Max's Redemption

By: L. Wilder


For some, it’s easier to pretend bad things in their life just didn’t happen. They lie to themselves and everyone around them because they can’t handle the truth. It’s easier to just push the memories into the back of their mind, forgetting the past and everything it represents.

For me, there’s no pretending. There’s no forgetting. I relive my past every night when I close my eyes. My nightmares won’t let me forget. They force me to remember and refuse to give me a moment’s reprieve. I’m stuck. I live every moment blaming myself, wishing I’d done things differently, wishing that some miracle would escape the heavens and erase that split second that changed my life forever.

It’s been over ten years, and I’d all but given up on that miracle. I’d accepted the fact that I was destined to live with the pain and regret. But then I heard the sound of her voice. She was the one person who knew me better than anyone—the one person who’d bring my past back into the present—in ways I could’ve never imagined.

It had been one of those days. The kind of day where nothing seemed to go right, and when you worked for Nitro, the most notorious gun trafficker in the northwest, there was nothing worse. Nitro wasn’t exactly a patient man. He had high expectations, and when those expectations weren’t met, there was always hell to pay. As his right-hand man, I knew what was at stake. I knew one wrong move could make everything go up in flames, and it was my job to make sure that didn’t happen. With my particular skillset, Nitro knew he could depend on me when things didn’t go as planned, that I could handle whatever was thrown my way, and I’d spent my entire day doing just that.

I started my day by paying Little Frankie a visit. Like Nitro, he’d taken over his father’s business. It had taken Big Frank a lifetime to establish his shipping business by making the right connections and keeping his word. Knowing he was one of the best, we used his trucking service to distribute goods, both legitimate and illegal, all over the country. When he died suddenly, it was up to Little Frankie to keep things going as they were. But unlike Nitro, taking the reins hadn’t come easily for Frankie. The guy had a rotten attitude. He was always running his damn mouth, cutting corners, and pissing off the wrong people. When I walked into his office and saw the snide expression on his face, I could see it was going to be no different with me. Knowing it would tick off the fat bastard, I casually walked over to the chair in front of his desk and smiled as I sat down. “How’s it going, Frankie boy?”

“Everything’s good in the neighborhood.” His words dripped with sarcasm.

“Hmmm …. That’s not what we’ve been hearing.”

“What the fuck did I do now?” He leaned back in his chair, crossing his arms over his round gut as his thick, black eyebrows furrowed into a scowl. “Forget it. I don’t even want to hear it, man. I’m doing all I can. I don’t give a flying fuck what your dick-hole of a boss has to say.”

Rage surged through me when I heard him disrespect Nitro. I stood up and reached for the collar of his shirt. As I twisted the fabric in my fist, I pulled him towards me and growled, “That dick-hole of a boss is the only reason you’re still breathing, asshole. You best show some fucking respect before that changes.”

After I released him, he cowered back in his chair and held up his hands in defense. “Okay, okay. You’re right. I wasn’t thinking. Just tell me why you’re here.”

I tried to contain my rage as I glared at him. “Our last shipment was an hour late.”

His double chin rolled under his neck as he muttered, “And?”

“And that’s unacceptable, Frankie.”

He shrugged. “There was some trouble with the truck, but it still got there, didn’t it?”

The only reason Nitro put up with Frankie’s shit was because of his father. He’d been there from the start, helping Nitro’s dad get his business off the ground, and he felt obligated to give his son the same chance. Unfortunately, it wasn’t working out. I looked down at him with disgust. “Didn’t you learn anything from your old man?”

“I didn’t learn shit from him,” he answered with disregard. “He was weak. He could’ve been bigger, better than anyone around. But he had no drive … no backbone.”

“That’s where you’re wrong. Your father knew how the game was played. He never made a promise he couldn’t keep. If he said there’d be a delivery, he’d do whatever it took to make sure it happened. No excuses. Period. People trusted him to keep his word, and in this business, your word is all you’ve got.”