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Chapter 18

Tyler was finishing up when we got back to the house.

Curtis and X had already split and Tyler had starting cutting and bagging most of the drugs.

“How did it go?” He looked up at us. “Holy shit that’s a lot of blood, are you okay?”

It looked like I stepped out of a murder scene with my crimson-soaked t-shirt. The idiot had dripped blood all over me waving his severed hand around.

“Yeah, yeah. Calm your tits, none of it’s mine.”

Tyler frowned, “That’s not exactly reassuring either, to be perfectly honest.”

I stripped out of my shirt, throwing it down the hallway. “That better for you?”

Tyler was hilarious. He hated seeing bleed. It made him dizzy and lightheaded, but he would never admit that. That’s probably why I was assigned to the killing duties.

“We got all our debts paid back,” Scar grinned, patting me on the back. “Now word that Shane’s outta jail is spreading I doubt we’ll have to do more collections.”

“What did you do? Put the fear of god into them or something?”

“I cut this guy’s hand off.”

“You what?!"

“He had it fuckin’ coming to him anyway. He tried to run away from us and then the bastard tried to fight me so I cut his hand off to teach him a lesson.” I shrugged, like it was just a normal day at the office for me.

To be honest, this stuff happened way more than people realized. A casual day for me collecting debts including various broken bones, one or two severed limbs and on the occasion, a bullet in someone’s brain.

“Jesus Christ.” Tyler shook his head.

“I’m happy Shane’s back. Mark was alright, but he wasn’t as brutal or savage the way Shane is.” Scar took a seat at the table, starting to organize the baggies of coke and heroin.

“Where is everyone?” I asked. “Where’s Nikki?”

“Your little girlfriend and Kristen went down to the slums, selling coke. They should be back later.”

“Oh. I’ve got a bone to pick with you about Landon, Ty.” I said, point blank.

“What’s that?”

“Do you know he’s shooting up at the apartments?”

Tyler sighed. “Yeah. I’ve already talked to him about it.”

“Did you knock some sense into him, or do I need to?”

“I talked to him, but he’s an adult, he can make his own choices, Shane.” I could hear the pain in Tyler’s voice. I knew it killed it him on the inside. I knew it hurt him knowing we weren’t kids anymore and he couldn’t control what we did. “What the hell can I say to him, when I’m the biggest fuckin’ hypocrite? I send you guys out to sell heroin.”

It was hard on me to hear Kristen talk openly about sex and have boys over. It was hard for me to accept the fact that she wasn’t a kid. She was also the spitting image of my mother, so it was hard for Tyler and I to look at her sometimes. It was hard on me because Landon was the youngest boy out of us and Tyler and I always made sure to steer him on the right path- or try to. He wasn’t like us, he wasn’t running drugs or shooting people. When we were kids, Landon stayed in his room playing video games more often than not.

How the hell he got caught up in something like this was beyond me.

Now, don’t get me wrong- I’m no patron saint. Not by a long shot. By I would never shoot shit into my veins. Coke was the hardest thing I did. I didn’t dare go near heroin, meth, crack or anything like that. First of all, I knew what it was cut with and the majority of the time you were getting more drain cleaner than you were the actual drug. And secondly, I saw first hand how that shit destroyed lives.

“I should talk to him. We both should go. Or call him over here.”

Tyler shook his head. “He won’t come here unless he absolutely has to.”

“Okay well then we’re going over there.”

The apartments smelt like meth and dirty socks. It was an overwhelming bleachy odour. It wasn’t surprising- this apartment was the “low income” housing, so all the addicts congregated there. I doubted anyone was concerned with keeping their place clean, which is probably why it smelt so bad.

I knocked once on the door.

“Who is it?”

“Your brother. Open the fuckin’ door.”

Landon opened the door and the first thing I noticed were the track marks on his arms. His eyes were sunken into his skull.

“Jesus Christ.” I shook my head, walking in.

“Shane? I didn’t know you were out of jail.”

“Yeah, got out a few weeks ago. Guess that’s what happens when you don’t keep in contact with your fuckin’ family.” I started to lose my temper, shoving Landon’s shoulder hard enough that he stumbled back, hitting the wall. “What the hell were you thinkin’? Getting into heroin? That’s what killed mom! How fucking could you!”

“Shane...” Tyler put an arm out to stop me, but I pushed him away.

“Don’t. You can’t tell me you’re okay with him doing this!”

“I-I can’t help it.” Landon said, cowering.

“You don’t think I was over here? Trying to talk sense into him? I offered to help him get clean. He doesn’t want to!” Tyler’s voice rose.

“Shane-” Landon tried again, “It’s not that bad.”

“Are you fucking kidding me! How can you stick this shit into your body knowing that this is why we don’t have a mom?”

“You have your ways of dealing with Mom’s death, I have mine.”

“Landon, we can help you, man. Please. You’re our brother. I can’t handle getting another fuckin’ phone call that someone in my family died.” Tyler said to him and I could hear the pain in his voice.

