The dream from that night was odd. It was the same but this time the sound was duller...not as loud. I thought it odd but kind of welcome as well. The room changed as well. It was darker gray-er than before. I didn't know what it meant but it felt like something was changing...or was going to at the time.
Four days passed and I felt like I was going through the motions. Everything just felt like it was leading up to what I really wanted and I was getting antsy. Charlene could tell but she never called me on it. I needed a place to clear my head and decided to take Man-Sumu's words to heart. The Kwoon.
The Kwoon was the studio I used to train at. It was the only place I knew it was one of the few places that would remain the same. Training with Man-Sifu, Man-Sumu's son, kind of made me the guy who dealt with the mugger the other night.
I walked through the door into the sounds of people hitting, getting hit and others hitting the padded ground. I looked around and was glad to see all that was around. People wearing the shirts, sashes and practicing the techniques that hurt like hell to have happen to you. Everyone there seemed so intent on their training that only a few people noticed me coming in. One of them was the person I came to see. “Phrey. Take over.” He said as he stepped away from the pads.
The guy who called Phrey behind him to take over the class was a tall man, built like an actual cage fighter but the guy was anything but, he was Diedrich Hernandez. A Sifu at this school, one of the few this one actually produced. It took a lot to become a Sifu from this school. The ones that did soon branched out to find their own students. Diedrich was one of the most loyal students and stayed to teach with our Sifu, both under our Suye; the grandmaster of our style kind of.
I bowed to him and he did the same. “It's been a while Chase me if you Can.” He said with a smirk, using our master's joke.
“If I had known I would've planned my time better.” I said, “You mind if I-?”
“No, not at all.” He said shaking his head and motioning to a chair. I took the seat and he watched the class. It felt good to see this place again and see the forms being practiced. It felt nostalgic to me.
The class went on and soon finished. I lost track of time apparently as it had become dark when the class finished. Hernandez-Sifu and others stayed to talk and we all caught up. “It feels like forever since you had been here Chase.” Humphrey “Phrey” Hernandez said, Phrey was Hernandez-Sifu's younger brother and just as skilled if not more than he was back in the day.
“Unfortunate, seeing how much has changed.” I said resting in the chair.
“If only you had been here for Sifu's going away party.” Hernandez-Sifu said, I nodded in reply.
“I wish I had been here for a lot of things.” I told them, “Oh, I saw Man-Sumu the other day.” I said,
“Oh?” Hernandez-Sifu asked, I nodded and proceeded to tell him what happened. He was the only one who didn't look at me with any tinge of surprise at what I told him, in fact he seemed happy. “At least we know you still got it.” He said,
“A lot of people seemed to have thought I lost it.” I told him, “When did that happen?” That's when the looks came.
“You don't remember?” Phrey asked,
“What do you mean?” I asked,
“Chase,” Hernandez-Sifu said, “You've stopped coming after-.” He stopped once my phone began going off. I pulled it out and saw I got a message from Houston.
“Warden's gone for now,” It said, “Midnight is when I can get you in. Don't be late.”
I stood up quickly. “I'm sorry Sifu.” I said with a bow. “I need to go now. Got work to take care of.” He opened his mouth to say something but I was already taking off out the door.
I got to Silver Heights and stopped in front of the monstrosity. It still looked like a mass of steel and stone, most do and that's their purpose. But there's always been a bit of menace for this one. The people behind it deserved to either be there or dead and got lucky. I got out of my car only to hear a throat clear. “You're late.” I looked at my watch and then to Houston who was resting against his car with his arms crossed a light scowl on his face.
“You're early.” I said as I walked over to him. There was a moment of silence before I spoke. “Anything you want to cover before we go in?”
“We shouldn't be here and I don't like this.” He said to me as he locked my gaze.
“Anything else?” He shook his head and began walking towards the building, taking me to meet my brother's killer.
I sat in the chair in one of the private rooms they kept for when a prisoner met with his lawyer and they needed privacy. I laid out the stuff that made it look like I was there for an interview.
