*It rained yesterday – yay! And for the moment, the grass is a little greener; maybe my crispy pastures can get some relief. So blame the weather on the background theme of today’s futuristic continuation. Happy Friday.*
7/22/16 – Waterlogged
It started to rain late in the afternoon. Thick storm clouds stacked up to the west and scudded in, too full to do more than sit and let the wind push them over Knoxville. They carried only rain, though, and nothing dangerous, and water fell in relentless sheets past the windows.
Because it was raining, Michael was prepared for the sound of a truck door closing, rather than the normal roar of a bike. He straightened up from his position kneeling in front of his own Harley where he’d moved it into the garage, surprised to look through the open door and find Mercy ducking in out of the rain, rather than his oldest son.
“Hey,” Michael greeted, standing with a terrible popping of his knees and going to fetch one of the thick towels stacked along the wall on his workbench. He tossed two to Mercy.
These days, Mercy had heavy iron streaks in his long black hair, and his face showed years and wear like a roadmap of all the miles he’d traveled. Typical biker aging. But he still had massive hands and biceps, and he still carried himself like the aches and pains of age didn’t bother him. Still a strong, dominant physical presence, that if anything seemed sharpened by time. Like he’d spent his years on earth growing into his body, and had finally reached deadly equilibrium. Secretly, Michael had wondered if he would prove to be like a large dog – short-lived and quickly-failing in old age. The little ones always seemed to last longer, like that stupid Sheltie Holly had talked him into getting thirteen years ago. But Baxter was silver and tired now, and Mercy was silver and just-as-dangerous-as-ever. There wasn’t a man alive he couldn’t beat to a pulp.
“I expected your boy instead,” Michael said, returning to his bike.
Mercy scrubbed his hair dry with a towel, expression thoughtful. “I caught him and Cal on their way over here. I wanted to have a word first.”
“Just a word?”
“Or a few,” Mercy consented with a smile. He sank down on the bench opposite Michael, eyes going to the bike. “New pipes.”
“Hmm. Too bright.”
“Wrap ‘em,” Mercy suggested.
“Yeah, I’m going to.”
“You knew Lucy was going to find someone she wanted eventually,” Mercy said, changing subjects just like that, and the words caused actual pain in Michael’s chest. He wondered if this was the first symptom of a heart attack.
He grunted to himself and refused to look at his brother-in-arms.
“Hell, I know it’s just a matter of time before Millie’s dragging some idiot home for me to meet. I can’t promise I won’t castrate him.”
Michael sent him a withering look. “So you admit your own kid is an idiot?”
“Nope.” He grinned. “Remy’s smarter than his old man. He’s coming to talk to you, be all honorable and up front and shit. Or maybe he’s just braver, hmm. Maybe he is an idiot. But an idiot with very honorable intentions toward your little girl, that I promise.”
Mercy shrugged. “You have something better in mind? I mean, when we get down to it, we want our daughters to be nuns, right? Figuratively, anyway. Isn’t it better that she loves someone you know? Who’ve you known for his whole life? Who’s already part of the family?”
Michael ground his teeth. Love? Remy loved her? “He’s club,” he said, unnecessarily. The unspoken problem with that was: I don’t want her to be a club wife. Because it didn’t really matter that all of them had pledged their lives and loyalty to the club, they didn’t want their kids snared into it if they had a chance for better, safer futures.
“You know how it is,” Mercy said, as if reading his mind. “We all think that. We all say it. But at the end of the day, we can’t trust the world outside our own.”
Michael nodded, feeling trapped and miserable. It was hard to breathe. He stood up, blood rushing from his head, and went to sit beside Mercy, a good foot separating them. The rain fell in soft shushes beyond the open door, dancing across the concrete of the driveway.
“After Hol,” Michael started, voice halting, stiff, heavy with old horror, “after what she – I just–”
One of Mercy’s massive paw hands slapped down on his shoulder and gave a reassuring squeeze. “I get it, man. I really do. It would make anybody nervous, knowing there are guys out there like the ones who hurt Holly. But hey. Guess what?”
Michael flicked a glance his way.
“Remy’s not those guys.”
Michael nodded, once, throat thick as he swallowed. “Didn’t say he was.”
“And we’re friends, you and me. You know I’d kick his ass if he stepped out of line. I care about Lucy too, you know, me and Ava both.”
“So what do you say? Wanna be dads-in-law together?”
Michael let his head tip back against the wall and sighed. He’d been tense since he talked to Lucy earlier, he realized, only now aware that some of the tightness was easing from his sore muscles. “I kind of hate you.”
Mercy laughed. “Nah. You don’t. But thanks for saying so.”