The Gang Wars of Tent City

Chapter 1—STRANGE FRIEND

These other kids have shirts like uniforms.

They are beating an old man!

Jack and Damien jump into the dust, two swirls, like Squeak and I don’t exist for awhile. They fight against the bad boys, their sweat shining and their wild hair beating back and forth.

Squeak singing

The old man is grubby like us‒ I bet he smells. Dark blood oozes from his nose and a split lip. He looks at the ground almost playing with the gravel and dust.

“Get the fuck away from him!” screams Damien.

Jack is quiet and his face is still like always. He is reaching into his right pocket.

A blonde boy from the bad gang moves toward Squeak and I, so Jack pounces, striking once, twice, with whatever he pulled out of his pocket. Dark red is weaving the boy’s blonde hair, pressing it into his skull.

The boy collapses.

The other bad boys run away. Damien’s eyes are red now. He is glowing. He is panting and walking back to me.

“Never come back to Tent City!”

His arm around me, I realize that his hatred of injustice doesn’t match his love for me. I love Damien more than anyone, because he loves me.

I love his smell, and I like to feel him fall down onto me. It is magic from him, and from me for him, my magic.

The old man grunts, but the blonde boy does not move.

“Thank you, boys!” says the old hobo.

Squeak is crying into Jack’s heart.

“Who are those kids?” asks Damien.

The old man sighs, “The… Nine-Five Kids. They’re a gang from the city. Not sure what they want around here.”

“What is your name?”

“… You may call me ‘Friend’.”

Chapter 2—KILL THOSE KIDS

A shadow grows over our tent, our headquarters.

Everyone pauses.

“It’s Isabel!”

She must have seen the fight yesterday, because here she is with us in Damien’s tent. She shakes, stirs, and throws angry looks at each of us.

Jack and the kids

Squeak hides her face in Jack’s tattered coat.

“Who is the old man? this ‘Friend’?” Isabel asks.

Damien answers, “I been seeing him around Tent City lately.”

“…and those kids?”

“Friend said they are part of some ‘Nine-Five’ gang in the city.” Damien looks down. “Leave now Isabel? What do you want?”

“You need to find those kids and kill them. They’re in our territory.”

“Fuck, Isabel! We don’t just kill people because they might be a problem—”

“Jack did!”

“—besides, it isn’t ‘our’ territory. Go away Isabel!”

“Do what I say!” Isabel’s heart is in the plane wreck.

Chapter 3—MRS. D.

She is wearing dark stockings under a slim blue dress. She is clean and she smells like laundry. Damien is lost again.

Ever since Mrs. D. started visiting us street kids, Damien is convinced she’s his mommy, the one he has been looking for forever.

Isabel swirls outside headquarters while Mrs. D. checks our tongues, our hair, and asks us what we’re doing this week.

(To be continued.)

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