Between Halos and Horns

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 7 (v.1) - Tiny

Submitted: September 10, 2012

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Comments: 1

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Submitted: September 10, 2012

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I took a quick look at my cell-phone and saw that it was nearly three o'clock - time had flown by. Reid sat there, scratching his scruffy little beard, his big hazel eyes drifting here and there. After a couple of moments, he looked up at the one-way mirror on one side of the room and called out, "Hey now, I'm gon' go ahead and take off my jacket now, please don't shoot me. That'd be no fun at all... for anyone." He gave me a wink and slowly shed off his black leather brawler jacket and hung on the back of his chair. Now that his arms were visible, I could see that his left arm was sleeved in an impressive tattoo from his forearm to somewhere past the sleeve of his black v-neck. It was colorful, seemed to be a mix of tribal, Asian influence, and what could only be described as demonic details. 

"Nice tattoo," I commented. 

"Thanks, I did it myself," he replied. The was no hint of joke in his tone or eyes. 

"No shit?"

"No shit." 

"Wanna tell me about that?" I asked hopefully. 

"Eventually, I gotta get there first though," he answered with a small laugh, eyeing me down carefully. 

"Alright, so you were saying after four months of being a Runt, you were taken on a Collection." 

***------------------------------------------------------------------------------***

Right, so as I was saying, four months had gone by in Runtville. Dale and I, well we got considerably stronger. Our muscles were larger than before; we were faster, stronger, and a wee bit more witty than when we were on the streets. More than that, we knew how to scuffle in a serious manner now. Our fear of our new home had left us completely; all we cam to know was food, trainin', Spark n' Tiny. They was our best friends, n' we never forgot that.

We knew we had to be careful when dealin' with Bo Deacon, seein' as how he was our leader and the other boys followed him without too much question. Besides that, he also had a shiny six-slot magnum and swore to blow our heads off every other day. Me n' Dale became accustomed to the life in Runtville, we came to accept what had happened to us. Finally, after a good amount of time, I stopped dreamin' about my house. And I know, you'll think it's a bit strange I'm sure, but I often thought about my momma. When we was on the streets, Dale and I were too busy for me to have a chance to think about her; but there in Runtville, I found that I had a lot of free time to just set there and wonder what she'd say to me if she was still around. 

Andrew was a shit as always. He got off by gettin' Dale in trouble, and it wasn't just once or twice that we got beat by Deacon for fightin'. Only, Deacon would beat Andrew ?after ?beatin' us so that he'd claim to be too tired to beat him too hard. Andrew was an obvious favorite, as was Tongue, but the two boys just didn't see eye to eye. Deacon loved to unleash Tongue on any boy who had royally pissed him off because the kid, at nine years old, could even give Andrew and his friends a run for their money. 

Spark always talked about ownin' a gun shop one day. He claimed that his daddy was a "legitimate six-shooter cowboy" somewhere in New Mexico. He thought by openin' a gun shop, his daddy was sure to come back to visit and buy from 'im. (Reid chuckles lightly here and shakes his head.) Tiny didn't see why we kept talkin' about our dreams of bein' free, he wanted to be the new Deacon. The lil' boy looked up to the crazy bastard. I loved Tiny though, he was quick to help if ever any of us was feelin' down - full of energy that one. Rattle became an on-and-off friend of sorts. Sometimes he'd sit with us, and even talk to us, but after bein' berrated by Andrew and his boys, he'd go right back to them. 

Besides goin' out on Collections, Deacon would take one boy, usually Andrew, once a week to scout for theft prospects. That was how he always knew where to go the nights he took three boys to go steal. 

Alright alright, I see you lookin' at me like that, I'll get on to my Collection now. I'll tell you right now, it was my first and only Collection. Well, like I said earlier, four months had gone by in that shit hole, and Deacon figured it was time to take me out for a night on the town. I still remember the day, clear as a bell. 

"Injun, get your spirit ass over here right now!" Deacon shouted over the boys  - all of them carried on as always, beatin's were a common thing. 

I tried to think of something I did wrong as I trudged on over to Bo Deacon. "You call me, Mr. Deacon?" I asked, tryin' my best to sound as innocent as I hoped I was. 

"You're damn right I did," he replied with a scowl and a drag from his cigarette, "and next time come faster you ungrateful Runt." I stood there, silent as a mouse for a few moments as he took a moment to collect his thoughts. "So, Injun, I reckon it's about time you git on ahead and go on Collection with me. We're goin' tonight, so don't you think about goin' to sleep early." 

"I'd never go to sleep early, Mr. Deacon," I replied with a short nod. It was an unsaid rule in Runtville that no one go to bed early; if they did, and Deacon wanted them to go out, he'd shoot them, so the boys said. I'd never actually seen that happen. 

"Good," he growled and waved me away. Just as I was turnin' to leave, he snatched the front of my lanky shirt and tugged me in close. The smoke from his cigarette was foul, and it drifted up into my nostrils and into my surprised, open mouth. "Let me tell you somethin', little Injun," he rasped so quietly that it was hard to hear, "if you even ?think? about gettin' rabbit in your blood and takin' off, I'm gon' find you. Yes sir, and I will cover your nigger friend with your blood, and let it stay till it crusts off all by itself. You hear me, you understand me?" 

I was damn-near close to pissin' myself I was so scared. But I managed to reply, "Y-yes sir, I understand." He shoved me away and retreated to his office. After I caught my breath, I walked back over to my friends. I would say I was shakin' in my shoes, but I didn't have any. 

"Doggone Injun," Spark said, eyein' me over with those big blue pearls, "you look like you done seen a ghost."

"Did Deacon say somethin' bad to you?" Dale asked, leanin' his head to one side. It was hard to look at him; I couldn't help but imagine 'im with my dried blood all over him n' his clothes. 

"No," I answered finally, shaking my head, "no. I'm goin' on Collection tonight." 

"Well that's great news!" Tiny shouted smilin' up at me. "I can't wait till my next Collection. I haven't been since we picked you boys up!" 

"Yeah I guess," I shrugged. "I know you won't be able to go, Dale. I don't wanna leave ya here all by yourself, you know."

"Hey," he said, smilin' at me and claspin' my shoulder, "I can take care of myself. Besides, I'll have Spark n' Tiny to keep me company." I smiled back, that made me feel a little better. The thing was, we hadn't been seperated since my momma died, three whole years we'd spent damn-near every minute together. It caused a good bit of anxiety for me to jest leave 'im there in Runtville while I went out. Even though he was smilin', I could see Dale was feelin' the same. He was scared, not just for himself though, for me too. "We'll be alright," he said, as if he read my mind. I nodded back and we got back to talkin' about who beat who in the past Fightin' Ring. 

That day went slowly for me, I recollect, slower than a race between a turtle and a snail. Each passin' minute felt like a year had gone by, I fearfully waited for the time to leave. What made it even worse was that I didn't know who was comin' with me - there was a possibility that Andrew would try and beat me to a pulp, and Deacon would surely turn a blind eye until it got too out of hand. I could handle myself now though, even if Andrew had been doin' it longer, I could put up a good fight. These thoughts did little to help the time pass, however. 

Finally, Deacon came outside his office, called over Rattle, and told him somethin'. I couldn't hear what he'd said, but Rattle looked disappointed. After that, Deacon called Tiny over. He gave us all a confused look before lightly runnin' over. He had a big fat grin on his face all the way back to us. 

"Seems like you're gon' have my company on this trip, Injun," he excitedly said in his squeaky little voice. 

"You comin'?!" I asked incredulously. 

"Darn tootin'! Deacon said Rattle would go next round," he answered, jumpin' around a bit. This was great news, and Deacon probably did it on purpose, just to keep me content and ensure I wouldn't go nowhere. But the only thing that could really keep me in place, besides Dale of course, was if there was no confrontation in the group whilst on the job.

At that moment, Deacon waved us both over and called Tongue over. This was the best day I'd have in a while. I would get fresh air, steal a few things, and not be in danger of gettin' in a fight. There was nothin' that could go wrong. "I'll be back in just a little while here, Dale," I told my friend. 

"I'll be here waitin', I'll be up. Stay careful now," he replied with a smile. 

I jogged with Tiny over to the precarious steps leadin' up to the trap door and met up with Bo Deacon and Tongue. Everyone was ready to go. 

"Alright, listen here, boys," Deacon said, nice and quiet to the three of us. "We's goin' to a big house, a very big house. It's got jewelry, straight cash money, and even a nice rug that we might be able to roll up and decorate Runtville with. We gotta be nice n' quick because there's no tellin' when the good folks will get back from wherever they're goin' to. Ya'll understand?" We all said we understood, and after givin' us a good stare-down, especially me, nodded in contentment and started headin' up the stairs. 

Andrew was guardin' the door on the top step, and once Deacon reached it, he gave him a nice gap-toothed smile and opened the door for him. As soon as he passed, Andrew gave the rest of us a harsh sneer, and once I passed, he whispered real sharp in my ear, "I'm gon' gut that nigger boy like a pig." But before I could say anythin' about it, Tongue pulled me completely outside and the trapdoor sealed shut beneath us. 

The cold air hit me like a truck. I had forgotten that I went into Runtville sometime in September of 1943, it was at least February of 1944 at the time of my Collection. Needless to say, it was freezin'. The second thing that hit me was the fresh air, and my was it beautiful. I hadn't been outside in four whole months. Try livin' underground for four months and see if you don't smell fresh air just a little bit differently. 

Once we were all outside, Deacon handed us all cloth boots and a relatively warm duster. They fit us all a little big, especially poor Tiny, but none of us complained, not one bit. Better be oversized than freezin' to death. "Let's git goin', Runts," Deacon said to us quietly, and we all took off, scuttlin' through the streets n' alleyways of outer Nashville. It wasn't too long before we reached Nashville's richer area. The houses were so nice, so grand and showy. 

Tiny managed to whisper to me without Bo noticin', "Deacon says he's gon' buy us all one o' these houses, and we'll git to move Runtville one o' these days. I can't wait." 

"Alright, we're almost there," Bo Deacon told us after a good half hour of travel. I silently thought of the burden of caryyin' a rug all the way back. Maybe five minutes later, we came up on a dark house, as big as ever. It beautiful: green lawn, a single pine tree in the yard, red fence, two stories that was at least three hallways on either side of the front door. Simply beautiful, and I knew, I just knew, that was the one. There was no vehicle in the drive and there wasn't a single light on. I saw Deacon starin' hungrily at it for a couple of seconds before he said, "Alright, we climb the fence, get in through a side window. Me n' Tiny will take the downstairs, Tongue, you take Injun upstairs. Fill your pockets best you can. Remember, jewelry over cash. If we can still run, we'll take that rug I mentioned. Now let's move." 

And off we went. Me and the group scuttled on over and me n' Tongue climbed the fence first. Deacon threw Tiny over and me n' Tongue caught 'im on the other side. He giggled in our arms and we set him on his feet. Tongue opened the window and Deacon climbed the fence behind us and joined us in the house not half a minute later. Tongue immediately tapped my chest and headed upstairs and I followed immediately after him. I was happy at the time that Deacon hadn't kept me with him, I feared the man. I didn't feel particularly bad for Tiny though, after all, he glamorized Deacon. 

Tongue went off to one side of the hallway and I went off to the other. I didn't have to dig too deep to find some of the jewelry that Deacon had mentioned. There were so many rooms, so many closets and powder rooms and bathrooms. It was truly overwhelmin', and deep inside I began to yearn for my own home again. Sure it wasn't nothin' like that mansion, two bedrooms and half a bathroom, but it reminded me what it was like to be in a house in the first place. 

I found golden bracelets, jeweled necklaces, dazzlin' earrings, a few wristwatches, n' even a genuine diamond ring. I searched through countless drawers and found plenty of cash to sustain both me n' Dale for a year or two if we ever got out of Runtville. In fact, I was so driven by the need to find more and more good stuff that I didn't notice Tongue standin' there behind me until he tapped my shoulder. I turned around to find him heavily laden down by his coat, which was packed with similar goods as mine. He jerked with his thumb to the doorway of the room and I got his message, ?Time to go.

We clumsily trompped down the stairs, n' I realized halfway down he was racin' me. I laughed a bit and and we wrestled down the stairs - he ended up beatin' me though, on account of the fact that he was just too damn strong. We looked around and finally found Deacon with Tiny in one of the livin' rooms. They were both lookin' at an extravagant, dark red rug when we walkin' in, and Deacon turned to look at us instead. He grinned in satisfaction and nodded, "Good job boys, looks like quite the haul ya'll got there. We didn't do so bad neither." Bo Deacon patted his coat paockets and they jangled gleefully, Tiny did the same. "But, you're carryin' a lot there, n' we wanna take this rug. Lose some of it Injun, so you can help me carry it back." 

"Yes sir," I replied, and was just about to empty a couple of my pockets, unwillingly I might add, but Tiny interrupted. 

The little six year old said, "No, Mr. Deacon. That's a lot of stuff they have, all for Runtville. I'm not carryin' a lot, I can help you. I'm strong." The boy, what can I say?

(Reid paused here and looked down at his biker-gloved hands. He flexed his fingers and popped his knuckles, not looking up at me for a small while. "Are you okay?" I ask.)

Sorry about that, anyway, so Deacon smiles and says back, "You know what, I'm in a good mood, sure, help me out Tiny. Roll up the rug and carry that end by you and we'll git gone." Tiny eagerly reached down and started rollin' up the carpet, a little too eagerly. Something fell from his loose, pants pocket. I saw it fall, ?and plop?, hit the floor. It was something light, hardly made a noise, but Bo Deacon noticed. 

I gasped in horror as Deacon picked it up and I realized what it was. Tiny looked up too, complete and utter fear in his eyes. Deacon unfolded the light, chocolate-smeared piece of cloth that had once contained a cookie, a cookie that had been stolen without Deacon knowin'. A cookie that Tiny shared with me, Dale, and Spark. 

The scowl that appeared on Deacon's face was the deadliest I had ever seen, even for Deacon. "Would you like to tell me," he was sayin', real slow-like, "just what the hell this is, Tiny?" He sniffed the rag and saw him mouth "chocolate" to himself. 

"Oh, Mr. Deac-." Tiny started to say dismissively, but Deacon cut him off. 

"I ?said?, what the hell is this, ?Tiny??!" he shouted in question. 

Tiny's eyes were slowly fillin' with tears, and he slowly shook his head, as if in denial. "Mr. Deacon it was nothin', honest." 

"You lyin' to me, boy?" Bo Deacon asked harshly, suddenly pullin' his shiny revolver from his coat. I felt like I was gonna hurl. There was a lot of pressure buildin' up in my chest, and when I looked over at Tongue, I could see that he had stiffen up too. 

"It was..." 

"I. Can't. Hear. You! ?Tiny?! What the hell is this?!" 

"A cookie, it was a cookie Mr. Deacon, I'm awful sorry!" 

"You're awful sorry?! You call yourself a Runt, Runts do not steal from Bo Deacon!" 

"Mr. Deacon," I managed to choke out in between forced breaths. 

"Shut up, Injun!" he shouted at me, and I was silenced. 

"Did you know about this, Injun?!" 

Tiny answered for me, "No, no one else knew Mr. Deacon! It was just me, sir. It was only I that knew about it. I was hungry was all!" 

"We're ?all? hungry, Tiny!" Deacon answered and lifted the revolver. 

"Deacon, no!" I shouted and took a step forward. 

"Injun! I. Said. Shut. Up!" he retorted, aimin' the gun at me for half a second, which scared me half to death by itself. 

Deacon, returned his aim to Tiny and pulled back the hammer. He stood there like that, for maybe half a minute, just starin' at the poor, quiverin' site of Tiny. Finally, to my instant relief, the man just started laughin'. He began to laugh so hard, in fact, that he had to wipe tears from his eyes and lower the gun. No one else made a move for a few moments, but Tiny finally decided to stand back up straight, lookin' tensely at Deacon. 

Bo Deacon finished his laughin' and grinned at Tiny, but I didn't like the look. "You went through all that trouble just to hide a cookie from, boy?" 

Tiny nodded, his eyebrows still shoved together, but a small smile was appearin' on ?his? face too, "Yes sir, Mr. Deacon. But I am awful sorry, it was just that once. I like to smell the rag sometimes." 

Deacon laughed again and sniffed the rag once more before tossin' it back to Tiny. "We'll make sure that doesn't happen again," he said. Just as Tiny caught the rag, Deacon lifted the revolver and shot Tiny twice, point blank in the chest. Tiny didn't make a noise on his way down to the red rug. he was dead before his lightweight body hit the floor with a soft, clump?. All of the jewelry and cash in his pockets flew out and scattered around the room. Blood trailed from the chest wounds and from one corner of his mouth. His eyes remained half-open, looking softly in Deacon's direction. 

"NO!" I cried out as I dropped to my knees next to Tiny. Tiny, who had been such a good friend to me. Tiny who shared a cookie, who befriended me after no one else would. The happy little boy I had known, and cared for, for four months crumpled to just a mere shadow of himself in one sudden moment. "Tiny, God, no, Tiny," I began to sob beside him. 

"Get what's left from his pockets," Deacon grumbled, "we're leavin'." 

I wanted to do something more, say somethin' more, to Tiny, to Deacon. But I couldn't find it in my power. This was the second time in my short life that I had witnessed the death of a loved one, and felt powerless about it. I touched his face, it was rapidly drainin' of color and temperature. I choked on my own breath, hot tears streamin' down my face and drippin' onto Tiny's coat. The bullet wounds looked so large on his small frame, his eyes were glazed over in the saddest way. (Reid stops here, visibly moved by his own speech. He is red in the face and must sniff every now and again, though no tears fall now.) 

Tongue squeezed my shoulder, maybe to comfort me, maybe to get me to move along. I don't think Bo Deacon really expacted us to search the boy's pockets, and we didn't neither. Instead I gently ran my fingers over the boy's eyelids and closed them shut. Deacon had dropped the cloth, but I picked it up, and balled it inside Tiny's hand. After a minute or so of just sittin' there, Deacon shouted at us to come, and Tongue pulled me to my feet and led me to the window where Deacon was waitin' outside. I took one last look at Tiny there on the floor, and finally left that God-forsaken house. 

Tongue didn't say a damned thing the whole time, as always. But I saw somethin' in his eyes, I noticed it. There was a change, just as there was a change in me. 


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