You get the trolley with the squeaky wheel. It’s a direct consequence of your failure to call shotgun, but you don’t mind. Not really. Cas on the other hand, is wheeling the fucking Bugatti of shopping carts. Four perfectly aligned wheels, a clean paint-job and silent as the night. Hi-Ho Fucking Silver. Who are you to deny Cas his joy? In your eighteen years on this planet, you have found very few things to be worth doing at three am on a Tuesday. You could probably detail a comprehensive list on one hand and somehow, Cas’ midnight trolley rodeo spectacular makes the cut every time.
It’s with practiced ease that you and Cas peruse the candy aisle. Your eyes flick upwards and coolly acknowledge the security camera positioned over the aisle with an angling of your chin. In the reflection, you see Cas’ two-fingered salute and the famous Cassidy Jones grin. You jostle your trolley with his. Squeak. Clash. Squeak.
“Asshole,” Cas levels his gaze on you and it burns.
“Cute,” you reply. And it is.
“Professionalism, Cowboy. We have a job to do.” Cas’ words lick a stripe down your spine; acerbic, caustic. Whatever resolve you have left dissipates, and you feel the smile trip onto your face. Cas’ hair does this thing where it curls at the nape of his neck when he forgets to brush it. Today must have been a bad day because the box-blue strands are almost matted. He catches you staring and runs a hand through his curls. You’d call it self-conscious, but you know him better than that.
“Sour Straps,” you say. But you mean something else entirely.
And just maybe he means something else entirely too. Cas indulges you, grabbing an armful of the pastel candies and slinging them into his trolley. His eyes are the same amber as Jack Daniels and you’ve been caught in an oil slick, with only a spark’s difference between life and a fiery death.
“It’ll be dawn soon,” you manage.
“Better hurry up then,” Cas’ approving smirk ignites you.
“See you next week, Butch,” Cas gives a small wave to the security guard positioned at the door. Butch has been putting up with teenage hooligan bullshit for his entire career and he knows all the tricks of the trade, especially how to profile two expert teenage dirt bags. Unfortunately for Butch, you wrote the rulebook on teenage hooliganism.
“I want those trolleys back in one piece this time.”
“No clue what you mean, Butch, darling.” Cas grins and God that smile, it slides across his face like kerosene.
“Keep a leash on your dog, Cowboy.”
“Dunno what you want me to do. He’s a wildfire,” you shrug.
You are pushing the trolley with the squeaky wheel. The moths trail after you as you climb to the top of Bell Road. It’s the steepest road in Ohio, which is just about as glamorous as being deemed the tallest dwarf. But the asphalt is smooth and wide, the perfect surface for rodeo trysts. The city council decided to change the bulbs in the street-lights and they haven’t gotten around to this side of the tracks yet so it’s dark as fuck. But Cas has a paperclip and a track record and old Mrs Russel has a run-down Toyota monstrosity just doing nothing. So, with a couple of jimmies and a few sparks, you’re sitting in the haloed rings of yellow headlights. The halogen bulbs are doing something godlike to Cas’ skin, picking up the hollows and dips of his throat and the shadows under his eyes. He pulls a joint and a lighter out of his ripped jeans and ignites the rolled paper. He lets it burn for a moment before taking a drag; the smoke curls around his lips as he blows rings out over the Ohio landscape.
You’ve long since come to terms with the fact Cas is a whole other species to you. You are the calm before the storm; a slight shift in the oncoming breeze. Garnished with straight A’s and wire-framed glasses, your kind of trouble is the subtle kind. Carefully constructed beyond the uptight ground rules your parents laid down, your trouble slinks through back alleyways and takes pride in moments of quiet rebellion. Cas is a little less subtle, he is a maelstrom compressed into a skin suit. But to be fair, he was born with trouble in those whiskey eyes. He wears it proudly across his chest like a patriot with a flag. It’s in every twitch of his fingers and every slant of his heavily pierced brow. Cas is ablaze with chaos and the promise of everything beyond your planned future.
“You think you’re hot shit, don’t you, Cowboy?”
“Oh, I know I am. Are we gonna do this, Cassidy Jones?”
“Those are some fighting words. You ready to crash and burn?”
“You are on, Jones.” Cas keeps a steadying grip on the handle-bar as you ease yourself into the steel cage of your trolley with the squeaky wheel. Then he clambers into his own chariot as you return the favour. You wish you could say there was a fine art to this teenage hooliganism, but any technique learnt is quickly overridden by a strong desire to hold on for dear life. A glance over at Cas reveals him to be peering at the base of the hill as if calculating the angle of your collective stupidity. The numbers must come up favourably, but you can’t be sure if that’s a comfort. Cas isn’t known for his interest in self-preservation; he spares you a glance and a smile akin to annihilation. He cocks his head and blinks at you with those persistent amber eyes and without a word, he’s off. Before you can cry foul, your trolley loses its grip and begins to roll too.
You are hurtling down the hill in the trolley with a squeaky wheel. You were never great at physics in school, but you know the basics of careening towards your death at a high velocity. E=MC² or some shit. A laugh is snatched from you by the speed of your descent. It synchronises with Cas’ whooping and cheering. He is miles ahead of you and it’s obvious he’ll win. He always wins. But you don’t mind losing. Who are you to deny Cas his joy? The world has turned to a blur in your periphery. Picket fence posts blend into one another and brown facades melt into a very Ohio picture. Cas yells something to you but you’re too caught up in your own adrenaline to make an attempt at understanding him. You feel the smile stretching your face wide, loving the way it tugs at your cheeks as you tip your head up. Stars cartwheel above you and you can feel their inevitability shoot through your veins like heroin. You’re going to be riding this high for days to come. Then comes the jolt. Then comes the weightlessness. Then comes your History teacher’s lecture on Greek Myths. Icarus who flew too close to the sun. Then comes the crash and burn. Squeak. Clash. Squeak.
“Cowboy, you good?” Cas’ voice sounds distant and bodiless.
“Looks like I beat your ass again.”
“Let me see your knee.”
“It’s just a scrape, Cas.”
“You’re bleeding,” he says, tone low and serious.
Cas approaches you like you’re a wounded animal ready to flee. Maybe you are. He must see something in your expression that betrays your trepidation because he softens his gaze. You feel a blush creep up your neck at your slip and school your features into careful neutrality. He kneels beside you and examines the scrape. And it really is inconsequential; you’ve had worse done to you. Italian leather belts leave a surprisingly intense bruise; but he’s treating you with the steadiness of a triage nurse. Even breaths and steady hands. He smells like smoke and hooch.
“Kiss it better?” You joke weakly.
Cas raises his eyebrows and you think you’ve ruined it. You and your big fucking mouth. Then he’s moving. Cas lowers his mouth to your shredded knee and presses reverent lips to the torn flesh. Your words are stolen by his kiss. When he comes back up, red stains his mouth. Cas flashes you a devilish grin and runs an errant tongue over his lips, tasting your blood. He is kneeling prostrate before you like an apostle consuming the blood of Christ. There is divinity in the wave of whisky and fire that washes over you at Cas’ touch. And there is something incomprehensibly big about this. Something unchangeable about tonight. You are two teenage delinquents sitting in the crash site of a revelation. The trolley with the squeaky wheel lays on its side a couple of feet away. And it is mangled beyond repair.
Claire is an emerging author who is just as likely to be found binge watching Criminal Minds as she is reading or writing. She has a passion for telling queer stories with central themes of hope and growth. Claire hopes to someday publish many, many novels and perhaps a few plays.