Lucius was lost in his thoughts as he and Max made their way to the police station.
“You know what you’re going to say, right?”
“Hm?” said Lucius. He was pulling a battery powered amplifier and a microphone borrowed from his wana be rapper cousin T-bone on a weak handcart. Max, for his part carried a backpack full of fliers.
“You know what you’re going to say… I mean, you practiced your shit, right?”
“I know what I’m saying… More or less.”
“More or… Jesus young blood, you’ve got to have your shit together if you are going to start talking about the Orange Overlord like that in the middle of a crowd! Dude is serious.”
“Was serious. He’s seriously behind bars right now.”
“Yeah, but his people aren’t. You are talking about fucking with the way things are.”
“The way things are is fucked, and you know it Max!”
“Yeah, but there are people who make their living off of the way things are now and they won’t want some nappy dread headed jackass mobilizing against them.”
“Is that what we’re doing? I thought we were showing people how much the Orange Overlord takes from us and demanding that the city stop taking it.”
“You say it one way, I say it another. That money goes somewhere, Lou.”
“And you think that us saying it should stay with people instead of criminals is a problem?”
“No. Of course not. If I thought that I wouldn’t be here helping you. Look, I’ve been an activist for a long time, trying to get our people a fair shake. Thing about the Orange overlord, he fucked everybody pretty equally, so that shit sorta went away. But now, the lids off. We don’t even know how messed things are going to get and you are going to go in and throw bricks.”
Lucius nodded. “You know as well as I do that shits’ got to change, Max. Having the city stop taking the damned Tithe for that Orange piece of shit is the very least we can ask for here. We’re asking for people to be reasonable.”
“And then what?”
“Then we build, right? Then we look at what we have and build.”
Max looked him up and down. “All right Lucius, it’s your show. I’ll help you. but examine your motives, keep your shit pure. Understand?”
“I understand Max. I’m just tired of having my shit stolen from me by that orange Mother fucker as just a matter of course, like it’s no big thing.”
“I feel you. We’ll work to make things right.”
“Wilson, you had better not be out there doing drugs with those no-good friends of yours! Your father would die again if he found out.”
Fifteen-year-old Wilson Yates rolled his eyes as he put on his hat. “Come on mom. Don’t use Dad’s name in vein like that.”
“Then Don’t shit on his last name by being a druggie. I’m no fool Wilson, I know what pot smells like on your clothes! Just because I haven’t caught you yet doesn’t mean I’m not going to warn your ass. Stay away from trouble.”
The berating from the other room in their small apartment continued as Wilson got ready. He had a couple of apples in his pack, a book and a small hand scale. He also threw in a new spray bottle of deodorant which he hoped would freshen his clothes a bit
Mom was a total drag, but so was the idea of having to find someplace new to live.
And it wasn’t like Mom was able to give him anything that his job could. Ever since Dad had died, she struggled. She struggled so badly that she didn’t notice how the fridge rarely had anything in it or how the pantry was almost always empty. Forget nice things, his part time job, as he had come to think of it, paid for the clothes on his back and the food in his stomach. It took the pressure off of mom. That was his gift to her and it would work as long as she could kid herself that it wasn’t so.
“I’ll be back by ten Mom! I’ll do my homework at the library.”
“You make sure you do. School is the only way you are going to make it.”
The lecture continued, but it was unnecessary. Wilson had no intention of having crap grades. Besides, school was easy. They literally told you what to do! Just do that and you pass, at least. Only fools flunk, and Wilson was no fool.
He grabbed his hat and stuffed his afro into it. Thank dad for his white guy hair that prevented him from having legitimate dreadlocks. He clamped it down tight and went through the door, ignoring his mother’s sad voice behind him.
Like all brownstones, the elevator was suspect, so Wilson took the stairs. The rhythm of pat pat pat thump, pivot, repeat was a balm from childhood, when dad was around. It brought a smile to his face which lasted until he went through the front door. He put on a street face and hopped down the front steps of the tenement. A right at the sidewalk had him walking toward the bodega and his first pickup of the day.
He was no fool. It was drugs. Neatly packaged in little plastic vials with syringes and even instructions. The Orange Overlord himself had mandated the packaging. He wanted his junkies alive.
Along with that was something that was actually more problematic to Wilson – a half pound of herb. That is what Mom could smell and he kept it tightly wrapped and in the bag. His supplier rang up a customer as if he hadn’t just handed Wilson a couple hundred dollars’ worth of vice. Wilson kept it as cool as if it were just cheese like the wrapper said. If the customer thought anything of it, if their skittles were suddenly more interesting than they likely should have been, no one cared. It was all cool. Wilson would hit the park and turn these into cash. Maybe he’d go back and get another front from the bodega and try to turn that before hitting the library for real. Weekends were a good time to try to hit a double.
