“Hi, Ozzy,” Jesse says. He presses the gun against Chris's head. “How are you?”
Chris puts his hands out into the room so Jesse can see them. His fingers splay out and Jesse laughs when he notices the fingers are shaking.
“Are you trying to die today, dude?” Jesse asks. He shoves Chris's head with the tip of the gun barrel and lowers it to his side. Chris stumbles toward the bed and it catches him. He turns and sits and puts his hands back up.
“Put your hands down, man, it's embarrassing.”
Chris lets his hands drop to the bed. The gaming monitor has been joined by another monitor. This added monitor is divided into four screens. One shows the front porch. One shows the back porch and lawn, including the surrounding fence. Another screen shows the entryway downstairs. A fourth shows another room, maybe somewhere in the house. Jesse has security cameras set up throughout his grandmother's home. He wonders if grandma knows about them.
“I could have killed you, fool. What are you doing sneaking up into my house, into my room, in the middle of the damn morning? You know better than to sneak up in a man's house like that.”
“A grandmother's house,” Chris says. He doesn't know why he said it. Jesse is still holding the revolver. The sudden switch of going from control to controlled, just like with the cop at the car earlier in the morning, just like in his own room an hour ago, he has lost too many battles to just keep rolling over. He had to say something.
Jesse brings the gun back up.
“Bitch, this is my house,” he says.
“Okay, man, sorry.”
“Say it,” Jesse says.
“Say it? Say what, man?”
Chris waits for a break in Jesse's face. He waits for a sign, any small sign, that Jesse is just messing with him. But Jesse's eyes hold. His mouth holds. The gun holds.
“Say this is my house.”
“This is your house,” Chris says, his hands coming up slightly.
“Say you're sorry,” Jesse says.
Jesse cocks the hammer back and steps forward.
“Bitch, don't sneak up in my house and disrespect me. Don't come sniffing around her like some stray dog begging for scraps and call me out like I don't run this place. Are you crazy? You trying to die? Say it or I'll put this gun in your mouth so you can't say it.”
Chris scoots sideways on the bed without thinking. He puts his left hand out to shield himself from the gun's stare and from the wrath shining from Jesse's eyes.
“Okay, okay, take it easy, man.”
“Sorry,” Chris says, shrinking away from the gun.
“Sorry? Sorry for what?”
“Sorry I snuck into your house and disrespected you”
Jesse lowers the gun and laughs. “Man you are a straight up bitch, you know that? Sorry for sneaking into your house? Come on, man! Just sit there, man, sit there and relax. Relax your shaky little hands.”
Jesse closes the door into his room and drops back into the chair at his desk. He depresses the pistol's hammer and clanks the gun down against the metal desk.
“Chris Osborne... man, how's your nickname gonna be Ozzy Osbourne when you're all shaky and frail? You can't be all delicate and have people call you Ozzy.”
He turns toward the camera monitor.
“What do you think?” he asks, pointing to the surveillance screens.
“Sick, man,” Chris says. He is still wary. His hands are pressed into the bed covers and he is ready to run, if necessary. The door is closed now so that route will be tough. He looks to the single window in the room. The window ledge leads down to a short portion of roof and then a ten to twelve foot drop to the grass below. That would not be ideal. His knees are still feeling the wall jump at the train yard. He secures that option as a solid plan B.
“Had a couple of tweakers discover the location of my secret lair a few weeks ago. They came in around midnight. Luckily my grandma was up taking a piss or something, because she saw them and started screaming, throwing plates and glasses from the kitchen. She went off. Lucky for me, too, because while she was screaming and breaking shit, they focused on her. She distracted them for me.”
Jesse slides his chair to the edge of the desk and reaches down between the desk and the wall. He comes back up with a baseball bat.
“She distracted them long enough for me to take this bad boy to the backs of their heads. I cracked the second guy before the first guy had even hit the floor.”
Jesse swings the bat twice, hard, offering sound effects for each strike. Chris flinches slightly at the first swing. When Jesse sees the flinch, he laughs. He realizes something and then laughs again.
“You know what, man? My grandma is more gangster than you. She didn't get all shaky and weak in the knees. When people tried to take what was hers, she took her sixty-eight year old ass and got to work. Maybe we should call her Ozzy. We'll have to figure out a new nickname for you. Oh you know what? I think we need to go back to your old nickname. I always liked that one.”
Jesse slides the bat back behind the desk and sits back in his chair. He takes a moment to savor Chris's humiliation before continuing with his story.
“So bap bap, I dropped them right there in front of the kitchen. I didn't want to get the cops involved but grandma insisted. The cops came in, hauled the guys away, we gave our statement and that was it. The guys weren't armed or anything. They were just itchin, you know? Well, of course you know.”
