Fuckwittery ✯ Asskickery

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✯Geeks on Ink✯

Just Press 2- Pre-final edited Prologue

This is the pre-final edited Prologue.
The completed Novella will be available this week.


PROLOGUE

For the past three hours Staff Sergeant Jeramy Thacker had sat motionless at the kitchen table staring at the collection of items that were neatly laid out in front of him: a bottle of hydrocodone that was left over from his wife with a whiskey chaser, telephone, tan beret, and a nine-millimeter with one bullet in it. The pills and alcohol would be more than enough to kill him, if he chose the slow and painful route. The bullet would be quicker, but messier. The tan beret was a reminder of what he had sacrificed so much for, and that it wasn’t an enemy that took him out, thus the United States Army didn’t fail him when he failed himself. And the phone was solely to call someone before pulling the trigger on whichever option he decided to go with so his rotting corpse didn’t attract wildlife…not that there was wildlife on base, but he wasn’t willing to risk her home being dirtied because he was weak.
Kyce Thacker was a stickler about the cleanliness of her home, which was to be expected from a woman that had successfully battled cancer three times before succumbing to the fourth. Jeramy was deployed in Afghanistan when he got the call from his sister-in-law. Kyce didn’t want Jeramy to know, not until she beat it again because he was under enough stress with his fourth deployment; even though they were divorced in their minds, solely together so Kyce could get Army medical benefits, they were still best friends. Jeramy came home on a hardship leave, and when he walked into the bedroom and saw what was left of Kyce, he collapsed on his knees and prayed for the first time in years. She was rail thin, skin transparently white, her hair had fallen out, eyes were sunken in, and she hadn’t the strength to even squeeze his hand.
“The cancer found a new home, the one place we didn’t think to look,” she had said with a raspy cough of laughter. “Cheer up, Ranger, death is something everyone has to experience,” she reminded him.
Jeramy simply nodded as he fought to keep the tears stinging his eyes from falling; the only time the proud and lethal man ever cried was when Kyce was involved.
Through the night he stayed on the floor on his knees, praying for God to hear him, to help his best friend and the better part of him, and as the sun rose the next morning, the help he was looking for came in the form of Kyce’s last breath.
The parade of people that followed was a blur. Their condolences eventfully blended together, becoming a hum in the background of his reality. Jeramy sat on the couch, unmoving, unspeaking, staring across the room at the wall at nothing in particular. The base therapist made daily visits in an attempt to get the asset that the United States Government had spent millions and years honing back in the field, but he couldn’t be reached.
Kyce was his best friend and his voice when he had none. They grew up together after being put in the same foster home when they were four years old, and eventually were adopted by two families that lived next door to each other. They were middle school sweethearts, homecoming king and queen in high school, even enrolled in the Army together; he with the hopes of being a Ranger and she a communications analyst until medically discharged after the second reoccurrence. They married on base, were ready to start a future together, but that future was always just out of reach: three miscarriages and two still births ultimately destroyed their marriage.
It wasn’t as if Jeramy’s back to back tours helped any. His way of keeping their perfect life, the one that his biological parents were too dysfunctional to have, and a revolving door of foster homes couldn’t provide, was to smile and pretend that everything was okay and would work out in the end. Kyce did the same and was always upbeat and positive, even when she was dying. She constantly reassured Jeramy when he needed it, even if they both knew she was lying, and she was forever with a smile on her face; even as her last breath left her body, there was a smile on her face before her heart stopped.
Jeramy never realized how much he needed that and her in his life in order to have a life. She was the strength that he always thought he had but apparently didn’t, and she was the voice of reason when he had none, and she was the sanity that he desperately needed.
There was only one thing left for him to do, and as cowardly as it was, he knew that life would be a million times worse without a stable foundation to hold him up. Being an Army Ranger was a very dangerous job, one that he embraced with encouragement from Kyce. He was good at it; he loved his country, loved his job, but did he really enjoy it? Kyce was the one that suggested he was perfect for the Rangers after boot camp. Kyce was the one that said military when they were looking at college options. When he was thinking they should head south, but Kyce said northwest.
