The Sound of Thunder: Chapter Two
these pictures were taken by me
Of course, he had called her the very next day and over the next week, they talked on the phone at least three times a day. Summer was coming to an end and Dylan knew his schedule was about to go crazy, as he had made the Chase for the Championship. He desperately wanted to see her again. Finally, on a Tuesday, Melissa, his PR was able to clear an afternoon off his schedule. He flew from North Carolina to his home in Fort Wayne. By two in the afternoon, he was almost to Heresy, Michigan.
Upon arrival, he realized that Angel lived in a dilapidated apartment based on income. The old building was in disarray and Dylan wondered how bad her life really was. She had never said much about her job except that she made auto parts at a local factory. She had also mentioned a lot of overtime, but it had never hit him that maybe the overtime was a necessity and not a choice on her part.
Once he arrived, he wondered if he shouldn’t have called first. He thought to himself, what if she didn’t want to see him? What if she had a boyfriend she wasn’t telling him about? Doubts ran through his mind as he sat on her front porch step. He was about to call her cell, when he saw her turn the corner….
Once again, Angel had had a rough day at work. Nothing had seemed to go right from the very beginning of the day, and she had ended up on one of the heavier lines. As if the line she was on wasn’t hard enough, she thought to herself. She was drenched in sweat as she made her way home, and her back ached so bad, she was afraid to even get out of her beat up pick up truck. There were plenty of nights she would cry from the constant backache and her daughter Victoria would do her best to massage the knots out of it. She wondered if this was going to be one of those nights.
Victoria, her sixteen-year-old daughter, had asked to use the car that morning before school and of course, Angel had handed her the keys. Feeling blessed to have such a beautiful, responsible daughter made her smile. Vicki was going to her dad’s that night, she had announced, to eat supper with him. The unspoken truth between them was that there was no food at their house to eat, but they both knew that saying it didn’t make the fact any easier. Besides, her ex-husband could afford to feed her for a change, Angel thought to herself. He hadn’t paid his child support in over a month.
Sighing, she turned the last corner to her apartment. Supper would be a box of macaroni and cheese again, she thought. That is when she noticed the brand new Ford pickup parked outside her front door. “Who in the hell?” She said to herself.
Suddenly it occurred to her that it was Dylan and she felt horrified. She didn’t want him to see how she lived, not yet anyway. She thought of the old, garage sale curtains and the hand me down table and chairs. The only nice thing she owned was the couch she had bought with her taxes that spring. Her heart sank as she pulled up to the curb.
When Mark had died, there had been very little money left over from his life insurance policy. Angel had been forced to sell their house and let the bank repossess their new Chevy Trail Blazer. She had finally saved up enough to buy her son a tombstone and it had only been a few weeks since it had been put up. Then there had been the medical bills from her injuries from the accident. She had never caught it all up and living in this dump had been her only option. She hated the apartments and the manager too. The only good thing about the place was the fact that it doesn’t cost her much to live there.
Many nights, as she lay awake in bed, she could hear the other tenants partying and fighting. She hated having Vicki live there with all the problems but at that point she had no choice in the matter. Some day, she would often tell herself, as she cleaned the little apartment, but she knew some day was in the far future…
He was sitting in one of her plastic chairs on the patio when she crawled out of the ancient pickup truck. She tried desperately to hide the limp from the back pain but to no avail. She knew he noticed and she bit her lip. It wasn’t fair, she shook her had as she thought it. It was too soon for him to see this dump….
Dylan watched her get out of the truck. Moving slowly, she grabbed her purse. She had her hair pinned up and then tied up and a few strands fell across her forehead. There was dirt and grease smudged on her cheek and her chin. Exhaustion was written on her face and it was obvious she was in pain. For a moment, a memory of his mother when he was a teenager overtook him, but then he was back with Angel.
Patty McIntyre had raised Dylan by herself, being a single mother, she had worked herself nearly to death. Until Dylan had made it big, she had worked two jobs to see to it he had food in his mouth and clothes on his back. Dylan saw a version of his mother in Angel just then, and he realized it only made his feelings stronger. She even looked a bit like his mom.
She smiled briefly at him and asked him to come in. Her apartment was basically clean and kept up, but the furniture took him back to his childhood. When he had met Angel, her being poor had never occurred to him. He felt bad for her, but knew from his own mother, that stating it would be a big mistake. He knew that in all likelihood, Angel was proud of how hard she worked to give her child a life. He knew that any offer to help would only be met with anger from her wounded pride.
