Heart of the Hunter

By: Chance Carter

Chapter 1


I didn’t know where or who I was anymore. Maybe it was the rotating set of lies I’d been telling every random person I came into contact with in every shit town I stopped in, or maybe it was that those lies I now lived by made me seem like a stranger to myself. Working nine to five, making small talk, having a beer with some guy I didn’t even like, just because we were at the same bar at quitting time, that wasn’t me. I don’t know that person. I don’t know myself.

For as long as I could remember, I had been part of something. That something was who I was. A Donnelly. A bad seed from a bad tree that stood tall and cast a shadow on the south side of Boston. But that something was gone now. I’d lost it all.

People knew us.

People knew me.

And they left me the fuck alone.

Family? I don’t know if that’s the word for them. I didn’t have my old man’s brains or my brother’s charm. Probably because we weren’t blood. They took me in. I was just some stray that got stamped with the brand because the wife took pity on me, may she rest in peace. They did their best to give me a chance and bring me up as their own, but I never was. Tough as a brick, and better looking than the lot of them combined, I wasn’t one of them.

Couldn’t even cut it in school like my brothers. Only good that place ever did was give me a chance to pick up pussy and kill time in shop class. I’m sure the old bastard would have kicked me to the curb as a kid if he hadn’t discovered early on that what I lacked in social graces, I made up for in brute strength and complete disregard for rules of any kind. He never saw me as a son and sure as shit didn’t treat me like one. To him, I was more like an animal he’d found and could uncage when the situation got too unpleasant to be dealt with personally. I didn’t know any better so I didn’t care. We’ve all got to make a living.

It was more than that, though. Truth is, I liked it. I can’t remember when I got the taste for violence. Maybe it was just in me. I ain’t ever been much good at anything in my life except hurting other people, but I’m damn good at that. Debts to collect? Some gang of pukes is fucking with the wrong shopkeep? Send Hunter to straighten it out. I usually leave a pretty big mess, but the problem always gets straightened up. Not much of a job, but I’m not much of a guy. Or at least, that’s what I thought.

One day can change your whole fucking life. Take you from beating, drinking and fucking whatever you want in your city, to just trying to blend in somewhere else.

A few months back, my old man was having issues with a business partner, so he sent me and the new kid to put an end to the issue. And the partner. I knew this sad excuse for a man and he wouldn’t be trouble. Good chance for the kid to get his feet wet and for me to show him how it was done. We wheeled up, kicked in the front door, and found the poor son of bitch passed out in his recliner, holding a half empty scotch glass. The kid looked at me with a question in his eyes and the dead he saw in mine gave him the answer. He put two bullets in sleeping beauty’s chest and then one in his skull to be sure. It was a proud moment for me. Turning to leave, we heard a clatter from the kitchen and the kid took off down the hall. No witnesses. He was learning quick.

I checked the side rooms as he made his way toward the sound. I heard fighting. He was kicking the shit out of someone.

I nodded in approval. I’m ashamed to admit it now, but that’s what I did.

When I got to the kitchen, I saw the guy’s wife and kid huddled up in the corner with new guy’s barrel staring them down. He had no question in his eyes this time, just a small smirk that crept across his mouth. I don’t know what it was about the look of terror on that broad’s face as she cradled her son in her arms, but something inside me snapped. I broke the cardinal rule of the Donnelly Clan. I broke the cardinal rule of any Boston crime gang.

I let my heart influence my thinking. For one moment, the first maybe in my entire life, I was human.

I looked at the new kid. He was going to kill this woman and child and get a hard on doing it. I cleared my throat and he turned to me, a crazy, frenzied look in his eyes. I gave him a chance. I shook my head. That was it. That’s all I gave him.

Don’t do it.

But he just gave me back that crazy grin. He wanted to kill them, and he was going to enjoy it. Something inside me broke.

I lifted my arm, pointed my gun at his face, and, well, I don’t want to say what I did next. Just know, before you judge me, that I didn’t do it because of a love of violence. I didn’t do it because I hated the new kid. I’d trained him. I liked him, even. I did it because, for the first time, I saw that someone had to do something. There’s only so much crime and violence that this world can take. Sooner or later, a man, a real man, has got to take a stand.