Everything in his life, even when he was a teenager, was because Kyce had told him to do it.
Perhaps that was why he was good at being in the military; he took orders without question. But now he was second guessing it, and that was terrifying him more than the thought of trying to go through life without the one person that was his life.
“Death is something everyone has to experience, Ranger,” Jeramy mumbled and reached for the phone, his resolve set.
The base therapist had programmed the Military Crisis Hotline into the phone, as well as the National Suicide Hotline. Sadly, the suicide rate was extremely high in those returning from war, especially in those that saw the type of combat that Jeramy had, so the therapist was being proactive.
Jeramy hit the talk button before pressing and holding down the number two for the Military Crisis Hotline since civilians wouldn’t be useful in the least when the base was concerned. He held the phone with one hand, his other was drumming his fingers on the table, waiting for the line to pick up.
After six rings, the other end answered.
“What the fuck, Shit-brick?!” a woman demanded.
Jeramy sat up taller in his seat.
“Do you have any idea what fucking time it is?” she demanded.  “Kurt, if this is your sorry ass and another half-assed attempt at pleading your case, trying to get me to be your cock-less wing-cock, you have another thing coming. I will shove this phone so far up your ass that you’ll hear a dial tone when you swallow.”
And for the first time in months, Jeramy laughed.
It wasn’t hysterical laughter that helped to remind him that life wasn’t so bad and was worth living. No, it was simply a deep, throaty chuckle that broke past his lips before he could stop it, and when it did, the other line went quiet.
“Um…there’s no way this is Kurt; he sounds like his balls are in a vice thanks to the boys’ skinny jeans he shoves his missing ass into,” she said.
Jeramy licked his lips, debating between hanging up since he apparently had the wrong number or apologizing since he obviously woke the woman up. “Not Kurt,” he said.
“Yeah, I figured that out,” she huffed. “So, who deserves the ass kicking for waking me up at three a.m. on my day off of all fucking days?”
Jeramy looked at digital clock on the stove: midnight. “Sorry, Ma’am, I was…obviously I have the wrong number,” he apologized.
“Again, you’re stating the obvious,” she said with a raspy chuckle. “Who were you trying to call, maybe I can help direct you to the right lonely woman waiting to hear your deep, sexy voice at this hour,” she teased.
The corners of his mouth twitched. “Not a woman, Ma’am,” he explained.
“Ooh, a man then. Grrr,” she playfully growled. “Perhaps I should get Kurt on the phone after all; he likes bears.”
He chuckled. “I’m not a bear, or into...never mind.”
“Ok, not looking for man love, who were you calling?”
The suicide hotline,” he blurted out before he could stop the words from spilling from his lips then silently berated himself for saying them aloud.
There was a groan from the other line. “Yeah, you’re way off,” she said. “Next time try 4-1-1 instead of just randomly pressing buttons.”
“One.”
“Huh?” she asked.
“I just pressed one button, the number two to be precise,” he explained then leaned back in the chair. “The therapist programmed the numbers for me-”
“I’d ask for your money back because he obviously found his pretend degree in the bottom of a Cracker Jack box,” she interrupted.
“Apparently so,” he agreed, which wasn’t normal in the least and it instantly flooded him with guilt. “I apologize, Ma’am, I should let you go-”
“Why, you got a hot date or someplace to be?” she countered. “You got my ass up now you’re going to entertain me until I pass back out.”
Jeramy wasn’t prepared for that, he was supposed to be laying out plastic from the garage to cover the walls, floor, and furniture before putting the gun to his head, not entertain some woman that was more vulgar than any of the men he had ever been deployed with. “Oh, I mean…yes, I can do that. I suppose it’s the least I could do for waking you up.”
“Yup, to say the least,” she said and the sound of a toilet flushing in the background caused his eyebrows to shoot upward.
“Did you just hit the head with me on the phone?” he asked in disbelief.
“Yup,” she said, as if it was an everyday thing. “When a girl’s gotta piss she’s gotta piss. Though, I suppose, I could have used the mute button, but the last time I did that in the dark I ended up dropping the phone in the toilet so I figured I’d just save myself the headache of having to get another phone by trying to piss quietly… Admit it, you didn’t know I did until I flushed, huh?”
