Brad. He didn't go to that school, didn't go to any school. He walked around with that scowl on his face, dirt in his hair, a gun tucked into the waistband of his jeans. Sold drugs. Lived on the street sometimes. He'd been mugged and jumped enough to know that he better have a gun, he'd been threatened enough to know that he'd better be the one who is threatening. Life was down to survival for Brad.

His parents were dead to him. They were still alive in some fashion, he was sure. His mom drinking her vodka gimlets and his dad cheating on her, sleeping around with those women with the dyed blond hair that looked yellow and too much eye make-up.

He liked that girl, though. The nice blond who went to the school near the corners he worked on. She smiled at him real sweet and nice. She spoke to him in that little clear voice and he felt almost worthwhile. It had been years since he felt that way. So he came to see her and tried to be nice even though he pretty much forgot how.

Sleeping outside made him feel cold. Made him jump at every little noise. The first time he ever slept on the street was after his dad kicked him out. He'd had it with being hit so he hit back, and the change in the anger on his father's face was extraordinary. The backhand across his face nearly busting his nose and then he said, "Brad, get the fuck out," He was more than happy to oblige.

The first time he'd ever done crystal meth was in this abandoned building with a friend of a friend, and he liked how he felt for once. For once.

He came to the girl's school to see her and the look on his face prevented most of the teachers from talking to him. He was beyond lost and they could see. He was beyond anything except talking to his new friend who was a girl, tucking her hair behind her ear, kissing her cheek. She smiled at him, thinking she could find him.

The first time he shot up heroin was in the back of a junked car, and the kid with him pulled the turniquet tight around his arm and found the vein. Brad felt it travel through his blood stream and hit his brain and he was relaxed.

He called that substitute teacher a bitch and didn't care about the hurt look on her face and the way she covered up that hurt look. Didn't care that the nice blond girl he liked looked a little scared and hurt when he said that. Didn't care that much. Then he ordered her to come with him and she did and he felt that it was right, almost. He should be the one in control.

The first time someone beat him was when he slept in the park and woke up to the pain of a shattered cheekbone and bleeding kidneys. They stole all his money and all his drugs and he had to drag himself to a hospital, spitting up blood and pissing blood and he was afraid, for a brief moment, that he might not be okay. The hospital staff looked at him with the kind of pity that makes him want to kill someone but he gritted his teeth and didn't say anything, let them give him the pain killing drugs he definitely needed.

Sometimes he wanted to stop this life of selling drugs and running and hurting people first before they hurt him. And he called his nice blond girlfriend a bitch and despite the crestfallen look he punched her and despite the scared look and the flinching away from him he wasn't sorry.

The last time he saw his mother she was slurring her speech and holding onto the corner of the bar and telling him she loved him. He narrowed his eyes at her because she was lying, because she loved the drink in her hand and the expensive clothes on her back.

His girlfriend with the shoulder length light blond hair and blue/green eyes forgave him for hitting her because he promised it would never never happen again. That was lie and he knew it. But it fooled her and she kissed him and put the flowers he stole for her in a vase of water and she let him fuck her and he told himself he would really try not to hit her again.

The first time he sold drugs was when his father kicked him out and he had extra, and he told the kid to tell his friends where they could get some good stuff. He worried about jail. Small time street dealers who were also users went to jail, he knew that. He was afraid of what happened to people in jail.

The first time he ever snorted coke was at a party in some guy's loft, and he snorted it through a rolled up hundred dollar bill on a little square mirror and he felt a rush of energy and confidence.

The first time he ever pointed his gun at someone was when he got mugged one night, tackled from behind and he fell to the gritty sidewalk and rolled over, pulled the gun out and said, "I'll kill you motherfucker, so you better get the fuck out," The guy pissed himself and took off and Brad felt, for the first time, powerful and like someone not to mess with.

His blond girlfriend was looking at him with reproach and he itched to just punch her but he didn't. Held his hands in rigid fists at his sides. He wouldn't hit her. He loved her, he did. He knew he did.