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Dead Heat
Excerpt

SQUARE SILENCE

I’m sprawled out in bed practising imaginary flip turns in a semi-daze when Sabotage from Beastie Boys starts blaring, and my body floods with adrenaline. After I finally realise it’s my ringtone I’m hearing, I turn on my side and start feeling around on the floor. Eventually, I find it under my t-shirt in my shoe. Somehow last night, it ended up in there. I answer. It’s Buoy, he’s bored and wants to go down to the thermal bath. I’m still only half-conscious, so instead of telling him to fuck off, I agree to meet him in twenty behind the old movie theatre. Buoy – judging by his voice, anyway – doesn’t seem too distressed about last night’s party. I don’t remember every last detail, plus these nights are pretty much the same anyway, but one thing’s for sure: we did get seriously shitfaced. I hang up and try to open my eyes, but it’s too early. I even forgot to roll down the shutters last night.

Downtown’s always like a set from The Walking Dead at this time of day. Main Street’s the only place with any sign of life. A couple of screaming kids on tricycles zigzag around bums in zombie costumes sifting through garbage cans. Otherwise, everything’s disturbingly empty. Buoy’s got it in his head to take a detour towards the White Rhino, cause he heard from someone that there was a major fucking battle at the club last night. I’d rather just get going to the pool, but I don’t feel like wandering around by myself, so I stick with Buoy.

As soon as we get there, you can tell that whoever told the story wasn’t kidding when they said it was a battle. There’s POLICE LINE: DO NOT CROSS tape strung around the trashed entrance, and they tried to sweep the broken window glass under the bushes, but the shards crunch loudly under my feet just the same. The walls and the fence are covered with bloodstains and there must’ve been a couple of bigger pools of blood on the concrete that got sprinkled with sand to soak them up. Buoy heard that the gypsies stabbed someone or the skinheads stabbed the gypsies, but whatever happened is still unclear because there was a massive crowd, and Buoy’s homie who watched the whole thing go down couldn’t see much through the mob. In any case, it’s all really fuzzy.

There’s blood and hair stuck to the jagged glass sticking out from the window frame. I’m lost in space for a second and can’t see anything else except a dark strand of hair quivering in the draft. Buoy’s voice makes me snap out of it.

“This was real hardcore,” he establishes with satisfaction. “Lucky we left early,” he adds.

So that means we were at the club too. I wanna ask if I was with them, but if I was, Buoy’s gonna think I’m a total retard, so I keep my mouth shut and stare at the smashed door instead. I’m not sure what facial expression should match this moment, cause standing around on the empty street like this kinda weakens the whole horrifying effect. Still, it’s hard to disassociate from the fact that someone’s head was shoved through the window here. And if the glass looks like this, imagine what’s left of that poor guy’s head. Buoy studies the scene a while longer, then I manage with some effort to drag him away, and we head off to the spa. We weave our way through the cars parked in front of the White Rhino. There’s a smudged streak of blood gleaming on the trunk of a white Mazda. I’m no car freak, but I have this thing for Japanese cars. Knocked-out teeth lie on the ground, but they’re arranged so neatly that I’ll bet the news crew used them for cutaway shots.

We’re walking down the road. There’s no traffic at all. They cleaned my favourite graffiti off the high stone wall separating the music school from the jail that read: Prisoners of Music. It’ll have to get sprayed on again. Buoy’s talking a mile a minute, and sometimes it gets out of control, but I’ve realized that when he’s like this the best thing to do is act like Viggo Mortensen in that creepy sci-fi and just keep saying, uh-huh, and yeah. I don’t really care about the kids Buoy’s going off about, I don’t even know half of them by name, and he’s already said everything he knew about last night’s scuffle. We’re almost at the spa when he launches into some story about the Cloister Street Thai Massage Parlour and happy endings, but before I can get him to tell me more details, a water polo girl slows down on her bike beside us. Grinning, Buoy starts complimenting her on the killer whale tattooed on her calf.

Twenty minutes later we’re soaking in the thermal basin, the water gurgling softly into the overflow drain. Wrinkly old crones with liver spots surround us in the water and by the poolside, as far as the eye can see. They remind me of wallowing hippos on Animal Planet. I’m watching Ducky, but he doesn’t notice me. His face’s all red from the hot water as he looks around with a bored expression for somebody to bang, but we got here a little early so there are no good chicks yet, just a bunch of grannies. Then again, it’s always Ducky’s mood and the situation that decide who he’s gonna screw.

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On the Line

On the Line

Off the Ice - Book Two
edition:Paperback
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