Seventeen-year-old Bryan had been on his own for a long time now. Life was tough in his rural Texas town, but he was giving it his best shot. Things were looking up when he entered into an intense relationship with a street-smart Mexican girl named Rosa. Then a dark turn takes place. Harassed by local bullies, Bryan's anger and suppressed hostility rises to the surface. It soon becomes clear that his violent lashing out is more than just self-defense, or even a troubled teenager's need for revenge. Bryan's friends have been dabbling in the forbidden world of the occult, unwittingly releasing a form of evil they never imagined. Bryan is the target. His soul is the prize. Rosa is perceptive enough to realize something sinister is going on, and that Bryan is - quite literally - not really himself anymore. A malevolent battle is being waged just outside the visible world. Bryan's life intersects with bikers, cops, truck drivers and many others, but none of them can see what is truly happening. A dark entity is hell-bent on using the homeless youth for its own malevolent purposes...with only the love a determined young woman standing in its way.
"I'm glad that shit's done," Bryan said as he climbed into the cab of the semi on the passenger side. He'd just completed unloading a trailer full of frozen hamburgers, breakfast sandwiches, and other vending machine foods. Uncle Gary, not really his uncle, gave Bryan a job as a lumper to help him get along. Most loads he delivered were on dedicated routes, and the longest Bryan stayed on the road was a day or two during the week. Uncle Gary told Bryan that he could use him three or four days a week and would pay him an honest wage, which he needed it for sure. School had let out for the summer the week before, and he was going to be a senior now.
Bryan, now seventeen years old, with dirty blonde hair, bangs a little too long and hanging in his eyes, left home at fifteen and never went back. His mom had abruptly run off with another man, abandoning him and his father. Bryan's dad was already an alcoholic, and now he began hitting the bottle even harder. The functioning alcoholic soon became a deadbeat drunk. Unpaid bills piled up, his dad didn't even buy groceries, and Bryan's resentment toward his father festered.
His aunt stopped by to check on the broken family after her calls went unanswered, and she took Bryan away from his home in Garland to stay with her in Sulfur Springs, Texas. Neither Bryan nor his dad protested the matter.
Bryan's Aunt Caryn had enrolled him at school as a sophomore. Although he passed all his classes, he was getting into fights continuously. Being a city slicker kid with a chip on his shoulder alienated him and made him a target for the locals. Bryan, however, quickly made friends with the misfits of the school. And although they were loyal, it didn't help his case as he continued to get into trouble.
Bryan's troubles put a strain on his aunt and uncle's marriage. In short order, it became apparent that he was in the way, with his uncle calling Bryan a loser and a fuck-up behind closed doors while arguing with his aunt. He continually heard them fighting and had enough. He soon left to stay with his friend Russ.
Russ's dad, Kemp, was a burnout who owned a local comic book shop and was never home, so it was easy for Bryan to crash there. He ended up staying with Russ, and his senile grandmother, for half of his junior year. Bryan decided it would be best to leave after Kemp came home high, from God-knows-what, and accused Bryan of stealing from him. He might have borrowed the occasional pack of smokes from the store, but Bryan didn't take from friends.
Bryan got pissed off and told Kemp to go fuck himself. In response, Kemp pulled a .25 caliber pistol out of a leg holster and pointed it at Bryan's head. The defiant teen pushed his chin into the air and said, "Go ahead, you piece of shit, pull the trigger!"
That's precisely what Russ's dad did, but the gun malfunctioned. Bryan's blood went cold with fear, then it boiled with anger, and he pushed Kemp, the skinny-no-good hippy, as hard as he could to the floor.
"Get the fuck out of here!" Russ had yelled.
Which Bryan did, thinking that Russ was now against him, too. It wasn't until later Bryan learned that Russ told him to leave for fear of what his father might do next and not because he blamed Bryan for pushing his dad down.
He bolted out of the room and through the back door as he heard Kemp shouting expletives. And as soon as Bryan reached the end of the dirt driveway, he heard gunshots fired in random succession. Bryan ran down the dirt road that connected to Highway 11, which in turn continued into Sulfur Springs. He walked the shoulder of the highway for another three miles until he arrived at a convenience store, where he used the payphone to call his friend Scotty.
