Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler: Part 2
“Uh, yeah, I’ll be careful. See ya.” Billy looked back at old man Lupa who was peering through his blinds in his trailer, still staring at the sky the best that he could. Usually, when it rained, he sat out in his fold-out chair waiting to welcome it and when the thunder and lightning came, he danced while his neighbors pointed and laughed at the crazy old man doing crazy old man things. What spooked him all of a sudden? All Billy knew was that the entire encounter had left him with an uneasy feeling in his stomach. Thunder roared and lightning cracked through the sky, startling Billy. The Chinese restaurant was ten minutes by car and twenty on the bike. He peddled as hard as he could. He had worked out a bit over the summer, but he knew it wasn’t enough to make a difference. He wasn’t going to beat the rain no matter how hard he tried.
A few hundred yards ahead of him, Billy could see the threshold between the rain and dry land. Mr. Lupu’s words were still fresh in his head. Billy’s mind started to wander and he considered the inevitable change in weather conditions to be the first grim sign of worry. “Fuck it,” he said, as he pushed onwards like a ship crashing into the unsteady waves of the sea. The rain added a sense of adventure to his travels and he hoped that his backpack was big enough to fit the food, just in case the rain decided to not let up. The restaurant was finally in his eyesight and the rain began to subside, and the worries that filled his mind dissipated like the clouds in the sky. His stomach growled, more-so now that he was close to getting his food. As he pulled up into the shopping plaza, his phone vibrated. He recklessly fumbled into his hoodie pocket to grab his phone, one hand rested on the handlebars, slick with moisture from the rain; it was Courtney.
Ugh, my dad has guests over, can’t leave the house till 9 🙁
He paused for a moment, glancing into the restaurant, his takeaway bags on the counter.
K, he said, and made his way into the restaurant. The smell of food filled his nose as he inhaled, God, he was hungry.
“Nineteen ninety-five, please.” The clerk declared as he pushed Billy’s bag towards him.
Billy looked at him for a few seconds before replying, “The takeout menu said “fifteen” even.
He waved his hands, “No, that was an old menu, $19.95.” Billy sighed, he had enough, but he wanted to get a few extra things before Courtney came over. He looked up at the clock, 7:30, it read.
“You know what? Can I take this to go and eat some food here? I have nothing to do for an hour and a half.”
“Yeah, whatever you want.” Why would the clerk care anyway? More money was being spent in his shop. Billy ordered some lo mein and sat in a booth while he waited. Two little girls sat at the booth in front of him, arguing over who was right on their Chinese homework.
“Ba, how do you say “milk”?
The clerk looked up, “Niunai.” The girl stuck her tongue out at her twin sister, who rolled her eyes and continued to write. His lo mein, along with his takeout food and a complimentary egg roll for the price mix up was placed in front of him as he played Candy Crush on his phone. The egg roll was fresh-out-of-the-fryer-crunchy, and he couldn’t help but moan when the taste hit his mouth. The little girls giggled, but he continued to eat. He put the lo mein that he didn’t finish in the bag with the rest of his food. Before he made his way out, he grabbed a new and improved menu for future orders. It was still cloudy outside, but the sky was highlighted with a sunset orange. Taking a risk, he decided to tie the bag of food to one of the handlebars. He was cold and slightly annoyed, so, he decided to take the long way home.
He took Brewer St. and the alleyways passed the dam. Mr. Lupu’s cryptic warning crept back into his head, and all he wanted was to see Courtney. She always knew how to make things better. He wanted to share with her what Mr. Lupu said, because no matter what explanation she gave, it would make perfect sense to him. What the hell was he trying to say to me? he wondered. His legs began to hurt and he wanted to apologize to Courtney for only saying “K”. She didn’t deserve his passive aggressive bullshit. He pulled out his phone and saw that there was a missed call from Courtney.
“Cheap ass phone,” he mumbled under his breath. How could he have missed the call when his phone was in front of him the entire time? He made a left turn into an alley and called her.
“Hey, it’s Courtney, leave a message.”
“Hey, I’m sorry I missed your call. I was picking up the food. If you get a chance, call me or text me.” He turned the switch on the side of his phone upward, so the volume was as loud as possible. He started to pedal to the other end of the alley, the area was run down and deserted and he tried to familiarize himself with the surroundings, just in case he got lost. He picked up the pace, swerving through mounds of trash and broken glass. As it grew darker, Billy looked up, growing weary when he realized that street lights were non-existent around here.
“How shitty could this area be?” He said aloud, there were street lights in the trailer park for crying out loud. Billy wasn’t scared of much, but this made him want to crap his pants. The houses were run down, with bars on the windows, apart from the stray dogs and cats running around, there was nobody else in sight. He heard something coming from behind him, but when he turned, there was nothing there. He swerved his bike when the phone suddenly rang. It probably wasn’t in his best interest to answer it in the middle of a secluded street, but he did anyway.
“I’m finally free! I’ll be over in like half an hour, I dropped my car off at Audrey’s. Are you back home?” Thank God, she was walking to his house, that would give him enough time to get back.
“Uh, not exactly.” He heard a car engine, but he was still alone. Not wanting to stay there any longer, he made his way down the street. “My dumbass took a detour, I had to clear my head. If I make a right up on this street, I should make it to Lilac and I’ll be good from there.”
“God damn it, Billy…” Courtney sighed.
