Chapter 10


"Here it is," AJ announced to his two companions, shifting his
wait onto his back leg and brushing his bangs to the side.
	The three stood in front of the giant record store for some
time.  For two of them, it was an exciting, yet anxious, event...
a homecoming long overdue.  The other, in her blue jeans, her
Harvard T-shirt, and her Winnie the Pooh backpack, it was a
curious and nervous event.  Corey looked at Anna and smiled at
her, offering the other her reassurance.  Anna smiled back in
gratitude, remembering how flattered she was that AJ and Corey
had invited her for their trip back home.  In many ways, this
store was more of a home to them than their families had ever
been.  They grew up here, learned here, laughed here, and fell in
love here.
	"Looks the same as when we left," Corey mused wistfully.  She
reached into her purse for some lip-balm.  The weather was
unusually dry for this far into the autumn season.
	"Actually," AJ began, looking to the side of the building, past
the throngs of people crossing to-and-fro before the store's
entrance.  From his vantage, he could see more of the alley
beside the great record store and noticed a distinct change from
when he left.  "Actually," he repeated, confident he had his
companions' attention, "Somebody's been touching up my art... and
doing a fare job of it, I must say."
	"That must be Chris' work," Corey concluded, "Gina told me he'd
been assigned to keeping the murals up to your standard.  Of
course, she also told me that Chris was uncomfortable at touching
the art, fearing he may ruin it.  He has a really high opinion of
your work."  She said as she looked to AJ with a bright, spirited
smile.
	"Well, I don't think it's anything special, but he sure did an
excellent job.  I doubt anyone would notice but me.  I'm liking
Chris already," he beamed.  Casting a quick, sly look at his
friends, he simply winked and headed for the front door.
	"Oh man," Anna began, her voice tight with nerves.  The
butterflies that decided to take up residence in her belly here
fluttering furiously now.  "This is going to be strange..."  She
let her voice trail off as she looked at Corey, brows raised in
anticipation.
  "Come on," Corey said, "let's go and meet my family!"
****************************

	"Ach!" a startled protest rang through the air, causing Mark to
whip around, almost too fast, and stare at his new coworker.
	"Ummm... what's up with the hostility, Moira?"  The young man
flashed his disarmingly naive smile.
	"Computer's DAFT!!!  Can't get a buggered word in the Goddamn
thing!" the young Scotswoman replied, throwing her hands on her
shapely hips and then into the hair.  Her brown-green-orange hair
flying side to side.  She's only been at Empire Records for but a
week and a half, and already she found it easy to sink into the
daily routines.  With a single exception... the computer... the
bane of her new existance.
	"Hey," Mark consoled his new friend, "hmmm.. heh.. don't let it
get'cha down, man!  You'll get the groove of it soon."
	"Yeh din'nae hear'ed what ah said, did yeh?"  She retorted,
casting a pleading look at the young man.  "I'm no meant to work
with these God-forsaken machines, they'll drive a man to dust and
a woman even harder!"  A loud and despondent sigh slid from her
lungs, while her head found her hands atop the monitor.  Why can
I not get it when that daft prick Warren can?  She berated
herself.
	The second bane of young Moira's existance had come in the form
of a compact fireball, much like herself.  Only, this fireball
was aimed at her.  She and Warren had not agreed on a single
thing since she crashed through the back doors her first day,
knocking him over in the process.  The shouting match that ensued
was the stuff of legend in the store, surpassed only by Corey's
total breakdown after seeing Gina come out of the count-out room
with Rex Manning, and Warren's shooting up the store with
blanks.  They had to be physically separated by Joe when it
nearly came to blows.  Since then an uneasy truce had been forced
upon them by their increasingly annoyed boss.  They did, of
course, still manage to maintain a covert, guerrilla-type war
between them... they were never the people to be kept away from a
challenge THAT easily.
	Mark was thinking of all of this when he looked at his
beleaguered companion and trainee.  He grinned at a sudden
thought and skipped in front of Moira.
