When I was fourteen years old, I killed for the first time. That day I learned cruelty wasn’t only within the walls we had just escaped. It hasn’t been easy growing up in the middle of a war. A struggle to find shelter. Fighting to protect our bodies against the corruption of the streets. Nobody cared about the street kids who had to beg and steal to eat. We are the Portland Street Kings – A family forged through loyalty not blood. To get through this life of broken dreams alive, we’ve become hard, uncaring and merciless. We do what must be done to keep our family safe, we will harm those who stand against us. We have it all, feared and respected by those on the streets. Then she collided into my world, and with her came demons from my past, back to haunt us all.
“What if I already have, brotha? What if she’s already dead?” Rex’s grin is devilish, one I know all too well. He got to her. I push off him, hard, causing Rex to slump to the ground roughly. My chest explodes and my whole world falls apart. I look around me at the people staring, at the dust in the air, at the cars in the distance. Piper. I grab for my chest at the exact moment I know my heart plummets to my stomach, as if I thought I could catch it first. My mind is screaming at me to get to Piper to try to save her, but my panic is holding me back. Laughing at me, taunting me, reminding me that I actually thought I could let her go when really I can’t even bear the thought of living in a world where she doesn’t exist. In a blur, I hear Pace yelling that the home phone isn’t connecting. I look to see Rex on the ground, laughing, almost cackling. In a split second, the harsh world comes back into focus and I see everything for what it is: a world where I never win, where I’ll always be the underdog. I look to Rex and growl, “I told you why I did it! Why your father had to die. He was a rapist, and he deserved to die. Now you’ve gone after my girl? I can’t let you walk away from this.” I look down to him with what I’m sure are black eyes, murder running through my veins. I feel it pumping through my blood like worms sucking me dry. “If you’ve gone after her, if she’s hurt, you better run,” I growl. “You better run fucking fast, because I’m coming for you. I’m coming for you and your whole fucking crew. By the end of the day, I’m gonna to be washing your blood from my body and laughing. Laughing because your daddy still controls you even after his death. You won’t take off your fucking rose-colored glasses and see him for what he was, a fucking sadistic asshole!” I end on a roar.