Hi everyone 🙂 It’s been a busy week so the next installment of Lacunae is a little late – it’s hard work, this writing lark! My chapters also seem to be getting longer, that’s why I’ve split this over two posts. The second half will be live tomorrow (Sunday 9th July).
So, without needlessly adding to the word count, here’s Lacunae: Chapter 3. As always, I’d love your feedback!
If you’ve missed the start of Lacunae, you can go right back to the beginning and read from HERE.
Two universal hand gestures for failure appeared in front of his face, accompanied with mocking laughter. Cooper Bradford had great friends!
“Man, if a ho did that to me, she’d be going down. And you know what I’m talkin’ ’bout when I say ‘going down’! Damn, she would pay, big time.”
“Trent, what is that accent?” Cooper and his best friend Max stared at the weird third wheel of the group.
“Bitch be crazy, man. That Jenna needs showing who’s in control. Ain’t no woman be doing that to the Trentboy!” Trent rapped his fingers together, in what Cooper assumed was his attempt to look ‘gangsta’.
“Trentboy? Are you serious? Like rent boy. This is the name you’re going with?”
“And again,” continued Max, “Why were you talking like some reject from Snoop Dogg’s crew? C’mon, it’s offensive on so many levels.”
Trent shrugged. “It’s the whole ‘treat ’em mean, keep ’em keen’ thing. I’ve been reading it’s what women like deep down. Getting in some practice before we head out tonight. Might have to rethink the name though…”
Cooper snorted. “You’re reading about how to pick up women now and this is the best you’ve got? Jeez Trent, remind me to be away from the blast zone when you try that one out!” He threw a bar towel at his friend’s face and went back to stocking the fridge.
It was late afternoon in O’Rourkes and almost the end of Cooper’s shift. His two friends had stopped by to organise the night ahead over early drinks, but so far had spent their time laughing at his earlier knock back. Even Trent’s ridiculous interlude did not avert the attention from Cooper for long.
“He’s got a point,” Max piped up. “It’s definitely how Jenna’s treating you. She’s kept you hanging for years, doing all kinds of shit for her. And for what, the occasional blow job and lay over? Nah, not for me, thanks.”
“It’s not exactly like that,” retorted Cooper. “Besides, who’s it hurting? I don’t want a full time girlfriend, but I’m too lazy to go hunting all the time. I’m quite happy eating tidbits left out for treats.”
“More like left-overs! You know she puts it about pretty much everywhere, from here to Harrington? I heard last week she was partying with some of the Calvert House guys. Put on quite a one-woman show by all accounts. Definitely wasn’t a one-man show though, you get me? Like I said, bitch be crazy.”
“Cut it out Trent, she’s not that bad.” But Cooper couldn’t fight back with much conviction. He knew he and Jenna had never been exclusive, but he’d trained his brain to believe he was okay with it. Sometimes the facade slipped.
Trent was a tool but Cooper was glad he knew well enough when to stay quiet. He left his friends making small talk over their pints whilst he finished his chores.
O’Rourkes was an ‘authentic’ Irish pub, as authentic as a multi-national chain could get. Full of dark wood, shady corners, shamrocks and cheap beer, the pub was popular in the evenings with tourists and younger locals. Cooper had worked there since it opened eighteen months ago, soon establishing himself as the most reliable staff member. He took on several responsibilities beyond his role, with the manager, Vaughn, always pushing him to apply for higher positions. However, Cooper was more interested in an easy life. He was prepared to put in effort at work, but didn’t want to think about taking things home at night, unless they were a size 8 with a killer ass.
“So, what you thinking for later?” Chores complete, Cooper returned to chat, intent on erasing the images in his head.
Max looked up, holding his glass out for a refill. “Don’t mind, we were just deciding whether a trip to Harrington was worth it, maybe check out that new club? But I’m easy, you know me, whatever.”
“You mean Sphinx? I’d rather go tomorrow, the playlist tonight looks pretty lame. Bound to be full of eleven-teen year olds with too much make-up, trying to convince the bouncers that if they can spell alcohol, they’re old enough to drink it.” Cooper lowered his voice, passing back a fresh beer, “Besides, I have a payment to collect.”
Trent choked on his last sip. “Really? You still believe you’ll get some later? You’re close to stealing my trophy for mocking rights. For Gods’ sake, grow some Coop!”
Before Cooper could return fire, he saw a whirlwind of dark hair and attitude thrust its way through the door. Iris blustered towards him and hopped onto a bar stool.
