PART 1: OUTRUNNING LEGACIES
CONOR “FROST” JESSUP
Some days, I just want to run. How easy would it be to bail on this life? I could jump on my motorcycle with a few things packed in a bag and just keep fucking going. Start over somewhere else. Be someone besides Billy “Wheels” Jessup’s son or Bronco Parrish’s nephew. I could join another motorcycle club or start my own. I could pick my men, fight for turf like my father did decades ago with Bronco, Rooster, Akron, Drummer, and Lowell. None of this “inheritance” shit where I have dozens of eyes looking over my shoulder, scrutinizing my every move, nearly begging me to fail.
People around here believe I’ll take over the Elko Executioners Motorcycle Club one day. After Bronco is ready to step back, and before my cousin, Wyatt, can grab the president spot for himself. I only have to be patient.
Once I get my coronation, they’ll let me stand in front of them and have my every fucking breath analyzed. Am I doing what Bronco would do? Would my dead father be proud?
When I think of the Executioners expecting me to be my father’s son rather than myself, I’m ready to disappear into the world. I have money, a fake ID, and a burner phone. Leaving would be easy.
My mother is healthier lately—not so paranoid or clingy and with fewer bouts of panic and rage. Barbie Parrish Jessup will never be normal, of course. No one walks off mental illness. The pills have helped, but she only started them to appease her younger brother, Bronco.
Deep inside, Mom doesn’t believe she needs them. She claims we’re the ones with the problem. Yet, she knows if she quits taking the pills, Bronco will close himself off from her. The man lives right next door. For over four decades, he’s been the center of her universe. Losing Bronco’s respect and attention is too much for her to bear. That’s why she religiously takes her pills, whether she thinks they’re necessary or not.
In the past, if I bailed on Elko, my mom could have been left emotionally crippled. But she can handle my absence now. Barbie has friends, hobbies, and shit to do that doesn’t involve me. I could bail on Elko and the Executioners without her life changing too much.
Of course, the reality is Bronco doesn’t want to retire, no matter what he says. The club runs smoothly. He rarely needs to bust skulls anymore. My uncle can sit on his ass and still be in charge. He feels pressure to retire because my cousin wants to be the next president. If Wyatt weren’t Bronco’s nephew, he’d have been dead years ago. Instead, his bullshit festers, creating a false sense of time running short. Otherwise, Bronco could remain president for decades.
Though no one really needs me to stay in Elko, I act as their security blanket. I’m the one guy willing to take on Wyatt for Bronco’s job and the person capable of soothing Mom when her pills don’t smooth out all her hard, paranoid edges.
I used to believe I wanted to be president. For years, I’ve prepared to take over. But the time never comes. Life in Elko is easy, especially in our private community—the Woodlands at Dry Creek.
I often think about building a house on my lot in the community’s newest section, but what’s the point of moving out of Mom’s place? With only two of us in a four thousand square foot home, we stay out of each other’s way. Except for those dark times when she follows me around or has a meltdown. Then, people expect me to fix her.
Managing Barbie used to be my father’s job, but he wasn’t built for such a responsibility. Billy Jessup was a selfish man who refused to pull his head out of his ass long enough to organize himself, let alone his paranoid wife. When things were good, my parents’ chemistry lit up a room. When things went south, my father hid at the Executioners’ clubhouse while my mom panicked over every little noise. I would sit with her at an upstairs window, watching for any signs of Wheels returning to the Woodlands.
Barbie would speak in hushed tones, afraid of spies. “People in Elko hated the Parrish family. My father was a violent man, and they were right to hate him. My mother was a crazy twat, and they were right to hate her,” she would whisper, tightly holding my hand as she used her other one to look through binoculars. “But Bronco, Bambi, and I made more for ourselves. This town will never forgive us for digging our way out of the gutter.”
As a child, I pictured my grandmother as a bad person. When I got older, I realized she was just sick like my mom. People in Elko don’t treat mental illness as a medical condition. There’s no sympathy for the “wackos” or the “weirdos.” My grandmother spent her life descending deeper into psychosis. When she died, no one really cared.
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