“The Hillerman Job,” a prologue to ‘The Anomaly Problem’ – a free short story.

This is the short story I wrote prior to beginning work on the novel that would become The Anomaly Problem. It weighs in at just under 5,000 words. It tells the story of three of the protagonists from The Anomaly Problem back when they were in high school, roughly eighteen years before the events in the novel. I mentioned this short story before, and you can read about its place in the creation of The Anomaly Problem here.

You may notice the distinct lack of any sci-fi elements in this short story. While The Anomaly Problem is most definitely a sci-fi novel, it’s really about the characters, not the tech. I consider the novel “character-driven science fiction,” while the prologue is simply “character-driven.”

If you’d rather download a PDF of the short story, you can get it here. Otherwise, I present it below, in its entirety.


The Hillerman Job.

Trevor tells Eve it’s a bad place for a meetup.

She tells him it had been her idea to meet there, and not to worry.

It’s a smallish parking lot in Braddock ringed by a chainlink fence overgrown with several years’ worth of climbing vines and topped with strands of rusted barbed wire. It sits across the street from what was probably, many years ago, a very active steel mill. The lot is normally locked against car and foot traffic, the gates shut and secured with heavy padlocks.

Locks aren’t a problem for Eve. She has one of the gates unlocked in less than a minute. Trevor watches as she shoves the gate aside for him to drive the Celebrity through, headlights revealing an uneven parking surface almost entirely lost beneath scrubby little weeds.

Trevor stops to let Eve get back in, then drives to the far side of the lot, turning around to face the entrance. He kills the lights, checks his watch, and glances at Eve, who already has her Glock out, watching the entrance to the lot through the windshield.

“Anything I should know?” Trevor asks. She doesn’t say anything, just looks at him, a look he finds calming. She has it all under control.

Twenty minutes later, Reemer has come and gone. Eve is gone. And Trevor is lying on the ground next to the Celebrity, bleeding and thinking about how she’d told him not to worry.

Trevor’s dad had been a Pittsburgh cop. He used to talk about “second story men,” guys who broke into houses and stole things. The term was meant to describe guys who entered a house through an upstairs window, but his dad used it to describe any career burglar he happened to be talking about.

Eve and Trevor had broken into dozens of houses, sometimes through the upstairs windows, sometimes not. The term “burglars,” they both agreed, wouldn’t have applied, considering what they typically stole and the sort of people they stole from. Trevor had always thought of them as Second Story Men. It had a ring to it, never mind the “Men” part. They aren’t the sort of people Trevor’s dad might have chased back in his day. No one ever calls the police after one of Trevor and Eve’s jobs.

Eve’s target is a house in Sutersville, a trashy single-story place, home to a revolving group of twenty-somethings, mostly methheads. An easy job, according to Eve.

They drink coffee in the all-night diner near Trevor’s house before heading to Sutersville. Eve drives, talking along the way about a potential future job, a guy who has his own meth lab out in the sticks somewhere. Trevor listens, feeling uneasy. It’s only been a few days since they had seriously talked about calling it quits, getting out while they were ahead, and they are way ahead.

Trevor had talked, now that he thinks about it, and Eve had only listened.

It’s clear Eve isn’t thinking along those lines. It worries Trevor. They’re both having fun, he can’t deny that, but he can’t help thinking their luck will run out, and soon.

In Sutersville, Eve parks a few houses down from the target and leads Trevor across overgrown backyards, stopping frequently to listen. They step on to the back porch of the target house, and Eve unlocks the door.

All is quiet inside. The backdoor opens into a dining room. A small bathroom is on the left, the door open and the light on, throwing just enough illumination around the cluttered space to keep them from stumbling over anything. They split up, taking opposite ends of the house. Trevor walks through the kitchen, then the living room, stepping over garbage and a pair of legs belonging to a skinny guy in his underwear sitting up against the wall, sleeping. Not much in the way of furniture, no decoration.

