Age: Eight

Gabriel playing outside, blue sky paved above old buildings. Rides on his green bike (beautiful bike) air sweeping sides of his face, only thing pa ever gave him. Passes by group of black boys smirking, yelling “spic” and throwing rocks.

Gabriel home without his bike, mother kisses his face. She is crying too.


Gabriel on the couch—suspended again knocked-out Red who’s twice Gabriel’s size, almost happy. Mother in the kitchen thinking about Gabriel’s pa.


Gabriel enters the kitchen, stares at the plates in the sink—she’s gone. Finds the window, takes another swig, pushes the window up, yells at the kids laughing outside.


His girl doesn’t understand, he has to do this—who he is. Heads out, on patrol sweeps the area, Gabriel sighs. This city: people who think they can do whatever they want, less than dogshit. Car in front of him, sirens, pulls them over. Soon gets one on the ground breaks his arm–another rat, can’t believe such a pathetic thing still breathes.

Next day: Gabriel drives around, blue sky. Follows a group of them on the sidewalk, one of them turns gives him a face thinks he can do whatever he wants.


Convenience store robbed a few blocks away: Gabriel on alert. Minutes later, senses something. Looks over, there is a shadow that marks a building’s side, leads him to a hooded man moving down the sidewalk. Gabriel and his partner pop out of their car.

Minutes later. Sixteen year-old killed (five in the chest, unarmed). Gabriel thought he heard his laughing. Now the laughing is gone. Gabriel puts away gun. Looks at his partner.


Gabriel with new family, new city. Kids in the window, Gabriel sips his coffee: warm and nice—every morning is like this. But the sun’s going to move again and Gabriel will be pulled by the night, to hunt the streets for the rats. It’s who he is.

10 thoughts on “Duty

  1. I like how you plotted his life along and gave meaning to his otherwise irrational actions. And the way you wrote it seemed to fit well with the personality you drew. I say this was an experiment completed with success.

  2. I really liked the creativity of your format and your willingness to experiment. That’s part of what I enjoy about these challenges; the different ways people can manipulate words to not only tell a story but convey something deeper. It’s amazing how clear and complex a picture you created, encompassing a significant portion of that one character’s lifetime.

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