Dawson’s arm lashed out and backhanded the kid. The boy flew back and crashed to the gravel, hands covering his face. Dawson advanced on the crumpled figure, and Jake jammed his foot against the gas pedal.
“I’m fine,” he said. “Just gotta take care of something. I’ll call you back.”
He tossed the phone to the passenger seat as he maneuvered the truck toward the fork in the road. The heat crawled up his neck, flushing his face in a crimson hue, feeling the sting of the strike on his face as if Dawson struck him. Jake’s father was the master of the backhand slap, and Jake the recipient of it many times. The perfect balance of speed and stealth—you never saw it coming. As Jake wrung the life from the steering wheel and spun right at the fork in the road, he had to get his shit under control or it would be Dawson’s neck beneath his hands. That wouldn’t end well for anyone.
By the time Jake roared up the driveway, a woman made a feeble attempt to stand between Dawson and the boy. Another quick lash from Dawson’s hand sent her sprawling on the ground beside the kid. Jake slid to a stop in a cloud of dust and grabbed his pistol under the seat. Dawson jerked his head at the disturbance, a snarl rising on his stubbled face. Jake drew a deep breath of sanity through his nose and out his mouth, releasing the gun. It would be a horrible idea to bring it, and he wouldn’t need it anyway. If he couldn’t take care of a drunk wife beater, then he might as well give it all up and go work as a janitor somewhere.
Jake stomped from the truck, noting the blood trickling from the boy’s nose. Old, purple and yellow bruises lined the woman’s arm like a bad tattoo. The familiar scent of whiskey wafted from Dawson as Jake drew close, hurling him back to the house in Warsaw when he would lay on the floor after a beat down from his father, his mother shielding him from further blows.