Lost in his thoughts, he didn’t notice the van pull up ahead of him and park. He didn’t think twice when the side door opened, and a guy got out and stepped onto the sidewalk. He did, however, notice when Trevor got out of the passenger’s seat and turned to face him.
“Wilson. So good to see you.”
“Oh. Hi … Mr. Trevor… Sir.”
“Are you surprised that I know your name Wilson? You shouldn’t. You’re one of the not so stupid ones.”
“Um. Yeah, that’s me.” He looked into the van and in the dark of the blacked-out windows, he could see two other of the gang he sold with tied up with tape on their mouths. Fear in their eyes.
“You can see, Wilson, that we’ve been busy. Your friends are, unfortunately, not as bright as you.”
Wilson’s heart raced. His vision tunneled. He wanted to run. But Trevor was right, he wasn’t stupid. “Any way I can just give you the bag? I’d rather not get my ass kicked.”
Trevor nodded. “Yeah, we’ll take the bag, Wilson, but you’ll be coming along as well.
He looked into the back at his friends. “I don’t guess I can just sit in the back and do my homework?”
The man that had gotten out of the side of the van made to take the bag and Wilson did not resist.
“It will be a short trip, but the tape is optional, provided you stay quiet.” Trevor grinned as he put his hand on his shoulder and led him to the back of the van. “The handcuffs, I’m afraid, are not. I’m sure you can understand our caution.” Wilson sat next to his friend who was bound hands and feet with tape and tape over his mouth. He was spared that treatment, but the other man held him. Trevor continued to speak through the door. “As far as the homework, you will have plenty of time on your hands. And really, I insist. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop after all.” The van door slammed shut, leaving Wilson in darkness.
Donnie’s lab was the same mess it had been the night before.
“What did you talk me into, Donnie?” Rog immediately started playing with stuff and stopped as soon as Donnie gave him a horrified look. “I take it this shit is dangerous?”
“Unbelievably. Look Rog, just find a seat. And what I’ve gotten you into is the only thing that will keep Red from killing you. You don’t understand, she is ruthlessly efficient and has absolutely no morals.”
“Oh that can’t be right. All chicks are the nurturing type. It has something to do with their girl parts.”
Donnie squinted. “What? … Actually I don’t want to know. Just … you are wrong. Red …”
“What she doesn’t have girl parts?”
Donnie looked towards the ceiling and sighed. “I’m sure I don’t know with accuracy, but I’m going to guess she has girl parts. Don’t touch that!” Donnie took the cylinder from Rog’s hands. “Jesus, dude, didn’t we just cover how some stuff in here is incredibly dangerous?”
“You said it was unbelievably dangerous.”
“Well, I maybe can believe anything this small is dangerous, so it can’t be unbelievably dangerous. So I guess I can just handle it with the caution I know it should take to handle it safely.”
Donnie shook the cylinder. “This and just about everything in this lab is incredibly dangerous or fragile or both. So, don’t touch anything unless I tell you to, ok?”
“Yeah. Got it.” He looked up. “Should you be shaking that like that?”
Donnie looked up, went white and then gently put the cylinder into a form fitting foam case. He put a note on it and then turned to Rog. “I will need to measure you. You don’t happen to know your measurements, do you?”
“What, like for a tux?”
“Yes, exactly. That would be perfect!”
“Nope. I mean, I know i got measured once but I’ll be damned if I remembered it.”
“Damn. What were you measured for?”
“Combat armor. We got some cool stuff when I suited up for bomb tech.”
“You were a demolitions expert?”
“Assistant. Had a few go up pretty close to me too. You think rock concerts are loud!”
Donnie shook his head. “Ok fine. I still need your measurements. And this stuff is going to be pretty exact because the suit has to be able to bend with you yet remain stiff.”
Rog raised an eyebrow. That sounds impossible. Moves and doesn’t move.”
“The Orange Overlord did a lot of impossible things and now that suit will have to do the same. Come on, let’s get started.”
[Author’s Note: You know, posting on wordpress is really not that hard, yet I seem to be finding every possible way to FUCK IT UP on this project. Oh well, getting back on par with this part. Now all I have to do is stay on the beam and tell a story. No sweat, eh?
Hope you all are enjoying the ride.