Prowling and slinking like a pack of hungry wolves, the boys’ breath hung like fog in the cool night air. As the clock struck midnight, Tulko, the gang leader turned to his seven cohorts, ran his fingers through his oily, dark hair and whispered, “Happy Easter my boys. After we do our good deed for the day maybe we can rock up at church with all the holy-rollers. I’d sure like to wish them a Happy Easter.”
Muffled guffaws ensued, white teeth gleamed in the dark, the stench of malevolence soiled the new-born day.
“Get ready y’all, somethin’s going down real soon. Somethin’s going down.”
Brent tried to ignore the chill running down his spine. Tonight had been chosen as his initiation night, his rite of passage into the group.
Brent hoped his initiation would not be too difficult. Hopefully it would be something like desecrating a church or leaving graffiti on a church building. Tulko was infamous for such deeds. Brent sighed deeply. He could handle something like that. Yeah, he was sure he could handle something like that.
Brent wanted to be part of Tulko’s gang more than anything. Since being kicked out of home two weeks earlier after numerous episodes of stealing, smoking pot and drug dealing he’d been living on the streets. Tulko and his followers had been the only ones willing to befriend him. He felt he owed them his loyalty.
As the pack skulked down the sidewalk Brent hung back, sucking on a cigarette as if it was his last link to life.
Tulko motioned to him.
“Brent my man, come here. I hear your grandma is a God-Botherer. In honor of your induction into the gang I thought we’d give your gran’mama a little Easter gift. We ain’t gonna hurt her none. Just help her live by biblical standards. Don’t the Bible say it’s better to give than receive? Well we gonna give her a chance to do some giving. You down with that? Betcha know where she stores her cash and old ladies rings and stuff. Bet she’s got loads of other stuff she’s hanging out to give us poor boys as well.”
While walking the flower-lined path to his grandma’s house Brent remembered the times he’d visited her as a child. It had been years since he’d seen her because she always wanted to talk about God. He smiled, remembering her promise to pray for him every day. She was the kindest person he’d ever known but all the God talk was just not cool. While reminiscing he was jolted back to reality by Tulko’s menacing voice.
“Jus’ go knock on her door man. When she sees it’s you she’ll open the door and then the rest of us will come do our thing. Yes indeed, the boys are gonna do some Easter shopping. Now go my man, or you’re nothin’ to us, nothin’ at all.”
Brent took one last puff on his cigarette and began the walk of betrayal. Before he’d taken three steps, flashing lights and sirens filled the street.
“Cops y’all! Just run for it! Meet back at my place.” Tulko darted off, followed closely by the rest of the gang.
Brent ran in the opposite direction, amazed by such timely interference. He ran like he’d never run, breathing ferociously, distraught at what he’d nearly done. Tears ran down his cheeks and the chilled wind pressed them to his skin. He sat in a deserted alley and sobbed for hours, firstly at what he’d become and secondly because he’d prayed for the first time in years that night. While walking the walk of betrayal he had prayed a simple, yet heartfelt prayer, “God if you’re really there, save gran from this.”
As the sun broke through the darkness Brent looked at his watch. He rose and began to walk towards Holy Cross Church. It was 6:15 a.m. and he knew his grandma would be attending the 7:00 a.m. Easter service. He smiled, imagining the look on her face when he walked into church.
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