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The Silk and Cyanide Society
Blood. There is so much blood. I stand atop the dilapidated row-home my feet frozen to the edge. It wasn?t supposed to be this way. My fists clench with anger as I look down from my perch. Dark liquid paints the pavement, pooling under Ethan?s head. His lifeless sapphire stare permeates the crisp October air; it?s then I know he?s really dead. I can?t believe it. I only left him for a second.
Behind me, I see Cloud standing near the door leading to the roof. The sliver of moonlight let?s me see his wallet chains and studded belt. I hear two more people scramble up rusting metal staircase: Renegade and Mercy. Mercy?s the only other girl in the group but she prefers to work alone. I?m surprised she was even with Renegade.
?Chaos, what?s up? We heard a scream.? Renegade asks, tucking his hands into the pockets of his snug jeans.
?Ethan? he?s? dead.? I choke out like a coward. Ethan?s chosen name it Justice but everyone knows if I address our leader by his first name the situation must be dire. Pointing over the ledge everyone?s gaze follows my finger. They lean over and gasp in unison.
?Aw man Ethan. That?s messed up.? Renegade says sadly.
?He jump?? Cloud asks casually lighting a cigarette.
Mercy takes one of his Darjum Kretek?s and holds it between her French-manicured fingertips, ?This is serious, Taylor! Ethan?s dead!?
Cloud snatches it back, his silver eyes hardening, ?It?s Cloud to you. And yes, I do realize that Justice is dead, thanks for pointing that out.?
?Should we call the police?? I inquire stupidly. The whole group gives me a look that could put a demon to shame.
Cloud takes a puff of his cigarette, blowing the smoke so that it wafts in my face, ?I?m second in command, and I say we leave.?
?But I thought I w-? I am interrupted by a furious Renegade.
Renegade?s eyes go wide, ?And just? leave Ethan laying in a puddle of his own blood? Cloud, let?s just call the cops and say we just found him this way.?
?Technically we aren?t lying!? Mercy adds.
Cloud rolls his eyes, ?The cops?ll search this whole freakin building for clues n? stuff. We?ll be collard for breaking in.?
He flicks the ash from his cigarette, ?So let?s leave him.?
Everyone stands in silence, their obvious moral dilemma hanging in the chilly midnight air. We?ll have to vote on it, at least now it?ll be even. Cloud decides he wants a better look at Ethan to ?assess the situation? so we all clamber down the fire escapes, careful not to wake anyone. Once on the ground, we all converge on our fallen comrade.
It?s even worse up close.
You can see the place where Ethan?s skull spilt, a trickle of blood stains his forehead. His normally tan skin is almost translucent. I almost smile when I see his Red Socks shirt peek out from his black hoodie. He told me he got rid of that ugly thing. Liar. I pull my Yankee?s sweatshirt closer, almost as a reflex to the pain I?m feeling in my heart. Renegade starts to puke in the street. I never thought I?d see the toughest football player at our school heave all over 25th and Kennington. Mercy rubs his back comfortingly. Cloud stares at
Ethan with indifference, ?He?s dead. It?s done.? He states coldly, ?Chaos,?
I don?t look at him. How can he be so cruel? Everyone knows that Cloud isn?t the type to get too affectionate or emotional but how could he not be startled by this.
Mercy walks up to me, ?Chaos? Beth? I think we should call-?
?What the hell did I just say?!? Cloud snarls, extinguishing his cigarette with his toe of his grey Vans, ?You don?t touch a phone, got it Mercy?!?
She stomps over to him, her jade eyes flashing under the dimming streetlamp, ?Don?t think you can yell at me! We have to call his mom!?
I slump against the crumbling brick wall, the sound of Renegade?s steady heaving and the argument both making my head hurt. Why did we have to come out tonight?
- - - - - -
?I now call this meeting of the Silk and Cyanide Society to order.? Ethan said formally. We were in our normal haunt, the abandoned dance studio. It was the closest place that could be reached by walking from all our homes. The Silk and Cyanide Society had been started in the late 20?s by Ethan?s grandparents to fight prohibition. They were real gangsters back then. Not like us. We just break into people?s houses and look at stuff; at least that?s what we?re supposed to do. Homes are an interesting thing, a place you can be welcomed into no matter what you do. Too bad some of us didn?t have homes to go to. Ethan was wearing on his mom?s nerves, Mercy?s parents were always jetting around the world, Renegade was a foster kid, and Cloud just hated his dad. I was surprised I actually joined them; I had a loving family. So why do this? It?s almost like a science experiment. We enjoy seeing how others live. We?re the type of criminal who keeps you guessing.
What did they take? Nothing.
Why us? No reason.
Will they come back? Not likely.
I liked being mysterious, like a siren from one of those old noir films. We had our own tools of the trade, lock-picking kits and switchblades. God knows we never used the blades though. They were mostly for show.
I smiled and leaned my head on the glass, ?Role call!?
Ethan nodded, ?Harlan??
Harlan shook his long blonde bangs from his face, ?Renegade present.?
?Mercy, here.? I could barely see her, it was so dark, and her skin being almost black didn?t help. Only her emerald green cat eyes blinked back at me in the reflection of the glass.
?You know I?m here you idiot, I drove you.? Cloud answered, his deep voice made me tense up.
Ethan chuckled, ?Anyway, first hit of the night. Any suggestions??
?Oh, that idiot Brent Sanders from English class!? Mercy proposed, ?He tried to cheat off me today.?
I could almost see everyone roll their eyes. Mercy was always concerned with her perfect 4.0 grade average and was constantly planning revenge on anyone who could jeopardize her attempts to get into Brown like her parents. Sometimes it could make me sick.
