04. Code of Desperation

For once Luna didn’t interrupt as I finished telling her what had happened. She didn’t move at all except when I mentioned standing up for Samantha. Her lips pulled back into a cold smirk and the pride in her eyes flashed like a cobra’s tongue. It was also a show of toughness that I didn’t need. Not as along as there was still a decade old patch of scar tissue hovering above her ribs.

I had watched it happen with my back was against the wall, as my mother lay bleeding all over the floor. Pointing the knife at me my father unrolled his tongue; it was a bright red from licking the blood off the floor. As he moved in, all I could do was say I was sorry. That was when Luna stepped in between us, and yelled for me to run.

“And that’s everything?” She asked with her eyes squinting at my pupils.

“Yes, that’s everything. And no, I’m not high.”

“Where you when this happened?”

“No.” I replied with an irritated scowl. “A little when I was at Sam’s but—”

The door opened with a click and we both looked up to see Detective Redding’s apologetic smile.

“You know,” he said, looking at Luna. “I had my doubts if you would show up, but your brother here…”

He gestured towards me and said, “Not once did he doubt you were coming. ”

I glared at him while Luna nodded without humor. “As interesting as that is, is Mile’s being charged with something?”

“There will be plenty of time for that later.” He assured us. “For now, your presence has been requested, both of yours actually?”

“By who?” I asked, drawing a sharp look from Luna.

“Oh, you haven’t mentioned who you assaulted?” Detective Redding said with an exaggerated concern. “Would you like to tell her or should I?”

I scowled at him, though mostly out of confusion. Turning my head, I flinched at the Luna’s scrutinizing glare.

“Robert Roanoke.” I said immediately.

“Son of Niko Roanoke.” Redding added.

Luna’s mouth fell open and for a moment, she looked the way she had when the knife had gone in. Taking this as his cue, Redding reached over and unlocked my handcuffs.

“Let’s go.” He said, motioning towards the door with his head.

His voice was as soft as cotton balls, but suddenly it felt like there were glaciers of frozen blood floating inside my chest. Luna stood up with her eyes digging into Redding.

Then she looked at me and repeated.

“Let’s go.”

It was my turn to be surprised.


The name nagged at me as we got in the back seat of Detective Redding’s car. From the corner of my eye, I could see Luna staring out the window. Her fingers were digging into the edge of the seat.

My sister had served two tours in Iraq. She was fourteen when our father nearly murdered her, and the list of things that I knew that scared her stopped at ‘snakes’. So, what could fill Luna with so much fear? Short of a dragon or a tank, I had no idea.

The city was racing past us like billboards outside of a moving train. There were a thousand people and all the noise of mid afternoon traffic. More than anything I wanted to be midst it all. The harder I looked outside, the more people I noticed staring back at me as the car passed them. Staring like spectators at a public hanging.

The thought was like pouring gasoline on a fire as Redding took a left on Balder Square. Now, the only thing ahead of us was the ocean and miles of warehouses. The fire shot up with a roar. Inside, the blood that was frozen with fear and uncertainty in an instant boiled with rage.

I looked at Luna. Her lips were pursed and she was gritting her teeth at something outside the window. Looking at Redding in the rear view mirror, I closed my hands into fists to keep them from shaking.

“This is bullshit.” I said with an exasperated laugh.

Luna turned with venom pouring out of her eyes.

“You want to know what happened?” I asked Redding.


“Miles Shut up.” Luna snapped.

“I run a dispensary ok.” I yelled over them. “I sell weed to people who can legally buy it. You get that? Llegally. So this guy calls me, he tells me he has a card and we set up a place to meet—”

“Then you check his card.” Redding said with a sardonic wave of his fingers. “Then you see the girl getting beaten by your customer. So you play hero. Which brings you back right here.  But you know what?”

“What?” I demanded.

“Miles.” Luna sighed as she placed her forehead in her hand.

“You punched the wrong guy’s kid. On top of that it’s a guy who just lost his wife.” He said with finality. “The girl is getting her’s for stealing, and you’re getting yours. That’s karma.”

“How is this at all Karma?” Luna demanded. “Miles did the right thing.”

“Thank you.” I said loudly.

“Shut up Miles.”

I scowled at Luna, and turned back towards Redding.

“Who’s his father? What does he do?”

There was a silence and I looked at them both again.

“He’s in HR.” Redding finally said in wry voice, and Luna let out a quiet and bitter laugh.

I opened my mouth to object right as Luna’s hand came to rest on mine. Then, as softly as a sprinkling rain she drummed a beat that I knew all too well.


It took me back to a dinner table as the green fields turned to a sea of warehouses, like a daydream. I saw my father moving his head to watch the stream of saliva dance as it dripped down his tongue and on to his crotch. As the car slowed, I watched him take the steak knife.

No one said a word. Not even as his tongue flickered at the reflection on the blade; not even when he whispered the word ‘hungry’. When Luna tapped on my leg that evening, I was barely breathing. All things considered, it felt like deja vu.



The beat went on repeating as Redding steered the car towards the open mouth of a warehouse.

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