Unsung Heroes of the Night This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Sometimes you have to make a decision. It might not be the best decision, but you make it anyway. When the only course that lies open to you is the low road, the one shrouded in shadow and lies, you know. You know it’s the endgame. The cards have been dealt. The die cast.

My name is Jack, and I am going to die. I know this: “On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.” Mine just dropped a bit earlier. The man sitting across from me, balding and married – judging by the ring on his finger – shifts uncomfortably and strokes his eyebrow. He doesn’t know what was avoided this night. He sees me as a hired thug. He’s right – sort of. Sometimes, when you walk in the dark, it takes a shadow to light the way.

“So let’s go over this again,” says the D.A. in the knock-off Armani suit. “Start at the beginning, please.” He wants me to talk about my job with the Face. “Friday, May 3, you were unloading crates down by the wharf.” He is filling in details that we both already know.


“What was in them?” I knew what was in them, but when you work for the Face you don’t ask questions. “I never asked.” Questions can get you killed.

“What if they were dangerous? You could have been killed.” He is trying to play the role of the good cop: I’m your friend, help me help you.

“Occupational hazard.”

Flippancy – my wife used to say it was my only flaw.

“And working for the Face isn’t? You’re a smart man – could have gotten a good ­office job.” He is right, of course. I could have gotten a well-paying office job. In fact, I had one for a while.

“The Face paid better.”

“No health plan, though.” He is referring to my current condition; even if I survive, chances are the Face knows what I was up to. Either way, it doesn’t look good.

“These things happen.” He pauses, tries a different approach.

“Out of everyone we pulled from the ­river, you are the only one,” he pauses and looks at me, “alive. And you pass it off as if this is some sort of giant joke.”

“Laughter is the best medicine.” I start coughing and notice a metallic taste. He tries again.

“You were the only one who lived. Why do you think that is?”

“Luck.” He knows I’m not telling him everything – got to give the man respect for his tenacity.

“So you were unloading crates and you ended up in the river half alive … there’s a lot missing here.”

Like how one of the other men had a grenade. Like how even the best-laid plans can go horribly wrong. Like how I started working for the Face.

“Care to tell me why you started working for the Face?”

Jimmy – that s*** – went to school with him and knew I needed cash. “So what if you hafta kill some people once in a while? Thems probably deserved it,” he’d said.

“Cancer treatments cost a lot.” He flips some papers. “Ah yes, your wife died of leukemia last year.” God, I miss you, Aims. “So you were moonlighting for the Face.”


“And when she finally died, you started working for the Face full-time?”

Not until he came, a shadow in the dark, told me he needed help, that the Face was planning something, something big. That he was after the kids. The shadow said that I could help. He gave me a purpose.


“What else did you do?”

“Ran errands.”

“Not just an errand boy, were you? The Face trusted you. You see, we have reports that show you as pretty high-ranking among his lieutenants, practically his right-hand man.”

“Something like that.” Not that being trusted by a psychopath gets you much, other than a head start.

“What was it they called you? Ah, yes – the White Knight. Not after your snappy dress sense, I take it.”

“No.” The boys probably thought they were being witty naming me after that urban legend.

“It seems you got your name from your ability to talk the Face out of mindlessly killing innocent people.”

“Honor amongst thieves.”

“You expected honor from that nut job?” Silence. He shifts uncomfortably. The silence grows as he strokes his eyebrow, then starts again. “So you were unloading crates and something happened, something you hadn’t planned on.”

Pain flares up. The worst part of this night is not knowing.

“Someone showed up that you weren’t expecting. There was an explosion, and everyone died … except you.”

Not knowing if I made a difference, if the Face was stopped.

“Who showed up? What happened when they did? Who killed your friends?”

“Not my friends.” Coughing blood.

“What was in the crates?”

It’s time, I decide. So I tell him. He leaves in a rush.

“You could have told him sooner.” A shadow in the dark.

“I wasn’t sure if you were alive.”

“I made it. Thought you would like to know that the Face failed. His plans are ruined; he won’t recover for a long time.”

“Good,” I say. “Good.”

“They’re after you, you know.”

“I figured.”

“What are you going to do?”

“I miss my wife.”

Unspoken, my question hangs in the air between us.

“Here.” He hands me the morphine control. “I’ve taken the safety off.”

“Thank you.”

“You will be remembered for what you did – an unsung hero of the night.”

My eyes close. God, I miss you, Aims. And I press the button.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

Join the Discussion

This article has 26 comments. Post your own now!

Katsview This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 5, 2012 at 6:33 pm
This is amazing-- i had to read it over again to fully understand it, but once i did . . . it leaves me wanting more!
AgentPhresh said...
Oct. 7, 2011 at 12:27 pm
Great Dialouge
Oct. 7, 2011 at 9:50 am
HollerGirl26 said...
Sept. 4, 2011 at 9:01 am
That was intense!!!! Great job, I love this <33
ExpRESsY0uRselF said...
Jun. 8, 2011 at 8:27 pm
Please keep writing! This piece was amazing! Also, if anyone has time, please check out my poem, The Girl Inside. Thanks!
Highbarfreak87 said...
May 17, 2011 at 7:15 pm
Woah, its a really good mystery 
xBaByGiRrL22x said...
Dec. 9, 2010 at 5:13 pm
woww. this is really goodd. really interestingg. i had to read ovr a few partz to fully understand the setting, but i loved it. plzz keep writingg!
Nevah said...
Aug. 9, 2010 at 9:43 pm
This was really interesting. I liked how we got to learn more about that character as we kept reading. The way you write kept me whooked and wanting more with every sentence I read. Great work!
samanthab1996 said...
Apr. 11, 2010 at 7:36 pm
This was so interesting! I really like this piece! It seems almost like it could be a 1 or 2 minute skit or short film or something! Great job!! Keep up the great work!! :)
Jacobf2 said...
Jan. 18, 2010 at 7:02 am
it was a very well written story i liked it a lot, but “On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.” is that not a direct quote from fight club?
erinzombie replied...
Mar. 5, 2010 at 7:27 am
yes, but it was put in quotation marks meaning he'd quoted it from somewhere lol.
hawkfire said...
Nov. 9, 2009 at 4:23 pm
Steph0804 replied...
Jul. 19, 2011 at 12:36 am

I think he has nothing left to live for, so he decided it was time to join Aims.

What a great story

spitfire213 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 6, 2009 at 9:20 pm
awesome, it makes you want to understand the characters more.
Ms. J said...
Sept. 3, 2009 at 10:11 am
This was really great. I just read it with my class to show them an excellent example of point of view and open vs. internal dialogue. Keep it up!
kidbezo said...
Aug. 21, 2009 at 1:14 pm
it was ok
rob B. said...
Aug. 18, 2009 at 8:39 pm
that was truly a great piece i lovethe whole mobster era soo this was great for me
mwatt12 said...
Aug. 14, 2009 at 4:42 pm
Really great stuff! I wish I could write like this... amazing. Truly awe inspiring. Congrats on being published.
icyprincess said...
Aug. 2, 2009 at 2:57 am
WOW! YUou are an amazing writer!
Xinwen This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 13, 2009 at 8:10 pm
Love it. Completely in the present, but you manage to explain the whole scenario(with backgroudn story) in so few. Wonderful.
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