Again he chuckled; it was an awkward and extremely strange conversation to be having, but it felt as if it was exactly what he was supposed to be talking about at the moment.  “True. I didn’t know it was possible for someone to pis…urinate quietly.”
She groaned. “Piss, not urinate. Say it,” she teased.
“No,” he grumbled, trying to keep from smiling; she was defiant and he could respect that.
“I’ll get your guard to slip,” she warned in a singsong tone. “Back to the discussion at hand; you’d be surprised at what a broad can accomplish when a hot sounding, suicidal man is on the other line. So, what do I call you?” she asked, and there was no mistaking the smile in her voice.
Instantly his resolve was back at the mention of it.
“It’s late and I should let you sleep-” he started to say.
“Cowboy, that’s what I’ll call you,” she said, cutting him off as if she knew what he was thinking. “I’m sure you have a cowboy hat somewhere, you sound like the type that’d have one. Now, if you admit to having ass-less chaps I will demand to see pictures,” she informed him.
Jeramy shook his head in resignation. “I haven’t worn a cowboy hat since I was five, and that was only for a very traumatizing photo shoot from my childhood at Sears,” he informed her, then questioned why he had; no one but Kyce knew of that story, and that was only because she was wearing a god-awful cowboy hat as well.
The woman roared with laughter, her deep, throaty laugh was accompanied by a loud snort that caused him to chuckle. “Now that is a story I have to hear,” she said once she composed herself.
“Why?” he asked.
“Why not?” she countered. “Do you have something better to do?”
Did he? There was much he needed to do, but at the same time there was nothing he wanted to do. He was strangely at ease with his own impending demise.
“I was going to lay some plastic out to keep from ruining the floors and walls,” he admitted.
She made a disgruntle scoffing sound under her breath. “Gun wouldn’t be my first choice,” she said, sounding indifferent.
“How would you do it?” he asked, getting to his feet.
“Hmm,” she said, sounding contemplative. “I haven’t really thought about it, but death by beard would be an awesome way to go.”
Jeramy scratched his head. “Um, beard?” he asked.
She chuckled. “Yup, beard. An Austrian, who once held the record for longest beard in the sixteenth century, died due to his crumb catcher.”
“Shut up,” he groaned, shaking his head.
“I’m serious,” she assured him. “His name was Hans Steininger. In a massive town fire, he neglected to roll up his nearly five-foot beard before running for safety. He accidentally stepped on his flowing chin fur and tripped, broke his neck, and died where he landed. That, Cowboy, would be an epic way to go. Sadly, it’d take me years and years, not to mention an buttload of hormones, to get to that level of facial hair, thus I’d end up living forever,” she smugly informed him and he chuckled. “Thank you! Thank you! I’ll be here all night!” she said as if she were on stage and waving to an audience.
He shook his head in resignation then headed from the room. “Are you drunk?” he asked, opening the door to the garage.
“Nope, give it time and we both might need to have a few shots before the night, morning, is through.”
“I suppose you’re right,” he admitted, pulling out a roll of plastic from the supply cabinet in the garage. The cans of paint were neatly organized and labeled for each room they were used in, and the bottom of the cabinet had cans of new paint, one for each child they almost had but lost.
“Still with me, Cowboy?” she whispered.
“For now,” he grumbled, closing the cabinet after grabbing a roll of tape.
“Let me guess, I’m going to keep you company while you prepare the kitchen?” she asked.
“How’d you guess?”
“Call it a lucky guess for someone that ain’t so lucky,” she said with a chuckle.
“What do I call you?” Jeramy asked, setting the rolls of plastic on the kitchen table. “Since you’ll be the last person I talk to before-”
“Before you sit your ass down and get a bowl of cereal?” she asked, hopeful.
“I haven’t had cereal in years,” he admitted. “Pony, since I’m Cowboy you’ll be Pony.”
She laughed. “I’ve been called worse. At least you didn’t try to call me Kitty, that would have gotten you a one way ticket to an ass kicking.”
“I’d welcome your attempt.”
Pony made a mocking sound. “So tell me, Cowboy, why are you going to end it all? What is so bad that you just can’t put your big boy pants on and get over it?”
