Shoulda Known Better


I had already been in Huntington Beach for a week and I could, very easily, get used to this lifestyle. My flat, which I had scarcely decorated, was welcoming enough to boost my creativity levels tenfold. I had spent the majority of my week indoors, only coming out for the necessities of food and fresh air. The fresh air, however, wasn’t so fresh since I was continuously chain-smoking each day.

As easy and calming as my week had been in Huntington Beach I couldn’t help but get anxious whenever I thought of my past here. I hadn’t yet told my mother that I was in town, in fear of the lecture I was sure to get from her. And more importantly, I still had not managed to reconnect with any of my friends from before college, especially Brittney. This isn’t to say I didn’t want to see her; I just wanted to be alone. I had finally left behind the stresses of school and I was relishing this alone time in a new setting.

Unfortunately, today was the day I was going to have to make a trip around town. There’s only so many cigarettes and migraine meds a girl can bring with her across the country and I was running pretty low.

The game plan for me was to go to the grocery store, then the pharmacy, and finally stop at the convenience store down a couple blocks over for a new carton of Marlboro 27s, my cigarette of choice. Of course, I didn’t have a car with me, and I managed to get my hands on a used bike to get around. I liked biking. I did a lot of it when I was at school in Massachusetts. Well, as long as it wasn’t frigid I would.

With a deep breath I left my house and began on my adventure, making sure all my belongings were secured in the basket attached to the front of my bike. I hadn’t even made it two blocks from my apartment before I was thrown from my bike and onto the pavement next to me. My head hit the ground with a loud thump and I could instantly feel a sharp pain forming in the back of my head.

“What the fuck?” I muttered grabbing for my head with one hand and rubbing the back of my neck with the other. I heard a car door slam and before I even had the chance to stand up there was a hand in front of my face.

“Holy shit. Holy shit. Holy shit!” The guy in front of me was looking down at me with concern written all over his face. Well, maybe it was panic. I was a little woozy so I couldn’t quite tell. “Are you alright? I’m so sorry!”

I grabbed his hand and he helped lift me up before I discarded it and began to collect my wallet and keys now thrown from the basket on my newly dented bike.

“Did you just fucking hit me?” I growled, turning around to look at the man who was worriedly grabbing at his mohawk.

“I’m so fucking sorry, man. I was talking to my friend and I just glanced at him for a second and before I know it you’re there and I hit you and I cannot believe I just hit a person on a bike. The guys will never let me live this down. Holy shit, are you alright?” he ranted, extending his arm to place on my shoulder in a friendly manner.

But, I moved before he could reach me. I didn’t like to be touched unless I wanted it. “I’m fine.” I answered, picking up my bike instead of looking at him. “Just trying to figure out how I’m going to run these errands now.” The rear tire of my bike was no longer functional.

Distress was written all over his features when I finally turned around to glance at him. He looked genuinely concerned for my well being, but at the moment I was a little too ticked off to care.

“Let me take you where you need to go. I’ve fucked up. I’ll buy you a new bike if you’d like. Just, let me make it up to you, please” he begged, his hands holding onto the other handlebar of my bike.

I looked down at my bike and then back up at him. I paused before answering, considering how much I did not want to be stuck in a car with a complete stranger and having to talk to him.

I guess reluctance was written all over my features because before I could say no he said “Please let me help you. I swear I’m not some crazy maniac out for blood or anything like that. If it makes you feel better my friend Jimmy is inside the car with me. You won’t be alone.”

I finally took the chance to glance over at the Mercedes that ran me over. As he said, inside was another man, who honestly looked more foreboding than this little man with tattoos, piercings and mohawks galore. Against my better judgment and basically out of any other options I slowly nodded my head. “Fine.”

“Great!” he shouted, clapping his hand once before grabbing my hand and leading me to his car. “My name is Johnny, by the way. I’m sorry we had to meet like this.”

I pulled my hand from his grasp, stopping at the rear passenger door. “My name’s Evangeline.” I muttered, rubbing my now throbbing head. “Can we please go to the pharmacy up the road, first? I think I’m starting to get a migraine.”

He nodded only once and opened the door once before both of us got inside. Once inside I was hit with the smell of stale cigarettes, and my mouth instantly watered. I was a little shaken up, and a cigarette would be a blessing right about now.

“Hey there, stranger. Name’s Jimmy.” The guy in the passenger seat turned around and extended his hand to me. I looked at it once, then his face to see a wide smile crossing his features. He seemed genuinely excited to meet me.

I could barely help letting a small smile grace my lips. “Evangeline” I whispered, taking his hand and shaking it lightly.

“Evangeline, huh? That’s a name you don’t come across every day. Where ya from Evangeline?” he questioned, as Johnny began to drive the car in the direction of my pharmacy.

“Here.” was all that I replied.

