"You piece of shit!" was the last thing Brick heard before he sprinted away from Trent's car. The sidewalk hurt the soles of his feet through his shoes, but he ignored it and kept going. He had never run so fast in his entire life. The bag he ripped out of Trent's hands was clenched in his fist so tight his knuckles began to ache. He ignored that too. The street he got Trent to meet him at was close to Le Rouge, and he slowed down when he got near the club. He twisted his head around, but he wasn’t being pursued.
It was cold out. The kind of cold that crawled into your bones and shook you from the inside. The bright neon lights of the sign beckoned him, promising warmth and false safety.
Brick threw on his hood and walked in. He weaved through the Saturday night crowd and did his best to blend in.. When he reached the bar, the bartender barely acknowledged him as he wiped down the counter. Louis was used to Brick coming in, ordering a coke -no rum-, and watching the dancers.
"Bourbon, neat," Brick said and ignored the pant in his voice. Louis raised an eyebrow at him but slid it over to him. His fingers shook around the glass as he sipped it. He was covered in sweat, some of it his, some of it not. He took a deeper drink, and his head felt lighter, the booze chasing the anxiety away.
The beat of the loud, bass-heavy song felt like it was coming from inside his chest. He looked down and frowned at the almost gone liquor. He knew he should leave, but he hoped Trent would be hesitant to strike back right away. Not without backup. Brick got his nickname early on. He had always been freakishly large and tall with a broad chest and thick arms and legs.
In hindsight, he wasn't sure if the heroin was worth it, but he was feeling the familiar itch and the amount he took from Trent, just the thought of it, made palms sweat. He slammed the rest of the whiskey, his nose wrinkled from the harshness, and his eyes scanned the room. The beat mellowed, and Amanda appeared on the stage. His heart constricted; another familiar feeling.
Amanda was his other addiction. As sweet and warm in his veins as the heroin. She was dancing by herself, turning and twisting and dipping to the beat. Her eyes closed and her hands flipped her dark hair. Brick was captivated and didn't look away when her eyes opened, meeting his. Amanda watched him watch her for a moment and then smiled. It was a small thing, a twitch of her lips, and then she tilted her head back, shutting her eyes again. He immediately missed their color.
They used to climb to the top of his apartment building and sit on the roof. It was before she met Trent. Before the drugs and the stripping. Before her mom kicked her out and she moved in with her sister and niece. Back when they had all the time in the world to sit and watch the sun fall behind the buildings. He remembered her looking up at him, and he felt the breath get sucked right out of him.
He told her, “your eyes look like the sunset - when the blues mix with the purples right before the stars come out.”
She scoffed, said that doesn’t make sense, but grinned all the same. Right there though, on the stage, she wasn't smiling. She was licking her lips and tucking twenties into the string of lace on her hips.
The club door slammed open, and Brick slouched into himself. Trent's eyes were wild, and his lips were curled into a grimace as he looked around the club. The silver of his braces gleamed even in the low lighting. Brick tossed a five on the bar and moved towards the exit, but his stomach clenched and he thought about the contents of the bag.
"Fuck," he whispered and hooked a right instead, towards the bathroom. It was dingy, dirty, and the dank smell of piss filled the enclosed space. As soon as his ass hit the toilet, he dumped the contents into his lap.
His original plan was to wait until he got home, but nothing sounded better to him at that moment than his fix. When he stumbled out of the bathroom, he did a quick scan for Trent but didn't see him. The world was pulsating around him, and his face felt so warm that not even the cold outside fazed him. He took a moment to lean against the alley wall. The brick scraped against his buzzed head, and the scratch made his toes curl.
“You fuckin junkie!”
Brick jumped so hard he almost dropped the bag. He ducked behind the big garbage bin and covered his mouth with one hand, trying to quiet his ragged breathing. The shout had come from down near the street. Fuck. Hope the high was worth it, bud. He heard his dad’s voice from the first time he got kicked out at 17. Sure fuckin was, Dad. He had snarked back. Is it worth it now? He wasn't feeling so sure. He felt like he was gonna hurl.
"Where's my money," he heard the same voice ask and then the distinct sound of flesh hitting flesh. Brick peered around the garbage can. It wasn't Trent. Just another unlucky addict who had tried his luck. Sick ease filled his body now that he no longer was in immediate danger. As he watched the man get his ribs stomped on by two guys, he couldn't help but feel like it was prophecy. Steal from your dealer, get your shit kicked in. Cause and effect, right? Brick wondered for a minute what that meant for him. Trent wasn't his dealer though. Trent wasn't anything to Brick anymore. He forfeited his right to Brick's give a fucks when he caught him with Amanda.
That was a sobering thought. Brick sat back against the trash can and closed his eyes. He had a bad habit of ruining his own highs. Eventually, the noise quieted, and all that was left was the junkie. His face was smeared and chest with blood, the pricks took his shirt, and if not for the slight rise and fall of his skinny chest Brick might have deemed him dead. Brick dropped a dime bag next to his head when he stepped around his body.
