A Record Year for Rainfall, Chapter 4
A Record Year for Rainfall is my second book, originally published in 2011.
Please note that the subject matter in this novel can be pretty graphic.
Next to a heavy and grated metal fence, Bret squatted. He squinted, looked forward at the next kill. It was the classic paparazzi conundrum: stay at the fence, or try to sneak in for the close up? Staying at the fence meant fewer shots, but going over often meant getting trampled by security guards, broken equipment, and maybe no shots. It came down to, what kind of shot was needed? How important was it to get close up? Bret didn’t have to answer this question himself. He was surrounded by a dozen other snap-jockeys, and it was only a matter of time before one was dumb enough to leap. In the line of other cameramen hugging the fence, one jumped over and was quickly stomped by a pair of steroid-monthly subscribers in black shirts and earplugs. His camera was tossed back over the fence. It landed between the rest of the paparazzi. The brave, stupid one was escorted through the house and undoubtedly kicked out the front door.
The grey-haired fellow to Bret’s right shook his head after picking up the tossed SLR. “Frank, you idiot.”
Bret paid little attention to the other guys, though he was always a little fascinated. Celebrity photography was a maddening position, and he had no idea how people did this longer than he had. How did everyone deal with it? Did they go home to families? Were they all sad bachelors? What papers did they work for? Was their any hope for any of them? Bret felt with the gig until the consequences began to pile up. He wondered what consequences piled up for the rest of them.
The party they were all shooting had a medley of b- and c-listers. It was a smorgasbord, an all-you-can-eat. Reality TV stars, game show contestants, 80s and 90s TV soap stars, and, of course, all their respective spouses. As it usually was, the number of strict nobodies was at a minimum.
Some days, though, it really all depended on who you called a nobody. Some of these people hadn’t been on TV in years.
The grass underneath Bret’s feet was lime green and softer than any real grass could hope to be. Nothing underneath it could be called real dirt, and few people in the vicinity were who you could call real people.
“Some days,” the guy to Bret’s right muttered to nobody in particular. “I wonder why I’m not in the Middle East shooting real news.”
“Don’t talk crazy,” Bret said. “Besides, all the great war photos have been taken from that one. Got to wait until the next war and get in within the first three weeks if you want any kind of run.”
“Oh, right,” he said, looking over at Bret. “Because we have such a drought going on with these twerps.”
Bret said, “I hear you, but what are you going to do?”
Bret looked over at the older man, squatting in a similar position, but lower. He wore a black tshirt and blue jeans. His hair was grey but long, flowing down to his shoulders in clean strands. He wore small grey-framed glasses, and sneakers. From his neck hung a matte-black SLR with an egotistical lens. In his hand was a point-and-clicker. He noticed Bret checking out his equipment.
“Just got this one,” he said. “It’s got an always-on connection. I take the shots, and they appear on the blog within seconds. So even if something like that happens to me,” he said, pointed to the trespasser’s tossed camera, “I won’t lose the whole reel.”
“It’s funny,” Bret said. “Some people still call it a reel.”
“Call me old fashioned,” he said.
Bret said, “Old fashioned with a wi-fi card.”
“Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, my friend. And besides, I need something to keep up with the kids like you. This here’s a young man’s game, like being a DJ or a millionaire.”
They both snapped off half a dozen more shots before Bret extended his hand. “Bret.”
“Hetfield,” the old man said. “Pleasure to meet you.”
A moment passed. They both studied the party. Bret looked around at the other photographers. A few were giving up, realizing not nearly enough interesting things were happening.
Some days, it really all depended on what you called interesting.
“Hey, Hetfield,” Bret said. “You know lots of, um, our people around here?”
“Sure,” he said. “I know a few. I’ve even seen you around on a couple big runs.”
“Good to know I make an impression,” Bret said. “But, I was wondering if you’ve ever seen this one guy. He’s really tall, like, almost seven feet. He wears a trench coat. Black hair.”
Hetfield interrupted him. “Did you get a picture of him?”
“No,” Bret said. “He kept vanishing. My boss thinks he’s tailing me.”
Hetfield lowered himself so his knees hit the fake, lime grass. The long gray hair on his head was still, as if he was carrying trays of dishes. His back was so perfect, but his eyes were just as square. He said, “No, I don’t know him. But your boss is right.”
