Meet Billy in the following excerpts from Exit Strategy. (An adult, psycholigical thriller)
When I was a kid I had an imaginary friend named Billy . . . Billy was a freckle-faced redhead, kind of a cross between Opie Taylor and Howdy Doody. He was strong, fiercely loyal, and always ready for an adventure . . . He loved a good joke and a cold orange soda, and even though Dad took me to a few Red Sox games, it was Billy who got me excited about baseball.
Billy was always there, looking outfor Jonas. And Billy was one tough mother f---er. Billy Bad Ass, he liked to call himself. As we approached our teens he took to wearing leather and chains and cut his hair into a Mohawk. Spiked, black leather cuffs bonded each wrist. The language from his mouth could have embarrased a sailor. He was nothing like me, but he was my closest friend. Billy would protect me from the school bully, the neighbor's ankle-biting chihuahua, and the monster under my bed . . .
If a train leaves Boston, when will it crash?
"I had to protect you. That's why I'm here."
I spin around and my eyes freeze upon the lone figure leaning against the wheelhouse door frame--a stout, redheaded twelve-year-old in a casual stance, hands shoved halfway into the pockets of his faded denim jeans . . . He wears a white tee shirt with the sleeves cut off, and black motorcycle boots . . . For the breadth of a moment, I am speechless.
"Still with the Mohawk, Billy?" My voice returns. "Are you serious?" I thought he might have outgrown that by now, yet nothing seems to have changed in 26 years except for the addition of a gold ring in the side of his right nostril and a barbed-wire tattoo that coils around the entire length of his left arm . . .
If a train leaves Boston, does it have to bring Billy?
"If it hadn't been for Cissy, you and Trudy would've stayed together. So I invited Cissy up to Hellman's Point . . ."
"Stop it Billy . . ."
Billy's tongue comes to a halt, then he smiles again and gives a wistful sigh. "I put my hands on her throat and started to squeeze. It was radical. Watching the life inch out with every desperate gasp for a breath she couldn't take. She wants to breathe. You can see it in her eyes. You can feel it with every shake of her dwindling fight against your hands wrapped around her throat. There's nothing like it in the world . . . One moment she's there--the next, she's gone. Totally f---ing awesome." He's staring out the window.
(You sick son of a bitch!) and I shiver as he turns his gaze back to me. The moments tick past in a silent march as we just stare at one another.
"My God, Billy. Do you ever stop to think about the possible consequences of your actions?"
He gives a cool, smug smirk. "All the time . . . I'm going to go see what kind of soda you've got. Do you want one?"
If a train leaves Boston, does it ever stop screaming?
He looks up at me with an oblique, evil smirk. "You're all I ever had, Jonas. You know that, don't you? My life was all about you. And you can't f---ing lie to me, so don't even try, or I'll make you live to regret it. My life can still be all about you, but you won't like it. I've always been stronger than you, Jonas. Always."
Frozen tundra in the arctic spring. He has just buried me beneath it. The boy who had saved me from certain madness is now going to finish driving me into it, full speed ahead . . .