“I don’t know. Sometimes I just think about running away. Like this place is unhealthy.
I’d bring you, of course.”
Jason Ellis was a direct victim of the violence in New York City. A victim in such ways that prevented him from living life like any other 28 year old. He didn’t know his true name. He didn’t know when his birthday was. And he could really only remember bits and pieces of his childhood. Scenes that never quite played out with hazy edges like an old VCR, playing over and over. And there was one memory that he felt was more recent. Something important. It was the most clear of his memories, yet the most frustrating, because it always stops short. A second too short. The wind was blowing, leaves were falling, and the crazy hair on the back of someone’s head danced with the breeze. The man started to turn his head to look back at Jason, but for the life of him, he can’t remember the person’s face. And this haunted Jason ever since he woke up that fateful day.
Oh, that fateful day. Jason vowed to never look back. He swore that he’d just keep looking forward. He’d live like he had never had a life before. There was a time when he wanted to figure it all out, but it was completely hopeless. And now, with his gang, he felt like he didn’t need anything else.
Some would argue that his amnesia caused his hardheadedness, his ability to live in the now, as well as his anger issues. But his boys took him as he came. Jason was probably one of the best leaders out there due to his almost-insanity. He was daft. He took risks. And he got things done. The members of The Takers all felt lucky to have him. Because not only did he start their gang, he had their backs in battle too. He didn’t just sit at base, drinking or taking pleasure in women while everyone else was out getting shot at. This comforted them, but also worried them. If he stepped out into open fire, the nearest ones would follow, no matter the cost, and yell, “Protect Ellis!” as if he was their king. And in a sense, he was. And though some of the men called him crazy, they still backed him up. Like the day he kidnapped his worst enemy’s brother.
“Hey. Kev,” Jason was saying, nudging a man on the ground with his steel toed boot. “Kevin!” There was no reply. “God, dammit, Kev, get your ass up!” He kicked Kevin’s back and he woke with a start looking about the room that was littered with trash and hung-over bodies.
“Wha-! What?” Kevin turned to see Jason looming over him.
“Are you my right-hand man or not? Put together a team- a sober
team- and meet me upstairs. We’ve got work to do.”
With that said, he left the spiky-haired Kevin and pounded his way upstairs, making as much noise as he could to punish those of his gang who felt it was alright to party hard all night.
The Taker’s base was in an old abandoned house on the corner of a street that no one really knew the name of. The basement was where the celebrations happened, the first floor was where the meetings too place, and the upstairs held the rooms that Jason and Kevin rested their heads in at night. The wallpaper was tearing, the couches were falling apart and the floor was creaky as hell. But it was home.
Once upstairs, he lit up a cigarette, unaware that he had once promised a very important person that he would never smoke again after he broke the habit the first time. A moment later, a large group of men came waltzing upstairs. Jason looked each of them over individually to make sure they weren’t hung-over.
“What’s the plan, boss?” Kevin asked.
“No plan,” he replied. “We’re just going to go shoot their windows out.”
“Boss, we don’t even know where they li-“
“Oh, yes we do,” Jason said. “It’s a wonder what can happen when you’re taking a casual stroll through the neighborhood.”
“We’re not really going to do this, are we? It’s insane! Right on their front porch?”
“No,” Jason replied casually. “Just across the street. Maybe to the sides of the place.”
“Boss, I can’t belie-“
Jason gave him a threatening look and Kevin knew not to protest one more time.
The group set out, guns and all, and Jason led them down the street. What an odd group of men they would appear to be if no one knew who they were. But everyone around quickly retreated indoors if they saw the men coming. Everyone knew the Takers, and they didn’t want to become the next victims.
Jason seemed to know exactly where he was going. It was about a fifteen minute walk before they arrived at their destination. There were a few abandoned cars in the street that they took cover behind.
“What’s the purpose of this?” Kevin asked.
Jason just shrugged. “To piss them off?”
Kevin rolled his eyes, but there was no way he wouldn’t play along.
Jason tried to see into the house, but the curtains were drawn.
“Radio Skipper,” Jason informed. “Get him to drive over here with the SUV. But tell him to park a street away. We’ll need a quick escape.”
Kevin did as he was asked, and Skipper, whose real name was simply John, responded that he understood. And as soon as Jason heard that, he pulled out his weapon and started to rain hell on the house across the street. His men followed suit, and the windows broke, the shingles fell and the siding split. The Blades must have had a decent plan in case this ever happened, because it wasn’t long before guys were shooting back out of the broken windows and flooding out of the door, taking cover on the front porch.
And there he was. Their leader. The thorn in Jason’s side. The bulky man about his age was shooting blindly from the front porch, calling orders to his men. All Jason needed was one good shot.One…
Men on the porch were falling left and right.Good…
Several of Jason’s own guys fell.Shot…
Jason aimed, and everything seemed to slow.Bang.
His target fell to the ground with a pained shout, gripping his thigh.
“Dammit!” Jason shouted. He managed to hit the man in the leg, but that wasn’t enough for him. He realized then that every man who was on the porch had been either killed or wounded, so he aimed again. But someone else stepped into vision, kneeling over the man’s body with a worried expression. From this angle, all Jason could see was the back of his head. The man obviously had no idea about warfare. Jason could drop him any second. But something stopped him. The hair that made up the stranger’s mohawk seemed familiar, blowing in the breeze. His started to turn his head, and for some reason, Jason almost lowered his gun.
“Boss, what do we do?” someone called.
Jason could hardly respond when the man turned all the way around, his eyes wide. He was even stupid enough to step off of the porch, looking in awe at Jason. He seemed to ignore the shouts from his own men, calling him back to safety.
“Put your aim on him!” he shouted. “And cover me!”
And taking advantage of the break in fire, Jason sprinted straight for the awestruck stranger. He heard the gunshots following his every move, whizzing past his body. The adrenaline kept him up to speed, and before he knew it, all fire had ceased and he had his pistol pressed to the man’s temple, turning to face the house.
“No one shoot!” the wounded man, Jason’s worst enemy, shouted from the porch.
“Kevin, signal Skipper!” Jason called, backing up across the street, the younger man in tow, still with the gun to his head.
Kevin was so completely blown over by what just happened- Jason had never gone so far as to take hostages- that he hardly heard the command. But when it finally registered, he fumbled over the buttons. And the next minute, a black SUV came swerving around the corner, stopping in the middle of the street with a screech. Now under cover of the vehicle, Jason tossed open the door and threw his hostage inside. Kevin entered next and then the rest of the group of guys poured in or hung onto the sides of the vehicle as it sped off.
Kevin was seeming to have a mental breakdown as Jason took a handkerchief from one of the boy’s heads and used it as a gag on the stranger.
“I can’t believe you did this, Jason! This is too far!”
“You don’t remember when they took James? It’s not too far at all! Besides, I know that they, like we do, have more hideouts. We can figure out where they are this way.”
“Did you know this was going to happen?” Kevin asked, almost crying and bouncing up and down.
“No! I had no idea he was just going waltz out into the street, Kev! Now shut up and take your pills!”
The drive was short, especially with Skipper driving. And once they were at home base, Jason pulled his hostage from the car, ushered him inside, and plopped him on the moth eaten couch. He tore the kerchief from his mouth and said, “Don’t even try moving. You’ll be down in a second, and I’ll bind your hands if I have to. Now, let’s start with the basics. What’s your name?”