It had dark red daggers that stabbed through the sky. Blood faded to rose and finally a golden ray drifted beneath the horizon. The clouds reflected the light as the brilliant orb faded and twilight took over. It was glorious.
"Keep your mind on your work," a rough voice growled. He started, and glanced at him wildly. He noticed a bearded and grimy man cuff an equally dirty boy. It was just the landlord beating his son. He took a deep breath and forced himself to relax.
He gently pushed the door open, swearing when it creaked. Light fell on him and his face was revealed. His flat black hair was styled in a bowl, and his long lashes nearly concealed his emerald eyes. He was young, just beginning to shave. He wore faded jeans, a white tee-shirt with a pack of cigarettes in his breast pocket and a rusty leather jacket with the name "Raiders" across the back.
"Is that you, Jude?" a grating voice called from above.
"Yes, mother," he answered dutifully as he shut and bolted the door.
"I'm going out with Blaine tonight, so you'll have to fix your own supper," she said.
"She's probably plastering on that awful makeup at this very moment, getting ready for Blaine," he slurred the name, even in his thoughts. "She's so ugly compared to...." his thoughts were uncontrollable, and he remembered.
She was tall, blonde, and walked with such a grace she could've been royalty. We watched her, waiting in the alley, the humidity compounding the aroma of sweat. We waited for Jed to let us at her.
We were set when she was joined by her boyfriend, just back from a nautilus workout. We waited for someone else. There was a wino; he could give us practice but not much money.
Finally the victim arrived. He was a doddering old man, leaning on a cane with a lumpy dog's head for a handle. He had a carefully trimmed snow white beard, and wore an expensive pin-striped suit. We could hear his limbs creak as he ground to a halt in front of some pigeons. He cooed affectionately, and the offended pigeons flew off as he withdrew a gold pocket watch from his vest.
Jude shook his head and tried to focus on the present. He had wandered into the kitchen and threw his jacket on the linoleum counter. He opened the refrigerator door and stared at the drinks.
There was some red wine that was reserved for his mother's imminent marriage. What the hell. He grabbed it and poured himself a glassful, shutting the refrigerator door with his back at the same time. The shadows turned his jacket the color of a deep blood red.
The gang readied itself, and pounced. One produced a switchblade; another filched the old man's wallet and watch. Someone grabbed his arms. Jude punched him in the stomach, in and out like his mother kneading dough. The man's teeth came flying out, dropping at Jude's feet. Blood stained his hands.
Jude meandered over to the living room and picked up the paper. He skimmed an article about some councilman who was trying to get a boy's club so that kids could get off the streets.
"If it ever happens, I'll sign up in a second," mused Jude, his mind still thick with memories of terror and bloodlust.
Jude flipped the page of the newspaper and saw the councilman's picture. He was an old man, with a trimmed beard, dog's head cane, and a pin-striped suit. He was gazing fondly at a pocketwatch. Jude's face contorted and his stomach turned. His glass slipped. The droplets of wine cascaded down to the carpet, glinting like fresh blood, sliding through his hands as he tried to catch them.
A plump woman came down the stairs and gasped at the sight of the stain on the rug.
"It will never come out." n
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.