He finds Eve in one of the bedrooms, standing over a mattress on the floor. There are two shapes on the mattress, indistinct under a dark blanket. Eve glances at the doorway as Trevor enters, holds up her hand. Trevor stops, waiting. Eve crouches down, pulls the blanket down a bit, uncovering their faces. A young man and woman, out cold.

Eve motions Trevor over. He stands next to her over the mattress, watching them sleep. He looks at Eve, shrugs.

Eve leans in, whispering. “On the count of three,” she says. Looking down, Trevor sees her Glock in her hand, aimed at the young man. With her other hand, she points at the woman. “Hurry.”

Trevor takes his own Glock out, steps around the mattress. He looks back at Eve, intending to ask why, wanting to tell her about the other guy in the house. She’s counting with her free hand, not looking at Trevor.

One.

“Wait,” Trevor whispers.

Two.

She hadn’t heard him. In the dim light, her face is calm, like it always is. Nothing going wrong here, just part of the plan.

Three.

Trevor aims and fires. His and her gunshots blend into a single impossibly loud explosion that robs Trevor of his hearing. He looks at Eve, who is motioning him toward the door, telling him to keep a lookout.

“What did we just do?” he asks. He’s curious more than anything, which takes him a little by surprise. He had just shot someone in the face. That part, at the moment, isn’t bothering him.

Eve hasn’t heard him. She’s kicking through piles of clothes on the floor, finally coming up with a duffel bag. Trevor turns back to the door, goes back to the living room. The sleeping guy hasn’t moved. Is he dead? An overdose, maybe? Trevor leans in. No, he can see his bare chest moving.

He turns back to the bedroom. Eve is coming out with two duffel bags, one in each hand. She jerks her head to the backdoor, and Trevor leads the way, heading back outside and very quickly back to the car.

“I was thinking New York, maybe,” Trevor said. He was sitting on the bed, watching as Eve, sitting cross-legged on the floor, meticulously cleaned Trevor’s Glock. She’d already done her own. She has the parts laid out on a piece of cardboard. She doesn’t look up.

“Or maybe Chicago,” Trevor said. “I figure we have enough to get ourselves settled into a decent place. I’m sure we can find jobs.”

Eve sighs. She was working on the slide with a Q-tip. “Real jobs, you mean,” she said.

“I just think we should think about it,” Trevor said. He felt sweat on his forehead and wiped it with his sleeve. This wasn’t going well. “We have cash. It’s a goddamn miracle we haven’t been caught yet. I think we should consider quitting while we’re ahead.”

“What time does your dad go to bed?” Eve asked, setting down the slide and Q-tip.

“Hours ago,” he said. “Why?”

“Thought I heard something,” she said. Then they both heard a crash from down the hall.

Eve slides the cardboard with the disassembled Glock under the bed. Trevor had moved to the door and had it cracked. Nothing out in the hall.

“I’m gonna go check on Jeremy,” Trevor said. He went to his brother’s bedroom door and knocked lightly.

“Go away.” A loud whisper from the other side.

“You okay? I’m coming in.” He turned the doorknob and pushed, meeting with immediate resistance. But Trevor was bigger, and was in the room without much trouble.

Jeremy was fully clothed, glaring at Trevor. “Asshole,” he said.

Trevor closed the door. “You’re supposed to be sleeping.”

“I went out,” Jeremy said. “So what?”

Trevor leaned in and sniffed. He smelled tobacco on Jeremy’s clothes, but no alcohol. “Where?”

“To a friend’s. You gonna tell dad?”

Trevor looked around. Jeremy had knocked his CD player off the little shelf underneath the open window. The CD player lay on the floor, busted open.

“Well?” Jeremy asked.

“He told me your grades are slipping,” Trevor said. “You getting into trouble?”

“Into trouble?” Jeremy said. “Like what? Drugs? Drinking?”

“Drugs, drinking, stealing cars, whatever.”

