Bill blamed his brother. Bill had finked. While in Shang Simla, Dudley had met the lovely Gwayne Bayless, though at the time, she was a Traylor. Bill had smirked… as in trailer trash. The woman obviously hadn’t aged well, but apparently back in the day she was a babe.
Dudley had met a confident, single, well-dressed, beautiful woman at a teahouse in Shang Simla, and it had been love at first sight. She was accompanying her uncle on a missionary trip, though she had no interest in converting the natives. Dudley had said she even made the conservative Shangese dresses look hot as she sat cross-legged on a counter stool. He had offered to buy her a cup of tea, and she shook her head, insisting on sake. He had been impressed she had managed to sneak a flask into the respected establishment.
Dudley was a private man. He wouldn’t let Bill in on the dirty details, but Bill knew that Dudley was head-over-heels for the Traylor girl. After six weeks in Shang Simla, the couple discussed elopement. Dudley shared Gwayne’s concerns with Bill since she was engaged to another man at the time, an arranged marriage to a quiet fisherman youth pastor from her hometown – Skeet Bayless. Gwayne didn’t want to marry the man, but she also felt reservations about leaving him at the altar.
This was back in the day when Max was considering Dudley as his number one, and Bill had the opportunity, before he was a screw-up, to seize the power and usurp his brother. Dudley confessed he didn’t want the job, and he and Gwayne planned to run away to Pagoda Isles for a quick wedding because she was pregnant. Bill, like the dickhead he was, told his dad about his brother’s plans. Max, of course, was furious and flew to Shang Simla, threatening his eldest and Dudley’s bride-to-be.
To protect the baby and Gwayne, Dudley never mentioned the existence of his potential love child to his father. He returned to the Nation, and put every Simo he had into a bank account for Gwayne and then wrote a letter promising to come back for her one day. Bill didn’t hear from Dudley for another ten years. The two men pretty much hated one another. His big bro had gone to the police academy and started working for the state police. Bill, surprise, surprise, hadn’t taken over the family business. Max had stayed in control, holding onto the reins for too long, probably contributing to his usurpation by Bill’s cousin, Russ.
Bill couldn’t admit until years later that the reason he hated Dudley is because Dudley got out and made something of himself. Bill had continued to be a screw-up all this time, pretty much failing at everything he did. He barely graduated college. He failed at his political career. He’d been working on a going-nowhere-fast book for two years. He failed at his marriage. Rachel was one hot mama, but she was constantly working and never had time for him. He never cut it to work in the family biz. That was probably for the best, but still, it would’ve been nice to at least have the chance, like Dennis.
Bill reached the end of the sidewalk, his eyes sweeping up and down the street. What now? He heard music coming from inside the Red Rendevouz and decided to stop in. The room was hazy from smoke, one of the few places in town that allowed for it. He plopped down on his favorite barstool and ordered his favorite brew. He munched on a few peanuts absently and thought about how pathetic his life really was.
Suddenly, the man at the end of the counter began choking. Bill glanced around to see if anyone would do anything. The bartender had disappeared. There was a lone woman dancing out on the floor, an old saggy woman. None of the regular girls were serving tonight. A few biker looking dudes were playing a game of pool, but no one looked up. No one noticed the choking man, except Bill.
He grunted, and slid off the stool, walking over to perform a maneuver on the man so he could breathe again. The man clutched his throat and gasped as a tiny nut spiraled out of his mouth. He pounded the counter with his fists, taking wheezing breaths.
“Thanks man,” he said weakly, looking up sideways at Bill. “I… thank you…”
“Yeah, no problem,” Bill grunted and waved him off, settling back on his barstool.
The other man sat down next to him. “Let me buy you a beer.”
Bill made a face when he realized who it was – Robert Castor. “No thanks.”
“No seriously, dude, you saved my life. It’s the least I can do,” Robert insisted.
“Fine,” Bill relented.
Robert ordered two beers. When the glasses came, he clinked bottles with Bill and took a large swig of the brown liquid.
