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Action Figures - Issue Three: Pasts Imperfect by Michael Bailey

Action Figures - Issue Three: Pasts Imperfect by Michael Bailey

Author:Michael Bailey [Bailey, Michael]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Innsmouth Look Publishing
Published: 2014-09-27T07:00:00+00:00


“Hey, kiddo,” Jill says, “closing up shop in about fifteen minutes.”

Matt grunts in acknowledgement, then ponders where he might go once the Coffee Experience shuts down for the night. The Carnivore’s Cave stays open late. The McDonald’s at the far end of Main Street is a twenty-four hour place, though he suspects the staff might not allow a minor to loiter there into the wee hours. Wandering around town isn’t an option, not when the temperatures are still dropping below freezing every night.

Matt pulls out his phone and scrolls through his directory, wondering which of his friends might put him up for the night. All of them would but it’s unlikely any of them could, not as long as their parents had a say in the matter — and their say would undoubtedly take the form of an inquiring phone call to his mother.

Or worse, his father.

“Hey, sexy. What are you doing here so late?”

“What?” Matt says, realizing immediately the question was not meant for him.

“Hey, Natalie. Mindy called in again,” Jill says, “so I got stuck working open to close. Again.”

“Want me to take her out back and work her over for you?”

“And deprive myself of that delight? Oh, no. What can I get you?”

“Short espresso,” Natalie says. “Just need a boost to get me home.”

“Right up.”

Natalie leans against the counter as the espresso machine hisses to life. “Hey, Matt, fancy meeting you here,” she says as she turns to drop a dollar in the tip jar. Matt gives her a perfunctory hello nod. “What’s wrong with you?”

“Nothing I want to talk about,” Matt says, more to the table than to Natalie.

“Okay.”

He looks at her quizzically. “You’re not going to harass me into telling you what’s bothering me?”

“Nope.”

“That’s what everyone else does.”

“Look, something’s obviously eating you, and it’s not that I’m not concerned, but pestering you about it won’t help. If you don’t want to talk, you don’t want to talk.”

“Good. All talking does is make me angry all over again.”

Jill presents Natalie with her coffee, which she chugs down in a single gulp. “All right, bud, you’re coming with me.”

“I am?”

“You are.”

“Why?”

“Because I got the cure for what ails you. Come on.”

Too curious to refuse her, Matt follows Natalie outside to a car so dinky Stuart could flip it with a stiff sneeze.

“This is your car?” Matt says. “You actually drive this.”

“It’s my boyfriend’s car,” Natalie says, somewhat defensively, “and don’t laugh. It gets fantastic mileage and I can park it anywhere. Perfect car for a city-living college girl.”

Matt folds himself into the passenger’s seat. Natalie slides in, her petite frame better suited for the cramped quarters, starts the car, and cranks the stereo for the short drive. Matt recognizes the tune: “One Step Beyond” by Madness, old-school ska at its finest. His respect for Natalie grows by a leap and a bound.

The trip ends halfway up the hill leading to Milne’s Woods, at an old warehouse that was long ago converted to a public gym. Natalie leads



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