Brick barely remembered the walk home, but the pale grey of his front door eventually filled his view. His sigh of relief was swallowed when he flipped the welcome mat and saw a note saying, "good luck" instead of a key. His dad had locked him out. His timing was less than perfect, but Brick couldn't blame him. He settled in against the stone wall of his apartment building and hugged a backpack to his chest. He lit a cigarette to fight the headache.
He thought about his options. Finding a place to sleep seemed like his main problem. Trent knew where he lived. They’d gotten high on the worn, beat in couch in his dad’s living room too many times to count.
While he thought, Brick started playing a small game based on the colors of the cars. He counted three white, one gray, and two red but he wasn't sure about that last one because he was almost positive that the red was the same car twice. The sound of heels clicking against the pavement distracted him from his game. The empty night air made the quick steps louder than the pounding in his head.
The footsteps belonged to a woman approaching about 30 ft down the street from him. Brick squinted at her. It was late, almost 2 AM at that point, and despite him being right outside his dad’s the presence of another person while he was fucked up and stranded made him slightly nervous. He pulled his backpack tighter to his chest. The closer she got, the more Brick was able to make out of her appearance. He realized he knew her.
“‘Manda?” He called out, his voice croaky and hoarse. He cleared his throat. “Amanda,” he tried again.
She stopped and looked down at him.
“Out for a smoke, Brick?” she asked, her Southern accent thickened with whiskey.
Brick ignored her statement and pushed himself into a standing position. He cleared his throat again. Amanda was tiny and pale. She had always reminded Brick of a doll when they were kids. The kind that his grandmother collected but would never let him touch because he was clumsy and the porcelain glass was fragile. Amanda wasn’t fragile though, and she played rougher than Brick.
She smiled at him as he swayed with the wind.
"Need a place to crash?" She asked, and for a moment he considered the possible consequences. But he wanted to sit down. He wanted to take off his pants. He wanted a glass of water. But most of all, he wanted to shoot up again.
She didn't wait for him to decide and started walking again. She lived down the block from him, had since Brick could remember, and he followed thinking about the different kind of fix that came with staying at Amanda's. He snorted out loud when he realized he was stealing this one from Trent too.
Although, that wasn't quite right. Amanda didn't belong to anyone but herself. Plus Brick had known her the longest, so he didn't feel as shitty about this one.
“I heard some interesting things from Trent about you,” Amanda said after a moment of them walking in silence. Brick couldn’t help but laugh out loud.
"You and Trent talk about me often?" he said fishing for the bottle of rum he had stashed away in his bag. Amanda shook her head. Her black curls bouncing around made Brick slightly dizzy. He was more trashed now that he was on his feet and moving again, so he opened the rum with slight hesitance. When Amanda didn't say anything, he sighed and took a drink anyway.
"He owed me," Brick said and shook the backpack. Amanda eyed the bag critically.
"I heard that too," Amanda said, and his stomach dipped uncomfortably. He knew she didn't approve. He also knew she wanted to get high. They didn't say anything until Brick saw Amanda's apartment building come into view.
"Your sister home?" He asked when they approached her door, and the corners of her mouth twitched.
"No, her and the baby are at my parent's house for the night," she said, and his stomach dipped again, but in a different way. The pair walked into her apartment, and Brick barely had time to throw the bag aside before she pushed him against the fridge. He closed his eyes, grabbed dark hair, and she dropped to her knees.
Afterward, Brick leaned back on Amanda's couch and lazily watched her sift through the backpack. It was 4 AM. Neither of them had put shirts back on. He watched the goosebumps form on her arm as he dragged his fingers across the soft skin. Like porcelain.
Brick's head was swimming. They were sharing a needle. His legs started to twitch. He needed a cigarette.
“Your dad kicked you out,” Amanda said, and he knew it wasn’t a question.
“Maybe. Maybe not,” Brick shrugged. “Guess I’ll find out in the morning.”
Amanda stood up, “It is the morning.”
As she walked towards her bedroom, her hand gently touched his head on her way past him. Brick stared at the empty space where she had been standing. He really needed a cigarette.
“Amanda, I’m going out for a smoke,” he said when she walked back into the room. She had her phone pressed to her ear and an angry line above her eyebrows.
She sighed into the phone and waved at him before going back into her room. Brick's brain was fried. He threw on his shirt and stepped outside. The cold stung, and his hands shook as he tried to light his cigarette. He started counting cars again to distract himself from the spike in his heart race. One black, two white, and one red. The same color and model of the red car he had already counted two hours earlier. It slowed down to a stop in front of Amanda's apartment.
Brick's heart pounded twice, and he felt the skin behind his ears get hot. He didn't wait for the doors to open before he dropped his cigarette and turned to go back inside, but he heard the lock click. Brick was locked out for the second time that night.
"What the fuck, Amanda?" he had time to say before he was shoved face first into the door. The taste of blood made him gag. Rough hands forced him around, and a silver smile mocked him as the punches started coming. Even brick shatters like porcelain when hit hard enough in the cold.
Did you enjoy my story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, Taylor PittmanWrite a Review