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Johnny kicked nervously at the sandy grit on the edge of sidewalk, blowing into his hands and rubbing them together, he stared at his feet. March was a miserable time of year this far north, all dirt and melting snow. Everything looked grey and bleak. The park was situated down by the river, well treed and poorly lit just like Sam had said it would be. It wasn't cold enough anymore for real jackets, nah this was try not to shiver in a sweater weather, if you shivered they'd know you weren't made of tough enough stuff.

Sam was supposed to have been there an hour ago. The backpack was heavy, but he wouldn't dare put it down, as Sam had said, "that's when they getcha. When you're weak kid, that's the moment they strike." Sam was never very forthcoming with information, he preferred to speak in riddles, never giving much info about who "they" were, but apparently you had to watch your back in this business. Johnny wasn't even sure what the business was really, everything shrouded in innuendo and suggestion, but he knew enough to know he wanted in.

The familiar neon orange sneakers were the first clue Johnny had that Sam had strolled up beside him. He raised his gaze up slightly to see the bright red hair and freckled face of the guy he'd come to meet.

"D'ya bring the goods?" Sam slurred slightly.

"Yeah," Johnny replied shrugging the backpack off one shoulder, "see", he unzipped the bag just enough for Sam to peer in.

"Nice going, kid, ya done alright here," Sam grinned slyly, reaching over and relieving Johnny of his burden.

"Uh, thanks Sam, hey listen, you're gonna pay me for that right?" Johnny asked glancing around the deserted park.

"Heh," Sam grunted with a grin, "lesson one kid, lesson one." And without another word Sam turned his neon orange sneakers around slung the bag over one shoulder and whistled off down the walkway toward the center of town, leaving a cold and confused Johnny to scramble after him.


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