Reap the Whirlwind [MultiFormat]
Click on image to enlarge.
eBook by Josh Aterovis
eBook Category: Mystery/Crime
eBook Description: Suicide, or murder? That's the question in Reap the Whirlwind by Josh Aterovis, the second Killian Kendall mystery. "I might be gay. That, of course, was impossible. Right?" asks Will Smith,a preacher's kid who still has a lot to learn about himself, about love, and about murder. Will has to grow up all too fast. Adult content.
eBook Publisher: ebooksonthe.net, Published: 2003
Fictionwise Release Date: February 2005
16 Reader Ratings:
Nothing can stay the same forever. We get in trouble in life when we think it can and will. Everything changes, or as King Solomon said in the Bible and The Byrds sang in the '60s, to everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven. It's not a particularly easy lesson to learn, or a fun one for that matter. I learned it the summer between high school and college, and my life would never be the same.
* * * *
We burst into the house, laughing and shoving each other playfully. We were both sweaty from playing basketball on the driveway. The black macadam drew heat like a magnet. For what must have been the millionth time I looked at Joey and thought about how different we were. We were a study in contrasts, a true testament to the old adage that opposites attract. We'd been best friends since we were toddlers, but we couldn't have been more different. Joey was tall, a little over six feet, and I was ... well, short. If I wore my Airwalks with the thick soles I just managed to eke out 5'6". He has poker-straight pale blonde hair that he wears cut off bluntly just above his shoulders. Today he had pulled it back into a ponytail but half of it had fallen down and was stuck now to his face. My black hair was so curly I had to keep it cut short or it sprung out into an afro. Joey has a year-round tan that darkened to a golden brown on the first day of summer. I have pale white skin that burns over and over, never tans, turns an unflattering shade of red if you even look at me funny, and breaks into freckles across my nose at the first hint of sunlight. Joey has these huge puppy-dog brown eyes while mine are a deep blue. Actually, my eyes are my favorite feature. They are so dark they are almost violet, and these incredibly long black lashes frame them. My other best friend, Laura, is always saying that she would kill to have my eyes.
The differences didn't end at the physical, however. Even our personalities were polar opposites. Joey was gregarious while I was shy. He was caught up in popularity games while I was content to hide in the background. Joey took everything at face value and rarely looked deeper while I tended to be introspective, always looking for a deeper meaning.
Laura, Joey and I were almost inseparable all through high school. We'd grown up in the same neighborhood and played together since we were old enough to walk. Everyone at school had called us the three musketeers.
Since we'd graduated though, things had started to change. We didn't see each other nearly as much as we used to. Laura had met Gabriel, or Gabe as he preferred, and they had started dating. Over the summer, they had grown closer and closer. I had been dating Beth on and off all through high school and I guess you could say things were semi-serious between us. Beth was from the neighborhood, too, and while she had never really been a part of our little clique she'd been around enough that when we had started dating no one was really surprised. She was a year younger than the rest of us, but she was always the most serious one in the bunch.
The latest blow to the three musketeers had taken place two weeks ago when Joey and Laura started college at Pemberton University, a local school here in town. Both had been accepted at other schools, but picked Pemberton when I decided to take a year off to work before going to college. My main reasoning behind this decision was that I hated school and really couldn't see jumping right into more studying just as soon as I was finished with high school. Actually, my intense dislike of school had less to do with the academics, I'd always gotten above average grades with very little effort, and much more to do with the fact that I never did well in the complex social environment that was the public school system. So Joey and Laura had stayed in order to keep the musketeers intact. The only problem was I had hardly seen them since classes took up. Today was the first day Joey and I had really been able to spend together. I was surprised how much I missed him and without thinking, I suddenly grabbed him in a tight hug.
"Dude!" he said pushing me away roughly. "What the hell was that for?"
"Language!" my mother called from the next room.
Joey rolled his eyes and I shrugged. "I dunno," I answered, choosing to ignore my mother. "I guess I just miss you."
"Yeah, well, I miss you too, but you know I don't like all that touchy-feely stuff."
That was another difference between Joey and me. I was from a very affectionate family and I wasn't afraid to show my affection; Joey was very reserved emotionally, the typical macho man who never shows his feelings.
"Let's get something to drink," he said as he headed for the kitchen, dribbling the ball as he went.
"Don't bounce the ball in the house," Mom called.
I trailed after him, mentally kicking myself all the while.
"God! When are you going to get out of here?" he said as soon as we were in the kitchen. "It's like we're still twelve. You make enough at your job that you could get an apartment; especially if you had a roommate."
"I would definitely need a roommate," I told him. "I don't make that much. So that means it's pretty much out of the question."
"Because I don't really know anybody."
"Well, it just so happens that I do."
My eyes lit up. "You?"
"No, not me, dumb ass. You know every penny I make goes right to ye olde tuition fund." I felt my face heating up and knew I was turning red. Thankfully, Joey had his back toward me as he hunted in the fridge for something cold. He came out with a carton of orange juice, grabbed two glasses out of cabinet, and proceeded to pour OJ all over the counter as he tried to get it in both glasses at once.
