Hazy Days and Cloudy Nights

How It All Got Started 033: Carson
Free serial fiction from author and creator Matthew Wayne Selznick.


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Friday, June 22, 1984

Car did not have an easy time getting Lina out of the car and into the house. She wasn’t a big girl, but she was dead weight, and he did not want to hurt her accidentally.

First, he got her arm across his shoulders and held her tight around her waist. Hopefully, she would stumble along with him.

She didn’t.

Her feet dragged along the driveway.

He’d never tried carrying anyone before, but there didn’t seem to be any other right way to do this. Car crouched down and hooked his left arm under Lina’s knees. He wasn’t especially weak or especially strong, so it took some effort to straighten his legs, keep her steady, and not fall backwards. He grunted and hoped none of his neighbors were watching.

“Okay. Here we go.”

Car lurched up the slope of his front walk and got to the front door, which was when he realized his keys were in his front pocket.

He needed a free hand. He eased Lina’s feet back to the ground.

Bracing Lina between himself and the door frame, Car fished out his keys and opened the door. He got Lina through the door as carefully as possible and closed and locked the door.

One more time picking up Lina. Her breath tickled his neck and she mumbled something unintelligible.

“Almost there, Lina…”

He carried her back to his bedroom and lay her on the bed without bothering to pull down the spread. Instead, he folded it over her and hoped it would be enough of a blanket.

Lina mumbled something else and even moved a little as she seemed to settle in. Carson felt something loosen in his chest. He let out a long, shuddering breath.

“Oh, god, Lina,” he whispered. “No more nights like tonight. Jesus.”

She slept.

Car padded into the kitchen and got himself a drink of water. He noticed the answering machine’s little red LED blinking.

He was afraid it was Lina’s parents, but he wasn’t about to call them until Lina was awake and coherent. There’d be hell to pay, but the price wouldn’t be that much higher tomorrow morning. Lina needed to rest.

Hell, he needed to rest. Now that she was truly safe, the adrenaline he hadn’t realized was sustaining him melted away in a flood. He stumbled back to the bedroom, lay down beside his friend, and closed his eyes.

“Lina…” He was hit by another wave of relief. He blinked tears.

“Okay. Okay.”

She was safe. Crystal DuBois, imagine that, beat the shit out of Eric Finn—he’d be feeling that tomorrow, the fucker. And Lina was safe, here, with him.

He rolled onto his side and pulled her close against him. “You’re safe.”

Car’s sleep was thick with anxiety and cloudy threats. When the phone rang, it yanked him awake with a start.

The clock said four eighteen. For the rest of his life, more often than not, he would inexplicably manage to look at a clock at least once a week at exactly four eighteen.

Sleep fuzzed and blunted his reluctance to face Lina’s parents. He picked up the phone.


“Carson… Carson, thank God. Thank god.”

It wasn’t Grant or Amanda Porter.

“Uncle Mic..?”

“Carson… Carson, buddy, I need you to wake up, okay? I need to tell you something, kiddo. Okay? Are you… are you ready?”




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