Jeramy rolled out the plastic. “It’s complicated.”
“And you have nothing but time before the feathery caress of Death’s embrace darkens your soul,” she countered. “I don’t have a bullshit degree in a field which is completely unfounded and nothing more than cliff notes from some sick fuck with mommy issues, but I’m awake, you suicide-dialed me…that’s like a drunk dial without the drinking and with a completely different getting off meaning behind it, so what do you have to lose?”
That was a good question.
Jeramy had nothing left to lose other than his life, and that he was going to take himself, so what would talking to a complete stranger hurt? The base therapists and his C.O. had been trying to get him to sit down and talk, to tell them what he’s thinking and feeling, when all he wanted to do was stop feeling all together, to stop thinking, and to stop being miserable, confused and feeling as if there was no future for him. Wasn’t this practically the same thing only what he said wouldn’t be remembered or noted in a file, wouldn’t be hung over his head and career if he did decide to not end it?
He took a deep breath and braced himself against the counter, allowing the roll of plastic to hit the floor. “My best friend and wife, should have been ex-wife but the medical insurance was better if we were married, and we really were best friends since we were four years old, she lost her fourth battle with cancer.”
“Shitty,” Pony said.
That wasn’t the response he was expecting. Everyone else had offered their condolences, had assured him that it’d be okay, and that Kyce wasn’t in pain anymore, but the stranger sounded bored.
“In a nutshell,” Jeramy agreed.
There was awkward silence on both lines.
Jeramy supposed, to a stranger that had nothing invested or knew Kyce, it wouldn’t be that significant, and that the loss was an everyday thing, especially for a soldier that had seen more war and bloodshed than anyone should ever see in a hundred lifetimes, but it made him curious as to her indifference.
“You finally fell asleep on me?” he asked.
Pony groaned. “No, not even close. I was just waiting for the story, something major that would warrant a cowboy to want to end his life, that’s all. If that was it, in a nutshell, than I have to say I’m very disappointed and kind of pissed off that you woke me up for this.”
He chuckled and started laying out the plastic over the hardwood floors. “Sorry to disappoint,” he said.
“I guess it was bound to eventually happen,” she admitted. “In my mind, it was so much more colorful and awesome. In one scenario you were on the FBI top ten list for smuggling copious amounts of Heroin into the country via your ass. Or, at the very least, you were trying to make amends for the lives you took in a violent and unavoidable way, one that you feel is completely your fault when it really isn’t, and you just can’t live with the knowledge that it wasn’t your fault but you feel as if it was your fault so you’re ending it all. That I could accept and not lose sleep over, but killing yourself because your woman died of natural causes, that’s just….I don’t know, pussified.”
“Pussified?” he asked.
“Yeah, pussified. Why are you being a pussy about it?”
“I’m not,” he said in a clipped tone.
“Yeah, you are, Pussy!” she sang the latter. “Cowboy is a giant pussy!” she continued to sing. “Pussy! Pussy! Pussy…honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever said pussy that many times in a conversation that I wasn’t drunk off my ass for. Huh, mark that one in the books.”
“Glad I could be of service,” he dryly said.
“Ooh, someone’s irritated at me,” Pony beamed.
“A bit,” Jeramy admitted.
“Take that bit and blow it up fucking huge!” she said.
“Huh?” he asked, stopping in mid-tape.
“Take your irritation and blow it up,” she said again, as if it were obvious. “You’re wallowing in self-pity, something I’m sure your woman wouldn’t want you doing, and if she wasn’t a complete bitch, would be pissed off about. Is this what she’d want you doing? Redecorating the kitchen with arterial spray and brain matter?”
“No,” he grumbled; Kyce would be beyond disappointed with him.
Pony dramatically sighed. “It is way too fucking early for this conversation and I am way too sober. I didn’t know this broad, but I’m sure she was a decent person if you’re taking your mourning to such ridiculous extremes, and if she wasn’t and was just some hook up that took you on Maury for a DNA test to prove you’re the baby daddy, I’m really going to kick your ass, so maybe she would want you, oh I don’t know, to live for the both of you…there’s more than one question mark on the end of that question-slash-statement.”
