Donnie was a tough, fiery, red-headed Irish kid living in the streets of Montreal. He knew that every day was a struggle for food, drink and places to sleep. Donnie was an outcast from his family. They disowned him because he dropped out of school, smoked weed and sniffed a little coke now and then. He was only 16 when his Da kicked him out onto the streets and told him to go live with the filth and never come back nor cross his path. If he did, he would find his face kissing his boot.
His father was a brute of a man and proved it many times with his fists. He was a dock worker and many times would come home with bleeding knuckles and blood splashed on his shirt. His wife would give him solace and a good hot meal and some gentle talking and run him a hot bath. She understood him well. He worked hard at the docks and stole whatever would fit under his stevedores coat to bring home to his hungry family. One thing he demanded when he walked through that door was respect. God forbid if any of the kids talked back to him. The belt would come off and it would fly in the direction of whoever was standing closest. He was ruthless and cunning, yet could be surprisingly gentle especially when it came to animals.
Unfortunately, this didn’t extend to Donnie once drugs were involved. Donnie knew that to survive on the streets you had to be tough and willing to defend yourself at the cost of possibly losing your own life. He had a habit to fill and he had to find the sources in the streets to feed it. The streets were filled with people like himself, living on the fringe and trying to feed their habits to keep them alive. They knew that they had to compromise many times and force themselves to do things they would prefer not to, knowing if they didn’t get their fix it would put them through hell.
Walking the riverbank one night, he came upon a whimpering dog who was beaten up and bleeding on the top of his head. Donnie scooped him up, took him back to his cardboard house and treated him back to health. He has been by his side ever since, a gentle dog as long as he is not provoked. Donnie and Randy share the warmth from each others bodies while they sleep, snore and fart together. Yes, dogs fart too, and they can stink just as badly if not worst than humans.
His favorite sleeping places were old abandoned homes or apartment blocks. He would find cardboard boxes and break them down and fold them out over the damp and cold floor, find plastic to put over him to keep the heat from his body in. If he could find any extra clothing in the dumpsters he would take them regardless of the size and cut them up to stuff inside his long coat that he wore to give him extra heat.
It got pretty cold in the evenings, especially when the winds whistled through the broken windows, finding him as he shivered alone in his far off dreams of warmth, food and family.Donnie knew of a group of boys like himself who hung out together and shared what spoils they were able to take from their daily raids at supermarkets, restaurants, clubs and homes they would break into. He wanted to be part of this group so he could enjoy the food, smokes, liquor and beer. They knew he existed but they didn’t think much of his fiery red hair and his thick Irish accent, they laughed and mocked him whenever he passed their way.
The only way he was going to be able to get in with this pack would be to stand up to their leader and show him a thing or two. He needed to bring him down and get his respect, just like his da did when he came home from the docks. The leaders name was Tanker. He was a big kid, tall and mean looking with a scar on his left cheek, ring in his nose and tattoos all around his neck and down both arms. He wore his hair in Mohawk fashion and had cuts on both sides of his skull, with tattoos of skeletons embedded.
Donnie was half his size but agile and quick with a temper that would scare the hell out of anyone who got in his way. He wasn’t afraid of anyone, no matter their size or look. He wanted to show Tanker that if he insisted on stopping him from being part of his gang, then he would have to stand up to him and one of them was going down, it could be the easy way or the hardest fall one can take. Only one of them would walk away and one may be a dead man walking.
“Hey, Donnie, where have you been? I haven’t seen you for a few days, you alright?”
Donnie shot back, “Hey, Shannon my sweets, I’m just fine. Been wondering myself about you. Are you keeping yer nose clean lass.”
“Of course, you twit. What have you been up to?”
“Well, I’m trying to find a new connection. I’ve had some problems with Frenchie. He’s avoiding me and that’s not good cuz I need that shit to keep me sane.”
“I might know a guy who can maybe help you out or at least talk to somebody. His name’s Tanker.”
“Tanker? Yeah, I know who he is. Him and me have issues.” Donnie laughed. “I could show him a thing or two, knock him off his high horse.”
“Be careful, Donnie. This dude is a guy you don’t want to mess with. He’s vicious, mean, tough and I heard he’s killed a couple of guys.”
“Don’t you worry, Shannon. I won’t let anyone take me down.”
Donnie looked at her closely and smiled. He was thinking of how she felt under him, soft and warm, moving to a beat that drove them both over the edge. “I’ve missed you.” Shannon gave him a sly smile. “Maybe if you’re a good boy we could get together real soon.” Her fingers trailed across his lips. “Don’t start anything you can’t finish.”
She turned abruptly and moved away from him. “Gotta go meet him now anyway. He’s got something for me.”
Donnie’s face felt hot and flushed and he was not liking this at all. “Okay, take care and remember, if you ever need my help you can find me through Austin. Come on Randy, let’s get a move on, boy.”
Every day leads to the next, some more easily than others. There is no clock or calendar to follow. Every day is spent in survival mode planning for the next fix. It’s a jungle where even the prey is fearsome. Donnie had to watch his back and the worst would come with nightfall. The strong come out to prey on the weakest to beat up, kick, steal, rape and kill. The cops patrol but they know to keep out of certain districts. No one is safe.
Donnie had built a reputation as a tough and merciless kid and he had proven himself more than once. He would fight to the death if he had to. He was hardened by his da by the many lickings he received at the end of his fists or boots and the belt buckle across his back. But there was also a soft side to Donnie, one that he received from his mam and that kept him even tempered. He knew he could give in to a kind deed or a sweet kiss from Shannon. He didn’t want to be callous, mean or
mad all the time.
Unfortunately though, the soft side of Donnie did not surface too often. In this underworld, survival of the fittest was all he knew and cared about. He had to take care of business before it took care of him. So his thoughts were on Tanker and his group at this very moment. The sweet side of Donnie vanished as quickly as it had appeared.
Out of nowhere, Donnie felt a sharp pain in the back of his neck as he fell face forward on the street. He felt another kick to his kidney and then someone on his back snapping his head back and a knife blade touching his Adams apple. A voice rang out, “So you’re thinking of taking me down?”
Donnie knew who it was on his back and he felt the extra pain of his arms being stretched by his sidekicks, like they were being pulled out of their sockets. “What the hell are you talking about?”
Tanker pulled his hair and head up closer as he whispered in his left ear, “Whenever you want to dance just let me know and I will accommodate you but before we do, I would suggest you plan your funeral arrangements first.” He left Donnie a reminder by nicking his cheek with the point of the knife. He shoved his face to the ground, got off of him and kicked him one more time in his ribs.
Donnie screeched in pain. They left as quickly as they had appeared. He lay there almost passing out from the pain.
He knew now that the only way he was going to get the respect from this group was to show Tanker that he meant business. He wouldn’t just take him down. He’d make him pay dearly for what he did today. Donnie got up slowly from the ground holding his side and wiping the blood off his face from the cut he left there. He vowed vengeance. Honor is important among the Irish when fighting for a place in the streets. He was determined now that no one was going to walk away, a body bag would be brought to the bloody scene.The right of passage was something that everyone honored in the streets. If you wanted to be on that side, you had to prove you had the moxy to get there.
In Donnie’s case he knew he had to take on Tanker and gain his respect or be killed trying. He preferred to live but he had heard of many guys who never measured up. Donnie was pumped and it was now or never as he headed out towards the location where Tanker and his gang would be hiding out. It was time to rumble in the jungle.
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