The smoke is so dense I can’t see anything. The thick grey streaks laced with a nauseating odour invade my nostrils, descend to my chest, and make my lungs hurt. I cough as shouts and gunshots deafen me. Then it’s quiet as though I’m in the eye of a hurricane. Dad sometimes reads me books about hurricanes so I know what they are.
I’m scared. So scared that I can’t move. My auntie’s body is lying on the grass at my feet. She’s dead. Twenty men attacked us half an hour ago, and two of them killed my auntie ten minutes ago. Shot her dead. I know because there’s a round wound in her chest just below her collarbone. Blood is still trickling out of it. One of the attackers had hurt her before putting a bullet into her chest. I know because I heard her screams and his laughter. I was hidden behind the wheelie bin. She’d shoved me behind it.
A strong hand clasps mine as my eyes rise towards the boy beside me. It’s Rebel. He’s fourteen and I’m almost twelve. A gun swings in his other hand as his fingers lace with mine, and he squeezes my hand to the point of pain. I’m not scared anymore. Rebel always comes to save me. From a spider. From a pile of tyres. From bad men.
“Everything’s gonna be alright,” Rebel says as he raises the gun and pulls the trigger.
The loud sound is like a crash of thunder and it’s followed by a male’s groan. A massive dark figure falls down to the ground four steps away from us.
Rebel pulls me behind him as we move towards one of the static caravans. He picks up the pace, and I have to run.
Rebel lowers and crawls under the caravan, yanking me behind him. We find shelter in the corner where flower urns and concrete slabs obscure us.
“Did you kill that man?” I whisper.
“I hope so,” Rebel says and pulls me into his arms, kissing the top of my head.
I shiver in his embrace, curl up into his chest and wait for the hell to end.
Rebel is my shelter, my safety, my salvation. My everything.
It’s always been like this—he and I are inseparable.
He understands what I say like no one else can. He doesn’t talk to me when I need silence. More than that—he likes silence as much as I do.
A few hours later, the hell ends.
We crawl out and straighten as Rebel squeezes my hand in his.
My dad’s club brothers have killed all the attackers, but there are many bodies to bury—ours and theirs.
The war is over.
I see my dad talking to a man who looks like a giant werewolf. They slap each other on the back and hug. I know that werewolf. His name is Mike. He was once nice to me—he saved me when I was very young.
Rebel clenches his jaw as he glances at the werewolf. I think he doesn’t like him, but I don’t know why. Rebel doesn’t like fairies for example, but I love them very much. He always smirks at me when I talk about werewolves, so maybe they are not his favourite species either.
I wish I could live in my books where my favourite fairies live. I’d take Rebel there and we’d be happy. One day, I’d marry him there and we’d live forever.
I see Lizzie, Rebel’s mom, running towards us, and she buries us in her embrace. She starts crying hysterically as her tears moisten my hair. She smells of sweat, fear and green tea. She always smells of green tea.
She told me her angel liked the smell of green tea. Yes, Lizzie believes angels are real, just as I do.
Rebel growls with fury, as his mom smothers us with her kisses. Then I see Thunder, Rebel’s dad.
“Lizzie, sweetheart, it’s over,” Thunder says and his big arms wrap around us all.
“It will never be over,” she says in a wry voice. “It’s never over for people like us.”
Two years later.
I put my leather cut on and decide to go back to my mom. As I walk out of the tiny room in the attic of our clubhouse, I stop, leaning against the dirty grey wall next to the door, and I take a few deep breaths.
I always crash in this room when my old man is drunk as fuck and my mom’s yelling at him. It happens two, three times a month. My mom calls him an alcoholic then and my dad says he just needs to reset his brain. My mom will sometimes slap him across the cheek, but my dad never slaps her back. Never. He’ll just shake his head, drop it and then go to bed. That makes my mom furious and she starts hissing to me, so it’s better to get out of her face.
My eyes slide over the opposite wall and then over two metal pillars. The clubhouse was once a small factory. There are many undiscovered rooms in the attic—mine is perfect to enjoy solitude, smoke weed, and dream. I mainly dream here, dream about long blonde hair and icy blue eyes. Her hair and her eyes.
I have a little strong-box in this room. I put some cash into it two, three times a year.
I huff out. Right. My mom is waiting for me.
