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I could hear the annoying buzz of my cell phone ringing. It was off in the background, somewhere that wasn’t within an arm’s reach of me. Somewhere where I wasn’t tempted to stop what I was doing and pick it up.

I thought that I might have heard it earlier, but the grinder was too loud for me to be sure. This time, with no equipment making noise, I could hear it loud and clear. The phone was charging over on a work bench, plugged into the only free outlet on the bench, but like before, I still didn’t feel the need to answer it. If it was someone that really needed me, they would call the shop phone. And normally, it was the only line that ever rang.

Twenty, maybe thirty minutes later I could hear the ringing once again, a third time. I would have continued to let it do so, but I was in the middle of swapping acetylene tanks, and Bruce started barking. So, if I ever planned on answering it, now would be the time.

Like I had said, my cell phone rarely rang. Only my closet friends, my family, and a limited number of business clients had the number, so when it rang for the third time, I decided to pick it up.

“Hey.” I said in a not so friendly voice when I answered. Even though I lived in an area that the caller referred to as the “Boonies”, I did have caller I.D., and I recognized the name and number on the screen. It was my brother, my older brother, and he seldom called me, in fact it had been a couple of years, but I wasn’t keeping track, because when he did call, he usually needed sometime.

Before you get the wrong idea, it’s not for money. It’s never about money.

My older brother Daniel lives in Connecticut and commutes into New York City three or four times a week. He also keeps a penthouse there because, “It’s the only place in the world to make the big bucks, baby brother.” Yeah, Daniel loved to point out how much he made, and by comparison, how little I did. So, the things that he generally needed, were things that he and his money couldn’t buy, or as it turned out this time, it was for a thing that he wanted to rent. That thing was me.

“Robby. Baby brother, how are you kid?”

“I’m good Danny.” He hated being called Danny more than I hated the name Robby.

“Great. Happy to hear it. You still stompin in shit and livin’ in hillbilly heaven?” He had always loved throwing petty jabs my way.


“I told you buddy, come work for me. You’ll never get dirty another day in your life. Bright lights. Big city. You get your ass to my penthouse downtown and you’ll be rollin in it. I promise.”

I wanted to tell him that I liked getting dirty. I’ve always been told that dirty hands equal clean money, and if that is actually the case, all of my brother’s money is dirty, because his hands have never been anything but clean.

My brother Daniel had always been my parents Golden Child, and he had no idea what a hard day of work meant. My welding and fabrication business did very well. It paid for my property. A nice car. A nicer truck. A boat for my days off and a few other toys. I owed very little and what I did owe was just to keep a positive credit score. If things didn’t work out, I had a fairly good nest egg to fall back on, but neither my brother or parents cared, nor did they want to know anything about it, so I answered the way he wanted me to.

“Maybe someday.”

“You always say that. And you know you’re not getting any younger little brother.”

“I’m twenty-six. Remind me again how old you are.” This was my shot at him, and I knew that it hurt.

“Oh, screw you.” He is almost forty-one. Our parents had us some fourteen years apart. I was always told that I was a mistake. “I may be older, but I’m wiser and way more handsome.”

“Says who?”

“Every single broad on Wall Street.”

“Broad? Nice. I suppose that all your women like it when you call them that?” Daniel snorted out a laugh when I questioned the pet names he used for his women.

“Well, the last one certainly didn’t.” He assured me.

“Wonder why?”

“Okay. Enough shitting on me. You still living at the same old place?” I had a nasty feeling that he had done something wrong and was planning on staying with me so that he could hide out or until things cooled down. It had happened before, and it wasn’t pretty.


“Robby, stop pissing around. I mean the one on the lake. The big place on the water. Are you still there?”

“Yes, I still live at the same place. Where the hell did you think I planned on moving to?” Daniel had been to my house a few times, but he stayed away simply because he hated it. He hated the water. He hated the food, and he hated the people, and all because he hated being out of the “money” lifestyle of New York City.

“Perfect. Look baby brother, I need a favor.” There it was, the big freakin surprise. Gift wrapped and delivered just like I knew it would be. I didn’t say anything, I just waited in silence for him to continue. “You still there? Robby? Come on man, you know that I never ask unless I really need…”

“What is it?” Trying Didim Escort to sound as impatient as I could.

