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A story I did quite a while ago that I wanted to publish to my blog again, as I took it down.

Foster didn’t know — couldn’t know — that Cliff, a 12-year-old boy that looked his twelve years, had been standing over by the trunk of a tree watching him dig. He’d been trying to coax enough courage to congeal in his sternum and to stop the shakes he had in his hands. Hands that held a .45 Revolver with a 10 inch-long barrel. Longer than his forearm.

With jacketed bullets able to bring a grizzly guzzling waning oxygen to the ground, the Revolver would be more than enough for Foster’s brittle skeleton. Only held five of those jacketed bullets, but that, too, would be enough.

He was a would-be son of the Sons of Perdition, a rival gang to The Shiloh. Heat had been low lately, as they’d been licking their wounds from previous engagements. But it was time for a flare up.

Killing Foster would accomplish two things: It’d piss Jamar off, as Foster was like Jamar’s fucking left testicle, they were so tight. Some thought they were brothers, but nobody could confirm. And it’d bring Cliff into the fold. Start ‘em young, gets the shakes out of their system, turns them cold. Cold is what they needed. Numb.

Besides, Cliff was told Amber would think he was tough if he did it.

Cliff had grown accustomed to the comfort of the tree’s bark; it felt warm against his skin. The light puddles in his pours. But he feared going back with a virgin gun, unfired, unsmoked. It was the Sons of Perdition’s prized possession, expensive perfection. He couldn’t fuck this up.

***********************************************************************

In Chicago, they always measurin’ you for a coffin. Out here, on the South Side, war seeped into the cracks of the sidewalk, hung like acidic moisture in the air.

News anchors popping those crazy Xanax pills so they can keep reading them nightly reports. Like, little girl, name of Shaunice, clipped by a stray bullet. Hit her right under the lung. She bled out in the street with her momma there crying, wailing something awful.

Seems to me they could use a line of coke. I don’t fuck with that, but I hear it. Anything to keep the smiles on.

Digging graves something of a lost art among the trade. Nowadays, a rival gang’s body was meant as a message splattered on walls and hanging from street alleys. Ain’t no message to send when the body sucking dirt six feet.

But I done that now for Jamar in a cemetery where we pay the folks under the table to keep quiet. He gained Knighthood in The Shiloh. Wasted a five-O. Two bullets to the head. Overkill, but that’s how we done did it.

I liked numbers, already memorized his badge, 4-5-1-20-8, as I piled more dirt on. Maybe useful later. Doubt it.

My hands was dry and caked with grime. I was getting tired with the sun dipping below the horizon. Lavvy, a big assed Puerto Rican gal Jamar done gave me for doing his dirty work, was sitting on another fella’s tombstone, name of Jackson. Her ass slopped over the aged stone.

He said I could fuck her right here in the grave if I wanted. Over the five-O corpse, even. But that be disrespectful, I think.

Still, all that digging done made me horny and hungry and seeing how there ain’t no fuking food out here excepts for them grave crawlers, Lavvy it be.

Nobody be around best I can see, so I go to her and by my eyes, she knows what I be thinking. I bend her over the tombstone and with my calloused hands, hold on to her shoulders and thrust and thrust. Can’t help thinking bout that badge number, repeating it in my head, 4-5-1-20-8. Don’t mean nothing, but I like numbers.

After a few minutes, I finish. There’s more dirt piling to be done.

I was still a nothing, a squib, a foot soldier with no soles. Digging a hole was my keep. Kept me breathing. If I hung with Jamar long enough, maybe they stop measuring. Maybe.

Over by the massive tree in the cemetery, I see a squirrel crawling up the bark, chasing the dying of the light. Heh, there be some life here.

***********************************************************************

There was a ringing between Cliff’s ears, but he ignored it and pushed himself off of the tree.

The shovel fell to the ground. Foster was done digging. He was breathing hard and sweating. The big-assed Puerto Rican girl was still nearby, slumped on the Jackson tombstone, orgasm echoes reverberating in her body. She was oblivious to the 12-year-old walking toward Foster now with the full 10-inches of the Revolver extended from his body.

Cliff aimed for the square of Foster’s back once within five feet and with both hands holding onto the grip of the gun, as if he’d fall to the core of the Earth, if he let go, and he pulled back hard on the trigger. The sonic boom was enough to rattle the graves. In an instant, Foster’s spine was severed and his knees buckled. His sweaty face imprinted the dirt grave he just dug.

Big-assed Puerto Rican girl screamed and Cliff aimed the 10-incher her way. Another sonic boom, but he hit Jackson’s tombstone, splintering it instead.

Too much adrenaline overcooked his blood and his brain. He dropped the big gun and fell to his knees, as Foster had.

That morning he promised himself that he wouldn’t cry. Tears were for the weak fucks his age that rode the school bus with their books and attended classes with white, old teachers. Tears were for boys his age that hadn’t had their balls drop yet. Tears were for those not tough enough to be in the Sons of Perdition.

He broke his morning promise and was glad he was alone and that Amber couldn’t see him in this way.

The only things keeping him company were the dead bodies and the evaporating light.

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