The two photographers were silent for a moment. The few remaining on the outside of the fence were still angling for shots of celebrity excess, even though the scene amounted to little more than a Sunday barbeque among friends and spouses. People like Bret and Hetfield were least welcome during these events, less than usual. The truism was ironic but the facts made it no less true: celebrities are only cool about paparazzi’s when there’s product to sell. Standing around drinking coolers and eating burgers did not count as shilling, it counted as hanging out. What, in anyone’s minds, was there to photograph?
Hetfield, he began to pack away his gear. He placed the expunged photographers’ camera into his own bag. To Bret, he asked, “Tell me, have you made any wealthy enemies recently?”
For a second, Bret thought the answer was obvious. But it wouldn’t have been to anyone else. Even to another paparazzi, Bret was just a stranger. Even when the credit is given to a photographer, their name is never remembered in the story. People only remember the paper or the website. Maybe the writer. But never the photographer. The credit line is too small, too deep in the names responsible. Although the story would often be useless without a picture, the author of the work rarely gets called in. It was, then, no surprise that even Hetfield, a career pap who knew others in the field, might not have put two and two together.
It took three deep breaths, but Bret finally came out with it.
“You remember the news last week? The Reggie Fane story?”
Bret said, “That was my shot.”
Hetfield’s eyes went wide. “Fuck, seriously?”
It was the first time Bret had spoken to a stranger about it. It didn’t feel like anything, even though it was the biggest thing he’d ever been a part of.
Hetfield finished packing. “You know,” he said. “I’ve been in that position, And I know how much of a double-edged sword it can be. On the one hand, you’re probably rich. On the other hand, I’m in no way surprised there’s someone on your tail. You killed a political career, kid. I’m surprised you’re still alive.”
Hetfield stood up, and extended his hand. Bret shook it. Before he left, Hetfield said, “If I were you, I’d figure out who the PI is and break it open before Fane’s people get too close.”
“Too close?” Bret repeated, as if he’d never heard the term in the last ten years.
Hetfield nodded and snuck away, vanishing quickly through bushes and fence. Bret took one more shot of the party, a wide panorama view of as many of the young and beautiful and old and cosmetically treated as he could. He looked around, pregnant with paranoia at the thought that there would be extinct consequences for what happened the week before. He had thought about losing Jenny, and how that was the worst fallout of any decision he’d ever made, but that it had already occurred. It was eating at him in new ways ever hour, but the happening itself was over. He’d already lost what he treasured most in his current life. He hadn’t had much room for further consequences, for the idea that Fane wanted some kind of revenge, that he was that kind of politician.
# # #
Tess held Bret’s hands. She held them hard, as close down to the armrests on the beach chairs on her balcony as she possibly could. He wasn’t trying his best to escape her, but she still had to sweat to keep him there.
“Look,” she said. “There’s nothing to worry about. You’ve been through this before. Get a fucking hold of yourself.”
Bret had raced to Tess. He’d told himself that she needed to know this information. She was unimpressed with the news. Tess had hugged her friend, but had little sympathy for his worries.
Tess said, “Let me calm you one by one.”
“First of all, we don’t need passports to be here, and we won’t until 2008 or something like that. We can run this life for another two years. And we’ll figure something out then if we want to stick around down here.”
Bret nodded. It was cold on the balcony. They both wore grey, oversized Canucks sweatshirts.
“Secondly, we don’t need VISA’s, because we’re here on vacation, remember?”
Bret had always felt anxious about this part of their alibi. He said, “You know, I don’t think that Reggie is going to buy that we’re here on vacation if it was my work that got him in shit, you know? The insipid patrol guards are one thing, but this guy, he’s got it out for me.”
Tess was still a little angry at Bret about the whole thing, though she’d done her best to conceal it. She bit her lip, wanting to strangle him, but also hold him. She never knew what to do with the poor bastard. Against her better judgment, she found herself incapable of properly decking him.
The best she could do was a mild guilt trip. “You know, there’s this crazy idea about laying low in a country you’re not really supposed to be in. I don’t suppose you ever fully grasped that concept.”
Bret said, “Look, I get that I messed up. I should have never taken advantage of Jenny’s trust. I should have never followed him and taken his picture, and I should have never handed it over to Album. It wasn’t worth it.”
“The money sounded like it was worth it.”
“I’m not trying to be cheesy here, but no amount of money would have been worth losing Jenny.”