“No. Are you?”

Jeremy, only fourteen but no idiot, had been trying to squeeze an admission out of Trevor since he, Jeremy, first discovered Trevor’s locked closet, many months before. Trevor had laughed it off at first, but Jeremy had become insistent, almost obsessed, and had developed a habit of asking Trevor where he’d been or what he’d been doing at every opportunity. Hoping Trevor would crack.

“Sure,” Trevor said. “All that. Drinking, drugs, stealing cars, murder, all of it. You got me.”

“Fuck you,” Jeremy said, sitting on the bed and kicking off his shoes. “Just go.”

Trevor sat down next to him. “Dad worries, you know. I do too. They found another kid with a gun at school, right?”

Jeremy nodded. “Two more, actually. I didn’t know them, though.”

“Still. It’s kinda shitty out there. Keep yourself out of trouble, okay?”

“What about you?” Trevor saw something like genuine concern in his brother’s face. This wasn’t the overly-curious little brother. How much does he know?

“I’ll be fine. And I’ll show you what’s in my closet someday. And I think you’ll find it pretty boring.” Trevor smiled.

Jeremy nodded.

“Get some sleep. School tomorrow.”

“You too,” Jeremy said.

Trevor is driving down Sutersville’s empty roads, the sound of the Celebrity’s aging engine muffled in his ruined ears. He knows the radio is on, but he can barely hear it. And if Eve is talking, he can’t hear her, either.

Why did they do that? Who were those people? Trevor wants to ask, but the job isn’t done, not until they get out of Sutersville and back to Trevor’s house. He drives in silence, following traffic laws to the letter. It makes for a long drive.

He looks over at Eve, who is calmly, serenely, looking out the window, watching the dark blur of trees and houses and cars.

“Why’d we do that?” Trevor asks, unable to wait any longer.

Eve doesn’t look over, just continues staring out the window. “You didn’t see who they were?”

“Who were they?”

Eve sighs. “You didn’t always have such a bad memory.”

“My memory’s fine. I couldn’t see their faces,” Trevor says. “Could you? See their faces?”

Eve turns toward him. “You think I had us shoot two strangers?”

“Who were they?”

“Christ. You’re a nut, you know that?” she says. “Okay, you remember that asshole HIllerman? Him and his bitch girlfriend?”

Jeff Hillerman, from his class in high school. His girlfriend, he remembers, was none-too-friendly. They both dropped out during their sophomore year. “Okay,” he says.

“There you go.” She resumes looking out the window. “I owed him.”

“So you knew they lived there?”

“They don’t,” she says. “They didn’t. They just get high and crash there. Hillerman sells for this guy Reemer. He’s the guy with his own lab I was talking about. Wasn’t sure they’d be there tonight, though. Bonus.”

Small world, Trevor thinks.

“That asshole,” Eve says with a bit of a chuckle. “He was our first job. Remember?”

“Yep.” A high school football game. Eve and Trevor had been dating for a few weeks at that point. They had heard Hillerman and a few others talking in the stands as we walked past, something about his car. She pulled Trevor aside and told him there were drugs in Hillerman’s trunk, and they should go steal them. Trevor asked how she knew that, and she told him she’d been hearing things all week at school, and whatever Hillerman had said to his buddies at the game was the final clue. Eve was clever like that. She could spend a few minutes in the halls at school, a few more on the computer checking Facebook, and she’d be able to piece together the details. And from that, she could put together jobs.

Trevor agreed and they went out to the parking lot. He remembers feeling like they were doing something good, maybe not morally good, but important, important for them anyway. Significant. He remembers waiting for just the right moment to pry the trunk of Hillerman’s Impala open with the tire iron from Trevor’s Celebrity. They took what was there and left. That was the start of all of it.

“No surprise he turned out to be a fucking junkie,” Eve says.

“Yeah.” Trevor isn’t completely clear on why they’d shot those two, what Eve’s beef had been with Hillerman. He won’t miss them. He doubts anyone would miss them.

