Across the Tracks Ch. 04byBigCoreySKR©
Otis walked and Ariel's house and just stared. It was all he could do. There was so many beautiful things in the house that he could almost believe he was in a museum. He heard her talking, and followed the sound of her voice to what he thought was a kitchen, but may have been a small restaurant instead. About the time where he could get close enough to hear what she was saying, she turned around and ran straight into him, spilling a pitcher of sweet tea all over him.
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"Oh My GOD! I am so so SO sorry."
Ariel felt like crap. Otis had fixed her car for free, saved her from Danny, and she spilled tea on him. Smooth move ex-lax, she thought to herself.
"I can wash and dry that if you want?" She tentatively offered. He pulled off his vest and searched it for tea, most of it hadn't soaked or anything so he could take care of it with a wet rag and make sure it was cleaned proper at home. She watched as he took his shirt off. It may have only lasted a few seconds, but to her it lasted a lot longer. She wordlessly took his shirt and walked to the laundry room and shut the door. Behind closed doors she let her knees go week like they wanted to and let herself lean against the wall for support. Wooooow, she thought, he really is built like a human tank. And all those tattoos.... Snapping herself out of it, she put his shirt in the washer for him and headed back to the kitchen. Otis wasn't there, and as she walked around, she found him on the couch wiping his vest off with a paper towel.
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Otis was slightly used to Ariel's ability to pop out of no where by now, so he didn't jump. He said hi back and continued his work. When he felt her fingers on his back though, he did jump.
"I'm sorry. I don't know why I was but I was just... tracing the lines I guess."
"That's fine. It just startled me."
He shivered as she returned to her featherlight delicate tracings of his tattoos. She finally stopped and Otis didn't know whether to take that as a reprieve from a delicate torture or to crave more. He settled for a bit of both and turned and looked at her.
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As soon as Ariel got done indulging herself at Otis's expense, she looked into his eyes for the first time that day. She hadn't seen a shade like them ever. They were a very light blue, and they had a heavy green mixed in with what she thought was black and gold flecks. She suddenly felt embarrassed for staring and dropped her eyes as she sat one cushion away from him on the couch. She knew she was blushing. She just new it.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Otis knew she was staring at his eyes. It didn't matter he was staring at hers again anyways. He had never seen anything like them. At first glance they looked sea green, then he seen to much blue to be anything but the sky. He could get lost in them and tell every search party that ever came looking to kiss his ass. When she broke the gaze, he looked down at the same time she did and got back to work cleaning. Normally, he would have never took his shirt off around a girl, but he felt really comfortable with her. It was just a weird feeling of trust for him, and he was ok with that. He wanted to talk and talk and talk about just anything with her, but he wasn't that comfortable yet.
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"Would you like to watch tv? We've got all kinds of movies and dvds."
She waited for his nod, which inevitably came, and stood up and walked to the entertainment center. She put in a movie she wasn't even paying attention to, and sat back down. She kept staring at his tattoos, one in particular on his right pec. It had a fireman in the full outfit, with angel wings on his back surrounded by smoke and fire, with the numbers CPT. 457 on his helmet. She looked closer and noticed the firefighter was cradling a little girl.
"I got that for my dad. That was his rank and numbers. Dad was always my guardian angel, so he got his wings through me."
Ariel nodded slowly, still not wanting to tell him his dad died saving her, because... She didn't know why. She was scared he would resent her, which was scary in itself that she would be that scared of his rejection. She decided to ask a question.
"So are you on the fire department?"
"Because I'll never be as good a firefighter as Dad. He was the best and I never will be."
"You never know unless you try."
"Shouldn't we watch this movie you picked? I don't feel like talking anymore."
Ariel was hurt by him sounding so mean, then she was mad at herself for obviously touching a sore spot and not noticing that maybe his dad dying as a firefighter would be a really sore spot for not being a fireman himself.
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Otis felt like shit for being such an ass. But every time he wanted to apologize, something stopped him. Eventually Ariel put his shirt in the dryer and it felt like only moments later when she handed it back to him dry and clean. He put his shirt back on, not noticing Ariel's eyes when he did.
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Oh yes he was being an ass now, but she still couldn't decide whether she like him with his shirt off where she could see his bad boy tattoos or with it on where he looked every inch the bad boy. She was still trying to decide which when he cleared his throat. She looked up and watched as he got ready to talk.
