Southside Protector: Chapter 1

The laser beam shot right past his head. If he hadn’t ducked, it would have hit him right in the mouth. A laser beam to the face was not a sensation that he particularly wanted to experience. Something else he didn’t want to experience was the smell of burning hair, but for some reason he was. Wait, he stopped himself, why am I smelling burning hair?
He reached back behind his head and had a clump of his long red ponytail come off in his hand. “Oh, come on,” he shouted at the shooter. “Do you know how long it took me to grow that?” Then he thought of his daughter. “Tatiana is going to be pissed,” he mumbled.

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Starting Tomorrow

I finally have enough of my new story written that I feel comfortable starting to put the chapters up on here. The first one will go up tomorrow. The next one will go up a week after and so on. I’m going to keep writing on it sporadically and I should be able to keep up with it going forward.

So, I hope you’re all ready to meet the Southside Protector.

Maintenance

Own your own home, they said. It’s so much better than renting, they said. You can do whatever you want to it, they said.

What they fail to tell you is the work that goes into it. Sure, there’s the little things that you know, like mowing the lawn during the summer. Unless you’re some asshole who can afford to pay someone to do that shit for you. I’m not that kind of asshole. I’m the poor kind of asshole.

Then there’s the optional things, like painting. So far, we’ve painted four of our rooms since we’ve bought our house. Baby E’s room was the first. It is now a bright pink (we’ve already told her that it’s staying that color until she’s old enough to paint it herself). Over the past month, we’ve painted most of our downstairs (kitchen, dining room, and living room). I don’t want to paint again for a very long time.

What really sucks, however, is when things break down and you have to fix them yourself. I, personally, have had to replace a faucet that was leaking. Thankfully, that’s a small job. What I’m going through right now, is not.

I am very fortunate. Not only do I have the best wife in the world, her dad is really awesome too. He’s a cool guy, plus there is not a lot out there that he can’t do. If there’s anything around the house, or on a car, that needs to be fixed, he can do it. I had never seen him attempt something that he did not figure out how to do it… until now. Although, to be fair, it’s not that he doesn’t know how to do it. It’s that he can’t get the equipment needed to do it.

It’s something that needs to be done. It’s not something that can be done cheaply. It’s all just one giant pain in the ass and I highly dislike it.

But, it’s still better than living in my old apartment.

On the Porch

I sat on the porch, idly passing the time away. As I sat there, an old man pulled up in an old truck. He made small talk with me. While he was talking, a cat jumped up onto the back bumper of the truck. It was too big to be a kitten, but too small to be a full grown adult. Bright orange fur covered the cat. I watched as it jumped up into the truck bed.

The old man finished talking and pulled away. I knew I should have told him about the cat, but he left too quickly. I put it out of my mind until the truck pulled back up a couple of minutes later. This time, the old man didn’t say anything. He just stopped long enough for the cat to jump back out.

As he pulled away, I noticed flames start coming from the truck bed. I jumped up and chased the truck, but it was too fast. It was soon out of view. I suppose that I could’ve called the police to warn them, but I didn’t. I just sat back down on the porch.

Then, a new car pulled up. The back window was open and the cat jumped through it. As soon as it did, the car pulled away. I thought this was odd, especially when it came back a minute later with the front seat in flames. The driver’s right arm was covered in a long sleeve shirt that was on fire, but he didn’t seem to notice. The cat jumped back out and the fiery car drove away.

I just let it happen this time. That decision seemed to work out as the same situation happened a few more times. A car would pull up, the cat would get in, they’d leave, the car would come back on fire, the cat would get out, and the car would leave.

Then, my daughter walked up to stand next to me. She ignored the flaming vehicles and asked me to make her something to eat. I walked inside, grabbed some pizza rolls out of the freezer, cut to the front of the long line of people waiting to use the microwave, and put her pizza rolls in it.

…. and that’s when I woke up.

The Vast Divide

A knock on his door startled him. He wasn’t expecting anybody, certainly not at this time of night. When he opened the door, he was shocked to see Tigerclaw standing there. Tigerclaw was obviously not his real name, it was his online screen name. They had met each other years ago on a mutual friend’s website. Through messages and emails, they learned that they had a lot in common, and over the years, they had maintained their friendship.

The two of them had never met in person, however. They lived on opposite sides of the country. But, through the miracle of modern technology, the vast divide between them all but disappeared. Social media allowed them to keep tabs on each other, share photos of themselves and their families, and stay up to date on each other’s activities.

They had talked a couple of times before about meeting each other in the real world, but nothing ever came of it. They each had their own lives to lead and it never provided them the time they needed to make such a trip possible. So, how was Tigerclaw there? And where was his family? When they talked about meeting each other, their families were always involved.

“What are you doing here?” he asked Tigerclaw. “This is such a surprise.”

“I know it’s late,” Tigerclaw responded, “and I hope I didn’t wake anyone, but I’m leaving soon and I wanted to visit you before I go.”

He knew Tigerclaw’s words didn’t make sense, but he stepped aside and let him into his house. The two of them spent all night talking, laughing, watching movies, and generally just enjoying each other’s company. When the morning light came, Tigerclaw got up to leave. “I wish I didn’t have to go,” Tigerclaw said. “It was nice to spend this time with my family before I left.”

He chuckled. “I’m not your family. We just met tonight.”

“That doesn’t matter. You’re still my brother.”

Before he could respond to Tigerclaw, a loud noise hit his ear. He jumped up, slapping the snooze button on his alarm clock as he did so. It was all a dream, he laughed softly to himself. He laid back down and hit the snooze button two more times before he finally got out of bed.

The rest of his morning was routine. He got showered, shaved, dressed, and got the kids to school before he headed off to work. Lunchtime came and he pulled out his phone to send Tigerclaw a message about the dream that he had. Strangely, he saw that he had received a text from Tigerclaw right around the same time that his alarm went off. For some reason, it didn’t give him a notification on his main screen. A fleeting thought popped into his head about how strange it would be if Tigerclaw had the same dream as him.

But that wasn’t what the text was about.

It was a mass text sent out to everyone who Tigerclaw had in his phone. The message was from Tigerclaw’s wife telling everybody that her husband had passed away.

At first he didn’t believe it. He certainly didn’t want to believe it, but he eventually learned that Tigerclaw had really passed away the day before from an undetected heart condition. The news devastated him.

He wanted to take the time to go to Tigerclaw’s funeral, but the responsibilities he had to his job and his family prevented it. Still, he felt like he should do something. So, in a manner he felt was fitting, he went online and posted his words for the departed.

“Though we were separated by the vast divide, you are my brother and you will be with me. Always.”