January 12th, 2025 | 1:45pm Present Time
Payne. Marshall Payne. He was my father. A good one he was, but his last moments were unkind to him, same as my mother Larae Payne. Both two good souls taken from this world and no warning to come. Me? Well you’ll learn my name in due time along with the others, but before we go any further, how about we catch up?
March 22nd, 1996 | Marshall Payne
Our lives are the longest thing we ever live, but it seems that it goes by so fast. For me, I like to live on edge. Make things interesting so life doesn’t seem so bland. See my life is sort of complicated. You see my biological parents probably believed I was too good for them, so they decided to drop me off at the orphanage right after I was born. I never saw a picture of them or knew their names, but hey it’s not too bad because I get to do whatever I want whenever I want without having some nagging adult around. You think an orphanage is going to help me? No, of course not. I learned at a fairly young age, maybe 10 or 11, that living by the rule’s sucks. I’ve been running around for so long that I could name about half of the child protective service guards by first and last name. When I turn eighteen, I plan to be in the army one day. Not just to get back at the bad guys, but to show my real parents that maybe, just maybe, they could’ve given me chance. However, since I’ve been sixteen, life has been everything but what I expected.
The last orphan home I lived in before planning my next greatest escape, a family came in wanting to adopt me. I know what you’re thinking, “Why would they want to get a kid who’s nothing but trouble?’ Trust me, I asked the same question before I saw who they were. Their names where Natalia and Hermione. They lead the biggest drug dealing gang in Boston, called the Vipers. They didn’t even say a word when they came through the doors. The front desk lady didn’t even give them the legal papers. She just gave me away, sad right? So, they threw me in the back of their Buick and headed back to their place. I’ve never felt so excited and terrified at the same time. Just imagine leaving with the most notorious gang in Boston and you weren’t even born into it! I felt a little pride building in my chest, thinking I’m the chosen one or something like that, but when we got to their place, they handed me a sack and told me to run an errand. Turns out I’m just one of their recruits, a bus boy. I was a little hurt, not going to lie, but it was better than doing their inside work.
A year passes by and I’m seventeen. Still running errands for the Vipers, but I guess they trusted me enough to do some higher scale jobs. So, I started shoplifting, robbing a few banks, and maybe tinkering around a prison break, but I didn’t do the last one I swear. Then one day, out of the blue, Jerome called me inside the house. Jerome is some weird kid they seem to keep around for closure, but all he really does is just count the money and pack the bags. On the other hand, nobody gets called in the house. Usually two things happen: 1. You got caught taking some product for yourself or you decided to take a little more than your fair share, so they got to take care of you. Or 2. They think you’re a rat, so they take you down to the basement to do a little bit of ‘questioning’. How do I know these things? Well let’s just say I have a pretty keen eye for seeing things to save myself from trouble. I go inside the house looking for Hermione and Natalia.
“Boy, come here. We have some business to discuss.”, Hermione said.
To fill you in, Hermione runs all the hits and operates all the errands. Natalia is more of a seducer. She helps get more clientele and builds relationships with other gangs. So, if Hermione ever needs help on a job, it’s going to be something more serious than running an errand.
“Sure boss, what’s the plan?”, I asked.
“A man named Julio Valdez, a spy from the Cheron gang, was caught lurking around one of my factories. I need you to help me question him downstairs.”
“Uh... sure thing boss, but if you don’t mind me asking. Why me? There’s plenty of bus boys here that would love to help you downstairs.”
“First rule of business kid: don’t ever question me. You’ve proved yourself useful in past jobs. Don’t make me regret choosing you.”
We headed downstairs. I’ve never actually been inside the house before. I’ve only heard rumors about what goes on downstairs. There was a story about how a boy name Chase Bourne, he was a bus boy, got caught taking some of the product for himself. Chase was a fairly confident and talkative dude, but after he came back from downstairs, he hasn’t said a word since and that was five years ago.
We finally get to the basement and it’s exactly like how I imagined, besides the glass box in the middle of the room. The room was cold and dark. The lighting was dim with a yellowish tint glowing bright enough to see the person sitting in the chair. Assuming that he was Julio. He looked almost paralyzed the way he stared at the glass. His arm rested on the table and his whole body motionless, but there were no bruises or cuts on his body. Hermione motions me to follow him inside the glass box and it turns out the glass are two-way mirrors. You can see looking from the outside in, but once you go inside, you can’t see anything but yourself. Julio’s eyes seemed sunken and tired with bags underneath, making it look like he’s been awake for days. Every hair on his arm seemed to stand up, but not once did he shiver. The only thing about him that seemed responsive is his mouth. It twitched every so often, like he wanted to say something, but he can’t find the words.
“This is Julio. We’ve been questioning him for the last three days, you see? And he’s yet to give me answer. So, I think it’s right for us to dispose of him and I want you to do it. Prove your loyalty to the Vipers, son.”, said Hermione.
