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9. Forsaken

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The stories are the only things that seem to remain constant anymore. They’re honest; pure…they are the only things that I can truly trust. I have the pieces, pictures and obituaries…I am the keeper of tales new and old. When all else fails, become what you truly are. I’m the timekeeper.

The prologue to all this, the very first generation in a steady chain of madness goes back years. The Nolan family, which collapsed upon itself. After the generations of blood destroyed by the adults’ insanity, two survived the Nolan family’s massacre of each other. Faith and Declan, devoted siblings – they survived the madness. And they were better for it.

The Nolan family – parents, grandparents, and an uncle, all died at each other’s hand. Whether by stress, murder or suicide, the clan continued only through the two young children that persevered. Declan, the older, protective brother. Upstanding, righteous, but still pliable. He was considerate and just as well. Faith, his baby sister, writes down our first chapter of history. Her record sets the stage for later dysfunction. Faith is the first in a series of tragic heroes to overcome adversity and even out the odds. Through pain and loss, good fortune comes personified.

The James family. The picture of perfection, two ideal parents and three perfect children. Or almost perfect…there’s always an exception. Hope, Mike and Catherine James, children cut almost directly from God’s grace…until one of them fell. Hope – the convict. The innocent child hardens into the strong adult, rebellion burned deep into the surface. Hope James is the original bad ass, the trademarked Rebel; worn around the edges just enough to be considered less than orthodox. She was the oldest, followed by her all-American brother, Mike, and the smallest angel, Catherine. Mike James – star athlete, popular, all around great guy. High school God at the time of the tragedy. Catherine, the child Saint, kept sheltered from most of the madness. Mr. James – the doctor; successful, busy, humanist. Mrs. James – kind, slightly deranged, in the long run…unstable. She got away with appearing “normal” for awhile, but her true madness shines through at the end. Bottom line? They were everything that the Nolan family lacked. They were their saviors from abandonment. The James family took in the Nolan siblings, when their lives were mere shadows of dust.

The two families got along as best as tensions would allow. Sure, there were issues, mostly of pride. Two groups of highly stubborn, pride-oriented kids pitted against one another. There were issues, but ultimately they were resolved and their relationships strengthened. Declan and Hope would get married in later years…long after the fiasco. There’s still more to the drama, as always. Nothing is as simple as it appears to be. There was a slight hitch in how things operated.

His name was Gavin Riley.

Gavin was our earliest connection to the gangs, the first in a long line of leaders and cruelty. Gavin was probably the last good leader that they’d ever seen. He was young and proud, true, but he was fair. He had morals and heart. He was the last of the extinct breed. Gavin Riley got involved with the Nolan kids by pure chance. They were passing through his territory one night and he happened upon them. Gauntlets were thrown, challenges made…and in the end, respect was earned on all sides. Gavin’s motives are questionable, not as much is known about him as we’d like to think, but he was a good guy all around. He married Faith later on. Gavin was highly mysterious, nobody’s determined for certain why he stuck around as long as he did and tolerated all that he did. Maybe he was just a good guy. Like I said, last of a dying breed…but Christ, he put up with a lot. A hell of a lot…

So there are the key players in the legend. Faith, Declan, Hope and Gavin held the most cards. Then there was Rob and Julie, who play a more important part later on in the story. They were the top dogs in Gavin’s gang, under himself, naturally. They were tough as nails, siblings, they might have been twins, I don’t think anybody ever clarified whether they were or weren’t. It’s not all that important, but it’s interesting to know, you know? It’s like useless information…it won’t get you anywhere, but it’s nice to have.

Mrs. James got committed in the end, Gavin and Faith ended up together. Gavin quit the gang and became a cop, though he checked in on his boys from time to time. Rob and Julie were military kids; they worked hard, tried hard, and did well if you think about it. Declan and Hope quit trying to kill one another long enough to wed and breed. Isn’t it sweet? The pretty little fairy tale that life is? I’m sure that there were other factors along the way, but I don’t think they’re half as significant as we care to mention. In Gavin’s absence, Cicero took over, which should be dully noted. As a bit of “useless” information for later reference –

Happily Ever After.

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