“So what are you doing out here tonight?” Robert asked.
“Look man… I’m not here for chit-chat if that’s what you’re looking for. Why don’t you go home and plow that hot wife of yours?” Bill grumbled.
Robert averted his eyes and took another sip. “She left me, man. Two years ago. Spooky Day. You were at the party right?”
Bill rubbed his temple. “Oh yeah… she was knocked up by that… what’s his name… Goode fellow… aw… shit… sorry.”
Robert shrugged. “We were stupid to get married anyhow. Too young, I say. Too young and well too inexperienced.” He slid his stool closer to Bill before continuing. “We hit a rough patch when the boys were still little, and you know what fixed it that time?”
Bill could care less, but he nodded inanely.
“Trying new shit…” Robert whispered, and then giggled like a school girl as he whacked Bill playfully on the arm. “Yeah… no kiddin’. We tried everything. Yoga. Acrobatics. Couples therapy. Erotic novels. Porn videos. Making home videos. Mirrors and shit. Beverly loved the way she looked in the glass. We even tried a bit of bondage, but man… handcuffs chafe.”
Bill rolled his eyes. Amateurs!
“Bev got this subscription to some online magazine,” Robert leaned in as he spoke. “Gave you a sex tip and position of the week from the Kama Simtra… can you believe that? Right to our little inbox. Just like that… of course, we cancelled it, after our son, Jeffery found it. He also got his hands on a video we made. Man, was Beverly pissed! Things went a bit downhill after that, but you know…” he rested his head on his elbow, smiling stupidly. “… I was the one who suggested we bring in a third party.”
Bill downed his beer and requested his third drink. He wasn’t sure he wanted to hear this.
“I thought… hey… what’s the harm? We’ve tried everything else. Who knew she’d go for it and shit? Every time she came back from doing it with another guy, she was massively horny. We’d go at it for hours. Whew! She was hot!” Robert laughed.
“Good for you,” Bill grimaced, enjoying the fuzziness that was settling into his brain.
“Never thought she’d get pregnant with one of ’em though,” Robert shook his head, ordering his own third beer. “I mean… who would’ve thunk Goodwin would take her anyhow? Huh? Heard the woman’s knocked up again… good riddance! I got the kids in the custody… well, at least my own kiddos. Though Jeff just moved out and went off to join the military.”
Jeffery Castor joined the military? Bill quirked a brow, taking another swig. Well, I’ll be damned. Didn’t think the punk had the balls.
“Thom is twelve. He’s finishing out his sixth grade first semester with his mom and then I get him in the new year. We just settled the divorce and all. Did you know she moved to New Simoleans with Goodwin? The little prick. Got the aunt’s big house up there, but no matter. I kept the house here and the bulk of the money for her stepping out like that.”
Does he like to hear himself talk or what? Bill resisted the urge to roll his eyes.
“She always was a feisty one, though. Best I let her go. I tried the whole sleeping with other women thing too, but no one could satisfy. I mean, I’m bored in my marriage and I want something other than missionary. Bev knew that. Most other women don’t.”
“Hear hear,” Bill clanked beer bottles with the man, unsure of how many he was on.
“Heard she even tried to pick up your bro once too… in this very bar…” Robert smirked. “But Dennis is a smart man. He turned her down. And good… you know? Because I would’ve been jealous. I mean, Dennis… come on… the man’s got it going on.”
Bill nearly spit his drink across the room. Dennis? His brother?
“Come to think of it. All you Racket boys are nice looking… well, maybe not Max, but come on… he’s your dad… so…”
“Yeah…” Bill waved his hands. “Don’t want to think about it.”
Don’t want to think of the dozens of women he’s bedded and bagged.
“So you ever think about it?”
“About what, huh?”
“About trying it…”
“I mean, you’ve got that babe mayor for your wife and you’ve got a kid so probably not, but I mean, haven’t you ever wondered what it would feel like?”
“What what would feel like?”
Robert leaned in so close, his beer-breath tickled Bill’s ear. “Another man’s dick?”