There was a new dark blue couch in the corner with an old crate for a lamp stand, he noticed. It was then that he saw the wall. She grinned then, embarrassed. ‘My NASCAR wall of fame.”
There were at least six posters of himself and a replica hood hanging there. Underneath them was a shelf with diecast cars he had driven over the years. “I used to collect this stuff but since Mark died I have had to sell a lot of my collection.”
“I didn’t realize you were a fan of mine. You know if you would like I could sign this stuff for you. It would make it worth a lot more.” He knew the astonishment was in his voice, but at the same time, it made him smile that she was a fan of his.
“I don’t want to be rude Dylan but I really need a shower and to get some fresh clothes on. I hope you don’t mind.” Quickly she left the room and went into what appeared to be the bathroom. Even with her fast movement, he could see the pain written on her face and it made it him sad.
“Not a problem, “ he hollered.
He walked across the room opposite of the NASCAR wall of fame as she called it and looked at the pictures there. There was a big one in the center, maybe 10x13 of what appeared to be her daughter, her deceased son and herself. It was obvious from the picture that her daughter and son had been twins he realized. She had never mentioned it to him, but it was very evident in the portrait. They looked very much like their mother, he thought to himself. He realized there had been a time when she was at least twenty pounds heavier. She still looked beautiful even with the added weight.
Next to the big picture was a picture of Angel with a young man around twenty five. He had short black hair and a thin moustache. This must be Mark, he pondered. There were more pictures of the same man and several of her daughter and son. Dylan examined the pictures one by one as he heard the shower running. He could only imagine her sorrow over the deaths in her life.
Finally, he heard the water stop running and suddenly she was in the doorway. A white towel was wrapped around her and her face was beat red. A splash of hair hung over her eyes and he could see she was still wet from the water. He could see her tan lines on her shoulder from a bikini and an urge to kiss her overcame him. “Excuse me Dylan but I forgot to grab clothes so you have to close your eyes.”
The desire the picture she put on his mind was almost too much to bear and in one quick movement, he was across the room. He pulled her close to him and kissed her passionately on the lips. She responded by moving closer to him. He could feel himself getting aroused just then and he put his arms around and pulled her tight to his chest. The smell of her shampoo was in the air and her body was warm against his. He wanted her badly. It was then that she pulled away, almost harshly, a tear running down her cheek…
The cat-like movement across the room from Dylan caught her off guard. One moment she was standing helplessly embarrassed and the next he was kissing her. The wave of emotion that swept over her took her breath away. Dizzy with the need for him, she caught her breath and a vision of Mark crossed her mind. Guilt slapped her in the face.
As quickly as he had came at her, she broke free from his embrace. “I’m sorry. Damn, I’m sorry. I just can’t. Not now. Not yet.” She choked out. The need for him was strong, but the sudden guilt was stronger.
He looked at her. He could see the passion in her eyes, but he understood regardless. There was no way he would rush her. She needed patience, he knew that, so he backed away. Rushing into things was something he always did, he knew that, but he knew with her, it was going to take time to break down walls and heal her heart…
Hurriedly, she made her way into her bedroom. She shut the door quietly behind her and leaned against the wall. She wanted him, there was no doubt in her mind. He opened up doors with his kisses she had long forgotten. The ache between her legs left her shaky. What was she going to do? She reflected. He brought to life something in her she thought was dead and buried with Mark. She remembered all the days she had spent at the cemetery, promising his memory that he would be the last. She had promised him she would never even date again, but only two years after his death, here she was, going back on that promise.
She quickly threw on some clean clothes and went back out into the living room. It wasn’t thirty seconds and her daughter Victoria was crashing through the front door. “Mom, the car is out of gas and I need to get to dad’s. I know you don’t get paid until tomorrow so can I use the truck?”
Victoria felt a flash of horror run through her veins as she realized Dylan heard every word. “Can I see you in my bedroom sweetie?”
It was too late though, Vicki had made her way into the kitchen and threw open the refrigerator door. The inside was bare except for a bottle of ketchup, a half-gallon of milk and some butter. Ashamed, Angel grabbed her daughter’s arm. “Dear, we have company.”
The horror of him seeing that empty space hit her full force when she got back to the bedroom. He knew now. She knew out of sympathy, he would offer her money. “Dammit, she announced to Victoria. I don’t want his sympathy. Oh, Vicki, just this once, I wish you would have looked before announcing to the world that we are poverty stricken.”
