****THIS IS A VERY ROUGH DRAFT OF MY LATEST BOOK****
***COMMENTS AND SUGGESTIONS ARE WELCOME***
Colton groaned as he turned over in bed to find his iPhone. He swatted around the blankets to turn the damn alarm off. Unwittingly, he managed to hit himself in the nuts as he swung his arm around between his battling degrees of consciousness. His mistake accomplished the task his alarm was supposed to do, and he was now fully awake.
“Damn it!” Colton groaned as he curled up in a ball. The shift in his body position moved his head from his pillow and seconds later his iPhone struck the back of his head. “There you are! Stupid phone!”
With one hand still cradling is precious gems, he reached up with his other to grab the phone. Not an easy task, but a necessary one if he wanted to turn the alarm off. Task completed he reluctantly released his sack and sat up in bed.
Hey, Bae, have fun slaving away. Thanks for last night.
Colton smiled. He and Camille have been dating for four years and he hoped one day they would marry. Just… not yet, he had to finish school first. Colorado was way too expensive to try to move in together with a wife. They were both students at UNCO and locals. That meant they both still lived with their respective parents. It wasn’t ideal, but between tuition and his car payment, he could barely afford to go out to eat a few times a week.
Colton worked for his dad at the cellphone store next to campus. He hated working there when he was in high school. His friends had cooler jobs at Hooters or Freddy’s, but once he started college, he realized the slower-paced job was great for doing homework. The store manager, Maria, had been working for his dad since the beginning of time. Colton started working with Maria when he was in high school and it always felt like he was the owner's kid. However, after all these years, Colton felt like a close friend with his “boss.”
With a sigh, Colton pulled himself out of bed to get ready for work. It was Sunday, and he’d be working in the store by himself. Colton always worked the weekend schedule since his class load prevented him to work as many hours during the week. He didn’t mind it as much as Camille, but he needed the hours and the weekend gave him the money he craved. Working at the store was easy to work.
Colton’s parents left him alone, and he stayed in his room when he was at home. They told him he could live with them as long as he was going to college and working on his education. It was their way to help him pay for college. He could eat anything in the house, so he never went hungry, but it would have been nice if they paid for his tuition.
“You’ll work harder and appreciate your education more if you pay for it yourself,” Colton’s dad would say every time he jokingly brought it up.
Colton was just about to jump into the shower when his phone chimed again.
Bae, you awake yet?
“Crap!” Colton said.
Just jumping in the shower. I had fun last night as well. Thanks for the wake-up message.
KK Have fun and be safe.
Oh, I had fun last night. I’ll be thinking about it all day. See you tonight?
Can’t. Sister wants me to visit her and see the baby.
Joy. Have fun with that gtg.
Love you more.
Dressed and showered, Colton rushed out to his 2005 Audi TT. He loved this little sports car. It was old and falling apart, but it was his. He bought it with his money without a handout from his parents. It’s the little things that annoyed him as a high schooler that he’s learning to appreciate now that he’s older.
He’s the first to admit he grew up a tad privileged, but you can’t blame someone for where they were born. Cotton's dad wasn’t rich, but he wasn’t poor either. Colton had a car to drive in high school and didn’t have to pay for anything, but his dad still expected him to have a job. It didn’t matter where Colton worked as long as he worked 15 hours a week. Where his father came up with that rule Colton never knew, but that was a rule and he could keep every nickel he earned in high school.
After graduating from high school, Colton wanted a nicer car and bought the Audi. It looked cool, and it only cost him five grand, but it was his. Since buying the car, he’s had to do maintenance and get his hands dirty. Colton has torn the car apart a few times since buying it to fix certain problems, but the act of fixing it on his own brought him great satisfaction.
Colton turned the ignition and the Cherry Bomb glasspack muffler roared to life. His mom always complained about the loud muffler, but lovingly joked that she always knew when he was home before he got out of the car. Hearing his car roar to life always brought a huge smile to his face.
Colton opened the store and turned off the alarm and started counting the till before the first customers would arrive. The cellphone store had been in this location since the dawn of time and everyone in town knew its hours of operations. Normally, a few customers were waiting out front of the store before they opened, but today was quiet and the parking lot empty.
Nestled between a pizza joint and a 7-11 convenience store sat his father's store. Campus kinda went around the store. The store was originally just south of campus, but over the years the school bought up buildings on the neighboring street and so students were frequently walking in front of the store on the way to the music studios on 8th Ave. College student never bought cellphones, but it usually brought a lot of foot traffic. Colton never minded the people watching from the front desk, unfortunately, the weekends rarely had students walking about.
Colton walked to the back of the store to grab a duster when the door chimed.
“I’ll be right with you!”
