A lot had changed since that summer. They had grown older yes, but wiser was still in question. They kept in touch with one another. Cards at the holidays, the occasional letter, and every so often he would get a call from one of them. But as would always happen they would find themselves with little to talk about aside from what happened that summer. For as the years marched on and they followed their individual path, they matured and grew further apart.
They had been inseparable the summer of sixty nine. Wilson had been the unofficial leader of the group and it didn’t matter that she was a girl. She was smart, she was tough, and if you disagreed with her she’d show you how strong she really was. The guys didn’t care that she wanted to lead. After all, she always came up with the best idea for what to do at any given moment.
It had been her idea to explore the basements of the abandoned tenement to see if they could turn it into a fortress. She had been serious, leading them like a warrior queen through the many dark rooms, but they had behaved as eleven year old boys without adult supervision are likely to. Racing through the rooms whooping and hollering at the top of their lungs, their voices echoing throughout the shadowy depths of the vacant basement.
That is until they reached the older section of the basement. Here the darkness carried a palpable sense of foreboding that quickly dampened their joy and compelled them to pull together to draw strength from one another. They could sense unseen eyes in the shadows watching them as they passed through each room. But Wilson continued on unafraid, her bravery daring each of them to follow her or else. Or else what? They didn’t want to know.
It was here they met death for the first time. Up close and personal. Deep within the bowels of the tenement they came across two young men in an argument over an amount of money. Everything happened so fast they had little time to react. Illuminated by a fierce white light the men fought first with words, then with fists and finally with knives that flashed in the light.
They hid in the next room watching through the door as the victor plunged his blade into the other’s chest. The smell of blood and shit filled the room. The smell of death. It was the same smell that filled his nostrils now as he lay in the hospital bed with his life fleeing in time to the beeps of the monitors around him.