Posted in Books & Stories

The Distant Factory — Chapter Thirteen

Cold, that was the only thing I felt. A cold, hard damp surface. My back was sore and it ached painfully as I tried to get my face off whatever it was that I was laying on. I was face down on my stomach on something not all that comfortable and as I slowly started to become awake I though I heard the sound of flowing water. It was close but I wasn’t quite there. All sorts of sounds came alive all around me as my mind slowly awakened. Even my head seemed sore and momentarily about to blow but that kind of pain wasn’t unknown to me. Despite everything I still managed to pull myself up and sit up on my knees, tilt my head back and just stretch my aching body.

Everything around me wasn’t so black anymore. The sky was of a dark blue, progressively becoming lighter on the other side of the river. The sun was about to rise somewhere above the tree line not too far from me. The distant sky had already began turning blaze orange with a few patches of dark yellow. There was also a slight breeze, very slight but chilly. That did not help the fact that my clothes were still damp from being soaked in water from the rain that came down the previous night. The bottle of Captain Morgan was still there as well. I had almost gotten to the bottom. There was no doubt in my mind that I totally could have if I hadn’t just passed out right then and there on an enormous boulder at the mouth of some unknown river right in the path of a dam. It hadn’t opened, probably because I would’ve been way too happy if I had gotten swept away.

“Hey!” an unknown male voice shouted from behind me, “Hey! You down there! Get back up here right now!”

At first I thought it was the police wanting to arrest me, after all trespassing on the property of a hydroelectric station was a pretty serious offense. But when I got up on my two feet, grabbed my backpack and turned back to put a face to the voice I saw that it was a young man of not more than eighteen years of age. Maybe even a little younger. He was waving his arms up and down and shouting something in gibberish.

“Get out of the basin!” the young man shouted again through a bunch of other things that I couldn’t understand.

Then it occurred to me when I heard an overly loud sound of screeching metal only a few feet from me. The old rusted dams started to open up and water came violently rushing out. For the first time in a long time I felt pure fear. As much as I would have liked to put an end to everything right then and there, the overwhelming sense of fear that swept over me in that moment was the only thing that prevented me from being swept away by the water that seemed to be coming out of everywhere. I rushed as fast as I could across a couple of boulders separating the water from the land and up the small rock wall separating me from the bridge up above. By the time I got there the boulders were completely submerged underwater. The young man only had time to grab me by the collar of my shirt and violently pull me up onto the railroad before most of the rock wall was underwater too.

“Holy smokes man,” I choked out, “you just saved my butt.”

Above the hydro dam only a few feet away there was a bridge for cars and not too far from it there was the skimpy narrow bridge for the train that the dude and I were standing on. Below us there was nothing but raging water. The bridges were two small sections, connecting on each side of a miniature island only housing a single building surrounded by an enormous barbwire fence. The place was old, the concrete had started chipping off the walls and crumbing down nearby. The old 1930s windows looked like they were about to fall off the building at any moment and were covered in large, rusted steel bars. Nothing and no one was going to get in or out of there through the windows. There was a large brick chimney sticking out from the far left side of the roof like it was a giant smelter or some other creepy thing like that.

“What is this place?” I asked as I looked in horror at the decaying building.
“Welcome to the Old Sylva power plant!” the young man replied giggling, “The creepiest thing in Old Sylva and probably in the entire state of New York.”
“Damn, that thing looks like Alcatraz. Honestly, a lot scarier than Alcatraz. Maybe more like Auschwitz.”
“So what brings you to the Alcatraz-Auschwitz power station yo?”
“I just wanted to get away from everything and everyone, yo.”
“Well it sure looks like I came at just the right time eh?”
“Yeah, thanks for that, whatever your name is.”
“I’m Connor Patterson, nice to meet you.”
“Thank you Connor Patterson, I’m Ana Sims but everyone calls me Drifter.”

