8. Battle Fronts Collide


I got up. I packed. And I started walking again. I didn’t know where I was going. I didn’t  know why. And at the moment, I didn’t care. I just wanted to get as far away as I could. As quickly as humanly possible. I wanted to be worlds away. I wanted the pain to stop. I wanted the world to stop spinning. Time to slow down. Anything. But it wouldn’t happen. And I’d still be here, no matter how hard I tried to make it stop. I got up and walked because I needed to move. I took the guitar and the suitcase and for a little while there, I was gone. Completely, entirely.


But you can only get so far. I’d walk a few yards and look back. Think about it. Keep going. Keep going. Stop. Look back. Why? I had nothing there. I had nothing anywhere. Nothing at all. I just had this. I had my life in my hand, over my shoulder. This was it. This was always and never. This was ending. This was beginning. And the further I walked, the more I held the scream choking in my throat. I had something here. I had the Brogan boys. I had hope. I had chance. I had just a tiny bit more than I might have anywhere else. The further I walked, the more I thought. I couldn’t go back, but I couldn’t leave. I was stuck here, just like we all were. In the end, we’re all stuck somewhere. In the end, whether it be in a box, six feet shallow, we’re still stuck somewhere. Always.

I kept walking until I got to a bus stop. I sat down on the case, as I was accustomed. I had the guitar case next to me. I don’t know how it all worked out, but it did. I sat there, scheming, trying to think. It was raining. It always rains when you’re leaving. That’s the whole thing. When you’re running away, it’s got to be raining. People run when it rains. It’s because you’re hoping to disappear in the mist and madness of the sky’s fall. You’re hoping that you can just hit the street and fragment, never being whole again. That things were that simple. Or just disappear in a puddle and be uniform to the masses. Anything. That’s why all the runners run when it rains. It’s just that much less…complicated.

It makes sense to me. Then again, a lot of things make sense to me that don’t make sense to anybody else. I’m just fucked up. The cycle continues. The clock keeps ticking. Move. On.

Sitting at the bus stop, staring at the sky. I can feel the individual drops of rain hit my face, sliding down at random. I can feel myself smile, because for half a second, I might actually be free. I could get on a bus and go anywhere. But where? And why? I have no security anywhere. But here…at least I have people who kind of care. They take the time and effort to pretend to. It’s more than I could have anywhere else. It’s something. It’s also nothing. And it might be dangerous. There’s a war going on here. Which side am I on? Do I care enough to swear allegiance to anyone? I pledge allegiance to…?

I sat on the case, thinking about it. I didn’t hear the steps, or see the guy, but I felt the hands slide around my neck; I felt my body being dragged off and slammed into the wall of an alley. He still had a hand on my neck, holding me back. Another one held a cigarette away from familiar lips, returned it. I watched as the smoke crept away, as he turned to face me.

“Where you off to, kid?”

“Hello, Linkon,” I coughed.

“Skipping town? That’s no fun. Come on, we’re just getting to the good parts.”

I tried to push him off of me but he held on tight.

“Tell me Linkon, what part of this wasn’t supposed to happen this way?”

He smiled an evil grin. “This? No, no. See, you having the shit kicked out of you by someone else, that wasn’t supposed to happen. Spoils my fun.”

I shook my head, closing my eyes for a moment, looking back up when he squeezed my throat. I wanted to kill him. I wanted to spit in his face and take whatever he had for me. I wanted to see him burn in Hell. I wanted to send him there. But I was here, now, stuck.

“What do you want from me?”

And he smiled wider, sneaking closer to me. “Nothing I’ve not taken before.”

And I remember the cold ground coming up at me. I remember being thrown and hit and beaten. I remember kicks. I remember bleeding and coughing. And I remember things that I desperately wish I could forget. But I remember them nonetheless and nothing will ever make them matter. I saw my guitar case and suitcase carted away. I asked between coughs where they were going.

“We’ll drop them off at Colt’s, so he’ll know to expect you.”


And Linkon bent down real low to smile in my face. “When we’re done with you.”

And the abuse continued for a while longer. I blacked out. And when they were done, I didn’t care. I felt myself picked up. I felt myself dragged. And I felt myself dropped on the doorstep. Not in the building. Outside on the stoop. In the street. Soaked and stained from the rain and the blood. And I couldn’t come up with a reason to care. There was no feeling. Nothing left. I remembered everything, even though I couldn’t come up with words to admit it.

And I got up. I got up and crept up the stairs, doubled over, into the building. I could only see from one eye. But I kept going. The elevator was conveniently broken. I looked at the stairs. And started up. I walked and crawled up a few flights. I made it part of the way. And then I looked up. And I looked down. And I quit. There was no point. No purpose. I just curled up on a landing. And I went to sleep. I was hoping that I’d die there. I was hoping that I was bleeding internally. I was just praying for any sort of release. Anything at all. But all I had was this. The pain. And the memories that wouldn’t die. I heard steps as I dozed off. And I was slipping into a state of unconscious delirium when I was picked up. And carried the rest of the way.

I woke up bundled up in Colt’s bed. I had covers up to my chin, which I pushed away immediately. I tried to sit up in a solid motion but found I couldn’t. Everything hurt, everything was blurry. The bed moved next to me and I looked over to find Colt sitting there, watching me.

“Are you alright?” he whispered.

I shook my head.

“What happened?”

I tried to talk but my voice was stuck in my throat. He shook his head and got up to walk away. He was muttering to himself, searching his pockets for a cigarette.


He spun around. “What?”

I tried to repeat the word, but found that I couldn’t. It crept out in a sort of involuntary cough. I closed my eyes and saw the visions in my head playing through yet again. I couldn’t shake them off – I couldn’t make it stop. It had happened, as much as I tried to get away from it. I couldn’t deny the truth. I couldn’t make it just fade to black. It had happened. It was real.

The really screwed up part? It had happened before.

Colt came back over to where I lay, creeping onto the bed. He took me as close as he could, pulling me softly into his arms. I curled up, trying not to put too much strain on my already battered body. He just laid there, my head resting on his chest. I could feel his hand running through my hair. I could feel the blood and dirt still on my skin. But it didn’t matter. I was here and now. This was real. He had carried me here and would watch over me. He would help me back up. He’d make sure it never happened again.

I don’t remember ever having a father, but if I had, I sure as hell hoped it was something like this. He was like a protective older brother. I could feel his body shaking with mine, unable to discern from fear and rage. He just stayed there, holding me close, my body curled up in him, lost in his depths. And I fell asleep. Not an exhausted, passed out kind of sleep. But a kind, peaceful sleep – the kind of sleep that a child falls into. A quiet slumber, dreams devoid of dark demons and nighttime monsters. Just black, simple and pure. Nothing making noise. Nothing moving. Nothing at all. Just calm. And that’s all I wanted all along. That’s what I’d been craving so desperately in my travels. That perfect, peaceful, pensive…calm.

And I finally had it.

In the arms of a street boss in the middle of a war.

I pledge allegiance…to the Brogans.

Previous Post

Next Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.