“Your friend is a witch doctor?” A bearded man asks his teary-eyed son.
“No, his father was, but mom told me they killed him and now he’s alone. No one knows where he is.”
The guilt tears him up from the inside, his pain wringing tears from his soul.
“Baba, I killed my friend’s father!”
The bearded man looks at his snivelling son, his face twisted in mild disgust.
“Isn’t that a good thing?”
“Hmm?” The boy asks from underneath his hands not sure whether he heard him correctly.
“I know you like Julia, I have seen how you look at her when you are playing, with him out of the way, she’s all yours, isn’t she?”
The boy looks at his father. This has to be a test of some sort.
“But it isn’t right, I’m the reason he’s not around anymore, he was my friend. And just because he is not around doesn’t mean Julia will start liking me.”
“There are ways to make women love you, just as there are ways to get anything you want. Good things don’t come to those who wait or to those who are good, good things come to those who are strong enough to take them,” his father says. He was serious.
“But I can’t even talk to her, not after what I did to Matt.”
“You have to stop being such a child, how old are you?”
“I think it is about time you started living with me so that I could teach you some things.”
“In Nairobi? What about Joe, will he come with us?”
“No, Joe isn’t old enough yet.”
“Then I don’t want to go, I don’t want to leave him here, mom will beat him like she beats me.”
“This is not a debate, when he is ready, he will join us, but for the time being he will stay here with your mother.”
“But mom is heartless, I don’t want him to go through what I did.”
“Just do what I say or your mother will be the least of your concerns. Go pack your bags.”
#And that was the last day of my childhood.
A door opens Brian’s father steps through it. He is holding two suitcases. Brian follows behind him.
“Is this where we will live?”
It is a posh house, even more elegant than their house in the village, the biggest and most beautiful of all the houses there.
Brian’s father goes to another room and comes back without the suitcases.
“I want you to accompany me somewhere.”
They exit the house, get into a car and drive off.
They get to a street alley and Brian’s father stops the car. He tells Brian to move to the back seat. Someone comes jogging from behind and opens the front passenger door. He climbs in, sits and closes the door.
“Merry Christmas, boss. Oh wait, that’s already passed so, happy new year I guess? It gets quite chilly at night around here, doesn’t it?”
He sees Brian in the back seat.
“Hi, how are you?”
He shakes the boy’s hand.
“That’s my son. It’s his first day living in the city.”
“The son of the king, that makes him a prince, right? Preparing him to take over the business? He looks to be about my daughter’s age. How old are you?”
“Exactly her age, if your father sends you to the same school she goes, I will tell her to be your friend, okay?”
“He will make me very proud one day,” Brian’s father steps in, “speaking about the business, I hear two million shillings worth of drugs was missing from your quota.”
“We were robbed, I reported that to the collector, right? I mean your stuff is so good that someone was crazy enough to rob you. We caught him though, but the merchandise had already gone with the wind.”
“You caught him? I guess it’s fine then. Did you interrogate him, to try to know where he took it?”
“The thing is, he resisted, he was armed, we had to… “
He points at Brian’s father with his first two fingers and his thumb extended, then he suddenly reels his forearm backwards.
“Okay, I guess it’s fine. What’s a million shillings or two when we are making billions,” Brian’s father says.
The man makes himself comfortable and looks forward into the black void that the car’s headlights are vainly illuminating.
“Congratulations on buying that new car by the way,” Brian’s father says casually.
The man freezes and his mouth slightly opens.
“I haven’t told anyone about that.”
“I bet your wife and daughter were shocked to see it. I know I was.”
Brian’s father opens one of the compartments in the front of the car and produces a gun. He places it on the dashboard.
Brian’s eyes widen, he had never seen a real gun before.
“What is that for, we are all friends here.”
“Oh, this? As you said, it gets chilly at night and what’s warmer than a freshly fired gun?”
Brian’s father points at him with his first two fingers and his thumb extended, then he suddenly reels his forearm backwards.