A guard opened the door and escorted a man in, skinny as a twig and tatted with all the necessary ink to make sure he was protected while he was there. “Thanks Donny.” Houston said as he leaned against the wall behind me. “Just count us even alright? I'll expect those tickets later.”
The guard left and I was left to look at the man who had shot that girl and my brother. In my gaze one thought came across, 'Really?'
“Thank you for meeting us today Mr. Jones.” I said, “I'm Chase Marquez...” I looked at him to see if it got any response. I found his reaction odd.
“What you want?” He asked, his voice was deep to sound like a man but his look resembled hat of a beaten chihuahua.
“It's been three years since your incarceration for the murders of The young woman, Marion Webster and the young teen a few years back.”
“I wanted to talk to you about it sir.”
“Don't you read the papers?” He asked snidely, “It's been covered by all of them.”
“Just a side of the story everyone knows Mr. Jones.” I replied, “I want to know your side.” He didn't want to say anything so I kept on. I needed something and I thought saying stuff about the case would spark something in him. “You were caught in your mothers house with enough rounds and unregistered pistols that it would put you away for a long time.” I said, he laughed lightly, it was ego stroking for him for me to have said all that. “Gotta admit, it's a huge step up from petty theft, minor possession and bike theft.” I said. He tensed up.
“I thought it time to give my rep an upgrade.” He said,
“Well, guess even a chihuahua can bite a rottweiler.” I said smirking at him. He stepped up.
“Wanna say that again?” He said glaring at me. “I killed both that bitch and that little kid. She owed me money.”
“Sure.” I said getting up from the chair and walking over to him, “A girl who had been put on record as an honor student who was writing her ticket to several colleges would owe someone like you money.” I said,
“Those “smart” people all need a way to take the edge off don't they?” He retorted
“And the boy?” I asked glaring at him, “Where did he factor in?”
“What do you care?” Jones asked, finally standing up to meet my gaze, he tried to stand firm in front of me but as I came closer to him he inched backwards to create space. “You couldn't even handle the canon that killed those two could you?” I asked. “I mean you did get taken down by a random guy on the street pretty easily didn't you?”
“Watch yourself punk I will-.”
“What? End me?” I asked giving a low growl. Houston didn't move he was waiting to the last minute as he usually did. “Shoot me like you did that girl and my brother? Huh?” I pushed him. That was what pushed his go button however, he cocked back and tried to attack me with his bonds still on. I dodged it easily enough and pushed him by his neck in the wall. “You don't know me. Do you?” I grabbed his neck and squeezed while pushing his face into the wall. I leaned in and whispered, “How did you get my number?”
“The hell are you talking about?” I pulled him back and was about to push his face into the wall and that's when Houston grabbed me in a full-nelson.
“Chase! Stop!” I fought against it but stopped when the door flew opened and the guard came in. I stopped and the guards eyes flew between the three of us. Houston took point, “The inmate tried to attack and I had to put him down.” The guard looked between us again and I didn't even wait. I walked out of the room and Houston came out after me. We were quiet for a bit until we got out of there.
“You mind telling me what the hell just happened in there?” I didn't reply but he didn't stop, “Chase!” He grabbed me by my shoulder and turned me to him, “What the hell is going on?”
“He didn't kill Brandon.” I told him, “He didn't remember my name, the name of one of the people who put him in this place. He got heated, someone willing to shoot in a crowded place knows how to keep his cool. He...didn't know me Houston.” I told him,
“What are you talking about Chase?”
“He didn't kill my brother and that girl Houston!” I yelled, “That kid is the fall guy!”
“Chase, you can't just-.” I stopped him from finishing that,
“I have no choice Houston, they killed my brother and they framed an innocent kid.”
“Innocent of the crime he's being locked up for of course.” I said, “You know it too Houston.” Houston shook his head and rubbed his face in agitation.
“I can't do this Chase.” He said to me holding his hands out to the side, “Not again, not anymore.” He added before he walked away to his car and drove off. I didn't try to stop him, there were other things on my mind. Things I had to prepare for.