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***MAJOR SPOILER ALERT***

***Do not proceed if you haven’t read Crossroads***

Chapter 1

 

BEEP, BEEP.

 

BEEP, BEEP.

 

I awake to the sound of a heart monitor counting out my pulse. My throat is sore as shit from being intubated. I slowly open my eyes and am flooded with bright lights. Everything is a blur for what seems like minutes, but in reality might’ve been twenty seconds. Once my eyes come into focus, I glance around the room. I can’t move my head because of the neck brace I’m tethered to, but I still manage to spot Kayla sitting in a chair by the window. Her long brown hair absorbs the light around her, helping my eyes to focus on her beauty.  She must’ve sensed my gaze, turning from the window she flashes me a huge smile and steps over to my bedside, leaning down and kissing me on the cheek. Without speaking, she leaves the room for a split second and comes back in with her brother Scott in tow, who’s sporting his Kings of Chaos Motorcycle Club colors. Now I don’t know how long I’ve been out, but I don’t see any possible way the club could have survived the subsequent sting that I coordinated. He approaches the bed, and I notice the patch on his chest – Prez. What the hell?

He must’ve read my mind as he started talking. “I’m picking up the pieces,” he acknowledges. “But this time, I’m doing it my way. The right way.” He turns his back to me so I can see the colors. Noticeably absent is the diamond-shaped 1%er patch, signifying that the club is on a more legitimate path. “You get better quick, because I’m gonna need some help with this. What good is a Prez without a righteous VP?” he grins before leaving the room.

Good for you, kid. “You know, you’re gonna need more than that scooter if you wanna keep wearing that “P” patch,” I croak, unsure if my voice even makes it to his ears.

“Your smartass never misses a beat, does it?” Kayla asks, chiding me for already giving her brother shit within two minutes of waking up.  She looks into my eyes, and I see nothing but appreciation and adoration.  What a difference a week makes.  Before she and I can connect any further, in walks the doctor.  Impeccable timing, ya jerk.

“Mr. McGee, glad to see you’re awake.  How are you feeling?”

“Come on, doc.  Look at me.  You know I’m not feeling anything, and if I was feeling something then it wouldn’t be anything good.”

“Fair point.  I’m sure you have a lot of questions, so let me see if I can fill in some of the blanks for you,” he offers.  “When you first arrived to the ER following your accident, you were on the brink of death.  You are very fortunate to be with us today given the spill you and your motorcycle took.  Luckily, your body went limp when you went airborne.  I assume you were already unconscious, and that is what saved your life.  Being loose like a ragdoll kept your injuries from being worse…not that they’re good by any means.  We’ve had you sedated for about three weeks now to make the ventilator more tolerable while your lung healed.”

Three weeks?!

“You broke both legs, your pelvis, right arm and wrist.  Your right shoulder was also dislocated.  Eight ribs were cracked, puncturing your right lung.  You fractured three vertebrae and had severe swelling in your brain, causing a massive concussion.  So if you notice an aversion to bright lights that would be why.”

“Well damn, doc.  Is that all?” I say, sarcastically, suddenly aware of the pain caused by breathing.  I see both of my legs are still in plaster casts, and held in a raised position by an intricate pulley system.  My right arm is in a sling and also casted from the elbow to my thumb.  I notice for the first time that the overhead lights in my room are off.  I probably should’ve noticed that right off the bat, what with the aforementioned neck brace limiting my field of vision to directly straight up and whatnot.

“Obviously, we have you on some pretty serious pain meds to make your consciousness tolerable.  You can plan on being here awhile longer so we can monitor your recovery.  Seems like you are a pretty important person to someone who can pull strings, and they want to make sure you are well taken care of.”

Thank goodness for the DEA and my government benefits.

Let me catch you up real quick.  My name’s Will McGee.  You may remember me from such stories as my last one.  My childhood was ruined by a bunch of degenerate bikers, so I grew up and came back to ruin their adulthood.  Unfortunately, since I’m the one in the hospital, it seems that didn’t work out as planned.

I was born and raised in the tiny town of Rough River Falls, Kentucky, by a father who didn’t really have much of an interest in being a father.  He lived his life on the back of a 1948 Harley-Davidson panhead, riding alongside a bunch of other irresponsible assholes under the guise of a motorcycle club calling themselves the Kings of Chaos.  Raising me was an afterthought.  When I finally turned 18, I ran away to the United States Air Force and became a cop.  That’s where I really found myself and discovered who I was and who I was meant to be.  It was also during this time that my dad’s bad habits finally caught up to him and put him out of his misery.

