Cal Ainsworth was the girl that got away. A young journalist sets out to find her again, but instead finds an underworld of flesh and vice. He is soon out of his depth, in a world of shadowy eroticism into which Cal seems to have vanished, guided only by curiosity and a tattooed blonde from out of his past. (M/F)
Faded StainsAuthor(s): Argus Marks
$1.99Novella (14,000 words)
Ebook Edition (Available in epub, mobi & pdf.)
Publication date: October 18, 2012
Click here for content labels and more information.
So I called the infamous Buster Bones at that number listed under her given name, hoping she might still be in touch with Cal Ainsworth—and remember me. I got an answering machine, which asked me to leave a message for either Buster or Terry; and I suddenly wondered if she’d settled down, too, and what gender her roommate might be. Before I could mumble my way through a rambling explanation for my call, somebody came on the line.
“Who the hell is this?”
It sounded like Buster, but a bit more bass than I recalled. “You may not remember me,” I stammered, relying on that cliché, along with my name. “I’m a friend of Cal Ainsworth’s, who used to live in Carolina Downs…”
There was a moment of silence, during which I could almost hear the wheels in Buster’s mind clicking as she ran through the file of faces in her head. I thought she might just hang up then, having forgotten me completely, when I heard her laugh.
“Oh, hiiii,” she said, in a voice that’d broken a thousand hearts. “I know you. My little peek-a-boo boy, huh? What’re you doin’ with your old self?”
“Just passing through town, so I decided to look some people up. You haven’t been in touch with Cal, have you? I don’t have her new number.”
There was another pregnant pause on the line then, before Buster delivered a verbal ton of bricks.
“I guess you haven’t heard,” she said, barely audible. “But Cal offed herself ’bout a month ago.” She waited a second, to let the shock settle in. “So just forget about ol’ Cal…”
“Jesus,” I said, not believing my ears, wondering if Buster (the one-time wild child) was making a sick joke. “Are you serious? You mean she…”
“She killed herself, boy,” Buster finished for me, bluntly. “That’s all I know, huh? Listen, I really gotta run now, ’kay? If you’re ever back in town, just gimme a buzz and we’ll grab some chow maybe and chat up the good ol’ days. Forget about Cal, though, got it? ’Bye…”
She hung up, and only the low hum of the dial tone brought me back to the real world. I was in a state of stunned disbelief, unsure what I’d heard and replaying Buster’s words in my mind. I could not accept what she’d said at face value, of course; the idea that Cal Ainsworth was dead was difficult enough to imagine, but the notion that she’d taken her own life was beyond the realm of reason.
So, against my better judgment but unable to do otherwise, I decided to find a hotel near the interstate, and stay for as many days as it took to track down the truth about Cal’s untimely demise.