Before I continued the conversation I just had to stick my hand in my backpack and make sure that my gun was still in there. It was. Despite all the fear, the confusion and the commotion, just the tip of my fingers touching the muzzle of the handgun enabled me to breathe easier. I was still quite shaken up by the whole thing, but having Dwayne Jackson loom over my head all the time made what had just happened seem like a grain of sand on a beach or a drop of water in an endless sea compared to what I had to go through when I lost my precious big brother.

“Where are you headed to Drifter?” Connor asked me as he started walking and signaled to follow me.
“Anywhere but here for a while I guess,” I replied somewhat angrily.
“Are you headed anywhere towards Queens? That’s where I’m going.”
“I guess that’s where I’m going too now.”
“Come and take a ride in my time machine!”

I followed Connor off the railroad bridge and passed the deserted bridge for cars. Just a few feet on the other side of Alcatraz station Connor’s 1972 Nova was parked on a small dirt shoulder. The car was old and rusted and had been spray-painted a deep forest green because there were a lot of inconsistencies in the paint job. In a way it kind of made the car look like camouflage. I grinned as I opened the door on the passenger’s side and sat down inside.

“You’re brave eh,” Connor spoke softly as he made the engine roar to life, “to just climb into a car with somebody you don’t even know.”
“Well I’ve got a gun in my backpack and I’ve got nothing to lose,” I taunted him in return.
“You sound like a girl on a mission.”
“I am.”
“That’s hot.”

I didn’t speak for a while as Connor turned the car around and drove back to Queens from Old Sylva. The sun was just rising making it for a spectacular view before everyone else woke up and turned the day into a waste.

“So, Connor Peterson,” I taunted again, “what were you doing at Old Alcatraz generating station at this time of the morning?”
“That’s where I go when I just want to get away from everything and everyone and simply watch the sunrise over the water in peace,” he replied with a smirk on the side of his face, “and by the way, look at what’s on the backseat.”

I grinned menacingly at him before quickly peaking behind me and seeing a black pump-action shotgun in plain sight just sitting there on the backseat. I just grinned at Connor before turning back and noticing some red shotgun shells lying around the floor.

“When did you decide you wanted to be a thug, Connor Peterson?”
“When did you decide you wanted to be a thug who carries a gun in her backpack?”
“I was eleven years old. My brother was murdered when I was thirteen. And now I think that after three long years it’s time that I kill the man who did it.”
“Interesting. Well my uncle raised me pretty much my whole life and he’s a thug, so it’s kind of in my blood you know.”

Despite the surrounding circumstances Connor and I managed to engage in a mitigating conversation during the short drive to the outskirts of Queens. In a sweeter kind of way, Connor kind of looked like a really badass version of Zac Efron with his dark sandy hair falling over parts of his eyes like that. The early morning sunlight brightly illuminated his green diamond eyes and I couldn’t help but notice a small scar over his right eye. The little white scar was barely noticeable on his light skin. His nose was slightly crooked to one side, another barely noticeable feature, but I figured that it had ended up like that after being broken when he was younger. He was a young man of your average build so he could’ve been anyone but he wasn’t everyone, because not everyone rides around with a twelve gauge shotgun in the backseat of a classic car.

As we rode back to the city from the boondocks of Old Sylva I saw Connor checking me out as well and examining my features and dirty clothing. My black hair had started to grow out, despite recently getting brand new clothes there were already holes and tears in them. I had a few other pieces in better condition in my backpack but I wanted to save them as much as possible just in case an occasion presented itself for which I needed to look at least semi-respectable and not like the homeless bum I was. There was no doubt in my mind that Connor new I was a drifter and a gangster not only because of my stereotypical appearance but because of my demeanor and behavior towards him. And then there was the one in a million chance that Connor and I were known to each other. Or maybe he was part of an enemy gang. But at the end of the day the government was our common enemy.

