Chapter 11: What Rivaldo lives for.
Nino would never say it out loud, but he felt disappointed by nothing happening that night. Rivaldo came for him at daybreak and invited him home since Rita had already left to take his little brother to school.
Nino took a shower and put on some trunks and shirt that belonged to his friend. They were a bit too big on him, Rivaldo was a couple of sizes taller, but it was okay. Soon enough, the two were having breakfast.
Nino yawned, sleepy, still feeling a bit too underwhelmed.
“So that’s it? You’re not being targeted?”
“I guess,” Rivaldo replied with a shrug. “Let’s watch over a couple more nights at least, just to be safe. You mind?”
“’Course not. And what about today? I guess I’m not going back to school, are you–”
“Pff.” Rivaldo shook his head. “I’m supposed to deliver some money today, you can come with me. We’ll hang out just like we used to.”
“I don’t remember ever making money runs for gangs,” Nino joked.
“Well, nothing like mixing new experiences in with the old, right?”
Nino laughed. They finished their meal and left.
Nino was wondering what they were going to do about Rita. He couldn’t just sleep on the streets every day, but Rita would walk him back home by his ear the moment she saw him.
Would his father even accept him back? It seemed a bit silly to have discarded his life to help Rivaldo with nothing. However, neither of those concerns detracted from the day’s fun.
Nino told Rivaldo about his adventures with teachers, his friend was particularly interested in all of his love ventures. Rivaldo told Nino about his misadventures, the funny parts.
Nino was surprised he actually had so much to tell. It wasn’t until he was letting Rivaldo know about what had been happening that he recognized how much there actually was to his life. How many people he had met and gotten to know, and how much he had accomplished academically.
Rivaldo, though, had been living a completely different life. It seemed that he was pretty dependable, but then again, Nino knew that. His brand of loyalty would be very attractive to a gang.
It wasn’t until they were in the middle of the afternoon that things took an unexpected turn.
They had performed the money run without problems, nobody had objected to Nino’s presence since it was such a small job. Everyone assumed Nino was new and working under Rivaldo, for appreciation.
Having the rest of the day to themselves, they decided to walk about, to places they had been to as kids, and reminisce. Time flew as they talked, mocking each other, having a special kind of fun Nino had ever only experienced with his best of friends.
As they were walking along a street, one of the many people traversing the same street stepped into Rivaldo’s space and whispered at him. Rivaldo froze. The man had been walking in the opposite direction, and quickly, he simply resumed his walk.
Nino watched and waited for the man to walk along and away from them, to ask Rivaldo what was going on. But before he could do so, Rivaldo turned around and walked past Nino, after the man.
“Back me up,” he whispered.
By the time Nino turned, wondering what was happening, Rivaldo was lunging at the man.
People around them hopped away, startled, as Rivaldo tackled the man to the ground. He grabbed his head and smashed it on the ground twice. Nino was a bit too shocked to take action, they were in the complete open. As he watched the crowd looking at them, he caught sight of a particular man walking towards Rivaldo with meaningful intent.
Nino gulped and stepped behind an onlooker, reaching for the gun in his pocket. Rivaldo stood up, pulling the man up by the collar of his jacket. At that moment, the incoming threat drew a knife.
Some of the onlookers were thinking of what to do. Run away, watch, or intercede against Rivaldo, who seemed to be attacking an innocent man. All of them quickly decided on the same thing once Nino pressed the trigger.
By the time the knife-wielding partner in crime of the man Rivaldo had tackled hit the floor with a wound in his chest, everyone around them had jolted into a frantic effort to flee.
Rivaldo snapped his head towards the would-be attacker but gave no comment. Instead, he looked back at the man he was grabbing, who was moaning half-conscious.
Rivaldo snarled and shook the man.
“Where are they?!”
What’s going on?! Nino asked himself, trying to make sense of the situation.
The man didn’t answer so Rivaldo threw him at the wall. Nino looked around them, worried about the fact they were doing that completely in the open.
“Rivaldo, we need to go, police should be here any min–”
“Shut up!” Rivaldo snapped, and he used such aggressiveness that Nino wavered back at it. Rivaldo stepped towards the man, skillfully flicking a switch knife into being. He shoved it against the man’s genitals.
That alerted his consciousness quite quickly.
“Who-whoah! Hey, hey!”
“I’m outta time already, son of a bitch. Tell me where they are or I’ll cut you right here.”
The man winced and contorted away from the slight push of the blade. He cursed and looked at Rivaldo terrified. He yelled out some names Nino didn’t know, but Rivaldo seemed to.
His childhood friend grabbed the man’s hair and lifted the head slightly, swiftly slitting his throat.
“Whoah,” Nino reacted. “Damn.”
“They got my family,” Rivaldo said, with a tone of voice Nino wasn’t familiar with, but one that was obviously indifferent to what he had just done.
His best friend stood up straight into a run. “We gotta go now.”
Nino put the pistol back and ran after. Fortunately, the exchange had been quick enough. There were plenty of witnesses but would any of them risk telling the cops what they saw? Would the cops even care about two more gang members being dead?
Odds were they wouldn’t be caught. Or even searched.
That was crazy to consider. They had just killed two people in the middle of the street in broad daylight, and yet because of who they had killed, it was very likely they were going to get away with it.
At some depth, Nino was always aware of that reality, but it was never as obvious as on that moment.
Rivaldo pulled in Nino’s attention with a growl.
“They grabbed them during the day, I’m such an idiot.”
“Should we contact your boss?” Nino asked.
“What? No. He’ll probably just kill me.”
“What? You made it sound like they were actually protecting you and the others, they just figured you wouldn’t be targeted.”
“Of course they’ll protect us. That means finding more about who’s coming after Pedro and boosting our loyalty. But if you think anyone really cares about my family or me, you’re an idiot.”
Nino winced at the violence in Rivaldo’s attitude. What was that? Who was what?
“They rather not get rid of me, but I’m just a grunt. Most of us are, they can just get more. In a way, killing me is the surest way to save my family right now.”
Nino cursed, realizing Rivaldo was absolutely right. With his family kidnapped, there was no legitimate way to guarantee his loyalty. If he was dead, there was no reason to keep his family kidnaped. Maybe they’d kill them, maybe they’d free them.
“Soon as the boss finds out about this, he’ll let everybody know to drop me soon as they see me. I’m screwed.”
Rivaldo shook his head and sped up his run. Nino had a very hard time keeping up, he wasn’t that physically fit.
Rivaldo cursed and grunted.
“Sorry, Nino. This’s probably it, we’re probably going to die. But we gotta try to save ‘em.”
They were about to go on the offensive. To run into a hostile gang home without preparation or pause, it was indeed a very deadly scenario. Nino was willing to go, but he felt disappointed Rivaldo wouldn’t even ask, but rather demand he help right off the bat.
He didn’t hesitate to enlist Nino into that suicide mission. It didn’t even cross his mind to offer some kind of approach that would increase Nino’s chance to survive, and it wasn’t that Rivaldo had any kind of ill-will towards Nino, or even that he was actually just using him.
He was just focused on his family.
Watching Rivaldo running, seeing the expression on his face, Nino knew then that Rivaldo did not share Nino’s priorities. They were very similar, so much so Nino had always felt they were the same, especially when he left his parent’s house to follow him.
But in the end, Rivaldo would never ask anyone in his family the things he had asked of Nino.
Nino had placed Rivaldo ahead of his family. It was obvious now that his best friend would never do that.
His family came first.
These are journal entries from the protagonist of the comic book Aegis Omega. If you’re not familiar with the story, I invite you to change that and read up on it:
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