By The Hit Man
It was a cold, brisk morning the day after Lucas caught me with his girl friend. He'd been so angry when he'd found us. What could I say to him? I certainly couldn't pretend nothing had happened. It had and right in front of him. But as he stomped off, his fists clenched so tight that his fingernails cut into his flesh, I knew I was watching a 17 year relationship slip down the tubes.
We had been best buds all our short lives, growing up together on the peripheral of the Arizona desert. We'd spent most of our lives exploring the area and knew every twist and turn within five miles or so of our homes. I felt extreme guilt, knowing that all of that was probably all gone now. Worst part was, I don't think Lori, his girl, felt any remorse. In fact, I half suspect she set the whole thing up to make him jealous. I don't know if she succeeded in that, but I do know she made him mad.
I was outside when he arrived, shirt off despite the early morning chill. I had just cleaned out the stables and was heading toward the house after hearing the breakfast bell. A smile exploded on my lips when I saw him. Maybe it was going to be okay after all.
"Hey, Lucas," I said, my voice probably just a little too friendly considering the situation.
"Hey, Carlton, can we take a walk," he asked? "Out in the
desert like we used too?" I looked at him, unsure of just what to do.
His face wasn't friendly but it wasn't clouded in anger either. I figured
I would do whatever was demanded to try and heal our relationship. He just
stood there in his jacket, no shirt, and starred at me. For the first time
in my life, I couldn't tell what he was thinking.
"Sure, let me just tell my Mom." I hopped up the steps, stuck my head in the house, and told the family I was going for an early morning walk with Lucas. They had no idea of what I had done or the damage it had caused. We headed off toward a large rock setting about a mile away from any dwellings. It was a spot where we loved to sit and bask in the heat of the rocks as the evenings cooled. It was also where we had most of our serious talks. I was still feeling hopeful.
We walked in silence all the way there. It was awkward for me to remain quiet but I figured I best let him get his words out first. I wasn't planning on defending my actions, only to tell him how incredibly sorry I was. As we walked, the day was already warming as the sun rose higher in the sky and Lucas pulled off his jacket, slinging it over his shoulder. Although we'd been friends forever, I was always astounded by the musculature of his body. We had worked out together all our years in school, sometimes at home in one of our makeshift gyms or at school as we prepared for whatever sport we were involved in at the moment. But I was a little taller, my muscles lanky and drawn out. His were more compact, much like a mountain molded then broken, allowing a craggy and rough hewn look. As we reached the rocks, I was glad we had come there to talk.
"Listen, Lucas," I said, breaking my vow to let him talk first. "I want to say " Before I could finish my sentence, Lucas popped me with a right fist to the mouth. I tasted the blood immediately, running my tongue over the split lip. I spit some blood out on the ground. "I guess I deserved that." His body was all tensed up, his jacket now lying in the dirt beside him. I could see his hands clenching and unclenching to match his jaw motion. But he didn't say a word. Again, he was just starring at me, his eyes narrowed to a slit. I had to spit again before I started to say anything else.
"I don't know " He swung again, this time connecting with my gut. It was a hard blow but we both had pretty well-defined abs. My muscles stopped his fist at surface level. I didn't mean for it to happen but my own anger level was beginning to well up inside as well. If he wasn't interested in talking, then just what the hell had he dragged me out here to the rocks for? Unfortunately, I think I was starting to get a pretty good idea. While we'd wrestled many times, it had always been for fun. But we had never fought each other, especially with our fists. Lucas seemed determined for that pattern to change right then and there. He swung at my face again but I blocked his shot. I blocked his next two as well. He shoved me. I shoved him back. He tried to grab onto me but I managed to slink back just out of his reach. A few more swings, some connecting but not really causing any damage and frankly, I'd had enough. With my reach advantage, I broke through his defenses, which were pretty meager at the moment anyway, and popped him a couple hard ones to the face. He reeled back and lost his balance on the edge of the rocks where they broke skyward out of the desert surface. I stood my ground, fists raised at the ready.
His eyes shut, his body shivering as if he were ready to explode, I watched in astonishment as his body hardened like I had never seen it do before. Every muscle peaked, rippled or ripped, the veins on his arms standing out as the blood coursed through them. One arm bent upward toward the sun, the bicep expanding to the size of a grapefruit. His other fist pounded the rock as if exemplifying his mood. His eyes opened and they shot arrows of death straight at me. I took a step back ready to do battle. I didn't want it this way but if he started it, I would do my best to be the one to finish it. He bent at the waist and sat up. I took another step back just before he charged me like a bat out of hell.
He stayed low at the waist as he charged intent on taking me down to the ground. I grabbed his arms, dropping back as he came forward. I brought a foot up into his gut and over my head he flew, landing on his back. We were both up in an instant, the dust flying up around us. His fist came up, connecting solidly with my abs. He put enough power behind it that while my muscle held, it definitely hurt. He tried to punch me again but I grabbed his arm, spinning him around and twisting it up hard behind his back. I could feel his sinews in my hand as they bunched and twisted against my hold. I used my other hand to lock him in a choke. I had to try and control him until he cooled down. He surprised me by reaching back with his free arm and grabbing my hair just at the neckline. Before I knew it, I was over his shoulder. I could feel his hands grabbing for me, mostly around my shoulders, and just managed to skirt out of his grasp. He kicked at me as I still scooted along the ground. One more kick and I grabbed his foot, heaving upward. He landed hard on his bum and I was on him in a flash. I locked his arms at his sides with my legs, balancing myself just below his chest, astride his considerable abs. Both his chest and abs were heaving and bucking. I leaned forward and popped him a good one right on the chin. Another identical blow and his struggles stopped. Afraid it was just a ploy, I put my hand on his forehead, pressuring his head down against the shale-filled dirt.
