The eerie sound coming from a chandelier up in ceiling completely stopped, the voice of a TV news anchor was abruptly mute, silence filled the atmosphere inside the bar, and the man holding a red satchel stuffed with hundreds of dollar bills couldn’t feel his heart beating, as if the warmth as part of his goodness was forever replaced by a cold-blood side of himself; Colin, is his name, realized his world has suddenly turned upside down when his gaze rested upon a dead body covered with blood. It didn’t take Colin a second to realize it was his younger brother, Kay, who was lying there, on the ground, dead.
Colin moved not an inch the entire time as he let silence take over; he stood beside his brother, whom he promised to look after no matter what the circumstances. Unfortunately for the brothers, they were dragged into a world of anarchy and violence where one family feud with another long before they were born. Both brothers knew they had to look for each other’s back, but they had no idea what fate awaits them.
Beyond the body were several men lying on the ground, some shot in the head, others stabbed in the visceral part of their bodies by large knives of some sort. The bar was covered with blood; the bartender was shot in the head, the glasses were shattered, the alcohol drinks and beer canes were spilled all over the place. A serious bloodbath must’ve occurred, thought Colin. There were 17 dead men inside the room, according to Colin, five of which were part of his gang, the rest being part of the other family. The Archer family was at a war against the Rivera family for decades, and the reason that created such hatred between the two parties didn’t interest Colin, even if he’s a Rivera; the only thing he has hoped to accomplish is bringing peace upon both groups. But that was too late now, because now that the war has cost the life his younger brother, a new hatred that’s even more powerful than what each family has against the other surged violently, as if he wanted to annihilate the Archers.
“I’m sorry for your loss, Colin,” said a man, Colin’s chaperone, who was holding a duffel bag full of artilleries on one shoulder and a pistol in one hand. “We should report back to the warehouse.”
“I’ll kill these sons of bitches,” said the angry Colin.
“Ease up, Colin. There was no way we would’ve known this bar’s run by the Archers.”
“I don’t give a shit!” Colin kneeled down and prayed for his brother’s death; he knew he couldn’t give him a proper funeral as the LAPD are looking after the two families for years.
“Your brother was a brave man. Save your anger for later, because right now my ears seem to pick out the sound of a police vehicle approaching.”
Colin stood up and followed his chaperone to the back door of the bar that led them to a dark alley. The men sprinted their way for a spot where they could meet up with Jerry, the Intel provider. Jerry supplies the Riveras the jobs and locations. The jobs are mostly money transfer and killing, but this time, it was Friday the 13th of July, the fourth war between the Archers and Riveras.
As far as the casualties go, the Riveras planned to annihilate most of the Archers, as it would enable them to get ahead and gain more power. Colin and his chaperone broke into a minivan parked outside a Target store. No one seemed to pay attention as Colin used his expertise in starting the engine without a key while Ewan, his chaperone, was speaking to Jerry on the phone about the rendezvous.
It was five minutes before the minivan came into a halt. Moments later Jerry got on and told us the location of our next assignment.
“Drive to Maven Street, then 2 blocks to the right. We only got less than 10 minutes before the festival is over.”
“Festival?” said Ewan. “You got to be kidding me. We’re at war and the Archers are planning to have a festival? I guess it’s more killing for us.”
Jerry laughed and reassured him, “We were lucky to have a mole in the Archer family. This guy gives us too much that it’s hard to picture he’s an Archer.”
“Yeah, you got that right.”
Colin said nothing the whole time, wondering why Jerry never talked much about the head of the Rivera family. The boss is Colin and Kay’s uncle, who immediately stepped in after their father passed away due to natural causes.
It was no surprise to him after having learned that his grandfather was the first to ever run the family and has gone through hardships for the sake of the Riveras. Unlike their father and uncle, Father Rivera, was his name, became an inspiration to his people due to his benevolence and knowledge about the world and how to survive in any given situation. During the war against the Archers he would constantly offer them a truce to settle their differences once and for all, but the other party desired no such thing.