“Mom says answer your damn phone. And here, have this.” Cooper picked up a scrap of paper she flung in his direction.
“I’m working, you know, in a bar, where you’re not supposed to be. What’s this anyway?” Cooper began to read the note scribbled on the back.
“Oh it’s fine. Everyone, including Officer Jackson, knows I’m tee-total and wouldn’t touch the evil stuff. Plus I’ll be gone in five. Dad’s coming back. He called Mom earlier to say he’d cancelled his Keynote and would be home tonight. He lands at Harrington International at 6.30. She’s on her way now to collect him.”
Cooper raised an eyebrow. “Bit sudden isn’t it? Not like Dad to cancel anything unless it’s family stuff. What’s it got to do with me though?
“Nothing, absolutely zero. Not like you’re his only son or anything,” replied Iris with dead-pan delivery. “Mom wants you to grab some wine on the way home. And make sure you’re home for dinner.”
“I was gonna eat out…,” Cooper began.
“He’s hoping he was, that’s for sure!” Trent quipped. Max gave him a swift elbow to the ribs that left him wheezing.
Iris’ bewildered face looked slowly from one to the other. “Well you can’t. Come home, be nice. You can see your weird mates in the morning.” She slid off the stool and headed to the toilets.
“Hi ‘Ris,” Max was only just audible, so Coop was surprised when his sister stopped and turned.
“Erm, huh?” Max looked panicked.
“You said my name,” returned Iris slowly, wide eyes questioning.
“Oh…I. No. I said hi ‘Ris. I was just saying hello. Long time since I’ve seen you.”
“Only people I like get to call me Ris.” With her cutting remark, she flounced away, leaving Cooper to laugh at the victim of her words. Poor Max just stared at his pint.
Coop knew his best friend had harboured a crush on Iris for years, never managing to say more than a few words to her without crumbling into a mess.
“I can’t believe you’re still holding on to winning her over. She’d eat you alive and spit you out unless you clamped her mouth shut. Full of it: crazy ideas and cockiness. You’d never be seen again under that massive thumb!”
“How come it’s okay for Max to flirt with your sister but I get threatened with actual bodily harm?” Coop enjoyed that Trent managed to look confused and offended in a single expression.
“Do I really need to answer that ‘Trentboy’?”
“Guys, shush…turn it up will you?” Max nodded towards the TV screen that was scrolling headlines from the local news channel.
‘…have increased to several an hour in some areas. Gas continues to escape from several ground vents, known as fumaroles, on the south side of Mount Ludlow and scientists in the region have also recorded bulges in the ground structure, indicating increased magma activity towards the surface. Local police are working with experts to determine an evacuation zone, as an eruption seems imminent. Early test results suggest the lava will flow in the direction of Romanside. Emergency Services briefed residents in the small town this afternoon and ordered a full evacuation to Harrington, where temporary shelter has been created at County Hall. Here’s Ben Danton with the latest.’
‘Thanks Madeleine. I’m here at County Hall, Harrington, with Chief Talbot of Ludlow Province Fire and Rescue. Chief Talbot, was a full evacuation necessary?’
‘Absolutely. We have several volcanologists liaising with us as they review the data. It indicates an eruption will occur and we don’t want to take any chances with the safety of residents in the affected area. All those with their own vehicles have been ordered to leave by 7pm. We are providing public transportation for those without it or who need extra assistance.’
‘Mount Ludlow has been dormant for over 50 years, so for many, this will be their first eruption. Are others at risk within Ludlow Province?’
‘ Yes. Whilst we are fully equipped to deal with the situation, I cannot stress enough how serious this is. There is increased speculation that should the eruption occur within the next 24 hours, livestock, domestic pets and in some cases, humans, could be at risk because of a storm front heading in from the east, which is scheduled to hit at around 1 pm tomorrow. This could further promote the spread of sulphur dioxide and create severe acid rain.’
‘So what advice do you have for people who may have concerns about the situation?’
‘Keep doors and windows shut following the eruption, especially those living in the northern shadow of the mountain, and stay indoors if possible until the risk has passed. If skin irritations or breathing difficulties arise, call emergency services immediately. A special treatment centre is being prepared in St.Austen’s Infirmary, here in Harrington, to deal efficiently with any members of the public affected.’
‘Thank you Chief Talbot. And of course you can find regular updates via local news, radio channels and social media over the coming hours. Stay Safe Ludlow. Back to the studio.’
TO BE CONTINUED…
Credits: All words copyright of Aloada Bobbins. Image credit mollymalone.info