Just so you know, my story will have three alternate paths. This is the first.
"Just like old times, playa," said the old man. Hearing his voice come from behind me, I remembered something.
Old times. Yeah, I remembered those days. Riding in the car while shooting some unlucky Carnales, VKs, Rollerz, or cops who were too stupid enough to know not to fuck with me. Either I was shooting them from the driver's seat with my Vice 9. Or blowing them away with a RPG while riding shotgun. Good times. But that was the past. Not now. Today wasn't going to be a happy memory I'll reflect on in a year from now. This was it. My moment for revenge.
"Yeah." I spun around, pulled out my gun, and aimed at the one person I know I would enjoy pulling the trigger on when he entered my sights. And I pulled the trigger. The old man fell down with his back against a pillar. I'm a good shooter, and usually I kill with one shot. But I wanted more than just one bullet to kill this man. So a little torturing won't hurt. He held his stomach as blood started to pour out. And so it began.
There he was. Julius Little. My former savior. My former boss. My former friend. 5 years ago, I wouldn't be pointing a gun at him like at I am right now. But now I am. Why? He decided I was to be "retired." Usually you throw a party for someone who's leaving. If explosions count as parties, then I say he threw a big fucking party for me.
"Jesus, I thought we were past this."
I laughed like a patient at the crazy house. Did he really think I was past the bombing? Just because we survived the Masako attack, he thinks he's forgiven? No. He's not.
"Not by a fucking long shot, Jules," I said. I pointed the gun at him, just wanting to pull the trigger and leave the traitor's body to decompose.
The old man looked at me. God how I hated that man. He used to be the leader of the Saints. Fearless. Loyal. I used to think he was the man I hoped one day to be. Now he's a joke. "Don't you get it," he spat angrily. "The Saints never solved a goddamned thing! Drugs were still being pushed, innocent people were still getting killed. All we did was just become Vice Kings that wore purple."
We were called the Saints. But we never did anything good. Ironic isn't it?
Another maniacal laugh rang out. "Jesus Christ. You sound like a pussy." I smiled as I said it. He sounded like a coward. After trying to kill me, he did what most cowards do. He left. Ran away. I wonder, did he ever feel guilty for what he did? Not just trying to kill me, but for also leaving the gang. Leaving everyone else to die, just because everything didnât go according to plan.
âI sound like someone who isnât a sociopath.â
I hated it when someone called me that. Psycho. Lunatic. Maniac. All I was called while rising to the top. And now, no one would even dare to call me a name. Because now, they know who I am.
âYou wanna be a killer with conscience, Julius? Fine! You shouldâve dropped your flags and write a book like King did. But you never shouldâve come after me.â
Just as I wanted to pull the trigger, the old bastard spoke. âYou mean to say, that if I asked you to walk away, you wouldâve said yes?â
This guy, heâs got nerve. Would I walk away?! Among all the dumbest questions, this takes the cake.
âFuck no! This is my city! It is now, and forever will be! And for those whoâll try to take it, theyâll have to pry it from my cold dead hands!â
Silence. Thatâs all it was for a few seconds.
âYou didnât even give me a choice you son of a bitch.â
âWhat was I suppose to do?! I knew you wouldnât give it up. I saw you rise up. All you wanted was money and power!â
He crossed the line there. The one thing I wanted to say right then and there, if I knew my fate. But back then, I was following orders.
âYouâre fucking wrong old man! All I wanted was what you wanted! And I did so many more damn things for the gang that you did! I brought in money! I showed we werenât to be fucked with! I made us the gang we were 5 years ago! All for you! And you threw it all away. Your timeâs over, old man.â
âJesus, you havenât learned a goddamn thing, didnât you?
âOh I did. I did learn something. I learned that being in charge, with control over a gang that owns the cityâ¦is so much better than being some errand boy bitch who keeps his mouth shut and does what heâs told!â
The old man stared at me in shock. I could tell. I was the monster. He was Frankenstein. He created something that went out of control. Man, when I think about it, he mustâve not kept a close eye on me. Otherwise I probably be another citizen who hates his day job and always wishes he could go back and do something to change his future.
âWhatâs happened to you?
âI woke up. 5 years ago I had it all. And with one explosion, I lost it all. But within a few months I took back everything. Then one day I discovered the man who took me under his wing, the same man who saved my life, the same man I looked at as my fatherâ¦was the one who took it all away. THATâ¦is what happened to me, Julius. And now, I plan to take everything away from him. Any last words?â
I pointed the gun, aimed straight at his head. This was it. The moment I waited for ever since I woke up in that damn prison hospital bed.
âYou shouldnât kill me. You said it yourself. I SAVED YOUR LIFE! Listen to me, and listen good. You owe me playa. After all, if it wasnât for me, you wouldâve died on that street corner.â
âPoor choice of words, because if it werenât for you, I wouldâve never been in a goddamn coma!â
âWell I guess that makes us even.â
I fired bullets into the man. With only one in the chamber left. He was still breathing. Blood poured out of his mouth he looked at me one last time.
One pull. I heard a lot of gunshots. But this one was the loudest I heard.