Scotty picked Bryan up, and he stayed the night with him. Scotty's mom pitied Bryan and let him stay there until the end of his junior year. During that time, he met Uncle Gary, Scotty's blood uncle. Uncle Gary quickly took a liking to Bryan. And now that the school year had come to an end, Scotty would be leaving to visit his dad in Georgia, meaning that Bryan was going to have to find another place to live. Bryan's living arrangements were what Uncle Gary asked him about now.
"Where are you going to go when Scotty takes off for the summer?"
"I don't know. I might try to stay with my brother in Terrell. His ol' lady is kind of a bitch and hard to be around, but he said I could crash there for the summer," Bryan said as he buckled his seatbelt.
Uncle Gary fired up the rig and let out a kind of sigh and said, "Give that a try. If that doesn't work out, I'll come up with something."
"Thanks," Bryan said as Uncle Gary drove the refrigerated unit out of the warehouse dock. They were currently in Waco, and it would be a couple of hours before they were back in Dallas.
"You got anyplace to be tonight?" Uncle Gary asked.
"Not really. Rosa is off at some church camp thing and won't be back until Sunday evening. I was just going to my brother's house to work on my truck, but he's not expecting me or anything."
"Well, you're staying with me tonight. We're meeting up with Robert when we get into Dallas."
"That sounds cool. And I appreciate you giving me work. It sucks having to hustle for little jobs here and there. I've been getting by, though."
Uncle Gary scratched his greying beard and looked over at Bryan and said, "How's that little Mazda truck running that you bought off Cephus' car lot?"
"It starts right up and runs, but she sounds a little rough. My brother was going to help me tune it up this weekend."
"It's not a bad little truck for six-hundred dollars. I'm just glad you got some wheels. And I could put your ass to work with that little pick-up. I'll make sure you can keep some money in those pockets of yours. You got to have some scratch to take that good-looking girlfriend of yours out," Uncle Gary added.
"Yeah, Rosa likes to keep on the move. Which usually costs money."
Uncle Gary nodded his head while keeping his eyes on the road and said, "You don't worry about a damn thing, boy. We're going to get you through this summer and your senior year. Class of '93. I'll be go-to-hell. You and Scotty will be full-grown men soon."
"Yeah. It's kind of scary. I'm sure I'll have to join the Army or something after I graduate," Bryan speculated.
"Well, you don't worry about that shit right now. And as long as you're with me, ain't nothing going to happen to you. You just pay attention to what I tell you, and you'll be fine."
"Thanks, Uncle Gary."
"No sweat, kid. Now get some shut-eye. I've got a big night planned for you. We're gonna celebrate you becoming a Senior."
Bryan smiled and shut his eyes. The hum on the diesel soon lulled him to sleep.
Bryan woke up as Uncle Gary pulled up to Bickford Foods in Dallas. Uncle Gary got out of the cab to enter the security code into the number pad that accessed the yard. Bryan looked out the window at the surrounding city. He saw bums lying around and pushing grocery carts and wondered why money-making companies were always in such slummy areas.
"Go pull the car around while I finish my log," Uncle Gary said after parking his rig, tossing the keys to Bryan.
"Alright," he said, still heavy with sleep.
Bryan got out of the tractor-trailer and went to where Uncle Gary had parked his car. After finding the Cadillac, he rolled the windows down to let the summer's heat escape and started the motor. Bryan turned the air conditioner on only after he felt the engine had warmed up properly. Uncle Gary wanted his a/c 'chunkin' snowballs.'
After feeling the car had sufficiently cooled off, he pulled next to Uncle Gary's truck and waited. Finishing up, Uncle Gary secured the diesel and approached the Cadillac. Bryan started to get out of the driver's seat when Uncle Gary said, "You stay in the cockpit. I'm going to have you stop by the beer joint."
Without further explanation, Bryan got back into the driver's seat and headed to the nearest liquor store.
Uncle Gary finished his beer and told Bryan to pull into the parking lot of a strip club directly off I-35. He belched and said, "Let's go get something to eat."
"In there?" Bryan asked, meaning the strip club.
"Yeah, man, they got good steaks."
"I'm not old enough to go in there," Bryan logically pointed out.
"What I tell you? You're with me. Now let's go eat."
Bryan nodded and followed Uncle Gary to the front door. As they walked in, club-style music was pulsing, and the lights were turned down low.
"Who's the kid?" the doorman asked.
"He's with me," Uncle Gary said, casually.
"Come on, kid." The...