The man starts fidgeting uncomfortably in his seat.
“It’s quite late, my family is waiting for me. They cannot do anything without me. Please, let me go.”
“Why are you begging, I haven’t accused you of anything, have I?”
“Please, we will move out of the country. Imagine what would happen to your son if you didn’t come home one day.”
“He wouldn’t even notice, I am barely in his life as it is, since I’m always here in the city working, only to have people steal from me.”
The man’s breathing is audible to Brian in the back seat.
“Does your wife work?” Brian’s father asks in a tone more striking than the imminent gunshot.
“No, she’s a high-school dropout, she doesn’t have any skills, that’s why I have to go home. You can take my right hand or both of my legs but please let me live, not for my own sake but my family’s. They will starve without me.”
“I know they will, I was just making sure that you do too.”
Brian jumps at the sound. He’s not sure what just happened. He looks to the right and sees his father holding a smoking gun. He looks to the left and sees… he sees… red, gushing, raw… Death. He feels something swell in his stomach, it fills his chest so he can’t breathe. He consciously forces breath into his lungs, when it’s work is done it doesn’t leave so he has to push it out himself. He can’t think. He feels stiff. One of his forced breaths escapes as a whimper. He can cry. His whole being clings onto this emotional straw and he bawls.
Brian’s father takes out a handkerchief from his pocket and wipes some red spots from his face. He looks to the back seat at his crying son and he reaches his hand out to caress his head to comfort him.
“Sssh, you had to witness that so that I could give you your first lesson. A lesson on the worst hindrance to life.”
“Nothing is sacred, nothing is special, nothing is untouchable, therefore, nothing is frightening. He stole from me, so I killed him. I will not be punished if no-one finds out. His family will starve without him and it’s all his fault. What is there to fear? God won’t do anything and neither will the devil. I know because this is not the first time, and neither will it be the last.”
He pauses to watch the boy cry. He realises that he is afraid.
“Sssh, don’t worry my son, I won’t hurt you, I will only make you stronger, fearless, so that you may become a better man than I will ever be.”
The boy briefly takes his hands away from his face and catches a glimpse of him smiling, the smile of a father who loves his son.
#And that was my first lesson.
#He sent me to a nearby day school for my high school education, so that when school ended the lessons began.
#He taught me how to shoot.
There’s a teenager and a bearded man aiming at shooting targets with a variety of guns they have laid next to them.
#He taught me how to fight.
There’s a teenager twisting the arm of a larger man as the bearded man looks on.
#He taught me how to lead.
There’s a teenager in tattered uniform leading the charge against some police officers.
#But he couldn’t teach me how to be like him. He couldn’t teach me how to be a psychopath.
There’s a teenager with a swollen eye and blood at the corner of his mouth. He is looking over an unconscious man lying on the floor who has a broken arm and leg and blood pouring from several wounds on his face.
“Good, now kill him.”
A bearded man behind the teenager hands him a gun. The teenager looks at the gun and then at the man who is lying in front of him. He aims the gun at his head but his hand is shaking. The gun slowly starts lowering as if gradually becoming heavier. It finally hangs at the end of his weak drooping arms, his fingers barely keeping it from dropping to the floor. The bearded man takes the gun from his hands and shoots the unconscious man in the head.
“Clean it up,” the man says and walks away.
#So, I tried to escape…
There’s a teenager in dirty and tattered clothes sitting on the side of a street, he is emaciated. Two men show up and beat him up. They drag him away and present him in a kneeling position and in front of his father.
# …In more ways than one.
There’s a teenager in a dark room. He struggles to maintain his balance on the unstable pile of books and other odd things holding him up. His right hand reaches up and pulls at the collar of his shirt to ease the itch of the noose around his neck.
#Until I realized the only way to ever be free of him is to get strong enough to take him out myself.
“I think democracy works. People vote for the people who they are satisfied with and they look after the needs of the people as appointed.”
There’s a teenager whose face is showing the signs of a beard sitting across the table from a bearded man who is reading a newspaper. They seem to be having breakfast.
