Damascus Road

Damascus Road by Charlie Cole

Book: Damascus Road by Charlie Cole Read Free Book Online
Authors: Charlie Cole
built man stood
there. His hands were stained the color of dirty motor oil, but that didn’t
stop Blake from giving him a hearty handshake.
    “Wallace, this is James Marlowe, the man I told you about,”
Blake said.
    Wallace stood up straight, but that only made him five and a
half feet tall. He was a fireplug of a man who stretched his T-shirt to the
full extent of its limits.
    “Pleased to meet you,” Wallace said. His voice was a deep
grumble that seemed to rattle around in his chest like a kettle drum.
    “Likewise,” I said. I felt like I was already firmly in the
backseat with Blake running the show, so I let him take the lead, rather than
begging after answers.
    “You want to show him?” Wallace said. He kept his eyes on
me, but was talking to Blake.
    “Can’t see why not,” Blake replied easily.
    Wallace jerked his head to beckon me inside. I followed,
more than a little curious.
    We stepped in and Wallace threw the switch to the overhead
light. The space was massive; easily four car lengths across and nearly that
many deep. A full mechanic’s work bench lined the walls with enough tools to
keep a team of technicians well-supplied. Fluorescent lights flooded the area
with harsh white light illuminating the only thing in the space.
    A tarp was draped over a shape in the middle of the room,
and for a moment, I envisioned the trauma room where my father lay under a
sheet. My breathing became short and ragged. My fingernails bit into the palms
of my clenched hands.
    “What is this?” I demanded. There was steel in my voice. My
shoulders tense, and a fire smoldered in my gut. “What…is…this?”
    “I’m sorry,” Blake apologized. “I thought…”
    I stepped forward and grabbed the edge of the tarp. I lifted
it slowly, afraid of what I would find underneath.
    “You didn’t… you didn’t… you didn’t….” I repeated again and
again. I peeled back the tarp and confirmed what I feared.
    “I’m sorry, James,” Blake tried to explain. “I thought it
would be what you wanted.”
    I tore back the tarp in a swirl and revealed the shattered
hulk of the Hemicuda beneath. The car that Christopher Beck had given me.
Entrusted to me by his father. The car that had been crashed earlier trying to
save my dad.
    Tears streamed from my eyes, and I fell to my knees. I
sobbed and could not catch my breath. I reached out  to steady myself, and
found the body of the car, creased and crumpled, paint peeling back from the
damage. My stomach turned over, and I felt like I’d been stabbed.
    “James…” Blake said.
    He was at my side, trying to help me to my feet. He reached
under my arm and tried to help me up. I jerked away from him, scrambling to my
feet, pushing myself back.
    “Get away from me!” I screamed at him. “What is this? What
IS this??”
    “James, I…”
    “You, what?” I shot back. “You thought you’d deliver some
memento of how I failed? Is that what you thought?”
    Blake pulled away, backpedaling, I stalked after him.
    “I was given that car because I fucked up,” I said. “I was
given that car to help me to make things right with my father. And I failed.
I’m a screw-up, Blake. Don’t you get it, man? Please stop trying to help me.
Please! Nothing good is going to come from this. Can’t you fucking see that?”
    “James, I’m sorry, we’ll take it away,” Blake said. “I thought
you would want it. I thought it would help you. Help you take your mind off
of…of everything. But if you don’t want it here, I understand that. We’ll take
it away in the morning.”
    I was pacing, hearing him, but not listening.
    “James,” Wallace spoke now and I turned on him, ready for a
fight if that’s what he wanted. “There’s a room upstairs if you want. A bed. A
shower. It’s all taken care of. But if you want to leave, then leave. Don’t let
the door hit you in the ass on the way out. Mr. Harrison is trying to help you
here. More than I would have done for an asshole who

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