His body was laid out on the cold cement in a vacant alley. Blood poured from his chest like water out of a broken faucet. He gasped for air, a freighting gargling sound of blood being caught in his esophagus as he tried to keep the breath in his lungs. Life fleeting from him fast, darkness approaching even faster, yet moving slower than it should. He reached up, grabbing for the imaginary hands of his mother that always felt just out of reach. The story of his life. But that’s when it happened. It was unreal. The blood began pouring back inside the bullet wounds in his chest. Amazing. The bullets flew out of his chest and the holes they made in his flesh and clothing closed up just as fast. He sprung to his knees, then to his feet and put his hands back up as if he was lifting the sky back to its original place. The slugs reassembled themselves as the bullets were sucked back into the smoking barrel of the .45 caliber clinched tightly in the killer’s hand. The scowl on his face was unforgiving. Lips locked tight. Scully down low on his head. He ran his hand forward over the top of the pistol, then backwards as the sound of the bullet being un-chambered echoed throughout the empty alley. He slid the pistol back into his waist band as his victim was talking like the tough guy he was. He had the appearance. 6’4″, 230 pounds. Tattoos on his neck and hands. He wasn’t afraid. You could tell by the way he spoke.

“Man, what you think is about to happen? You betta’ get on away from here before you wish you never came” he said to the killer. After all, he didn’t know what the man had really come to do. “Look” the killer said, “This ain’t about nothin’ else but my sister. You put yo’ hands on her like she was a man. I ain’t bout’ to let that slide”. He was much smaller. A real David and Goliath situation. He was only 5’8″, about 155 pounds soaking wet. Clean faced. He couldn’t grow a beard even though he tried repeatedly to keep up with the trend. He didn’t look like a fighter, nor a killer but I guess we all have that breaking point in us. The side of us that comes out when we are pushed beyond a limit we never even set for ourselves. Clearly, his line was drawn at his family. “Yo’ sister?” the victim laughed, “so what, you here to defend her honor? You here to tell me not to mess with yo’ sister anymore?” The victim laughed even harder. The cold Milwaukee air made his breath visible as he mocked the killer. Had he known what was in front of him, he would have taken a different approach. He calmed himself down. “Listen, I’ll tell you what lil’ man,” the killer hated when people called him that. The blood in his veins began to boil even more as the victim continued speaking, “i’ma let you walk away from here with all yo’ bones together and unharmed because I know you just tryin’ to protect yo’ sister and I actually can respect that. The little brother comin’ to help the big sister. It’s really a noble thing to do” he began to walk closer to his killer, “but i’ma tell you like this. You bring yo little self roun’ here again, you not gon’ make it back to where you came from, to aight?” The killer wasn’t budging. He stood tall, hands folded in front of him. He knew what he had on him. A pistol will give courage to the weakest man, however, the killer was not weak. He just knew his limits. “Oh, you hard of hearing?” The victim said, “Ok. I tried to give you an out but it seems you just want to be hard. You a tough dude? Ok. Show me how tough you are, lil’ man. Show me. Ima beat you worse than I did your sister.” The Victim began walking closer to the killer. The cold Milwaukee wind blew against the white cement. A chill that only those who have felt the cold-hearted nature of the city could understand. He was like a bull, slowly charging at his matador. As he walked closer and closer, the victim began to question himself. “Why is he not moving? Why is he not even preparing to defend himself?” He knew something was off but he kept moving towards him. The killer thought to himself, “Olay”. The bull would not touch him. He pulled the pistol out from beneath his waist and the victim stopped. His heart almost did as well but he played it off. He couldn’t let him see his nervousness. “Oh” he said, “you got a pistol, huh?” He laughed, more out of anxiety than humor, “I don’t even think you got the balls to use it. Hell, it weighs almost more than you.” He didn’t take him seriously as he continued walking towards the killer and that’s when he cocked the pistol. The victim stopped in his tracks and put his hands up in the air, looking around to see if anybody was near. He couldn’t scream. No. He was too tough for that. He was the bully his whole life and he made other people scream. He couldn’t bring himself to do it and the killer had already made up his mind. “You put yo’ hands on my sister for the last time.” The victim became remorseful. He didn’t take him as a joke anymore. He knew his life could be ended right now.

Inside the dark, black barrel of the gun he stared into, his mind flashed snapshots of missing pieces of his life like a slideshow. His father abusing his mother the few times he was around. His mother, in turn, taking out her frustrations on him. He saw it. He realized the reason he abused women. He saw it with his own eyes and it hit him all of a sudden. Tough men don’t cry, but he did. Tears fell out of his eyes, “you don’t understand” the victim said, “I… I didn’t want to be like this.” The killer had no sympathy. “Get on yo’ knees and apologize” the killer said, “apologize to my sister.” He looked around, “Where is she? I’ll do it right now.” He waived to her as she came from around the corner. The victim thought nobody was around, but she was the lookout. She had enough. She walked up to them. Her eye was swollen shut and as black as night. Her bottom lip hung down lower than it should have, swollen and cracked open. Her nose was disfigured. The victim was horrified by what he seen as if he didn’t see her when he left. As if he didn’t see her face the moment he walked out the apartment laughing at her. “You shouldn’t have been going through my phone” he yelled as he slammed the door closed. On his knees, he was still almost as tall as she was. “I’m, I’m sorry” he said to her as he tried to reach for her hand. She jerked back away from him and shook her head. “Sorry ain’t enough” she said. The words sealed his fate. The killer squeezed the trigger three times. The barrel exploded as the bullets came out of the smoke, striking the victim in his chest before he could think. He tipped over backwards like a chopped down oak tree and crashed into the cold cement. His head banged against it as his hands reached towards his chest and were immediately covered with blood. In a matter of moments, he was in a puddle as blood poured from his chest like water out of a broken faucet. He gasped for air, a freighting gargling sound of blood being caught in his esophagus. Life fleeting from him fast, darkness approaching even faster yet, moving slower than it should. He reached up, grabbing for the imaginary hands of his mother that always felt just out of reach. The story of his life.


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