Thanks Rhi. :D
Hope you all enjoy.
Driven (July 15, 2010)
Mike was an orphan.
He hadn’t always been; he had plenty of faded, blurred memories from the first decade of childhood, of county fairs and a hundred other little things. Sitting in front of his father in the saddle, the rhythmic sway of the stallion’s stride a lullaby. The smells of leather, saddle soap, oats, alfalfa and manure that always mingled like party guests in the barn, too close, too much, but heady and warm and welcoming all the same.
The faded, worn denim of mom’s workpants. The oversized flannel shirt—his dad’s—that she wore while she painted, shirttails tied up around her waist. He remembered her energy, the way her whole body moved to translate flowing lines of paint onto the canvas.
It had never failed to mesmerize him, that artistic channel of communication.
They had a routine, his parents. Once a month, they went out together for the evening. Rarely came back before dawn, though they were always back in time for lunch. The ranch foreman would watch him, let him sleep in the barn with his pony most of the time. Which was harmless enough, though his parents had frowned upon it.
He had just turned twelve, a few days before, when his parents left and never came back.
It was found to be vehicular homicide; the semi driver had DOT logbooks rife with violations, and he should have been off the road, taking his eight-hour break, long before he straddled the center line of the highway coming up over that hill, and slammed into his father’s truck at 85 mph.
He could still recall the tension in the foreman, the strange stillness in the old man, coiled and ready to move, as the State Troopers pulled up the long drive and stopped in a faint cloud of red dust that afternoon.
The cording in the man’s arm, unyielding as steel, holding him behind his taller body, shielding him. Or trying to, as long as possible.
The sun had been merciless, that day. The heat rippling up from the ground in waves, obscuring details at a distance.
Mike hated the heat. And dust plumes always played the role of harbinger, in his life.
Things went downhill from there.
That philosophical statement about life being a journey, and where you end up usually depending on where you start? Full of shit, that.
He was placed in foster homes, no family relations to be found. The farm was subdivided, sold. His father’s stallion, the family pet and prized cutting horse of his younger days, gone.
Most of the time he succeeded in forgetting the years between. The estate stood in trust, what was left of it, until he was eighteen and went off to college. It paid his tuition, with just enough to spare, and he didn’t waste any time. Piled on the classes, summer sessions and 20+ credits a semester, to finish in half the time most students took.
That damned photographic memory was a tool he wielded without mercy.
If it could memorize the information on a Trooper’s uniform, branding the stranger’s name and badge number into the backs of his eyelids, then it could damned well serve a useful purpose, too.
(c) Rhianon Etzweiler
That's all for me, for now. There will be more tomorrow when both Aleks and Rhi will be swinging by for a sit down chat, whoowhoo, I'm stoked about that. That'll rock. If you've missed any of the Dark Edge of Honor extras, check out the sidebar, I've been linking them under that beautimus book cover, there's much coolness you don't want to miss. And don't worry, it's all non-spoilerish, hot, but non-spoiler.
Have a great day!