The Village of Hope – Part II

​Rai Washington watched his target from across the street as the man leaned against the wall of the bodega, opened the cylinder of his revolver and slapped it shut; giving it a spin as he had obviously seen done in the movies.

He was lucky the Saturday Night Special didn’t fall apart from the force of that alone. Actually, he would be lucky if the cheap .32 caliber malfunctioned when he pulled the trigger. More than half the time the damn things exploded and injured the shooter.

He was clearly high since he appeared to be about to rob a store that had bulletproof, three-inch-thick Plexiglas everywhere. The Lazy Susan, where you put your money, and received your purchase, didn’t allow for any type of angle that would threaten the shop’s owner, thank God.

“I have to try and stop this before Rafiq’s brother, Omar empties a barrel full of rock salt in this young fool’s ass. It doesn’t always turn out to be as non-lethal an intervention as it’s supposed to be,” he thought.
Rai moved at a restrained pace as he crossed seventh avenue, and maneuvered behind the boy. He tried to stifle a cough caused by the passing bus, the noise of it masking his footsteps. The diesel fumes were a toxic cloud that enveloped the people Harlem all day, every day, like most of the city.

Why hadn’t Kai understood that sometimes non-violence was an invitation to violence against them. When he had become an Adept of the Village, he had argued for exceptions, but had been voted down unequivocally.

So here he was trying to stop someone from making the same mistake he had almost made more than seven years ago. He prayed that things didn’t turn out the same way they had for Kai last year.

Unlike his mentor, he had no compunction about employing his esoteric knowledge if his combat skills failed him.

Situations like this begged for using the occult as a first line of defense. A simple cantrip would render the boy unconscious. Hell, he was one breath away from unconsciousness as it was.

Rai’s eyes narrowed as he focused on the man’s arm stuck in the camouflage field jacket. He could almost hear the metacarpal flexors tensing and relaxing just a few paces away, and could take him without incident if Parker Leboux hesitated just a bit longer.
Under the Articles of Faith, intent was enough to recruit an acolyte into the Village for someone with a track record like this young man’s.

“Of course,” he thought, rolling his eyes, as the short Afro slipped around the corner and out of sight, out of sight of Rai’s eyes, anyway.

As he turned his face to the wall of the bodega he switched to viewing the auras inside. As expected, Omar sat above the first floor of the store and tensed when the door buzzed. Rafiq’s aura initially read as being welcoming, but that changed immediately.

Experience had taught him that late night visitors wearing winter coats in the summer were not a good thing.

“Crap, this fool couldn’t pretend to do a little shopping first. Had to go in all Dolemite and shit on me,” he thought as he broke into a run. “Whatever happened to subtlety and finesse?”

The door had not closed completely when he put his shoulder to it. Rai judged that he had no time and cast a temporal bubble on everyone. It wouldn’t hold long, but it wouldn’t have to. “I’ll just take this trash out right quick and be gone,” he said.

Omar was standing in front of his chair now, and had the shotgun halfway to being trained on Parker.

Rafiq looked nonplussed, the bulletproof plexiglass had pockmarks that showed it’s impregnability.

This is what puzzled the hell out of Rai the most, “Why do that have to shoot niggers when they know there ain’t no threat to ‘em. They could just as easily watch him blow his own hand off with that piece of shit piece, but no. They have to exact their pound of flesh for the temerity to even think about robbing them.

NYPD wouldn’t do shit about it either, and the DA wouldn’t question the store owner’s right to defend his property. No, helps give the impression that the Mayor’s campaign promise to be tough on crime is being kept.

If Parker survived, he would do a stretch on Rikers Island, which would only make him more bitter, less employable, and a little bit smarter about how to be a Dumbass criminal.

“Sorry, my brother, not tonight,” he said as he took the .32 caliber from his hand and looked at it. “Just as I thought, might as well be made of plastic.”

He pocketed the revolver and cast a levitation spell on his new acolyte. The spell only reduced drag on the sidewalk, and tethered Parker Leboux to Rai’s side. To all outward appearance, the two would seem to be walking side by side.

As they descended the steps to the basement of the Village proper, Rai felt some resistance to the spell.

“Well, aren’t we full of surprises. Got a little bit of Juju on you somewhere don’t you? Your people down on the bayou hook you up with some charms,” he asked as he patted the boy’s pockets.

“Ah, here we go,” he said triumphantly as he held the crow’s foot up to the dull phosphorescent light.

“What is it with you Geechee niggers and birds,” he asked his disciple. “What, no chicken feet?”

“I fry and eat chicken when I got it, fool. If you gonna believe some of them stereotypes, you might as well believe all of ‘em,” the young man said stepping behind Rai.

Rai felt the dark magic envelop him, saw the basement floor rushing up to meet his face, and then he knew nothing.
M. Zane McClellan
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