	"Come on, Moira," he began, a sly, gleaming look of mischief in
his blue orbs, "It ain't that bad.  I mean, you just started,
you've never used a computer before... and look at the bright
side!  Warren's got the day off!"  That had the desired effect.
	"That wee dung-heap of a boy!?  That dreary little shithead
couldn'ae keep up with me for a SECOND!!!"  She wailed, her brows
coming together so fast at the mention of "The Name", Mark
thought he heard the muscles in her forehead snap.  "We been
takin' turns on the till since I got meself here and he fares no
better than meself!!!  I'll show this buggered machine NO ONE
will beat me to the gate!"  She started pounding away at the keys
in renewed anger and determination.
	Mark sat back and congratulated himself on a hard won victory...
he certainly liked this new addition to the team.
**************************

	After nearly an hour of begging the terminal to comply to her,
Moira simply looked at the damned thing and pulled her
multi-colored hair out of her head.  When Mark said his good-bye
to his sorry coworker, Debra and Chris both came up to replace
them during shift change.
	"Jesus Suffering FUCK!!!" Moira exclaimed.  Neither Deb nor
Chris had heard that particular combination of curses before and
looked to one another.  Grinning to themselves, a look they often
shared, giddy almost at their shared, to them, secret, romance. 
Chris walked in front of the till, deftly dodging several smaller
kids as they stormed for the "Rap" section, and turned to speak
to Moira.
	"You know," the big man began, a hint of a grin on his goateed
face, "you can stay here and learn from Deb and myself if you'd
like, Moira."  Deb, thinking the same thing, looked at Chris and
smiled.  Debra managed to slide her tray into Mark's newly
vacated till and leaned over to Moira.
	"He's right, you know," the tattooed young woman agreed with a
bright smile, "We're both the best with these things... can't
even figure between the two of us who's the fastest!"
	"I am," Chris stated, his grin breaking into a full force smile,
and launching into laughter.  Deb looked at him, her brow
creased, and eyes glaring.
	"Anytime 'Tough Guy'... you wouldn't last a minute against me!" 
Her brows raised with the eye gleaming offer of a challenge.  The
two stared at each other for enough time to make Moira look at
them incredulously.
	"Are you two finished?"  The cute, round figured girl asked in
both confusion and annoyance.  Debra and Chris both shook their
respective heads, clearing them of any thoughts or fantasies, and
Chris veritably hopped up next to Moira as Deb turned to double
check her count.
	"Tell you what," Chris began trying to keep the "Newbie" from
quitting in frustration, "I'll print up a simple 'cheat-sheet'
that I used when I started.  It's really simple..." Chris looked
up at Moira then to realize she wasn't even looking at him. 
Following her glare, Chris noted three people staring at them as
they slowly walked from the door that was just closing.  The
three seemed to strike an odd chord in Chris, as if he'd known
them before but had forgotten.  He straightened and turned to
greet them, as they seemed uninterested in anything other than
the counter.
	"Hello, Can I help you guys with anything," he said pleasantly,
if somewhat trepidiciously.  One of the group, a very attractive,
tall, slim brunette, looked at him with a great deal of
familiarity that Chris found confusing.  She then, followed by
her friend, a tall young guy with a charming smile and a real
confidence in himself, looked past Chris and Moira to Debra,
whose back was still turned.
	"No thank you," the first girl began, Chris noting the unease of
the second girl, "We just wanna talk to that dark-haired,
tattooed, crew-cut-wearing chick in the back!"  She announced,
VERY loudly.  Chris, now even more confused, though he had in
mind a guess to this riddle, looked over to the girl he loved. 
At the sound of the voice, Debra stood absolutely still, not even
turning around.  Chris heard her mumble something breathlessly...
then slowly turned around.  When she faced the three her eyes
grew as big as a startled doe's.  Her smile consumed her face as
she screamed in glee...
