War was being waged and Tony Santos’s coordinated attack was hard and swift. Borne Reynolds was thought to be huddled in an apartment somewhere, naked and vulnerable. Two days earlier his Blake Avenue headquarters had been raided by the narcs sent by Malik, and a dozen of his top capos had gotten knocked and locked. That oily ass Borne had cut out and slipped through the net, but with key bricks missing from his wall of protection, his street game and his defense were pretty weak.

Death was in the air and residents huddled behind locked doors with their shades drawn. For such a crime-ridden area, there wasn’t a police car in sight. Malik had called in a favor, and the detective he’d helped out of a jam with a white drug suspect one night had instructed his night patrol to go on an extended break until further notice.

They’d split up into fifteen- to twenty-man elements. Kadir headed one, Raheem another, and the three others followed the lead of Tony Santos’s most trusted capos.

“Your shit straight?” Farad asked Tony, checking his load. Him and Finesse were accustomed to being generals, but tonight they were playing the soldier role. Instead of leading their own crews on a mission to annihilate Borne’s low-level pawns, they’d chosen to ride out with the main element and go straight for the jugular. This was one night he didn’t mind taking orders. Tony’s loss had caused their loss, and their vengeance would be shared.

“Yeah,” Tony answered. His men were armed to the max and positioned strategically along the border between Brownsville and East New York. Their orders were simple. Find Borne Reynolds and take him down. And wipe his crew out too.

For the next two hours back-alley war raged in East New York. Tony and his crew, accompanied by Farad, Finesse, and twenty of their most trusted Gs, split into factions and moved through the streets. Tenements, storefronts, and project apartments were invaded and cleared. They slumped every Borne soldier they rolled up on, having mercy on no one. The area surrounding the transit bridge between Brownsville and East New York became an urban war zone with bullets spitting through the air and blood spilling out onto the streets.

Pushing farther east, they cornered Borne hiding in the back room of an Arab-owned candy store off Pennsylvania Avenue. The terrified owners lived above the store and had been dragged downstairs out of their apartment when Borne’s crew commandeered the joint, seeking refuge from the overwhelming gunfire raging outside. The husband and wife were in their nightclothes, trembling behind the counter and checked by three of Borne’s goonies holding big gats.

Farad fired through a window, and the cat he hit went down hard. The Arab couple screamed and ducked down behind the counter, seeking cover. Flanked by Finesse, Tony, and members of his crew, Farad charged inside, spraying lead across the entire room. Tony’s boys pumped crazy shots, the noise deafening in its volume. But shit changed in a split second and Farad cursed out loud. One moment they were in control, aggressing their common enemy, and the next moment they were under attack, Borne’s men rising up and swarming from a doorway concealed on the other side of the counter.

Behind him, Tony’s boys opened their shit up on spray. Bullets whizzed past Farad’s ears and he lunged for cover, the acrid gunpowder searing his nose.

He was caught in the cross fire. Targeted by stray bullets with no name on them. He rolled down an aisle and slid on his stomach, firing his piece with his arms extended in front of him. He was reaching into his holster for his second gat when a blinding heat seared across his back, and his gun fell from his hands.

“Finesse!” he tried to scream, but only a whisper escaped him. Farad rose up on his elbows and tried to drag himself across the floor, but another round tagged him in the shoulder and he went down flat on his face. For a moment the pain was almost unbearable. He bit his lip and tried to fight the waves of agony that threatened to swallow him, and for the most part it worked because seconds later darkness fell upon him and suddenly he felt no pain at all.


Borne got served.

Tony’s crew regrouped and pushed forward. Clearing the front room and leaving piles of bodies behind them. They found Borne down in the storage cellar. Him and two of his boys had rushed up a short flight of concrete stairs and were pushing desperately against the iron delivery flap-door that would allow them to emerge outside and onto the sidewalk.

It was gonna be a slaughter.

They were so outnumbered. Borne’s goonie turned around and fired in fear, and one of Tony’s right-hand Gs took a fall. The others began shooting in retaliation, but Tony silenced their weapons with a raised hand.

He walked right up on the three gangstas and popped two of them.

The last man standing trembled under Tony’s killer glare.

Borne was filled with fear. He would have preferred the gun. Could have withstood that with honor. But the knife was a whole nother thing. Especially clenched in Tony’s hand.

Tony moved in close, then mugged him, gripping his whole face. He mushed him down on the steps, then straddled him and pressed one knee into his throat. Tony stared into the eyes of his sister’s killer, and rage washed over him in pulsating waves.

He had no words. Nothing in his vocabulary to describe the depth of his fury. So he did what he did best. His self-expression was an art form in itself. It required skill, heart, and a total lack of compassion for his victim.

Tony held Borne by the throat and gazed at the rock he was about to sculpt. He’d create a masterpiece. A canvas. He examined angles and curves, the rough skin and uneven terrain. He held his knife like a paintbrush and prepared to make his first stroke.

And trapped in the bowels of the beast, Borne screamed.


The sight of his brother lying in a pool of blood sent Finesse running. The floor was littered with bodies. Some were moving and moaning, others were still.

“Farad!” he shouted, slipping in blood as he ran down the aisle. He had stormed down into the cellar room without realizing his twin was down. It was only when Tony went to work on Borne and the torturous screaming began that he’d looked around for his brother.

Finesse wasn’t letting Tony take it all. That muthafuckah knew to save some of that niggah for him and Farad too. But when he looked for Farad so they could get a piece of Borne’s ass before Tony completely disfigured him, a sinking feeling had slammed into him as he realized his brother was nowhere in sight.

He’d bounded back upstairs, ignoring the Puerto Rican cat who was watching the door, his eyes scanning the store for Farad.

He found him lying facedown. The back of his shirt was soaked through with blood, and he wasn’t moving.


Finesse turned his brother over and stared down into his still face. A moan of pain, fear, and rage ripped through him, as he slid his arms beneath his brother’s body and sat him up, then lifted him. He staggered from the store. Feet sliding in blood, banging into display shelves and pumped with adrenaline.

“I got you, man,” he muttered as Farad’s head lolled on his neck, the full weight of his twin in his arms. Finesse stepped over bodies and crunched shards of glass under his feet, then stood on the sidewalk looking toward Brownsville.

Brookdale, was all he could think of. I gotta get him to Brookdale. If there was a hospital that was closer, he couldn’t think of it. There wasn’t a soul in sight. The people who lived nearby were smart enough to stay down when gunfire erupted, and Malik’s man had all the cops out getting doughnuts. Farad moaned, and Finesse boosted him up. The warmth of his brother’s blood dampened his clothes, and Finesse looked toward the avenue and braced himself for the long journey ahead.