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'well, you ain't so strong'

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Brave and Crazy
Word Count: 1048

Crazy Brave

9 o'clock on a Friday night and the streets have already tasted fresh blood. Dark, sticky, pools on the cracked paving stones which will dry into stained scars of the night's activities until fresh rainfall cleanses the streets. This is my usual routine. I spend the early evening preparing for my jaunt out into the dark. I do a light workout to warm up my body, just enough that my muscles sing out for more. A shower and a light meal and I'm ready for the night. I dress simply. Dark jeans and t-shirt, tight enough to hug the contours of my body yet not constricting enough to restrict my movements. I rely on my muscles to be able to tense and flex without my garb preventing full mobility. Climbing trainers, tightly fitted and easy to run in complete my outfit. My work outfit.

I call it a work outfit yet this job is unpaid. Some call me a hero, some call me a nutter. I have heard the term Guardian. Guardian of the streets. I think crazy is closer to what I am. All I do is keep my eyes open and my muscles flexed.

It's a dangerous city. Dangerous to be out on your own yet people still insist on flirting with dark side. And there are dark sides to this place. I stay in the shadows and wait, wait for the smell of violence in the air. I can sense the fight long before I see it. The sweet metallic scent of blood hits back of my throat and I can taste it. My muscles ache, feeling each strain, swing and impact. I wait until I can pinpoint the location. Wait until the fight is all I can see, the bodies twisting and turning, punches thrown and received. Then I run.

They come here looking for things. I don't know what. Connection, understanding, a flash of recognition? Some even come here looking for love. I can see it in their eyes, a piteous need, like a kicked puppy just begging to be adored. There is no love in this place. Just sex, power, pain and violence. Love doesn't exist in this neighbourhood. Empty promises, yes, and manipulation. Never quite promising love and adoration but leaving it as an almost unspoken given. Almost. Just waiting to be revoked once you are alone together and there's no turning back. Waiting until it's too late.

I can hear another victim now, cajoled and flattered into thinking there's something more here, something more than what there is, more than sex and violence. I can see him. A lamb to the slaughter, all wide-eyed innocence. Cute and foolish, anyone's for a flirtatious glance and a wicked smile. Little knowing that tonight's encounter may be his last, that this is not the neighbourhood to find his knight in shining armour. Oh, wait, that's me. At least for tonight it will be.

I begin to run as I feel the first punch hit home, as I see the flash of a blade before my eyes. My hair whips around my face as I sprint to their location, each blow spurring me on. And then I'm there, somehow, between my wide-eyed innocent and a man I've met before.

"You," he says lashing out with his blade.

I twist away from his attack with the ease of a dancer. My boy is on the ground, bleeding but not fatally, trousers around his ankles, shirt torn and bloody, staring at me in something akin to wonder. My eyes narrow. I don't deserve his adoration. Not yet, maybe not ever. Knifeman recovers his footing and swings at me again, his blade tasting my blood as I fail to move quickly enough. All I need to stay on top long enough for him to think it's over. Long enough for his sense of survival to overcome his pride at being beaten. They're all the same, preying on those weaker than them but cowards when it comes to their own lives on the line. I regain my composure and counter attack, knocking the knife from his hand and out of his reach. Doubt clouds his eyes, unsure without the safety net of cold steel. My muscles work of their own accord. Jab, block, cross, duck, kick, jab again. I'm barely aware of my own movements, my thoughts focused on his eyes, his composure. I see it crack. The point where I sweep his feet out from below him with a low kick. He lands heavily, awkwardly and I pause giving him time to process the fact that he is beaten, giving him the chance to get away. I could kill him now if I wanted, but I am not here to kill.

As Knifeman's fight or flight coin-toss comes down firmly on the side of flight, I turn to my fallen boy, still spread-eagled on the floor, blood drying on his face.

"What the hell? Are you crazy. He could have killed you, killed us both. Crazy man. Crazy brave."

He keeps repeating the last phrase, 'crazy brave' like a mantra as I haul him to his feet and support his body weight with my own.

"Cray-zy brave, cray-zy brave, crayy-zzy brave," he sings, deliriously, as I half carry, half drag him out of the alleyway and into a marginally safer area. I don't know why he calls me that. Maybe it's my long black straight hair falling down my back. I guess with a couple of beads and some feathers I'd look like a reject from a low-budget wild west movie. He's still jabbering when I dump him on the night staff at the emergency department. I sill haven't said a word to him. The night staff nod to me as I leave. Better they receive a live one than the corpse he would have been.

"Crazy brave?" he calls as I leave, "Thanks man."

I shrug and head back out into the night. My knife wound smarts but not enough to send me home. I stalk back to the neighbourhood like a cat, tensed and ready for the signs of another life hanging on a knife's edge.

Crazy brave. He wasn't far off. Brave and crazy, that's me baby.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 17th, 2009 10:23 am (UTC)
Awesome. I was looking forward to your piece this week, and you weave the gritty, intense atmosphere with so much ease it makes me evious - you can just picture every single detail.

One thing though...I advice you to kill the last line.

Brave and crazy, that's me baby./i>
This. I think this line *kills* the gorgeous, intensity of this piece, your protagonist suddenly sounds like a hobo of some sort, which doesn't do it justice. This last line hurts.

Or I think so anyway. Nevermind it if you weren't looking for crit. This is beautiful :)
Aug. 17th, 2009 11:40 pm (UTC)
Brave and crazy, indeed. What is it about this prompt that has so many of the stories featuring characters with no names? I like the suspense and the flow of the piece. Good work. Good luck with it!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


night elk: j_a_9
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