“Where are you from?” I asked Connor out of curiosity.
“A little of Bronx and a little of Whitehaven, New Jersey,” he replied keeping his eyes fixated on the road, “and you?”
“Cobalt. You know, behind Dobbs Ferry.”
“Yeah, I know where that is. Some of the best wine in the entire state of New York comes from that little vineyard on the lake over there. It’s also close to the bridge I always use to get back to the New Jersey side. Have you ever been to Whitehaven?”
“Nah, never crossed the bridge to New Jersey. But I know where Whitehaven is, it’s like right across the Hudson from where you can overlook the river from the waterfront in Cobalt.”
“Exactly! Right next to Palisades Park! Just an old piece of crap little place in the boondocks right on the border of New York and New Jersey. But that’s home really.”
“That’s cool man, so what are you doing so far from home in a place far worst than whatever old pieces of crap you can find in Whitehaven?”
“I’ve got some business to do in Bronx but I also have some roots in Old Sylva. I used to spend my summers there and from time to time I like to visit again and get a little taste of the days when things were better.”
“I understand.”

And I did all too well. I felt the exact same way about Florida and living with my mom. I missed my mom a lot, about as much as I missed Jeff. I had coped well with her death though. I understood terminal illness a lot better than murder. To the day I still had no dang idea as to why a city councillor would want to murder someone like my homeless bum of a brother.

“So, Connor Peterson,” I began again after a few moments of silence, “are you some kind of Heisenberg?”
“No,” he chuckled, “I’ve never been into drugs. My uncle Damian is a weapons dealer and I’m the deliveryman.”
“The black market I take it.”
“The only market.”

I grinned at him and I saw him grinning back from the corner of my eye. There was a mutual understanding between us as to why we were both there riding in his car.

“Is that a special delivery in the backseat?” I taunted.
“That’s actually to deliver a very important message about crossing territorial lines,” Connor replied in a very serious tone of voice, “one of the assholes who hang out by the abandoned shipping docks just south of Queens pissed off my uncle and he really shouldn’t have done that.”
“So you gonna go blow his brains out with that?” I chuckled.
“No,” Connor replied in a serious tone again, “just give him a little warning.”
“Well I must be in the wrong business.”
“And you, where are you from? What do you do? Let’s stop talking about all the shit I’ve done wrong and tell me more about you.”
“Homeless. Got some homies in Cobalt. I’ve got a gun and a single bullet and I want to kill Dwayne Jackson.”
“From Washington Heights.”
“That’s right.”

Connor and I had some mutual respect for each other and what we did. He wasn’t too far from me and I wasn’t too far from him. We were on the same level. Different worlds did not separate us. Maybe to some degree he reminded me of Eddie.

“So,” I rambled on as we arrived in Queens, “you’re taking me on a ride-along?”
“You and me,” he replied smiling at me, “we belong to the same class of people. So yes, I’m taking you on a ride-along. Have you ever done this before?”
“Yeah, my gang bros have done some pretty nasty shit in front of my face but I’ve never actually done it myself. I want to, but it’s the city councillor that I want to do.”
“We can do him after. It could be pretty fun. Bonnie and Clyde. Natural Born Killers.”
“He’s away for now, that’s the only reason I haven’t already killed him.”
“Why aren’t your gang mates with you on this?”

I chuckled under my breath. They thought it was okay to just break into some old man’s house and rob him of his life savings but it’s not okay to get your rightful revenge.

“They don’t think it’s worth it to kill Dwayne Jackson,” I finally spit out after a long moment of silence, “they want me to stay gold.”
“Ponygirl huh?” Connor laughed loudly, “But your guys have a point. They care about you. You can’t hold it against them.”

Connor had a point. The guys did care about me and they only did what they had to do in order to survive. It wasn’t a good life. It wasn’t a nice life. But in gangs as small as the one I belonged to, we had to defend our territory. There was going to be some blood spilling and a rampant infliction of fear. Eastern Cobalt belonged to us. The world belonged to me.

“When we get near the docks I’m gonna ask you to hide in the back of the car so they still think I’m alone,” Connor spoke seriously, “I don’t want to get you into trouble because I’m sure my uncle Damian will have great plans for you if you wanna stick around.”
“Help me kill Dwayne Jackson,” I was more serious than I had ever been in my entire life, “and then I’ll do whatever you want.”
“You’ve got yourself a deal, but first I’ve gotta take care of this business.”

