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by LA Sykes

They knew he’d get frenzied on the phet once the smack wore off and knew he’d come armed. They knew the weapon would most likely be a bat or knife because shooting someone didn’t discharge melancholic fury with enough personal satisfaction and release. The kid, who had been a man for five years now, but was still called by everyone in town the kid who could rollerblade, shook with nausea and adrenalin as he gripped the clawhammer and flicked the blinds scanning the street.


They’d met in summertime when the kid was visiting an old friend who was living in the flat above the girl. The council had discharged their homeless duty and left him penniless in the old brown brick rabbit hutches with bare floors and bloodstains for décor on the uninsulated walls. Plaster peeled off the ceiling and, even in the gentle summer breeze, the wind rattled the windows.

The friend joked about it being hellish but funny; the night before he’d heard a local drug dealer forcing two junkies to strip naked in the flat above and heard them ziptied because they owed him twenty quid. The friend shook his head and laughed as he injected speed into the vein on his hand.

The kid laughed along even though he didn’t find it funny and wanted to rescue everyone forced to live like this. The ones pushed from our minds, the ones it’s pretended don’t exist.

The kid sat by the window and looked down at the pink cherry blossoms shedding their petals in the garden below and she saw him and chanced, via accident or fate, eye contact and smiled. It was the smile that he could never leave; to him it spoke and it said I love you and I need you to take me from this place.

He asked his friend about her, and the friend, redfaced from rushing and fiddling with livewires and bits of bicycles, laughed about the screaming and shouting they produced night after night.

The kid saw the child spring into the garden and that powerlessness shallowed his breathing.


They waited at the door on edge, and they knew he was coming. The kid’s plan was to wait for him to bust in and stop him in his tracks by catching his attention with a verbal barrage followed by a hell of a hiding. They both underestimated the ex boyfriend’s rage.


The kid was known as the rollerblader from age twelve. They called him faggot and he laughed because being gay wasn’t shameful in the twenty first century. Their laughter turned to applause when they saw him jump two brand new Mercs from a small wooden ramp set up in a late night petrol station, their owners going apeshit with fuel spilling everywhere from the swinging pumps.

Legendary escapes from the local police spread around town; him jumping flights of staircases and grinding the handrails, mastering the urban prison like a surfer riding a death wave, unable to be caught in action in the days before everyone was filmed in their every move. It was the lack of film footage that drove him into dead end jobs. Without technology the world never saw what he could do on those rollerblades. Those all over the world making big money on the aggressive skate boom would never connect though he’d have bested them all given the chance.


They’d relayed messages through the old friend, clandestine notes passed, and agreed to briefly stay in his flat and inform the authorities about the domestic violence. They kissed tenderly and their touch transmitted that rare lifetime bond that’s unable to speak empty promises. They loved each other for their own reasons and those reasons meshed into need.


The ex kicked down the door and slashed her throat before the kid could even move. He flew across and swung the clawhammer with every empty dream and all those experiences they’d never share until the ex lay twitching spasmodically on the bare floor.


The kid had bought the toddler many things in the short time they’d been at the friend’s flat. Once the violence had ended, the kid held his breath and waited for the sirens that never came as none of the residents had called the police, too desensitised to life.

The toddler wailed, yet on some level sensed there was only the kid who was still breathing.

The kid pushed the pram and the toddler reached for those little pink rollerblades the kid had bought for her.


The kid picked up the skates and nestled them in the pram. Washed his sweatladen face and vomited in the sink. Panic engulfed him and all he could do was nudge the pram out onto the smelting blacktop and saw nothing but the empty road.


The kid tucked those rollerblades deeper into the pram and walked with pace but no direction.

He was a boy once, with dreams and a love of life and people and was determined to bring the toddler up right and rollerblading. So she’d at least have those memories and feelings of doing something artful and graceful and being a master of the structure you cannot escape; those careless times before knowing there is something wrong in the world for a certain section of people that should never have had to live like this in the first place.

LA Sykes is from Atherton, Greater Manchester, UK. His flash fiction is knocking about at places like Shotgun Honey and he has been anthologised in Blackout CityPunkPunk! by Dog Horn Press, Nightmare Illustrated and Bizarre Fantasy amongst others. His new collection, Shotgun Therapy and Other Stories, is available from Thunderune Publishing. He has also published a novella and there is more to follow in the not too distant pipeline. Contact him at sykesfiction@live.co.uk.