Down and Dirty (Shameless Southern Nights)(3)

By: J.H. Croix & Ali Parker

Evan was thirty, a mechanic who had a natural talent for working with his hands. He was generally a laid-back, carefree guy. At first, I’d thought he’d come see our dad with me, but he’d shrugged and told me no. Before the shit hit the fan, he’d been closest to our father, if only because he took over his mechanic shop when our father ran for mayor and then flew high into the State Senate.

He didn’t offer any excuses, but he didn’t need to. I got it. Evan didn’t let things get to him, not anymore. He took life one day at a time and did his best not to take anything too seriously—dad’s offenses and incarceration included.

“Did he ever finish that custom job for the mayor?”

I shouldn’t have been surprised that my dad remembered about the job Evan had been working on last month, but it did. He always played it so cool during my updates. I kind of assumed he was only half listening, but he then he’d ask me about some small detail the next month and I’d be reminded that he really was listening.

“He did. His client was very happy with it.” At least that was what Sonny, our youngest brother, had told me. I hadn’t seen or spoken to either Beau or Evan for a while. Most of these updates I gave our dad were from information I’d gotten from Sonny.

“Glad to hear it. Evan’s always been mighty talented with those hands of his,” my father said with a grin. It was strange to see him take so much pride in their accomplishments, even from in here.

He’d never say it, of course. But I could see clear as day each time I visited. “How’s Sonny?”

At twenty-six, Sonny was the youngest of the Lovett clan. He was a cop and a SWAT Team member with an old soul. Though he was two years younger than me, it was a running joke that he should’ve been the older, if not the oldest, brother.

“Sonny’s great. You know him, he’s working hard. Kicking ass and taking names. Kid’s got balls, that’s for sure.” Sonny didn’t have it easy as a cop, what with our dad being one the town’s most hated. He worked hard enough to do the jobs of three men to make up for it, but he never complained about it. It just wasn’t in his nature.

Our dad nodded his agreement. “He’s a stubborn one.”

Silence fell between us for a minute. The reason for that silence had a name: Tyson Lovett. My oldest brother and Cypress Creek’s favorite District Attorney, so hailed for having been part of the team to have put his own father in prison.

Eventually, my dad broke the heavy silence. “What about Tyson?”

I suppressed a sigh and dragged my free hand through my hair, the other gripping harder on to the receiver I was holding. “Tyson’s fine. Same shit, different day. I saw his picture on a ‘Citizens for Justice’ flier the other day. They’re some community organization that believes in letting the people in town know about the everyday heroes fighting for their safety.”

I couldn’t quite keep the bitterness out of my tone. I knew my brother had a job to do, but I still didn’t know or understand a lot of what had gone down during my father’s trial, and Tyson refused to talk about it. It left a lot of lingering questions between him and the rest of us.

My father echoed my sigh and glanced at his feet. After a beat, he swallowed down whatever he had going on in his head about Tyson and squared his jaw, steely determination replacing the pride and brevity that had been there while we’d been talking about my brothers. Whatever it was that had been bothering him earlier, he was ready to talk about it now.

“We don’t have much time left before they’re gonna haul you out of here. So I’m going to ask you a question and I need you to be honest with me. Have you been approached by anyone you don’t know recently?”

“No, why?”

He shook his head, lifting his eyes to mine with a hard gaze. “Listen to me, Jeremy. You need to keep an eye out for yourself out there.”

“Okay?” My dad wasn’t the paranoid type, yet his eyes were suddenly darting from side to side and his voice had dropped. Weird.

“I’m being serious. People are going to come after you, after all of you.”

Maybe he’d become the paranoid type, yet I wasn’t a fool. I knew I probably didn’t have a clue who the hell my father had brushed up against in the messy bribery schemes that sent him here. Despite a sense of unease rolling through me, I gave myself a mental shake. I could take care of myself.

“Consider it done,” I said, mostly for his peace of mind. My words didn’t seem to mean much for that as Roy was still on edge.

“Thank you.” He glanced toward the clock on the wall to the side. “One last thing before you have to go. Has someone named Ken made contact with you?”