Water is the latest release from author Ethan Holmes. Water is available in paperback and ebook format on most devices. Tap on the book cover for the paperback or Amazon Kindle version or visit your favorite book store such as Apple Itunes, Nook, Sony, etc. The following is an excerpt from Water.
“Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting over.” Mark Twain
Doug Holloway sat awkwardly, even uncomfortably, on the smelly, disheveled bed.
Half-heartedly tapping on his wireless keyboard, he paused to run his hands over his butt and thighs, trying to rub out the soreness of three miserable days on the road. He arched and stretched and twisted.
“Damn, my back is killing me!” There was no one in the small, cheap motel room to say that to but he felt he should say it anyway.
Doug kept shifting around, unable to find a tolerable position after being trapped for hours at a time in the thinly cushioned seat of his beat up Toyota Corolla. He tried to concentrate on the pile of emails waiting in his inbox. His cellphone told him he had eight voicemails waiting for him too, in case he got bored with the laptop.
None of his friends or family had warned him that you could drive a hundred miles or more at a time in Texas while running across nothing much more significant or noteworthy than an occasional tumbleweed.
Doug thought about his home state. “If you did that in Florida you’d at least end up at the beach.”
He hit the delete button on several messages without reading them.
“I’m too tired to mess with this.” He looked around, wondering who he thought he was talking to in the small room.
He smirked at himself in the wall mirror hanging over two dingy sinks ten feet away. He couldn’t figure out which was the worst thing about the trip from Tampa to Odessa; those rank, dust-blown truck stops, seventy miles apart, or the coffee that tasted like it would work just fine in your car’s gas tank.
He sat there for a moment, recalling the last occasion when he spent what he thought was a long time in a car. He smiled as he remembered the trip, driving Alligator Alley across South Florida during his sophomore year at UCF. The differences were notable. First, he wasn’t alone. Second, it wasn’t dry, barren and empty. Later, it didn’t seem like that much of a trip, just a hundred and seven miles, as he and his two college buddies made the trip from Naples to Fort Lauderdale to meet some beach babes on spring break.
The scenery was green and lush along the tight, two-lane road and the mid-summer humidity was stifling thanks to the non-functioning AC in the car. The trip was over in two hours. But here in Odessa, Texas, it was a different story. The dirt and dust-laden dryness made your cheeks stick to your teeth. The long, tedious, boring stretches of absolutely nothing made the thirty-year old engineer stir crazy.
Doug kept poking out distracted acknowledgements of trivial corporate emails, thinking more about the possibility of finding a new job when he returned home than anything else.
He pushed the keyboard away and pulled back the frayed, yellowish bed spread exposing two pillows that bore a strange resemblance to the lumpy mashed potatoes his Grandma used to make.
Doug reluctantly flopped down on the bed and stared at a stained, popcorn textured ceiling that looked worse than the pillows.
“This is one of those self-reflective moments in life,” he thought as he lay there, “except I’m having this ‘Hallmark moment’ in the most unlikely of places.”
He turned his head toward the nightstand and thought about picking up the dirty tan phone to order pizza from God knows what pizza hellhole there might be in this town.
Something pinched the skin on the back of his neck and he sat up quickly. He instinctively ran his hand across the area and he rose up on one elbow to look at the bed. What he saw made him shudder and jump onto the floor.
“Bedbugs! Christ!” He jumped around the room trying to brush himself off.
A knock on the door startled Doug, drawing his attention from the squirming critters on the sheet and his fairly fruitless gyrations.
Rubbing the back of his neck, he stood there for a moment wondering who would be knocking on his door. He knew no one in Odessa, hadn’t ordered anything for dinner yet and wasn’t expecting a soul.
A second, louder, more insistent knock came. Doug edged over to the peephole and peered out. All he could see in the unlit, rapidly darkening Texas evening were the silhouettes of two figures.
Given the neighborhood where he was staying, he thought twice about opening the door.
“Who is it?”
There was no response. Thanks, in part, to mental and physical fatigue, Doug decided to just open the door a crack and tell the strangers they had the wrong room.
As soon as the antiquated bronze chain latch came off and the door cracked open, it crashed into Doug. The door edge hit him square in the forehead and he went sprawling backward onto the thinly carpeted floor.
The two strangers quickly entered the room and shut the door. One of them reached over and turned out the light of the single lamp in the room. The other intruder walked over, looming above the prostrate, groggy engineer on the floor.
“What the hell is going on?” Doug drew the back of his right wrist across his bloody forehead and struggled to make out the figure standing over him. “Who are you people?”
The dark figure leaned over. Doug couldn’t make out a face.
“Are you Doug Holloway from Tampa?” The voice was husky and low, coming in a whisper.
“Who wants to know? Who, the fuck, are you?”
Struggling to regain full use of his senses he added a rather futile and shaky, “Get out of my room!”
The shadowy stranger pulled out a six inch long stiletto jackknife. It made a sharp, distinctive clack that sounded, to Doug, like the second half of a cocking shotgun. It made him flinch reflexively and throw up his hands. The stranger knocked them aside, swiftly set the knife point at the bottom of Doug’s neck, right at the entry point to his rib cage, and drove it through to the floor.
Doug gurgled and his warm blood splayed out in a growing pool on the dingy carpet as the figure held the knife in place. He brought his hands up to the hands holding the knife, his eyes fluttering. He was choking on his own blood. He struggled briefly but his ability to fight waned as quickly as his blood leaked out onto the floor.
The other party-crasher took Doug’s tablet and keyboard from the bed and set them on the small table by the window. This person took out a similar knife, clicked it open, slid a piece of paper down onto the blade and drove the knife through the keyboard, effectively impaling the device to the table.
The two figures headed for the door, turning the light back on as they left. The note pinned on the keyboard read, “Death to Frackers!”