There he was. The man I wanted to kill. Now dead. With 11 shots to the body. 1 to the head.
I walked away. Too bad I wasnât walking away from the gang life. I was walking away from another fucking corpse.
Hey, sorry it took so long. Or not that long, whatever you think. Either way Iâm sorry. But here is the second path. FYI, the first is more of a revenge, this one will be the neutral one. Enjoy.
"Just like old times, playa," said Julius.
âYeah,â I said. I quickly turned around and shot him. I didnât kill him, just shot him. I wanted him dead. But I also wanted to know why. Why he blew me up on that goddamn yacht. I wasnât sure why I didnât kill him right then and there. But I know why. Itâs because sometimes you canât put the past behind you. Sometimes you can. But I think sometimes, no matter how far you run, or how many times you face it, you just canât leave it.
âJesus, I thought we were past this,â the old man yelled.
âApparently not,â I say calmly.
I donât know what it was. Half of me said pull the trigger. The other half wanted to walk away. But deep down, I felt like I couldnât do either. I put down my gun and took a step forward.
âWhy, Julius? Why did you blow me up?â
âI saw what you were becoming. If I didnât stop it, you wouldâve burned Stilwater into the ground.â
I looked into the eyes of the old man. I saw fear and anger. Mostly anger. All I wanted to know the day I woke up, was who the hell blew up the boat? While I wasnât busy I took my free time to find out who it was. I did eventually. I couldnât believe it was him. He saved my life. And he tried to take it away.
âIs that what you really think Julius? Maybe I would. Maybe I wouldnât. What was the real reason, old man? Donât try any bullshit. Whatever you say could decide your fate. And donât try to sweet-talk me. I want the fucking truth.â
Julius tried to get up but couldnât. Now Iâm not a doctor, but I think I mightâve hit something. And Iâm not talking physical health, but emotional.
âAs I said before in the church, I donât have to explain shit to you.â
I shot him again, this time in the leg. You know, you ask for things politely. In return, someone responds negatively. You probably wouldâve shrugged it off. But I couldnât. Iâll do whatever it takes to find the truth.
âYou fucking psychopath! You want the truth?! Fine! (Deep breath and sigh) I was happy we took Stilwater back. But I knew something was wrong. We both knew it. People were still getting killed and drugs were still being sold. Some of our boys, even the good ones, took advantage of the situation. And then I saw what you were becoming. At first I thought you were just trying to impress Gat or the others. But when I saw the look in your eyes, I didnât see the kid who fought for the Row. I saw a power-hungry, tyrant who was fighting for what the city had to offer. The boys followed your example because I made you the right-hand man. They saw what you were doing. I had to do something. I knew you wouldnât walk away if I asked you. So I thought otherwise. And then, wellâ¦you know.â
âAnd thenâ¦weâre here.â
I looked Julius straight in the eye. He was afraid. He looked angry, too. I saw my reflection I his eyes. What have I become? Is this who I really wanted to be? I wish there was an answer in front of me, and eventually there was.
âIs that what you really think?â
âYouâre right. And wrong. There are some decisions I make thinking itâs for the best, itâs necessary, itâs important, or for some other reason. And the one Iâm about to make, is for the all the right and wrong reasons. I want you to know right now. I wanted Stilwater to be safe. I also wanted it for the Saints. I wanted it for both others and myself. I hope you understand.â
I walked toward Julius and picked him up.
âFor a minute I thought you were gonna kill m-â
Then I slammed him against the pillar.
âI want you to leave Stilwater. Just because Iâm letting you go, doesnât mean I wonât kill you. Leave for your own sake, so help me God I see you in Stilwater, youâre gonna wish I killed you here.â
Julius looked me in the eye. He knew I wasnât fucking around. After letting him go, he ran. To where? I donât know, donât care, and it doesnât matter. It was over. As I walked away I kept thinking to myself whether or not I made the right choice. Iâm pretty sure a couple of cold ones and maybe a joint could help me think about it. Or forget about it. I usually donât tell anyone my personal life. But somehow I feel like I have to. Maybe Johnny, Shaundi, or even Pierce could understand. Maybe, maybe not. Either way, I have a lot to think about.
Right or wrong, good or bad, I hope Iâm walking away for the real reason.
Ladies and gentlemen for those of you who were hopeful for the third path I present the final path. Thank you for reading (hopefully you enjoyed it) and I probably will work on future stories if youâre curious enough to ask. Enough talk, err- writing this intro, letâs read! (Funny how you donât hear that every day.)
âJust like old times, playa.â
Itâs kind of funny when you reach that point in which youâre comfortable around those who disturb or bother you. I mean it can be a person who annoys (or in my case put a bomb on the boat you were on and tried to kill you) you and youâre okay with it. Itâs funny really. One day youâre a completely, angry, psychotic monster who has a bloodthirsty taste for revenge and the next day youâre the opposite. Calm, cool, and collected are the words. Youâve been through fucking hell and when you reach the hole you fell through, itâs like you no longer care that you made it. 5 years, 3 wiretap conversations, and 1 call is all it takes is to get where I am. (Well assuming you destroy 3 gangs in the process while youâre at it.)