Jeramy sat down on the plastic covered floor and leaned against the cabinets. “No Maury show…you’re crazy.”
“And yet I’m the voice of reason between the two of us at the moment,” she countered.
He chuckled, humorlessly. “I’ll concede on that one,” he said. “We tried for children, she wanted them and I just wanted her happy. Neither of us grew up in homes that were considered normal or functional, both kids of the system, until we lucked out and were adopted when we were younger. Her first years of life really messed with her, stuck with her, mine I just shoved in the dark recesses of my mind and didn’t dwell on. Kyce would have made a great mother; she was calm and patient, kind and all of that motherly stuff.”
Pony snorted. “Kids are overrated, and those with the calling to reproduce and create soul sucking minions in their images that will torture them for the rest of their lives should be the ones laying on the couch and calling suicide hotlines, not those that pulled out.”
“You don’t have children, I’m assuming,” Jeramy said.
“Nope,” she said, popping the P, “and proud of it. As you’ve pointed out, I’m crazy, though, I wasn’t the one that mis-dialed the suicide hotline,” she teasingly reminded him.
“Point.”
“Ooh, I love a cowboy that can admit when I’m right. There might be hope for you yet!” she beamed before chuckling. “Back to the demonic spawn thing; one of me is one too many gracing the earth, but it doesn’t mean that I’m going to pull the trigger, in more ways than one, simply because I don’t agree with whoever is overseeing this crapshoot called life’s greater plan…if there is one. I like that I can up and move and not have to worry about fucking up my kid because I relocated them in the middle of their senior year, or they didn’t get to be prom queen, or make the football team, or they got picked last at recess. That’s a lot of stress that no one in their right mind would want, let alone willingly sign up for. You dodged the bullet on that one, Cowboy.”
Jeramy shook his head in resignation; the woman was amusing in ways that he had never seen in a woman before, and her outlook on things were so warped and demented that it made complete sense, especially since it was coming from her. She was tactless, brusque, and opinionated, might have indeed been completely insane, especially since she was talking to a complete stranger that was planning on painting his Government issued kitchen with his brains, but all of that made her completely unique and different. Never had he met someone like her before, and if he truly believed in fate or a higher power that had its head out of its ass, he would have called his misdialed phone call divine intervention.
“Did you want them?” Pony asked after a few minutes of silence. “Little ankle biters to pass your cowboy hats down to?” she teased.
“No,” he answered honestly, holding his head between his hands.
“Did you tell her that?”
“No, I didn’t,” he admitted, wiping his eyes with the back of his hand. “She wanted them so badly and I didn’t. Every time we lost…miscarriage or still born, there were many, I breathed a sigh of relief. What kind of man, kind of husband, does that make me?” he demanded; never had he told anyone that before, the words always bit at his tongue but not once had they left his lips.
Until now.
“A real sonuvabitch,” Pony said as if it was obvious.
“Gee, thanks,” he huffed with a small smile; her smart ass comments made it near impossible not to smile or laugh.
“I’m serious, Cowboy,” she said, the sound of cabinet doors opening and closing in the background. “If, and let’s say this is the best case scenario,  you two had a kid or two, would that have made you more accepting of them?”
Would it have?
“I doubt it,” he admitted. “I’ve never been a fan of them. When Kyce was going through baby name books and picking colors, I just nodded. It was her dream, not mine. I just wanted…” his world trailed off; he honestly didn’t know.
Pony snorted. “You haven’t a clue what in the hell you want, huh?” she surmised, the sound of cereal filling a metal bowl echoed in the background.
“Am I keeping you from breakfast?” he asked.
“If I can piss with you on the phone, I can eat with you on the phone,” she said. “I’ll just try to remember to not chew with my mouth open since nothing is more annoying than a pony chomping in your ear.”
He chuckled. “I suppose Cheerios is a lot louder than straw.”
“Fuck Cheerios, I like lots of sugar with my breakfast. If I had my way, I’d pick the oat crap out and just eat the marshmallows…come to think of it, I might just do that,” she said, contemplatively. “Damn, Cowboy, you’re full all sorts of inspiration this morning!”
