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give me courage not to fear no one

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"Yo, Moses, man, that was wicked," Pest's voice was coming out too fast and loud, like he had been the one in the fight, instead of just running in to see the end of it.

Moses leaned his head forward against the bathroom mirror, trying to tune Pest out, but he kept talking.

"I mean, he was fucking huge and you were like, pow pow.” He made little finger guns on the last words.

"It wasn't no gun fight," said Moses, rolling his eyes.

"Nah it was much better than that, I mean you savaged him with that punch," Pest was laughing now. "Did you see that blood?"

Moses looked down at where the blood dotted his t-shirt. "I saw it."

"What did he say, though?"

Moses just shrugged.

"Matt must of said something," said Pest, puzzled. "You knocked a tooth out."

It had fucking hurt to do it, too. But it hurt Matt more. Moses smiled.

"Badass, fam," whispered Pest at Moses’ reflection in the mirror.

"It was nothing."

"I think it was something. People will be talking about that fight for weeks, man. He is like 15! Getting punched out by twelve year old. It was wicked."

Moses stopped smiling. People talk, they might tell Pest why the fight started. What Matt had said about him, the little white boy who didn’t know he wasn’t black. "I said it was nothing."

Pest put his hands up like he was surrendering. "Ok, fam, I get it. You are hard."

Moses looked at his hands, which were already hurting. "Yeah, hard."



"Yo, Dennis."

"Yeah, Moses?" The words were muffled by the the slice of pizza he had just stuffed in his mouth.

Moses pointed up at the wall at the three swords hanging like some kinda art. "What're they?"

"Wicked, is what," said Dennis.

"Like movie props, you mean?"

Dennis nudged Moses' shoulder with his. "You wanna see?"

"They really from a movie?" Moses asked. His voice squeaked a bit, had been doing for a month now, off and on. Moses hadn't been speaking much, since it started happening. But Dennis was cool, didn't mention it.

"No, I said, it's better," Dennis said, reaching up to grab one from the wall, handing it to Moses, before snagging the other for himself. "See."

It was heavy, the weight of it trying to force his arm down, but fuck that. This was awesome. Moses turned to Dennis and smiled as he raised his sword higher.

Dennis swung his out. They didn't clang like in the films, just more like this thump sound, probably from the cases, Moses thought, as he spun the way he had seen Aragorn do in Lord of the Rings.

This time when the swords met Moses could feel it, the impact going right up his arm, even as he reached the sword out to thwack against Dennis' side.

"For real, Moses?" Dennis asked, his voice higher and tight. “That fucking hurt, fam.”

Moses lowered his arm, the sword dropping down until it was scraping the ground, then shrugged. He didn’t mean to hurt Dennis, but that had been fun. “A fucking sword fight, brud.”



"It was like they thought we were criminals or something," was the way Pest explained it, after. "I mean, us fine respectable folks just going along our way when bam, this bird just hands us her handbag. First I'm thinking she just wanted me to hold it while she went to powder her nose in an alley in the Endz. But no, brud, no, she hands it Moses and then runs away."

"Power her nose?" Dimples asks sarcastically. "What the fuck do you think she is going to be doing powdering her nose in an alley in the dark."

"I'm being a storyteller, man, gonna write for one of them good papers when I get older."

Dennis rolled his eyes, "And what do you think is a good paper is? Can you even read?"

"Now I might not be as bright as you, fam, but I do love News of the World."

"That's your idea of a fucking good paper," says Jerome, laughing so much the words didn't really come out all at once, more like hiccups between the laughs.

"Of course,” said Pest seriously, “You get to write whatever-the-fuck you want then. Pure imagination."

"But what did you do then, Moses?" asks Tia quietly. Moses thought maybe only he could hear her question, it was so soft. She was sitting next to him. It didn't mean nothing, just something that had been happening.

He didn’t know what to tell her.

It had been a good night. They had just been walking back from the park. And then this white lady fucking saw them. They mighta crowded her up a bit, maybe show her how she had no swagger, walking there that time of night.

They didn't ask her hand over her handbag (it was a one of those tiny ones, bright green and plastic feeling in his hand) she just did it. Moses didn't know why.

She had had a knife in the bag. Moses hadn’t found it until later, when he went to go buy food. She hadn’t needed to run.

Moses didn't say anything. He thought about it, about lying and saying he tried to give it back, or that Pest was just being himself and talking too much. Instead he stood up, pulling himself up off of the couch.

“You out, Moses?” asked Dennis.

“Things to do,” Moses said, slipping his hand in his pocket to feel the smooth metal of the knife.



“I’ll allow it,” said Moses, and he ran.

He didn’t really remember it, afterwards. It was more like flashes than real life. The only thing solid was the pain.

Moses had thought it would burn, lighting up them aliens like that. Instead it just hurt. He didn’t even know how to describe it. Like his whole body had been punched, hard, maybe.

It was fucking worth it.



Everybody wanted Moses to say something, afterwards. Like maybe Moses had learned some big secret by killing all those aliens and now people needed to know. It was fucking shit.

Moses didn't say anything, though. Didn’t say anything when people put his face on T-shirts or called him a murderer. He didn’t have to fight anymore.