After six years serving this great country, I separated from the USAF and was recruited to join the Drug Enforcement Agency.  It turned out, just prior to my separation from the Air Force, the Kings of Chaos were directly responsible for a cocaine overdose of a Kentucky State Representative’s son, Brad Olsen.  Given my connections, the DEA found my personal history and timing invaluable.  My recruitment to the Agency was based solely on my ability to infiltrate the Kings and bring them down from the inside…and boy, let me tell you, did shit ever go down!

For better or worse, depending on who you are and how you want to look at it, I got tangled up with a couple locals upon my return to Rough River Falls.  I had grown up with Kayla, but it wasn’t until my return to the area before I finally recognized her beauty inside and out.  I was familiar with her growing up of course, with it being such a small town, but I was always too busy wallowing in self-pity to pay attention to anybody that wasn’t in my immediate personal space.  By spending more time with her, I naturally spent more time with her younger brother, Scott, by default.  I learned of their heart-wrenching family history, with their parents being killed in a car accident while they were still teenagers, and I learned of Scott’s downward spiral and lowly stature in the town.  Because nothing in life can ever be simple and straightforward, I also learned about his association with the Kings that followed the accident.  Scott is the only member of the club that I give a shit about, and he’s the only one that managed to avoid incarceration following my investigation and bust.  Everybody still with me?  Good.  Moving on.

“So how long am I gonna be laid up in here, doc?”  Enough chit chat.  Healed up or not, all I could think is, it’s time to get back to business.

“Well, obviously you’re going to have a long and likely slow recovery with a lot of painful physical therapy,” he advised.  “And that’s just to get out of here.  Once you finally get discharged, you’ll have to go to a rehab facility to continue the process for probably another month or so.”

I don’t like the sound of that at all.

“I’m no mechanic, but I have a feeling your bike has a worse prognosis.”

“I’ll worry about the bike, doc.  You just worry about getting me ready to walk out of here.”

 

Chapter 2

 

Two more weeks pass until I’m finally cleared for discharge from Grayson County Medical Center.  I endured countless physical therapy sessions during my time here.  It was the only way to regain some strength, stability, and range of motion.  And as the doctor informed me from the outset, that was simply so I could be transferred to a rehabilitation hospital.  Once there I’ll focus more on fine motor function so I can resume as close to normal of a life that I had before the accident…which isn’t saying much.

For the first time in over a month, I’m finally wearing my own clothes.  I’m still lying in a hospital bed, which sucks, but at least my ass isn’t hanging out of the back of a flimsy, single-ply, multi-purpose gown; my junk hooked up to a catheter and all that mess.  I’m waiting for the doc to come in and get my discharge process in gear when I’m surprised by a vaguely familiar face.

“Will, how are you?” my DEA handler asks.  I’ve seen several agents during my stay in the hospital, mostly assigned as a precautionary security measure, just in case the Kings still have connections and try to send somebody to shut me up – for good.  This is the first time to see this face since I was involved in the shootout leading up to my accident.

“Been better.  What have you been up to?  Haven’t seen you since my final showdown with the club.”

“I’ve been pretty busy cleaning up your mess, as I’m sure you can imagine,” he said, more than a little irritation in his tone.  “I realized you still haven’t had a formal debriefing following the debacle of your investigation.”

Did he say “debacle?!”  I happen to think it was a pretty effective and thorough job given the circumstances and my limited resources.

He continues.  “The District Attorney was able to ring up most of the Kings under the RICO Act, which will be more challenging to argue and prove, but will tack on a much lengthier sentence if successful.  You did provide a lot of evidence to strengthen their case, and your testimony should be the nail in the club’s collective coffin.”

Jackpot.  Debacle my ass.  Mission: accomplished.

“So, Will, you know we’re going to have to pull you out of here, don’t you?”

“Good.  I’ve been waiting for the doc to come in and sign my release papers.”

“Not what I meant, Will.  The Agency is going to have to relocate you.  For your safety and the case’s.”