Tess recoiled a little at the weight of being the recipient of that statement. “Then why did you do it?”
Tess’ question severed Bret’s vocal chords. His throat clenched. The air around his mouth escaped, and his tongue curled back. Every square of flesh on his body felt this question, and it was one few of them could answer.
The truth was written on his face, but he couldn’t say it. He looked away, into the desert horizon. Bret felt terse, as if he could spit out the “I did it because…” but incapable of finishing it. He knew but he didn’t know. His mind was torn in three directions, and none of them seemed right.
“It was a double bind,” he said. “Jenny told me about the affair, and that left me with two options, neither of them carrying conclusions I would consider acceptable.”
To their right, another balcony. It was empty, but full of furniture. To their left, an empty hanging caged slate of concrete. Behind them, warmth.
Tess said, “Well, whatever. You had a fight with your conscience and you lost. It’s done now, and you’re going to have to deal with Reggie at some point or another.”
“I’m sorry if you end up getting involved.”
“I won’t,” she said. “This is your problem. If they even sniff in my direction, I’ll be back home within the day, and you’ll never see me again.”
“Unless I go back with you,” Bret said.
“You wanted to leave way more than I did. I followed you, remember?”
It had been just over a year since they’d left Vancouver. It felt longer to Tess.
Tess had followed Bret, and it still hurt her a little. They had become friends after it all, but she was always doubtful it had any meaning other than proximity comfort. It sounded silly because it was the United States, but Tess and Bret were largely alone. It was the second set of months, after the fight and after Bret met Jenny that was hardest for Tess. Until then, she flew high.
A moment went by when both of them flashed back a year, to what happened between them and why Jenny was still a sore subject. Tess was happy it was over, but didn’t want to come across as righteous. She and Album had both convinced Bret to take the picture, and Tess had so far done her best to be cagey about her reasons. Like Album, she too believed it was an important piece of journalism and a real break for Bret. But she had also hoped things would turn exactly as they had.
Bret thought about a year ago too, but was not yet in the place to realize that perhaps he had made a mistake chasing and winning Jenny in the first place. Tess wanted him to figure that one out on his own.
Tess loosened the purple hair tie from her wrist and tied her hair back. She cracked her neck to the right. The sound broke their silence. She slid back inside. Bret didn’t follow. He looked out on the new morning, several feet sunken in thought.
Tess returned with one of her business cards. “I forgot to mention this yesterday,” she said, handing him the card.
“Your name is on the back.”
Bret turned the card over. He read it aloud. “Gerald Oldman? I don’t get it.”
Tess explained, “My party tonight, it’s at the Wynn’s new place.”
“I’ve heard that’s impossible to get into,” Bret said. “Well, for people like me, anyway.”
“You still got that miniature camera?”
“Yeah,” he said.
“Good, bring it.”
Bret looked closer at the ID. “So I’m Gerald? That’s who I say?”
Tess sat back down on her chair. “That’s the thing. You can’t just say it. You have to boast it. The only way you’re getting into that place is with two girls on your arm and an air of disposable thousands. Tonight’s going to cost you a few, but you’re loaded currently so it shouldn’t be a problem.”
“What about the two ladies?”
“What about them? Find two girls at the bar and invite them in. You’ve done this before.”
Bret studied the handwriting on the card. “Gerald wrote his name himself, didn’t he?”
Bret asked, “Where’s the phone number?”
Tess rolled her eyes back, bit her lip, and pulled back the sleeve on her right arm. Ballpoint pressure and a sweat of ink revealed a number on her wrist.
She said, with her eyes half closed and embarrassed, “He didn’t want me to lose it.”
“But he was okay with you losing his name?”
“That’s the lovely thing about men,” she said. “They don’t much care if you forget their names.”
Bret tucked the card away. He thought about the night for a second. “Is she going to be there?”
“Who, Paris? I heard she might make an appearance.”
“No no, not her,” Bret said. “Trice. That friend of yours who decided my nose wasn’t broken enough for her tastes.”
Tess still hadn’t forgiven herself for letting that happen to Bret. He’d only partially deserved it, and entrance to this club was her little way of trying to get some more forgiveness out of him. “I think so,” she admitted hesitantly. “But I’m sure the single punch was enough for her. No doubt it’s out of her system.”
