He'd been pacing around the house for hours, opening and closing cupboards, coming back to them every few minutes knowing good and well that there was no food in there save for an old box of boil-in-bag rice and stale saltine crackers. He had not gotten dressed yet. He never put on clothes until he left the house, so he could walk around and admire his body in the hallway and bathroom mirrors whenever he passed them. Cut, sculpted, lean. Hardly an ounce of fat on his frame. He had tattoos that he wanted the neighborhood to see and he never wore a shirt when he was on the front porch - tattoos splitting a line into the neighborhood, a boundary. "Do Not Fucking Enter." There weren't barriers anymore, and the rundown buildings ran into one another and the entire neighborhood for blocks looked like a strip mall or a discount saver motel off the highway someplace far out, derivative of the same market and clientele. He had put on a dark green t-shirt with a breast pocket that fit his frame tight, showing off his body. He stepped out onto the porch and lit a cigarette. He walked a few feet down the sidewalk but not far, as his P.O. was on her way to meet with him. He stopped at the neighbor's mailbox and stared down the street. Ron's Pizza was out of business. So was the Valero station where he met Don Beddies for the first time. He pulled up to him in a pickup truck and tossed several cassette tapes at him and his friends: "Check this shit out," he said then sped off. He and his friends divided the tapes up and each laid claim to one. He had decided on Screwdriver. He took the tape home and over the next couple weeks wore down the magnetic tape. Low tuned distorted power chords and fast drumming with a loud snare. Punk rock music, screaming into his ears:

"Nigger! I hate your face!
Don't try to fu
ck with the master race!"

Valero's owners sold the station and moved out of the city. Further down the street were other businesses that had closed down throughout the last several years. He turned and looked at his own home, where he was staying with his mother and little brother. Yellow paneling turning a cracked and faded beige through years of wear and tear and eroding. A dilapidated porch missing two steps. He ran his hands through his blond, shaggy hair. He walked back onto the porch and took a seat at the steps. Miles away he could see the tops of buildings that looked out over the slums. The Key National building. The Goodyear center with the jumbo prompter that read local news in a digital font. Bars that sold four dollar craft beers which he had yet to taste but was anticipating in the next two months when he could put a deposit down on one of the loft apartments nestled in between a screen printing store and an independent digital design company. Then she walked by. Her legs were impossibly long and the pockets poked through the legs of her cut-off jean shorts. She was wearing a small black bikini top and her dark hair hung past her shoulders. Her lips were large and pouty and she was biting her left corner. He couldn't look away from her and he started to sweat. Out of all the black girls in the city he had never had his senses beaten in such an electrifying way. She commanded him to look at her, the bitch. She was forcing his stare upon her subtle breasts, cut arms and slender frame.
"Hello," he said.
She quickly looked and sped up, not saying anything.
"I said hello."
"I heard what you said."
He hopped up off the porch and followed her.
"Hey, wait, I'm just trying to be friendly. I've lived here my whole life and I've never seen you around here before."
She stopped.
"I know who you are. You're Lance Riddlebarger, right? That DCP motherfucker?"
He put his hands in his pockets.
"That was a long time ago, you know."
She put her hands on his hip.
"Take off your shirt," she said.
"You heard me. I want to see them. All of them."
He slowly reached for the tail of his shirt and pulled it over his head. The heat had stuck the fabric to his body and he struggled. She laughed at his bumbling effort, a sculpted man struggling with a wet shirt. He threw it to the sidewalk and moved towards her. She ran her hands over his tattoos.
"What's this one?"
It was an emblem with four triangles stacked tip first enclosed in a circle. Outside the circle was a small hammer to the left and the initials JRW to the right.
"That's nothing. That was from high school. It was a...well, it was a clique sort of, a group of older people that me and some of my friends saw after school. It...it doesn't mean anything."
"Uh huh," she said.
She turned him around and ran her hands over a large back piece. An eagle with it's wings stretched from shoulder to shoulder, with the initials DCP printed largely inside of it's chest. Underneath it it read, "One down, ten to go."
"This is the one i'm talking about," she said.
He faced her.
"You don't understand. I know, it looks horrible. It is horrible, it was horrible. But I'm getting out of her, you know? I've got plans."
"Oh yeah? What plans?"
He pointed out to the tall buildings shrouded in smog.
"Out there. In two months. I'm getting out of this place. I have somewhere lined up."
She smiled at him.
"Well it seams like you're doing great then."
"Don't placate me," he said, "I'm not a moron. Now what's your name? I want to know."
She looked away from him and sighed. She wiped the sweat from her brow.
"I tell you what. Two months, right? Is that when you're leaving?"
He nodded.
"Well in two months on this day, meet me out there. On 12th street at the library. If you show up, then you're for real. If not, then, well, hold onto that DCP tattoo, you hear me?"
She started off down the street.
"What's your name?" he yelled.
She kept walking and disappeared into the smog.

