My face wasn’t completely numb, but it was getting there. Brent’s goons surrounded me as he socked me in the face again. I fell against the cool chain linked fence and red brick wall. Something else besides my face hurt . Was that my rib sticking out? No, it wasn’t, but it sure felt like that.
“STOP!! Leave him alone!” Sophie exclaimed. She sounded like she was in more pain than I was.
Sophie is Brent’s girlfriend, or at least had been for the last month or so. Everyone says they’d be the perfect Prom Queen and King since Sophie is the leader of the cheerleading squad and Brent is the quarterback for our football team called the Warriors. He sure lived up to the strength of his title.
“Stay the hell out of this, Sophie!! This little shit has had it coming for a while!” Brent shouted back at her, refocusing his burning red eyes on me.
Brent and I have never really got along. I mean, everywhere I turn, he’s right there, ready to pick on me. There was even that time in the school lunchroom, no explanation needed. Or wanted. But if I’m going to be honest, I’m not just a punching bag, I hit back.
Brent kicked me a couple more times, knocking my head into the brick wall. He grabbed my hair, looking me in the eyes. I’ve never felt so defeated in my life, and I’ve been in some pretty nasty fights in the past.
“ What HAPPENS with me and my girl, STAYS between me and my girl, UNDERSTAND STICK?”.
I spat in his face, a little blood coming out. My lip must have definitely been busted, but at least I still had my teeth.
“Fuck off” I said. And that’s when I felt this jolt of energy. I lunged forward, hitting him in the face with my fist. He tried to catch himself but fell on the hard asphalt, hurting his three year old bum. He jumped back up to maintain his pride and ego.
I was now leaning against the fence, trying to stay up. His friends made moves towards me, but Brent halted them as he lightly laughed like a mad man. He looked at me, his chin held high, taking his eyes away from the floor and wiping the blood from the mark I left on his cheek. How did I cut him?
“One week away. Prom was one week away and you did this, huh?” Brent taunted me, half laughing, half serious. Something told me not to joke, but I couldn’t stop myself.
“ Don’t worry, I have some Hello Kitty band-aids in my back pocket just for you. Besides, you were never that good looking to begin with. You don’t deserve her”. I struggled to say that sentence. I was weak.
The furious quarterback rushed forward, but was stopped by a familiar voice from down the parking lot.
“HEY!! What’s going on!?”
Brent slipped at the sudden voice. I’d never been so glad to see Mark, but also never so afraid. Mark was smaller than me, he could easily lose a couple teeth with one swing. Then his manager stepped out.
“ Get your asses off my damn property! ALL of you, before I call the cops! Or my baseball bat, they’re both one call away!” He shouted with his rough, traditional New York accent.
Billy, who had a short, scruffy beard and a “Billy’s Burgers” hat on, clenched his fists, pointing at the football players. They all looked at me, then each other, then took off into the long, narrow alleyway. There’s not a single person in this world who would dare to challenge Billy.
“Hey kid, you alright?” Billy asked me as I slightly limped towards the burger joint.
“Yea, I’ll be fine.” I said. “ They’ll be back, you know”.
“ Yea, and I’ll be here waiting. Don’t even tell me what that was all about” he said. “Mark’s done when he’s finished with this trash. You can help him if you want the food. Or actually… just take a breather, you look rough”.
Billy always cheered me up with his tough yet caring demeanor. Doesn’t mean I want sympathy though.
“ Yea, well, I started it. Or rather Brent did. It’s complicated, but I can take it”.
Billy chuckled at that last part.
“You’ve definitely got heart kid” he said.
Mark came around the corner with the trash, throwing it into the back dumpster.
“Jesus, dude, I thought you were a fighter. You look like absolute shit”.
” Thanks man, what a compliment”.
It actually still hurt really bad, but I didn’t want to admit it. I definitely felt better though, I mean I’ve always had this low pain tolerance. That’s great, but most of it is due to me not whining about a scraped knee.
“What was that even about?” Mark persisted
“ Sophie. You know… look it doesn’t matter, just hurry up man, let’s take the food”
I didn’t want to think of Sophie anymore, I just wanted to see Mr. Boyega at this point.
Mark clocked out and Billy gave us our elixir. A brown paper bag full of delicious food from the end of the day. we started making our way down towards my family’s Manhattan apartment. We weren’t too far away, just about one and a half city blocks down, but we always preferred to walk instead of taking the sub. The city is a beautiful thing when you actually stop and take a breath. Plus there are some pretty cool people to talk to along the way, like Mr. Boyega. His building is about half a block from Billy’s. It’s a brick building (like most buildings in Manhattan) with gargoyles on top . Mr. Boyega always sat on the front steps with his shopping cart next to him.
“Mr. Boyega!” Mark shouted for everyone to hear. “We have the goods!”
“Dude, shut up, we’re not drug dealers!” I said, trying to stifle my laughter. It even hurt to laugh right now. “Whatcha up to, man?”
“Nothin’ much here, whatcha boys got for me today?” Mr. Boyega asked with his signature raspy voice and smile. He was wearing his tattered green coat, with his walking cane sitting beside him.