My heart leaps as heaviness sits on my chest. She had another round of chemotherapy some time ago and is in remission. I should be with her more often, but she’s kind of toxic. There’s always been the aura of mystery and pain around her. She’s trying really hard to be a good wife to my dad and a good mom to me, but her secrets have shadowed our family for as long as I can remember. Not to mention the nagging about my non-existent education. Star is home schooled by Rita, our bartender. Rita hated the idea of being a teacher in high school, but she loves working in our bar. She teaches Star as her hobby. When I was younger, I attended lessons with Star, but now I don’t give a fuck. I need to find a way to earn a lot of money fast—that’s my main goal now.
As I walk to my mom and dad’s red-bricked house, I pass Mike. He’s a new asset to the Devil’s Tears MC. He used to visit from time to time, but apparently, he decided to move in and join the club. Dad says he’s a good man and Gabriel, our president, vouched for him. Nobody knows who Mike really is. Nobody except my mom, my dad and Gabriel.
My mom hates Mike. So do I.
I step into my house and see my old man cooking something in the kitchen. The smell of fried onion and pepper settles in my nostrils and makes my stomach growl. My mom is sitting in the chair and painting her nails.
Everything is fine. Everything will be fine.
Until he gets drunk again.
My mom despises vodka and my dad loves it. This is the only thing that makes them argue. She doesn’t hate whiskey or beer as much as she hates vodka. Weird, but this is how she is.
They look at me and I know something is wrong. The hairs on the back of my neck rise.
“Sit down,” my mom says, her voice strong but in an eerie way.
“Sit down,” my dad says.
“I won’t touch weed again, I promise,” I say.
My dad flashes me a sad smile. My heart pounds in my chest. The tic-toc of the antique clock that stands in the corner of the kitchen wakes an urge of murder inside me.
My dad buys old clocks for a hobby. He renovates them and hoards them. When we need money, he’ll sell one or two of them. My mom and I will exhale with relief, but a few months later, my dad will buy two more clocks again.
“Sit down, Rebel,” he says.
I flop into the chair, flick my eyes over my parents and then drop my head.
“We have to tell you something,” my mom says.
I raise my head. “You’re ill again?”
“I am,” she says. “And soon, I will die.”
“The doctors said…” I rasp.
“It’s metastatic,” my dad says and his voice breaks. “You know what that means?”
I see tears in his green eyes.
Of course, I know what that means.
I feel like I’m falling into a cold black chasm.
I rise from my chair and start running. I run and run until I’m breathless and a metallic taste pricks my tongue. My lungs start to hurt. My heart hurts even more.
Then I see Star. She is sitting on a log, her eyes fixed on a cobweb and a spider. She turns her face to me and waves her hand. I move closer to her and lower myself to the ground. The moisture from the moss beneath me soaks my jeans. It doesn’t matter. Star’s fingers sinking into my hair matter.
“My mom will die soon,” I say.
“I know.” Star says.
She strokes my head. Time stops and there’s only me and her. We’re frozen; we’re enveloped by the humid coldness of the woods.
I want to stay with her in this bubble forever, but it’s getting late so I rise to my feet. Star loops her arm through mine, and we walk towards the compound. There is this unique silence around us—our silence. I don’t need more in life—just this silence.
As we enter the compound, I see Gabriel, his face devoid of emotion, but his blue eyes are even colder than Star’s. A thought stirs in my mind, a painful thought. He will never give me my silence with Star.
Gabriel tilts his head towards Star. “Go back to the house, sweetheart. It’s late.”
She walks off and Gabriel moves closer to me. He lays his hand on my shoulder.
“You fine, boy?” he asks.
I nod. “I’m fine.”
I respect him. He cares for the club and for every man, woman, and kid in our compound.
“She’ll be buried like every woman who belongs to us,” he says.
“Thank you, Prez.”
“Star has never had a mother. Talk to her. Maybe she can help.”
“I will. Thank you, Prez.”
“Go to your house and be with your mom.” He slaps me on the back.
I pull back, turn around and walk towards my house.
My mom dies one year later.
My dad starts drinking like he’s mad.
Mike brings his old lady, Daisy, to the compound and the bitch turns my life upside down.