“Ha-ha, dear boy, take a napkin and wipe your face, your mother’s milk still drips from the corner of your mouth. Democracy works? Idiots vote for idiots and then those idiots are expected to look after everyone’s needs? What do you think a leader is?”
“Someone who guides people towards a collective goal, helping them become a better version of themselves.”
“And you think democracy achieves that? You think the most popular person is also the most visionary and the most responsible? You think that the herd of sheep that constitute most of the population knows how to differentiate between a loud man and a visionary? Look at me for example, I have been trading drugs for 10 years. Anyone who is anyone knows that I’m the King, but do they do anything about it?”
“But if those visionaries, as you call them, are so good then why aren’t they approved by the people?”
“Are you asking me why an engineer doesn’t go bragging about his accomplishments, are you asking me why a philanthropist doesn’t parade all the people he has helped in his entourage? Because that is not what they do, they are not politicians, they are leaders. If someone has the capacity in them to do something they will not wait until a majority of the society agrees that he can do it. Giving control of billions to the most popular idiot will not change a thing, but a singular man with a vision can accomplish wonders. What democracy does is to solve the problem literally, it gives leaders only in the sense that a leader is someone who leads people. Lead them to where? It doesn’t care. As long as the masses have a person they recognize in front of them, they think they have what they wanted until they start crying in the middle of the leader’s term about how wrong they were.”
“So, what are you saying?”
“You don’t need a following to be a leader, only a vision. Democracy turns this upside down. It makes people who are visionary but don’t have a following work extra trying to get one. They burn themselves out looking for an accessory instead of empowering themselves with the necessary skills and resources to realize their visions. The masses aren’t important.”
#Matthew would have agreed with me.
A knock comes from the door.
“Come in, it’s open,” the young man shouts. He usually let everyone in. He had this fantasy that one of his father’s enemies would come seeking revenge one day and kill them both. If wishes were horses.
The door opens. It’s a boy of around thirteen. He walks in dragging a suitcase behind him.
“He just turned thirteen so I told his mother to send him here. Do you remember how badly you wanted him here when I told you to come? Well, here he is.”
Brian’s eyes flit over the boy and for a split second, they become glazed over with tears before drying into thirsty sand.
He looks at his father without saying a word to his brother.
“Are you going to torture him as you did me?”
The man looks into his son’s eyes and admires the fire burning behind them.
“Torture? You mean empower? If he is my son, then I have to.”
He was almost dead, but for the first time in a long time, he felt something other than anger and hopelessness. He can’t save himself but he has to save his brother. He doesn’t deserve this. He pulls away from the table and goes to greet his brother with as much false glee as he could muster.
#To make sure Joe understood what our father was, I warned him about what he was going to do to him.
“Do you understand?”
Joe’s eyes are wide in terror, his mouth aghast.
#And to make sure our father wouldn’t get the opportunity, I made sure we were always together, always dodging opportunities for him to shoot people in our presence, or order us to hack someone to death.
The two brothers are leaving school together, shooting things together and sparring with each other.
#And it seemed to be working.
“Why doesn’t dad wear a crown or something, since they already call him King?” The younger brother asks over the sound of explosions from the video game they are playing.
“You’d wear a crown if you were him?”
“Nah, a crown is too basic. I’d wear a lion’s head, you know coz the lion is the king of the jungle?”
“What? That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard,” Brian shouts over the sound of simulated gunshots.
“Oh, it gets dumber; It would be made out of solid gold. God knows dad can afford it. I think it would be fitting for a man of his stature, wouldn’t it?”
“Heavy is the head that wears the crown, literally. I mean you would require a neck brace to make sure you didn’t break your neck from just trying to stay upright for a full minute.”
“What would you do then, wear one made from styrofoam?”
“I wouldn’t need one because I don’t want anything to do with his drug empire.”
“You don’t? But it’s almost like he’s priming you to take over.”
