Chapter One
Human (part two)

  Daniel froze at the front door of his aunt’s small house. To his amazement, the streets were filled with fog, like an uneasy night at sea. He paused at the end of the front porch to gaze at the sight before him. The grounded clouds stretched over the street like a soft, gray blanket; the cold gusts of wind sliced into his flesh, his eyes tear up from the sudden cold. He closes his eyes, allowing the protective tears slide down his cheeks. After breathing in the cold air once more, he ventured into the fog, straining his eyes to see the lights of street lamps and select few in coming cars.

Daniel tugged at his heavy denim jacket and hitched up his belt on his baggy, faded jeans. After hitting the unlock button on his keychain he climbed into his yellow H2 Hummer and started the ignition. The dark beat of “Boogie Man” by Tech N9ne filled his stereo speakers as he pulled out of the small driveway. Daniel flipped open his cell phone and found Little Ed’s number and dialed it.

“Hello?” the voice answered. It was thick with bass that Little Ed was known for (little body, big voice).

“You’re actually alive?” Daniel asked.

“I was going to ask you the same question. Where the fuck you been?”

Daniel allowed his eyes to shift from the street to his review mirror, the empty cans of beer meeting him. “Swimming.”

“Right,” Little Ed huffed. “I’ve been running the operations just fine without your brooding ass showing up. You low on funds?”

“Word is we both might be.”

“What you talking about, Danny Boy?”

“Have you ever heard of some gang called The Fathers?”

“Holy shit.”

“What?”

“No, holy shit.”

“What the fuck are you babbling about?”

“The Fathers, you dumb fuck. They are actual holy men, Catholic priests I think. A few have gone rouge and started pushing drugs. I thought it was a joke.”

“What changed your mind?” Daniel came to a red light.

“The night the 727 Boys jumped me. I didn’t kill them, well not alone,” Little Ed began. “Those boys jumped me and tried to kill me, but they didn’t. I fought back, of course but some group of altar boys, in their little mini-priest costumes and all, jumped them. That’s who really killed them.”

“And then?” Daniel ignored the green light.

“One of them said that The Fathers will judge and purge the scum from the underbelly. They basically said this was the warning and next time all drug dealing scum will find God.”

“Sounds like they need to be taken care of.”

“Don’t do anything stupid!”

Daniel sped past the new red light. “Speaking of something stupid why is R.J more than just a foot solider?”

“Because you have disappeared into booze and cheap pussy.”

“Well I’m back now, Ed. And I will take care of R.J, the Fathers, fuck I’ll even take out Big Bird while I’m at it!”

Little Ed yelped a surprise. “You know where my brother is? How you find out?”

“I always find the snitch, bitch.” Daniel hung up.

After making a few turns he stops at a stop sign; the street was empty and he knew it. His eyes swayed to the wall of the flower shop building and his eyes froze. New tears came to his eyes, but it wasn’t from the cold this time. In that moment he wasn’t in his Hummer on the way to a drug den; he wasn’t just a drug dealer trying to secure his dominate spot of the underground food chain. In his mind he could feel the summer sun on his tan skin, the sweat forming in his brown hair and the smile on his face. In that moment he was Danny Rhodes again, with his kid sister Ashley: In the last moments of Ashley’s young life.

Daniel stepped out of his Hummer and ambled to the spot his eyes were fixed on; a spot filled with roses that are slowly wilting. With each step the event from that summer day ran through his head. His nose tingled with the bitter smell of tears as he held them back. He finally reached the sidewalk and he could still see himself, holding the limp body of Ashley. Greif sent him to a knee, his head bowed. The blood had washed away from the sidewalk, but never his memory. To Daniel those grouts were still flooded with the blood of his sister; the wall will always have two bullet holes.

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