"Thank you for cleaning my shirt. And for letting me watch a movie with you. I'm also really sorry for being a jerk for the past two hours."
"It's ok I promise. I should have backed off a bit."
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Otis smiled a little.
"Well thank you for the wonderful time, and if he ever bothers you again, just call me and I'll be back. I'll see ya later."
Otis turned to walk out the front door.
"Uhm.. Can I text you or call you just whenever I want? In like non-emergency situations?
Otis thought about it for a minute. She really didn't understand how easily she could hurt him by never calling, and he didn't think he realized the full extent of it.
"Sure... I'd really like that."
And on that note he walked out. Ariel watched him climb on and start his bike, and ride down the driveway and down the road until he was out of sight. She shut her front door and leaned up against it trying to catch her breath. How could a man who was far from her type, and that she had only met today, take her breath and have her trust so easily?
And what would she do if he never answered her texts and never talked to her again?
When Otis got back to his place, he wished he had never left it. He couldn't stop thinking about her. He knew what could take his mind off anything though. Usually riding the bike did it, but all he could wonder was if she would like to ride with him. Since that wasn't what he wanted to keep obsessing about, he walked into the kitchenette of his apartment. He got the shot glass out of his cabinet and grabbed the Jack Daniels out of the freezer. About the time he sat down on the couch and poured a drink he heard a knock on his door. Otis got up and checked his peephole first to see who it was. The hole was black, like someone was covering it up with their hand or something.
"God and Country calling boy, who do ya think?"
Otis threw open the deadbolt and chain lock and grabbed the person outside in a bear hug. HE then proceeded to give them the noogie from hell.
"Get off me you big overgrown son of a bitch! You're messing up the 'do man!".
Otis put JB down. It'd been a little bit since they'd seen each other. JB looked like he'd finally had a few good meals, and looked at least halfway clean.
"JB how ya been man? Staying out of trouble?"
JB grinned. He was Otis's exact opposite. Around 5'5", maybe 135 pounds. Otis and JB had been best friends since they were a month old, and nothing had ever come between them. JB had done plenty to make Otis hate him, but as far as Otis was concerned JB was meant more to him than any friend, he was a brother more than anything.
JB shut the door behind him and walked to Otis armchair and flopped down.
"Oh you know how it goes Big O. Finally got a job. Kristin says if I can keep it for 3 months and pass the drug test I can see Harley. If I hold it for 6 months he gets to stay a night with his Dad a week. I'm pretty excited about getting to see him.... Have you seen him lately?"
JB's son Harley was Otis's godson. Since Kristin thought Otis was a good guy, he was Harley and JB's only link for a while now.
"Yea man I seen them two weeks ago. I took Kristin some diapers for him and some new clothes. And I got something for when your old ass showed up again."
Otis walked to his room to get in the dresser, ignoring JB hollering about how he wasn't old. He got out a envelope and walking back tossed it on JBs' lap. JB kind of stared at him for a second until Otis made exaggerated opening motions for him. When he pulled out the newest pictures of Harley Otis had, Otis knew enough to look in the other direction so he could pretend he didn't see JBs eyes glistening. It was a guy thing.
"So I know it ain't the anniversary so why's the bottle out? I know you man somethings got you rattled." "It's nothing JB. Don't worry about it." "19 years and you still ain't got a damn clue how to lie. So c'mon spill. And while you're at it, put that damn whisky up and get us some cokes or something. Sweet Tea if you got it." "Yea man I got it."
Otis put all the drinking items up, not before knocking his shot back. He let the Jack burn its way down, until it settled to a pleasant warm. He made him and JB some sweet tea and walked back in the living room to find JB sprawled all over his chair with his shoes off flipping channels.
"Man get your stinky ass feet off my chair. Jesus Christ whens the last time you washed them socks? The Great Flood?"
"Realllllllllll funny asshole. Give me those cups. I wanna make sure you didn't add any special ingredients."
Otis flipped him the bird and handed JB his cup and then took his own to the couch with him. They sat in comfortable silence for a few moments, just watching the tv, when JB spoke. Like Ariel, silence was NOT one of his strong suits.
