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A Thousand Dreadful Things

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It has been weeks – painfully long and arduous weeks – since Tonny had fled what was left of his home in Copenhagen. In an inexcusable moment of panic, he'd stolen his infant son from the clutches of an unfit and ungrateful woman: the mother of his now bawling, listless child. He and his son were now overcome with the cold, wet air around them and the total, unyielding exhaustion from their escape from the unwelcome Danish streets.

Tonny had nothing but the weight of the universe on his back and the infant cradled in his arms.

In the few weeks he'd been alone with his son, the baby had grown accustomed to his fidgeting hands and smoky breath. Cries were not always tended to, diapers went unchanged for hours, but the baby was held and rocked and mumbled too, despite Tonny's own tears dampening the child's only blanket. The world had evolved into a far more demanding place than what Tonny had ever imagined, and he had matured in ways he'd yet to understand.

His stomach growled as they waited, churning and cramping, and he heaved into the tall grasses by the side of the barren, wet road. His guts were emptying, as were his veins and brain, and he desperately hoped his weakened stated wouldn't jostle the wearied baby asleep on his shoulder. At the moment, the child was silent and the peace was far sweeter than any silence Tonny had felt in his life.

He righted himself and wiped his mouth. It wasn't too late. He could stash the child where someone might find him – a church, a shop, a police station if he dared to tempt fate. He couldn't do this. He couldn't raise this baby on his own. He was bound and gagged, option-less thanks to his impulsive, irresponsible behavior. His father had been right. He was a failure and a poor excuse for a man.

He glanced up the road, impatiently anticipating the Italian who'd agreed to secretly assist the pair out of Denmark. Like so many nefarious underlings, this Italian was a friend of a friend of friend - an old drinking buddy, the cousin of an old acquaintance, a random dealer who had known Tonny's old partner in crime.

That partner, Frank, had been lost to the wind after bad deals and goons had found their way to his doorstep. He and Tonny now enjoyed a strained relationship since bats and drugs and police had wedged their way between the formerly amorous pair. Frank had simply vanished one night, leaving Tonny to take advantage of this somewhat decent luck by calling in any and all favors he could muster.

With the untimely death of his father, even relative strangers were willing to assist this, the infamous Duke's, struggling offspring. Losing a father should have been tragic for a child, and Tonny was certainly a tragedy if there ever was one.

He took a deep breath and waited.

He paced the gravel patch lit only by the sparse light of the gas station.

He bit his thumbnail until it bled, and he waited.

Phantom itches worked their way up his arms. This had all been one of many hastily-made decisions on his part – one that he assumed would inevitably destroy his life in the end. This revelation – this assumption on his part – wasn't far from the truth. Bad things happened to Tonny. Bad luck rained upon him. Bad people found him and cornered him in the dark. This was as much his painful reality as his new child was.

He peered over his shoulders, not just for the Italian, but for the demons that had been nipping at his heels since his last high. His eyes caught sight of a vehicle, and he anxiously scooped up his backpack, throwing it over his shoulder. With his son nestled in the crook of his arm, he stared down the black sedan slowly approaching them.

It stopped. 

The door opened.

He slid in the back seat, and that was it.

He never intended to set foot in Denmark again.


Not in a million years.

He was gone.

But as Tonny would inevitably find out, the road to hell is paved with such genuine and heartfelt good intentions, and there was nothing he could do to stop it.