Tuesday night finally came. I snuck out of my window on the fire escape ladder my mother had given me as a birthday present last year. We lived in town, not far from the address I was headed to. It was farther than I would have liked to walk, but the night air was pleasantly cool and there was a slight breeze that played with my long, brown hair. The street lamps offered some light, but the moon put them all to shame. I liked the night. It was beautiful and, as I would soon learn, deadly.
I arrived at the house where I had bought the heroin. My palms began to sweat as I walked towards the door. I took a deep breath and knocked.
What was I expecting? A guy to open the door and shoot me? I felt foolish for letting my imagination run away with me. Just as I was about to turn and leave, the door opened. It was the same guy as before. Excepthis hair was different. It appeared recently washed. He smiled and said, “You came back. I was afraid you wouldn’t. You’re a bit late I’m afraid so, if we may proceed.” At this he made a rather elegant flourish and started walking quickly towards wherever we were headed.
I caught up with him and he made an attempt at what I supposewas conversation.
“I’m Cai Dawson. What’s the name you go by? In other words, don’t give me your real one. You’ll be too easy to track down if you do that. If you’ve ever wished you could pick your own name, now’s your chance.”
I thought about what he said for a few moments and tried to decide on a name. I looked into my past to see if there was something, anything, to give me inspiration. When I was younger I had a friend named Amelia who killed herself. Then I thought of my last name: Carley. I decided to do something close to it so that if I slipped, it would be close enough that I could catch myself. I found exactly what I was looking for.
“It’s Amelia Carroway.”
“That’s a good one. Don’t forget it. Now, back to business, when we get where we’re going, don’t look anyone in the eye unless you want your head bitten off. Don’t speak unless spoken to. Don’t give anyone lip. That one’s important, if you do, you could get killed and that’s a pretty stupid reason to die.”
Cai had a point. We walked in silence for a bit and I tried to absorb all of what he had said. Apparently we had reached our destination, because he stopped suddenly in front of an old and falling apart warehouse. The roof was tin and rusted, while the walls looked like they could use a new coat of paint. He looked at me for a moment and his eyes suddenly were dangerously cold and serious where only moments before had been playful, good humor. Finally he looked me in the eyes and said, “And don’t let anyone walk all over you. You may be new, but you need to show that you’re not afraid of them. If you don’t, they’ll only take advantage of you. I know you’re nervous but, chin up, shoulders straight.” I adjusted my position until I stood reasonably straight and did my best not to look at my shoes. The well- natured light returned to his eyes as he said, “Much better. That’s the way to make a good impression.”
Cai opened the door and I discovered who “they” were.