I was learning, they called it. I was progressing. I saw kids far away who lived a different life. Sometimes I wondered what that life was like. I would learn about it when they brought in new kids. They would often talk about their parents, siblings, and home. It made me wonder about this life. Was there something better? Didn’t everyone live like this?
“Good job, son. You show much promise.”
An unknown man stepped out of the shadows dressed in a shiny suit. I took in his clean appearance, and the way everyone seemed to snap to attention when he made his presence known and figured he must have been the boss Frank spoke about often.
“You see that?” he pointed to the dead man who was bleeding out on the floor. “Good people have no place in this world so we must eradicate them. Only the strongest survive, and to be strong, you have to be ruthless and prey on the weak. Do you understand?”
I nodded that I did even though I didn’t. I would ask one of the older kids later.
“You did a good thing here. This man was a rat. He was a disease that had to be cut off before it could spread, and you did that. What is your name, little one?”
“He doesn’t have one,” Frank spoke up. “We just call him slave.”
“Even better,” the man grinned, evilly. “I’ve heard quite a bit about you. You’re smarter than the rest and willing to work, is what they tell me. Tell me… how do you like our line of business?”
* * *
“Mr. Masters, you’re late. I expected you thirty minutes ago,” Mrs. Gilmore admonished when I stepped foot inside her office. I’d waited for Monroe well past the first bell for class, but she never showed. I sent a quick text to her and told myself I wasn’t worried. I was annoyed that she denied me my morning fix by not showing up.
“Well, I’m here now so say what you have to say and let’s get this shit over with,” I snapped.
I normally wasn’t rude to the school staff, but my patience was long gone. Monroe’s absence was just the thing to send me over the edge.
“All right. You won’t have a future at the rate you’re going this year. When college is no longer an option so is basketball. Lucky for you, you’ve been a somewhat of an outstanding student these past three years… academically. You’ve been jailed twice already, and you are looking to fail another year if you don’t button up. So far, your future is promising if you are looking to pursue a career in the penitentiary. If that is what you want, then a high school diploma isn’t what you need and you are wasting my time. I realize you have a lot going on considering the tragic accident with your cousin—”
“My brother,” I snarled.
“Excuse me?” She stared at me with shock etched on her face.
“He’s my fucking brother. If you are going to talk about my family as if you have a fucking clue, then speak correctly. He’s my brother.”
“Never mind all that. Continue. You were telling me how I’m a waste without a future.”
It took her a few moments to pick her face up before she spoke. “Yes, well, not in exactly those words, Mr. Masters. What I am trying to say is you are a smart young man and a leader. Whether you know it or not, there are people who look to you. Is this the kind of example you want to set for your peers?”
What the hell was up with people telling me what I needed to do today? “Well, then, I’d say they have a bad judge of character, and it should be them you need to speak to.”
“Nevertheless, you are on your last strike. There are no more chances, Mr. Masters. I suggest you heed this warning. You may go.”
I didn’t waste any time leaving her office. After her condescending speech, I had half a mind to skip, but that would just be petty. My phone vibrated in my jeans, and I quickly fished it out.
As I recall, my whereabouts are NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. Kindly fuck off.
I smiled and pocketed my phone without replying. Monroe continued to dig her hole and I let her. When she finally realizes she’s dug too deep, she’ll be too far in to escape. It didn’t stop me from going after her though. I still needed to feed my addiction. It was time to change classes, and so it took me a little longer than I liked as I tried to dodge the unwanted attention and ignore the wary looks from some of the other students. I wasn’t surprised most of them had heard by now how I was suspected of Trevor and Anya’s murder. I was almost sorry I wasn’t the one to do it.
Trevor and his father were planning to lock Monroe away in their basement like a fucking dog and use her in ways she would never survive. Thinking about it had me wanting to bring that motherfucker to life so I could kill him myself. I almost didn’t believe the shit they were planning to do. Not until I did a quick inspection of their house while they were gone which showed me everything I needed to know. They had a mattress pushed in the corner and a chain mounted to the wall to imprison her. Trevor never had any intentions of delivering her to my father. His father wanted revenge against me for convincing his wife to leave his abusive ass. Turns out, his mother wanted to leave years ago but couldn’t escape. She’d been beaten and raped by both father and son for years.
I don’t know what made me help her. To be honest, I couldn’t stand Trevor. I never could. Maybe I did it to hurt him. His mother was able to leave with my assistance and never looked back, not even when he was murdered. I hadn’t heard a peep out of his father since he lost his job. He was still on my to-do list because no way was that sick fuck walking away. I wouldn’t even give him the option to waste himself away by drowning in booze. For Monroe, he will answer to the grim reaper.