Word Count: 961
The first time I ever hit a bull’s-eye, I was eight. I’d been shooting over a year and never yet hit the center of a target before.
My dad looked around at me in shock, like he never believed he’d see the day his son shot well. I grinned up at him and he flashed me this sort of smile that said ‘I never thought I’d see you do that any time soon’.
“Do it again,” he nodded at the next target along. Of course I didn’t get a bull’s-eye the second time. He looked disappointed with me that I couldn’t do it again. Even at eight years old, I’d grown a pretty volatile temper – that disappointed look did my poor little head in. I punched him in the knee and ran off the range into town.
While I was running, I realized that as much as I hated him, part of me wanted to go back and prove to him I could do it again, that it wasn’t just a fluke. I just wanted him to be proud of me for once, it wasn’t like I could come home and tell him I’d won a spelling bee or anything. There wasn’t much I could do to ever make my parents happy. When they weren’t arguing with each other, they yelled at me.
I ran all the way to Rayn’s house, hammering my little fists on the door angrily until it opened.
Rayn’s dad towered over me. He wasn’t exactly tall – Rayn never had good odds when it came to growing – but to my tiny eight year old self, he felt like a huge wall in front of me, stopping me from getting to Rayn.
“Get out of my way,” I demanded, unafraid of this giant in front of me.
“That’s very rude, Luca. I’ve told you this how many times now?” he said sternly, frowning down at me.
“Fuck off!” I shouted, shoving past him.
“You little shit,” he snarled, grabbing for the back of my shirt. I scooted out of his way and sprinted up the stairs to Rayn’s room. “He’s busy doing homework!” he shouted after me, but I ignored him. I doubted very much that he was busy doing homework.
I looked over at Rayn. He was staring out of the car window, watching the hot Californian countryside pass us by. He’d tied his hair back up out of the way. He looked like a girl when he did that. What used to be his bangs were still too long to tie back, so they fell over his face, hiding his expression from me. I took a quick look in the wing mirror. His reflection was blank. I knew that look as well as he knew the one I got when I’d lost my temper. He’d retreated inside his own head. The poor guy had never been as much of a fan of violence as I was. The adrenaline rush was the bit he liked, but when that wore off, he’d always go kinda quiet. Unless he was high.
Rayn was curled up in bed, his comforter pulled tightly around him. There was that blank expression on his face, but his eyes were red from crying.
“Cody’s out, huh?” I sat on the edge of his bed. He nodded, not looking up at me, but his hand clutched at mine. I shuffled up closer to him so I didn’t have to keep my arm stretched out. “It’s okay,” I mumbled. It wasn’t, but I said it anyway. “He’ll pay for it one day.” He squeezed my hand biting down on his lip to stop himself from crying again. “We can go to the park when you want,” I smiled, “you could stay at mine if you can deal with mom and dad shouting at each other.” He pulled me closer in, so I ended up lying in the bed next to him while he hugged my arm. “You know he won’t try anything while I’m here,” I reminded him, pushing lank, too long hair out of his face.
The last time Rayn’s dad had tried to do anything when I was there last; I’d kicked him in the nuts so hard he couldn’t see straight for an hour. I think that was about the same time I’d promised the old man that I would come back for him one day and make him pay for what he was doing to my best friend.
Why didn’t you tell anyone about this, I hear you asking? Well, Rayn’s dad was a cop. No one would’ve believed us, and he’d made sure of it. I was the demon child from the trailer park, and according to him all I ever wanted was the attention, because my parents were crack heads so I’d make up any old shit to get what I wanted. Rayn was just an innocent bystander that I’d convinced to lie for me – I’d corrupted him, his dad said. Believe me, we tried, but it was the word of two eight year old kids against an upstanding role model of a citizen in Reno.
Joe was looking kinda blank, too. He’d hesitated when he realized we were going to leave that kid tied up on the sofa to be eaten alive. He didn’t protest too much when I’d dragged him away, and he certainly hadn’t gone to untie the kid, though. I s’pose he just had a stronger sense of morals than I did when it came to that sort of thing. I sort of wished I’d done the same thing to Rayn’s dad, but then it wouldn’t really have been me that made him pay like I’d promised him all those years ago.