This is the last installment in the fictional short stories written by Hank
They call us Dyle. Why? Because we are always together. And since my name is Danny and my brother’s name is Kyle, it works out.
You may be surprised about the the story I have to tell. But if you stick with me, this, I am sure, is a story that will interest you.
Ok. Let’s get back to me and my brother. Although the few who know us call us Dyle, we call ourselves DeNial. If you don’t get this joke, feel free to get up and walk out of this room, leaving the book on your pillow without ever touching it again.
I am thirteen years old. My brother Kyle is fifteen years old. We live on the south side of Brooklyn. Actually, I guess I should just say we live in Brooklyn, simply because I do not wish to have myself confined just to the south side. And anyone who has been to Brooklyn knows that some of the best hoods are in the north side. Also, I don’t really live anywhere particular. See, I used to be raised by a single dad. My Mom left us when I was just a wee thing. My dad, he was a policeman. We had a house across the bridge in Manhattan. But when he died three years ago, my aunt sold our apartment and poured all the money into a college fund for Kyle and me. After that, we were forced to move in with our Aunt who although my life depends upon, is nothing but an absent minded grouch. So every night, at around 10 p.m., after all of our duties are done, and all of our associates are paid for, we sneak back into our aunt’s apartment and pretend that today we went to school.
For the past two and a half years, Kyle and I have played hookey. We have said to hell with studying and instead gone into business. Street business.
Now, when people ask the question “how smart are you?”, they usually mean what grade did you get on that math test, or what is your overall IQ. But when we think of the term “how smart are you?” we realize that there are many different kinds of smart. We streetsmart.
You may be wondering why we no longer value school. Well, there are two answers to this question. The first part in answering this question we will get to later…But the second part to this answer is that something happened when my father was killed. Something happened inside my and my brother’s head. It was almost as if we lost all dedication to what my father had worked so hard to teach us. Once we lost our father, we lost everything that he gave us.
You see, our father worked the twelve hour shift from 5 am to 5 pm. My brother and I would get home from school at 6: 15 everyday. As soon as we walked in the door, we were greeted by my Dad. He would hug us and then tell us to get dressed for dinner. The dinner usually consisted of three or more courses, all very nutritious and all very delicious. Over dinner, we would discuss what was going on in politics in the world. My dad was my NPR, New York Times, and CNN. He taught me everything I knew and still know about politics. When all was said and done, dinner was over at 7:30 pm, at which point my brother and I would do our homework. If we needed anything, anything at all, our dad was here to solve all of our issues.
Once we were done with our homework, our dad would tell us about his day and we would tell him about ours. Every once and a while, Dad would find a life lesson in our everyday life. He would teach us about the importance of this lesson. The most important lesson that he thought he would ever give us was school doesn’t hurt. “No one expects a man of nine years old to solve the world’s problems,” he used to say to us, “they expect him to go to school, then solve the world’s problems.” He distilled in my brother and me the importance of learning at an early age.
My Dad wasn’t just the only senior in my house, or the one who cooked my food, brought home the bacon, did my laundry, paid our bills. He was more than just the family leader. He was my personal leader and teacher. He was my moral north star. And above all, he was the reason I had been so committed to school. So, when I lost him, I lost everything he gave me. And all the sudden, I no longer felt so committed to school because there wasn’t a person in my life to teach me about what learning does to a child.
Am I blaming my absence in school on my dad? NO. I’m blaming it on my Aunt…
This morning, I woke up to the smell of pancakes. It was a Tuesday, which means I cook breakfast, which means my brother cooks breakfast because I am too lazy to and also because Kyle loves to cook. Now, when I say I woke to the smell of pancakes, I don’t mean I smell oil and melted butter and warm maple syrup. I mean that I smell the smell that you get when you cut a hydrogen atom in half and drop it in a Californian birch forest. Smoke. I mean seriously, Kyle should bottle up these fumes and take it to the FBI.
My brother and I left the house at 7:30 and wrote a POST IT note on the fridge for our snoring aunt telling her that we already left for school.
“Where are we headed?” I asked Kyle.
“7th Ave and Union St.” He replied.
“Oh. Why are we seeing Scar first? Don’t we need to speak to Giovannini too?”
“Well Giovannini is busy at 8, so might as well meet with Scar. He’s always good to talk to,” he said looking like a deer in the headlights.
“Giovannini will meet us whenever we wish to meet with him. Keep in mind, he works for us. We need to keep the evidence flowing. Remember, Giovanni is the man who’s gang’s turf covers the linden park area. He is the most important piece of evidence we got.”
“Danny, I don’t think that that is necessary. He can meet us at 11,” Kyle said, looking skittishly at me.
I gave no reply. That was one of those times when you don’t have to give an oral reply while still getting across your point.
“K. I’ll call him”, he said.
Ever since my dad died in 2010, my brother and I have made it our goal to avenge his death. And not in the silly Harry-James Potter magicy way. ‘Cause that’s just tacky. No. Our dad died by one of the worst ways ever. Here he was patrolling the streets of Stanley and Vermont, the Linden Park area, looking out for any signs of gang activity. Then all of the sudden, as my dad was walking back to the squad car, three shots were fired and my dad slumped to the ground and was dead. There are no suspects in jail, because there were no witnesses. But because of the caliber of the bullet and the kind of makeshift weapon that was left at the scene, we are sure that the death was gang related. So, Kyle and I have made it our goal to bring justice to this never closed case. And the way only way we would ever be able to get the facts and evidence we need out of the secret societies is to immerse ourselves into the gang world. AKA start our own undercover gang. Just me and my bro, innocently working with people undercover with people who God know’s why, aren’t in jail.
“Danny, Giovannini is on the phone. He can’t meet with us until 11.”
“Put me on the phone,” I tell him. “Giovannini. I hear you can meet us at 8:00. That’s awesome. See ya then. Remember that if ya don’t show, you get put on the list. We already went over the whole cement thing.” And without letting him get a word in, I pass the phone back to Kyle.
Thirty seconds later, Kyle flips the phone closed.
“Well?” I ask him.
“It’s weird,” he told me, his eyes squinting and his head tilting towards the sun, “he said he would figure out a way to meet us.”
The only reason we are in the gang business is simply to collect evidence about our father’s business. We don’t sell drugs or kill for money. The only man I’ll ever kill is my father’s murderer….
When we started this whole fake gang thing, we never thought that it would take this long, or even change our personalities this much. But we were totally wrong. The tricks of the trade, the threats, the slang, the smoking (we always smoke tobacco free cigarettes) and the tattoos (they don’t need to know that these are the bathtub tats). But worst of all, the way we treat people. The list, of course, is a reference to the list we are sure to tell all the associates is too important for anyone but us to look at (which is because we don’t have one). Whoever is on the list is destined to wake up in the back of a pickup truck with their feet in hardened cement headed for the river. We’ve never followed through with this threat. I guess that that is why they call them empty threats.
For the past three years of my life, I have had many chances to kill human beings. But I never have. This is because I only want to go to jail for killing the murderer of my father. I swear to heaven and earth, that that man is the only man I will ever kill….
When we got home, the dinner was already laid out on the table. It was just us, no aunt. Kyle and I were of course, fine with this, because we didn’t want to have to make up what our math teacher Cliff had taught us that day. As far as she knew, we went to school today, just like we had every day for the past two and a half years.