I already knew what he was getting at.  “Yeah, about that,” I begin.  “Listen, this is where I need to be.  When I left here for the Air Force, San Antonio couldn’t be far enough away from this shit-hole.  Then I faced the realization of being shipped off to who-knows-where, and I didn’t care much for that idea so I separated from the Air Force and came back home.  This place had nothing to offer me when I was growing up, but when I came back I learned that sometimes things change.  There are people here I care about and want to be here for.  As far as my safety is concerned, leave that to me.  I’m a big boy and have been trained by our government to be the best I can be.  Don’t forget how I handled myself with an entire group of outlaw bikers, who are all locked up now, by the way.  Furthermore, regarding the case, y’all have my written reports, so in the event that maybe something does happen to me, then at least there’s a paper trail.”

“Regardless, Will, there’s no reason for the Agency to keep you here.  It’s not like we’re looking to create a regional office in Rough River Falls, Kentucky.  Come on, let’s be serious.”

“Right, I get that.  Try to keep up with me here.  I’m not going anywhere.  I’m aware the Agency has nothing for me to do here anymore, so I would venture to say that my time with the DEA has run its course.  Consider this my notice of resignation.  I mean, you guys are gonna have to foot these medical bills though.  I didn’t knock out this investigation for nothing.”

“Well, I’ll relay this bit of information up the chain of command then, I guess,” he stammered, obviously taken aback by my statement.  “All sarcasm aside, I hate to see you go, Will.  You’re a train wreck of an agent, but you’re damn effective.  Good luck to you.  I’m sure we’ll be in touch when the hearings start to roll around.”

“Umm, thanks, I guess?  You aren’t gonna try to hug me or make out with me right now or anything, are you?”  Heaven forbid I let things be serious for two minutes.

“You’re an idiot.  Keep it together and stay alive, huh?”  He left it at that, spinning around and walking out, bumping into the doctor who was entering my overpriced hotel room.

Thank goodness.  “Perfect timing, doc.  Let’s get me outta here already.”

 

Chapter 3

 

I spend another two months of my life in a rehab hospital outside Rough River Falls, re-learning how to walk and use my right arm.  It’s essentially a nursing home for people who aren’t geriatrics.  I’m eager to get out of here and get back home, although milking my injuries for everything they’re worth with Kayla has made my recovery tolerable.

“What’s your plan when you get outta here?”

“I haven’t given it much thought, to be honest.  I’ve been more focused on learning how to function like a human again.  If I’m not mistaken though, I think the town could use a good mechanic.”  Of course I know I’m not mistaken.  I’m directly responsible for the town not currently having a mechanic, what with Griz, the prior gearhead, being locked up behind bars thanks to me.  “Seems like a natural fit to me.  The only thing I understand more than law enforcement is the inner workings of a gasoline combustion engine, ya know?  The one thing my dad did right was teach me a very useful trade skill.”

“Why don’t I come over there and you can get my engine running?”  She saunters over to the door and gently latches it before strutting to the chair I’m currently occupying.  She plants her knees in the cushion on either side of me and straddles my lap.  Luckily, that part of my anatomy was left unscathed following my accident…ifyaknowwhatimean.  Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

A tapping sound comes from the door.  Of course it does.  Kayla climbs off of me at the sound.  Dammit, doc.  “Yeah, come on in,” I call, irritation dripping from every word.  The door swings open quickly, and just as fast, a masked man in a leather vest is bearing down on me from across the room.  Thanks to my injuries, my reflexes are damn-near nonexistent aside from my sweat glands and heart rate, which isn’t useful in the least bit.  What am I supposed to do here?  Sweat on the guy until he submits?  He crosses the room in four steps and raises his right foot to deliver a front kick toward my head.  His boot lands squarely on the chair back cushion, centimeters from my face.

Kayla has an even slower/worse reaction than me, and she just now decides to take action by bolting for the door.  My assailant orders her to stay put and she obeys.  What the hell, Kayla?!  The guy peels off his mask and exposes his stupid face – Scott.

“Dammit man.  The joke’s on me, I guess.”

“Had to see how your recovery’s coming along,” he states.  “Are you gonna be able to handle people’s shit when you get outta here?”

“Shouldn’t need to.  Hasn’t Kayla said anything to you?” I ask.

“She’s said a lot of things to me.  She’s my sister.”

