Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Tales of the Stranger: Episode 10, Part 1

So I had an idea for a 3 part story with the Stranger, and I think I finally got it figured. It’s another set in the ‘prequel’ In Between Years. You can jump in here for these three stories even if you haven’t read any of the others, as you don’t really need to have read the others to get the gist of it. I do reference something in episode 5, but it’ll be explained, so don’t worry about continuity. It’s a little different in that it’s kind of a song fic (very popular in fan fiction, not so much anywhere else). Sort of. There are lyrics to a different song in each story, with the title of each coming from the song that pertains to the story. The song and album are listed at the end of the story for those curious. So, enjoy if you can, comments of any kind – good, bad, or ugly – are welcome…

Miracle by Eaglewing

It's a fairytale so tragic; There's no prince to break the spell
I don't believe in magic; But for you I will, yeah, for you I will
If I'm a fool, I'll be a fool; Darlin' for you…

I'm countin' on a miracle
Baby, I'm countin' on a miracle
Darlin', I'm countin' on a miracle
To come through…

It was a big city, too big to care for all of its denizens and miscreants. Sure, the main drags and tall shiny office buildings glorifying the corporate suits that ran it all were well taken care of. But there were corners that weren’t; corners that didn’t want to be looked at and the money men didn’t want to see. At election time, they said the words, promised to throw money in that direction to ‘clean it up’, but once the back room power plays and hand shake deals were made and the betrayal of democracy had been shuffled through city hall once again, the promises were soon forgotten. Money could be spent in better ways, and the less said about the dark city corners, the better. No one ever went there anyway. No one that counted.

One of the uncounted was Bobby. Born Robert Sullivan, but only his Momma called him Robert. On the street, he was just Bobby. To the gang bangers, the drug runners, the pimps, and the women of the night, he was just Bobby. A white boy in a part of town where that was a sin, he had to grow up tough. And he did, but with no way out he did what came natural to those who had come before and fell in with a gang that would have him. He wasn’t sold on the idea, but his one true friend from before a time when it was only the colors that mattered went and did what was natural, joining the Two-Two Boys and so Bobby followed suit. Someone had to look out for Tiny. Little Tino Martinez when he was a kid somehow changed to Tiny along the way and it stuck. Bobby and Tiny were inseparable, all the way up, and now spent their days marking the landscapes in graffiti colors and running the products of the boss’s deals around town, along with whatever other crimes and misdemeanors went with the territory. Bobby knew it was drugs, but Tiny said it didn’t matter – it was all they had and all they could do anyway. Bobby wasn’t so sure, but it was the truth for now, and ends had to be met.

One of those ends had led him to finding Jamie, a beautiful girl, tender and tough, and they had done more than hit it off right away. Kindred spirits, they both wanted a way out, and being with her had him thinking there just might be a way. If he was strong enough, and for some unknown reason she believed he was, maybe he could fight his way out of this dark corner of town and take her with him to a brighter freedom together. He told himself it was a pipe dream, and it probably was, but it was funny what someone believing in you could do. It wouldn’t be easy to get out, ‘cause old habits die hard – but they do die, just like everything else.

Bobby was thinking these thoughts and more on his way home when Tiny caught up to him.

“Hey Bobby, hol’ up a sec!” yelled Tiny, as he ran hard to catch up.

“What’s up Tiny? I’m headed home…”

“It’s comin’ loose, man. We’re getting all the Two-Two Boys together tonight, go blow some holes in those no good GD’s before they gun us on our turf. Boss wants us all locked and loaded. We’re gonna bust some caps in ‘em while they sleep tonight. You gotta come with me, man, I’m headed to meet now.”

Bobby let out a long breath at the news. The Gangster Disciples had been pushing the Two-Two Boy’s turf and he knew it would come to war. He could somehow tell himself the drug running and occasional violence wasn’t that bad and that maybe he’d get out alive if he were smart, unlike many that hadn’t made it before and died young. But a gang war over turf was going to be bloody. This wasn’t just selling illegal products across town, this was death, and it was going to be up close and personal. Bobby didn’t want to die yet – not like that.

“Listen Tiny, we don’t want that. Hitting the GD’s on their turf is nuts! We could get slaughtered. They’re pushing in, they’ll know this is our next step, and they’ll be ready. It’s suicide. No way Tiny, we don’t want this.”

“But come on, man, are we Two-Two’s or what? We gotta represent! We’re not gonna just lay down and let the GD’s walk over us! No way! We gotta fight ‘em, show ‘em who’s kicking who’s ass!”

“No Tiny, its war and its death. Just turn off your cell, say we didn’t know about the meet, we don’t have to go.”

“Bobby, man, you’re always trying to slide by. We’s brothers, always had each other’s back, and the Two-Two Boys are family. My family. Our family. We stand together, man. Don’t you wuss out on me, not now, when its war. Family is family, and the Boys are family. And you and me, we’s thicker than family. This ain’t much, but these streets is our home, and you gotta fight for your home and your boys. So, are we’s brothers, or what?!”

Bobby let out another long breath. Somebody had to look after Tiny. He couldn’t see anything more than the way things were, and he believed he had a family in the gang. And to a point, he was right. They covered each other’s backs, but the gang also put those backs into danger in the first place. Bobby wanted out, but he wasn’t going to let Tiny down. He shook his head, feeling a wave of regretful premonition.

