Art by Corey Barksdale

Eli knocked on the door. It was easy, rather, it didn’t hurt, and echoed a sound of peace, unlike the hard, thin, metal doors, you had to bang on, to get attention where he lived-the projects. Those hurt-a preparation for the life of toughness and fighting, to get noticed. A noise, but mostly a race of people, the world feared, tried to, but, couldn’t ignore, so they fought to drown, because it did not want to hear.

Eli removed his wave cap, adjusted his clothes, and smoothly spread his fingers over his firm, wavy hair. He waited nervously. For him, doors meant death. An ending. Whatever went through, never came back, at-least not the same.

The guy Eli came to see, opened the door. “Can I help you?” He asked.

“You remember me?” Answered Eli. The guy seemed older, but, not any smarter. Eli wasn’t a judgy person, but didn’t understand, why someone would open the door without checking who it was first. “Ahh, they outta touch out here, living too safe.” he thought.

“Nah… But, you do look familiar. Where you from?” The guy stated, more concerned, than questioning.

“You!” Snapped Eli.

“Whatchumean?” “Little nigga, don’t play wit me” The guy said, scanning for any recognition of craziness in the real, breathing, mirrored image, he was staring at. He looked around, out, into the night, as if it was revealing a secret, he did not want to know.

“You don’t remember that day?” Eli asked. His nerves fading, confidence gaining from the fear he sensed in the guy he was visiting. The confidence Gave him the warm comfort of a parents embrace. Then, anger rushed over him, he remembered, he didn’t have parent’s to give him that… “You said you was goin’ to pay on the lights, but left us in the dark. Remember?”

“Oh naw, hold up, wait…” The guy looked around again, this time over his shoulder, at his children, the ones he knew, the ones he loved, but, more importantly, the ones he claimed. His new future, he intended to keep safe. “Whose your moms?” The guy asked.

“Don’t worry bout it. She’s gone. I was raised in the shadows by wolves. By wolves who howl doom”

“Listen…” The guy growled. with raised lips; gums and teeth showing, as a warning before his voice, temper, and hands were raised to attack. He looked around, hearing the fading echo of… was it, his, voice, or, what this young stranger spoke of? He was removed from his old life, a life when he knew danger. It never hid, people just didn’t know how to recognize it, but, he always did, because he caused so much of it. “I. Don’t. Know. You.” The guy said, stepping backwards, trying to close the door. Trying to shut Eli, or whatever he recognized in him out.

“What’s wrong?” Eli said, with a hair raising calmness. “Looks like YOU, just saw your worst nightmare come true. You can chill tho, you don’t have nothing I want.”

He spoke with the demeanor of a cute, luring, pup. Starving, allowing, even seeking caress, only to attack the hand that feeds, it showed weakness. Suddenly, Eli spoke just that; “Matter of fact, I have a gift for you. A gift to make sure your family, always, misses you.” Eli, reached into his pocket and stepped towards the guy. “Your a coward, less than a man. You don’t deserve to be a father.”

The guys last breath whimpered a whisper. Drowned in his blood, in the howling wind of doom.

Eli, exhaled deeply, without regret, and finally happy. He gave, the gift that keeps giving.

Anthony Markland

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