“See, that wasn’t so hard. No need to be a prick about it.” Daniel cleared his throat and changed his tone. He either wanted to be more, “big brothery” or he wanted to give me the “Wall St.” sales pitch when he told me what he needed. “Look Rob, it’s Quinn. She and Mary, well they had a falling out. A big one, and Quinn’s sorta been staying with me for the past few months, and I hate to say it, but she really fucking hates me too. She won’t go back to live with Mary, and she can’t stay here. I know that summer’s coming up and you get really busy, but can you do me a solid? Let her come down and hang out on that stupid porch swing you have. Maybe you can teach her to fish or something.” He chuckled. Trying to break the ice and smooth things over and all I could think was that of all the things he remembered about my house, it was only the swing that he mentioned.

“Come on Danny, I can’t babysit a ten-year-old all summer. I just don’t have the time for that kinda bullshit. Sorry, I can’t do it.” I told in outright. No sense delaying the news

“She doesn’t need babysitting, and she’ll be nineteen in October. Rob, I need you on this one.”

What? The last time I remember seeing my niece, she was in grade school with a face full of braces. Thinking back, the last time I saw Quinn, Daniel and Mary were still a couple. One big unhappy family.

“Nah, I don’t think that it’s a good idea. You’ll have…”

“Listen to me Rob. I’ll be screwed if you say no. Do this and I’ll never ask you for another thing. My new girlfriend is threatening to leave me if I don’t do something. I love this one. She’s a keeper. And not only is she my girlfriend, she’s also one of my biggest clients.” Just like that, he proved once again how shitty of a person he was. “Look at your e-mail account. I just transferred fifty grand to you. Password is “Help”. Do what you want with it, but for the love of god Robby, help me out.”

I thought about it. He wanted to be rid of his only child so badly that he was willing or should I say desperate to pay for it. In my mind I knew it was wrong, but to hell with it, $50,000 was a lot of cash in my world.

How hard would or could it be to have my niece stay with me a while? My brother loved to brag about how much he had, and now he just proved it. Instead of relying on a family member to help him out, he was going to buy his way out of whatever mess he had on his hands. He was willing to get rid of his own daughter to keep a client / girlfriend happy. That was always the way with him, so I was going to accept his gift, but I kept him waiting.

“Send her down to Florida to see Jim and Carol. I’m sure that her grandparents would love to have her stay at their place. Mom and dad have that spare room.”

“No. No goddamn way. And whatever you do, for the love of God, don’t mention that she’s coming to stay with you.” Daniel seemed genuinely upset.

“That’s if she does come and stay. And when do you think was the last time that they called me?” I reminded him.

“She is coming, and I don’t care if she hates it, just don’t say a fucking word to mom and dad.” He was almost shouting at this point.


“Because…just don’t. You know that they would be upset if they found out.” His voice had softened somewhat.

“For how long?” I knew that I was giving too much slack and was letting him off the hook.

“I don’t know. You know how girls are. Maybe she’ll want to stay a month or so, or she might want to come back in a couple of weeks. She’ll get bored and will probably reconcile with her crazy bitch mother. So, I’m guessing a month, maybe two. Tops.”

“When?” There it was, I gave in to the money. I was about to sell my soul for $50,000.

“She lands in St Louis at six.” Looks like my big brother knew me too well, and assumed I’d say yes.

“Tonight?” I asked, shocked.

“Yeah, tonight.” He chuckled.

“What the hell Danny, you mean she’s already on a plane?”

“Yeah, I think so. Well, I mean I didn’t drive her. I had a car service drop her at the airport. You got fifty grand in the bank, send someone to pick her up.”

“What a fuckin asshole you are. You know it’s almost a four-hour drive to the airport you prick. How the hell will I even recognize her? It’s been more than…Jesus Christ. You’re such a dick. Send me a picture of her.”

I pushed the end button and shook my head. No matter how I played it, I was going to be late.

My shower only added 15 minutes more to how late I was going to be, but it was a necessary evil. Luckily, the highway traffic wasn’t that bad, so I was making pretty good time. When I saw the signage for Lambert International Airport, I looked at my phone to check the time. The screen screamed 6:42pm, and I still had a couple of miles to go.

With any luck, her flight had been delayed.

Not so much. I slipped into one of the 15-minute pick-up parking spots at arrivals and ran inside. The monitor told Didim Escort Bayan me that Quinn’s flight was not only on time, the fucking thing, had also arrived 15-minutes early. I was more than an hour late, and she was nowhere in sight.