"Ok so spill now. No bullshit excuses, I know somethings bugging you cause you ain't tried to punch me yet. Is it your shitty job? Shitty and may I add smelly, apartment? Makayla coming back around again? C'mon man tell me."
"If you'd shut up for a damn minute I would. Jesus. You're worse than damn woman."
So Otis proceeded to tell JB all about his day, Ariel, Danny, all of it. JB decided to spoil the moment by acting like he was falling asleep. Otis picked up a pillow and flung it at him, then got on with his story.
"So you gonna call her?"
"Prolly not man, why would she even want to talk to me? We ain't even the same kind of people."
"Well lets see here. She asks you questions, so she has an interest, and instead of calling the police when asshole was there she called you. She must be pretty, cause you get all moony eyed whenever you say her name. So call her, text her whatever. Don't be your usual pussy self."
"You're an ass JB you know that? A really big ass."
"Fuck you too brother, fuck you too.", JB sighed as he stood up and slid back into his shoes, "As stimulating as this conversation has been, it is 11:09 and I have to be back at the halfway house by Midnight. Part of the program ya know?"
Otis stood and gave JB another bear hug. "Alright man. Don't be such a stranger, it's good to know you're alive. Stay clean out there. I got something better to say than those consuelers do. Whenever you feel the dragon, look at them pictures I just gave you. That'll help."
JB looked at Otis and stuck his hand out for the traditional knuckle bump. Otis gave it, just like he always did and JB walked out the door. After locking his door back up, Otis flopped down on the couch. Seeing JB and Ariel's questions had made him miss his dad a lot more than usual. He pushed his self back off the couch and got the box that held a lot of stuff that related to his Dad's death in it. It had newspaper articles, the spare shield from his dads helmet, cards from different fire departments for Otis and for his Dads memories, just a bunch of different things. He read through a few things in the box, and then came across a picture he loved. It showed a thirteen old version of him wearing his dad's fire boots and helmet with a radio in his hand while his dad acted like he was taking orders from Otis. The picture had been taken about a week before the fire that took his Dad's life. Otis eventually put everything back in the box and got up to go to bed. He took off his shirt and his necklaces, and laid down to go to bed. He had forgotten to get his phone off the couch and plug it up, and he never noticed the blinking light telling him he had a message. His last thought was, Thank God tomorrow is Saturday and I can rest all day.
After Otis left, Ariel cleaned up the living room and headed upstairs to her room. She decided after all the stress of the day, some Dax Riggs on the radio and a nap were definitely in order. She looked through her CD collection, and decided not to listen to the solo CD but her Agents of Oblivion CD. A lot of people would never expect her to listen to this type of music, but her friend Eve had introduced her to them, and she loved the Dax's voice so much that she was permanently hooked. It was haunting and really soul-shattering was the only way she could describe it. She wasn't a big fan of Acid Bath, but she still really liked his voice. She was listening to Grave Song when she fell asleep.
A few hours had passed when Ariel woke up from her nap. It had been along day, and her stomach decided it needed some food. Ariel walked down the stairs to the kitchen and made Captain Crunch. Her parents were sitting at the main Dining Room table, pulling their classic "stare at each other and act like we have the best marriage ever" thing. Which was definitely a very big lie. They may have loved each other a long time ago, but as far as Ariel could see, they should just give up. She hoped her appearance wasn't noticed, and she could sneak back up the stairs.
"Ariel dear, can you come here for a minute?"
"damn it..." Ariel muttered. She hated the sugar coated voice her mother used when she wanted to be a bitch. It was all sweet, but it honestly set Ariel's teeth on edge. Her dad never spoke like that. Her dad was always sincere, if he was going to be an asshole, you knew it.
"Oh dear you know I hate to be called mom. I prefer Mother. Now, Can you explain why Mayor Vincent called me about something happening to Danny here? Something about him getting roughed up by some thug who was trying to rob you?"
Ariel's dad snorted. Ariel's mom looked up at him with annoyance on her face.
"What are you trying to say exactly with that sound Cole?" "That that Danny boy is full of shit. He ain't worth two cents and I don't trust him as far as I can throw him, which trust me, is a lot damn farther than he's worth." "Cole can you be quiet? I want Ariels side of the story, and without your remarks about Danny, who is actually a nice boy. The only reason you never liked him is because he said your Harley was a sissy bike." "That's the only reason I'll ever need for that worthless ass." "Cole do be quiet. Ariel tell us what happened."
