Second Installment Of The Maple Street Series
Copyright Joseph Nardone 2017
Distributed by Shakespir
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or to actual events or locales is entirely coincidental.
“We are The Makers,” a voice says while sitting at Dominick DiNario’s kitchen table.
Dominick sits, having waited his entire life for this conversation, both anxious and with an unbridled anger not so gentling residing within him.
“Sam,” Dominick, musters the courage to speak, “there is something I ought to tell you about some recent happenings here on Maple Street.”
Sam, the obvious leaders of the three-person group at the table, has dirty blonde hair, a sly smile that never leaves his face, and it appears he thinks he knows what Dominick is about to say.
“Yes. The deaths on Maple Street some seven years ago. We have heard. Tracy was kind enough to fill us in.”
“It was something I could not avoid…”
Dominick is interrupted by Sam.
“But this was no mistake,” DiNario retorts.
Sam stands up, walks over towards where Dominick is sitting, and puts his hand on his shoulder.
“Dom. May I call you Dom?”
DiNario nods his head.
“If you indulge me for a minute, maybe I can bring you some form of peace.”
Sam discusses The Makers. How “our people” were mistreated for years. That the Salem Witch trials, while rooted in complete ideocracy, had some merit to it. That people who had powers like them, they would be hunted down. It happened then, it could happen now.
“In fact,” Sam continued, “the world is best served operating with a willing, but blissful ignorance. Sometimes I fear sorry for them, as great strides for us all could be had if they could just be trusted with the truth. Alas, they have proven over and over they can’t.”
Flanked at the table by the two other members, Dominick continues to question. For each question he asks, Sam provides more information.
“You see Dominick, you did what you thought was best for your family, right? You moved to this place in the boondocks to be left alone. To live in harmony with your wife and child. To watch them grow old and die, as you would then remain.”
Silence enters the room as Sam pauses. It is clear the other two Makers know what would be said next.
“And yet, not even a few years after neighbors disturbed your peace, you found yourself victim to their queries. They forced you to murder. You moved here, to Maple Street, in the god damn sticks, to avoid this. And this is how the humans repaid your willingness to live in the shadows… by directly forcing you to murder an infant?”
Internally, Dominick feels a burden being lifted of his shoulders. He wasn’t entirely sure, but he knows now that The Makers are unaware of Giovanna surviving the massacre from seven years prior. He is hoping to tell them, when and if he trusts them, her status on his own terms.
As he told the Francis family years ago, he knew there were others like him. Dominick also knew each faction came with its own agendas. Some good, others evil, and far more simply operating with a misguided sense of entitlement their powers have granted.
He was unsure what category this group, The Makers, fell into. He only knew of a contact he was given long ago by the woman on his left, Tracy, had trouble ever entered his life.
Mid-20s appearance, with an actual age of roughly a century, Tracy couldn’t dare walk down the street without being ogled at. As it tends to be for all these people born with gifts, Tracy is beautiful. Short, jet black hair with dark eyes a normal man could get lost in.
Tracy and Dominick only met once. It was by happenstance, really. Almost coincidence. 25 years prior to the Maple Street massacre, Dominick was still a young man relative to these gifted people’s lifespan. He was trying to find himself. Even, maybe, find someone like him.
The woman, on the other hand, she had already spent a few years with The Makers. She was one of them, through and through, it seemed.
Dominick assumed if he wanted to find someone similar to him, the best place to look was in highly populated areas. It never donned on him that his own preferred lifestyle of living in obscurity might be the preference of others like him. He figured, naively, other people with powers would be using them.
He was right, if only to a degree.
Tracy’s position within The Makers at that time was recruitment. The group was once as strong as having 14 members, though in-fighting sliced the memberships by more than half. Sam, leader of the group, needed her to find others who would fit “correctly.”
It was New York City in the 1980s. A different time for everyone, especially the city. Riddled with crime and corruption, it was where The Makers operated out of. It was also the city Dominick decided to visit when he came to the conclusion he needed to find others like him.
For him, there was solace in the idea of finding out he was not alone with these gifts.
Times Square might be something wholly different today. In the 1980s, it was not a place for tourists to visit. Dominick wasn’t just some tourist, though.
Having first spent his trip in the city in each decrypt section of the area, Dominick found no one like him. Only junkies, despots and other trash. The kind of people he would soon use as the examples as to why humanity was not worthy of his thought.
Dominick witnessed it all. It changed who he was, how he operated, and why he became the cold person he was – the type of man capable of killing overly curious, yet still innocent people on Maple Street.
Men beating their spouses, women selling their bodies for money to be used on drugs, to kids fighting with each other in strange attempts to prove dominance, Dominick had already decided he was done with humanity before hitting Times Square. In reality, seeing how the people worked is largely responsible for his last push to that part of New York.
He needed closure. Even if that closure meant he was, indeed, alone with his abilities.
There, he still found nothing. Months of searching, away from his family, having only found wasted talent, he sat on the stoop of a liquor store. He was there only to drown his sorrows.
Tracy walked out of that liquor store. She might be one of the gifted, but even they have their own guilty pleasures.
She was struck by Dominick’s appearance. She found him handsome. Maybe even too handsome. It is no secret that the gifted could moonlight as models if no other options were available to them, though that sort of fame would certainly hurt their hiding.
Nevertheless, she was unsure if Dominick was one of them. Good looks alone aren’t enough to qualify someone to be considered one of the gifted. Still, she figured she could strike up a conversation. At best, he is one of them and she can recruit him to join Sam’s faction. At worst, she has a nice conversation with a handsome man.