As we arrived near the old shipping docks south of Queens, Connor gave me the signal to jump in the backseat and crouch down so nobody would see me back there. I felt vulnerable because I had left my backpack with my handgun in the front seat. While I was at it I collected a few of the shotgun shells and loaded the gun for Connor and whatever he was going to do with it. In the matter of just a few minutes the old car came to a screeching halt and Connor got out, letting the door slam behind him, and then reach through the open window and grab the shotgun.

“You really shouldn’t have done that Ratablavasky!”

That was the only thing I heard Connor say as he walked farther away from the car before gunshots erupted in the distance a few moments later. Fast forward a few more seconds and the shotgun came flying back in through the window and landing on the backseat before Connor practically jumped in the car and took off in a fury. More gunshots erupted from behind immediately after and some bullets shattered the back window of the car and Connor muttered a long list of profanity.

As sat up to see what was going on and I saw that Connor had blood on his face and there was some dripping off his hands and onto the steering wheel. He didn’t appear to be in pain and he didn’t appear to have been shot, but he had obviously done something.

“Get down!” he angrily shouted at me as I climbed up into the front seat with him.
“Yeah right, get down,” I snapped back as I got the shotgun and loaded a round into the chamber, “I’m in this too now.”

Connor grinned at me for a fraction of a second but the smile was soon wiped right off his face as more bullets broke the windows and one completely obliterated the mirror on the passenger’s side. Connor then made a very sharp turn that send me plowing into him with a loaded pistol grip shotgun and him plowing into the door on his side. All the loose junk in his car went swinging around all over the place as well but the only thing going on in our minds at that point was to get out of that piece of crap abandoned shipping dock alive and in one piece. Nothing else mattered. A million dollars could’ve flown out the window and it would not have mattered. All we wanted was to hang on to our dear lives for just another few moments.

The adrenaline running through my veins completely consumed me. It had been so long since I had stepped out onto the battlefield. There was an aspect of it that I liked. It gave me some twisted sense of satisfaction. It gave me the feeling of making a difference. I was just going to leave the world a colder place than it already was, but I was standing up for a cause that I believed in. I would die a martyr. I would go down in history. Everyone would remember my name. But I wasn’t ready. I still had a mission to accomplish. If I was going to die, it wouldn’t have been a satisfying death. I simply wasn’t ready.

“I see the message wasn’t received,” I spitefully told Connor as we left the shipping docks.
“Now we’ve just gotta get rid of these punks,” Connor’s voice was shaky, “but we’re still in the boonies and it don’t look like they are going to get off our butts.”
“Well they won’t ignore my message,” I spoke apprehensively as I stuck half my body out the window and sat on the car door with my feet on the seat.
“What the hell are you doing?!” Connor shouted in return as he grabbed my foot and tried to get me back in the car.

But he didn’t succeed. I had the shotgun loaded and ready to go and I was going to blow away Ratablavasky and whoever else was in that little yellow Jeep behind us. As the got closer and got ready to fire at me I noticed only two individuals inside the vehicle; the driver and some other dude with blond hair holding a pistol in his hand, kind of like Connor and me except that my gun was bigger and the two of them were going to find out the hard way when I pulled the trigger.

“Get down right freaking now!” Connor shouted as he did his best to drive and watch out for the punks inching closer and closer to us.

And then I fired the gun. The thing recoiled into my right eye, probably giving me an enormous black eye but I loaded another round into the chamber and fired again. The second time I hit the Jeep and destroyed the window but I wasn’t able to see if I had hit anyone. The Jeep swerved a little bit but it wasn’t long before the shooter stuck his arm out the window and that hand had a very itchy trigger finger. I briefly ducked back into the car to avoid a fury of bullets coming my way, but a few seconds after the shots were fired I got back out there and fired the two remaining rounds in the shotgun. I hit the driver fair and square because the Jeep swerved and was about to plow into an abandoned industrial garage but the passenger, still armed with his handgun, shot one last time, having a very good and clear aim at me, and hit me. I dropped the shotgun into the street below me and ducked back into the car holding one side of my head with my hand. That’s where I had felt the bullet. I reluctantly took my hand away and looked at it. There was only a small amount of light red blood on it, so the wound wasn’t all that bad. Half of my face wasn’t missing.

