It's like trying to turn around on a one way street
I can't give you what you want
And it's killing me, and I, I'm starting to see
Maybe we're not meant to be
Metro: Chinatown Tunnel - 5:15 pm
Cooper braked hard, staring at the couple strolling down the sidewalk past the Rooms for Rent and Triple XXX DVD signs, struggled with rage and disbelief before he yanked the heavy bike down the alley after them. The bike bucked over a curb; he fought it, forced it, skidded left, braked again, cut the engine.
Beth stood between her car, parked next to a goddamned dumpster, and Ryan McDermott. She saw him, and she looked white to the bone. McDermott took two quick strides and planted himself next to her. Son of a bitch...
The place stunk. Exhaust from the freeway, garbage, somebody pissing against the wall. He hadn't been in a shit hole like this in years, many years, and did not believe she'd been hanging around and breathing the fumes because she enjoyed the smell.
The heavy skies opened up, dumped rain, water filling the air, dull thunder. Shoving in between them, Cooper glared at his wife and demanded, "What the hell is going on here?"
"Coop, nothing's going on." He expected her to come back at him, fight, argue; she didn't. She glanced uneasily between the two of them and put her hand on his arm. He felt the tension in her hand, the rings, the canary diamond he'd given her, the wedding ring, she gripped his arm so hard he felt every ring, then she pulled back. "I had an appointment and it didn't work out," she said, a tight voice. "I'm leaving. That's all I'm doing, I'm leaving."
"An appointment," he repeated.
Cooper shifted his eyes from one to the other, anger roiling inside him, Beth watching him, wary, and McDermott, his expression murderous, waiting poised to strike. He didn't buy it; appointment my ass, in this part of town? They'd played him. Meeting in a cheap, filthy place like this to fuck - the thought of it made him sick as he bit out a response. "By the hour was it? What's the problem, did I interrupt the meeting?"
The blow came before he'd even finished the sentence, fast, hard. McDermott slammed him against the side of the wall, taking his breath, one long harsh growl, "You miserable prick, I should have kicked your ass a long time ago!" Ryan's hands gripped him brutally; he could feel them tightening like vices, vision fading as he struggled to breathe.
He tasted blood, heard Beth screaming "Get off him GET OFF HIM!" might have seen her, one quick glimpse, the glimpse gone hurled against the dumpster, heard her long terrified cry even though he couldn't see her or catch his breath.
McDermott staring him down, the man's breath in his face, a deep grinding threat: "You want to sing me a song rock star? Sing your last damned song. I'm done with your shit."
Fighting back, digging in an elbow, finding an edge, losing the edge, losing it, losing breath, Beth's voice echoing drifting through the rain. Something hit, a long pipe swung at the man's back, rain pounding down, he saw it, blacking out, Beth at the other end of that pipe a long silent solid thud. The dumpster rocked under the force of that swing forcing all them back against the brick bouncing back again skidding on the wet pavement.
Ryan dropped him with a grunt of surprise. Dropped him cold. Staggering, Cooper saw McDermott turn his attention to Beth, she was down on her knees in the rain on the pavement next to the pipe. She wasn't fighting, she was kneeling there in the rain, rain running down her hair and her face. Another woman came running, running in the rain, he couldn't see her clearly, couldn't focus.
Enraged, in pain, wanting to go back at McDermott, knowing he couldn't take him, knowing she knew it, he locked his wife down with his gaze, Beth... and she was looking back at him now but she didn't get up. She didn't move. She should move, he wanted her to get up, to come to him. She sat there in the oily rain blocking McDermott, hanging onto McDermott.
"You want him, take him. I'm finished with you. I'm out of here."
NEXT CHAPTER: Sessions Chapter 28