Chris shifts forward on the bed and shakes his head.
“Nah, man, I'm not under right now. I'm off the stuff, been off for a few weeks.”
Jesse leans back in the chair and smiles.
“Your shaky hands say otherwise.”
“Seriously man, I'm off it. I'm working, I'm moving.”
“You sure you're not running quality control, just testing a little on the side?” Jesse asks. The grin makes Chris stop. Jesse has the look of a guy who knows the lie before it gets tried.
“I swear, man, I'm moving. That's why I came here, dude, I thought you might be in the market. I know how you get at the end of your sessions. Sometimes you like a little help powering through.”
Jesse slaps his hands together.
“Indeed I do. Thing is, there's word out on you. Word is, that piece is expired.”
“My timeline is a little tight, is all. But I just have to move this last piece and I'm good.”
“Nah, man, you were supposed to do that last night.”
Chris stops. He looks out the window, half expecting to see Ax's guys ready to rush in and grab him. If Jesse already knows he is late, it means Ax sent the word out that no one should buy from Chris. He thinks back to Carly's reaction, hiding from him and refusing to answer the door. She got a call. He thinks about Adam, remembers Adam telling him to “handle his business” before coming back. He got a call.
“He already talked to you?” Chris asks.
Jesse nods and his arms go out to his sides. It is a sort of shrug, an apology about being unable to help. There is a hint of compassion, of true sadness for Chris's position, but not enough compassion for Jesse to do anything more.
“Wow, okay, so it's like that?” Chris asks.
“Is it like that? I don't know, Streak, is it like that? Where I'm standing you put yourself in this position, man. You can't blame anyone else for this problem. You're the one who went to Ax. You know this game. What did you think was going to happen when you didn't move his product and you stole his brother's car?”
The car. Chris imagines it being towed to police impound to be searched and stored. He imagines the problems that will bring Ax's brother.
“To be honest, some of the guys I've talked to thought you stealing Beat's car was hilarious. And pretty bad ass, maybe the most bad ass thing you've ever done. But Ax didn't see it that way.”
Chris gets up from the bed and looks out the window. He has to be sure no one is crawling up the siding, and when he sees the roof tiles and the clear air of morning, he paces in front of the bed.
“Well what do I do then, man? If I'm stupid and useless then help me. What do I do?”
Jesse's smile fades. His eyes soften at Chris's panic and he folds his arms and leans back. Chris watches his eyes searching through scenarios.
“You still have it?” Jesse says finally. Chris nods. His hand goes into his pocket and he pulls out the small vial and shakes it twice. The crystals clink softly against the glass. When he hears the soft clink and sees the change in Jesse's face, Chris feels like showing the product was a bad idea.
“Well, my advice is cut your losses. Go see Ax and beg for mercy and, you know, maybe he'll find some way for you to repay him. Maybe he'll have some crazy task for you, something dangerous no one else wants to do and if you do it, all will be forgiven. Plus, if he gives you some crazy task and you pull it off, that will do more than grant you forgiveness. You'll get soldier points, man. Your stock goes up and also, maybe, he doesn't beat you to death.”
“What about the car?” Chris asks.
“Well, you know, as long as he gets in back and you didn't mess it all up, they might forgive that, too. Honestly, though, you messed with his car. You're probably going to get a beating for that.”
Chris imagines the forensics team sorting through the car, finding drugs and cash and guns and who knows what else.
“The car is fine, right? Where did you leave it?”
Chris nods and says it is fine. He tries to seem casual.
“Well, thanks man, sorry I snuck up in your house. I didn't want to freak out your grandma.”
“Hey, using my new security system was fun,” Jesse says, standing.
“As scary as it sounds and as much as it's going to suck, I think I'll take your advice. I'm just going to go talk to Ax and try to sort it all out.”
Chris pockets the vial. Jesse watches it disappear into the pocket.
“Hey, man, you were coming here to offer me that, right?” he says.
“Yeah. Yeah, dude, you want it?”
“Hell yeah,” Jesse says, holding his hand out.
Chris pulls the vial back and sighs his relief. Selling the last of the meth will give him a better starting point with Ax. He will be late, but if he comes back with more money than he'd promised, that will have to be worth something in Ax's eyes. Chris holds out the vial.
“I really appreciate it, Jesse. This is really going to help me out. You might be saving my ass right now, dude, like literally saving my ass.”
As Jesse takes the vial, Chris sees movement on the security monitor. The top left screen shows what the front camera sees, and a car pulls up along the curb at the front of the house. Two men get out and make their way up the driveway toward the front door. Chris recognizes the car. These guys work for Ax.