“Oh gosh!” Connor seemed frightened, “Are you okay?! Turn around and look at me!”

I turned over to his side, pulled my hair out of my face and let him examine the wound. He seemed to be incredibly relieved to see whatever it was on the right side of my head.

“The bullet only grazed you,” he let out a huge sigh of relief, “but part of your ear is missing.”

Connor pulled out a purple rag out from under the seat and gave it to me so I could apply pressure to the small wound. I could breathe a little easier knowing that it was just a little piece of flesh at the bottom of my ear that had gotten destroyed by the bullet and not anything more serious. The message had been received, that was one less problem looming over my head, but Connor and I still had to get out of that thug neighborhood without getting stopped by the police in our bullet-ridden car.

“Is it bad?” I asked Connor as I removed the towel pressed against my ear.
“Nah,” he said in a soft voice, “but you won’t be wearing pendant earrings anymore.”

I chuckled in relief.

“You’re lucky as hell that you turned at just the right moment so the bullet only got the bottom of your ear and not something more serious!”
“Yeah, no kidding. I just hope that this is to the liking of your uncle because it cost me a piece of my ear!”
“Oh Drifter, he will love you!”

That gave me a twisted sense of satisfaction. A sense of belonging, making a difference. As the reality of what had just happened began to sink in I raised my hands up in the air and cheered. Connor began to cheer along with me for a while until he parked the car in the back alley of an old corner store and signaled me to follow him.

“We’ll leave the car here and take public transit the rest of the way,” he said as he unscrewed the New Jersey license plates from the car, “and you’ll put these in your backpack and take them back to my uncle Damian.”

I nodded in agreement and we went on our way. At the bus station we cleaned ourselves up in the bathroom before boarding the first bus out of Queens. To avoid being noticed by possibly witnesses to what had gone down in the shipping docks we changed busses and trains often and took the long way back to New Jersey. That meant passing through the heart of Washington Heights and right passed City Hall. Both Connor and I looked intensely at the building and there was no doubt in my mind that he was thinking the same thing I was. In that moment I prayed that the police wouldn’t arrest us before we had the chance to carry out our mission. The pressure was mounting on me to accomplish what I had set out to do. My train of thought was interrupted when Connor’s cellphone rang in his coat pockets. His clothes weren’t all that much nicer than mine.

“Uncle Damian!” he spoke with a grin on his face, “Yes, it’s done.”

A grin appeared on my face too as I listened to him have a very brief and cryptic conversation over the phone. After a couple of hours of hopping off an on of public transit constantly, the two of us finally arrived in Whitehaven in the early afternoon. Upon being dropped off at the bus station there, I looked around the little neighborhood. It was a mixture of antique beauty with modern functionality. Of course as Connor and I walked to the neighborhood where his uncle Damian lived, things changed. The old buildings were decaying. It awfully reminded me of that poor old neighborhood in the boonies of Yonkers where Eddie and I used to shack up. Damn, I missed Eddie more than I was willing to admit to myself.

Damian Welker lived on the fifth floor of an old six storey building with faded burgundy bricks. It was one of the much older neighborhoods in the town of Whitehaven but it sure looked a lot better than Yonkers and Cobalt. A few blocks down the road, passed the trees and the river, I knew that Cobalt was back there and in the distance the factory was there too. It was an odd feeling being on the New Jersey side looking across the Hudson to the place I called home. It was so close yet so far away. It was right there right in front of me yet it was unattainable, I couldn’t get there. For the first time since I had set out on my mission, I could see the life in front of my eyes for what it really was. My entire life I had never been able to appreciate the basic concept of life.

“C’mon Drifter,” Connor grabbed me by the arm and pulled me towards the building his uncle lived in, “my uncle Damian doesn’t like it when people keep him waiting.”

