It’s not really my fault, officer. It’s Jayden Baker’s.
See, what you’ve got to understand is that this kind of weather is my favourite. We’re talking 72 hours above 30 degrees, with desert winds howling from the west. Hair dryer weather, you know the kind, where pools are more people than water, and you can run the cold tap for three minutes and still get lukewarm. Everything melts; ice cream, bitumen, resolves.
But yeah, it was that kind of weather when Jayden Baker sauntered back into town.
I’d been sitting in my bedroom, worshipping a desk fan when the familiar whine of a beat-up ’93 Falcon droned down the street outside. Yeah, it’s the same one you guys found at the scene. I’d been ready there and then to tell him to shove it, but I hadn’t seen him in over a year. I wanted to see how he was.
Just as I stepped out onto the front verandah, Jayden pulled into the driveway. The Falcon was the shit-box it had always been, chipped white paint and rust forming around the windows. He still hadn’t repaired the dent and scorch marks on the rear driver’s side.
He cut the engine, the door swung open, and Jayden was out, a vessel of vibrating energy. His clothes were rougher than usual; I counted at least four holes burned into his shirt. He hadn’t shaved in a couple days. The way he moved, especially with his eyes, I don’t think he’d slept in as long either. There was a warrant out for him? That makes sense. He was erratic for the whole trip, even for him.
But seriously, I was furious. I was. There was only one reason he’d be here.
‘Jackie,’ he said. ‘It’s been a while.’
‘It has,’ I said. ‘Why’re you here, Jayden?’
‘You know why.’
‘Come on, it won’t be like last time,’ Jayden said. ‘Just a road trip, for a couple days. Not like last time.’
So I figure, what the hell, I can control myself for a couple days. He cracks his megawatt halogen grin as I climb into the car. We spent the first day just cruising the highways, singing along to whatever was on the radio. We slept in the car, ate whatever crap we could find.
At some point, he threw a lighter at me, and smirked, the smug asshole.
I should have told him to stop the car, I should have left. But I’ve never been good at saying no, and I’ve never felt half as alive as when I’m with him.