“I don’t know if I should go,” Bret said. “The last thing I need is someone creating a scene where I’m involved. I’ll get ID’d and blacklisted, and I’d prefer not to have that happen too many times, you know?”
“Don’t sweat it,” Tess said, making a deal. “I’ll tell you what. I’ll divert her, so she’s never within a hundred feet of you at any time. You can do your thing without worrying about promo girl vindication.”
“It’s the worst kind, I’ve heard.”
# # #
Later in the night, after Bret out on assignment, , Album went home and lit a smoke on his balcony. He backed his fingers through his hair and looked out onto his abyss, taking in air and unknown smells. There was no wind tonight. There was nothing to do. He had his blog posts predated for another 24 hours. Bret had come through with a few shots from that barbeque, and that was enough to go on for the night. The first rule of being a professional blogger, Album always believed, was to stay off the computer whenever possible.
Album found his fridge, took out a cheap beer and returned to the balcony. He always thought smoking without drinking was pointless, and that drinking without smoking was the saddest. Drinking, smoking, and popular films; Album drank to that magic combo that kept people like him in business. It had been a few days since Hilton had donned his pages. He hoped the tip Bret had received from Tess in the morning proved right. It was around nine. Album figured Tess would be getting ready, and Bret would be charging his camera.
The drag finished, Album lit another, flicking the remains of old over the balcony onto the night-black parking lot below. He heard music from above. A party was going on. It was loud. The more he paid attention to the music, the more he heard the dozens of footsteps above. Right above him, a raging house party. Bootstomps and bass pounded through. But Album wasn’t an old man yet, and was never much bothered by noice. He smiled and forgot about it. He went back inside and hit the play button on his own system. He grabbed the remote and turned it up.
Album dropped on his couch. He thought back on the day of trying to help Bret move on, how it was probably all his fault but he didn’t care. He had always believed that people dig their own ditches. He’d been doing this for too long to have a thin skin about affecting people’s lives, even those of his friends.
Bret had said one thing that day that did affect Album. Bret said that it all made him want to go back home, but wasn’t sure if he could. As Album sat on his old couch, one leg over another, smoke and beer in the same hand, one foot planted solid, eyes cocked nowhere, he made a bullet list. Three things that bothered him about Bret, things he never really figured out.
• What about Vancouver was so unappealing that Las Vegas became a suitable sustitution?
• What about Tess was so unappealing that Jenny became a suitable substitute?
• What about whatever Bret did before he came here was so unappealing that paparazzi work became a suitable substitute?
These three questions were all one question, and the answer lied somewhere between Album and Bret, since Bret had come to Album in order to make all three moves. Album kept a mental sticky note in the corner of his mind’s eye with these questions. He made another, below it, with the one question that came from these three.
• What sucked so hard about Bret’s life in Vancouver that slumming in Vegas was a superior situation?
Album sucked back on the bottle, and peered out on the plains beyond the sharp city. The noise above him drowned out most thoughts, but one stung through. This city was a bleak amusement park aftermath caught up in bad decisions and worse role models. What was Las Vegas if not the bottom of the modern world? What was its purpose, if not to be the giant toilet bowl of America? More and more, Las Vegas failed to live up to its moniker. People openly spoke of things that happened there. It wasn’t scary anymore. And if it was just like any other city, if the planners of City Center were right, then what was the point at all? What did just any other American wasteland offer men like Bret, men like Album, women like Tess? What kind of escape was this?
He finished the smoke. He didn’t look at the stub as it fell. He looked out, and west. There was no sun. There was no moon. He went inside, dropped down to his couch, and picked up his game controller. After a few loading screens, he was elsewhere, snaking through brush and snapping necks of rookie infantry squads.
# # #
Bret smirked an asshole’s smirk. On the way to the bar, he found a pair of girls looking for free cover hanging out half a block away, getting ready in the reflection of a giant mirrored wall. The Wynn had tons of these fucking mirrors. They weren’t lit, so the reflections didn’t look as bad as half the people who tried to see themselves. Bret noticed the three friskers and the signs with red X’s over pictures of old cameras. A woman in a hoodie sweater felt Bret over. She was more aware than the bouncer. She felt more places than the average security. This was a big show; it was important to keep people like Bret out. But Bret wouldn’t be in his position if he failed at getting into the kinds of clubs who would never have him as a member.
