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Chapter 1: Reunion

by sSoul

sSoul This is my contribution to a collaborative effort between myself and a few other writers, whose stories you may or may not be familiar with. This chapter will focus on a reconnection between friends.
Anyone telling you to visit Pi City would neglect to mention The Ripple. While the South Slice was the stereotypical depiction of an American city often seen on television, The Ripple was the disappointing reality behind it. There was a pothole in the Ripple for every office building in the South Slice, a vandalized bridge for every mall, and a homeless individual roaming the streets aimlessly for every restaurant. Really, the main reason that Tayvon hated the place so much was that it reminded him of home. Still, he wasn’t there to get some sort of sick nostalgia trip. He had a job to do. First, he had to visit an old friend. Tayvon found Alejandro Fattore by the building with all sorts of graffiti covering each side, the most impressive piece depicting a large melting skull. When the two first came across the image, Alejandro remarked that it was “the rawest thing I’ve ever seen”, with Tayvon agreeing enthusiastically. Due to their shared fascination, the duo often met up at this spot, admired the art, and went on their way, building a friendship the more they participated in the activity together. Tayvon would usually be the first to arrive at the meetup location, today being no different. Once he stopped walking, he grabbed his phone from his gym bag and checked for any new notifications.

“It’s time. I know it’ll be difficult. But in order for our operation to proceed as normal, you have to make the sacrifice.” Standing at the top of a list of text messages, it rose to the apex of importance on Tayvon’s screen. The young man grimaced at the text, picturing the message’s grisly subtext.

“Yo Tay!” Out of the corner of his eye, a familiar tan skinned man with the beginnings of a beard walked up to him, “How’ve ya been man? It’s been way too long.” The length of time that had separated their previous encounter and this one was evident in the accessories that he had gotten. While the muscle shirts and the baggy jeans were staples of his wardrobe, it seemed that time had allowed Alejandro to collect a few adornments. Included in the lineup were piercings to his ears, nose and mouth, a pair of rings on his right hand, a Rolex on his left, and a golden chain hanging around his neck.

“Like the chain, Al. Lemme guess, you got it at Walmart” Tayvon chuckled while pointing at the neck accessory. It was simple in design, just a few locks of gold.

“Ha, maybe back in the old days, but this baby’s 100%. You wanna hold it and check for yourself?” Taking the chain off his neck with a coy smirk, Al held it out towards his companion.

“Alright, gotta make sure you ain’t playing me for a fool over here,” Tay chuckled as he grabbed the accessory. Sure enough, its texture and weight lend credence to the confident Mexican's claim.

“Impressive, when’d you graduate to name brands?”

“Listen bro, while you was out at your school, I was out in these streets stacking this paper!” He pulled out a fan of 20 dollar bills to prove his point. As if that wasn’t enough, he performed the classic “make it rain” gesture by placing the bills in one hand and using the other to spread them out towards the ground all while doing a ridiculous dance accompanied with a smug grin.

Tayvon let out a hearty laugh in response to his friend’s antics, “I mean hey, I wanted to travel on the beaten path. I’m just glad that you managed to tread your own.”

“It's all about the grind my friend.” Al shook his head with a knowledgeable grin concealed by its downward tilt due to the young man needing to collect the money he had carelessly swiped to the ground, “But enough standing around, let's hit the town. I’ll treat you to lunch, consider it my treat.” With a friendly chuckle from both of them, the two began walking towards the local eateries. On the way, Tayvon pulled out his phone and read yet another reminder about what would come next.

“Formalities are good to keep up appearances, but you can’t stall forever. Just remember to stay on task and this will go smoothly.”

While he was on the same page as the messenger, Tayvon couldn’t help but make a muffled noise somewhere between an annoyed growl and a dreadful groan.
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