Still.

“Hillerman sold for this Reemer guy?” Trevor says, then regrets it. Weren’t they going to quit?

“He did,” Eve says. “Once the heat around Hillerman dies down, we can go after him.”

Trevor stops at a red light. They have another job. They’d lived for the next job, ever since they started this life. They had been joined to each other by their secret, this thing that defined them as a couple. Would there be a ‘Trevor and Eve’ without the action, without that secret? He doesn’t know, but he wants to find out.

“Light’s green,” Eve says.

Trevor drives on.

Back at Trevor’s house, they carry the two duffel bags up to Trevor’s room, moving quietly and pausing briefly outside both Jeremy’s and Trevor’s dad’s rooms, listening for movement.

In Trevor’s room, Eve sits on the bed and kicks her shoes off. Trevor unlocks his closet and sets the duffel bags inside, then closes and locks the door. He rubs at his ears. It’ll be a few days before his hearing returns. Assuming it does at all.

Eve is sprawled out on the bed, sighing heavily. “I need a nap.”

“What time is it?” Trevor asks, joining her on the bed.

Eve looks over at the alarm clock. “After three.”

“School in a few hours,” Trevor says. They’re both seniors. Showing up is the extent of the effort they’re willing to put forth, school-wise. “How badly do we need to go anyway?”

Eve turns, facing Trevor. “What’s the count?”

“Last I checked, just under eighty thousand.”

Eve closes her eyes. “That’s not much, is it?”

It is. It’s plenty.

“It really isn’t,” Trevor says, then reaches up to stroke her cheek.

Eve opens her eyes. “So. This guy Reemer.”

After school, Trevor waits for Eve in the parking lot, watching as his classmates board the buses and are hauled away. Eve emerges, walking briskly toward him. He takes that to mean they need to leave quickly, so he gets in the car and starts it.

Eve gets in. “We gotta go. Hospital. Down in Oakland.”

Trevor backs out of the space and drives away. “Why the hospital?”

“Just drive,” Eve says. “Your brother’s been hurt.”

Trevor looks over at her.

“The road, Trevor.”

Trevor looks forward, brakes just in time to avoid rear-ending a Cadillac. “Fuck,” Trevor says. “What do you mean ‘hurt?’”

“Beat up. I was trying to find out more about it, but I got written up for cutting class.” She holds up a disciplinary slip, white with yellow and pink duplicates. “All I know is they took him to UPMC. Your dad’s probably there already. Look, just focus on driving, he’s not going anywhere.”

Trevor finds his dad in the Emergency Room waiting area. Randall Cyrus had hurt his back toward the end of his police career, and doesn’t leave the house much. He has to stand because the waiting room seats would be far too uncomfortable.

“What happened?” Trevor asks.

“Bastards got him good,” his dad said. There are uniformed cops nearby from a couple different jurisdictions. “Ditched school this morning. They told me they found him on the side of the road in Penn Hills. Dumped, they figured.”

“Is he okay?”

“Busted arm, ribs, lacerations, concussion. He’s not stable yet, they said.”

Trevor wants to sit. “Can we see him?”

“Not yet. You know anyone named Reemer?”

Cold sweat.

Eve is outside, pacing with a smartphone in her hand. “How is he?” she asks.

“My dad says the cops are throwing the name Reemer around,” Trevor says. “Who the fuck is this guy?”

“Like I said. Drug dealer and manufacturer. Sitting on a ton of cash and product.”

Trevor stares at her.

“I don’t know why he did this,” she says after a moment. “I only just found out myself it was him.”

“How did you find out?” Trevor asks.

“He called me five minutes ago. He wants to meet. Tonight. I’m waiting to hear back on the time.”

“Anything I should know?” Trevor asks. She doesn’t say anything, just looks at him, a look he finds calming. She has it all under control.