“I don’t care what he is doing, I’m just biding my time for the perfect opportunity to get out and disappear. Besides, I’m pretty sure that he wants to train you for the ‘family business’ too, speaking of which, has he asked you to accompany him on a stroll or a ride somewhere?”
“Why do you keep asking me that, it’s already been a year, I don’t think he is going to kill someone in front of me.”
“Sorry, I was just making sure.”
#Something is not right.
“But if he did, I don’t think I would mind.”
“You wouldn’t mind him killing someone in front of you?”
“I wouldn’t mind him caring enough about me to try to make me stronger. Hell, if he wanted me to be the next King, I think I would do whatever I could to make him proud.”
“Let’s hope that’s just your childish naivety talking because believe me, that’s not a life you want to live.”
The lower half of the screen turns red. The words, ‘You died’ appear.
“Matthew was a much better challenger than you,” Joe says, claiming his victory.
“You still remember him?”
“How could I forget, his name is still at the top of the leaderboards of my console at home.”
“By the way, have you ever tried some of dad’s drugs?” The younger brother says after a while.
“No, and I hope you haven’t either. People who use that stuff are stupid fun-chasers who are too weak to take control of their own lives and would rather live in a drug-induced fantasy instead of face their problems.”
“Wow, you sound more and more like him every day.”
“Don’t even joke about that. Just make sure you aren’t alone with him, ever.”
“I can take care of myself.”
“The time you won’t be able to sleep for a week because he told you to get rid of a disembodied body is when you’ll realize you can’t.”
#But he had tried the drugs, and he loved them.
“Hurry up, we’ll be late!”
Brian shouts and then puts a bottle of water in a bag and then opens another bag adjacent to it to do the same but he notices something in it. He puts his hand in and produces a plastic pouch filled with white powder.
The curse comes from across the room. Joe has a towel around his waist, his wet hair is in clumps on his head with water still running down his body.
“What the hell man!” Brian says, his eyes wide as if he hadn’t seen a billion similar pouches before.
“It’s not like I’m addicted or anything okay, it’s just for fun,” Joe says shrugging his shoulders.
“Just for fun? How stupid can you get? That’s the most cliché thing I have ever had. Are you going to put it in your autobiography? ‘I got into drugs just for fun and before I knew it-’ “
“You don’t have to say it like that.”
“I don’t? Then how is it that you don’t understand how bad this stuff is? Have you seen the kind of people it is sold to on the streets?”
“I’m the son of the king. I’m a prince, that will never happen to me.”
#Is this what happens when you shield someone from reality? They take their security for granted to the point that they think they’re invincible?
“You are proud to be the son of a psychopathic drug lord? Do you know what he will do to you if he finds out you have this? Because I’m pretty sure you didn’t buy it from one of his vendors. He will gouge out one of your eyes and make you eat it.”
“Why are you always so dramatic, I have never even seen him kick a cat.”
“It’s because I protect you from him, you stupid idiot!”
The door suddenly opens. Brian quickly stuffs the pouch into his bag.
Their father’s head appears through the door.
“Brian, come with me for a bit.”
“We have to go to the shooting range; we have an appointment.”
“This is more important.”
Brian puts the bag with the pouch on his back and gets out. Joe throws his hands at him as he leaves.
That’s what’s written at the entrance of the open-air restaurant they sit down at.
“Isn’t this a bit too open for your kind of business?” Brian asks his father.
“What do you think we are doing here?”
“Meeting someone who will be dead in the next twenty minutes?”
Brian’s father chuckles and says, “Look behind you.”
He knows that he probably shouldn’t but he turns around anyway.