“I don't know about that,” Jesse says. As the vial slides out of Chris's hand and into Jesse's left hand, his right hand curls into a fist and flies in a long arc from his hip to Chris's shoulder. The knuckles connect just below the ear and Chris stumbles back against the bed. Jesse lunges forward and swings another right hand, and another. He is still holding the vial in his left hand so he can only throw rights, and they slam into Chris's forearms and shoulder.
“You weak ass bitch!” Jesse yells, finally punching through Chris's guard and connecting on his eyebrow. The blow slices the skin open and blood begins to run down the side of Chris's face. On seeing the blood and seeing Chris slump to the floor to cower, Jesse steps back. He looks over his shoulder. The men are at the front door. When they open it, Jesse turns back to Chris.
“This is how the world works, Streak. You come begging, you show weakness like this, you get eaten. You should've manned up and did what you said you would do.”
The men are at the base of the stairs. When Chris finally looks up, they are climbing. As they near the top, he can feel the booming of their footsteps in the floor. He didn't see it on the cameras, but they have pistols drawn, and in a few seconds they will kick in the door and drag him at gunpoint down those same stairs, out the front door and throw him into the car so they can drive him to Ax. They will drive him to his trial, sentencing, and execution.
Jesse grabs his bat.
“You bitch ass foster kids are all the same,” he says, setting the vial on the desk and gripping the bat with both hands. “Your mommy and daddy leave you and you just crumble. You're weak, man, you're a slave! You're fit to be somebody's bitch!”
The men are at the top of the stairs. They are steps from the door. Jesse steps forward and raises the bat.
“Stay down, bitch!”
Chris finds the wall behind him with one hand and presses into the floor with the other. He pushes off and launches forward with a scream. The sound of his first foster dad's voice echoes in Jesse's words. Useless, weak, stupid, the words set a fuse in his stomach that blows and sends him flying forward, head first, teeth bared. Before the bat can come down, Chris's hands slam into Jesse's face and neck. One palm flattens Jesse's nose with a crunch and the other curves around Jesse's throat. The force of the push sends Jesse into the air and he flails, airborne, the seven feet to the door and crashes head and neck first into it.
The men in the hallway had turned the handle and were on their way into the room when Jesse's body slammed the door shut. It knocked the two men back into the hallway. One of the men went down, and he jumped back to his feet in a rage. His boot slams into the door and breaks through. He tries to get his foot back out, but his pants catch in the now jagged wooden edges of the hole and bind around the top edge of the boot. He tries to open the door but Jesse's barely conscious body is lying at the base of the door, blocking it. The second man tries to help the first remove his foot. It doesn't help, so instead he backs up and then lunges forward, shoulder first, and tries to break the door down. The impact rocks Jesse's body forward a few inches. The man backs up and slams into it again. They can hear Jesse moaning, and after one more hard kick, there is enough room to squeeze through and see into the room.
As the first man looks in, he sees Chris throw something through the window. The glass breaks and Chris kicks out the remaining shards. The man squeezes through the door a little farther but can't get in. He screams at Jesse to move, but the hole in the wall above Jesse's head and the large dent in the door suggest Jesse won't be getting up for another minute or two, at least. When he realizes he can't push through, the man tells his partner to go back outside, that Chris is going out the window. He then reaches his hand back out into the hallway to pass off his gun, and as he brings it back into the room he has time to fire a round at Chris's back. The round goes high, punching through the wall inches above Chris as he lunges out the window onto the roof.
The little roof ledge isn't wide enough to support his dive and he hits it and tips forward. He rolls off the ledge and flips once in the air. His legs hit the grass first, but they give out under the weight of the fall and he crashes forward onto his face. The impact clacks his teeth together and grinds his face into the turf. Grass and dirt dig into his lips, his teeth, and mash against the skin of his cheeks and forehead. The fall blurs his vision, sets a ringing in his head, and knocks the wind out of him, but he stays conscious. He scrambles to his hands and knees and crawls toward the front sidewalk. He can't hear the men running down the stairs and through the living room and entryway. When Chris reaches the curb, he pushes up to his feet and stumbles to his right. The car the men arrived in is still running. They were obviously planning to take him quickly and be gone. Chris isn't thinking straight. Stealing another of his drug boss's cars isn't smart, but some part of his instincts convince him to find the nearest means for escape and use it.
When he slumps against the driver side door, another gunshot rings out. Chris doesn't hear the round whiz through the air a few inches from his head. He grabs the door handle and pulls himself inside. More shots clap in the morning air and one bullet clips through the front of the windshield. Chris mindlessly shifts the car into drive and punches the accelerator. He doesn't even close the driver side door, but the force of the acceleration and his first left hand turn closes it for him. The two men are left running through the street after him, waving their guns and screaming. As Chris rounds a corner and disappears, they each have their phones out.
The hunt for Chris Osborne is on.