	"COREY!!!  AJ!!!"  She literally jumped the counter, ignoring
both Moira and Chris in her rush to meet her best friends.  She
jumped up and grabbed a hold of AJ, who promptly lifted her off
the ground and, now laughing and crying at once, spun her around
several times.  She kissed him hard on the cheek and then turned
to the beautiful brunette who'd started the event and wrapped her
in a hug so deep, Chris thought they might meld into one person. 
He could see the tears welling from Debra's bright green eyes as
she tried unsuccessfully to blink them away.  Then she kissed the
girl, whom Chris guessed to be Corey, on the cheek too.  Corey
answered back with a kiss of her own and ran her fingers through
Deb's hair, stopping near the top and grabbing it as they shook
their heads in laughter.
	AJ... Corey... were finally here, Chris pondered.  He wasn't
sure if this was good or bad, but he found he already liked both
AJ and Corey.  The only mystery remaining was the quiet, shy
young lady with the Winnie-the-Pooh backpack.
*************************

	"Lucas," Joe started, but with a wave of his hand, Lucas
interrupted his boss and mentor.  This had been going on for
several minutes now.
	"I know what you're thinking," the enigmatic young clerk began,
"but there is no need to thank me."
	"Lucas," Joe repeated more firmly this time, but his counterpart
was oblivious to the interruption.
	"No, really, Joe," the somewhat arrogant young man continued, "I
know I've done a great job with Chris and Lisa and Moira... plus
I've turned Warren into an upstanding, law-abiding citizen."
	"Lucas," Joe stated one more time to no avail.
	"I'm willing to begin negotiations on any increase in salary you
deem appropriate!  I know I've earned it and I'm glad to have
done such a fine job."  Finally finished, Lucas sat in the chair
facing his boss with a look of complete satisfaction.
	"Lucas, you're not getting a raise," Joe stated in a finality
Lucas knew well was unshakable.  Lucas' smile turned into a look
of utter amazement.  Couldn't Joe see how well I've done?  His
expression turned somber at the realization that this was not why
he was called into the office.  He'd only assumed the natural
thing was for Joe to bestow upon him a raise.  And while Lucas
would admit to himself, he cared little for money, "The Man"
always seemed to... and "The Man" calls the shots (especially
when it comes to rent, he groaned to himself).
	"Well," Lucas began, regaining his composure and frowning at his
friend, "this isn't a very polite method of management, Joe. 
Leading me along like this!" He huffed, throwing his arms across
his chest indignantly.
	"LEADING YOU ON!?!?!"  Joe roared as a stood up from his chair,
both hands slammed on his desk, eyes glaring holes into Lucas'
brainstem.  "I haven't said a word since you walked into the
Goddamn office!  If you ever learn to shut your mouth and listen
FIRST then you wouldn't end up in a set of drums so often!" Joe
yelled.
	"They do rather make an uncomfortable landing pad," Lucas smiled
wryly, calming Joe with a look of sublimation and outstretched
hands.  His eyes narrowing, wondering if this was all an act in
the first place, Joe seemed satisfied that Lucas was ready to
listen and calmly sat back down.
	"You're not getting a raise," Joe reiterated, looking at his
favorite youngster with a gruff fondness.  "You're getting a
promotion."  It was Lucas turn to look dumbfounded.  For once in
his life the strange mystery that was Lucas had nothing to say!
	"Are you kidding me, Joe?" He stuttered, hardly believing the
words that had just bounced off his eardrums.
	"No, I'm not... and you aren't squirming outta this one, Lucas!"
	"Why would I want too?" Lucas asked.
	"Are you kidding ME, Lucas?  You are the ultimate avoider of
responsibility!  You didn't even want to interview Lisa for
Christ' sake!" Joe looked at him firmly.
	"True," Lucas agreed, "but many things have changed since.  I've
come to realize I have a certain potential for this job when I
actually set my mind to it."
	"Since when did you grow a brain?" Joe grinned, but Lucas merely
ignored the comment.  Lucas' hand went to his scruffy chin, his
goatee only just starting to come in, to easy the itching.