Jeramy smiled. “I’m sure you’re just saying that because of the hour.”
“I won’t rule it out,” she admitted. “Pull up a seat and we’ll have breakfast, a last meal for the condemned, if you will…though, it’s a pretty shitty last meal. If I had to choose, it’d be the Fleur Burger by Chef Hubert Keller. It’ll set you back five-grand, but, by god, it looks fucking amazing: kobe beef, truffles and foie gras…hell, they can keep the damn bottle of nineteen-ninety-five Chateau Petrus from Bordeaux. I just want the burger of all burgers. Now I’m craving meat, thanks a lot.”
“Five-grand for a burger? You are completely insane,” he informed her, looking around the partially plastic covered kitchen; it wasn’t homey in the least, or anywhere he wanted to eat at, but he’d humor her since she was still talking to him.
“Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it,” she said. “How about you add it to your bucket list?”
“Sure…shut up,” he groaned when she roared with laughter.
“Someone’s a little slow this morning.”
“Amongst other things,” Jeramy admitted. “I’m on the floor-”
“In a chalk outline?”
“No, on my butt,” he said to appease her.
“That works, too,” she said. “I know it’s not a bar, and it sure in the hell isn’t a couch in a shrink’s office, but it’s better than the alternative. Grab a mixing bowl and buy a girl a bowl of cereal.”
He crawled across the floor and pulled the plastic away so he could open the cabinet where Kyce kept the mixing bowls. “Has anyone ever told you you’re bossy?”
“Constantly, though it shouldn’t be a surprise to you by now, regardless of the hour,” Pony said before shoving a spoonful of cereal in her mouth. “When I was a little girl, my drunk ass father could only make two things: gin and tonic without the tonic, and cereal,” she mumbled with her mouth full. “The food banks, they had the worst fucking cereal imaginable, hence why people donated that crap. Half of it looked like packing material and other half tasted like it. Every Thanksgiving we’d have mystery meat from a can! Nothing was more exciting than gathering around a coffee table covered with label-less cans, praying for something meant for human consumption to fall out of them, not to mention, the potential for botchalism made it even more exciting; a canned version of Russian Roulette…too soon?” she mused before taking another bite.
Jeramy chuckled. “Not yet,” he said, filling a large mixing bowl with an entire box of frosted flakes; they were Kyce’s favorite but he couldn’t figure out why because they tasted like sawdust in his opinion. “The first home cooked meal that I can remember was when I was four, that was the home Kyce and I ended up in together, and the foster mom made bacon and eggs with pancakes. I’m sure they were just like every other pancakes in the world, but at that moment, when I shoved the entire thing in my mouth and nearly choked to death in the process, it was the greatest thing I’d ever eaten. She put these...things in it, even today I don’t know what they were, but they made it taste like heaven on a plate.”
Pony sighed, the unmistakable sound of a smile accompanied the sound. “Pancakes sounds really good now,” she admitted. “I chop up brown sugared bacon and sprinkle it on them when they’re cooking. It’s like a salty-sweet doughy culinary orgasm in your mouth with each bite. It’s the greatest fucking thing in the world, that is until you take the next bite, and then it starts all over again… Damn it, now I’m horny and craving pancakes. Thanks a lot, Asshole.”
“Anytime,” he said with a smile.
She chuckled. “Sounds like someone is starting to put his big boy pants back on,” she teased.
“Lapse in better judgment,” he assured her before taking a bite of frosted flakes then gagged. “This tastes awful.”
“What is it?”
“Frosted Flakes-”
“I wouldn’t use that shit to line a hamster cage, let alone eat, even if it was a last meal,” she said. “Dump a cup of sugar on it or drizzle some chocolate syrup on the shavings… Not saying it’ll help, but it’s better than the soggy shit you’re trying to choke down.”
He made a face. “I don’t have Lucky Charms, unlike some people I know.”
“I’ll send you case,” she said before taking another bite then moaned. “Oh so good and sugary,” she mumbled.
“Without the oats,” Jeramy said before he could stop himself.
“Deal,” Pony mumbled with her mouth full.




The completed Novella will be released this week.
Thanks!