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Interlude One: Henry
8.12.2001 by Zebulon


The cold rain poured down from a dark, leaden sky. It seemed like the skies were all dark and leaden these days. Henry hated the rain. He couldn’t even remember the last time he’d seen the sun, as he leaned casually against the wall beneath the street light.
He could hear the rain pattering against the rusted steel roof of the warehouse he leaned against, as he heard it gurgle as it ran into the gutter and drainpipe. He could hear it babble softly as it ran from the break in the pipe twelve feet from the ground and ran over the brick wall. He could feel its iciness as it ran from the bricks into the collar of his trench coat. It was cold. And it made his underwear bunch up. But that was the price you paid to look cool. Same with the smokes. Sure, he had a rasping hacking cough and his doctor told him that he had only six months left to live because forty percent of his lungs were filled with tar, but he looked so damned cool whenever he casually flipped a smoldering butt from his lips. Well, except for that one time he set his hair on fire.
In this town, image was everything. All that mattered was how you came across. The most important people were cool, as defined in sheer amount of sociopathic tendencies, and the nobodies just couldn’t seem to stop being nice. The latter made fine stepping stones.
Henry saw a slight flicker to his left, just out of reach of the street light. It was about damned time they got here, he thought. He’d just about sent an engraved invitation.
He dove to the left as the second throwing knife embedded itself into the wall where he was standing. The first shattered the street light, plunging the area into darkness cut only by the light of the moon.
Already, Henry was gasping for breath. There were drawbacks to looking cool, such as having the cardiovascular abilities of a ninety year old when you’re twenty-five. Sparks flew next to his face as another knife narrowly missed him. Henry pulled out his Luger and fired a tree shots. He was rewarded with the sound of a garbage can tipping over, a cat screeching, and a wet thump and a grunt, in that order.
Henry staggered to his feet and traded the Luger for the flashlight in his trench coat. Its bean revealed what he already knew; it was the Red Ninja. Their long struggle was finally over. Henry bent ver as hacking coughs ravaged his body, blood flecking his lips. He didn’t have much longer. He pulled a locket from yet another pocket in his trench coat, and opened it with a quivering hand. The pale moonlight showed a photo of a lovely woman and two boys. One of the boys was smoking a cigarette; the other wore a red headband.
“You deserve this,” Henry gasped between breaths. “Even after what you did, Mom always liked you best.” Henry closed the locked in the Red Ninja’s cooling hand. His eyes focused somewhere far away. “I kept my word…”
Blood streamed down his chin, as Henry gasped for air that would no longer come, to fuel a heart that could no longer beat. He collapsed onto the prone form below him.
His last thought was that he loved the rain. You can never see tears in the rain.

~End Interlude~

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