In today’s teaser excerpt, Axyl goes to visit some old friends. And by old friends, I mean people who testified against him and whom he would like to kill. Only problem, this all takes place two weeks after Axyl’s execution. People act funny when you’re supposed to be dead.
Big Bruno’s Tattoos was off the main drag, in an old firehouse with brick floors in the truck bay. One corner had racks of tattoo flash and in the other corner was a couple couches. Some college kids sat there looking through flash books. On the back wall was a counter with a curtain behind it and from back there come the buzz of a tattoo gun. When I walked in, a woman stepped out and said, “Hey there. Can I help you?”
She was pasty white like Shona, but covered in tattoos. She woulda been pretty enough, except she had about a dozen things pierced through her face and she talked with a lisp from the stud in her tongue. As many nuts and bolts as a hardware store. Made me think fucking Shona wasn’t bad. Hell, I’d put a bag over tattoo girl’s head if I was gonna fuck her.
“Yeah, I’m here to see Scott. I think me and you talked on the phone.”
“You must be Axyl. I’m Monica. I’m Scott’s girl–I was going to say that I’m Scott’s girlfriend, but we got engaged two weeks ago. So I’m Scott’s fiancée.”
“Congratulations. Which of them is your engagement ring? The one in your nose?”
It was an asshole thing to say, but she laughed and flashed me a diamond on her finger. She leaned toward me over the counter and said, “So, you knew Scott in high school?”
“Yeah, we go way back. Knowed him almost twenty years.”
“What was he like back then?”
See how we was already buddies? Me and Scott’s fiancée having a little chat.
“He was a geek,” I said.
“Oh my god. I knew it. He won’t show me any pictures from back then. He says he doesn’t have any. You have to give me all the dirt on him, okay? Promise?”
She grinned. “Let me go tell him you’re here.”
A minute later, from behind the curtain, I heard Scott say, “Don’t fucking joke about that, Monica. You think that’s funny? Can you see I’m trying to work here?”
“I’m not joking. He said he was a friend of yours from high school. Is there a problem?”
“Yeah, some asshole is trying to mess with me and he’s going to get his ass kicked.”
I woulda loved to seen that, because Scott couldn’t fight his way out of a paper bag. I was always the muscle in that crowd. Him and Joel liked to talk shit in bars, but whenever some pissed off guy come over to shut them up, it was my job to stand up and scare him away.
The tattoo gun went quiet and then Scott pushed open the curtain and stepped around the counter. He said, “Which one of you fuckwads is calling yourself Axyl Witt?”
That was my first look at him since my trial. He looked about the same, a little heavier. His hair was less blond and he was starting to lose it in front. Had a ring through his nose like a bull.
Scott, though, he went from tough to pudding in the time it took him to figure out it was really me. He staggered back against the counter and knocked a styrofoam cup off. It popped open and chunks of ice scattered all over the floor. Reminded me of how Jenny McClure dropped her Big Gulp cup after I shot her boyfriend.
I stepped up and grabbed Scott, hugged him like he was my long lost brother. Like I wanted to break his fucking back. I squeezed him so hard, I felt his heart pounding against me, felt when his knees went weak and I was actually holding him up.