Colin’s father told him about the story of why and how all of this started. As much as he can remember, in 1958 a young Nelson Rivera, was his real name, was homeless and lived in a shelter while looking after his brothers, Brody and Gabe Rivera, and sister, Genevieve Rivera, as well as three cousins. The gang sought any kind of work elsewhere in Los Angeles, but no luck came upon them. Although Nelson was successfully granted a job as a gardener for a rich family, the Archers, his siblings and cousins were able to afford healthy sustenance.The Archers were pleased with Nelson’s work and eventually offered him a room for him and his family to stay.
The gang had been living with the Archers for almost two years without any tension growing among the rich family, as long as the Riveras comply to their household rules, such as no close contact to a member or stealing any property that doesn’t belong to them, let alone a piece of bread. To Nelson such rules were too discriminative, but he ignored them and did as he was told. The entire gang eventually began working for the Archers, though with separate tasks.
As time passed the Archers’ oldest sibling, Mia Archer, grew so fond of Nelson. She would always wake up before noon and wait for Nelson at the garden before he would begin working. Both had affection for one another. Nobody knew about the relationship between Mia and Nelson, but the Archer family knew Mia often goes to see the garden and had allowed it.
Nelson learned much about her as she did about him overtime, though he became surprised when she told him she was the daughter of a monarch. But such revelation did not stop them from getting together. They would sleep and eat together covertly. Nelson told his relationship with her to his family. At first they were not pleased, but advised him not to cross boundaries left by the rich family.
Everything turned for the worst when the Archer’s own butler handed Nelson pesticide to ward off insects from the garden. Nelson couldn’t read nor write. “This should help” was the only thing the butler said to him. The liquid product handed to him was clear and colorless; there was no repulsive smell whatsoever. Nelson figured it was to help grow the plants. So on an early morning, few minutes before Mia would come to the garden, he quickly finished placing the seeds and went to where he placed the pesticide-containing jar. His siblings and cousins also couldn’t read, but all became clear when he realized the language scripture on the jar was different from his native language. The only language he could speak is Spanish.
Not knowing how to spread the liquid product, he searched for a cup to sprinkle the material, but was unable to find any. To his right was a coffee table with two wooden chairs. On it laid a silver tray, two coffee cups, and a teapot. Mia had purposely left it their for both of them. He decided to use the coffee cup and was sure to clean it after he was done. After sprinkling a cupful of pesticide he remembered he’d forgotten to put on a pair of plastic gloves, so he set the contaminated cup on the coffee table beside the silver tray, dried his hand with a dirty cloth, and headed back to the closet in the basement where the family keep their household appliances and cleaning products.
It took Nelson ten minutes or so to find his way back to the garden. Once there, a shock hit his spine when he noticed Mia elegantly sipping and gulping hot coffee from one of the cups on the coffee table. He gazed at the table and, more surprised, the other cup was also filled with coffee. After first he wasn’t sure which cup she must’ve used. Mia wore a happy smile to see him, only then did she suspect something was wrong judging from Nelson’s face.
“Is something wrong, my love?” she said in Spanish. She claimed to speak more than four languages besides English as her native. Nelson was intrigued and asked how was it possible. I taught myself since I was five, she once told him. So I committed myself to a new language after feeling confident to finally speak it well if not fluently.
Nelson approached Mia, who held the cup with both hands close to her chest.
“Do you know which cup you used before pouring the coffee?” said the desperate Nelson. He never heard of pesticide before, nor was he aware of the symptoms that follow upon accidentally ingesting it orally.
“I wasn’t paying attention to which I used first. There are both clean.”
“Yeah—I mean no. I used one of them to spread something over the plants.”
“I’m sure both coffee cups were completely dried, and you probably used water, am I correct?”
Nelson didn’t know what to say. “How are you feeling now?”
“Great! Why? Was there something else in the cup?”
“No, it’s nothing. Just fresh water.”
Nothing unusual happened throughout the afternoon while Nelson was planting seeds underground and covered them with wet soil. He would constantly watched Mia as she sat in a chair watching him.
Before three in the afternoon the couple parted ways. Nelson returned to his room to join his gang. All the youngsters were in total lethargy, unable to do any handwork for the Archers.
An hour later came a violent knock on their door. After the first two knocks someone kicked the door open. Two large, muscular men came in and grabbed Nelson by the arms, though not in a gentle way. They dragged him all the way to a room of what appeared to be Mia’s own room. Once there, Nelson spotted Mia’s Father, the head of the family, sitting next to Mia, who was neither unresponsive nor moving. The father’s presence wasn’t the only one felt in the room; the mother and twin brothers.