Ariel took a deep breath thinking of ow she was going to explain this to her parents.
"Well, like I told you when I left Danny, he is abusive and I never wanted to see him again." Ariel waited for her dad to stop muttering obscenities under his breath about what would happen if Danny tried to touch her again, "When I got home from work he was sitting in the driveway. I called this guy I met today named Otis, because he looked like he could get Danny to leave. When he got here, Danny started screaming at me, calling me a whore, and then when Danny went to grab me and jerk me away, Otis grabbed him and then Danny swung at him. Otis broke his arm and Danny left. That's the whole story."
Ariel took a spoonful of her cereal and ate it, wondering who was going to start talking first.
"Why I never. As your mother, I demand you call Danny right now and apologize for this thug Otis' behavior. It is simply deplorable."
"Not happening Mom. I am not apologizing to someone who thinks they can put their hands on me to hurt me and it's right."
Ariels' mother made a frustrated noise and got up from the table and walked away to what she called her "privacy room". Ariel sat in comfort with her dad for a few moments while she ate cereal and he ate a sandwich. She was always more comfortable with her Dad, but she knew that he had questions he was going to ask, he was just getting them in order first.
"So. Who is this Otis boy and why did you call him?"
"He's a mechanic over in the River District. I was taking that shortcut to work so I could stop at the Awful Waffle, and my car started messing up again. I was mad and frustrated so I cussed at it really loud and I guess he heard me and helped me push it in the Mechanic shop. Well, help isn't the right word, I moved the wheel and he pushed it. We just kind of talked while he fixed my car and then he didn't charge me. He gave me a card with his number on it in case I needed any help like I broke down or something."
"Okay. Couple problems there. One, you still haven't told me while you called him instead of say....me. And two, why did he fix your car for free?"
Ariel blushed. "He said it was his act of Good Karma for the week. I still don't know why I called him. He just made me feel safe while I watched him work on the car and I wanted to feel that way again when I seen Dannys' car."
Ariels' Dad started laughing. "Look you're getting all mooney eyed over him. Can I start singing the kissing song with y'alls names in it? Please?"
"Shut up Dad. You think you're so funny." Ariel couldn't help but smile, she loved her Dad and the way he joked. They talked about small stuff for a little bit and then Ariel took her bowl in the kitchen and went back upstairs. Cole watched her walk up the stairs, remembering a time not so long ago when he was just another River District rat and Ariels' mother was a Buckman princess. He remembered his father in law describing his wife doing the same things his daughter was doing know and just hoped it worked out better for her.
Ariel went up to her room, and even after her nap earlier, she was still kind of tired. She crawled into her bed, noticing it was pretty close to 11. She hoped Otis was still up and grabbed her phone and texted him saying hello. She put her phone down and waited. She fell asleep around 2, even though she had to go to work for overtime at 9. Her last waking thought was, I didn't get a text back...
THE NEXT DAY
Otis woke up around 8:30, and he done knew that in the words of his pappaw, he was gonna be dragging ass all day. He just wasn't feeling it, but once he was up, he was up. As soon as he got finished shaving, his phone rang. There was only one person in this world that would both be up this early, and call Otis' apartment this early.
"Hey Pappaw. Good Morning to you too. No I didn't forget that you wanted me to come have breakfast today. I'm about to head up there just calm down. Yea I'll bring the Pepsi and the 3 Musketeers."
Otis hung the phone up with a smile on his face already. He loved his Pappaw unconditionally. The man had raised him after his fathers death, and since Otis' mother was never really around after Otis turned 4, Pappaw got all of Otis' love and devotion. The old man was his anchor. Otis got dressed and went to get his cell off the charger and seen it poking out of the couch cushions. After cursing himself for not plugging it up, Otis put it on the charger and walked out the door. He kept his truck at the apartment buildings lot, and since he had to take what his Pappaw called "The Old Mans Treats", up with him, he's need the truck not the bike. He stopped at Circle K and got a couple six packs of Pepsi and a couple 3 Musketeers candy bars. He then hopped in the truck and headed up the hill.