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not real, made up, purely intended for entertainment


by Cocoalatte

Here, where the gang legacy runs deep, deeper than the generations old families, who have survived raid after raid, after socio economic downward lurch. Down here, amongst the crack heads and the fiends that feed their addiction, who meet in shady clubs, and hazy sweaty kitchens, and dim back alleys and press their hands together damp palm to sickeningly dry palm – exchanging a few steps towards death for a grimy fifty. Here, where the whine of police sirens is perpetually distant – except for those heart stopping few times when it isn’t, and everybody, everybody is running for themselves – terrified and too unwilling to do time for anybody, or even for their own sins.

Here, where everybody tries to get out, and nobody ever leaves, and everybody’s just ‘trying to build a better life’ for themselves, but nobody’s getting any better. Here, where everybody’s always beat down, or angry at some higher, unidentified but collectively recognised force. Here, where the streets are almost literally marked out – your territory and their territory, and any deviation will earn you a fucking bullet in the head.

This is the only life they’ve ever known and even so, the excuse itself is so tenuous, so shockingly transparent, that secretly, in the privacy of their own homes, with their closest friends and families, they can all laugh, on both sides of the divide. Chris does – often. Sometimes, not even in private – and it’s testament to how respected he is that nobody beats the ever loving shit out of him –

- The thought would make even the bravest of them feel weak. Because when it comes down to it, they all know that what they’re doing is wrong, that these drugs they’re selling, the bootlegs they’re making, the schools they’re dropping out of and the babies they’re having (doomed from day one, really) are all wrong. But as long as there is a leader, as long as somebody is standing up every night and giving directions and collecting taxes (a term so far divorced from the original concept that it’s laughable) and forming some sort of recognisably progressive (a relative term) and forward thinking system, nobody’s going to say anything. Nobody is living under any false illusions about what would happen if there was no leader, especially if they lost Chris.

Chris knows this, is aware of the entire social structure that rests on him having a cool head and not pulling stupid shit. You’re, like, responsible man… Justin always thought the concept was cool. Chris thinks maybe one day Justin’s going to take this whole thing over, is going to step very smoothly in his heavy timberlands into this role – wake up one day and tie the red bandana on his head and light a cheap cigarette and leave his house and get into a stolen car (repainted, new licence) and call himself god, just like Chris is getting up every morning, and taming his hair under cheap red cloth marred only by the jet black outline of a dragon, and cursing when he can’t find his lighter, and getting into a black Cadillac of questionable origin to go do his rounds and scare the ever loving shit out of people who owe him money so that he can come home tonight and feed his mom and sisters.

So when AJ, Bone, meets him in the most discreet place he can find – an ugly, empty room on the very outskirts of town that Chris paid for with cash and with his hood pulled down low – Chris pretends, as always, that today is the last time. The last time, the first time, the third time, the best time. It’s always the best time. He always starts with the jeans, because Bone always keeps his blue bandana with the one small black dolphin shape emblazed on it (probably permanent marker) hanging out of the left hand side pocket of his jeans, and Chris really doesn’t want to see it. He always takes his bandana off before he goes in – takes it off in the car and locks it away in the glove compartment. Bone knows this, stares at him in the eye while they lay on a musty mattress and let the dust motes over take them for a moment, while AJ runs a confident hand over Chris’ belly.

"Aijuswannaknow," he says, the slowly cooling heat between them slurring it into one slick word. He just keeps staring at Chris, staring and staring, intense and ruthless.


Aijuswannaknow if you intend to keep doin this, creepin’, lying to your boys –

—Fuck you, like you’re not doing exac—

—and then comin’ here to see what’s good for the night—

—even know when the fuck did you turn into such a goddamn girl—

—though you know we have to stop.

Chris shuts up. He shuts up real quick because he’s not dumb enough not to be able to admit that he’s the one that called Bone, always does. He bites down on his lip, hard, and gets up.

If this isn’t what you –

—Don’t be a dick, that’s not –

—maybe you’d rather find some one else to fuck around with on the sly or –

—and if you’d stop being so fuckin’ irrational for a fucking second –

—trying to take some sort of moral fuckin’ high ground –

—Shut up. Bone says it in a tone that for a moment, leaves no room for argument. Chris takes a deep, agitated breath, and wonders if they can ever have conversations where they let each other finish sentences. If you feel like risking your sisters’ lives for a little ass –

- You shut the fuck up about my sisters, and Chris is already up, pulling his pants on again, furious, furious, almost unable to see straight and there is just no explanation for why this button is not goddamn cooperating and, hell, he has more to say, this fucking punk thinks he can just say shit just because they’re fucking, just because Chris has called him up, just because he might – he swallows the almost thought down into the very gut of his mind, hopefully to rot away and never to be thought again. You shut up about my sisters, and anybody else in my family, you think you know a thing? One fucking thing? I’ll fuck you up – You think I won’t?.

He’s pulling on his shirt and sweater and coat – it’s a bitter December out there – and where the fuck are his shoes? He comes across Bone’s jeans, pulls this blue cloth out of the pocket, and brandishes it, waving it about, ignoring how it smells a lot like Bone, or maybe, maybe that’s just the fact that his scent is all over him. He feels distinctly sick.

This, this means nothing anymore, do you hear me? He gets closer, close enough to smell Bone’s sour breath (tobacco and some kind of liquor – scotch maybe. Chris had licked the taste out of his mouth earlier but he’s too angry to remember now) and snarls. You think we’re going to continue with this mutually beneficial arrangement anymore? We’re done. Dolphins don’t survive on land. You hear me? Done.

He never finds out if Bone does, in fact, hear him. He holds his face the other way, stony and blank, save for the twitching tendons in his jaw, and Chris leaves, flinging the bandana in a small puddle….a patch of glorified damp, really and the ink runs, and runs, the dolphin disappearing in the grungy waters of a shitty little one room apartment, in a near dilapidated apartment block, on the outskirts of the city that they’ve never left, and they never will, buttfuck America.

Chris steps outside and lights a cigarette before getting into the car, tying his bandana on with clammy fingers and shaking hands, which he refuses to acknowledge, and when he finally does, it’s to Justin and Joe and Jace, down at the warehouse, in the east side, their side, and he tells them it’s anger, but it’s not. It’s not. It’s a terror that has gripped him because he didn’t realise how deep Bone had crawled in, how close he’d been to –

It’s time, he says to them, quietly, and a reverent and somewhat shocked silence falls over them all, as it should do – they almost thought this day was never going to come. He goes home that night, and kisses his mom and the girls, and in the early morning (early enough that they can pretend that the grey cast over town is the weak dawn rays, and not the colour of years of corruption and debt and crime and unemployment), when his guys, all some how showing their colours in bandanas, sweatshirts, the trimming on the bats that they hold, make an opportunistic raid in the west side of town, and mark every door, of every Dolphin with a red dragon, they do it with fear and trepidation and the anticipation of victory in their hearts, because they’re on the brink of a battle, and this is war.


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