#What am I supposed to be looking for? A suspicious-looking person in black shades? A supposedly dead ex-employee? A stuffed bag whose owner is nowhere in sight? Or maybe something more sinister; a chokoraa (Swahili slang, sheng, street kid) who looks higher than he can afford, an abandoned child who saw more than she was supposed to? Or maybe it’s that pretty girl over there, with the complexion of a warm, sweet cup of cocoa, with her hair tied back into a fluffy bunch like a bunny’s tail that makes her look as if she has a small, dense, black cloud tethered to the back of her head, with her nose round and cheeks chubby with dimples like ripples of joy spreading out from her radiant smile. Shit, she’s turning this way, don’t look away that’s lame. Her eyes are like an abyss that I’m falling into so smoothly that I can’t feel the gravity. She reminds me of someone. She reminds me of…
He turns away quickly before she can recognize him.
“They just moved here one week ago. Her father got a lucrative job here courtesy of yours truly. You see, I’m not all bad.”
Brian doesn’t look at him. He just stares at the table as a rush of thoughts flood his mind.
“Go talk to her,” his father says.
“I can’t, seeing her just reminded me of what I did to Matthew.”
His father’s face twists in disgust. He then stands and starts waving in their direction.
“Mama Julia!” He calls out.
Brian gets surprised.
“What are you doing!”
Julia’s mother recognizes Brian’s father and with Julia in tow, moves to Brian’s table to greet them.
“Wow, fancy to see you two here! It’s been years. Brian, look at how much you’ve grown, you’re a man now!”
“Thank you,” Brian says with his eyes downcast.
“Baba Brian, you stopped coming home after Joe moved here too, why did… “
#I can’t even look at her, why am I such a coward?
His hands clench and unclench.
#Oh yeah, I killed our best friend’s father... but she doesn’t know that.
He looks up for a moment and underneath his brows he sees her looking at him. He quickly looks away.
#God, she’s beautiful.
His feet fidget and drag underneath the table.
#Why won’t she say anything, she would never shut up before.
“What are you thinking about so hard that you can’t even hear me, anyway, Mama Julia and I will go somewhere for a bit, be a gentleman and take care of Julia, okay?” His father says with a smile that almost makes him throw up.
He groans a response.
The parents get up and leave.
Here he was. Her best friend. Their best friend. She had always thought that their reunion would be a little more magical. Why had he never tried to contact her? Why did he look so nervous? There could only be one explanation. Well, there could be another but he didn’t, he couldn’t have.
“It wasn’t me,” her voice pulls him out of the swamp of thoughts he had been drowning in.
“After what happened to Matthew you just left, without a word. I showed up at the river the next day and waited for you but you never showed up, and then when I went to your house your mom told me you had left for Nairobi. You never even returned home for the holidays with your father.”
#Everything about that town reminds me of my betrayal.
“I’m not the one who told on Matthew okay,” she continues, “I don’t know how everyone found out. It wasn’t my fault.
#She thinks I blame her for something I did?
He slowly reaches across the table and puts his hand on hers.
“I don’t blame you, I never have,” he says without looking up.
“You don’t? Then why did you leave without saying anything?”
“Because… because I couldn’t face you…”
Brian rubs his neck.
#She’ll hate you if you tell her, you have to lie.
“Because... I’m the one who told on Matthew.”
She had hoped that they would meet again, if not through her constantly pestering her mother then through Brian’s own initiative. She had hoped that Brian would accept her apology and hear her theory about how it was probably her brother who had been spying on them. She had hoped that Brian would get angry and use his father’s connections to sniff out Matthew from whatever hole he had disappeared into. She had hoped that they would continue their once beautiful friendship for as long as they could. She had hoped that the thing that kept implying that Brian had betrayed them was wrong. She had hoped she didn’t already know the truth.
She withdraws her hand from the table.
He looks up at her and sees exactly what he had expected at such a confession. Disgust. He should’ve just lied.
“I was a child, I was jealous. I didn’t think things would escalate to that level.”
She stands, abject that her intuition had been right. She wishes he had just lied. They will probably never see Matthew again. He might even be dead.
“I’m sorry Julia,” Brian says standing up after her.
She walks away. Brian sits back down.
Dusk. Brian is lying on his hands on the table while he looks blankly to the side. A bearded man approaches him casting his shadow on the young man at the table.
“She left,” he murmurs without looking at him.
