CH. 2: Unfriendly Reminders

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Mac Wyatt, "Charlotte Mackenzie Wyatt" to her friends- though she was pretty sure she had none- looked around Pete's Saloon and hoped that maybe, just maybe, she was wrong on that score. Maybe Paul Chambers was still around. But, after four years of living the life she'd led, she'd learned to expect the worst.

She walked up to the bar, which was crowded with half-drunk summer people and tourists. She squeezed in between a group of college kids, swept her wavy, blonde hair completely from her field of vision and signaled for the bartender. When the perky little bartender came over, Mac ordered a beer, no Wyatt or Selfridge liquor for her, and asked her if Paul was still around. The bartender looked at Mac without recognition, twirling the name around her head.

"Paul?" the bartender said. She looked a little young to be working bar back and Mac was fast giving up hope. "Paul? Paul? Oh, you mean 'Paul.'"

"Yeah," Mac said, "Does he still work here?"

"You a friend of Paul's?"

"I used to drink here," Mac said, "Back when they called it The Sandbar."

"Before my time," the young bartender said. "That was before the town renovation?"

"Yeah," Mac said acclimating to her surroundings. "This place used to be a real bucket of blood, you know. Liquor in the front. Poker in the rear."

"What?"

"Forget it. So, Paul?"

She gave Mac a quizzical look. "You must have been gone a long time."

"More or less."

"Yeah," the bartender said. "No. Paul doesn't work today. Paul's shift starts tomorrow. You're not close are you?"

"We used to be. Why?"

The bartender smirked. "No reason. Yeah, come back tomorrow."

"Much obliged," Mac said and took her beer and looked for a place in the saloon where she could drink it.

Settling at a vacant table by the bathroom, Mac took a sip and people watched. God, how this town has changed, she thought. Gone are the gin mills and the strip clubs and the casinos. Now, it's all Spring Break and happy-go-lucky. Not an ounce of danger, she mused somewhere between contented and disappointed. She wanted to ponder it, but another thought broke in. How long do you want to put this off? You came home for a reason. ...Maybe after this beer. Or the next one. Or the one after that.

Turned out, it was five beers and three rebuffs of drunk guys before she worked up the nerve to go see her mother. But, first, the restroom. As Uncle Dave was fond of saying, "You don't buy booze, you only rent it."

She got up and ambled toward the restroom with the word "Gulls" painted on it. The door next to it read "Buoys." She pushed in the Gull door and went inside.  

After doing what needed doing, Mac pulled her jeans back up and buckled her belt and walked to the sinks in her Adidas shell tops. She ran the water, slapped some on her face, then closed the faucet and tap-tap-tapped it three times. For safety. Then, she looked at herself in the mirror thinking, this is a terrible idea. Then, following that thought with a smile, yup, that's me all over. Just a long string of terrible ideas. She took in her reflection as if to emphasis the point. Her tank top left many of her tattoos on full display. Every mistaken one of them.

She thought of Gregg. Of what they had and what it came to in the end. The pain. The violence. The fires. Her skin had been so clean then. Not a mark or blemish. He'd marvel at the smoothness of her slender body. Bad Boy Gregg Selfridge with his leather and his boots and his pyrokinetics. Her love. Each having betrayed the other. And now her skin was marred.

There were the twin sparrows facing each other on her collarbones. The intricate sleeve of intertwining skulls and pinup girls going down her left arm, culminating in a wolf's head on her hand, teeth down her fingers. The three coy swimming amidst water and flowers covering her entire right shoulder and running down to her mid bicep. The ring of carpenter's tools around her right forearm, hammer, screwdriver, crowbar, etc. And the black band that went around her right middle finger, ever reminding her of the ring the digit once bore but never would again. And of course, smack dead in the middle of the skulls and gals on her left arm was the reminder of what was and what could be if she wasn't careful: The heart enclosing the word "Mom."

The rest of her tats where hidden under the tank top and jeans, but the list went on. Sure they had their usefulness and the price was steep but that's magic for you. "Ain't nothing for free, Mac," Uncle Dave would say. She was thinking about David Wyatt and his litany of catch phrases as she drew away from the bathroom mirror. She was thinking of him still when the bathroom door flew open and a young man and woman burst in wielding fucking hunting knives.

The man swiped at Mac and she hopped back. The blade slashed through the stomach of her tank top revealing a slice of tattoo on her abs. The woman darted in passed the man with her knife in move both practiced and well executed. Again, Mac dodged and the woman's knife slipped through the tank top on her side. Another tattoo sliver revealed, but still no blood. They were backing her into the wall and fast but being cornered only honed her instincts.

Mac tapped her right thumb to her middle finger three times and the hammer tattoo glowed momentarily. A second later, a hammer was in her hand. She swung the hammer and connected with the woman's side. She fell to her knees with a groan.

"Darla!" the man yelled and dropped his guard. It was just for a second, but it was longer than Mac needed. She stepped past the fallen women, reached out and grabbed the man on the shoulder with her wolf hand. It glowed and her fingertips sunk into the muscle, drawing blood. The man screamed and dropped his knife.

The woman, Darla, got up and jumped on Mac's back, ramming her into the bathroom stall door. Mac's face collided with the metal and her bottom lip busted open. She threw an elbow back into Darla's side, connecting with the point of the hammer's impact. Darla gasped and let go. As she fell to the bathroom floor, the man rushed at Mac, screaming, "Die, Wyatt Bitch!"

Mac let him get a little closer then swung the hammer. There was a dull thud as the hammer's head met the man's temple and dropped him like a stone, unconscious, maybe worse.

"Dash..." Darla muttered, holding her side. "You killed Dash..."

"He ain't dead," Mac said and shrugged. "I don't think."

"Why did you come ba-?"

But, Darla couldn't get it out before Mac launched a shell top in her Darla's stomach, keeling her over.

Mac tap, tap, tapped her fingers and the hammer disappeared. She had no idea who these two were but they called her a Wyatt. Hell of a start, Mac thought, you really are just one terrible idea after another. Darla was rousing and Mac decided she didn't want to be in Pete's Saloon anymore. So she beat feet and left. Perhaps, had she made the same decision about Sunshine Beach, what came to pass could have been avoided.

Perhaps not.

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