Victoria’s face fell. “Mom. I’m sorry. I didn’t know. Really.”
“It’s okay baby. Take the pop bottles back to the store. That should give you some lunch money for tomorrow too.” Angel was trying desperately to not be overheard, when she whispered it.
“But Mom, you need lunch tomorrow too. I can ask Daddy. He will give me some money. You know that is the least he can do.” Victoria angrily stated the last part. Her dad was bad about paying his weekly child support but always managed to have extra cash to flash about town. His parents were wealthy and her father, John, not worth much.
“Okay, fine. Ask your dad. Have a good time with him. I have a visitor I need to attend to.” Angel pushed Vicki gently out the door. Putting her best smile on, she prayed he hadn’t heard too much. The one thing Angel prided herself on was not taking handouts…
Dylan had sat on the couch quietly, listening to every word. He wondered how long she had lived like this. He remembered living paycheck to paycheck. This upset him beyond words. There was no way he was going to hurt her pride but he couldn’t just sit there while they practically starved to death either. Many times in the past, he had ran into women looking for a free ride, but he knew, deep in his heart, that Angel wasn’t one of them. He knew that she would never ask him for a dime and he knew why. She was very much like his mother.
The poverty she lived in bothered him immensely. He fished through his wallet and realized he had fifty dollars cash on him. He slipped the fifty out and quickly put it under a book on the coffee table. He knew that she would know where it had come from, but it was a start. He also decided to offer to take her out for dinner. At least then, she would have a good meal in her stomach.
When Victoria appeared first, he smiled at her. “Hi. I am Dylan. You must be Angel’s daughter, Victoria. You’re very beautiful, like your mother.”
The smile spread across her face amazingly fast and her reply was even quicker. “Hey, Mom, this one’s a keeper.”
She was out the door before Dylan could reply. He laughed. “Teenagers, huh?”
Angel replied wistfully. “Oh, but to have her energy again.”
“I thought I would take you out for dinner if you don’t mind. Myself, personally, I’m starving.” He lied. He wasn’t really hungry but he would bet on her being famished. “Then, when we get back, I could massage that aching back for you. I used to do it for my mom when she got home from work. I am pretty good at it if I say so myself.”
A real smile spread across her face then…
Happy he hadn’t offered to help her, she had gone with him to a local restaurant called the “Happy Hamburger”. She had tried to order the cheapest item on the menu, but he had beaten her to it and ordered her a T-bone steak. She glared viciously at him, but it only made him smile wider.
After the waitress left, she let him have it. “What was that all about? Don’t you think I know what I want to eat?”
He winked. “I know you know how not to spend money but a good steak would do your ribs some good. My friends only get the best so get used to it now.”
Flabbergasted, she shook her head. “Well, thank you, but normally steak is out of my range.” Immediately, she was sorry she had said it.
“Honey, nothing personal, but I bet you haven’t been taken out to eat in a long time.” He bit his tongue. Damn, he thought to himself, there I go spouting off again.
She didn’t get angry like he expected, only hurt and that made him feel worse. She looked away so he couldn’t see her eyes, but he watched as her posture showed the bite at her pride.
“Look, Dylan, “ she replied, more pain than anything else in her voice. “We make it. I work hard for what I have. I am proud of what I have accomplished. I know I don’t have a lot but what I do have was earned with sweat and elbow grease. I am not the bimbos you are used to dating. I don’t spend five hours doing my hair and most days I have dirt under my nails. I am a single mother with a dead beat ex-husband and it shows. I am sorry.”
He felt bad. Why did he always open his mouth and insert his foot? “Babe, you don’t have to explain to me. You don’t. My mom was just like you. You remind me of her. She could have put me up for adoption but she didn’t. She worked two jobs. I admire you. I am not putting you down. You are genuine. You’re intelligence shows. I don’t date bimbos.”
She laughed just then. “The last girl you were seen with on a regular basis, what was she?”
Swinging his head back, he giggled. Thinking of Chrissy, he realized she was right. “She was a bimbo.”
Angel grinned at him. “Exactly. She was a bimbo. If you look in a dictionary under that word, there is a picture of her.”
They laughed for most of the rest of the dinner, the tension between them gone…
- First Chapter of the Sound of Thunder
First Chapter... must read first