A hundred and twenty-five kilometres an hour. Thoughts swirled in my head. A lot of questions. No answers.
The music was so loud. LaShawn had spared no expense on his car stereo. Drummed his hands on the steering wheel in time to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Sang along in falsetto. Always falsetto. Asked him about it once. “A bit effeminate, isn’t it?”
He got offended. “You think the Bee Gees are effeminate?”
As if that settled the argument. I did think the Bees Gees were effeminate. Didn’t say so though.
Front passenger seat, between my feet a mango tree sapling in an oversized ceramic pot. In the back seat, five paintball rifles, a bag of charcoal, a bucket of fireworks, an antique bear trap, some raincoats by the look of them, a Zulu shield, some kind of small satellite dish… Nils had equipped us—for the party, he said. It was going to be some kind of party.
Wind through the window howled, stung my eyes. Rory had stayed behind at the shed with Nils. Said they’d meet us later at Budgie’s house. I had never seen Rory anxious before. Turning forty is tough, I suppose. He had put his hand on my shoulder as we parted, handed me the flashing arrowhead. “For luck,” he said. Didn’t say any more.
Nils was in good spirits. I liked him. Just met me and he treated me like I was his oldest friend in the world. Hugged me when I left. Said we’d drink daiquiris after. Daquiris are my favourite.
Might have been fine with it all, except for LaShawn. Jeez, he drove like a maniac. At the shed I saw him take a ten-inch Philips head screwdriver from a workbench and slip it into the deep side pocket of his cargo shorts. He didn’t know I was watching, got all surprised when he turned around and saw me. “It’s all good,” he said. “Just want to tighten the hinges on the barbecue.”
In all the years I had known LaShawn, I had seen him pack a screwdriver on eight occasions. Each time it was because he expected—correctly, as it proved—to soon be in a fight.
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