CHRISTMAS IN ORANGE TOWN.
Despite our unhinged attitude to crime in the state and our uncanny hatred to each other, Christmas has always been a season of love. Someone will say that Christmas was a temporal drug to the insanity we faced in the state.
Orange town was no different.
From the pine trees outdoors to the lights hung on shops, to the colorful glitters spread across the pavement. Christmas surely knew how to change people for the best—sadly the change is only temporal.
It is hard to hear of a missing person or a gunshot victim during the holidays. Except in some very rare situations, like when a husband returns home drunk and finds another man with his wife on his bed. Maybe, when a rival gang decides to take what rightfully belongs to you,and you go all Equalizer on them.
Most likely, when your lover decides to end your five years long relationship on Christmas day. Well, that usually ends up in suicide. If you are lucky, you might get fourteen to twenty hours of brooding about where it all fell apart. But those were the rare occasions.
Christmas with family was always adorable. That is if you remove the one hour of your cousins talking about their great life and maybe, the two hours of heated arguments on the dinner table. Maybe, the one hour of staring at your crush lips stuck with her boyfriend as you eat chips from a take out.
I know that I am weird and my life sucks.
You know, we don’t all get to wear capes at night and have classy jobs during the day, likeBatman. Maybe, I am living in the illusion that everything about my life sucks. My life might just be a nightmare. Maybe one day, I will wake up and find myself in a tuxedo with a bald-headed butler holding an iron bell by my bedside.
I am sure my first question will be, ‘where is the Jacuzzi?’
Well, since I am still stuck in my nightmare and you are stuck with me. I am going to tell you a story about a young man that lived a screwed-up life like mine, and his so-called friends. Most importantly, I will tell you how the dumbass saved one of the most important days in everyone’s life.
ORANGE TOWN, MINORCA.
The Red Venom was a man that brought chaos and destruction everywhere he went. Death was his shadow. His acts were as poisonous and deadly as his name—like the lost twin of thereaper. In about two months, everyone in Orange town knew and feared that name. Him being under one of the most feared and revered criminal bosses in the country helped build his criminal underground image. Very few people have seen his face. Most of them have a tombstone above their head. Word on the street is that the authorities want him dead or alive. They are also willing to pay heavily for whoever is bold and daring enough to find the snake.
A few tried. Let’s just say, dead men, tell no tales.
“Do you believe in the afterlife?” Red Venom asked Rose Hernandez, his newfound bestie.
The weather was cold as usual. The happy children with their ugly red and green sweaters sang Christmas jingles as they hopped around.
Naive Fellows, What do they know about happiness?
“I don’t know,” Rose answered as she put the can of soda to her lips.
Red Venom bit his lip for a minute as he closed his eyes. The weight of the world seems to be falling on his shoulder as he sat in the famous, Hercules Burger Joint in Aislen Drive. He was clearly dealing with an unforgivable mistake.
“You have to learn to forgive yourself,” Rose enunciated. “Ginger’s death was not your fault. She played it reckless and she ended up dead.”
“That is what I want to keep on telling myself.” He heaved a sigh. “But we all know that is a lie.”
Rose put her palm on the back of his hand. Their eyes met and she put on a pale smirk. Kennedy tried to feign a smile, but it was turning out worse than a stunt gone wrong.
“It will be alright.” She assured. “Yo—”
“Hey guys, I have great news,” Freddy interrupted. He wore a black tee on a pair of faded jeans—looking dapper as usual.
The son of the Earl Street number one business mogul seemed to be in a lightened mood that day. Fredrick Truce was known for planning the most flamboyant parties for the rich, dumb and young. Parties made for the elite children to showcase their new acquisitions and blow their parent’s money.
“Let me guess...you have a party.” Kennedy sounded sad and disturbed. His fingers were clasped below his jaw as he cast his best friend a quick glance.
“Mood breaker,” Freddy let out as he drew a sit beside his pal. “What’s up today Mr. Gloomy,” He added as he peered into his friend’s face. Kennedy did not utter a word, he just sighed and then he grabbed his can of soda.
“If you are nice, Santa might bring you a present.” Freddy put on a clownish grin.
Kennedy could not help himself from laughing loudly. Red Venom punched his friend’s shoulder as they all giggled together.
They were all still laughing when a lady in a match to match a blue sweater and jeans walked to where Rose sat and put her hands on Rose eyes.
“Hannah!” Rose shouted in glee as the stranger dropped her hands. The duo hugged each other passionately. It was like they were trying to merge into one body.
Freddy smiled and he gave Hannah a wave as Kennedy watched in awe.
Hannah looked about six feet plus from a distance or maybe it was all thanks to the high heels. She tossed her long black straight hair to the side and she drew a sit between Rose and the Red Venom. The Red Venom gave her a cursory glance.
The Red Venom seemed to care less about the attention poured on Rose’s friend. While his friends were busy asking Hannah about her work and life. He just sat there eating chips as he looked plainly at them. He was not interested in an introduction and his friends seemed to have forgotten that he was still with them.
The death of his former boss still bugged him more than anything.
It is hard to believe that hitmen do have feelings.
“Kenny, I want you to meet my friend, Hannah,” Rose said after about fifteen minutes of neglect.
She spoke out as she peered at his face, “It is nice to meet you, Kenny.” She paused for a minute and then the smile on her face faded.
“I have heard so much about you,” She added with a straight face.
“Good reports, I hope,” Kennedy said and then he forced a smile on his face, but that smile did not seem to fool Hannah as she went on with her rant.
“Yeah, if you like the sight of dead bodies in dark alleys.” She put on her fake smile too and the Red Venom chuckled sinisterly.
“You don’t strike me as a cop.” He paused as he looked at her sternly. “No, No, No... you look like a famous nosy journalist that might end up as maggot food,” He continued.
Silence fell on the room for a few minutes as the two young fellows stared each other down. It was an unpleasant mixture of disdain and disgust. Unsure of what next to do, Rose sat in silence as she contemplated her next move. Freddy, on the other hand, seemed to be enjoying the drama.
“I love your sweater by the way.” Kennedy broke the silence and his demeanor changed. He held his can to his lips and he took a gulp.
“Really, you don’t strike me as the sweater type,” said Hannah. She feigned a smile.
“Never judge a book by its cover.” Kennedy turned to look at Rose and he said, “I like your friend. She is definitely my type.”
Rose heaved a sigh of relief. “I never knew you had a type,” She teased.
“I always thought his type will be a muscular alcoholic lady—like the ones you find in the Wailers,” Freddy interjected.
“Why will you think so?” Kennedy asked with a dumbstruck look. A question he regretted immediately. “You know what. Never mind...I don’t want to know why.”
“Because you had a connection with that blown fuse,” Freddy answered.
“What blown fuse?” asked Rose.
“Freddy don’t,” The Red Venom cautioned and then he shook his head sideways.
“Angie’s cousin or friend, I am sure you know her,” Freddy continued despite his friend warning.
“What connection did they have?” Rose asked keenly. Freddy looked at his friend again and Kennedy cast him a knowingly look. Then he continued eating his chips.
“Sorry babe, I am with Kenny on this one. You don’t want to know,” said Freddy. “Maybe later,” he added before winking.