Dylan stood along the shoulder of the busy highway with his thumb outstretched and a hopeful expression on his face. A semi-truck screeched to a halt and Dylan pulled open the passenger door and jumped in. After fastening the seat belt, he rubbed his hand and wondered for about the twentieth time if he’d broken it when he’d punched his dad. It hurt, but it also felt good—real good.
“Where ya goin’, boy?” the truck driver asked as he maneuvered the semi back onto the highway. He turned his face to Dylan when he didn’t get an answer.
“I’m not a boy,” Dylan said in a low menacing voice and took great satisfaction when the grin on the trucker’s face disappeared and he quickly turned his face back toward the road.
“No, I guess you aren’t,” the trucker conceded. “But you are young. How old are ya, fifteen, sixteen?”
Dylan sized up the man. He had a fat gut, and a cigarette stuck in his mouth. From the yellow teeth Dylan figured he smoked a lot and would probably get out of breath fairly easy. One swift kick in that gut and he’d definitely have an advantage.
My God, what was he thinking? His own thoughts were scaring the beejesus out of him. When had he become so violent? Had he always harbored this evil side? Since he’d beaten up his dad he’d been grinning like a Cheshire cat that had eaten a marijuana laced brownie. In fact, his jaws were even beginning to ache. Violence just felt good. Kicking the heck out of his bully dad had been a good thing and if this smart aleck trucker gave him any problem well, he did have a nice knife tucked away in easy reach that he’d been able to snag before leaving his house.
And not only could he protect himself but he still had the gold bracelet and his pills. If push came to shove he could sell the drugs, too. And maybe he could even get over on this trucker and steal whatever cash the man had. Though by the looks of him he probably wouldn’t get much.
“You deaf, kid?” the trucker asked.
“I told you, I ain’t no kid. Why don’t you mind your own business?”
“Tough little bugger, huh?” the trucker laughed and slapped the steering wheel. “Well, since I’m the one giving you a ride I guess you’d better tell me where you’re headed. It’d be a shame for you to be going in the wrong direction.”
Where was he heading? That was one good question and Dylan did not have an answer. “Don’t worry about me. I’ll just ride along for a while.”
“Sure thing, boss,” the trucker shook his head and spat out the open window. “Runnin’ away from home, are ya? Don’t get all uptight. I’m sure not gonna turn you in. I’ve been runnin’ away from home myself for the past thirty years.” He guffawed loudly and slapped the steering wheel again. “Just relax, I’m real good at mindin’ my own bizness.”
Dylan closed his eyes and thought about Lieutenant Frio. When he’d told her his story she hadn’t seemed too confident that they could actually arrest his dad. “That fingerprint could have gotten on your shoe at any time,” she’d said and held up her hand to silence his protests. “Dylan, I believe you, but we need more substantial proof. You’ve got bruises and you will need to tell the CPS people about the abuse. Your dad will most likely be arrested then. And you will have to go into foster care.”
Screw that noise. No one was going to put him in foster care. And what would keep his old man from coming after him at his earliest chance? His mom had been right. The police talk a good game, but justice is something you have to take care of for yourself. No cop could dish out what his dad deserved and no cop could protect him either. Dylan was now on his own, and he knew it.
All was not lost, though. Eloy had taught him a thing or two. Dylan had seen how patient Eloy was as he sat night after night on his dark porch, waiting. He looked completely harmless and somewhat senile, but Dylan knew the deadly saber was always at hand and Eloy was as sharp and alert as any of the predator beasts that lived in the surrounding desert. Someday whoever Eloy was waiting for would step into Eloy’s trap and justice would be served coldly, cruelly and efficiently.
Dylan had time. He had all the time in the world to plan, stalk and execute anyone he chose. He jumped as Riley’s image flashed across his mind. He’d find her killer and serve up justice for her. That is, if he wasn’t the killer himself.
And if he had killed Riley, Dylan knew that somehow he had been driven to it. It had not been his fault. His father had made him go insane, or the drug dealer had sold him something that had unleashed demons that he couldn’t control. He would not be to blame. For he was a victim, too, wasn’t he?
He closed his eyes and let the rhythm of the fast moving truck soothe him. He felt good. He had no regrets. In fact, there was no one he really wanted to see. Not even his mother. It felt as though all those useless emotions had flown and he had become an empty vessel. He felt reborn, he had become a heartless warrior starting on his path of righteousness and vengeance.
Bob Dylan’s song “Beyond Here Lies Nothin’” came to his mind.