“Ugh, you’re such a smartass,” I accuse him.  “About the DEA and my recent unemployment?”

“Of course she told me,” he concedes, glancing over in her direction.  “That was like, months ago.  Which brings me to the reason for my visit.  This whole thing wasn’t completely my own idea.”

“So you’re telling me that you had help putting together this little charade of a room invasion?  I’m shocked,” I say, rolling my eyes.

Scott turns toward my open room door and in walks an older, heavier set man.  I’ve seen the guy around town over the last several months since my return, but I’m having a little difficulty placing him.

“Will, it’s good to see you,” the gentleman begins.  He approaches and extends his hand.  “Bill Williams.  Town Manager for Rough River Falls.”

It finally dawns on me.  I’m talking to none other than Bill Williams.  Town Manager for Rough River Falls.  Okay, hold on.  His name is William Williams?!  Come on, you gotta be kidding me here.  I stifle a little immature giggle and try my best to keep my composure and a straight face.  “Regular visits from the DEA and now I have the Town Manager coming to check on me?  I’m feeling a little extra important now.”

“Speaking of the DEA, obviously we’re all well aware of your recent exploits.  Your return to town, the investigation into the Kings, the pending legal cases, and so on.  Your presence has been very disruptive to our mild ways of living.”

“Well, to be fair, your ‘mild ways of living’ included harboring an outlaw motorcycle club that was responsible for extortion, drug trafficking, the overdose death of a state representative’s kid, aaaaaaaaand, oh yeah, murder.”

“And your actions have gutted our town’s identity and its ability to sustain itself. Before this conversation devolves into a finger-pointing competition, let me get to the point.”

I shift my weight in the chair, intrigued by what is about to happen.

He resumes, “There are some very ugly truths that we have all been forced to face in the last three to four months.  The bottom line is this: the town is imploding, Will, and at this point it’s unsustainable.  Put your feelings and opinions of the Kings aside for a minute and listen to me.  Twenty-five guys were arrested and removed from a population of only 412.  Arresting six percent of the town isn’t a drop in the bucket and it goes far beyond a small ripple effect.  That’s a tsunami-level event we’re talking about here.  And when the tidal wave came crashing down, it destroyed everything in town in its wake.  Griz’s Garage shut down since the proprietor and half the employees are now incarcerated, but that leaves the other half of the mechanics who are still around and now out of work.  Rusty’s Tavern is now struggling since a lot of their most loyal patrons are locked behind bars.  The library is closed because El C’s old lady was fired and not replaced.  Theft is on the rise because people are desperate to make ends meet, and petty street crime is escalating because the Kings aren’t around any longer to deter it.”

“Well damn, Bill.  That’s a pretty grim outlook.  And you’ve seen all of this in the span of three to four months?!”

“Will, we’re talking about a working-class town here.  Pretty much the entire town lives below the poverty line.  It’s not like there’s money floating around for people to build savings accounts for a rainy day – much less a torrential downpour like now.”

“And I’m sure you didn’t come down here to throw stats around about just how much I’ve ruined Rough River Falls,” I conclude.

“Not at all.  I can see why you were so valuable to the DEA.  You’ve got a good head on your shoulders.  Will, I need your help.  The town needs your help,” he pleads.  “The town council has approved the creation of a position of one town marshal.”

“And you want that to be me,” I finish for him.

“I do.  You are hands down the only qualified candidate in town.”

“Bill, look at me.  Thanks for the offer, but I’m still learning how to walk and write my name.  You want me to chase punk kids and cocaine tweakers, then write up a shit-load of paperwork about it?  I’d love to be able to help, I really would, but I simply can’t do it physically,” I confess.

“Just think about it Will.  Myself and the council are all well aware of your recovery and we aren’t willing to fill this position with just anybody.  We’re eager to have somebody in place so some semblance of order can be restored to the town, but we are more than willing to wait for the right person.  That person is you.  Take care of yourself and get outta here soon,” he states, turning toward the door to exit my room.

I look around the room to the faces that are still present.  First to Kayla, who looks back at me with a blank stare.  She clearly wasn’t anticipating this conversation.  Then I move my gaze to Scott, who’s nodding his head.

“Do it,” he encourages.

 

Chapter 4

 

I vigorously shake out my clothes as I take them out of the dresser and refold them to fill my suitcase.  That’s right, folks…I’m going home!

