Bathwater Baptism © 2019 Coralee June
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
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I should have smashed Hunter Mason’s skull in when I had the chance. That gangster wannabe had it coming. I kept my eyes ahead while standing in the dark, dusty, supply closet imagining slamming a metal bat against his broken face.
Everyone had addictions, which was just another word for sin in this joint. Pastor Greene was addicted to sex. My current fuck buddy was addicted to posting photos of us on Instagram. Hunter Mason was addicted to his ego, and I was addicted to putting everyone in check.
Maybe it was Mom’s idea of a good Christian upbringing that made me feel like I had the right to purge people’s truths. Maybe I was just a dick, but I called it as I saw it, and Hunter Mason was an egotistical prick.
I’d caught him lying about my baby sister, saying he fucked her last weekend while his parents were gone. I knew for a fact that was a lie because my sister had been too busy crying in her bedroom for seventy-two hours straight to even think about letting a man touch her, let alone someone like him.
I might have gotten detention for breaking his nose and cutting up his ugly face, but the rage inside told me it wasn't enough. Restraint was like a dam; and my anger at the world was a tropical storm, cracking through the cement and drowning anyone in my path.
Maybe my addiction was violence. I hear that shit is hereditary.
I’m sure some overpriced therapist somewhere could tell me that my anger problems stemmed from some watered-down version of “Daddy Issues,” but that simply wasn’t the case. I loved my dad—when he was sober. It was alcohol and PTSD I hated.
My father was a war veteran that was so twisted up by the shit he’d done and saw; my family had just become civilians caught up in the crosshairs. Mom’s inheritance kept him in and out of treatment centers, and Pastor Greene kept her occupied with the church. Prayers are expensive, I hear.
And now, instead of being at home to make sure he wasn’t on another bender, I was here. In Detention. Imagining Hunter Mason’s brains spewed out on the floor.
“Are you going to help, or are you going just stand there whispering Hunter Mason’s name to yourself the entire time?” the girl with the short skirt asked. I hadn’t bothered to get her name because I didn’t really give a fuck about doe-eyed girls that tried too hard. And she reeked of trying. Trying to hide her expressions. Trying to ignore the blush that hit her cheeks when I touched her. Trying to pretend she had a backbone when I knew damn well that she was nothing but skin—paper-thin skin, to be exact. I decided right then to prove my point.
“How about you stop worrying about what I’m doing and go back to counting the equipment? I happen to like the view when you bend over,” I replied with a smirk.
She flushed, from her toes all the way up to the tip of her brunette head—predictable little pet. If I wasn’t balls deep in Sally Mae’s cunt every Tuesday and Thursday, I’d add her to the rotation. But twice a week was more than enough. I didn’t have as much time to get my dick wet as I’d like.
Judas, some artistic wannabe with studs in his ears, rolled his eyes and started digging through his backpack. Ah, a hero amongst us. I bet he pulled out a spare pair of pants in three… two… one…
“Here,” he said while tossing her some stained sweats that probably smelled like jerking off and spray paint. He blushed as Robin, the other inmate in our little band of delinquents, rolled her eyes at him. Bet the poor guy had a crush on short-skirt. I also bet he hadn’t even noticed her before today. That too-tight uniform showed her off perfectly, and I’d heard the guys in my class talking about it.
I’d noticed her before. I’d seen her staring across the chapel, eyeing me with that hopeful, deliberate sense of inquisition. Like most tryhards, I bet she got off on figuring me out, making up stories in her mind about the sadness in my eyes or some bullshit. All the girls were the same. All families were fucked-up. All alcoholics destroyed the people they cared about.
All people had sins—or addictions.
Short-skirt gratefully accepted the pants and stepped into them, pulling them up under her skirt before glaring at me. Of course, because Judas looked like he spent most nights eating pizza, the too-large pants fell down in the most pathetic, sad little striptease I’d ever seen in my life. Cue the blush.
Short-skirt pulled them back up and tied the drawstring before getting back to work. We only had ten minutes left, and something told me she’d work until the end; she was the only one in our group actually trying to do what Miss Temple said. Try. Try. Try.
“Who d'you beat up?” Robin rasped. She had that throaty sort of voice that sounded unnatural and sexual. She probably talked to herself every night just to perfect the tone. It sounded like she smoked a pack of cigarettes a day. Maybe she thought it was sexy. Maybe she was overcompensating for her natural squeak.
“Hunter Mason,” I growled out. I noticed short-skirt pause from her work to eavesdrop.
“I hope you got a few good hits in; that guy’s an asshole,” Judas said before tossing a deflated ball into the trash can.
I didn’t get enough good hits in. I wanted more, could still feel the bloodlust boiling in my veins, but I didn’t say that. “He got what he deserved.”
Short-skirt straightened her spine and ran her fingers through her hair before speaking. “And why did he deserve it?”
“He’s a pervert. A player. Voted most likely to go to prison after graduation,” Robin answered with a laugh.
