Cadillac Payback Crew: Isaiah

**Cadillac Payback Second Edition will be available through Amazon on March 18, 2021.**

**Cadillac Payback: Rising Tide will be available through Amazon on April 15, 2021**

I make the joint’s finale as hard and consuming as possible, with the hope that if it blasts me well enough, I can fade from this conversation. Maybe if I never exhale, I’ll float away and be higher than emotion, and I’ll forget everyone and everything. 

It ain’t me. It ain’t me! Dammit, C.C.R.

My chest feels like a compactor. Pressure builds in my forehead until, bitterly, I lose the battle against my body and blow away my breath. Escape plan failed. Deliberately, I reach into her space to drop the roach into the bottle, watch her gaze travel along my forearm, then retreat. 

“What now?” I ask, staring forward so hard I can’t actually see anything. “Do we find out why they shot him?”

“No,” she answers, a little too quickly, in the same unsettling tone she used upon finding Charlie dead. 

She exercises the ceded control, brings my eyes to hers with a single word. She establishes a firm connection and manly rise in my gut. She’s too damn young to be so damn persuasive. I’d love to act like she’s a naïve child, but I know she’s a quick learner, a latent observer. 

She says, “I don’t care why they did it. I’m going to destroy them, that’s why I told you all that I understand if you want out.”

I scoff at the ground. I can’t keep my reaction in check like I told myself I should. She’s playing such a dangerous game, toying with those closest to her.

“You know none us wants out. You knew it before you ever said those words,” I answer, my frustration making my voice climb in volume, bringing her eyes to light on me like some blessing, sweltering and irresistible.

Her lids are weighted, like maybe the thoughts that cross her mind are not of vengeance, but of sex. I know her well enough to know that it’s a turn-on for her when men stand up to her, something Josh fails to do. Yet she still wants him.

“How would I know what any of you wants?” she asks softly. Her words could be innocent if it were anyone else saying them. She has to know at least one thing we all want from her.

I look away from her, for anything that might be a distraction, and scoot just a little closer to the edge of the hood, in case I need to make a quick escape. I can’t pretend the heat she lays on me doesn’t make my testosterone surge. I let her see my rare reaction to her, something she recognizes and, I believe, relishes. 

I say, “Just be careful with the forces you’re fucking around with, don’t turn your allies against one another.” 

My tone is harder than she’s used to from me. She’s high. I can tell she is, because she lies back against the hood of the car she has inherited and takes a long breath. She props her arms behind her head, resting it in her palms, and I can almost see her mind wander away to a less tense moment. I wonder – inevitably – if she’s thinking of me. 

Sometimes, I write a character who presents himself with hardly any provocation, who defines his personality within a few sentences. Isaiah isn’t that guy. He was as difficult for me as he is for the other characters in Cadillac Payback, and he was so stingy with the details of his past that I didn’t know much about him until the second book. That’s part of what makes me love him so much.

Izzy is the old gun of the group when the story begins, and he acts every bit of it. He makes avoidance an art, always squirming just out of arm’s reach, yet not afraid to stand up to Maria. He is wise beyond his years, but he’s not the type to share the depths of that wisdom with the younger members of the crew.

I feel like being an author is kind of like being a parent. You shouldn’t play favorites with your characters. Maybe. You still do. Izzy’s transition between books is probably my favorite out the four, and the amount of personality that came out in Rising Tide blew me away. I remember finishing his chapters and staring at the words I just wrote, wondering where they came from and who was this guy I thought I knew.

I present an excerpt from Cadillac Payback: Rising Tide:

I’m stoned. I’m so baked that I think if a fish did bite the line of the fishing pole in the sand beside me, I’d probably let it win. I have plenty of poles. Though that is my favorite reel.

I push the brim of my brush hat out of my eyes, lazily scanning my rig, following the line out into the surf. I hear a giggle to my left, and glance that way to see two girls, mid-twenties – maybe – in tiny bikinis. They’re checking me out. I give them a little smirk, pull my brush hat over my eyes, and relax against the thatch of my discount store lawn chair.

Sure, it’s nice to know I’ve still got it, but anything beyond distant appreciation is a hassle. The last thing I need are the complications that come with women. What to wear, where to eat, who to kill? Trouble, every single one.

It’s hot, but the ocean breeze keeps the heat at a steady roll. It’s about 10:30, judging by the sun’s slant. By noon, the beach will be drenched in unforgiving oppression, but just now I’m enjoying the burn. 

It’s my day off, and I’m almost out of beer. I am out of weed. Already there are two errands to be achieved today. With luck, that’s all I’ll fucking do.

The hardest part about transitioning to life lived mostly on my own has been having to buy weed. OK, maybe it’s not the hardest, but it’s been the most annoying. Running out is the worst kind of bullshit.

Paying street prices is an insult. Having rookie assholes trying to haggle me while I silently hand them a lesson in trade, it’s demeaning. But what can I say to them? In my last life, you would have been so far beneath me that you never would have met me. No, of course I can’t say that. So I grit my teeth through it, pay too much, and retreat to my little beachside apartment.

I don’t go out, don’t drink in bars, don’t want friends. I don’t own a TV. I spend long hours doing hard labor on a fishing trawler, where all the guys think my name’s Jonathan, and call me Doc – like Doc Holliday, because of the time I shot a flare down the throat of a shark we accidentally hauled up.

I saved Dave from losing an arm. The guys thought it was awesome. I never did address how naturally it came to me to point and shoot. We just dumped that shark overboard and didn’t talk about it. Unless, of course, we were tossing back tall boys at the bait house after a long day and too many beers.

I enjoy the work. It keeps me busy. My time at sea has whittled my physique into something harder than it was when I was into “produce” distribution, and bar hopping with Charlie. I like the ocean. There are a lot less assholes out there. It’s my day off, and I’m still fishing.

Izzy’s Rising Tide playlist songs:

House of the Rising Sun by The Animals

Off the Road by the Record Company

Them Shoes by Patrick Sweany

View full playlist here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLSgJKLWWisA-ZmHhzzvPOacwXC485gR4c

Published by ajthewordwitch

Writing is in my bones, my blood, and my heart.

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