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How To Kill Your Boss

Franklin

“I’m here, kid.” Tony knelt, bringing himself to eye level. The man, my only friend, was tall and built like a football player.

He turned to the school nurse. “I’ve got it from here. Can I speak to him alone?” She nodded and left the room. I sucked in a gulp and braced for punishment.

He grabbed a cotton ball off the counter and dabbed at the stream of blood trickling down the left side of my face. It hurt, but I wasn’t going to cry in front of him, or anyone.

“You want to tell me what happened?”

No. No need to tell him what he already knew. Why waste my breath? “Where’s my mom? Why didn’t she come?”

Tony looked at the floor and shook his head. “She isn’t feeling well.”

Figured.

I straightened my shoulders and pulled my face away from his touch. I admired my bloody knuckles and stretched, then fisted my hands, mesmerized by the opening and closing of the wounds across my knuckles. My hands were powerful. God, I loved making that kid bleed. When he cried and begged me to stop it only made me want to hit harder.

“This time, you put someone in the hospital.” He stood, rising to full height, towering over me. When he raised his hand to toss the cotton ball in the trash, I flinched. That still happened sometimes, hard as I tried not to. “I know you’re angry. I know how it feels, carrying around so much hatred.”

Yeah right. How could anyone understand the monsters in my head? They’d been with me for as long as I could remember, even before Dad went crazy. I battled them every day, until her.

The first time I saw her big happy smile and heard her laugh, I knew heaven had sent her to chase the monsters away. She’d tried to talk to me again today. Asked me to play. I hated that I had to tell her no. It wasn’t fair. She was perfect, and every time she smiled at me, her sunshine chased the darkness from my head and made me feel, if only for a little while, right.

Tony slipped his hands under my arms and lifted me to the counter. Man, he was strong. Someday, I’d be stronger. “Listen, and listen good. It wasn’t your fault. What happened to your dad was not your fault. The things he did to you and your mom, the shitty choices he made, not your fault. It sucks that you’re left to deal with the consequences. That doesn’t mean you have to be like him. Fighting, hurting kids, lashing out won’t make anything better.”

Tony had it wrong. My issues didn’t come from the trouble my dad got us into. The trouble Tony made disappear. I didn’t give a shit about my dad. The bastard paid for his crimes. Got what he deserved. Mom would be messed up forever over it. But I’d protect her, just like Tony tried to do.

“Tony.” I grabbed his arm and squeezed. “I wasn’t angry. The fucker pushed a girl on the playground. She cut her knee. I only wanted him to know he couldn’t hurt girls.” I didn’t say who the girl was. Tony would’ve killed the kid. Not on school grounds, but maybe in a dark alley or in his sleep. Of course, he would’ve made it look like an accident, like he did with my dad.

“Well. You’ve managed to get yourself kicked out of another school. Do you know how difficult it was to get you into this one?”

I swallowed hard. Shit. Now I wouldn’t be able to see her every day. Not without sneaking. It was worth it though, watching the kid bleed, listening to him scream. Nobody touched my angel.

Tony stared at me long and hard. I wanted to squirm and get away, but that would’ve made me look weak. So I stared back and pretended like it was a contest.

When he finally blinked away and brushed a hand through his hair, I smirked.

“You’ve got the fire, kid. That’s for damned sure. Time to learn how to control it, channel that energy. I’ve got a job for you. It’s top secret. Interested?” he asked.

I nodded.

“Good. Let’s get you home.”

I jumped from the counter and straightened my messy shirt before I followed Tony through the main office and out the heavy double doors.

I’d be back. Not as a student, but a ghost, to protect the one bright, happy thing in my dark, shitty life.

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