He thanked the ladies and told them to go have a good time. He told them he’d catch up with them later after saying hi to a few friends. He never saw them again, and they assumed as much.
He grabbed an open piece of bar and asked for a rum and coke. A pretty, tightly dressed red-head stood next to him with a ten in her hand. As the bartender put the straw in his glass, he asked the girl what she was having. She looked at him, smiled in a way that showed she’d done this before but with faster luck, and told him to get her a Manhattan.
“Thanks,” she said, putting the ten back in her purse. “I’m Gina.”
“Gerald,” Bret said. “I’m from out of town, and I haven’t found anything to spend money on yet.”
Gina smiled, and when she received her drink, she clinked her martini glass with his short one. She was the perfect distraction.
They talked for a few moments about Gina’s promising acting career. She had an audition earlier in the day for a zombie movie where she would play the screaming victim that dies in the first four minutes. The audition, she told Bret, was so exciting, because she got to scream and she’s really good at that. Apparently. Bret, acting at his own best as Gerald, suggested that perhaps she should show him how she’d scream later.
“Oh, Gerry,” she said. “You’re cute.”
Bret ordered another round of drinks. He was doing his best to keep one eye on the growing crowd. At one point he thought he saw Jeremy Piven, but that could have been anyone in Vegas.
Gina was providing a great cover. She seemed genuinely interested in Bret so long as it appeared he had money or influence. To make sure this happened, he told her that he produced movies, which was one of the easiest covers because nobody ever asked what movies a producer has worked on, because not that many people knew what a producer actually does.
“What movies have you done?” Gina asked, immediately appearing more intelligent, or at least more opportunistic, than Bret had anticipated.
He said, “Mostly, I do Canadian movies.”
“Ooh,” she said. “Foreign. How edgy.”
She reached into her tiny black purse and pulled out a card. He looked at it and tucked it away. “I’ll call you,” he lied.
“Why do you keep checking your watch?” She asked.
“Time zone changes,” he said. “I’m from Toronto. It’s a few hours off, and I still don’t think I’ve got it right.”
“It’s 11:30,” she said. He ticked the button one more time.
“Got it,” he said, smiling. He’d taken half a dozen shots of the crowd, of models at the bar, at the dancing girls onstage. The problem with the watch camera was he couldn’t see if he had anything quality until he got home.
From across the room, Bret couldn’t see anything. The smoke machines were out. The lights were sparse and dim. The shots were probably going to be awful unless he could get above people and focus. These short, quick pictures were going to give him nothing.
“Hey, where are you going?” Gina asked. Bret excused himself. Said he needed to use the washroom. What he needed were better pictures. He wasn’t going to waste this opportunity.
He definitely owed Tess for getting him into this club. He also owed her for letting him vent the last few days. He’d spent Album’s free time, but it wasn’t enough. Time was the most surprising thing lost in the scuffle with Jenny and the governor. He hadn’t realized it had almost been a year since they’d left home until it all happened. After big fits of drama like that, milestones feel more important. It was just time, but it felt less precious, more used, and sullied.
There were plenty of half-wit celebrities. Bret knew groups were better than one at a time, so he aimed wide. The photos would be face-tagged and geo-tagged before being uploaded, so everyone would know where the party was and exactly who was there.
On his way to the stairs, Bret ran into Tess. They’d done this juke a few times before, and none of them felt comfortable. But they still smiled. Tess had work to do, and hanging out with any one man too long meant she wasn’t pushing proper. She shifted away, trying not to look suspicious. She smiled at him like any other club-goer. He looked at her like any other promo girl. It was insulting on both fronts, and both of them felt slimy. It was one thing to perform a job that takes away your character, but to perform a job that makes you forget the character of your friends and lovers is something else entirely.
Bret ascended a spiral staircase to the second level. He passed by another bar and the bathrooms. It was midnight by this point. He looked over the railing, watch-camera pointing toward the masses. He wasn’t the only guy looking down to the crowd. Guys in cheaper suits than Bret’s rental looked around for their dates, or for new ones.
A few minutes passed. Bret waited. He knew he shouldn’t have. He knew he had to keep moving in a place like this. Take on a character. Be Gerald. Tess took great care of him. Bret wondered what she had done with the real Gerald. If anything happened. If she just used him in ways the old man wouldn’t have even noticed. He knew he had to be a brash asshole who could pay for entire women for the entire night. He needed to blow some cash. He thought, where did Gina go?
