The almost deserted cemetery remained somber as the remnants of the funeral party stayed on to complete the ritual for their dead. The howling cries were over, the grieving family long gone to rest their weary bodies after the regular nine-day mourning period took their toll on them, first the confusion and later the indignation.
“I won’t rest until I get the justice he deserved.”
With clenched fists all throughout the ceremony, he was not bothered by the stern looks trained on him by Tony’s relatives and acquaintances. He was forgiven by his friend’s parents, brothers and sisters but not those around who accused him of leaving Tony to suffer an inhumane death.
“Let’s go,” Jimmy decided, him being the smallest in the group but considered the brains. “We have work to do.”
“Can’t you see he’s dead?” Lucas shouted back. “Go, if you want to. I am staying.”
“For what?” Jimmy asked, his temper showing. “Will you revive him? Can you make him live?”
Karen, the lookout and Bobby, the muscle, kept looking at each other. Both could not imagine their group sticking together without Tony. He was the glue that bonded them all. As for Lucas, he was the devil’s advocate, the pretender to Jimmy’s reign, Tony’s bosom buddy.
“I want to be alone.” Lucas spat the words, not needing Jimmy’s assent or his sarcastic dissent.
With a grumpy sound, Jimmy walked away and towed the other two with him. His current scheme that was botched by Tony’s unsolved death remained in his head. He needed Lucas to salvage the situation, without him it could meet failure.
The chilly wind of October descended, forcing Lucas to adjust his denim jacket to protect himself from the cold. He had not been feeling well since he found out that his friend was discovered in a desolated spot, stabbed several times and shot in the head. How could he recover now?
“You should have listened to me.”
Lucas turned to his left and saw the haggard-looking beggar standing close to him. He detested the accusations against him but the man’s words spoke of experience he and Tony did not learn from.
“Why are you here?” Lucas was not angry, only puzzled. The last time they encountered each other, an argument ensued that nearly divided their group.
“I told you to stop while you’re ahead,” he replied, his presence unexplained. “Jimmy is getting greedy yet he’s too far away from the action. He’s a smartass and all of you are dumb enough to follow him.”
“Too late for your wise words, old man.” Lucas treated him as if he should not earn respect even if his age neared sixty. “We follow what our stomachs dictate, not Jimmy’s. When you’re starving you’ll follow even the devil.”
Marcus could not fault the young man’s logic even it was wrong: he had been there himself. Regarded the best pickpocket in his time, his exploits were notoriously known all over the capital. Law enforcers competed to catch him red-handed but to no avail: he was also the best passer, a talent he honed to perfection in the small alleys of the slums.
“Yes, I know,” he agreed, scratching what’s left of his left arm, the severed hand had long been lost to a rogue cop who cut it off as a trophy. “But you are not hungry now.”
Lucas disregarded the message but kept shaking his head: reality had not sunk in yet.
“You should go somewhere far,” Marcus suggested. “Whoever killed Tony could be waiting for your group to make another mistake.”
“I am not going anywhere,” Lucas said, determined to find out the truth. “If I have to be the bait, I will do it. I want to get even.”
“You cannot right a wrong with another wrong.”
“Speak for yourself, old man. I am not listening to your preaching. You had your day. This is ours.”
Marcus was defeated. Whatever wisdom he gained while sitting near the gate of the church was useless to get Lucas back to the fold. The young man had already buried one of his feet in the grave.
“Look at Tony!” he raised his voice, trying one last time to dissuade Lucas of his revenge.
Lucas glared at him, his face red with rage. He has nothing more to say.
(to be continued)