A few minutes pass. Headlights appear at the entrance of the parking lot. A low, little car with a loud exhaust pulls into the lot, moving slowly to mitigate the unevenness of the pavement.

“That’s why the cops figured it was him, I imagine,” Eve says. “People probably saw his car. Turns out this guy isn’t very discreet.”

The little car, a Honda, pulls up close, and Trevor gets a look at the paint job. Bright yellow, with an offset white stripe running from the front bumper to the spoiler in the back. Silver wheels, low-profile tires. Not discreet at all.

“Jesus.” Trevor gets out of the car. The Honda stops and two men step out.

“You Trevor?” one of them asks. Short guy, spiky hair, clean shaven. Trevor catches a whiff of cologne. Must be Reemer.

“Beating down fourteen-year-olds,” Trevor says. “That some new way of proving you’re a bad-ass?”

“Yeah, he told me about you,” Reemer says, stepping forward. “You know he was doing your homework.”

Trevor looks at Eve. She’d gotten out of the car and was standing on the other side, keeping her Glock ready and out of sight.

“Think I’ll do him a favor.” Reemer slugs Trevor, knocking him to the ground.

His head ringing, Trevor gets up on his hands and knees and catches sight of Reemer’s passenger, who is now raising his pistol to cover Eve, the nickel finish flashing in the headlights.

“What kind of piece of shit sends his little brother to do his homework?” Reemer kicks Trevor in the ribs, knocking him flat. “You wanna rip me off, but you can’t do your own homework?”

Trevor tries to talk but has no breath. He loses sight of Reemer as he steps close, and he feels his pistol being tugged off his belt where it was holstered in the back of his jeans. He feels a heavy foot on his back.

“You owe me,” Reemer says, “for the trouble.” And he fires.

Trevor feels it, high on his back close to his right shoulder, feels a spray of pulverized asphalt on his face. No pain yet, just the stunned shock of the impact.

“Stop,” he hears Eve say. “Look, we’ve got cash, alright? Killing us doesn’t get you anywhere.”

Trevor can’t move. He lies with his head cradled in scratchy weeds, the pain of the gunshot wound starting to come through the fog of adrenaline.

“No? You don’t think so?” Reemer says. “Step out. Right out here, in the light.”

Trevor tries to look, but another punch from Reemer puts him out.

He isn’t out long. He can still hear the exhaust from Reemer’s little Honda in the distance. He tries to get to his feet, but he stumbles back to the ground. He focuses on his breathing, trying to manage the pain. It’s coming from everywhere, all directions, every extremity.

A new set of headlights enters the parking lot. He looks up, sees an old station wagon pulling in. He feels a brief wave of relief it isn’t the cops. A man gets out.

“Jesus Christ, kid.” A familiar voice. “Jesus Christ.” Strong hands pulling him up, dragging him to his feet. “Come on, help me out. Just going right over here. There you go.”

Trevor lies down in the back of the station wagon. The man’s face comes into view. The fence, Eve’s contact, the guy she sells most of their spoils to. He’s cutting Trevor’s shirt off.

“Clean through, kid. Tell you what, I’ve seen much worse. Just try to relax.” The fence, who Trevor remembers is named Freddy, works quickly, first injecting him with something then cleaning the wound with tweezers, all while crouching in the back of the cramped cargo area of the station wagon.

“Eve texted me, you know,” Freddy says while he works. “Told me where to find you. Lucky for you, I only live a few blocks away. Might have heard the gunshot, but it’d be hard to distinguish it from the usual local variety.” He chuckles.

“Where is she?” Trevor says, barely a whisper. His mouth is bone dry.

“Don’t know. Try to keep still.” He continues his work.

“You need to rest a bit,” Freddy says, handing Trevor a plastic half-gallon milk jug full of water. “Fluids, et cetera. You didn’t lose a whole lot of blood, but you’ll be in trouble if you don’t take it easy.”