Mr Boyega is awesome. He’s the kind of person you could talk to all day and he would just sit there listening, actually caring, and his stories are so interesting that he could own a whole library based on himself. That’s kind of hard to find in a city like this, at least the listening part. There are some pretty interesting people here, but most of it is the crazy type of interesting. He is genuine and pure. I wish I could be the kind of person Mr. Boyega is.
“We gotta lot. Even got you a happy meal” I said jokingly. “Naw it’s something though. I think we managed to get a hamburger or two so”.
Mark handed him the food and Mr. Boyega opened it quickly, almost as if he hadn’t eaten in days. He unwrapped the burger, spilling melted cheese onto his long grey beard. It would be sort of nasty in any other circumstance, but this was the man, Mr. Boyega.
His mouth was sort of full so he muttered ” Thanks, boys” in between his chewing. He gave us a thumbs up, and his smile gave the rest of his thoughts.
“Alright, thanks man, we’ll see you again soon. Hopefully you got another one of those war stories of yours I always love to hear” I replied.
We started walking away, but Mr. Boyega gently grabbed my wrist.
“ Daniel, you’re destined for more than I have. You’re destined for greatness. Make the right choice when given the opportunity” he said. Something felt off, almost as if he was possessed. That’s not the way he usually talks. I didn’t know exactly how to reply to that, so I barely muttered “Al…Alright, yea, thanks. I’ll make sure”.
“Don’t worry, I got him sir” Mark said to him jokingly. He saluted the man and we took off.
” What was that all about?” Mark asked when we were far enough away.
“I have no idea, but I mean it’s Mr. Boyega. He’s always a bit weird”
We arrived at my front door. My building wasn’t anything special. I didn’t live in a nice town house or luxury condo. We lived in a simple beige brick building. I twisted the door knob, expecting to walk right through with a simple push, but the door remained still.
“It’s locked” Mark the detective said.
“Yea no shit” I replied, sounding pretty sarcastic. “My mom’s usually back by now, let’s just give it a bit” I continued. I looked around.
“Alright, well what do we do?” Mark asked.
“Let’s head up to the roof, just chill for a bit I guess”.
We climbed up the fire escape on the side of the building, making our way to the top of the building. It was a bit chilly up there but not too bad, I was wearing my favorite red jacket. The view from up there always makes it worth it. It honestly makes anything worth it, even the fight I got into today.
We could see down the long, wide lane of backed up traffic. The city is always louder on the ground. While you can hear the honks of the cars and wails of police sirens down below, there is a mix of peacefulness coming from within the clouds above. It’s a perfect blend of chaos and zen. It’s a place I like to go to clear my head.
I sat on the ledge, letting my feet dangle over the side of the building. Sometimes I envision myself jumping off and flying away like Superman, or swinging down like Spider-Man. Maybe I could stop the sirens I hear every night if I could do that.
“So, are you going to tell me what happened between you and Brent? Like the actual story?” Mark asked. He looked like a hipster with his yellow beanie and glasses.
Mark has been my best friend ever since the seventh grade. We’re currently Juniors in highschool, but that’s soon to change after these next few weeks. Even after all this time, I still tell Mark everything. He’s been there through everything with me, he was even there for me as I struggled with the loss of my missing father. Mark is the kind of person who will always side with you no matter what.
“Yea. I showed up to take the food to Mr. Boyega with you like we always do, but Brent was there. With Sophie. And it didn’t matter what she said, he kept trying to kiss her. So I ran in and got the dog shit kicked out of me”.
Kind of a quick explanation, but I really just didn’t want to talk about it right now.
“It was just a kiss man, there was like five or six of them and one of you. What did you expect? I mean yea, it was kind of badass, but stupid”.
“It wasn’t just a kiss though. She didn’t want it. Mark, tell me, if you seen a group of guys surrounding a helpless woman in an alleyway, and she clearly didn’t want to be in that situation, what would you call that. What would you do?”
Mark tried to answer, but was cut off by a sudden ringing from my phone. I raised the screen up to see who it was. I didn’t recognize it, it wasn’t in my contacts. But something told me to answer it. I put the phone up to my ear.
” Daniel, you don’t have much time. They’re coming for us. They’re close”.
“What? Who is this? What are you talking about?”
How did this person know my name? Was I being stalked? And how did he have my number? The deep, mysterious voice continued speaking.
” Grab whatever you can carry. Anything essential. We have to…”
He was cut off by a loud, thunderous boom. The building shook. You would have thought it was a massive earthquake, but the rising smoke from a couple streets down told me otherwise.
“Oh shit…” Mark mumbled, trying to stay calm.
I looked down at my phone. The caller was disconnected.
” Mark, we need to get inside. I think…”
I was confused and terrified, because I had a sneaking suspicion.
” I think that was meant for us”.
Note- This is the second draft of the first chapter of my new book “The Destined Hero”. The name may change, but I am having so much fun writing it. Hopefully with each chapter I should be posting an update up until I’m finished, which by then I’ll delete all of it to try to get it published, so enjoy it while it’s here 🙂 The reason I’m writing this book is to have something to base a graphic novel off of, so by the end of this I’ll have one novel and one graphic novel. Let me know what you think and any improvements I can make. This is the second draft, so I feeling a lot better about it now, but a few more improvements could be made.