?Let?s hit a random house.? I said.
I apparently peaked Ethan?s interest and he smiled at me, ?Yeah. That?s why you?re second in command, Chaos.?
?I thought I was!? Cloud interjected.
?Shut up!? Mercy said sharply, ?Justice is in charge, not you.?
We gathered our things, extinguishing the lone candle, and fled the studio; careful to erase anything that could betray that we had been there. Ethan was uncharacteristically paying a lot of attention to me, Cloud watched, his face green with envy. There was tension between Cloud and Ethan; it didn?t take a rocket scientist to figure that out. We finally found a suitable house, far from our own but close enough to Cloud?s car so we could hide out in it.
?Renegade and Cloud take the first floor.? Ethan said softly as we approached the double doors leading into the row-style homes.
?Mercy on the second. Chaos and I will take the third.?
I could feel Cloud?s eyes burning a hole in the back of my head. Usually he and Ethan would take the third floors and I would be stuck with Renegade. They left whatever they came across in shambles, like a mini whirlwind had come through. I had a more subtle touch, meaning I only looked. I felt incredibly clumsy next to Ethan, who was as silent as a panther with velvet paws. He stalked; I clomped. The perfect match. He held his ear to one of the older looking doors, beckoning for me to pick the lock. I did so quickly and the lock clicked open.
?Nice,? he praised.
The room was dark and our first task was always to secure the rooms, we didn?t want anyone to be home. No such luck today. An elderly couple slept peacefully tucked into bed, they didn?t even notice when we closed the door to their home and went next door. This room was empty, save for a dirty mattress and a hot pot on the ground. The bathroom was dingy and disgusting. There was nothing of value in this place.
It fascinated me.
Who could live this way? A home was supposed to be comforting but this would send a rat looking for a better place to nest. I removed a spray can from my bag; it was my job to leave our mark. The hiss of the paint as it hit the chartreuse wall was completely sinful. I stepped back to admire my work, a royal blue Fleur De Lis marked that this room belonged to us now.
?Ever been to Vermont?? Ethan asked casually as he rooted through a drawer full of odds and ends.
A chunky lock of red hair fell into my face; I blew it back into place, ?Cold up there, right??
?Yeah, I? might be going there soon.? He said.
I continued to examine the china cats in the glass case in front of me, ?Vacation??
?A permanent vacation.?
?What?!? I almost roared.
Ethan?s eyes darkened, ?Shut the hell up. Do you wanna wake everyone up??
I walked out of the room and up the stairs to the roof. I slammed the door in Ethan?s face, not caring if the door could have fallen off its hinges and squashed Ethan flat.
?Chaos, it?s not for another two weeks.? Ethan pleaded.
I scowled at him; the moon framed his ebony hair making him appear to have a halo. I moved and the halo faded, ?Why?d you tell me??
?Because, you?re second in command.?
?After you?re gone, the society won?t even exist anymore.? I grumbled, kicking a few rocks with my grey Eskimo boots.
?You have to keep it going. Keep everyone together, at least until college.? Ethan pleaded, zipping up his jacket further.
?I?ll see what I can do.? I said lamely, not trying to hide the annoyance in my voice.
Ethan smiled, his white teeth glinting, ?It?ll be a hard goodbye.?
?I left my blade. I?ll be back.? I muttered, walking down the stairs. It was a lie. My blade was tucked safely into my pocket. I just needed a reason to get away from Ethan; I didn?t want him to see how much I was hurting inside. After waiting for a few minutes in one of the room?s we?d just raided, I trudged back to the stairs. Faintly, a whiff of cigarette smoke and cheap cologne made my eyes water. I ignored this, still thinking it strange to smell that; especially since it?d just had the odor of decaying paint and mold. There was a sharp cry, almost like what an animal makes before being slaughtered. I ran up the remaining stairs, knowing at once that Ethan was in trouble. When I entered the rooftop, Ethan was nowhere to be seen.
- - - - -
Mercy and Cloud are still arguing; how their shouts have not woken the neighborhood I?ll never know. Now Renegade?s joining in, defending Mercy. Their voices are giving me a headache. I glance at Ethan; an unearthly glow floods the air around him and mixing with the flicker from the streetlamp, bathing the pavement in a strange evanescent light. I think this is his soul. My fingers find my cell phone and numbly dial 911.
?911, what is your emergency??
My voice is cracking, ?My friend, he? he?s dead. We?re on the corner of 25th and Kennington.?
I don?t wait for an answer as I flip the phone down. Standing over Ethan I can almost feel the power of death. His eyes stare blankly up at me, the blue orbs slightly clouded. I close them.
There. Now it looks like he?s only sleeping.
I don?t know why I?m touching a dead body, let alone the body of a friend covered in blood but I can?t seem to leave him alone like this. I hold his hand; it was still warm.
?I want to know how this happened.? I whisper, ?I want to know who did it. I know you wouldn?t jump. I know you.?
Sirens split the night air and I see my group freeze. Renegade?s the first to bolt; his Nikes barely make a sound on the street.
?Chaos!? Cloud calls, ?Let?s go!?
I wince as the sirens get closer. I concentrate on Ethan?s hand; it?s almost as pale as mine. Mercy yells my name frantically but I don?t want to listen. I can see red and white blurs flying down the street. Why is there an ambulance? I told them he was dead. Cloud and Mercy do not wait for me and just like that five years of trust and friendship is snuffed out like a Darjum Kretek. Just like that the Silk and Cyanide Society has ended.
Ethan was right, it was a hard goodbye.