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Nomad Kind of Love

By:Nicole Snow

dirty fingers squeezed, a rough pinch twisting my nerves.

I screamed and screamed. Mom came plodding down the hall, rubbing her eyes and pulling on her ratty gown. Clara was right behind her.

“Vulture? What the hell are you doing in my house at the ass crack of –?”

She pushed past me and stopped in her tracks when she saw Dad's body. The thugs holding him shifted their weight uncomfortably. One man released my father's shoulder and he slumped into the sink, like a dummy with its strings cut.

“Holy shit! Holy fuck! What the fuck? George!”

Another hand was on my shoulder, this one nearly as tight as Vulture's. Clara's scream started and almost deafened me. Mom joined us, falling to the floor, tearing at her matted hair as she wept and howled.

“Damn it, we need a little order here!” Vulture roared. “Scoop. Claws. Get your asses over here! Bitch is gonna wake up the dead if she keeps up that shit.”

His rough hands found my throat and pushed me to the wall, and then he yanked on Clara's hair. She tried to run, but it was no use.

The men who killed Dad were on her, taking over when their boss released us. They pinned us against the wall, muscular hands like irons we couldn't hope to wriggle out of. Vulture snarled, turning on Mom, who'd crawled across the room and was reaching for Dad's old cell phone near the busted screen door.

“Make sure those little cunts behave! I'll deal with this.”

Vulture's boot stomped the phone out of my Mom's fingers. She writhed in pain, falling back and grabbing at her knuckles. He hovered over the phone, slamming his foot on it again and again. Its fragments spiraled into the bloody pools near Dad's limp feet.

“Oh, God. Oh, oh – Jesus!” Mom spat, fell on her side, huddling in a fetal position.

I closed my eyes. Vulture was right over her, and he was going to kick her. I realized for the first time this animal was going to kill my whole family, including me.

“There, there, baby. Everything's gonna be all right, Jenny-Ray. I told you already, my beef's with your asshole old man. Not you and your kids.” The evil softness in his voice made my stomach turn. “Lookie, girl. I brought you something to take the edge off...”

The man holding me started to laugh. I opened my eyes, looked past him, and my heart stopped.

Oh, fuck. He thought of everything. It's really over for us now.

Vulture kneeled next to my mother, a nasty smile on his face, holding a small syringe he'd taken from his pocket. He twirled it between his fingers the way a bully would tease a hungry dog with meat.

“You want this, baby? There's plenty more where it came from at the clubhouse. Here, let me slip it in...find a good vein on you.” Mom jerked, wrinkling her face with sobs.

Vulture tore her sleeve up and searched her arm. The damage left by old injections was everywhere, but after a few seconds, he slipped the syringe into a fresh channel.

“Nooo Vulture...please...don't hurt me or my kidsss...” Mom's anguish turned to fluffy indifference, and then she slumped on the floor, occasionally twitching while she drooled and giggled.

“Okay. We're done here. Make sure the cleanup guy gets the call before any nosy neighbors come knocking.” Vulture stood up.

He looked over his carnage and lit a cigarette, inhaling the smoke deep. Pure bliss painted his face.

“What about them, boss?” The man holding Clara tugged at her hair.

“Get those little sluts on the bikes and make sure they keep their fucking mouths shut. The Missoula clubhouse has been pretty damned light on Prospects lately. Could use a few girls to do the grunge work...maybe even a few new whores. Never had twins before.”

He lowered his cigarette and winked at me. That was when I floated back into my body and clenched my jaw, fixing my eyes on this brute, this murderer.

No help was coming. My parents were dead, literally or otherwise, and the police wouldn't find us.

Not here. This was Grizzlies territory, and the minority of cops who weren't paid off stayed away if they wanted to avoid a bullet in the back of the head one quiet night.

Maybe Dad tried to do the right thing. But maybe didn't fucking cut it. If he'd truly helped the Feds, they hadn't given him any protection, or he'd been too damned proud to take it.

He was dead, the badges got what they wanted with the drugs, and they weren't going to bail him out. Clara and I were completely and totally on our own for the first time in our lives.

I raised my head, looking hard at Vulture and his henchmen.

I don't know how or when, but my moment will come. You assholes think I'm a stupid, scared girl from a junkie house. You're right about the junkie part.

But I'm not stupid and I'm not forgiving. One day I'll set this right.

I'll keep Clara safe and bide my time. However long it takes to get out, and then see you as dead as my father.

“Move!” The brute behind me – Claws, I think – pushed his fist into my back. “Don't bite while I get your helmet on and something soft in your mouth. You even think about screaming and we won't hesitate to throw you and your pretty sister off our bikes. Understand?”

I looked up and met his dark eyes. The drying tears on my cheek left hot, rough salt behind.

“Yes, sir. Anything you say.”

Scoop, the man with Clara, laughed. “Jesus, that was easy. These girls must be hankering for a little excitement after being cooped up with their shitty parents.”

A minute later, we were outside, saddled to the back of their bikes. Clara began to struggle as he gagged her. Scoop spread his palm and smacked her hard across the face.

“Shut up, you whiny little whore. Do yourself a solid and keep quiet like your sister. Struggling's only gonna make this a whole lot worse. Don't believe me, then go ask your old man.”

Hatred burned in my belly, and kept burning when they started their bikes. I didn't even look back at my old house one last time.

My old life before that morning