	"Well," Lucas mused, eyebrows raised as his eyes opened wide in
wonder, "I guess I'll take it."
	"Like you have a choice?" Joe chuckled.
	"There is always a choice in business, Joe.  You should know
that... you're a superb manager." Lucas grinned.
	"What's that?" Joe asked firmly, slowly rising from his seat.
	"Superb..."
	"Keep it up, Lucas." Both were standing opposite each other,
now.
	"Superb."
	"Say it again." Joe stared at him.
	"Superb!" He stated for the third and final time.
	Instead of the beating he received the last time they had played
this scenario, he got a handshake and a smile from his boss...
both remembering that day with fondness.
************************

	VVRRRRRNNNGGG!!!
The low "C" note came in hard from Mark's guitar as he finished 
his cash-out and set up his Fender and amp.  One foot on the amp,
Mark leaned over and tuned it to the proper settings.  He didn't 
want it tooloud, so as not to bother Joe in the office and not to 
be heard (too loudly, anyway, he smiled) out front.
	VVRRRRRNNNGGG!!!
This time a high "G" emanated from the amp, a squealing followed 
as his fingers slid back up for the low "C" again.  He turned his attention back to his amp, then adjusted the pick-up on his axe.  
He rattled out some power chords now, all in quick succession.  
His overly-large green shirt with the "STP" logo on the back 
shifted as he brought the guitar, his prized possession, up higher 
for a better, safer angle of play.  He picked the notes out 
carefully, to an old song he'd always loved since he was a kid.  
With the main tune coming in, his voice supplemented the ringing instrument in perfect harmony.
	"'We don't need no education....'" he began, the notes coming in softly but firmly with perfect accuracy, "'We don't need no 
thought control...'"
 "'...no dark sarcasms in the classroom!'" A voice from behind 
yelled over the next note.  Mark spun around, almost dropping his instrument (which was slung over his shoulder by a strap, though).  His brows went up in that quirky way of his when sudden confusion 
hit him... not fully registering what was before him.  When the fullness of the situation hit him, his grin took in his entire 
face.  He deftly slid out of the strap on his guitar, put it 
down quickly, but gently and rushed forward, hopping the couch.
	"HEY TEACHER!!!  LEAVE THOSE KIDS ALONE!!!"  Screamed the voice!
	"AAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!"  Mark began in loud glee, "AJ, MAN!!!!"
	"MARK, MAN!!!" AJ issued as he leapt at his friend each giving 
the other a big hug.  AJ's grin was no less profound than his estranged friend's.
	"Hmmm.. YEAH!!  Shit man, you look great!"  Mark complimented 
him as he held AJ out from him, taking a look at his pal returned.
	"So do you, man," AJ returned, more than happy to see his old 
friend. AJ was washed over with emotion, and had to cough to keep
his voice from cracking.
	"What're you doin' here, man?  I thought you guys weren't coming 
for another week?" Mark asked, though more than happy they made 
the trek earlier. The two each hopped onto the couch, both sitting 
on either arm, facing each other.
	"Well," AJ began, "we figured to take some time off and extend our stay here, so that's when the three of us decided to head out."
	"Three?" Mark posed, a look of confusion spreading over his young face.
	"Oh yeah!" AJ began, smacking his forehead to ward off any other
forgetful thoughts.  "Corey's friend, well, mine too, Anna, came 
with us.  She's cool; a good friend to both of us."
	"MOSHY!!!" Mark yelled, hopping in his seat, "is she a babe, man?" 
Mark's grin encompassed his entire face.
	"Total babe, man!"  AJ smiled and laughed, "but she ain't your 
type; you haven't got a shot at her!"  Wounded, Mark gathered his downcast face and tried to usurp some dignity back from the 
misleading comment.