“Here?” he questioned, “As in Huntington Beach? How come we’ve never seen you around?”

From the corner of my eye I could see Johnny glancing at me in the rear view mirror. Internally, I was groaning. This whole introduction thing was getting old very fast. I didn’t do well with strangers or casual conversation, mostly because I avoided it at all costs. But, now I was cornered. And these two were the only way to get my errands done, so I was going to have to suffer through small talk.

“I lived here my whole life.” I replied, moving the hair away from my eyes. Johnny had just rolled into the parking lot of the pharmacy. “I’ve been at school in Massachusetts for the past six years though.” I added.

“Finally done?” Jimmy questioned again, prodding me for more information.

“No, just working on my dissertation here for the summer.” I offered, as we pulled into the parking lot. I made to take my seatbelt off and noticed the guys were as well. I quickly stopped them by saying “Oh no, you guys don’t have to come in with me. I’m only picking up a prescription. I’ll be right back.”

Happily to finally get away from these new people, I made my way inside the pharmacy. I quickly picked up my medication and grabbed a new carton of cigarettes before making my way back outside to Johnny’s Mercedes. Deciding that I had already had enough human interaction for the night I asked “Do you guys just want to drop me off at my apartment? This is all I needed to get.”

Both of them turned around to look at me, noticing the cigarettes and medicine bag in my hands.

“Are you sure?” Johnny questioned, still giving me that sympathetic glance. “You don’t want me to take you to the hospital or something first?” I shook my head at him and he frowned. “At least let me buy you a coffee before I drop you off.”

I sighed slowly and nodded my head. He really did seem genuinely hurt about hitting me with his car. “Coffee sounds great.” I tried my hardest to send him a smile. I guess it work because the two were smiling back at me before Johnny pulled out of the parking lot and headed in the direction of what I can only guess was the coffee shop.

A few minutes later he pulled into a coffee shop I remember frequenting with Brittney during high school. I let out a low whistle as I stepped out of the car. “I haven’t been here in a hot minute.” I muttered.

No one seemed to respond to my comment and instead the two were focused on a car near by. “I think Brian is here with Matt and Zacky.” Johnny told to Jimmy, pointing to a particularly nice BMW.

Just the name had me freezing in my tracks. It always did. Whenever someone mentioned that name, regardless if I was in Massachusetts or California, I choked up for a second. The name Zack or any variations of it automatically set me into a tizzy. I could start to feel my migraine pulsating on the left side of my brain.

Deep breathes, Evangeline. In through the nose, out through the mouth.

I managed to collect myself quickly enough for them not to notice and followed them in toe to the shop. I stood in line behind Johnny while Jimmy sauntered over to whom I could only guess were his friends he mentioned. I stole a quick glance in that direction and quickly noticed a fuck ton of tattoos.

There was one guy sitting there, muscles spilling out of his t-shirt, covered in tattoos. He looked quite intimidating. The other one in my view had longer, spiked hair and he too had muscles and tattoos everywhere. These men were quite intimidating.

If there was a third person, like Johnny seemed to mention, I didn’t see him because Johnny and I had reached the front of the line.

“What can I get you guys?” the barista asked with a smile.

Johnny placed his order and then turned to me for mine. Just as I went to open my mouth to order, I stole a glance again in the direction of Johnny’s friends. Instantly my words were stuck inside my throat. I recognized the tattooed arms first, then the hair, and then his face.

My mouth must have been hanging open in shock because Johnny’s hand was quickly on my shoulder “Are you okay? You’re not having a seizure or something are you?” he panicked. It was enough to snap myself out of my gaze.

I had to get out of here and fast.

“Johnny, I think I’m set on coffee actually. I just thought of something I had to do and I really think I should just get going. You stay with your friends, okay?” I rambled, slowly inching my way away from the counter.

Johnny gave me a confused look. “Really? Let me get you some water or something. Didn’t you say you had a headache?”

As I was shaking my head, ready to deny his offer I couldn't help but to steal a glance at Jimmy who was laughing manically about something. He immediately turned in my direction and pointed at me, to which all the men at the table began looking in my direction.

I saw his green eyes before anything else. It was a like a lump was instantly stuck in my throat. I turned away as quickly as possible, and back to Johnny. My hands were shaking, my head was throbbing and I wanted nothing more than to vomit in that very moment.

“I-I-I” I stuttered, unable to collect my thoughts with everything swirling in and out of my brain. My stomach had literally dropped into my gut. I could feel my face burning under Johnny’s scrutinizing glance. I didn’t know what to do.

“I don’t feel so good” was all I managed to get out, before turning around and quickly exiting the shop before Johnny even had a chance to speak.

The minute the door closed behind me, I took off in the direction of my home. I barely made it two feet before I felt the bile creep up my throat. I turned my head and vomited right in front of the shiny BMW.
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Once again, any type of feedback would be most appreciated you guys c: