Aug 08

Desperation

"Hey! Are you done yet?" Ayden called to Asher. The sun was slowly setting over the landscape. The back alley they were in, however, was only lit by the faded streetlight at the very end of the alley.
"Yeah, give me a minute!" The light from the flickering bulb almost didn't reach the ground below. Asher kicked a can off of the ground, and it hit the groaning figure he'd subdued just a moment earlier. "Oh, you're still kicking. Sorry about this, really am." He hefted his baseball bat and sent it crashing down. It hit the figure's neck and it sputtered before going silent. "Good!"
"You're being too loud!" His friend pulled him away from the prone man. In his other hand, Ayden held a bag. "Look, they really were loaded. We'll be okay for a while."
"Thank goodness." Asher set to cleaning his bat, picking up the jacket of the woman that Ayden had 'taken care of'. He rubbed as much blood off of the bat as he could before throwing the jacket onto the ground. "Where did Klav run off to?"
"Not sure. He said something about his dad being angry, though." Ayden snapped his gum before spitting it out. "Anyway. We should head out before someone starts missing these guys." He nudged the fallen man with his toe.
"Yeah. Let's go." Asher climbed up the rickety ladder on the side of the building, the handle of a briefcase between his teeth. He'd taken it from the man. Ayden followed him, the bag hidden under his too-big coat. The rooftop they emerged onto was empty save for a pigeon that squawked and flew away. The two boys nodded to each other before sprinting off of the roof in opposite directions.
Asher ran parallel to the main road, just enough out of sight to where people wouldn't be see him from the road itself. The sun was to his back as he leapt over the gaps between buildings. He'd transferred the briefcase to his hand as he ran, not stopping to catch his breath. This was just a daily thing for him.
Ayden, on the other hand, had set up ramps to his way home. He dug his bike out of the trash he'd hidden it in, moving the pedals so he could slam on the right one to give himself speed. He, too, was away from the road enough that no one could see him go across the rooftops. His BMX bike took him across the city with enough time for him to be home by dinner.
Klavier, their friend, watched out of his balcony as Ayden sped across the night. He waved to the blond, but Ayden didn't see it. Klav shrugged and went back inside.
Asher was the first to stop. He paused, a few rooftops away from his own. He opened the briefcase, and to his surprise, found less papers and documents and more expensive items. There was a ball the size of a marble, shining with an inner light he'd never seen before. He shrugged and put it in his pocket, closing the case. He climbed down from the rooftop, heading for a pawnshop.
Ayden already knew what was in the bag - it was mostly women's things. Stuff he could give to his sister, who needed all sorts of things. He smiled when he imagined how Eysa would be amazed at the many shades of lipstick, the shiny mirror, even the pads he refused to touch. They saved money, this way. His mother never asked questions.
Klavier had left before the other two, and as such, didn't have as much. He'd swiped the woman's wallet, though, which made the man come after him. He'd disappeared into the shadows as Ayden and Asher did their thing.
Klav didn't have a stomach for violence. He could never do what they did, but he could trick people. He could run fast, he could use his sticky fingers to nab things the others couldn't. Ayden always knew who to target, who was in town. He planned everything. Asher didn't care about blood splattering everywhere - what they did was just a means to an end.
They wouldn't let this city swallow them up. They would fight with every last fiber of their beings.
They didn't fight for themselves. It was for those they loved.
Ayden couldn't stand Eysa coming home in tears, day after day, after getting bullied for not wearing what the other girls wore.
Asher was sick of having to beg his mother to feed his siblings. He was fine with his stomach rumbling - as always, everything eventually went quiet.
Klavier didn't want his dad to hurt anymore. So he would steal, buy liquor, so his dad could forget everything he saw overseas.
Pushing everyone down to reach up to the top - isn't that what everyone did?
If you didn't do that, you'd die.
They couldn't let those they loved die.