The father turned to Nelson.
“My daughter is dead! What have you done to her?” he said with rage but sadness in his eyes was noticeable.
Although Nelson knew little of English, the Father’s words were too vague and different from how Mia or any other member of the family speaks. He knew one thing for sure: Mia is dead. Nelson’s siblings and cousins joined him any moment now, only to have a sudden change of expression on their faces once they witnessed the event.
“You stupid brat! You killed my daughter. I’m going to kill you!” the father kept on with the same words, while Nelson continuously shaking his head as he said he didn’t do anything to her.
The father abruptly threw a punch on Nelson, who collapsed on the floor. Genevieve interrupted and told the monarch it was her fault. Her English was better than Nelson—more importantly, she was always better than him at almost anything. She always takes the blame for his sake, even if it means punishing her. Sadly, she was the youngest of her siblings, but her brothers respected her as if she was the oldest.
The father ignored Genevieve and commanded his men to lock the entire gang in the room in which they stay until Nelson was going to be persecuted. All of their belongings were taken from them. Neither of them said a word, but not for long before someone spoke.
“We got to get out of here,” said Brody.
“I’m sorry,” apologized Nelson, “it’s all my fault.”
Genevieve sat beside him and said, “You don’t have to apologize. I know you’re not crazy enough to kill someone you love.”
“It was an accident,” said Nelson, who began to weep, as he couldn’t bear the loss of Mia.
Their imprisonment didn’t last long when Genevieve got a hold of the room key; the Archers forgot that they’ve given her a key to the room.
The gang sneaked their way out of the mansion-like house as the day suddenly switched to twilight. Genevieve called out the gang and whispered.
“What about our stuff?”
“Forget about it,” said Brody.
“At least let me get Nelson’s backpack. I know where it is.”
Nelson didn’t say a word, so Gabe decided to go with her and promised to return in two minutes.
It was already five minutes when two alarming sounds coming from the sound of a gunshot aroused Nelson and the rest. Nelson asked Brody and his cousins to stay put, as he go to check out what happened.
Once he made his way back to their room, which was no longer as of now, he noticed Genevieve’s footprints and followed until he reached the dining room, where the voice of Mia’s father echoed in the atmosphere.
Nelson hid himself behind a wall and surveyed the dining room. The two bodyguards were holding revolvers, while the monarch held a cigar between his lips. Shockingly, his eyes caught his brother and sister’s bodies laying on the ground, blood oozing from where they got shot.
Nelson felt traumatized. He hurried back to his family as he remembered the words from the monarch: “Kill all these dirty Riveras.” It was a turning point that created hatred between the Archers and Riveras. Such event unexpectedly led Nelson Rivera to swear an oath of avenging the death of his dearest brother and sister, as well as take the responsibility of Mia’s death.
“We’re here, fellas,” said Jerry. “The people inside that building are, despite being an Archer, the bridges that support the Archer family. Make sure you kill every single one of them.”
Ewan handed Colin an automatic weapon.
“I’ll be waiting for you. And please make this quick.” Jerry reminded them.
Before Colin got out of the driver’s seat, Jerry spoke.
“Colin, where’s Kay? I thought he supposed to meet up with you.”
“He’s dead!” Colin said with anger.
Ewan and Colin crossed the street and remained unseen by the night’s shadow. They surveyed the small restaurant through a large window; there were not only adults but children also. The family was sitting at a large table munching their food while laughing. Colin’s eyes met Ewan’s.
“I have children of my own,” Ewan said, “but I don’t know what that would make me if I kill the children before my eyes.”
“Nothing will change, whether you kill them or not,” said Colin. “These children are already cursed. There’s nothing to be done for them. They will only carry on the hatred and legacy left by those bastards.”
Ewan said not a word. The men made their way to the entrance door and, as they put on masks and loaded their weapon, Jerry began counting to three. Colin closed his eyes, took a deep breath as the image of his brother appeared, and looked at the sky.
When the time came, he kicked the door open, looked at the Archers with fierce eyes, and began shooting.