But, Iâm not just comfortable yet.
âJesus, I thought we were past this,â said Julius Little. My former leader, as a heads up. I was, but itâs like someone took your lunch and youâre okay with but they deserve a punch in the arm as punishment, and they accept it.
âWe are.â I offered him a lift. The funniest part of the day was that he look he gave me. I mean the look just said, âAre you fucking kidding me?! You just shot me in the chest!â He actually said that too.
As I picked him up, he asked me, or better yet, said, âI donât understand. I thought you wanted to kill me. But youâre letting me live. Even though Iâm glad Iâm alive, I donât-â
Why didnât I kill him? You probably wouldâve shot him. To this day I still donât know why I let him live. Good conscience? No more bloodshed? Who gives a fuck anymore? As I looked into this manâs eyes, I saw my reflection. I saw myself. Or at least I thought. I saw a man who didnât give a shit if anyone died to get what he wanted. A man who would sacrifice anyone for what he wanted. That wasnât me long ago. When I joined the Saints, I did it for my own reasons. Justice, freedom, and vengeance. And the usual rolls of hundreds. I also did it to track down whoever killed my father. I did eventually. And even after I killed that Carnale bastard, I didnât feel better. Now, when I look back, I see myself now. Julius mightâve tried to kill me to prevent a Ben King, Lopez family, and Price all in one person from happening again. So now I know.
âJulius. (Sigh) I donât want to kill you just because you blew me up and I wanted retaliation. Itâs not out of a clear head either. Itâs cause I want the truth. But you donât have to say a word. I know. You did it because I was a-â
âA money-making, power hungry tyrant lusting for power?â
Yeah. That pretty much makes it up.
Julius looked down at the ground, sighed, and looked at me and spoke, âDante, (I was surprised he used my actual name. I rarely hear my first name.) I blew you up for the fact you mightâve destroyed Stilwater. With drugs being sold and innocent people getting killed, I had to stop it all.â
âWas blowing me up the option,â I asked growing angry. âItâs bullshit you gave King a chance, but not me, right?â
âI didnât know what to do okay?! I was scared for the people.â
âStop worrying about Stilwater, Julius! Did you even give a thought about what you did to the gang? Not just me. Iâm talking about Gat, Troy, even though he was undercover, and even Dex for fuckâs sake! Not just us either, but the crew as well! What about everyone who flew under our flag? You left them to fend for themselves. They needed someone. Nobody was there. Johnny was on the run, Dex quit, Troy, well he tried to help out even after he was done, you left, and I was in a goddamn coma!â
Julius looked at me. He knew I was right. He didnât think about the gang after he bailed. All he cared about, was himself. He didnât care for the people. Just himself.
âI didnât think of that. I was scared. I wasnât thinking of asking you.â
âWell you shouldâve.â
âIf it means anything now, Iâm sorry. For everything. So much guilt. Just end it all. I canât live. Not like this.â
Defeat is a bitch. No matter how hard you try, no matter how sure you are, when it comes, it shuts you down. Completely. I think itâs our job to help the defeated rise back up and try and try again until they succeed.
âYouâre gonna live.â
âMy father once told me, âSon, everyone deserves a second chance. No matter how far they go, they deserve it. Even those criminals you see on the TV. Does anyone wonder if theyâre forced into it? Maybe they rob banks to support their families, maybe itâs to buy a place to live, maybe because life is hard for them and they have to resort to crime because they didnât get that chance. When their choice is in your hands, do the right thing son. Sure they could continue to do crime, but maybe, just maybe, with your second shot, you could be a better person.â So the choice is yours, Julius Little. Die with your guilt, or live for your redemption.â
Julius looked at me. With tears out of his eyes, he smiled. And then he laughed.
âMaybe you have changed after all. Iâm sorry I doubted you. If I could I would go back and ask you.â
âThe answer would probably be yes if I was the person I am right now back then. But even today, I ainât walking away Julius. Not now. Maybe not ever.â
âI know now playa. Iâm just glad we could put this behind us.â
âYeah about thatâ¦â
Yeah, you see, most people would walk away. Instead of walking away I gave him five of my hardest punches. Like I said before in a way, some things you do come with a punishment you must accept.
Julius was on the ground.
âThat was for the coma. The bullet was for the explosion. Weâre even.â
âUnderstood,â Julius coughed.
After helping him up again, I drove him to the hospital. I even gave him the car. You know I think I now know why I didnât kill him. I lost two good friends in taking back the city, and when you lose friends, it makes you give a thought about life. I didnât want any more bloodshed on my hands. Most belonged to my enemies. So even now whenever I think about letting Julius live, I think to be a better person. Well Iâm still the leader of the Saints and we continue doing our illegal businesses, so besides that I think I okay. After walking home, I realized I walked away from my past. After getting into the penthouse, I look out the window and see a sunset. And then I smiled.
I may not be walking away from what Julius wanted me to walk away from, but I know I walked away from making a mistake I know I probably wouldâve regret. At least now thatâs the biggest thing off my chest. And Iâm glad itâs off. Permanently.
Thanks for reading hoped you enjoy it! Until then, goodbye and safe travels!