Rounding the corner from the back, Colton saw a white male with dark hair kneeling on the floor clutching his stomach. He was in his early 30s wearing a “Save the chubby unicorn’s” t-shirt. A rhinoceros rather than a unicorn was prominently portrayed on the front next to the lettering. At first, Colton was confused as to why he was on the floor until he spotted blood between the man's fingers.
“You all right, man?” Colton said while hurrying over and kneeling next to the downed customer. “Shit! I need to call the ambulance.” Colton stood up to go grab the store phone.
“Where’s the back door?”
Colton paused and looked down in dismay. “Dude, you’re not going anywhere. Give me a second to grab the phone.”
Before Colton took a step, the man grabbed Colton’s arm and pulled him to a stop. The customer grunted as the movement pulled on the wound. Before Colton could say anything the man pulled on his hand and put something in his palm and clamped down on his fingers making a fist.
“Don’t let them know you have it.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Colton said in confusion. “You need an ambulance.” Colton jerked his hand away from the man and made his way to the phone.
“Hello. I have a customer in the store that’s bleeding. Yes, sir. No, I—” Colton looked back at where the customer was, but he was gone. Not dead gone, but not there anymore. “Shit! Where’d he go?”
Colton ran around the counter to look for the customer then he ran to the backroom to see if the customer ran out the back door. “I’m still here, but the guy is missing. No. I don’t know, I’m looking for him. No, he didn’t leave, the door didn’t chime. I just check the back. I don’t see any signs of him or blood on the back door. No, it’s not a prank. I’ve got a floor with a pool of blood and no guy. Yeah, It’s the mobile store on 16th street.”
Colton gave the address to the operator and heard sirens a short time later. Greeley had a large police force since it was the county seed and had the University here. Technically, they had the state police there as well since they acted as the campus police. Regardless, the response time in Greeley was lightning fast.
Colton was happy when the cops showed up until they pulled their guns on him. “Get down on the ground!”
“Drop the gun and get down on the ground, NOW!”
“It’s the phone, not the…”
“Don’t make me ask again! Get down on the ground!”
Colton dropped the phone which promptly fell apart since it was a cheap cordless store phone. He slowly got on his knees and belly as the cops cautiously approached still pointing their guns at him.
“Put your hands behind your back!”
Colton complied immediately, only to realize his face was inches from the pool of blood.
“Open your hand!”
“What?” Colton asked in confusion.
“Sir, open your hand and show me what you’re holding!”
Colton was a senior at UNCO in computer science and wouldn’t say he was dim-witted, but he took a few seconds too long to realize that he was still holding something in his bloody clenched fist. He quickly opened his palm once the officer started to pry his fingers open.
“Where is it!”
“Where is what?”
“You were holding something. I need to know where you hid it,” the officer asked as he pressed down on his back with his knee.
“I—” Colton's mind was racing. The bleeding man put something in his hand, didn’t he? Colton tried to think, but the handcuffs that were being put on him made it very difficult to think straight.
“I’ll only ask one more time, where the fuck is it?”
“I—” Colton thought back to the warning the dying man gave him. He did not understand what he wasn’t supposed to tell them he had, but he didn’t have shit. “I have nothing in my hands, sir. I swear.”
“Bullshit! You were holding something, why else was your hand clenched.”
“I don’t know. He grabbed my arm to stop me from calling the police. I don’t know what you’re looking for.”
The officer’s partner walked over to the man with his knee in his back and whispered. “The store is clear. We need to hurry if we’re to catch him.”
“Fuck!” Colton's head knocked forward as the officer smacked his hand into the back of Colton’s head. “Where’d he go, kid?”
Colton started to cry. He didn’t know why and God it was embarrassing, but he sobbed, “I don’t know what’s going on. Honest. The guy came in here with a stomach wound and I called the cops. He asked for the back door, but he left while I was talking to 911. I swear I—”
Colton stopped when he heard more cars pull up and doors opening and closing.
“Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!” The officer screamed in frustration as his knee ground into Colton’s spine, causing Colton to cry out in pain. “I’ll be watching you, kid. If you’re lying, I’ll know it.”
Colton breathed a sigh of relief when the pressure on his back released and the two officers stood to greet their coworkers.
“Hernandez, White. You got here fast,” a deep gravelly voice said. Colton was too afraid to lift his head for fear of getting hit again.
“Yes, Captain. We were just down the block when the call came in. We were checking a vandalism complaint near campus.”
“Hmm. What have you learned so far?”
“Victim came into the store at approximately 12:15 with a gunshot wound to the abdomen and this kid called 911 shortly after. When we arrived, the victim had already left.”
“Why’s the kid in handcuffs?”
“We thought he was holding a weapon when we first arrived. He had blood all over him, we didn’t know if he was the perp or the victim.”
“Was it a weapon?”
“Then why is he laying in a pool of blood messing up my crime scene still wearing handcuffs!”