Tommy – I knew you’d be too weak to pull the trigger,” Tommy reads the crumpled note out loud in a dangerously flat tone. I’m glad I managed to convince him to stash the gun before coming to his place – I’ve had enough gunplay for one day.

“It’s probably for the best that she’s gone,” I tell him. “I think you’ve gotten into enough trouble today.”

He doesn’t reply, he just keeps staring at the scrawled writing on the otherwise plain white paper in his hands. He had found it stuffed into the top of his sleeping bag when we had arrived just a few short minutes ago. His silence is making me uneasy.

“Tommy, don’t beat yourself up over this; you couldn’t have known that -”

“She was a lying whore?” he interrupts, his words so cold they should’ve had icicles dangling from them. “No, I guess not. Maybe if I wasn’t doped out of my head for the last year I would’ve had a brain cell or two left to see through her game.”

“You’ve got enough left to not shoot me, that’s all I care about.”

“Er, yeah,” Tommy says, finally looking up, embarrassment clouding over the icy hatred. “Look man, I’m -”

“Forget it,” I say with a shake of my head. “You weren’t yourself and in the end nobody got hurt. And you might have even learned a lesson!”

“Yeah: drugs plus women equals bad news,” he mutters.

“Or maybe its just drugs equals bad news.”

“Not right now man – we’ll have that talk later.”

“Fair enough,” I say, “but we are having it, and sooner than later.”

He makes a dismissive gesture and returns to reading the note – hoping that it’s magically different this time? I don’t know but I leave him to it.

I stroll around the basement of this condemned house and try not to think about when the two floors above us will collapse. A fire gutted everything above ground but left the basement with only a few patches of smoke damage. A few rooms are carpeted, the main living area is bare concrete and there are even a few posters on the brick walls. It’s a pretty nice find for Tommy – until the city gets around to leveling it.

I glance out the door/window and feel the cool night air on my face, listen to the city going to sleep. It’s good to be alive; I don’t remember the last time I truly felt that way.

“It’s getting late,” I tell Tommy as I return to his side. “I’m gonna head out, it’s gonna be an early start tomorrow.”

“You sure you don’t want to call the police about Ashes? She’s got it out for you man.”

“I don’t think the cops would care too much about a little homeless sibling rivalry,” I reply. “Besides, she’s long gone – I ‘m not worried about her.”

“Don’t underestimate this psycho,” he says, holding up the note. “I did and look what happened to me… what almost happened to you.”

I laugh it off and begin to turn away.

That’s when I see the writing on the back of the note.

“Give me that for a second.”

Tommy hands it over, confusion stomping all over his face. I turn the note over and the words that greet me make my blood go cold.

“What is it?”

It takes me a moment to find my voice. To find my footing. To find the confidence that was just with me. I read the words aloud in a hollow tone.

J – Don’t think this is over. I’m not done with you yet.

The End

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