CHAPTER 1

13 1 2
                                    

"Superheroes, superhumans, whatever ya wanna call'em, they've fought all kinds of nasties up there, but if they were to look down here on the streets, they'd be mighty surprised they would, about what they'd find," Old Bill chuckled, gazing up at the star-speckled night sky.

A few feet away from the men who stood huddled around a burning barrel, little Johnny rubbed his hands together for a couple of reasons. One, to keep them warm on this cold night but more for the fact that he was excited, excited enough to forget about his hunger pangs for the moment, as he knew that Old Bill was about to tell one of his famous stories.

"Lemme tell ya about the street warrior," Old Bill began, his voice going quiet for effect while he pointed to his right eye. "I've seen'em take out five, six guys at once. I swear I've never seen anythin' like it! It's like he wasn't human or somethin', like some sort of guardian angel watchin' over the citizens of these very streets we walk and sleep upon each day. He knows his way 'round this city like it was one big jungle gym in a playground. I dunno where he comes from or where he goes afterward, but I'm forever grateful he was there that night. So if ya ever find yerselves with the odds stacked against ya, take faith in that the street warrior will be there!"

The men scoffed in disbelief at this tale, including Johnny's father who sat next to him and quietly strummed away on his guitar. Johnny, in the meanwhile leaned back against the wall, where he fantasized about some heroic figure dashing across the rooftops, much like those superheroes he'd only caught glimpses of, or seen in the papers that lay about on the streets. By chance, he happened to look towards the entrance of the alley they were sitting next to and thought he saw someone backing into the shadows. "Dad, look!" he cried, excitedly poking at his father. "It's the street warrior!" He then pointed in the direction where he'd seen the figure but there was no one there.

His father shook his head and shouted over to Old Bill. "See whatcha gone and done now Bill? Ya got my boy's head all screwed up with yer damned fairy tales!"

"Ah shaddup!" Old Bill slurred back.

Before a potential row could begin, their attention was drawn to the three young men who approached them from down the street. One of them carried a baseball bat and all three had a look of menace in their eyes.

"Hey, whatcha playin' there, old-timer?" one of them asked, as they approached Johnny's father and snatched the guitar away from him, then grabbed him by his tattered coat. "Ya wanna play me a song huh, ya bum?"

"Leave him alone!" Johnny cried as he stepped up to intervene, but the punk with the baseball bat cut him off and shoved him back onto his rear end, with a cruel smirk on his face.

In the next instant, a hooded figure leaped out of the alley, swung off the signpost which stood at the entrance, driving both feet into the face of the man who held Johnny's father. The figure landed on one knee and snatched up a nearby trashcan lid and slammed it into the groin area of the man with the bat, who collapsed in agony while he held his crotch. The figure, now at full height, threw the lid like a frisbee at the third man, which caught him in the throat. He clutched at his neck as he dropped to his knees, where he gasped for air but his troubles weren't over yet, as the figure charged at him and drove a knee into his face, and ran off into the night.

Johnny stared open-mouthed for a few seconds at what had just transpired, before he scrambled over to his father who was still on the ground. "Dad, Dad! Are you all right? Did you see that Dad? Oh wow! That was so cool!"

Johnny's father put a calming hand on his son's arm. "Yes, yes, I saw it. Settle down son and help me up, for cryin' out loud!"

Over by the burning barrel, Old Bill, who'd seen the whole skirmish go down, was in full celebration mode, as he took a swig from his whisky bottle and did a drunken jig. "Hee Hee! What'd I tell ya, boys?!"

Johnny giggled, while his father looked on annoyed.

The three troublemakers eventually pulled themselves to their feet and helped each other up the street, while having to suffer the humiliating laughter from the homeless men they'd thought to harass before they were soon out of sight.

Nights like this, where everyone was in a pretty much jovial mood, made Johnny forget about their poor living conditions and circumstances. Moments ago, he'd been on the verge of falling asleep, going another night without anything to eat, but after Old Bill's story and the excitement that followed, he was too wide awake to fall asleep now. However, that excitement wouldn't last. ...BLAM!... Up the street, where the three men had disappeared moments ago, a gunshot went off.

The celebration came to an abrupt stop. "What was that?" one of the men around the burning barrel asked, wide-eyed.

"You know exactly what that was," replied another.

"Well, there goes our chance for a good night's rest, as I imagine this place will be swarming with cops anytime now."

 Old Bill and the rest of the men around the barrel could only stare off in the direction of where the blast had come from and where the three men had gone, while little Johnny drew closer to his father. Most nights, life on the streets wasn't that pleasant and were often dangerous...





Street Warrior (working title)Where stories live. Discover now