“Alright man, but I gotta go home and get my gear. All my best hardware is back there. When’s the meet and the hit?”

Tiny smiled in relief. “I knew you wouldn’t wimp out, man. Meet’s now till later, when we’re together we’re gonna go hit them GD’s at 2. It’ll be dark, they’ll be sleepin’, it’ll be easy, give’em what they got comin’!”

“Ok, Tiny, go on ahead. But don’t you go to the hit until I’m there, ok? You hear me? I’ll bring the goods. We’ll watch each other’s backs, we’ll be alright.”

“You know it, Bobby. See you later, man – don’t be late!” And with that Tiny ran off to meet up with his fellow brothers. Bobby grimaced, wished he were a thousand miles away, and headed home. Tonight wouldn’t go well, he knew it in his gut, but it was part of the territory, and some things had to be protected. Then he thought of Jamie. She wasn’t going to be happy, not at all. But you don’t let an old friend down, no matter what, and she might not get that, but Tiny was the only other friend he’d ever had and the streets were their blood and that went way back and was hard to separate. Not to mention, he owed him. If he had to die in a war to keep Tiny alive, he would. But he was getting tired. All he really wanted was a tank of gas and four on the floor, a highway to the horizon, and Jamie by his side. Was he strong enough for that? He shook his head; he didn’t know. All he knew was that it was going to be a bad night, and he was going to need a miracle to see it through. It was the only chance he had…

There ain't no storybook story; There's no never-ending song
Our happily ever after Darlin'; Forever come and gone
Yeah, I'm movin' on; If I'm gonna believe,
I'll put my faith; Darlin' in you…

I'm countin' on a miracle
Baby, I'm countin' on a miracle
Darlin', I'm countin' on a miracle
To come through…

The doors to the dimly lit and near empty diner burst open as a young woman came through them fast. She yelled out to somebody in the back. “Big Mike! You gotta come out here, you gotta do something! They’re going to do it tonight! Please, you gotta help me, help Bobby!”

The cook, a middle aged black man of mountainous proportions made of battle hardened muscle, strode out of the kitchen to see what the fuss was about. “Calm down, Jamie, calm down. What’s this about tonight?”

The panic stricken young woman leaned on the counter, out of breath. “I heard it from Gina down the way. The Two-Two’s are going after the GD’s tonight. It’s going to be a war. They’re pulling in all their crews. That means Bobby too, cause Tiny will make him go. I just know it. We gotta do something!”

Big Mike just shook his head, “What do you want me to do, girl? Sure, I got a rep ‘round these streets, but you know the police don’t care about us down here, and I can’t stop a war by myself. There ain’t nothing I can do. I’ll be lucky if I can get a hold of my sister’s kid and keep him out of it. It’s just the way things are down here, and you know that.”

“But it’s not right! They’re going to die, and for what?! Turf? Drugs? Money? The colors on their backs?” She paused for a second, pulling in a breath, then sitting down on one of the counter stools. With a pained expression on her face, she looked back up at Mike. “What am I going to do? What can I do? I can’t lose Bobby…”

“Listen girl, there’s only but one thing you can do. Go find that boy of yours and just flat out lay it on the line. Let him know what’s what, and what’s important to you and why. Maybe you can keep him with you tonight – give him a choice to make. Sometimes you gotta fight for what you want. Right now though, I gotta go call my sis. Where’s the meet?”

“The usual, crackhouse on 22nd Street. The hit’ll be late, when they take the crews over the line at 41st. Good luck, Mike, I gotta go find Bobby. He’ll probably be heading home to get his guns. Maybe I’ll find him there…”

Jamie got up and headed back out into the blue hazed dusk of the oncoming night. Before the door was even closed, something moved out of the dark corner booth at the back. A man, lean and mean, emerged from the shadows, dropping several bills on the counter before heading for the exit. He pulled his cowboy hat on low as he hit the door, keeping the quickly retreating young girl in his sight.

In the stillness of the night air, nobody heard him whisper, “I know Sonny, I know. They never learn, but I’ll do what I can…”

To Be Continued…

Lyrics from the song:
“Countin’ On A Miracle”, written by Bruce Springsteen
Album: The Rising

Comments on "Tales of the Stranger: Episode 10, Part 1"


Anonymous originallru said ... (April 21, 2007 10:17 PM) : 

Whoohoo! Another Stranger story! :-)

There seemed to be a couple of runon sentences in the first couple paragraphs, but after that it smoothed out. Nothing some slight editing couldn't fix.

I like how you're taking your time to tell this story. Things are building up more slowly. Compared to some of the earlier Stranger stories, they were really quick episodes of action that were over before they really began, and so you didn't really connect with the characters, and maybe some of the action felt forced. But this one, you slowly meet the characters, you feel the pain of this decision, the central character getting pulled in multiple directions. I really like it.

And then the Stranger at the end. I'm already wondering what he's going to cook up. :-)

I'm eagerly awaiting the next episode!


Blogger Eaglewing said ... (April 22, 2007 3:23 AM) : 

Ah yes, the hazards of writing and posting with no editor :)

thanks for the comments though. I guess this one is more of a slow burn than some of the others.


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