I cursed my brother for being an asshole, and to top it off, he still hadn’t sent any pictures to me yet. I wasn’t very good at the guessing game, so I looked around and tried to spot all the single girls that might fit the age bill.

The first 3 girls that I approached and called Quinn looked like they wanted to slap me or call security.

There I was, a single guy, approaching young girls, speaking expletives under my breath when said that they weren’t who I wanted, yeah it was not cool.

After I had run out of girls to try, I was frantic. I looked around and saw that the terminal had emptied.

I called Daniel, and believe it or not, he didn’t answer, but he did send a picture. No one, not a single person in the arrival area looked like her. I spoke with security and showed them the photo. They both just shook their heads. According to them, no one had gone by that had even remotely looked like her.

Defeated, I walked outside and started toward my truck. Maybe she hadn’t gotten on her flight. Maybe she had got a ride to my place when I hadn’t shown up on time.

I was in the middle of texting Daniel to ask for her phone number when I looked at my phone and stopped dead in my tracks. Looking at the picture Daniel sent, I did a double take. Turning my head, then my body, I gritted my teeth and walked over to the only girl in the area. She had long dirty blonde hair, was wearing a big green New York Jets hoodie, cut off white jean shorts and green All Stars sneakers. I would have been surprised if it “wasn’t” Quinn. The girl in front of me definitely resembled the picture. Holding the phone up, I stared at the screen for a few seconds. It was her. At least I thought so, so I took the chance.

“Really, you plan on watching me do that all night?” My words tasted like venom as they dripped out of me.

“No. I planned on stopping when it no longer amused me.” She grinned when she said it.

Quinn was sitting on a pair of oversized Louis Vuitton suitcases and was holding a backpack in her lap. Gone were the braces of childhood. Apparently, the only thing in her mouth nowadays, was sarcasm. She instantly reminded me of her father. Yeah, we didn’t get off on the right foot.

Bending over, I lifted up her baggage, giving her no choice but to stand up along with it. Not waiting for her to follow, I made my way to the parking area with her bags in tow.

“Nice truck.” She said when I put her luggage in the back of it. This was surely another jab at me.

“I’m sure that you see lots of trucks in Connecticut.”

“Nothing like this. This one looks special. I can assure you that much.” Yep, it was a shot.

It was the beginning of our verbal jousting.

By the time we got to the I-44, I was grinding my teeth. We hadn’t introduced ourselves. I hadn’t even asked her if she was Quinn. She may have been some runaway or hitch hiker for all I knew, and since we got in the truck, we had only spoken at about the truck.

“I’m Rob, by the way.”

She turned in her seat, cocked her perfectly groomed eyebrow, and looked at me like she was preparing for battle.

“Who the hell else would you be? Do you think that I would just jump into a truck with anyone? Any stranger that said hello? I’m not some kind of psycho. Jesus, how long has it been since you’ve been out of the woods?” Yes, she was her father’s child.

“Too long. And to be honest, I wish that I was still there.” I wished I hadn’t said that after I had. So I tried to change the subject. “The last time I saw you when you were like…ten, maybe eleven. You remember me from way back then? Because I don’t remember you looking like this.” My hand making a wave that encompassed her body.

Making a “what a fucking asshole you are” face, my passenger held up her arm and turned her phone so that I could see what was on the screen. It showed a picture of me. Then she scrolled it and showed me the homepage from my shop that had another picture attached. “You know, you’re not so bad looking. Maybe even boarding on the handsome side of things.” She said as she thumbed through the pictures of me on her phone. “Way better looking than dad. We must get our good looks from grandma’s side of the family.” We? Yep, she’s definitely Daniel’s daughter. “Plus, Rob, you’re not that old, you should know how this kind of technology works. You could have got a bunch of pics of me off Facebook.”

“Yeah, well only if I had known that you…” Stopping saved me from having to apologize later.

After that, our ride was silent. It more than likely would have stayed that way, until my stomach growled, and I realized that I hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast.

“Are you hungry?” I asked my new house guest.

“Not overly. I mean, I’ll eat, but I need to pee way more than I need anything else. How Escort Didim far are we from your place?”

“About three hours, maybe less.”

“Maybe less? Like what, two hours-forty-five minutes less? How come it’s such a long drive, where the hell do you live?” She was on the edge of her seat.


