The daily serial fictional based on Chicago's Boystown neighborhood: Boystown series by Danny Bernardo

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16. Payback

Berlin was always good for a random make-out and Charlie had had a couple too many before he decided to call it quits. The last-call crowd was spilling out into the streets, moving to various after-hours bars or to the train. He decided to avoid Halsted and cut across Clark. As he passed Aldine, he

16. Payback
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Berlin was always good for a random make-out and Charlie had had a couple too many before he decided to call it quits. The last-call crowd was spilling out into the streets, moving to various after-hours bars or to the train. He decided to avoid Halsted and cut across Clark. As he passed Aldine, he looked east and saw three figures kicking the shit out of someone lying prone on the street.

"HEY!" screamed Charlie, getting on his phone to 911 right away and running towards them. They looked up, saw Charlie and consulted quickly. One grabbed the victim's wallet and they scattered in all directions. Charlie ran to the poor guy lying on the street and as he leaned down to help him up, he noticed beneath the blood and cuts and possibly broken nose was a sweet idyllic face reminiscent of a Norman Rockwell painting. It was Tyler.


Hunter was working the window for the post-last-call hangers on. As he sat on one patron's lap, letting the guy rub his stubble all over his back, he saw two familiar silhouettes walking up Halsted. He got off the guy's lap and stepped outside for a closer look. Charlie was holding up Tyler, who was bruised and battered. He ran to them right away.

"Who did this to you?" Hunter said, his voice low and steady.

"These like, drag queens? Three of them. One had these braids. They got my wallet."


"I was walking down Aldine... " Before Hunter could hear the rest of what Tyler said, he ran off, in a rage, on the hunt for the assholes that would do this to Tyler.

"Hunter! Stop! Don't do anything stupid!" But Charlie's cries went unheard. Charlie started helping Tyler into a cab, but Tyler stopped him.

"Charlie, you've gotta go after him! You have to stop Hunter from finding those guys!"

"The only thing I've got to do is get you to the ER and call the cops."

"You don't understand. Those drag queens... they had a gun. They were going to kill me. And they'll kill Hunter too."


Hunter knew which alley to find them in. It was the home base for a lot of them when they needed to call "olly olly oxen free" after a hustle gone wrong. There were just three of them when he got there. One had braids; he punched her first. He dodged a smack from the one in booty shorts, making her lose her balance and fall backwards. The one with the Rihanna hair pulled out a gun while still holding Tyler's wallet. Hunter kicked the plastic toy out of her hand and smashed it beneath his combat boot. The other two fled as Hunter knocked Rihanna down, putting that same combat boot to her neck. She just smirked as she threw Tyler's wallet at him.

"Here it is. Let me go." Rihanna purred.

"Yeah fucking right."

"If you turn us in, you'll have to turn her in."

"Her who?"

"You're Hunter, right?" Hunter nodded, cautiously.

"Man, you really pissed that bitch off."


DeLisha opened the door wigless, wearing nothing but a flimsy kimono and last night's makeup.

"Well," she hissed. "Look who has darkened my doorstep with her presence."

"Did you send those guys after my roommate?"

DeLisha feigned mock shock. "Oh my! Did something happen to that little farm boy?"

"Cut the shit, Daryl. How do you know about Tyler?"

"I've got eyes everywhere, darlin'." Hunter grabbed DeLisha by the lapels of the kimono and shoved her against the wall, her feet dangling slightly above the floor.

"Did. You. Send. Those. FUCKERS! After Tyler?"

DeLisha maintained her composure. "You know how crime is rising in this neighborhood. Am I to be held accountable for our wayward youth gone astray? But if I were to have... convinced a few of those wayward youth to do me a few favors, what would you do about it? Would you have the heart to report ME to the police?" Hunter panted with adrenaline and anger as DeLisha's face twisted into a smirk. After a moment of impotent rage, he dropped her, punched the wall, and stormed down the hallway.

"This can all be over. You can protect the ones you care about. Come back to me," she pleaded. But he was gone.


The text from Charlie told Hunter which room they were in at Illinois Masonic. He opened the door as quietly as possible to see Charlie sitting by a sleeping Tyler. The swelling in Tyler's face was going down and his nose was in a cast. Charlie motioned for Hunter to enter quietly.

"How is he?"

"Bruised up pretty bad, obviously. Broken nose. A couple of fractured ribs. They want to keep him over night just in case."

"Jesus." Hunter quietly pulled up another chair and sat down on the other side of Tyler's bed.

"That was real fuckin' stupid. The John Wayne act. You could've gotten hurt." Charlie was just as stunned as Hunter at the concern and worry in his voice. Tyler stirred.

"Hey," was all Tyler could muster under the haze of painkillers.

"Hey buddy," Hunter said softly, brushing some stray hair off of Tyler's face.

"I was so worried about you. They had a gun."

"They haven't been practicing their moves with Soul Caliber V. They never knew what hit ‘em." He reached into his pocket and fished out Tyler's wallet. Tyler managed a weak smile.

"My hero."

"Always will be, dude."

"So, did you catch them?"

Hunter was quiet for a moment. He looked at Tyler, then at Charlie. "No. No, they got away."

"But don't worry," Charlie said, reassuringly. "We'll catch ‘em."

"Good. That's good." Tyler yawned.

"We should go," said Charlie. "Let you get some rest. We'll be back in the morning."

"Can you guys... do you mind staying here with me tonight?" Tyler's eyes welled up a bit and a couple of tears streaked their way down the dried blood on his cheek.

"You bet, buddy," Hunter said.

"Never leaving your sight," Charlie smiled at him. Tyler closed his eyes peacefully. And as Hunter brushed the hair out of Tyler's face again, Charlie took a damp cloth to wipe off the sweat from Tyler's brow. Their hands touched for a moment. They looked at each other, then took each other's hands. They sat like this for a while, watching guard over Tyler as he fell asleep.



by WalksTheEdge on Sat. Oct 26, 2013

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