Eamonn the Three

They ran from Vile Lane to the East Arm. A small slice of city steeped in their sweat and blood. It had been a childhood game at first, but what started as play turned to pride, then to war. The Briar Patch Boys ran these streets now. They were these streets.

To the South was Bulger territory. The border was marked on no maps, but both sides knew it to a stone. The unspoken agreement was a civil one: the Bulgers did not want the empty warehouses and winding alleyways of businesses and families on the poverty line; the Briars did not want a massacre. The civility, however, would only last so long as there were no incursions over that unseen border — not on gang business, not in gang colours. It had never been tested, but both sides knew it and both sides respected it.

Eamonn the Three stood at the top of Vile Lane. His toe traced a familiar cobblestone through his worn boots. He was lost in thought and did not notice the children behind him, each of whom he knew by name, stop in their play. His right hand, usually gloved, hung bare at his side: two fingers and a thumb twisting slowly as though reading the gusty wind, two stumps causing a stir of whispered conversation from the children. Most of them saw him every day, but few had seen that hand ungloved. It was the stuff of rumour and legend. Few of the children agreed on how it had happened, but most assumed it was the reason for his name. It made sense, after all; everyone knew someone who knew someone who confirmed that Alysson the Three’s left hand was the same. They were wrong about the name. The name had come before. That was important; especially today.

He clenched his hand into a three-fingered fist, and began to walk.

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