Owen comes from a poor neighbourhood, the building he shares with his grandmother is close to being condemned. Owen’s job delivering liquor on his bicycle helps his grandmother make ends meet and pays for her medication. Owen’s entire life changes when an outlaw motorcycle club moves into the neighbourhood, and he is sent there for a delivery. From the moment he sees Caleb Perez, legendary sergeant in arms for the Devil’s Guardians, Owen knows he’d do absolutely anything to make Caleb his.
Yearning. No other word described it better. It was like something pulling on his insides. He was the first thing on his mind when he woke up, and the last thing before he closed his eyes at night. And he didn’t even know his name.
The clunk, clunk, clunk of his grandmother’s walker had woken him this morning. Please send me Mr. Pataki, to the docks for a delivery. I need to see him again.
“You awake, Owen?” His grandmother poked her head in the door. “Don’t be late for school now.”
School? “Grandma,” he lifted his head, “no school today. It’s Saturday.”
It was happening more and more, his grandmother forgetting what day it was.
“Okay, dear. I’ll get you some breakfast.”
Poor Grandmother. She had come to the United States as a domestic and had worked in rich people’s homes all her life. A good Catholic Irish girl, she’d become pregnant by the man she worked for who’d forced himself on her. She’d been put in the streets, baby on the way. But she’d survived, avoided losing her child, and found his grandfather, a hardworking Scot, who’d instantly fallen in love with his Irish rose. They had only a short time together before his grandfather was drafted. He never came home from the war, so his grandmother raised his mother, Iris, alone. Unfortunately, the child had inherited the disease of her biological father. She was a hemophilic. Owen’s mother died in a car accident when he was six years old. After that, his father took to drinking, and Owen was removed from the home.
Grandmother had always wanted Owen to go to college. But there was no money for college, and school bored him. The truth was everything seemed easy to him, no challenge. He mastered everything and then lost interest. He also found he had nothing in common with the students at the school. They were all arrogant and stupid, and Owen had been beaten up at least three times for being gay. What was the point? He was a poor boy, going nowhere.
Owen glanced up at the peeling paint on the ceiling. He was putting money aside from his job at the liquor store to buy some paint and plaster. Every morning his grandmother called him to get ready for school. Damn, he didn’t have the heart to tell her he’d stopped attending grade twelve. Luckily, the school couldn’t contact her, because the landline had been taken out months ago. With the rise in food prices and his grandmother’s osteoporosis medication, they couldn’t afford a phone anymore. Owen’s job, delivering liquor for Mr. Pataki, supplemented the food budget, but it wasn’t enough. Anyway, he would turn eighteen in a week. He was going to get a proper full-time job and help his grandmother with her medical expenses.
The neighbourhood where he’d grown up was a place the city had forgotten. Some people said it was the place where dreams came to die. Nicknamed Snaketown because of the shape of the area which curved round like an S and culminated at the docks, the area consisted of no more than ten or so streets with only a handful of businesses. Some of the buildings were abandoned or condemned, occupied by squatters. This was where the destitute, the homeless, and the ever striving to stay clean and sober lived. There was one small grocery store, a liquor store, a drug store, and a greasy spoon diner called Mary’s Eats. That was it.
The police wouldn’t even come into Snaketown when they were called. It hadn’t been safe to walk the streets after dark. There were rapes and muggings. Then, about a year ago, an outlaw biker gang called Devil’s Guardian bought the empty meat packing factory by the waterfront. They moved their clubhouse in there and opened Vega Scrap Yard.
At first, everyone was alarmed. The last thing Snaketown needed was more criminals, especially an outlaw motorcycle club. But ironically, the club had exerted a positive influence on the neighbourhood. After the Devil’s Guardian moved in, rapes, muggings and break-ins seemed to disappear. Whatever criminal activity the club was into, the only business they did in Snaketown was sell scrap.
Still, people stayed their distance, unless they needed a hubcap or windshield replaced. And no one went down by the waterfront at night anymore. The flashing neon sign Vega Scrap Yard, clearly visible from the highway, brought in plenty of customers in the daytime. Occasionally they’d ride through the neighbourhood or stop at the store, but mostly, they stayed to themselves.
Owen got out of bed and braved the shower, having to play with the facet to get the water to come out of the showerhead. The water was tepid, which was usually cause to celebrate. As he washed, he kept thinking that he should tell his grandmother that he wasn’t going to school anymore. He knew she’d be upset. That was why he was putting it off. He didn’t want to disappoint her. If he could find a decent job, maybe he could take some courses at the college. But that took money, and right now, he didn’t have any. He’d tell her once he got a full-time job.
The water went ice cold. “Shit,” Owen muttered, jumping around, hurrying to get the shampoo out of his hair. There were only three apartments occupied out of six in the building. Hot water was supposed to be supplied, but there was never enough to go around.