Landon shook his head. “I don’t need help.”

That’s when I snapped.

“Fine then. Don’t fuckin’ come to me. Don’t expect me to fuckin’ feel sorry for you when you end up dead on the fucking floor!” I stormed out the apartment.

I heard Tyler say something to Landon, and then he came out more calmly than me, shutting the door behind him. I punched a hole into the hallway wall.

“Shane. I know this hurts you. You were the closest to mom, you were the one who found her body. You were the most fucked up out of all of us about it.”

“Fuck man,” Tyler hugs me- something that doesn’t happen very often.

“You don’t think that it kills me? Because it does. But at the end of the day he made his choice and I’m not the one in charge of you all anymore. You’re all adults.”

I shook my head as we walked back to our house, stepping over people sleeping in the entranceway. It’s nearly dark out now.

“Nikki and Kristen should’ve been back by now.” Tyler said, looking at the clock.

“Don’t even get me started on worrying about something else, man.” I told him, lighting up a cigarette.

Pretty soon, Scar and I were going to head out back to the harbour and downtown to sell the harder shit the kids weren’t allowed to take out during the day.

“They should be fine, Ty.” Michelle said, coming out from the basement. “I made pasta for dinner, it’s in the fridge if you’re hungry.”

“Thanks, Mich.”

“So, Shane.” Michelle had a shit eating grin on her face. “How’s your girlfriend?”

“Oh, don’t you even fuckin’ start with me. What are we, twelve?”

She laughed. “You got locked away so many damn times Shane, I haven’t had the chance to bust your balls in years, I wouldn’t let you off that easy. Where were you guys anyway?”

“The apartments. Shane wanted to see if he could talk Landon out of doing heroin. You can imagine how well that went.”

“Yeah, that’s rough. I’m sorry Shane, I know how that must’ve made you feel.”

I shrugged. “It is what it is, nothin’ any of us can do.”

Michelle looked at me with those eyes of hers and I knew that she saw right through my bullshit. If Tyler wasn’t around, I would’ve hugged her and damn near broken down in front of her.

The front door opened as Scar walked through, Mark and Seth trailing behind him. “What’s up?” He asked, taking a seat at the kitchen table. “You wanna head out?”

I shook my head. “Nah, I wanna wait until Nikki and my sister are home. They’re not back yet.”

“Are you guys hungry? I made dinner.”

“Oh, hell yeah, I’ll take some.” Seth said. Mark nodded at me before taking a seat on the couch. Tyler was pacing, looking at the clock and the window.

The front door opened as Nikki and Kristen ran in, out of breath and panting hard.

“What’s wrong?” Tyler demanded.

I got up from where I was and went over to Nikki. Kristen was bent over with her hair hanging between her legs.

“Are you okay?” I asked Nikki, pushing the hair out of her face.

She nodded.

“What the fuck were you guys running from?” Michelle asked them.

“It started to get dark out when we were coming home and there were some Crips so we just decided to make a run for it.” Kristen said, flopping down on the couch beside Mark.

I pulled back. “Did they come after you guys?”

Nikki shook my head. “No, but I had Kris with me and I wasn’t going to start anything with just the two of us. It was better just to play it safe and run.”

“If you had been out any later I would’ve kicked both of your asses.” Ty said.

That was Tyler’s rule when we were younger. We had to be home by the time the streetlights came on or we could get an ass kicking.

“Yeah, yeah, whatever you say Ty.” Nikki rolled her eyes before tossing the stack of bills on the table in front of Scar, “I sold everything.”

“Good job, little lady.” Scar said, picking up the cash as he started to count it out. It was a decent amount, I’d give her that.

“Any of you guys wanna split a six pack of beer?” Seth asked, reaching into his jeans and pulling out a bunch of loose change, spilling onto the floor.

“You can’t even afford a six pack?” Mark snorted.

“Why you always gotta rag on me, man?”

“Get a job, maybe help clean up your own house instead of bumming around ours.” Tyler answered, rolling his eyes.

“Shit Ty, if I ever did that, you all would die of shock.”

“Yeah, we wouldn’t want that.” Mark said dryly.

“Here Seth,” Kristen tossed a couple of coins onto the table, “We can go to the liquor store off seventy ninth ave, they’re open twenty four hours.”

“Sweet! Hey Nikki, you got a quarter I could borrow?”

“Oh for fuck sakes,” She said, throwing a dollar at him as he and Kristen scrambled to catch it.

“What did I say about going out at night?” Tyler glared at Kristen.

“That liquor store is technically still in Harlow, Ty. It’s not like we’re leaving the hood.”

“Here’s your cut, Nick.” Scar said, passing her a stack of twenties that she slid into her pocket.

I threw my hood up, covering my hair. “I’m gonna head out now. Scar, you comin’ with?”

“Yeah man.”

“I’ll be home late; you can stay in my room if you want.” I said to Nikki, kissing her as I followed Scar out of the house, onto our second part of our Saturday routine.

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