“I know, I know. I thought I’d be able to get back in time. All I know is, this place is creeping me the fuck out. Are you okay?” Billy made sure to check all of his surroundings as he rode down the street and made the turn on Lilac as he listened to Courtney talk about her day. Her voice calmed his nerves, but that didn’t last long. He knew that there was a car trailing him, and the hooded figure on the sidewalk wasn’t exactly discreet.
“Is everything okay? You’re not saying anything.” Courtney’s breath was quickening, speed walking to Billy’s house as if that would make the situation better.
“Listen to me,” Billy spoke quietly, as the hooded figure was still making his way down the sidewalk. “I think I’m being followed. I don’t know why they just came out of nowhere.”
“Who’s following you?! Do you want me to call the cops? Please, just hurry back to the house.” Courtney tried to keep her voice steady, but she was failing.
“I don’t know. There’s a car behind me. I’m too freaked out to look, plus the headlights aren’t on. And there’s some guy in a hoodie walking not too far from me. They’re probably together. And no, don’t call the cops”
“Please stay on the phone with me.” Courtney was on the verge of crying, Billy should have kept all of this to himself.
“Court, calm down, okay? I’m going to get off the phone, I need two hands on the bike so I can go as fast as I can. I passed the Chinese restaurant maybe five minutes ago, I’ll be at the house in ten minutes. If I’m not there, go to Mr. Lupu’s house and wait there.” Courtney stayed silent, “Promise me.”
“I promise, I love you.” She said
“I love you too.” He hung up and put his phone on the slip on the front of his handlebars, trying to balance as he turned the flashlight on. The hooded figure started to whistle an eerie little tune that Billy couldn’t make out. He had to think meticulously; if he peddled too slow or too fast, he’d make it obvious to whoever was following him that he knew something was off. If they were going to mug him, they would have done it already, maybe they wanted to kick his ass because he entered into someone else’s territory, or maybe just maybe, they wanted to go into town. Maybe they didn’t know each other at all and Billy was just overreacting. Whatever the reason was, he was close to home, and if they were going to attack him, they wouldn’t be stupid enough to do it in a well-lit area. Finally, the car made a right turn, slowly making its way past Billy. The windows were tinted, and it was impossible to tell if the person driving was staring at him or not, and the hooded figure was nowhere to be found.
Billy finally made his way to his haven. The night owls of the trailer park hung out with their friends, with their red solo cups and Budweiser’s. Billy smiled and pulled up to Mr. Lupu’s house to see if Courtney was there. The old man opened the door before Billy could knock. The sight of Billy caused Mr. Lupu to embrace him as tightly as he could. He grabbed Billy’s face, examining it carefully, and Billy had no clue what the hell was going on.
“Uh, is everything okay?”
“Yes! I vas just starting to get vorried, vith the veather and it getting dark and everything.” Mr. Lupu clapped his hands and lifted them up to the sky.
“Look, I was wondering if my girlfriend came by at all?” He couldn’t help but look over his shoulder, just in case.
“No, no, she no come here. Is everything alright?”
“Yeah, everything’s fine. Just asking, that’s all. I gotta bring this food back to the house. Night.” Mr. Lupu waved goodbye and closed the door behind him. Billy rode leisurely to his house, there was no need to rush or panic, and knowing that he and Courtney would soon be together caused a wave of serenity to come over him. He locked his bike in its normal spot on the fence and walked into the trailer, double locking the door behind him. Before he could actually relax, he called Courtney, knowing her, she probably did a math problem in her head:
Billy is in a random ass part of town. The Chinese restaurant is in between his house and the place where he could possibly get murdered. Billy is riding his bike, if the Chinese restaurant is twenty minutes from the trailer park, approximately how long will it take for him to get back home?
“It’s about damn time!” She yelled
“Hey now, I just got home. How far are you?” He took some plates and bowls out of the pantry, filling them with soup and some food.
“Five minutes away, did they follow you home?”
“Nah, I don’t know where the guy who was walking went, but the car made a right turn on Lincoln. I’m gonna take a quick shower. Between the rain and me sweating my ass off so I wouldn’t get murdered, I stink. There are drunks hanging around outside, just be careful, ok?” The last bit got a bit muffled as he lifted his shirt over his shoulders, but she was still able to understand him.
“I will. Don’t take too long in there though, I’m almost there.” He chucked his phone onto the bed and eased his way into the shower. His legs were like Jell-O, and the mix of steam and hot water was just the thing to make him relax. He was barely in the shower a minute when he heard a knock on the door. He sighed and wrapped his towel around his waist. He grabbed a fresh T-shirt and some sweatpants and walked towards the door, leaving wet footprints behind him. He slowly opened up the door, Courtney wasn’t there. No one was. Leaning forward just enough to see what was going on around him, nothing had changed, people were still outside goofing around and doing dumb stunts. He shrugged and closed the door. As he locked the door, hot breath touched the back of his neck, he closed his eyes, trying to keep his own breathing calm before he turned around. Deep down, he knew it was the assholes that followed him, he slowly put his hand into his right pocket and slipped his fingers inside his brass knuckle combination pocket knife, and swung as he turned to face whoever was behind him. He was quick, but not quick enough. The man blocked the hit, punched him in the nose and rammed an open palm into Billy’s throat, knocking him towards the kitchen. Billy choked, confused as to why any of this was happening.