As he began to leave, he noticed some bright blonde in the crowd below. He stared for a moment. Other men stared. He heard the name, Paris. His eyes focused. Was it her? His fingers found the button on the watch. He did his best to catch her, even without seeing her. He needed to get down there to get anything worthwhile.
Bret moved towards the stairs, but he was stopped. A sweaty, cool arm wrapped around his throat quicker than he could get away. Someone tried to choke him. He could feel the fingers on his back. Rings. They felt like plastic.
Bret turned, trying to get away. He saw her, and got a better look this time. Trice, Tess’ beleaguered promo girl friend, the one who bloodied his nose the other day. Her face was unchanged, clenched, tracing his jaw with her eyes, undressing the skin to the bone, hoping to do nothing but damage.
“I can’t believe you’re in here,” she said. “This is a private event. No photographers. How did you get in?”
Bret didn’t answer. He didn’t want to be seen. He had to get away from her, far away. He needed to graze by Paris on his way out, and then he needed to get as far away from the bouncer as possible.
“Look,” Bret said. “I’m sorry if something happened to your sister because of me. If I could go back and take that shot back, I would.”
The apology held no currency. The angry woman’s face stayed stern. Bret backed away, towards the stairs. His back hit something that wasn’t staircase and it wasn’t wall. He looked behind. He ran right into a brick wall of a security guard.
“This guy bothering you Trice?” He announced in a full, low voice that boomed above the music. Bret wondered if this wasn’t the plan the whole time, if Trice hadn’t noticed him watching the crowd for as long as he did. Always keep moving, you idiot, Bret thought.
Trice inched closer to Bret. She crawled around, and whispered into the guard’s ear. She had to reach. As she finished, the guard looked down at Bret with an authoritative lack of emotion he’d seen dozens of times before. He was about to ask Bret to come with him. He was about to take him to the front door and kick him out.
“Come with me, sir,” he insisted. Bret looked at Trice. If he had known her better, the smile she gave would have meant ten more things than he saw. The smile would have indicated a sort of regret, something indigestible and hard in her stomach, a regret she might have later, even though it tasted so sweet in the tasting. The smile might have been an apology, a comeuppance, a pay, but one not wanted or really deserved. Bret might have seen that smile as something of a handshake, a business transaction with too many feelings involved. But Bret didn’t know Trice, and could not understand any of her little cues.
The guard did not take Bret to the front door, nor did he take him anywhere close to the glistening annoyance of blonde hair that might have been Paris Hilton. Tonight was going to be a bust. But Bret wasn’t worried about that. He just worried where he was being led.
Eventually, through the crowd and the corridors snaking behind the stairs and bars, they found a door. It led to the kitchen, then to the garbage collection room. 90s-era florescent tubes barely lit the cement hallway. In a few moments, Bret saw a door. He could feel the night breeze through it.
“Outside?” Bret asked. Before he could finish his word, the guard swung his leg-sized right arm. His fist cracked against Bret’s left ribcage. His right side crunched against the wall.
Another right hand came, this time to Bret’s jaw. Blood coated his teeth, and some escaped his mouth in an ugly spit. He felt like his jaw had been broken. Bret lost the ability to see for a moment, but he felt the next shot to his chest. He collapsed, his knees surrendering to pressure. On his knees, bloody and nearly unconscious, the guard picked him up by the shoulders of his sport coat.
He slapped his cheeks to make sure Bret’s eyes were open. Bret kept them open best he could, but he was seconds from blacking out.
“Wise guy,” the guard exclaimed. He had a deep baritone voice, one that might sound nice disconnected from threats of violence. “You’re going to wake up in a hospital or a gutter or a police station, and that choice completely depends on the kindness of strangers. The choice you get to make is whether to ever come back here. Don’t think too hard about it.”
“Trice…Trice….She doesn’t…” Bret couldn’t make out more than one word.
“She isn’t any of your business. You’ve already done all the damage you’re going to do to her. Now, I’m going to hit you one more time, and then I’m going to drag you out to where we dump the drunks and the rapists and the cheats where you belong, you parasite piece of shit.”
Bret tried to lift his arms. He got his right up, but his left arm hurt too much. The right made no difference. The guard was fast and strong and motivated. Bret stood no chance, and in a few seconds was knocked flat out by a straight left to the jaw.