We had to enter through yet another hefty metal door of the Ku Klux Klan and Jehovah’s Witnesses only to come into a building that smelled like mold and smoke. Eddie’s shack hadn’t smelled like that because almost all the windows were broken but Damian’s building was a disgusting place to live. There was no elevator either so Connor and I had to climb up a long and narrow flight of stairs all the way up to the fifth floor. Most of the tenants there were out working in the middle of the afternoon but the place was still loud with a bunch of kids crying and dogs barking. That place was no place to try to raise a family. The streets and the factory weren’t either but I still preferred that over Damian’s building. I swore the stench of that place clung to your soul.

“Give him a little bit of time to get acquainted with you,” Connor warned me as he was about to open the door to his uncle Damian’s apartment, “he’s not exactly the trusting type, you know.”
“I can understand that,” I spoke softly, not knowing what to expect from his uncle, “if you don’t watch your own back in this world nobody will.”

Damian’s apartment was filled with cigarette smoke and a small man was sitting on an old black leather couch smoking another one. The place was incredibly claustrophobic and it was dark, almost like there weren’t any lights at all. Most of the windows were taped up so there was no natural light coming in from outside except for the small cracks in between each of the pieces of red and black tape. That apartment was the definition of a dark lair.
“So this is what you brought me?” the man, probably being Damian Welker, spoke curiously as he got up off the couch and came to take a closer look at me.
“No,” Connor spoke seriously, “she’s for me.”
“Oh,” Damian seemed somewhat surprised, “okay, then move along.”

I glanced over at Connor in the dark room hoping that he would explain what had just happened.

“He wanted me to bring someone over,” Connor spoke in a low voice almost like he was embarrassed, “so he could have a good time, so to speak.”
“Oh,” I had to refrain from cracking up in laughter, “I understand.”

Connor looked like he was about to burst out in laughter himself but that probably would have insulted his uncle, and Damian looked like a pretty uptight guy.

“There are some bandages and some alcohol in the bathroom just to the left here,” Connor pointed out as his uncle played around with the TV remote, “if you want to take a closer look at the bullet wound.”

I thanked him and ran off to the bathroom. I turned on the bright white light and looked at myself in the mirror. Okay, the wound wasn’t all that bad. I wasn’t dying. It was just a small piece of my right ear at the bottom. The small amount of blood had dried and I felt no pain. For a little while after it happened there was been some slight tingling but then again, the adrenaline was pumping through my veins and had taken complete control of my body. There was no time for the stinging and the pain, but thankfully I had been spared that. I had also been spared my life, and that was the most important thing of all because I still had something to accomplish before I was ready to join my mom and my brother in the realm of the dead.

I took out some rubbing alcohol from the cabinet in the bathroom and cleaned up the small amount of blood from my ear but didn’t need to bandage it any further. My ear was fine but otherwise I looked like crap. I needed a haircut. Since I had a clean change of clothes in my backpack and there was a cheap stand-up shower with a big hole at the bottom of the door in the bathroom, I decided to jump in to clean up a little bit if I was going to present myself to Damian Welker as a semi-respectable criminal. After I got out of the shower and after making a big mess of water on the bathroom floor, I put on some black skinny jeans and a leopard top. I shoved my dirty clothes, my Pennington’s hoodie, Connor’s license plates and the gun in the backpack and left the claustrophobic bathroom. I swore you had to go through the door sideways because everything was so crammed up together in there.

“I see you’re making yourself at home!” Connor joked as he invited me to sit with him and his uncle in the living room.
“I’m sorry,” I muttered as I approached cautiously, “I haven’t seen a shower in a long time.”

The living room was another dirty and dimly-lit tiny room. It was almost completely square with an enormous TV mounted on the wall near the door to go out into the hallway, a small couch on the wall opposite of it, an industrial spindle next to it as a coffee table and an expensive massage chair in the corner. In the other corner next to the TV there was a small pool table and plenty of cases of beer with cans in various stages of consumption littered all over the room. The dark red living room rug was stained with stuff I didn’t want to know and I could see silhouettes of decorations on the walls but I couldn’t quite make out what they were because the room was too dark.