He locked himself up in the shed that night and sharpened an old field knife on a belt sander. He kept bumping his head on the sole lightbulb that hung from a cord. The blade was a good six inches long and rusted over from years of neglect. It had sat in a Keds shoebox for 16 years and he had only used it once. He blew the steel shavings off the table and placed the sander back on the shelf. He sheathed the blade and went back into the house through the backdoor, scaring off several alley cats that nested under the back porch.
His little brother was asleep. He sat on his bed and ran his hand through his hair. He woke up.
"Whoa, wha...Lance."
"Sorry to wake you, Gabe"
"What's wrong, is everything okay?"
"Yeah, yeah. Put some pants on and come out back, okay?"
Gabe sluggishly crawled out of bed and reached for a pair of tattered Lee Pipes and threw on an oversized Punisher t-shirt.
He followed Lance out into the backyard and they stopped at the shed. Lance reached to his side and pulled the knife from it's holster. Gabe's eyes widened. Lance laughed.
"Don't worry, watch this."
He held it by the tip of the blade and threw it at the side paneling, sticking it evenly into it. He pulled it from the wall and did it again. And again.
"This was dad's old knife. Of course you don't remember it. I just sharpened it up. I could hold a piece of construction paper up with one hand and slice it right down the middle, it's that sharp."
He handed it to his brother.
"Give it a spin."
Gabe lifted it outwards to eye level and threw it. It stuck in in a flimsy way and after a few seconds fell to the ground.
"Not bad, you'll get better."
Lance picked it up and put it back in it's holster.
"This is for you. I don't need it."
"C'mon, Lance, Dad gave that to you."
Lance shook his head.
"That doesn't mean anything, it's not like I need any sort of remembrance of him. It makes me happy that you never met him. He's why we live like this. Why we got brought up in this bullshit, you hear me? Huh?"
Gabe looked at his feet.
"Anyway, I got seven knives already, I don't need this one. I got a box to put it in. Now don't do something stupid like take it to school. And don't let mom see it or she'll kill both of us, you hear?"
Gabe nodded.
"Go on, go back to bed."
Gabe ran inside with the knife and shut the door. Lance lit a cigarette and paced about in the backyard. He looked up at the sky. It was too cloudy to see the stars so instead he focused on the lightning bugs that were fluttering around. He caught several. He remembered when he was a child. Him and his friends would smash lightning bugs in their hands and smear the entrails on their face, creating glowing war paint for them to use when they would hoist their plastic guns and play Men. He let them fly away from his hand. He walked up the back steps, flicked the cigarette over the neighbors fence, walked through the door and killed the porch light, leaving blackness and yellow flying dots to form a signal around his home like the street lights miles away.
Poor advice.
Last edited by stellar_legs at May 15, 2011,
You have such a ****ing amazing ability with character's speech, setting and feel. It makes me ****ing envious.

This was an ace in the hole, whatever it's part of, it's ace.
You know, I posted a three part piece awhile back that I put a lot of time into that no one read and I'm pretty salty about that.
Poor advice.