Thugs and scum. That was Downtown for you. Strip joints, steaming vents in the still of night and loose puddles along the pavement. A stark contrast when put against the clean cut society Uptown, where dreams come true, and lives are lived to the fullest. Down here though, this is where dreams go to die and beasts take their place. Not for the faint of heart or one without a spine. Down here, if your watch catches the light, they will catch you and take that watch. Along with the life it was ticking for. Down here. Death and fear ruled. This is his hunting ground. It has been for the last 4 years.
Billy was 12 when he first caught the wrong bus and ended up Downtown. He was 13 when he was beaten within an inch of his life, for a stainless steel watch that looked, ‘silver’ in the setting sun. He was lying bloody and broken on the floor and staring into a barrel, his eyes as wide as they could go (given their respective condition), with his bowles threatening to evacuate. Billy truly believed this was it. Don’t I get some ‘final words’ or something? Fuck… These could be just that…
“Lower it, cock head. And then, drop it. If you move too fast, I’ll spray your brain matter all over these fine, welcoming, city streets.” The voice was cold. Complacent. A little excited perhaps but that might have been Billy’s imagination. “Slowly fucker, give this fine young gentleman back his belongings.” The slug that beat Billy tosses the watch into his lap, a drop of blood falling from his nose onto the stainless. Suddenly he was furious. Billy staggered to his feet and considered a swing at him, the voice of the faceless stranger stops his potentially, ‘self-fatal’ movements. “Don’t be stupid kid, you got lucky tonight. Best be on your way. Ill take it from here.” Billy looked into his shadowed face through a rapidly swelling eye, searching through his mind, trying to put the voice to memory. Realising he will never forget any part of tonight, he turned on his heel and took off up the hill towards the lights of Uptown, glowing against a starless sky.
As he rounds the corner, Billy hears a gunshot ring out and his blood runs cold. He killed him… He fucking killed him. Good… If he didn’t, he would have gotten someone else. Either tomorrow, or later this very night. Smiling at the thought of justice being served, I make my way home.
“Billy!? What happened to your face?” His mothers shrill cry pierced the empty halls and rebounded off the walls, causing him to flinch and his ear to ring. “It’s nothing, I caught the wrong bus and got jumped while looking at the map, I managed to get away”, billy wasn’t goin to tell her he nearly died, no chance in hell. She would keep him under lock and key till he hit 30 if she knew. “It’s fine mum, I got mugged but a bloke stopped it and got me my watch back, yeah I’m a little bruised, but I’ll survive. Shit happens” “Well”, came his mothers worried voice, “I don’t know what to say, it wasn’t your fault so there’s no need to punish you, or restrict your movements. Just watch your step Billy, heaven knows I’ll collapse if anything happened to you like your father”. Billy’s core chills, then flares to life with fury at the mention of his father, “Dad made some mistakes, some stupid decisions. But before you knew about it, you were happy living in an oblivious ignorance. The man was a fucking murdering, drug pushing, stand over man. Pure fucking filth Mum. I won’t make his mistakes.” His mother falls silent… Billy knows he’s gone too far. “Go to your room, I’ll hear no more of this.” —Fine, was his response, already trudging down the bare corridor to his nearly empty room. Since the fire, things had only gotten worse… Between Billy and his mother, things are falling apart.
For Billy’s 14th birthday they went to the bowling alley, had a few games and played the pennies. Darla had organised 4 of Billy’s closest friends to come, selected by Billy, a couple of the boys were new faces to her. She was mildly shocked billy didn’t invite Tommy. Those two had been inseparable since primary school. Before then even, possibly kindy. She throws this fat to the back of her mind for a good chewing later on, once the distractions of the day are done and dusted.
“How are you?”, came the smiling face of Julia. Tony’s mum, “Thank you for having us today, I’m Julia, but ‘Jules’ or ‘Lia’ is fine.” She’s confident, charming. “I wasn’t even aware our boys knew each other, let alone are friendly.” She gives a small chuckle before continuing, “Tony doesn’t get out much these days, he kind of, ‘flung his friends to the wayside’. Keeps to himself and writes. A quiet boy. But he used to be a bit less reserved. Pulling pranks, getting into scraps with other boys. You know, kid stuff”
Darla returns the offered smile and extends her hand, the newly formed scar tissue gleaming brightly under fluorescent lights. “It’s a pleasure, I’m glad you could make it” —Mum, this is Tony and this is Noah, comes Billy’s tine from behind her, accompanied by a woman who could only be Noah’s mother. Oh Wow, Jules says in her head. It’s Tammi, this is an interesting development…
From that party and game of bowling, the three boy’s became peas in a pod. And what their mothers didn’t know, couldn’t hurt them. The were trouble together. Billy was aggressive in the company of his other two compadre. Tony was quick with his hands and wasn’t afraid to, ‘tell you how it is’ with them. And Noah, quiet, reserved Noah was the worst of them. Already familiar with shades darker than his friends, Noah has a dream. A dream where the street will run red with blood, and the air is filled with the screams of grieving women