“Come over and have a seat!” Damian commanded in a tone of voice that I didn’t want to disobey.

So I walked over and sat down next to him on the couch while Connor was very vocally enjoying the massage chair.

“Connor told me what you did,” Damian spoke in a low, scratchy voice.

I waited for him to continue.

“I know a warrior when I see one,” he went on, “do you know what I brought you here to do?”

I didn’t, but I knew that Connor had mentioned that his uncle wanted to “have a good time.” And it was a bonus that Connor had recruited me because I was one of his own, there was a mutual understanding between us that only two people who stood for the same things could comprehend. I decided to prove myself to Damian by showing him what kind of good time I could give him, so I scooted over to his side of the couch and came onto him. I climbed up onto his lap and gave him a big wet smooch on the lips. And he didn’t like that very much.

“Get off of me!” he shouted angrily as he pushed me off of him, “Don’t come on to me like that!”

Connor was doing his best to refrain from laughing in his massage chair drinking beer and I somewhat wanted to crack up laughing myself but it was no laughing matter for Damian. It was apparent that the blood was boiling in his veins.

“I guess you don’t want to have a good time after all,” I muttered to myself as I rearranged myself on the other side of the couch.
“I don’t screw little kids!” Damian angrily snapped back.

Damian got up off the couch abruptly and went to fetch a glass of water from the kitchen sink that was just nearby. Connor was no longer finding it so funny as well but I was lost in what was actually going on.

“You see this picture right here,” Damian spoke apprehensively as he shoved a picture frame in my hand, “that was my daughter Tanya. They found her body facedown dead in the rain down by Marble Hill. And I wasn’t even there to hold her when she took her last breath!”

I looked down at the picture and saw a young woman of about twenty who somewhat looked like me. Damian’s voice was cracking up as he struggled to stay more. It was obvious that he had a lot of remorse for whatever had happened to his daughter. He hadn’t forgiven himself, and to some degree I knew how he felt because I myself was on a mission of revenge.

“It’s just too bad that I never told her that she deserved much better,” he finally choked up crying, “maybe if I had just been there for her she wouldn’t have went looking for love and acceptance from all the wrong people.”

Despite all the things going on through my brain, I still managed to find a place in it where I could feel sympathy for Damian. I extended my hand towards him and pulled him over next to me on the couch and wrapped my arms around him. He cried for a while but soon just returned to being apprehensive and unforgiving.

“Come down to the warehouse with me and we’ll get you a proper gun,” Damian muttered as he shoved on a leather trench coat and signaled me to follow him.

The two of us walked a few blocks down to a group of storage warehouses near the Whitehaven Conservation Area where Damian opened one up and invited me inside. In the remnants of daylight I finally got to see what the man looked like since his apartment was so damn dark. Damian was about 5’10” and very skinny. His neck was covered in various gang-related tattoos but I didn’t know what they meant and I didn’t dare to ask. He had short dark brown hair that was starting to grey and a matching extended goatee-style beard. Connor had told me that Damian was in his forties but he looked more like he was in his fifties. There were big dark bags under his liquid copper eyes that made it seem like he hadn’t slept in over a century. His leather coat was muddy at the bottom and the rest was quite dusty, almost like he had been playing around in some artificial desert. His black jeans had faded to grey and I noticed a dried bloodstain on the tip of his left boot. His olive green shirt was the only thing on him that looked clean. Considering what his apartment looked like, I couldn’t hold him to any sort of higher expectations.

“I still have your license plates in my backpack,” I spoke softly, not knowing how he was going to react, “I’m sure Connor told you about that too.”
“Yes he did,” Damian’s voice was sharp but not aggressive, “you are a true contender. You and Connor will do a couple of things for me and then I’ll make sure the job you set out to do gets done.”


Liberal Muslim, social justice and human rights activist, cat lover, author and fellow human.

One thought on “The Distant Factory — Chapter Thirteen

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