	"Hey, man... How do you know?  I'm not exactly an oil painting, but it isn't like I'm Quasimodo, either."  He huffed, his brows upturned in their puppy-like posture.	Laughing harder AJ reached over and clapped his friend on the shoulder,
 "I know, dude, no disrespect intended... NO guy has a shot at 
her...understand?"  AJ grinned and leaned back to his seat on the 
arm of the couch.  Looking at Marks even more confused face, AJ chuckled to himself, shook his head in amusement, and began again.  "Okay, Mark, let's just say Gina has a much better shot at Anna 
than you do."
	"GINA??? But she's a... OHHHH... hmmm heh heh," understanding 
finally flooded Mark as he assimilated the news.  "Oh, well that's cool," Mark began cheerfully, "but doesn't her bein' best pals with Corey weird you out or anything, man?"
	AJ sat back a bit and reflected on his inquisitive friend's 
question. "No," he stated with a finality that impressed Mark very much.  Damn he knows how to truly love and trust, Mark began to himself... I wonder if Lisa and I...  Sighing, Mark looked at AJ 
with renewed glee and jumped at him, knocking him over.  They 
tumbled over the couch and hit the floor in a laughing hug as Mark tried to lift them both from the tangle.  AJ helped and soon the 
two estranged friends were back up and back on track.
	"AJ?" rang a studious, introspective voice that could come from 
only one man.
	"Lucas.." AJ choked, dreading and obsessing about meeting his old
cohort.  AJ turned to meet Lucas, now half way from the office 
door, and the two slammed into each other with a hug that sealed 
their strong bond and friendship.  Mark watched with a smile as the two embraced for many seconds (both fighting tears, but both too stubborn and proud to admit it, thought Mark).  Everything was 
going right again.
*************************
	
	"SO???" Corey grasped Deb's hands as they hid upstairs in the 
"Video" section.  Deb's eyes were glittering an emerald green 
from her happily shed tears.  She looked down at Chris from their perch atop the store. He was dutifully and happily showing Anna 
around the store and making sure she felt comfortable.  This was further punctuated by Anna's bright laughter heard in bursts from 
time to time.  Deb looked at him and sighed.  Shifting her gaze, 
she stared at Corey with a sly smile.
	"SO what?" she replied coyly.
	"You know damn what... have you told him?!?!"  Corey was nearly hopping in place with anticipation.  Deb decided she'd let her 
friend off easy and preclude the games.
	"Yes..." she gleamed, her face glowing enough to light the sign 
on top of the store.
	"AND???"  Corey WAS jumping now, as she waited for her friend's deepest feelings to emerge.
	"I think he loves me."  Deb choked.  Corey's eyes slammed shut as 
she smiled, the lump in her thought overwhelming her, she drew 
Debra in for an embrace.  Fighting back her own tears of joy, Deb managed to croak out a few more lines.  "He's so sweet, but so guarded, " she began, "he's gentle and kind, but his moods can get 
as dark as mine... yet he never blames anyone but himself.  He 
knows a great deal about himself, and about people in general, but 
he admits to feeling scared and even childish at times.  He is so afraid of being hurt or hurting others...and yet he can't help but 
let people inside."
	"He sounds a lot like a girl I know" Corey flashed a smile as her tears began to clear.
	"Yeah, yeah," Deb chuckled, "we are more similar than you 
think... did you know he was a virgin?" She asked her pal.
	"Yes," Corey answered, not sure where this was going or what
significance it had, "I think you told me the last time we talked, 
or maybe the time before... why?"
	"Well," Deb began, clearing her throat, "I never told you this... 
but SO AM I!"
	"REALLY?  Why didn't you say something?"  Corey looked at her 
with downcast eyes, "I always thought Burko and you..."
	"NOOO!" Deb smiled, "we almost, but I couldn't.  He wasn't the 
right guy.  At that point in time... I thought AJ was the one." 
Deb smiled as Corey blushed.  Both loved the artist with all their hearts, but he could only return one love.  This caused many 
tensions between the two before they'd become friends... and both remembered with some fondness some of their little battles over innocuous things... hiding the real issue.  Debra was always 
jealous of Corey until she found out the price she was paying for 
her "perfection".  That brought them closer together.