Short-skirt furrowed her brow. “I see,” she said before going back to her work. Unspoken words lingered behind her stormy, mud-colored eyes. She probably thought that everyone was redeemable. This damn school had shoved forgiveness so deep down her throat she actually believed it.
“You have something to say?” I asked short-skirt with a nod. She gritted her teeth.
“Not anything productive. If you’re looking to pick a fight, you won’t find one with me. I don’t make a habit of screaming hurtful words at a brick wall.”
“I am hard as a brick,” I replied with a smirk, flexing my muscles just to fuck with her. Those bland eyes scraped at my skin, dragging up and down my body like a weapon.
I changed the subject.
“We could leave, you know. Miss Temple is probably mouth-fucking Pastor Greene and won't stop by to see if we left early.” I was itching to get home, and if all of us left, it would look bad.
Miss Temple’s addiction was control. She liked to flex her fist and beat her chest with what little authority she had. If it looked like she couldn’t wrangle the delinquents of this school, it would stain her pride.
“Sounds good to me,” Robin rasped again. The hero, Judas, agreed to go along with the plan, mostly because he didn’t have a mind of his own. I had a feeling he did whatever Robin told him to.
But short-skirt? She froze. I saw the war on her expression. Walking away would completely contradict her need to try, and I was curious about what she would choose. “I’ll stay and finish up,” she finally said. “It’s only a few more minutes.”
“Suit yourself,” Robin replied.
“See you later,” Judas added.
I didn’t bother saying goodbye. She was still wearing my jacket, which meant she’d come chasing after me about twenty seconds after I left the room.
I walked down the hall.
Toward my car.
Maybe short-skirt forgot. Oh well, she’d probably dry clean it and bring the jacket tomorrow with a thank-you note folded in the breast pocket. Yeah, that seemed her style.
I was unlocking my BMW when a yell caught my attention. “Tennessee!” I whirled around just in time for the cotton fabric to hit me in the face and fall to the pavement. I stared at her, eyes wild with mischief, hair blowing in the Texas wind.
“Most people say thank you,” I grumbled while taking a step closer, my boot stomping on the jacket in the process. Short-skirt was eyeing me with trepidation like she feared how I’d respond. Interesting.
“Why are you so angry?” she asked, shocking the hell out of me.
“Why do you try so hard?” I countered. She looked feral and borderline interesting as she absorbed my question.
“What’s wrong with trying?”
“Everything,” I replied.
She fumed with anger until a white truck pulled up beside her in the parking lot, dulling her pride and ending out standoff.
“Savannah Darlaine Richey, what are you wearing?” a bald man seethed while getting out of the truck. He slammed the door shut before rounding over to her, not once stopping to look at me. He had tunnel vision on short-skirt— or Savannah—and for some reason, it made my hackles rise. I knew that angry gait. Understood the venom in his tone. I'd seen my own father's version of hatred enough to recognize fury when I saw it.
“What’s this I hear about detention?” the man asked. I took in the stains on his work uniform, and the way fat rolled around his neck. He was tall, easily six feet. His fists were clenched. His teeth were gnashing as he grabbed her by the wrist and wrenched her forward.
I stood rooted to the spot.
“I-I’m sorry. Pastor Greene spilled wine on me and…” Her sweet southern voice was sputtering up a storm.
“You look ridiculous.”
“I’m sorry, Daddy.”
“Get your ass in the truck. I won’t have my daughter running around looking like this. Are you wearing men’s pants?” he asked while breathing down her neck. I took a step closer, not sure what I could do but for some reason wanting to, anyway.
“Daddy, I’m sorry,” she croaked as he pushed her against the truck and spewed verbal tar down her shirt.
“You better be. When we get home, we’ll talk about this. You’re just like your mother,” he gritted.
I let out a cough, deciding enough was enough. The man didn’t hear me, which meant he either didn’t give two fucks about having an audience or he was so wrapped up in punishing his daughter that he didn’t care. I wasn’t sure which was worse.
I coughed again. His spine stiffened as he whirled around to stare at me. I kept my expression neutral. “Something you wanna say, boy?” he growled with a twang, eyeing me up and down before deciding I wasn’t worth the time or effort.
“No sir,” I replied, though what I wanted to say was, go fuck yourself. I didn’t want to piss him off more and let Savannah pay the price.
He stared at me for a moment longer, daring me to cough or distract him from the verbal assault he was laying on his daughter. After deciding I wasn't worth his time, he opened the passenger door, shoving Savannah inside before slamming it shut. “Have a nice night,” I mocked while cocking a brow, watching a shaking Savannah through the window. I didn’t like this. Not one bit. I guess one of my addictions was pretending to be the hero. I knew I wasn’t worth much, but the desire was still there.
“Whatever,” the man huffed before getting into his car and peeling out of the parking lot.
I stood there for a moment longer, not sure why I hadn’t gotten back into my car and left thoughts of short-skirt behind to go home to check on the people I actually cared about.
But even so, I stood there, grinding my jaw as I thought about her teetering the line between submissive and powerful with me, but then cowering when her father showed up. I wanted to know more.
I guess Savannah Darlaine Richey wasn’t trying. She was surviving.