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See Me .

By´╝ÜPauline Allan

See Me - Pauline Allan
Chapter One

Sean watched another raindrop slide down the cracked windshield of the 1987 extended cab. “Get your shit together, Drennan,” he said while opening the last stick of gum from the green package. “You’re such a pussy.”

Before shoving the minty piece in his mouth, he pulled on the visor. The last thing he really wanted to do was look in a mirror, knowing the reflection was going to reveal he’d landed on his ass. Rock bottom. Under the rock. Below the slugs and facedown in the goddamn mud.

Yep, sure as shit, the face staring back knew the truth. The cleanly shaven cheeks and newly buzzed cut couldn’t hide the fact he’d been in bed the last three days, thinking about nothing. Okay, thinking about every-fucking-thing. Sean ran his fingertips through the short spikes on his head. The cut wasn’t the greatest. It’d have to do. He looked down at his hands, studying the scars on his knuckles. Too many memories. Ms. Evelyn, his first foster mom, had showed him how to buzz his hair. At least his fucked-up head was able to hold on to one good memory.

Sean’s stomach growled. The thought of Ms. Evelyn’s mac n’ cheese made his gut ache. When Sean was eleven, every Thursday a bowl of the cheesy goodness would be waiting for him at the table. The two other boys Ms. Evelyn kept always wanted Chef Boyardee, but not Sean. She’d make a small batch of homemade pasta with cheese just for him. And after only six months, the special Thursday lunches stopped. So did Ms. Evelyn’s heart. At twelve, he didn’t understand what a heart attack meant. It meant another move, another foster home. Fuck that memory.

Sean scrubbed his palm over his face. Jesus, he just wanted to scrub the shit out of his head—all of it. A new start to bury the bad one. The cell in his pocket vibrated. He pressed the flashing Talk button. “Hello.”

“Sean?” The guy from the gym was on the other end of the line.

Sean picked up the glossy business card from the passenger seat. The naked man and woman on the front were tangled in a heated embrace. The slender woman was wearing a brightly colored Mardi Gras mask. The man had his hand on her ass with his face buried in her neck. He flipped it over. Fantasy Emporium… You’re one click away from pleasure. “Yeah, this is Sean.”

“This is Ron Carlone.” Silence. “From the gym?”

“Hey, man.”

“I was just wondering if you were still interested in coming by for that interview we talked about. I may have misunderstood, but I thought we agreed on two o’clock?”

Sean glanced at the dash. The green numbers on the cassette-radio player read 2:27. Shit! He’d been sitting in the parking lot for over half an hour. Can you fuck this up any more, dumbass?

“Oh, man. I’m sorry. I’m almost there.” He looked out past the spattering downpour to the three-story warehouse in front of him. “Traffic.”

“Sure, man, understandable. Come by whenever you can. Abigail’s waiting. I’ll keep her occupied until you get here.”

“Thanks.” Sean stuffed the phone into the back pocket of his dress slacks and shoved the piece of gum in his mouth. He could do this. He could fuck for money, on camera, for the whole world to see. It wasn’t like he had that one particular person in his life who would accuse him of cheating or being a disappointment or a huge goddamn letdown. Worst case scenario, yet another suit sitting behind a desk wouldn’t want to hire him.

Then an opportunity like no other came crashing down on him courtesy of Ron, the big guy who’d asked him to spar at the gym. He’d been so charismatic Sean had a hard time turning him down when he’d asked to throw a few punches. Sean hadn’t been in the ring for years. Oh, he’d fought. For his food, his privacy. For his life. Part of his probation prohibited him from stepping behind the ropes, but that was finished. He’d done his time, both in and out of the system.

He’d taken only a second to think it through. He wanted to step behind the ropes, feel that adrenaline of taking a punch, dealing it back. Other guys at the gym asked him to spar all the time. He figured he just looked like a hardcore type of guy, like he could take a hit. They were fucking right, but he had always turned them down. He had a hard fist, never lost a fight. Not even the one that landed his ass in the pen.

He took Ron up on his offer and, to this moment, still didn’t regret it. Sean didn’t throw a punch. Took it to the face and ribs with equal parts laughs and grunts. After, they both sat on the bench in the locker room talking shop about working out and boxing while they’d unlaced their gloves.

Ron was tall, muscular, probably Italian, and definitely gay. The glances hadn’t gone unnoticed in the shower. Sean couldn’t care less about the long stares, the slight smiles. He got it from the women too. Whether he was at the gym or the grocery store, they all stared.