"We can stop this right now," I said, my jaws clenched tight as I spoke. It was like trying to sit on a bucking bronco. His eyes and nostrils were flaring as he struggled against my weight. Suddenly, his motion stopped completely. I was caught off balance and before I knew it, I was physically heaved to one side. I knew he was strong but I didn't realize how strong. Maybe I had bitten off more than I could chew.
He was on me again like a fly on glue paper. He rammed me hard up against a mesquite tree. The blow jarred me. Before I could react, one of his hands closed on my throat and heaved upward. My skin tore as it passed over one of the thorns that filled a mesquite tree. My toes were barely on the ground. I grabbed at his hand, trying to tear it loose from my throat. But Lucas had other plans for me. His fist, driven by the same bicep that had earlier on looked like a grapefruit, caught me just below the belly button. I was so distracted by his hand around my throat, that when his fist hit me, it went all the way in. Despite his hand around my throat, a blast of air was forced out through my mouth. But before I could suck in replacement oxygen, his hand tightened on my throat. Then he hit me again, right in the same spot. I saw the blow coming and tried to prepare myself. It helped some but my gut muscles were already screaming and my lungs had just joined the chorus. I had to do something quick or I sensed I might be a dead man.
A wrestler and sometime gymnast, I was pretty limber. Going against every fiber of my body, I lifted my feet off the ground, his muscular arm now taking my full weight. This time he hadn't been prepared and he couldn't sustain holding me up. My back scrapped over more thorns and I could feel the heat of my blood running down my back. I threw my legs around his waist and clamped on, my ankles hooked behind his back. He was still holding my head against the mesquite by my neck but it wasn't a choke hold like before. But even in my new position, he began slamming his fist into my gut again. I tried to grab his arm but he managed to keep pulling it out of my grasp. Using the tree behind me as a brace, I straightened my legs out, applying the most pressure I could. But I knew his musculature could withstand anything I could dish out while in this position. For longer than I could squeeze, of that I was pretty sure. Each blow he delivered drove my back further down the trunk of the tree. Soon, he didn't even try to hold my neck and began using both hands, sometimes in a cadence, sometimes like he was chopping wood, both fists slamming into me at the same time. I saw my chance and twisted my back off the tree. The move pulled us both to the ground, me flat on my back, my legs still wrapped around his waist; Lucas on his knees facing me, his arms going up and down like an oil derrick. But to my advantage, he wasn't holding me any longer. I was holding him. I loosed my grip around his midsection and rolled backward in a reverse somersault. Finally I was away from his sledge hammer fists.
He followed me. As I came to my feet, he kept punching me, each blow smashing into my abs, driving me backwards. I couldn't stop him. He was like a well-oiled machine following a pre-programmed set of instructions. "Destroy Carlton," ran through my head. And he was doing a might fine job of it. Blow after blow landed, pulled back, repeated landed, pulled back, repeated landed, pulled back, repeated. My legs were starting to feel wobbly underneath me. My breathing was ragged. My muscles, especially my abs, were feeling like soup. There was no resistance left. That's when he moved in real close. I tried to tie him up with a wrestling move. Instead, the next blow to my abs lifted me physically off the ground. Another did the same. I knew if this continued I was going to puke. I swung at him but missed. He met me with a knee to the midsection that bowled me over, dropping me straight to my knees on the ground. He pushed me over with his foot and began kicking me. I tried to pull in close but he simply moved behind me. A powerful wallop to my kidney and I was open again. I was starting to see darkness in the areas around my eyes. Everything hurt. My muscles that I had always been proud of were worthless. Then it all stopped. I swear I could hear angels singing the Hallelujah chorus. Why hadn't those mother-fuckers come down and helped me was all I could think.
I could see Lucas though he seemed like a shadow. He crossed out of my sight. Someone grabbed my hair and yanked my body to a sitting position. I could feel hard muscles against my back, scrapping against the rawness caused by the thorns. An arm reached around my head and clamped on around my neck. As it flexed, hardness jammed up against my jugulars, crushing my windpipe. I couldn't breathe or swallow.
"Did this hurt," a voice spoke into my ear? I tried to talk but nothing came out. "Just shake your head." I did, an up and down motion.
"Good. I wanted you to hurt as much as I did yesterday when you ripped my heart out." The blackness that had spread out earlier threatened to creep back in as my pulse and metabolism slowed to a snail's pace. "Now it's Lori's turn to pay as well." I could hear the threat in his voice and I knew he wasn't joking. The grip around my neck tightened, if that was possible. Other than a hot wetness dripping down my back that was the last thing I remember. I didn't feel his racking sobs as he dropped my unconscious form on the desert floor and headed for Lori's house.
All characters and story copyright 2004