An Open Gate
Shooter navigated the roundabout surrounding one of the many lighthouses in Sandy Point and pulled up in front of the Sandy Point Diner. Considering the size of Sandy Point, he found it amusing they had as many lighthouses as they did. That and the bridges. The stop was ill-advised considering the rain clouds threatening a downpour but hunger got the best of him. The tiny diner was his only option before the last bridge out of town and he still had a long drive to South Beach. Securing the tarp on the bed of his truck and confident he could keep an eye on it if anyone got too curious, Shooter walked across the parking lot.
"If it hadn't been for Rayne, Jimmy and I would be married right now. We had a nursery set up and everything. Then she waltzed in, seduced him, and used him. She forced him out of rehab, cut him off from all his real friends, and got him dependent on her and the drugs she was using."
Some pretty strong accusations, he thought, and probably just some groupie looking for her fifteen minutes. Shooter kept walking until the next thing she said made him pause.
"Rayne was always putting on airs and acting like she was too good for the rest of us. She only stuck around to keep manipulating Jimmy but she wouldn't live with him and got her rich dad to buy her a house. She made him use, ruined Jimmy, and left him alone and isolated. She broke us up and she never even loved him like I did. She ruined Jimmy, ruined the band, and now she's taking the little bit the band had left."
Man, the chick had balls. Shooter thought he recognized a reporter from TMZ standing somewhat hidden in the shadows behind a clump of palms. He couldn't be sure but he may have seen her at Rayne's place when he and Duff had cleaned it out. Funny how the press wants to know everything about your life once you're dead. What they don't know, they make up.
OK he'd heard enough. Shooter went inside, ordered a burger and sat down to eat. Unfortunately, the circus followed him. A smaller group huddled around the jukebox and the blonde kept talking.
"Now she's dating some rich guy. I heard he's in a band too and I also heard he's into some weird shit and I mean really, weird shit. I'm a reporter so I know how to find out about this stuff! Rayne is sick! She killed my Jimmy and now she is screwing the rest of us over!"
Well fuck. Maybe the girl was spouting bullshit or maybe he needed to be concerned. Only a select few people in Flight's inner circle knew about Duff's sexual proclivities. Shooter didn't care much one way or the other if Duff wanted to get his rocks off tying some chick up and spanking her, but if Duff's tendencies were coming back on Flight... Either way, and it didn't matter which, he'd need to fill Duff in when he got to South Beach. And then he'd need to make a call to Rob and Blade.
Her father sang a lullaby. Drifting, not quite asleep, not quite awake, Rayne searched for and found that sweet early memory. The lullaby was about raindrops. He probably made it up as he sang it. He sang it over Skype. He sang it from the other side of the world.
Jimmy sometimes sang to her at night. In the first few hard weeks after they'd left rehab together, he sang to keep her from drinking, to keep both of them from drinking. They sat out on the back porch and watched the waves and sang, and kissed, and sang some more.
If she could keep sleeping...if she could keep sleeping until Duff came back...You're not sleeping.
"Duff's still there? I can't hear - ok he is still there but Shooter left with all her things. I'll call you right back."
"Shouldn't that gate be locked? We walked right in. You think anybody is here?"
"It's worth a look if we can get a comment from Rayne."
"If she's here, we'll get a comment. We'll get something."
"Can you believe this place? Damn, it's kick ass!"
"Wait a minute...I think I see somebody. Is that her?"
You couldn't hear anything in this place. It was on a dead end road that dead ended in water. It had walls. It had a waterfall. Rayne struggled up through what actually had been some kind of light sleep, trying to determine if she was dreaming the voices or hearing them.
There was a gate and the gate was locked. Before he left, Duff told her not to open the gate. There was a list of things he told her not to do, most of them things she wouldn't do anyway because she didn't feel like it or they were stupid things, and some of them she didn't want to do today. She never even thought of opening the gate.
Somebody opened the gate, though.
"Hey Rayne what's up! You got a minute? Got anything to say about Jimmy Breaux?"
"You know the other members of Brew say you're deliberately screwing them over with that contract - what're you getting out of that contract Rayne? We've got somebody out at Sandy Point who's talking to a girl - what's her name, oh yeah Judy - talking to Judy about what you did to Jimmy. Want to say anything about that Rayne?"
Clasping her hands behind her neck, Rayne took a shaking breath and tried to focus. What were they talking about? What contract? The contract her father had offered Jimmy? Who was Judy - Pink Sunglasses Judy - was that who they meant?
Rayne opened the door and stepped out warily into the heat. The water in the courtyard helped but the white walls reflected heat and light right back at you, and she blinked, and shifted her weight, and began to realize she was dealing with reporters. This she could do. She tapped bare toes on the tiles, crossed her arms and glared at them. "You know I don't have anything to say, and you're trespassing. Go away."
"Did you know Jimmy was suicidal? How long has it been since you last saw him?"
"Whose idea was it to leave rehab early?"
"Did you know he was engaged when you moved in with him?"
"Did you get Cooper to void that contract?"
They both talked at once. They were a pretty good team. She'd seen a lot better teams take on her father but these two might get there. Why would anyone think she had anything to do with that contract? It was Gemma's deal, not hers. Pink Sunglasses was never engaged to Jimmy. She had some nerve to say that now that he was dead. Her eyes began to sting. Had Jimmy killed himself?
The woman motored right on, throwing her hands around while she talked. She had red nail polish. Rayne looked fixedly at the red nail polish. If Camilla were here, she would slam the woman, she would have something very nasty and clever to say about the nail polish. Rayne had nothing. She felt hot. It was too hot.
Clearing her throat, digging her fingernails into her arms, Rayne lifted her chin and said, "Jimmy doesn't...didn't even like Pink Sunglasses."
That shut them up for about ten seconds. It wasn't what they expected from her. The man said, "Uh...you mean Judy?"
"So you deny her claim? You're denying everything is that right even though it's common knowledge that Cooper wrote that contract for you and you deliberately pushed Jimmy to perform right out of rehab in order to get publicity for yourself?"
She drew a deep breath, tasting the water in the air, still confused.
The man said, "Did you know Jimmy was holding your photo when he died?"
Rayne staggered. The back of her bare legs hit the glass and, off balance, she took a faltering step forward, raised her arms and shouted, "Get out! Get the fuck out of here! Do you hear me CAN YOU HEAR ME - GET OUT GET OUT!"
The woman smiled. "You need help Rayne. You really do sweetie."
She closed the door on them. She walked into the middle of Duff's enormous white room and did not look back at them.
"Do you think she's high? Do you think we can say that? Did you smell alcohol?"
"No but I recorded all of it and we can definitely say she's got some kind of problem."
"How long is it going to take Duff to get back here?"
"Hours. We've got plenty of time."
It was quiet. The waterfall splashed and the air conditioning hummed.
Jimmy was holding her photo when he died out there alone on the beach at night. He had been holding her photo.
She found her cell on the sideboard under those flowers and punched in Duff's number. She sent the text. Come back plz Duff.
He might not answer. He might not look. He might think it was on that list of things she wasn't supposed to do. If it had been, she didn't care.
It took him less than a minute. Leaving now cara.
It got dark. Rayne went out into the courtyard and lit a candle, and wrapped her arms around her legs and waited. She could use a drink. She could use a hundred drinks.