“Guess who came into the tavern the other day during my shift,” Kayla asks, giving me a few seconds to consider my answer.

“Hmm.  Scott?” I ask half-heartedly.

“Mr. Williams,” she responds.

I stop folding my clothes.  “That was my next guess, of course.”  She’s got my full attention.

“You’re an idiot.  He asked if you’ve given any thought to his proposal.”

I slightly nod my head a couple times.  “And what am I supposed to patrol in?  My pickup?”

“That response right there isn’t a ‘no,’” she points out.  “You should talk to him.”

Dammit she’s smart.  We finish gathering my belongings before a staff member rolls me to the front door in a wheelchair, a small box of personal affects in my lap.  Kayla follows with my suitcase in tow.  We reach the exit and the double doors automatically slide apart.  Wouldn’t you know it, the one and only Bill Williams is standing outside next to a damn nice four door pickup truck.  “What’s he doing here?” I mutter to Kayla out of the side of my mouth.

“How else were you planning on getting home?  Did you expect me to borrow Scott’s scooter?”

“Will, it’s good to see you!  You’re looking well,” Mr. Williams says as he approaches.  He extends his hand to assist me out of the wheelchair.

“Thanks.  So is your truck,” I reply.

“Ya think?  Well thanks.  I’m a little fond of it myself if I’m being honest.  Let me help you get loaded up and we’ll get you home, sound good?”

“Sounds very good.  Let’s do that.”  Bill takes my belongings and gently places them in the bed of the truck while Kayla escorts me to the passenger door of the vehicle and steadies me as I work my way up into the leather seat.  The three of us get situated in the enormous pickup, then Mr. Williams expertly navigates it out of the parking lot and toward Rough River Falls.

“Will, it would probably be a good idea to discuss some things before we get to your apartment,” Bill starts in.

I can see Kayla in the side mirror, gazing out of her window while this discussion takes shape.  “You don’t miss a beat, do you, Bill?”

“Well first of all, I just want to warn you a little more of the state of the town before we get there.  Ya know, try to ease the shock a little bit for you.”

Gee, how thoughtful.  “Thanks, but I’m a big boy.  I can handle whatever fallout there may be from my actions against the Kings.  I’m sure you’re itching to get down to business and make your next sales pitch to me about why I should be your Sheriff.”

“Town marshal,” he corrects.

“Potayto, potahto.  Who gives a shit?”

“The Grayson County Sheriff’s Department for starters,” he points out.  “You will be a recognized officer of the law, but you will not be a Sheriff’s Deputy.”

“Right, that would involve giving me a cruiser,” I mumble just loud enough for him to hear.  “Speaking of which, in this little fantasy of yours, what do you see me patrolling the town in?  I have a bike that’s unrecognizable as a motor vehicle of any kind and a beat up old pickup that I can barely count on to start when the temp drops below forty.”

“We’ve been offered an SUV through a local dealer who has also agreed to outfit it with all the equipment you’ll need.  There’s nothing like a tight-knit community that you can count on for support in a time of need.”

“That’s a helluva gesture,” I acknowledge.  “So let’s say I agree to this disaster of an idea.  What kind of timeframe do you have in mind before I’d be on the streets?”

“Obviously, that would depend on your recovery and physical state, Will.  As soon as you’re ready to go.”

I check the side mirror again and Kayla’s gaze is still fixed on the horizon.  She’s mindlessly nodding her head.  It seems to me like everybody has been having conversations without me, and arrangements are being made without my say so.  Can’t say that I’m too thrilled about that, since it’s gonna be my ass on the line.  A quiet falls over the cab of the truck for the remainder of the twenty minute drive back to town.

Mr. Williams breaks the silence as Highway 54 becomes Main Street and the speed limit drops from 55 mph down to 35 mph.  That, my friends, is the very definition of a speed trap.  I can only imagine that’s how a lot of my upcoming time on duty will be spent; hiding out behind a bush and pulling over unsuspecting passersby to hand out citations.

“Will, I feel like you should know that things aren’t quite the way you left them.  I just don’t want you to be too shocked by what you see when we get to your apartment,” he warns as he turns off of Main Street.

I’m not too sure what I’m getting into, but I gotta admit, I’m a little worried with that kind of build-up.  We pull into the parking lot for my apartment building and I spot my pickup right where I left it…just not quite as I left it.  First, I notice that the axles are sitting on concrete cinder blocks instead of round chunks of rubber commonly referred to as tires.  I slide out of Bill’s cab as soon as he comes to a stop and I step directly toward my truck.  As I approach, I notice the driver’s side window is broken in and the hood isn’t latched.  I lift the hood and immediately notice the glaring absence in my battery compartment.  After a quick once over, it doesn’t look like anything else is missing.  I check the passenger side and notice that the glove box was rummaged through.  All my paperwork and napkins seem to still be present, but my flashlight and breath mints are gone.  What kind of monster steals a man’s breath mints?!?

After taking inventory of the damage to my truck, I turn my attention to my apartment.  Dammit.  As if I wasn’t already pissed off enough about my pickup.  My eye is immediately drawn to the black spray paint adorning the red door of my domicile.  Three capital letters spell it out as simply as possible – PIG.  From there I spot the plastic covering the front window to my living room.  Something tells me that wasn’t put up to help with insulation purposes.  I slowly approach the residence, push the door in, and survey the scene.  My place has been completely ransacked; the TV was thrown to the floor, my beloved movie collection tossed around all willy-nilly, and my furniture is shredded.  “Good lord.  Is this ground zero for where the zombie apocalypse started??  I just always assumed it would originate somewhere in El Salvador or something.”  It doesn’t look like I was robbed, but rather somebody really wanted to get a message across.  The black spray paint on my red door might be more than sufficient evidence of where I should start looking.

“Tell you what, Bill.  Get me a light bar and a laptop for my truck, and a radio so I can communicate with the local sheriff’s department and other local law enforcement agencies.  I’ll handle the installation and repairs on my own.”

“That isn’t asking much, Will.  We can certainly acquiesce to those requests,” replies Bill.

“Well now I didn’t say I was done,” I shoot back, almost cutting him off in mid-sentence.  “You aren’t getting off that cheap.  All the money I just saved you will have to be reallocated in my budget.”

“What are you thinking?” he inquires.

“Obviously, I’m gonna need a bike.”

 

Chapter 5

 

Knowing that he would get the desired reaction from me by taking me to my apartment, but also knowing I had no place to stay until things were cleaned up, Bill ends up driving Kayla and me back to Main Street and dropping us outside Rusty’s Tavern.  That isn’t technically the name of it, but the local bar and grill had changed owners and names so much in the past twenty-five years that the residents just reverted to calling it by its original name and stuck with it.  Anyway, I digress.  The small diner serves as Kayla’s source of income, as well as her residence.  The property houses a small one-bedroom apartment above the tavern, which Kayla occupies.  And now, I suppose I’ll be occupying it as well for a while.  I sure hope Kayla’s cool with that.

As soon as we get my things out of Bill’s truck and upstairs into Kayla’s apartment, we settle into her couch and start making out like a couple of high schoolers.  Finally, we can act with no fear of being interrupted by nurses, physical therapists, or doctors.  As I’m sure you can imagine, before long, we were beyond making out…again, just like a couple of high schoolers.

We make our way back to the tiny bedroom and I lay her down all romantic-like.  Well, as smooth as I can for still relearning how to use my limbs.  I lay down beside her and hear the creaking of her front door opening.  “What the Hell?!” I blurt out.  As quickly as possible, I get to my feet, make sure all of myself is covered up, and storm from the room to confront the intruder and defend my lady’s honor.  “Dammit, Scott.  Could you possibly be any more annoying?” I ask, more than a little serious.

“Just thought I’d stop by for a little bit.  Ya know, be your one-man greeting party.  Maybe talk some club business while I’m here.”  Scott interrupts the bedroom action to talk about the Kings?! Not cool man. He must sense my hesitation and irritation with his next line.  “Hey, once a King, always a King, right?” he asks.

“Right, about that.  Maybe you’re forgetting how the club voted me in after making a drug run for them, then voted me out all in the span of a week and a half.  Not sure your ‘Once a King, always a King’ mantra rings true.”

“Yeah, well, I didn’t forget about that, but this is a new era for the Kings.”

“Why are you so hell-bent on keeping this club alive??” I ask exasperatedly.

