A well groomed yard of green grass, flag stone pathways and ornate gardens with flowers of all shapes, sizes and colors, rolled in front of a red brick estate. Green ivy ran up the walls and the pebbled circular driveway made the home seem inviting.
Darion Ridley knew not to believe the presentation. Behind the gardens and walls was a home filled with secrets and codes. He once called the building home.
He stood where the public sidewalk and the private walkway met and stared. He doubted for a brief moment if he was making the best decision, coming back. He had been away for so long, would his pursuit of justice matter to anyone beside himself at point? The clouds overhead turned an ominous gray the moment his driver crossed into the town’s borders. He was not one for omens, but it was tough to ignore the sky plotting against his day.
“Shall I join you, sir?” The driver asked. She too had called the building home once. Exiled for reasons only the man in the upstairs study could answer.
“No, Pri,” Darion said. He held his hands in the pockets of his long brown coat and ran the house’s layout through his head. He needed to get to the study as quickly as possible. “You’ve done enough already. I’ll do my part now.”
The man in the study would no longer be making decisions in half an hour’s time.
“Good luck, sir,” Pri said.
“You really don’t have to call me that,” Darion said. He removed his hands from his coat and started up the walkway to the house.
A guard met him at the sound of the doorbell.
“You ain’t allowed ‘ere, Darion” said Taxi Ectar. No one knew his real name or how Taxi became his title, but it stuck well. “Go home.”
“This is my home, Taxi. The man upstairs just doesn’t know it yet.” Darion gave Taxi a look that was instantly understood. Taxi was given a choice; join the coup or fall. Taxi recognized the determination in Darion’s gaze and stepped out of the way.
Darion crossed the threshold of his old house. Smells he had not considered in years brought memories of business dealings around fresh baked cinnamon rolls, strategy talks with associates now long gone, of a dog kept by Eugene Davens. It was the smell of a life he had been denied and was going to get back.
Darion made his way upstairs. For an organization of ne’er-do-wells, gamblers, thieves and other criminals, the security was incredibly lax. Perhaps, Darion thought, Taxi had radioed ahead and the estate guard had all chosen to look the other way. Whatever the case, Darion found himself outside the study without argument.
He faced his own doubts once again as he considered knocking or barging through the door. Knocking would be a respectful way to face the man he was about to end. Barging through would be a dramatic way to ambush his target. He wanted to avoid the potential of the man at the desk talking his way out of the situation and desperately wished the dramatic ambush option would not result in political backlash for years to come.
Knock knock knock
“Enter,” said the man at the desk.
Darion pushed open the door and entered with his head low, hidden behind the brim of his hat.
“What is it?” Asked the man at the desk. Darion knew the tone. The man had not even bothered to look away from his desk to see his pending demise.
“I’ve come for my home.” Darion said. He heard a pencil tip break off against paper.
Both men raised their heads and made eye contact.
“So, my protege has returned? Seeking your right to the throne then as it were?” the man at the desk said.
“Indeed,” Darion said.
“Give it your best shot, kid,” the man said. His smirk could enrage or inspire, never both.
Darion was enraged.