Andy and I grew up on the same block. School never meant much to us and neither of our parents especially cared whether or not we went. They had their hands full of bottles and blood. The streets were ours, during the day at least. Not that there wasn’t some occasional competition.
Cops came and went. So did gangs. We knew our territory too well. As time went on, all the old gangs we had pushed out starting consolidating. So we did some recruiting of our own. A brother and a sister from some out of the way diner nobody else knew about came in on it. There were others, but why remember them? She was there now.
Everyone could tell from the beginning, though I fooled myself into thinking no one else could possibly know. She knew. But I was a coward.
Cars break down. It’s what they do. People punch their steering wheels and yell at the machine, thinking they can scare it into working again. But this felt different. An adult should be past that after a certain point. A man shouldn’t shout himself voiceless.
When the inevitable happens, people are late. It happens. Bosses overreact. It’s what they do. People go out with their buddies that weekend, make fun of their bosses and have done with it. People don’t spend the rest of their day trying to turn their thoughts from murder. Not just a fight. Not just chewing someone out. Not even wishing they were dead. But pure, premeditated murder. Blood, bone and bruises.
Even if they do, they go home, relax with a beer, as usual, and tell it all to their spouses. Not two beers, not on a weeknight. Not three. Certainly not six. Even if they do, it’s to take their mind off of it. Not to drown out the voice. Her voice. The one woman I could always count on to be there.