coulda used a knife but no

Paaaaaiiiiiin hahahahahhaha. I could barely move all weekend, I just lay in the back of the car groaning lmao.

Today I’m finally feeling less sore, and the swelling is going down so I’ve been able to take a closer look at the damage and listen, I’m fucking battered. You can still see the splatter pattern on my skin because it’s bruises now, and don’t even ask about my legs. Thank god I wore thick denim or I’d probably be dead.

We got a call from the Kellihers today — I met them at White Pyre — asking if we’d head out to a waterfall in a state I won’t tell you, because they’ve got word that there are some otters out there.

The Hawthornes were in high spirits heading that direction.

“You’ll like this,” Neal told me. He was a little giddy. Probably relieved we’re going to do something fun and not horrible for once.

“It’ll be a hike,” Julian warned us but Neal shrugged.

“We’ll take our time, it’s not like there’s any hurry. If she gets tired we can put her in a backpack,” he said. “You can carry her Julian, you’re basically a mountain.”

The plan was to spend the night in a motel in a nearby town, take showers, and rest up for a hike. But when we finally got into town, the first thing we saw was Rosie, Alec and Dennis’ truck parked at the gas station. I recognized it by the stickers on the back.

“Son of a bitch,” Neal sighed.

“What are they doing here?” I asked, trying to catch a glimpse of them in the convenience store.

“Probably got the same tip we did,” Julian replied. “They’ll be hoping to do some hunting. Those furs would sell for thousands.”

“Really? Why?” I asked.

“I hate to spoil the surprise,” Neal said, turning into the gas station. “But the otters glow. It’s really amazing. We think there must be a lot of bio-luminescence in the water in the world they come from, so they would use it as camouflage.” As he explained he pulled up along side of the truck.

“Neal,” Julian said. “What exactly is the plan here?”

“Switch seats with me,” Neal replied, already getting out of the car.

“Shit,” Julian sighed, and scrambled.

Neal pulled a hand gun out of the glove compartment. “You ready to gun this thing?” he said.

Julian revved the engine in response and I caught of flash of Neal’s grin as he withdrew from the car. He took his sweet time getting all lined up, and then shot out all four of their tires, absolutely casually.

“Is he serious,” I said.

“Does he look like he’s joking,” Julian sighed.

Neal skidded into the passenger seat as the convenience store door swung open and Rosie and Alec burst out of it. “Time to go!” Neal said, absolutely gleeful and the tires shrieked as we peeled out of the parking lot. I turned over to watch Rosie, Alec and Dennis running after us, brandishing guns and shouting too quietly for me to hear.

HA felt so good. Neal whooped and Julian leaned on the horn. The head of the trail to get to the waterfall was an hour out of town and I doubted there was a super robust car rental situation in a town that small.

“I guess we’re sleeping in the car again tonight,” Julian said once we’d made it to the highway. But the windows were down and the music was up. The sun was shining. Neal’s feet were up on the dash and he was drumming along to the music on his knees. I lay back on the seat and watched the treetops roll by.

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