"Jeez, Joey, wreck the kitchen why don't you," I complained.
"You sound just like your mom," Joey grumbled as he mopped up his mess with a towel. "Anyway, as I was saying, there's this guy at school, his name's Aidan, and he has this two-bedroom apartment so he's looking for a roommate. I told him I'd ask you."
"Why'd he get a two bedroom if it's just him?"
"I don't know, Will, what difference does it make? Are you interested or not?"
"I don't even know this guy ... what's his name? Adam?"
"Aidan. And I do know him. He's a really nice guy. I think you two would get along. Look, he just moved in and he's having a kind of house warming party tonight. I'm supposed to go; why don't you go with me? That way you can meet him, see the apartment, see if you like him ... the whole nine yards."
He handed me my glass of OJ and started gulping his down.
"I won't know anyone there," I protested.
"Yes you will. Laura and Gabe will be there. Gabe knows him from last year; they had some classes together or something. There'll only be a couple other people there, so you don't have to worry about your terminal shyness."
"I don't want to crash his party, especially if there aren't even that many people going." I was getting weaker and Joey knew it.
"He said I could bring a friend." I hesitated and he moved in for the kill. "There's going to be someone there I want you to meet besides Aidan."
"Come and you'll find out."
I played my last ace. "I'm supposed to go out with Beth tonight."
"So cancel!" he yelled throwing his hands up. "Come on, Will. You just said you missed me. Here's your chance to spend some time with me plus meet some new people and maybe find some new digs. Live a little. Bethie will get over it."
I sighed and Joey grinned. He knew he'd won. Why he still got any pleasure from it was beyond me since he always won. You'd think he'd be used to it by now, the manipulative bastard.
"What should I wear?"
"Whatever you want. It's just a party not a debutante ball."
"Look it up."
"Oh so you don't know either."
"Shut up." He laughed and punched me in the arm.
"Ow!" I shoved him back and soon we were wrestling around the kitchen, crashing into the table and knocking over a chair.
"No roughhousing inside!" Mom called.
We froze and looked at each other, then collapsed into a giggling heap on the floor ... just like old times.
* * * *
An hour later, I stood in my room with a towel around my waist as a puddle of water collected at my feet. I stared at the phone wondering if there was any way I could avoid picking it up. I had been getting out of the shower when Mom called up that Beth was on the phone. I dreaded the inevitable confrontation when I broke off our date tonight ... for the third time in a row.
As I said earlier, Beth is my on-again-off-again girlfriend--more off than on. Not because of Beth; she would have us engaged if she had her way. I was always the one who put things on hold and Beth was always the one who talked me into going out again. I was content just to hang out with Joey and Laura. In fact, Beth was the only girl I had ever dated. Going to dances with Laura because she didn't have a date doesn't count. Laura says I have a problem with commitment and maybe I do, but I really think I've just watched too many romantic movies. I want that kind of romance where you light up when you hear their name and melt down when they walk into the room. That just wasn't there with Beth. We got along fine; she was comfortable--but there was just no ... spark.
I sighed and knew I couldn't put it off any longer.
"Hello?" I answered.
"Well, it's about time," my mother joked as she hung up. My parents loved Beth to no end.
"What happened? You fall down getting out of the shower?" Beth said.
"No, I guess I got lost in thought," I said lamely.
"Oh? And you were thinking about me of course," she teased.
"Don't sound so excited."
"Listen, Beth, about tonight..."
"No! Will!" she interrupted. "Don't do this to me again. Tonight was going to be special. You promised. Just you and me."
"Something came up." I was dying and I knew it.
"Let me guess, it has something to do with Joey, right?"
"What does Joey have to do with anything?"
"Everything with you has something to do with Joey. Joey always comes first with you. When is it my turn? You treat me like you treat Laura."
"What's that supposed to mean? What's wrong with how I treat Laura? She's one of my closest friends."
"That's just it, Will." She sighed. "Laura's your friend. But I'm supposed to be your girlfriend. And what's wrong with how you treat both of us is that anytime Joey wants to do something, we both get shoved aside. At least Laura has found someone who knows how to treat her."
"Did she ... did Laura tell you this?"
"She didn't have to. Look, Will, this obviously isn't working. You aren't committed to us. I think we should take a break until you figure out what you want."
"Wait a minute; you're breaking up with me?"
"You can call it that. Just don't call me until you've figured things out. It's your move this time."
"Figured things out? What's to figure out? What I want is that ... that spark of chemistry. That feeling that everything is all right when you're with them, that you're finally home. Don't you want that?"
"Yes, Will, I do," she said quietly, "but the thing is, I thought I had it--with you. I'm sorry you don't feel the same way. I hope you find it. I really do. Goodbye."
"Beth..." I tried, but she'd already hung up.
I stood there with the phone in my hand for several minutes replaying my conversation with Beth in my head. She had said so much it took a while for it all to sink in, and when it did, I didn't know whether to be angry, laugh, or cry. Maybe all three would suffice.