A grimace forms on the bearded man’s face. He takes a seat.
“What did you tell her?”
“Why? Did you think it would win her over?”
“It was the right thing to do.”
“The right thing to do… “ Brian’s father grumbles.
The words draw bile from his stomach setting his throat on fire. That sentence embodied the very concept of weakness. It was defeatist. It was anti-life. It served no purpose other than protecting itself.
“The right thing to do! Haven’t you learnt anything? What is right and wrong is just a mass delusion! I have been trying to break you from it but you are so stubborn. If you want that girl, tell her anything you need to tell her for you to be happy. I want you to be happy, do you understand? And the only way I can ensure you will always be happy is if I make you learn that everything is in your control, nothing has value unless you wish it to!”
“If lying and killing are happiness then I would rather be depressed,” Brian says drowsily, unaware of the storm brewing in his father’s cauldron of a mind.
“Then that is all you will ever be.”
Brian lifts his head and looks at his father.
“Was this a test?”
“At least you have a brain.”
The bearded man gets up and starts walking away. He had tried everything, except…
“I spent too much time trying to build you up, maybe I should have just broken you down.”
Brian’s father is reading a newspaper in the living room of his house. Brian comes out of a room somewhere.
“I don’t know,” his father answers nonchalantly.
“Then send someone to look for him.”
“I already did.”
Brian stares at his father. Deep in the pits of his stomach, he feels something. What had he done? His father’s phone rings.
He gets up.
“They found Joe.”
#I had seen dead bodies before.
Brian has tears streaming down his face.
#But this wasn’t a stranger’s lifeless remains.
He is in a morgue.
#This was my brother’s corpse.
His father stands behind him.
#After all those years protecting him, a drug addict stabbed him dead for a pouch of cocaine.
Brian abruptly becomes serious and angry.
#No, the drug addict didn’t kill him.
“What did you do?” Brian asks through his gritted teeth.
His father likes the way his voice sounds. Cold, calm, collected. Focused.
“I didn’t want to have to resort to this, but you were being so stubborn with your sentiments. It was my original plan though; find the centre of your world and destroy it, but I thought seeing several strangers die would yield the same results, I guess it wasn’t simple arithmetic. You have the spark of greatness Brian, you are meant for greater things, not like that boy. This could have been avoided if only you would have needed less convincing. And besides, he was stealing from me, so I killed two birds with one drug addict.”
Brian’s face goes blank.
#What did he just say?
His eyes dry up. He clenches his teeth. His whole body stiffens. His hands squeeze into fists. Everything goes red.
The bearded man crashes into a wall. Something drives the wind out of his lungs. His left knee cracks. He screams and falls on his hands. Something hits him on the side of his face. His ears start ringing, his vision becomes blurry. He is hit in the face and he finds himself on his back. Something drags him by his shirt to an upright position. The side of his face starts getting pounded. There’s someone shouting something over the ringing, ’Killed… Son… Brother…’. He can’t make anything out. The pounding becomes distant, everything starts to dim. Suddenly, he is let go and he falls to the floor. There’s a warm liquid flowing down the left side of his face. Something metallic crashes. Through his eyes he sees several blurs struggling against each other. He smiles. He closes his eyes.
Brian opens his eyes. His head is fuzzy. There’s a sore pain in his neck.
He looks at the door. He looks around. He recognises the room.
#You wanted me to be fearless?
He picks up a knife from the table and slowly walks to the door.
#Then you’ll be my first victim.
He jerks the door open with the knife held above his head.
Julia sees the knife and jumps back in terror. He sees her reaction and puts his hand down.
“Sorry, I thought it was my father.”
“Your father? Do you always greet him with a knife?”
“I was in the kitchen cutting some things, I forgot to put the knife down.”
“Umm… okay?” She’s not convinced but it doesn’t matter.
“If this is about what happened to Matthew-” he says after an awkward silence.
“It’s okay, I forgive you,” she interrupts, “You might have blown the whistle but you’re not the one who made them do it, but that’s not why I came. May I come in?”