“Because it’s all I’ve got!” he spits back.  “This is what I know, and this is all I have in my life besides Kayla.  I need this,” he trails off.

Ugh.  Dammit, kid.  “Two guys don’t make an MC, you know?”

“Does it matter if there’s three?”

“Who the hell else have you convinced to waste their time pretending-” then it hits me.  “Jaws?!?”

“You know it!”

He’s the only other person affiliated with the former Kings that didn’t manage to get tangled up in my bust, but he was only a “hang-around” at the time.  Not even an official prospect yet.  “Good lord.  I don’t even know the kid’s name.  And there’s no damn way I’m calling him Jaws.”

“Will, we aren’t changing our road names.”

“You can’t be serious.  Scott, they called you Junky for Christ’s sake,” I remind him.  “Why would you want to keep that label and be reminded of those asshats and what they put you through?  And don’t think you’re gonna keep calling me Legacy.  I don’t really need that reminder of my swell ol’ dad.”

“You can’t change your past, Will.  And if you try to forget it and ignore it, then you’re bound to make the same mistakes.”

“Whoa.  That’s deep, Prez.”

“Shut up, asshole.”

“I’m still not calling you Junky.”

“There’s no way in Hell he’s calling you that,” Kayla interjects from the doorway to her bedroom.

“Then call me Prez,” he offers, flashing that shit-eating grin of his.

“Come on, let’s be serious here for a minute.  I get that you want-err, need, this club to keep going, but you don’t even have a bike,” I point out, matter-of-factly.

“Well yeah, there’s that,” Scott acknowledges.  The final act of indignity that the club bestowed upon Scott when they voted him in as a full-patch member was gifting him with a scooter.  In normal situations, that might be seen as a rather generous act, but in the motorcycle world if you’re on a scooter then you might as well be a smashed pile of dog shit on the side of the road.  “Lucky for me, with you being out of commission, that opened up a bar-tending gig at Rusty’s, so I’ve been doing that for the last few months.”

Upon my return to Rough River Falls, I took a part-time gig tending bar at the local tavern to give the appearance that I wasn’t an undercover agent.  Always gotta cover your tracks, ya know?

Scott continues, “You’re right about me not having a bike, but I’m working on it.  I’ve been able to save a decent amount of money between paydays, and Kayla has let me crash on her couch since the clubhouse was demolished, so that helps.”  The DEA tore down the former clubhouse following my sting.  They wanted to make a statement, and also didn’t want to leave any remnant of the club behind.  Unfortunately, the one kind act the club ever did for Scott was letting him shack up in a backroom of the clubhouse while he prospected.  It kept him close for them to torment, and it also gave the Kings a live-in maid to clean up all of their messes.

I slowly start to nod my head as the realization settles in; there’s no room for me here.  With Scott sitting in the lone recliner, Kayla pads her way over and squeezes next to me on the couch.  Kayla must sense where I am mentally.  “You can crash here for a few days.  Until your apartment gets cleaned up at least.”

“Thanks.  I’ll call the landlord and see if they have any other open units I can move into to try to expedite the process,” I mention.  “Let’s go back to the clubhouse for a minute,” I redirect the conversation back to Scott.  “Where do you plan on the club meeting, Prez?  In addition to actual members, a meeting place is also a pretty basic requirement for a motorcycle club.”

“I might have something in mind,” he responds.  I can sense his frustration is growing.  “You know what?  Forget it.  I was hoping you might have some insight.  Maybe even be a resource to help me with this, but all you wanna do is poke holes in everything I’m trying to do.  Screw it man, I’ll figure it out on my own.”

“Shut up, Scott,” I fire back.  My frustration kicks in as well.  “Yes, I’m poking holes in your ideas because your plans are so damn flimsy.  You want to keep a club going that literally ruined your life.  On top of that, you’re trying to build it from the ground up because guess what?  All the bikers in this town are locked up.  You can’t have a club without members.  And the cherry on top is that there isn’t even a clubhouse.  You’re missing the very fundamental elements of an MC.  I never said I wasn’t in, I’m just pointing out that it’s going to be an uphill battle.”

I see the hint of a smile form on his lips.  “Alright,” he says sheepishly at first.  I can see the enthusiasm growing.  “I have something to show you when you’re ready.”  With that, I stand up and walk down to the tavern.  I can already tell I’m gonna need a drink or seven.

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