“Branson? Branson like on the border of Arkansas, Branson? Shit, I thought my father was joking.”

“Same one. And I’ve never known him to be a funny person.” I was slipping in a few shots of my own.

“Why the hell would anyone want to live there? You must have heard the jokes, or least the banjos. I mean, I was joking when I asked about the woods, but now I’m not so sure.”

“You shouldn’t judge so quickly, and yeah, I’ve heard them both, but I still love my place. The people are kind and unjudgmental, unlike those from the east coast.” I told her.

A blast of air shot out of her in a huff. She wasn’t happy, but that made two of us.

Taking the exit ramp in Lebanon, I turned right and waved my arm at the large sign showing all of the eateries that sat a short drive away from us. It didn’t take much time for her to choose. I was hoping for a burger but at her request, i pulled up to the front window of the Sushi House.

“You gotta park this thing so close? Now everyone will know what we drive, Robby.” The shots just kept coming.

“Well, Quinny. This truck costs more than most BMW’s and it can do way more work. I don’t need for it to look pretty when it earns me money, so you should be nicer to it, especially if you plan on driving it. Okay, Quinny?”

“You think that bothers me? I think you calling me Quinny is a term of endearment. Plus, I never plan on driving this or any other vehicle for that matter, so I really couldn’t care less what it costs.”

Unhooking my seatbelt, I turned to get a better look at her.

“You don’t drive?”

“You know where I live don’t you? There are cabs everywhere and I have UBER at my fingertips, so no Uncle Rob, I don’t drive. No one my age drives in the city.” She over emphasized the “don’t drive” for my benefit.

“Pity, you don’t know what kind of freedom that you are missing out on. But I guess you and all of your privileged friends don’t enjoy a good road trip.” I got out of the truck and headed inside. She was ignoring me until she looked back at the truck.

“Hey, Uncle Robby, what about my luggage?” She asked in an alarmed tone.

“Do you need it? Are you planning on changing into some dinner clothes?”

“No, but I don’t want some idiot wearing my stuff either.” She was concerned.

“Believe me, it’s safe.”

In the restaurant, Quinn sat with one eye glued on my truck, and the other eyeing her food. Apparently, she was cautious about how sushi was made in Missouri. Maybe there was some kind of rice and tuna conspiracy that the rest of the world didn’t know about.

The sushi impressed me. It isn’t something that I normally have, but it wasn’t bad. Quinn gave it a grade of “passable” and scolded me when I tried to pack up the leftovers.

“Eeew. Are you poor or something? Honestly, no one ever brings home leftovers when they eat sushi.”

“Then why did you order so much?” I asked.

“Tell me that you’ve never heard the word “variety”?” Those fingers in the air doing quotations, pissed me off even more than her words.

This was going to be a long couple of weeks. The struggle for me was going to be not arguing with her and trying to avoid confrontation. I knew it was going to be tough.

The rest of the drive home was mostly silent. Apparently, for the moment, we had both tired from arguing.

Quinn watched every twist and turn in the road until darkness only allowed her to see what was in front of us. Even then, she watched in amazement as things that she had probably never seen before passed us by.

Pulling off the last paved road, I followed my stone covered laneway, and found that darkness had covered the entire yard. Leaving in such a rush, I had neglected to turn on any of the outdoor or indoor lights, so with a moonless midnight hour knocking on the door, it was pitch black out, with the exception of lights that were triggered by motion sensors.

Pointing the truck so that the headlights illuminated the veranda, Quinn didn’t wait and proceeded to open the door. Stepping out of the truck in a rush was her first mistake.

When Quinn’s foot hit the gravel, a loud bark was followed by a horrific scream that filled the night air. A scream that more than likely scared the shit out of every living thing on the waterfront.

“Bruce, down.” I yelled.

“What? Oh, my god. Jesus Christ. What in the shit is that thing?” I could hear trebling in her voice.

“You’re not that young, you should know what a dog is.” Clearly a point for me.

When she realized that Bruce wasn’t going to have her as his next meal, she turned to me. I could see in her eyes that she was going to leave the truck alone, and now start picking on my dog.

“Where do you have to go to buy a dog like that, hell? Is he one of those devil dogs?” Bruce has close-cropped ears and the wide face that comes with most Cane Corso’s, which made him look, well, the word “evil” seems to work. He had his face pressed to her leg, and very near her crotch. He was smelling our new guest.

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