Trevor is on his feet, leaning on the station wagon for support. He drinks some of the water. “Do I need antibiotics?” he asks, capping the jug.

“Couldn’t hurt. But I don’t have any. Want some pain pills? Got lots of that stuff.”

Trevor shakes his head. “We owe you,” he says.

“I know.” Freddy closes up his makeshift operating room and gets back in his car, pausing before pulling the door shut. “Seriously, you got lucky. Eve can take care of herself, just take it easy.”

“See you, Freddy,” Trevor says, and makes his way carefully back to the Celebrity.

Trevor drives using only his left arm, intending to head back to his house. He realizes that Eve is his only real source of information, and he has no way of finding her.

If she needs found. Eve can take care of herself. Freddy isn’t wrong.

A wave of lightheadedness forces him to pull the car over. He puts the car in park and sits for a minute. He’s pouring sweat, and his mouth is still dry. He takes another drink from the milk jug, then fumbles it trying to get the cap back on. Water spills on the floor mats. He manages to upright the jug and cap it, saving about a third. Maybe he’d stop at a gas station, get some Gatorade.

A garbage truck passes, making the car rock. A loud machine, that garbage truck.

The Honda.

The cops know it’s his car. Maybe they know where to find him.

UPMC Hospital isn’t far. He puts the car in gear and pushes on.

He parks in the garage next to UPMC and pops the trunk. They each keep a change of clothes in there. He peels off the t-shirt Freddy gave him and pulls on a fresh shirt and pants.

Inside the hospital, he heads to the Emergency Room finds out they’d moved Jeremy upstairs. He takes the elevator and runs into his dad as soon as he steps off.

“There you are. They moved him up here. I was gonna go get some dinner.” He looks tired.

“Dad. This guy Reemer.” He keeps his voice low. “You know where he is?”

His dad sighs. “You and that girl. You think you’re being careful, sneaking in and out. You really thought I wouldn’t know?”

“I never thought we were fooling you,” Trevor says.

“You just thought I was, what, giving you space? Letting you be a criminal? You and what’s-her-name?”

“Eve. And I kinda thought that, yeah.”

“Christ, Trevor.” He presses the elevator button. “Officer Mallory, he’s a city cop, working my old zone. He told me the department’s liaising with some new drug task force, got ties with the Feds. They’ve been watching this Reemer guy.”

The elevator arrives. “He’s apparently got a place somewhere in Irwin.” He steps on the elevator, then holds his hand up, stopping Trevor from getting on. “Right by the country club.”

“Irwin, huh?” Trevor says.

“I’m getting some dinner,” Trevor’s dad says. “You be careful.” The doors close.

Irwin isn’t far, but it also isn’t small. He knows about the country club. It was in the news recently, a story on how, miraculously, it’s still in operation, in spite of the economic downturn. Reemer probably grew up around there, a child of affluence. Had plenty of capital to set up a business, cooking and selling meth using his pretty little Honda.

That stupid car. All he has to do is find that stupid little Honda.

Most of the trip to Irwin is on a four-lane highway. He stops at a gas station for Gatorade and to check his bandages in the restroom. Freddy had stitched him up pretty good.

Back in the car, he rolls the windows down so he could listen for that exhaust. Plenty of cars are done up like Reemer’s, but he’s sure he can identify that particular exhaust note.

He eventually turns off the highway and on to back roads. As he gets closer to the country club, he starts hearing sirens. Lots of them. Police, emergency vehicles. He pulls over, trying to gauge the direction, but it seems to be reverberating from everywhere. It sounds like the cacophony is getting louder, so he drives on, taking it slow.

He coasts through an intersection, ignoring the signals, and sees a fire truck in his rear-view mirror. He lets it pass, then follows it. Rounding a corner, he can see the sky over the trees up ahead is glowing, pulsing orange and yellow. Another vehicle with flashing lights comes up behind him, so he pulls over again. It screams by him, a State Trooper. Trevor continues on.

