Steve chased the dozen middle-aged gangbangers through Chicago. They wore RUN DMC shirts, bucket hats over their gray, balding or bald heads. Limping. Arthritic. Breathless. They weren’t what they used to be.

Neither was Steve. He wore no glasses, suspenders, nauseating patterns. He’d traded for sleek black suits, an ever-ready pistol.

Barreling down vaguely familiar streets, Steve wanted to complete this insane revenge mission for his old flame. And once he killed the killer, he’d return to Silicon Valley’s warmth—silver pools, billionaire friends. The formulaic life of a computer mogul.

Laura fell apart at the funeral, sobbed through the dinner. Uniformed cops spoke condolences about her father. Good man, officer Winslow.

An officer asked Laura about her friend, to cheer her up. “This is Steve Urk—”

“Steve Masters,” he said, standing to shake hands. Alone again, Steve told Laura, “You know I changed it, right?” Steve sat with her for hours, his eyes straying to the cheese tray, intermittently. Leaving, late, Steve mumbled, “If there’s anything I can do—”

Laura’s tears stopped. “Actually.”

Steve owed this to Carl and his family, but didn’t enjoy it. His homecoming reminded him: he never belonged here.

The dozen gangbangers turned down an alley. Steve flipped the safety off, stifled excitement. Maybe he enjoyed this. A little.

In the darkness, Steve only saw shapes, not faces, of gangbangers hiding behind dumpsters. Giant rats. Steve could’ve picked them all off inside a minute, but didn’t. “Listen,” he bellowed. “I’m here for the cop killer. He stays, the rest go.” He heard whispers. Furious. Frightened. Then one figure rose, hands up. The rest retreated, hobbling, massaging leg cramps.

“Move,” Steve screamed, and the figure walked forward. Steve wanted the killer on his knees, wanted to see his face, fear in his eyes. Instead, he just fired, shocked himself slightly. Two quick shots. Center chest. The killer fell back like he’d been thrown.

The killer moaned; his cell phone rang, repeating snippets of Gangsta’s Paradise.

The killer’s face grew more familiar the closer Steve came. “Damnit. Damnit,” Steve repeated. “Eddie.”

“Steve,” he moaned, his blood soaking the pavement. “Carl caught us gangbangers robbing vending machines. Broke his heart, seeing me. Nobody touched him. Just fell down dead. Bad heart.”

If Steve had started his company in Chicago, not California, would things be different? He’d felt uncertain back then. But Steve, despite uncertainty, had stepped into the Transformation Chamber seventy-seven times. Inconclusive calculations showed he’d either combine Stephan Quincy Urkel and Stefan Urkelle—a super smart, super suave hybrid—or lose them both. What would be left? Steve didn’t know, nor enjoy speculating. He’d always believed it had worked.

Grasping cold metal, Eddie gasping, Steve wondered if he truly was a demigod amalgam—or something else.

Steve dropped the gun, leapt down, fought to lift Eddie, lurched towards the street. His muscles groaned, back bowed under the weight. He would save Eddie, carry him for miles. Eddie was family, and family, if nothing else, mattered.

####

James Figy is a writer from Indianapolis. He has two cats, two rabbits, a coffee dependency, an amateurish collection of Duke Ellington LPs, and a degree in creative writing from the University of Indianapolis. His creative work has appeared in Flying Island’s Best of 2014 anthology, Punchnel’s, and UIndy’s student literary journal, Etchings.

Image adapted from “Old Broken TV” by shmilblick (https://www.flickr.com/photos/schmilblick/252772357) via Flickr Creative Commons (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode).