August walked through the hall way, his face up staring at nothing and not wanting to make any eye contact. He walked out of the school building and straight to the gate, other school kids were also going home from school. He walked solitarily through them and had only moved few metres from the gate before through the chatters and noises from the school children, he heard someone shout his name. He stopped and turned.
Janet called as she ran towards him, gasping for breath.
“August, why didn’t you wait for me?” she asked facing him.
“Nothing, I just wanted to go home fast” he said, hiding his face away from her.
“What’s wrong with you? You are crying” she asked, observing that his eyes was wet.
“Nothing, forget it” he replied, wiping the tears from his eyes.
“August, tell me what’s wrong”
“I said its nothing, please”
“Is Terry bullying you again?” she insisted and he kept mute, she took the silence as a positive answer to her question and hugged him.
“Don’t worry, today, I’m going to tell it to dad and he is going to take care of him” she reassured and he pulled away from her.
“No, please don’t”
“Why? August?” she asked, searching his face with her blue eyes.
“Nothing, leave it, I will handle it someday” he said, looking her back in the face.
“No, I’m reporting him, he’s been doing it for too long and I don’t like seeing you unhappy”
“Just don’t tell him” he pleaded with his eyes. She nodded and held his hand, together, they walked home.
They had gotten closer since the morning Janet woke up and saw a complete stranger sleeping by her. She had been scared but was reassured by her parents. She found August uncooperative and had forced her way into his life, pulling him out of his shell. She loved him more than she would have loved a brother.
August had adapted to the Rodneck family and lifestyle, it took long but he did blend in, mostly with the help of Janet, he liked her although her persistence can be nerve wrecking most times but he had learnt to cope with her.
2 years had passed since the death of his family, he never for once forgot any of them, he slept and woke up to the thought of them and every time he had a face-off with Terry, he always thought of Jaycee who would have roasted anyone that messed with him.
The big clock at St Mathews Catholic church tower sounded an alarm for 10pm. The streets were still a little busy with activities.
August moved through the streets in a black hooded sweater. He walked and ran at the same time, keeping away from crowded places. He arrived at the church yard and walked through the back to the cemetery. He walked through the graves and made his way to the Centre. He stopped in front of a grave with the name Joseph Donati inscribed on the tombstone. He pulled the hood off his head and sat on the grave, his eyes wet from tears.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t come visiting last week, I had a lot going on” he said and looked up at the sky. He had always kept a date with his brother’s and sister’s grave, he had sworn to visit at least once a week and had kept to this oath for the past 2 years.
“I’m happy with my foster family, Janet is good, her folks too, I’m alright with them, it’s just at school”.
He stopped and sniffed. He heard shuffling of leaves and took a quick look around. On the dry leaves lying around the floor of cemetery, he saw a wall gecko run away from where he sat, he turned around and continued his narration, unaware of the dark figure that stood some distance, smiling at his back.
“At school” he continued “Terry, you don’t know him, he is always trying to bring me down, I don’t know why but he is always mocking me and our family. Those were the times I wished you or Jaycee was around. I miss you all and I always cry each night, I swear to be a man, a fearless man like you, it’s hard for me but one day, I shall grow taller and stronger and I will kill whoever killed you”.
He fell on the grave and shut his eyes, covering his face with his palms, he sobbed and shook violently like he had always done the previous nights. He sniffed and wiped the tears from his face, opening his eyes, he saw a figure standing over him. He jumped up from the grave and attempted to break into a run but was restricted by strong firm hands.
“August, August stop”.
He stopped wringing, the voice was familiar but he just wanted to get away. Most familiar voices he knew were dead and in the cemetery.
“August wait” the voice said again and released the grip on his feeble arms. He turned and peered into the face and with the aid of the moonlight, he was able to make out the face of Carter, Jaycee’s friend.
“Carter?” he called with quiver in his voice. He smiled back in reply and they both sat at the edge of the grave.
“What are you doing here?” August asked after a short silence.
“Looking after you”
“You come here every week right?”
He nodded in surprise.
“I follow you each time you come”
“Nothing, just looking out for a friend’s kid brother”
Another seconds of silence followed in which they listened to the noise of crickets and tolling of church bells.
“Who is Terry?” Carter broke the silence
“A boy in my school” he muttered
“How old is he?”
“I don’t know, should be 2 years older than me”
“And he bullies you? ”
August nodded and sniffed.
“I know you wish Joseph or Jay was still around, but you have to know you are all alone now, you have to fight for yourself, if you don’t die fighting, you end up stronger, that’s how you will be a man August”
“How do I fight him, he is stronger and has friends too”
“Do you ever fight back?” he asked observing him with the corner of his eyes.
“No” he said, shaking his head in the negative.
“You see, Fight back and when you do, fight harder than him, maybe in the end, you will come to realize how much stronger you can be”
August listened like a new discovery was being uncovered by him and it brought a firm determination from within him that spread to his young face.
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“Remember whom Joseph always says he is” Carter said in a way that suggested he needed a reply.
“He always says he’s a Donatti” August replied.
“Good, and who are you?”
“I am August, August Donatti” he whispered
“I am August Donatti” he said louder.
“Good, and remember who a Donatti is, he is strong, fearless and bows to no man”
The words dripped into his heart like water on cotton and possessed him like an evil spirit. His fear seemed to simmer and fade into the dark, moonlit sky.
“August, remember who the enemy is, they are the ones who took your family from you, you have to take theirs from them someday in retaliation and respect to your family, to Joseph, to Maria, you have to wipe them out when the time comes, they are your enemy and don’t ever forget that”
August punched his fingers into a fist and tears welled up in his eyes, it wasn’t the tears he had shed in the past, they were not tears of pain, of sadness, of frustration, no, they were not, they were tears of anger.
“How do I know my enemies?” he asked
“Good question, now tell me August, have you ever been hurt in the past?”
“Can you tell me those times?”
“When Maria died, when Joseph died and when Jaycee was killed and at school too” he listed thoughtfully
“Good, now, can you recall the people that caused your hurts”
“Yes, Maria, I killed her killer, at school, Terry” he called out the name with bitter hatred in his eyes.
“And Joseph and Jaycee?”
He was afraid to call out the name but he was angry.
“Jaime Rodneck” he called out softly.
“Who?” he asked
“Jaime Rodneck” he called out a second time.
“Remember August, remember who took your brothers from you, they are not your friends, they are not your family, they took Joseph and one day they have to pay, you have to make them pay”
He didn’t exactly love Jaime and Kate but they had been nice to him, he respected them but then, he loved his brothers, he had sworn a million times to avenge them, he was angry at everything, he was angry that he was all alone and he was angry at those who made it so.
“How do I make them pay?” he asked and Carter placed his left hand on his tiny shoulder.
“When the time comes, you will know what to do”.
He stood up from the grave and looked down on a self determined August.
“Who are you?” he asked
“I am Donatti” he said.
“Remember that, and remember why you are the only Donatti left”.
He started walking deeper into the cemetery.
“Will I see you again?” August called after him.
“Just say my name when you visit and you will see me” he replied and disappeared into the night.
August stood up and dusted himself, he looked back at the grave of his brother and frowned his face.
“Don’t worry, I will kill them all”.
He covered his head back with the hood and ran out of the church into the street, from the front of the church, the man in black hat watched him disappear into an alley.
To be continued