He shows her in. She goes and sits on the couch. He places the knife on the table and sits next to her.
“I heard about Joe, I am so sorry.”
She hugs him.
She withdraws and looks at his neck.
“There’s some blood on your neck.”
She takes out a piece of tissue paper from her purse and, tilting his head to the side, dabs his neck.
“It’s like a pinprick or an injection.”
#So that’s what happened.
“Don’t worry about it, it’s nothing.”
“You sure? I mean you are acting kind of strange, with the knife and all.”
“I need your advice on something,” he abruptly says.
She looks at him with a bit of worry in her eyes.
“There is something I need to do, about Joe’s death, and if I don’t do it, I don’t think I will ever find peace.”
“What do you need to do?”
Brian looks at the knife he placed on the table.
“I can’t tell you the details.”
“You can’t tell me the details? Does that mean you are planning on doing something stupid? You want my advice? Do what you need to do, but don’t be stupid about it. I already lost Matthew, I don’t want to lose you too.”
She puts her hand on his face.
He stares into her eyes then he starts moving his head closer. Julia gets a bit surprised and starts moving her head further but there’s only so far she could go. He kisses her.
He pulls away and sees that she is surprised.
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done that.”
“No, it’s okay. With your brother’s death, you must be feeling confused.”
They withdraw from each other and sit squarely on the couch.
#This would prove him wrong about everything and also get justice for Joe, but…
“I’ll do it.”
#Maybe she’s right, maybe I should trust society and the law one last time.
“I will report my father.”
“Why will you report your father?”
He turns his head towards her.
“You can never tell anyone what I’m about to tell you…”
#I told her, and then I told the police.
Brian and Julia are sitting in front of a T.V. screen. Both have their eyes glued to it. Both have their mouths aghast.
#Instead of catching him and humiliating him by making him suffer through the system he so looked down upon…
The by-line at the bottom of the screen reads, “‘King’ of the local drug cartel killed by a policeman in a stand-off.”
Julia hugs Brian.
#And for the first time in my life, I felt free.
The young man smiles over the lady’s shoulder.
#My father was right.
“It wasn’t your fault,” she says.
“You just wanted justice.”
#This is justice.
“Please, don’t feel bad about this.”
#I have never felt better than I do right now.
“Don’t leave me,” he says and squeezes her.
#He was right about everything.
“I won’t leave you,” she hugs him tighter.
#If you want something just take it.
“You are the only one I have left,” his voice flat, emotionless.
#And I want you, Julia.
“I will never leave you,” her voice tender, caring.
#And I want revenge.
#My father was dead but I wish I had been the one to pull the trigger, but there was still a chance so I called some of my father’s friends.
“It’s a shame what happened to my father, but it would be an insult if I let him rest without getting justice for his son.”
“I’m listening…” says the man at the other end of the call.
#They found my brother’s killer.
A young man with a scraggly beard stands over a dirty street boy, gun in hand.
#I killed him myself.
He points the gun at the boy and pulls the trigger.
#The gun felt lighter after the recoil. The bang sounded as if signalling the start of a race.
#That bullet carried with it what was left of my moral solicitude. Neither god nor the devil had done anything about my brother’s murder, but I had.
#I was free, fearless.
#The murderer’s blood flowed, but was it enough? I had the means to make the world better, to rid the world of evil and injustice, and I owed it to my brother to use it to fix the society that failed him.
#The same society that failed Matthew.
Brian is standing at the head of a conference table. There are several rich people seated along its length.
“I can make you richer than my father ever did.”
“You don’t need to campaign with us,” says one of the men at the table, “we know your father wanted you to be the one who takes over, with his influence- “
“I don’t want his influence, I don’t want his drugs, I don’t want his kingdom. I don’t want anything from him. I will make my own. I want to offer you a new deal.”
He places a briefcase on the table.
“What’s that?” Someone else asks.
He opens the briefcase. A golden glaze shines over his face.
“Your new King.”