Seriously? Look guys, I am not a killer. I’m a survivor and those two things are completely different. The only reason why I stayed with the Vipers for a year was because I know how gangs work. If you try to leave, there will be a bounty on your head, especially if you know too much and I can’t risk dying when there’s so much more I can do.
“You…… want me to... kill him?”
“Is there a problem?”
“Yeah…. I mean…. I not the type of person to go around killing people you know. So, I think it’ll be best I just leave, and you can take care of this issue on your own.”
That was probably one of the best mistakes I’d ever made. Hermione obviously was not happy about me chickening out. He took the gun that was sitting on the table and shot Julio dead center in the head without even breaking eye contact with me. Julio still didn’t even move. It’s like he was already dead before they shot him.
Hermione stared at me for a few moments and it was definitely weird. Don’t get me wrong, I am fearing for my life right now, but at the same time I felt calm in an uncanny way. Not even seconds later, a bag is wrapped around my head. I felt the kicks and punches pounding all over. I for sure thought this was the end, but it wasn’t. I must’ve blacked out from the beating because when I came to, I was in some apartment with a backpack next to me. In the backpack, it was loads of cash, a passport, and a note. The note read:
You had one job. Stay away or next time I won’t go so easy on you.
I’ve been on my own ever since.
September 2nd, 1997 | Larae Mitchell
Everyone knows everyone, but I’m mostly invisible. Not that I don’t like to have my own privacy, but I would like someone to notice me at some point in time. Both of my parents died due to heart problems. My father died months after I was born, and my mother died when I was ten. I would love to say that I’m an only child, but I do have a brother. I don’t speak of his name because in my mind he is a disgrace to the family. He’s a con. Always in and out of jail and he thinks it’s a game. I think it’s a waste of life and before you judge me, I’ll have you know that I am the smartest in the family. I graduated high school at the age of fourteen, took the summer to earn my associate degree, and at the age of sixteen I began my journey to college. Right now, I’m a sophomore in college and the only thing that interested me is man I met while tutoring a speech class. He stared at me the whole time, which I felt was pretty odd. He also showed up to almost every tutoring session I held. I would’ve thought he was some kind of stalker if he didn’t ask me out on a date.
We went to the bowling alley down 25th street. Truth be told, I hate doing these types of functions. I like to keep my competitive side to myself, reserved. However, there was something about him that seemed different than most of the men I’ve ran into. He was fairly skinny, looks as if he hasn’t eaten in weeks. His smile, however, could light up a room. He is extremely confident in himself. You can tell how every time he bowls; he looks at me knowing he's going to get a strike. Almost like a taunt. We talked for hours after we finished bowling and stopped to grab a bite at a diner near downtown. Last time I was out and about like this, it wasn’t so fairy-tale like.
Before my mother died, well she didn’t have the best job, but it paid good money. I was about nine years old at the time. She was going out on her late hours as usual, but this time she didn’t come back in the morning like she usually does. Usually, kids at that age would let it be, but I knew something wasn’t right. I went downtown to her job and peeked around the corner and there were a couple guys chatting, so I decided to eavesdrop.
“… you know the boss isn’t going to be happy about this.”, said man #1.
“You think I don’t know that? Look we already handled the husband. Know all we have to do is up the dosage on the chick, make it look like an overdose, and boom money in the bank.”, said man #2.
“I still don’t understand how either of them play into this.”
“For the last time: the husband was an undercover mafia boss. He had spies lurking in our business for years and if he was still here, our whole operation would’ve been toast. The wife however is a pawn. She may not be apart of if and she may be drunk most of the time, but we can’t have loose ends.”
“ok ok I get it, but what about the kid?”
“I’ll handle the kid; you just make sure the wife stays under supervision.”
I might have lied about how my mom and dad died, but it doesn’t matter. I’ve been on my own ever since I was nine. I had to lie to everyone and be to myself. I lived on the streets for a long time until I was able to scavenge enough money to get a small apartment. I had to change my name and become an entirely different person. How did I avoid parent meetings? Parent signatures? Well that’s something only for me to know and for you to figure out on your own. I kept my head down and decided to learn everything I could about those two guys and who they worked for as well as making sure I stayed nose deep in my studies. So far, all I know is that they work for a gang called the Vipers, but for something as delicate as this, patience is key.
After our date and lunch, he walked with me back to my apartment. His eyes seemed to glisten as he said his goodbye.
“It was very nice meeting you, but I best be on my way”, said the man.
“Same to you. I don’t think I caught your name?”, I said.
As he was walking away, he smiled and said,” My name is Payne, Marshall Payne.”
January 12th, 2025 | 2:30pm Present Time
And just like that, you’ve met my parents. Oh, you thought I was going to tell you how they died? Oh no. See this is just a prologue. I’m just telling you the minor details before we actually dive into the story. You see, this goes deeper than what you think. Like I said there are others, including myself, that still haven’t been introduced. However, I will tell you this, my parents are quite the romantic fairy-tale, but every fairy-tale has its conflicts.