He can see actual flames over the trees now, but whatever is burning is still pretty far away. He’s so fixed on watching the fire that he nearly misses the yellow Honda passing him going in the other direction. Trevor slams on the brakes and jerks the wheel around, making a u-turn. He sees brake lights on the Honda. It had pulled over to the side. Trevor comes up quickly behind it, stopping as the driver’s door opens and Eve gets out.

“Follow me,” she says, and gets back in.

Trevor loses track of where they’re going. He has a feeling they are in same part of the county as Sutersville. He watches the taillights of Reemer’s Honda, his head aching, his arm aching. He wants her to stop, just stop so they can finish this day and he can sleep.

She pulls into what Trevor thinks is someone’s driveway, a dirt path into the woods. It ends in an empty clearing. Eve stops and gets out.

Trevor pulls up next to the Honda, feeling too tired to get out, too tired even to put the shifter into park. He rests his head against the back of the seat, closes his eyes.

“You okay?” Eve says. Trevor opens his eyes. Eve is leaning into the car. She reaches over the steering column and yanks the shifter up. Then she opens the door, leans in, and hugs him. “Come on. Almost done.”

Trevor climbs out of the car with Eve’s help, and they walk back to Reemer’s car. “What happened?” Trevor asks.

“You saw the fire?” Eve is smiling. “Reemer’s lab. Cleaned it out first, though.”

She opens Reemer’s trunk. Reemer is inside, unconscious. “Jesus,” Trevor says.

“Stash is up front. It’s not a bad haul, actually.”

“You set his lab on fire?” Trevor asks.

“Lab set itself on fire, really,” she says. “Doesn’t take much, you know.”

Trevor looks down at Reemer.

“He wasn’t lying,” Eve says. “About Jeremy.”

“I know,” Trevor said. “Poor kid just wanted in.”

“It’s my fault,” Eve says. “I told him about Reemer, just enough to keep him interested, satisfy his curiosity. Keep him out of our hair. He did the rest.”

Trevor sighs. “I figured as much.” Though he hadn’t, not really. He isn’t surprised to hear it. He’s just too tired.

“I’m sorry,” Eve says.

“Don’t be.” Trevor nudges Reemer. Still breathing, but not waking up. “Jeremy figured out long ago what we were up to.” Just like his dad. He turns to Eve. “Now what?”

Eve smiles and hands him his Glock. “On the count of three.”

Jeremy is still at UPMC, bandaged and groggy after two surgeries to set broken bones. He doesn’t want visitors, but Trevor goes in to tell him that Reemer is dead. Jeremy isn’t very happy to hear it.

“You gonna show me what’s in your closet now?” Jeremy asks.

Trevor shakes his head, sits on the corner of the bed. “We’re leaving town soon. We have to. And we’re taking it all with us.”

“Why?”

Trevor shrugs. “That’s always been the plan.” Her plan, though he doesn’t tell him that.

“Take me with you,” he says.

“I’ll be back,” Trevor says. He stands. “Just stay out of trouble. Listen to dad.”

“Just get the fuck out,” Jeremy says.

Back in the waiting room, Eve is sitting and reading a magazine. “He okay?” she asks, tossing the magazine aside.

“He’ll be alright. He’s not happy, though.”

She stands. “You see your dad?”

“He’s back at home, said he needed a nap and a shower. I’ll tell him later.”

Eve nods. “You sure about this?”

Trevor shrugs. “I hate leaving him.”

“You don’t have to go,” Eve says. “Not yet. But I just burned down a meth lab. I need to blow town, I think.”

Trevor looks back toward Jeremy’s room. Get the fuck out, he’d said. Weak, battered, but so angry. It’s almost enough to make Trevor want to stay.

Almost.

He turns back to Eve. Those eyes.

She has it all under control.

“So,” Trevor says. “New York?”

Eve smiles. “We can talk about it.”

###


Liked the story? Pick up a copy of The Anomaly Problem here.

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