Serial – Little River: Vol 2 – Ch 12

Little River_ Vol 2 (2)

“Hey, Man. How’s it going?”

Brady looked up from his cheeseburger to grin at his best friend who had come up behind him and smacked the back of his head, causing him to smear ketchup and mustard across his cheek. As he cleaned his face with a napkin, Titus slid into the other side of the booth. “What are you doing in town?”

“I drove down to see my nephews,” Titus answered. “I saw your truck outside and decided to stop and say ‘hey.’”

“You by yourself?”

“Yeah.” Titus nodded. “Jamie’s out of town and the boys were both busy. Travis is working nearly every evening and Caleb is playing basketball now. He had practice.”

“You ate?”

“Yeah. I had a burger on the way down.” Titus examined his best friend’s face before asking, “Everything okay? You look kind of rough.”

Brady rubbed his hand over his stubbly cheek and grinned. “That’s because some jerk smeared my food all over my face.”

“Nah, Man,” Titus shook his head, “you look bad around the eyes. You sick?”

“No.” Brady took a long pull on his drink before saying, “I’ve not been sleeping good. I’m just tired.”

“Is it your dad?”

“No,” Brady shook his head, “Dad’s doing okay. The new medicine they have him on seems to be helping.”

“Alzheimer’s sucks.”

“No kidding.” Brady wadded his burger wrapper up and finished the last of his soda. “This early onset stuff is a real bitch. Dad’s way too young for this crap. He should still be running the show; instead, he’s taking orders from me. That’s messed up.”

“He still working every day?”

“Not every day,” Brady answered. “I take him to most of my jobs, but he’s starting to get confused on anything more complicated than driving nails and doing demo. Mom’s wanting me to phase him out or some junk like that.”

“It could get dangerous for him to be on job sites with you.” Titus examined his friend’s reaction to his words. “I’m sure she’s just worried about him.”

“I know,” Brady agreed, “but if I stop taking him to work, Mom’s going to try to keep him at home and baby him all the time. Dad’s not a baby. He’s a man, and he needs to be treated like one.”

Titus nodded.

Brady sighed and pushed his fingers through his hair, causing it to stand on end. “It’s alright. For now, at least. When he gets too bad to go with me, I’ll deal with it. For now, I can give him things to do.”

“You’re a good man,” Titus smiled at his friend. “Your dad’s lucky to have you.”

“No,” Brady protested, “my dad is a good man, and I’m lucky to have him. He’s always been there for me. I’ll be there for him.”

Titus nodded. There was no point in saying anything else. For all Brady’s bravado, he was a humble man at heart. Instead, he changed the subject, “How’s it going with Lexi? She asked you over?”

Brady heaved a deep sigh.

“Ah,” Titus raised an eyebrow, “Lexi is the reason you look like crap.”

“Thanks,” Brady chuckled.

Titus shrugged. “I call it like I see it, Man, and you look like you’ve not slept in a week.”

“I haven’t.” Brady steepled his fingers on the table. “Not good at least. I lay awake trying to figure out what in the hell I’m supposed to do.”


“About Lexi and my sister.” Brady filled Titus in on everything he had learned before saying, “I see Brittany’s side of things, but I also see Lexi’s. I understand why she’s hurt, but I also understand why Brit did what she did. What I don’t know is what to do now.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, if things are going to go anywhere with me and Lexi, some sort of resolution between her and my sister needs to happen.”

“Do you think they can do that?” Titus looked skeptical.

“I don’t know,” Brady shrugged, “but I really want to date Lexi.”

“After all these years,” Titus chuckled, “you’ve still got it bad for that girl.”

“Even you should be able to see she’s drop dead gorgeous.”

“Even me?” Titus laughed out loud. “I’m not blind, Brady. I notice when a girl is pretty.”

“Well, then you should have noticed that she’s the prettiest girl I’ve ever known, and she looks ten times better now than she did in high school.”

Titus smiled and shook his head. “You’ve got it bad, bad.”

“She’s not just pretty,” Brady added, “she’s smart and funny. She’s a lot like you, Ty.”

“I am pretty,” Titus agreed.

Brady didn’t acknowledge the comment before saying, “I mean, she’s good like you. It’s weird how much you have in common. She’s taken in her two little nieces. She moved back to Little River to take care of them. She’s teaching here now.”

“Where are their parents?”

“Their dad’s not around and their mom is in Knoxville.”

“Knoxville?” Titus looked surprised. “Why doesn’t she have them?”

“Deadbeat,” Brady answered. “Lexi said she just dumped them off with her mom so she could run off with a guy.”

“Wait a minute.” Titus had just realized who they were talking about. “Their mom is Michelle?”

Brady nodded.

“I always liked her in school.” Titus looked thoughtful. “She was nice. I never would have thought she was the type to run out on her kids.”

“Well, she did,” Brady said, “and now Lexi’s raising them.”

“At least Annie didn’t walk out on the boys.” Titus’ eyes softened as they always did when he spoke of his sister.

“How’s she doing?”

“The same,” Titus answered. “Anyway, you really like Lexi, don’t you?”

Brady nodded.

“Well, if I know you, you’ll find a way to make it work.” Titus smiled. “You’ve always seemed to find a way to get what you want.”

“This might be beyond my abilities though,” Brady sighed, “because I really don’t have a clue.”

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Rachel Holbrook writes from her home in Knoxville, TN. She is the author of the syndicated serial, Little River, Volumes 1 & 2. Her short fiction and poetry have appeared in Burningword Literary Journal, *82 Review, Ink in Thirds, Akitsu Quarterly, The Avalon Literary Review, The Society of Classical Poets, and various other literary journals. She recently won an Honorable Mention for her short story “A Slow Burn” at the Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society’s annual convention. She also received the Springs of Helicon Award for Poetry, awarded by Tennessee Wesleyan University. When she’s not writing, she enjoys going on literal and literary adventures with her husband and six children.

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