My kind of girlfriend twitters, but I can’t discern the words. The truth is I’m not focused enough. Angela is pretty—she has nice boobs and a skilled mouth, but she talks too much. I never listen to her. She’s so boring. Her whole life is about her girlfriends, clothes, and cosmetics.
I decided to keep her because I love her parents’ anger each time I park my bike in front of their enormous house. They’re both lawyers, both stiff as fuck.
Angela is eighteen. I’m eighteen. Angela is planning to be my wife. I’m planning to keep her for two more months and trash her. I need a change of the mouth to fuck apparently.
I’ve tried a so called normal life, and I can’t tell that I enjoy it.
I’m an outlaw. My dad is an outlaw. My granddad was a thief.
Angela is a good girl and she doesn’t know about this. She thinks she’s dating a biker, that’s all. I think her parents suspect where I come from, but since she’s an adult, they can’t tell her what to do.
“We should go out, baby,” she says. “To have some fun, talk to other people.”
I hate talking to other people. I love sitting in the woods and breathing in the scent of resins. I love watching the droplets of dew that adorn the cobwebs stretched between tree trunks as the sun appears on the horizon like a majestic red flare. I love it when Star is sitting beside me in those moments and I love it when she’s saying nothing. The first sun’s rays will touch her hair and make it shine white gold, unearthly.
“Where do you want to go to?” I ask as Angela jumps off my bike.
“To the Mandy’s Kiss.”
It’s a nice place where you can drink beer, meet a lot of pretty female students, and dance so I nod. “Sure. Why not?”
I’m nice, and Angela will be even nicer to me at night in return. And I just want to get drunk. Forget if only for a moment. Forget all the shit in my life.
“At nine?” she asks.
“Will you pick me up?”
“No, I’ll meet you in front of the club.”
She scrunches up her nose, but says nothing. Her wet lips brush against mine and she saunters off to her campus. She’ll be a lawyer soon. I will be a really good thief soon.
I steal from the rich and buy some toys for the kids in the compound. I put one fifth of that income into my strong-box.
My dad knows about it. My mom didn’t. I guess, she was too occupied with her personal ghosts and nightmares.
There is about nine hours left until my night out begins so I decide to go to my place. Very rarely do I sleep there because my president always allocates a lot of tasks to me, like patrolling our area or supervising the arms trafficking for the Italians—my job is to watch the patches’ backs and their bikes—normal stuff as for the prospect I am. I sleep in cheap motels, whorehouses and strip clubs, but today I want to see Star. I haven’t seen her for three months.
I start the engine and roar towards the main road. My mind fills with the images of her blonde hair and her blue eyes, with the sound of her giggles. My heart fills with this fucking pain. With this unbearable yearning.
The ride takes an hour and a half. I park my bike in front of the clubhouse and enter it through the double metal door. The boys rumble their greetings at the sight of me and rise from their couches to hug me and slap me on the back.
“Where have you been?” Thunder, my dad and our vice asks, his tired eyes gleaming with joy at the sight of me.
“Here and there, watching over the business, having fun,” I say.
“Stay for longer this time,” Gabriel says.
“Maybe I will,” I say.
My eyes roam over the club’s logo that’s painted on the wall—a demon’s head, his eyes black, red shimmery tears on his face. Mike’s photo hangs among the others. I grit my teeth.
My dad squeezes my shoulder. “Rebel?” The smell of alcohol puffs on my face.
“Later, Dad.” I pull forward.
I should talk to him, but I don’t.
I go to my room in the attic which I have upgraded with a small bathroom, and I have a shower. Dad’s gonna nag me to return to his house so I enjoy my solitude. I don’t like my family home. It reminds me of my mom too much, not to mention Dad’s clocks and parrots which drive me mad.
But, I hate my dad’s sad eyes when I’m not sleeping in my bedroom there.
He’s getting kind of eccentric. I know he loved my mom, still loves her, but a nice curvy woman would do him good. Instead, he talks to his parrots and visits the cemetery twice a week.
As I slip into my jeans, someone knocks on the door and walks in.
“I’ve seen your bike,” Star says quietly behind me.
I dry my hair with a towel and toss it onto the bed, turning to her. Her blue eyes gleam like the cold water of a lake in the Siberian taiga as her full lips curl into a smile.
“I can’t hide anything from you, you nosy little bird.”
A storm fills her gaze. “My sixteenth birthday was two days ago.”