	"I can't believe it!" Corey said with astonishment, her blue eyes
gazing at Deb in amazement.  "I always, just assumed... since you 
seem to know so much about that stuff and you are always so... 
wise, when it comes to sex."  Corey knit her brows together in 
mock anger, "You little brat!"  She accused, smiling and giving her 
friend a hug.
	"Hey!" Deb began, looking around, "quit with the mushy stuff... you'll ruin my rep as a 'hard-ass'!"  Both burst into laughter.  
"Gina will be here in a couple hours, after close.  Have you 
talked to her yet?"
	"No," Corey smiled.  She ruffled her skirt, which had slid off-center, back into place.  "I wanna surprise her!  You HAVE to 
meet Anna, Deb! She's so cool and SO sweet!"
	"...And SO pretty, and SO smart," she began, eyes rolling, "and
probably SO perfect."  Deb simple threw her arms over her chest, folding them.  "I hate people like that!"  This time they laughed 
even harder.
************************
	
	"And this is our wonderful till!"  Chris expressed in mock pride.  He'd been showing Anna around the store for many minutes and found, already, someone he could REALLY identify with.  Anna was bright, charming, modest, and fun... plus she liked girls... all qualities Chris admired in a person.
	"Oh it IS indeed wonderful, Herr Christoph!"  Anna teased.  She'd been calling him that since he'd told her he was taking a German language course by correspondence and that his favorite band sung 
half their songs in German.  He was pretending to be offended, 
making a fuss about nothing, and the two of them were getting 
along famously.  Anna watched as Chris hopped around the corner to take his place at the till and smiled.  I'm glad I came, Anna 
mused.  Already Debra and Chris have been so kind to me... and 
they are the most hard to understand, so I've heard.  Well, except 
for some "Lucas" character... AJ's best friend.	The one thing Anna 
DID notice, that she hadn't even shared with AJ and Corey, was a similarity between Chris and herself she recognized all to easily.  She'd seen the scars on his arms.  Anna was much better at hiding 
her slashing from the world... preferring her upper legs, ribcage, breasts, and even her pubic area... way below her belly-button, 
out of sight.  She was flooded with sympathy and shame... she 
hadn't cut in over five months, but the last were VERY deep.  
Anna wanted so badly to ask Chris about the scars, but she decided 
she should get to know him better.  It's not something one brings 
up as they are being introduced... "High!  My name's Anna!  And 
when I get really upset, I take a razor blade and slice open my 
skin!"  No.  She'd wait, she smiled to herself.	Bringing her 
thoughts back to reality, Anna looked at Chris long and hard.  
He was busy chattering on, making silly comments and, in general, being a most gracious host.  He'd gone out of his way to make her 
feel welcome, and not just because he'd been asked to.  She 
genuinely liked the tall, young man, and he obviously had taken a shining towards her. But it was different.  Anna knew men liked 
her.  She could always tell when a guy wanted her - either just her body, or her love.  But Chris didn't want anything from her other 
than friendship.  She could see a man in love, she smiled to herself... especially every so often when his eyes would drift 
up towards the balcony, where Deb and Corey sat and talked. Must 
be nice, she thought to herself.  As her feelings for Corey had 
been waning, Anna felt an increase in her "appetite" for both 
pleasure and intimacy.  Masturbating just wasn't cutting it 
anymore, she laughed to herself.
	"What?"  Chris asked in bewildered tones, unaware of Anna's 
thoughts, or why she'd laughed suddenly.  He shifted his weight uncomfortably onto his right foot in nervousness.
	"Oh, I was just thinking how badly I need to get laid"  Anna responded in full force; matter-of-factly.  A bit taken aback, 
Chris only smiled sheepishly as his eyes went down and he shook 
his head in agreement, his dreadlocks swishing.
	"Yeah," he began, looking once more to the upper level of the 
store, then back to Anna's eyes, "I know what you mean."  It was Anna's turn to frown in confusion.  Her eyes narrowed as she 
cocked her head to one side and beamed a sly smile.
