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Chapter 1

Jaeden missed the point completely. His pa Layne, sprawled across the tanned leather couch, plump amongst a plethora of daisy cushions scratched his balding scalp. Layne continued, moved is not inconsiderable gut, reached underneath his checked shirt with his grubby nicotine stained fingers and proceeded, unashamedly to scratch his rotund gut. ‘You see......’ his Pa continued still digging his dirt covered nails into his flesh. ‘Has that damn dog got flees again!’ Layne hollered through to the kitchen. Sandy Layne appeared from behind the oily bead curtain that draped itself around the door. The stale odour of frying oil wafted into the living room, curling it’s sweet sickly taste into Jaeden’s nostrils, he wrinkled his nose. Sandy stood, solemn in the dank hall way, she wore her shorts loose and baggy, punctuated with streaky greased fingerprints, her hair was casually scrapped back into a pony tail, the odd scraggly and unruly strand adding to her unkempt look. Her eyes narrowed, still brilliant blue, piercing even in the dim light she spoke softly, restrained against the deep guttural bellow her husband had produced ‘It wasn’t Jeff who had the flees! It was your mother......remember?’ Sandy felt a small moral victory creep through the room. She smiled and felt the warmth inside, the upbeat feeling, fleeting though it may of been. ‘Ah’ Layne replied. Still scratching his gut but with slightly less enthusiasm than before. ‘So what have you got to say about that? Sandy felt sad, what about she didn’t know, it wasn’t as if she could pin point when it had started either, just a gradual easing of her emotions, or tightening of her nerves. She felt anxious and loose tongued lately, even around her two son’s Jaeden and Max.
Layne, stumbled with his reply, and grappled with the television remote, firmly grasping the volume button, he eased the button with some considerable force and aimed it at the television as if taking command of a magic wand, swooshing it from side to side as if bending the invisible beam around the coffee table stacked high with magazines and news papers. Sandy retreated back into the kitchen, unclipped the beaded curtain and let the dank odour of burning oil envelop her. Jaeden and his Pa watched the television, Layne concentrated on the bloated picture surfing the channels with no real enthusiasm or care, the local news swirled across the screen on a wave of pearly white teeth, one zap of the button and the mundane going’s on of the Wildwood’s inhabitants were replaced with an angry rock video on MTV, Layne disposed of the wall of noise, and quickly crested the long run through of sports channels.’ Boring.....’ Jaeden watched with even less enthusiasm. It was Saturday morning, a bright warm day with a big blue sky, the sun reflected it’s watery rays of light through the warped porch sky light, bending the shoals of reflections, sending them darting across the faded carpet. Jaeden wanted to leave, to go and play along the beach, or spend the last few days of summer along the boardwalk. The reflections dancing across the carpet reminded him of the warm ocean that lay just at the end of his street, on the intersection of Surf Avenue and east 2nd Av in North Wildwood.
‘So......’ Layne paused.....’Like I said, your missing the point completely’ Layne turned his large bulk toward Jaeden and momentarily forgot the rot of information that spewed forth from the television set. Layne positioned himself on the cusp of the couch, as if protecting his domain he straightened his posture breathing heavily, and ruffled the young boys hair, in a friendly but somehow demeaning manor. Layne was over weight, a lean young sporting physique had slowly been eroded by the many years of sitting. Sitting down was his job, for long hours, long lonely hours at times. Layne worked for the Turn Pike Authority, positioned along one of the numerous Garden State toll booths.
He regained his breath, unbuttoned his jeans and let gravity take care of the rest. He inhaled deeply, and almost instantly choked on the thick acrid taste of burnt oil, he considered shouting through at his wife again, to A.....hurry up with breakfast and B turn the heat down. Lately though Sandy had seemed somewhat distracted, as if troubled, quiet and insular. ‘SO I was saying....’ Layne continued. He placed his mucky hands atop of his Son’s shoulders and brought the young boy in close, there was a sad awkwardness, between the man and boy. Layne could see the reflection of lost youth in his son’s eyes, he could taste the bitterness in the air, and it wasn’t just his wife’s cooking. Layne pulled the young boy in closer, till the tips of their noses were almost touching. The smoke was getting worse, but neither of them had cause for concern, that was until Sandy came running through the living room with a pan full of fire crackling waffles, licking and flaming across the living room heading for the front door, Sandy Kicked the door opened and flung the pan across the back yard, coating the porch in a thick tar of syrupy waffles. She instantly fell to her knees and started to cry, deep rhythmic sobs at first then with no discernable pattern she just wailed, the tears tasted salty against her cheek.
‘What the fuck!!!!!!!’ Layne screamed




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