	"I thought Debra and you..."
	"NOOOO," Chris began, eyes wide with both fear and longing.  "I mean,"he continued, "We've never 'consecrated' our love, so to 
speak.  I'm a... heh, oi... well I'm still a virgin..." he 
mumbled, looking much the cornered rat.  Anna just smiled, came 
up to him and gave him a huge (having to reach waaayyy up first) 
hug.  A bit surprised, Chris held on a second before Anna let go - 
the fruity scent of her perfume clung pleasantly to him.  She 
stepped back and smiled with even more warmth.
	"So am I, my dear, so am I..." she replied to his quizzical look.  Then Chris smiled and laughed his deep laughter.
	"Ain't that fuckin' sweet!  The nigger's got a girly-friend!"
	At the sound of the voice, Chris grabbed Anna and forced her 
behind him.  (Not again!)  Anna, surprised and offended at the man, could only stare in horror as the scrawny, shaven-headed man raised 
an automatic pistol at Chris.  She could hear a feral growl 
emerging from Chris' chest as she began to realize this was 
something far worse than it looked... if that were possible!
	"What the FUCK are you doin' here Zone!?  You want me... you 
fuckin' take me out when I'm alone.  This has shit-all to do with these people!!!"  Chris screamed at the skinhead, shaking with rage.  This seemed to only make the young man, flanked by two other 
similarly dressed kids, also with guns, laugh and mock the black store-clerk even more.  Anna could see nothing but could hate in 
dead eyes when she looked at the one Chris had addressed as 'Zone'.  She shivered and drew closer to her new friend.
	"Oh, but it has everything to do with them!" Zone chided him, 
cocking his head sideways and turning his pistol to match.  He 
stepped forward a bit and as the two youths with him raised their guns, Zone crouched down, looking straight at Chris with his gun resting on his knee.  "You see, old friend," Zone began in mocking delight, "I know how much this place, these pathetic people, mean 
to you... I hurt them, and I torture you in ways I couldn't just 
by knee-capping you."
	"You mother.." Chris leaped forward.  The rage had totally 
consumed him, and even Zone, safe with three 9mm weapons backing 
him up, felt a bit taken aback by the man's impetuous and 
suicidal pace towards him. Zone recovered quickly, stood up, and smiled.  Chris broke into a run now, a medium sized weighted pipe falling from the sleeve of his shirt and into his hand.	Zone 
raised the gun.	Chris ran faster, raising the pipe.
	"Time to die," the skinhead stated.
	 Time slowed down...
	Silence hung heavily in the air... the silence that accompanies 
a passing tornado.  Two shots had rung out loud, clear, beautiful 
in their precision.
	The silence was broken as a weighted, metal pipe rang loudly - 
surrealistically - on the floor.
	Following the pipe to the floor was a scream of such heartfelt
intensity, it brought tears to the eyes of one of the other skins.
	Also following the pipe was Chris.  His body limp, as he fell to 
his knees, rage and sorrow in his eyes (sorrow for a love lost).  Chris slumped forward and was met by a soft, liquid-velvet cushion 
of red... a pool of his own blood.  He twitched once... twice... 
then lay still.
	Time stopped...
**************************

END OF BOOK ONE (Mike is making them into books, each book will 
have 10 chapters and Book 2 is on the way! Enjoy!)

 Copyright 1999, Michael Orthner.

Hold on to your seats, folks!  It doesn't end here!  Keep 
checking back as I attempt books two, three, four...  I hope 
you enjoyed what you've read so far - I know I've enjoyed 
writing it.  I would like to thank all of the people who've 
given me advice and feedback, both positive and negative.  And 
I would especially like to thank Alicia for allowing me the 
chance to express myself on her site.  Luv yah Hon! Book One 
is dedicated to two people who've helped me a great deal...
Jeanna and Hannah.  Thank you both for your support, both with 
the story, and especially with my life.  My love is with you.  -Michael
"In this life, there are nothing but possibilities..." - Lucas


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