Tracy slowly sits right next to him, nudging him first, then gesturing with her vodka bottle to see if he would like a sip.
“I’m married.” Dominick blurts.
“Hey, married. Name is Tracy. Don’t flatter yourself.”
Embarrassed, Dominick nervously explains he just assumed if a woman was talking to a man on the stoop of a liquor store, she must be hitting on him.
“Married, and yet, you have a lot to learn about women.” Tracy joked.
This was enough for Dominick to let his guard down. It has been months, and this was far and away the friendliest face he’s seen in the city.
“Then what can I do for you, Tracy?”
“I’m not sure yet.”
“Well, I was being serious. I am married.”
“As was I. I am still just Tracy.”
The two laughed. A conversation began, mostly being captained by Tracy, about the city. How things had gotten worse and how the people in it seem not to care. That they rather play in their own filth than attempt to overcome and adapt.
“About adaption, Dominick,” Tracy started, “how have you being adapting to the big city?”
“Not as well as I thought, but I am only visiting.”
“For how long.”
“I will go back tomorrow.”
“Where is back.”
“Just a road. Somewhere to be left alone.”
Tracy remained unsure of Dominick. His tone sounded defeated. It felt familiar to her.
She also knew she had very little time and that, if nothing else, they’ve shared enough moments on the stoop for her to take her shot to find out.
“Dominick, I don’t know you, know you, but I think do.”
He sat there, perplexed and yet hopeful she would ask him a question. A question that would help him find what he came there looking for.
“Are you gifted?”
“How do you mean?”
“Why did you come here?”
“To find others…”
Tracy interrupted Dominick. Not with words, but subtly levitating the vodka bottle from his hand.
“Others like this?”
She was who Dominick was looking for. He looked at her with glee. The most passion he had felt in a long time, it was for a person he barely knew.
“Do you know others like us?”
“Actually, yes. There’s four of us in total, but there used to be…”
Tracy began to tell the story of the in-fighting her group went through. How Sam, and another leader, had differences in opinions on how to operate. That each’s belief system, mostly on how to treat normal people, were drastically different.
“John, who isn’t here anymore, was an idealist. Sam… he is a bit more of a realist.”
She would go on to say how the group’s non-leaders didn’t really know what to do. And yet, somehow, lines in the sand were drawn. There was one side of The Makers and there was another.
“Sam’s side,” she explained, “might not be the better side as far as beliefs go, but it was the one with the more powerful gifted. I chose his side based on that.”
Dominick was unsure what to make of The Makers. He believed Tracy to be a decent, maybe even virtuous person, but The Makers possibly not as much.
“Listen, Dom. Tracy said. “Time is on our side. There is no rush. It doesn’t have to be today or tomorrow. Hell, it doesn’t have to be this year. But if you ever need anything, here is how you can get in touch with us.”
“Tracy, all those years ago, you told me The Makers were four, and yet there’s only three of you here.”
She looks over at Sam, who decides to answer for the group.
“That man here,” Sam points to man so muscular it is near humorous, “he is Sean. He and the fourth, Ryan, didn’t exactly get along. Sean is… how do I put it? Pretty powerful.”
This unsettles Dominick. Worried about Giovanna upstairs, the more he hears Sam talk, the more he’s fearful he made the wrong choice of calling Tracy.
“Listen, Dom.” Tracy began. “I’m not going to tell you we are perfect, but you know me.”
Does he know her, though, he questioned himself? A few moments on some stoop many years ago, even if shared brilliantly, is not enough to trust a person with another’s life.
“How about this, guys?” Dominick begins to talk. “Just tell me who you are. Explain to me your vision, goals and beliefs.”
Sam laughs. “What is this… an interview?”
“I lived on Maple Street for decades. No trouble. No bother. A few people move in, I attempt to prevent them from bothering my son, and I had choice. I picked the wrong…”
Sam stops Dominick again. “I will continue to stop you from saying you made any error seven years ago. You have not a single thing to feel guilty about. But if you must know, we are a family.”
Sam sits back down, comfortably, as if he’s a king sitting atop his throne, and continues to explain The Makers.
He says he operates in a world based on fact. He makes no presumptions. He’s lived for over 200 years, witnessing the turmoil humans have gone through, but feels no empathy for them. After all, that tragedy they often have to overcome, are their own making. “No one has ever forced these regular people to commit acts of violence on each other in the name of a god or flag.”
This actually appeals to Dominick. He fancies himself a pragmatic person. There’s nuance to be involved when discussing the human race, but he prefers to not lend a hand in helping them overcome their own obstacles.
“You’re right, Sam. The hell if I would ever help these regulars get over these barriers they’ve made for themselves.”
A smile, one wider than the one that is forever already there, beams from Sam’s face.
“They are,” Sam states, “our enemy.”
Dominick is now slightly conflicted.
“What do you mean by that?”
“Easy. The world should belong to us, the powerful and mighty. Not the weak, timid, and mistake prone. Certainly not the inherently violent people who we have been hiding from for all these years.”
“I’m not exactly a fan, but inherently violent seems too stern. Our enemy? Why bother with them at all? We could do so much more in the shadows and in peace.”
Dominick’s words are met with deaf ears. Sam has his belief system. It is his, and maybe his alone, but he is the strongest of The Makers. It is why his ideology is the foundation of the group.
“Dom,” Tracy says sheepishly. “You don’t want to have this talk.”
“Talk” Dominick thought to himself. Sam has been dominating the conversation. He’s only gotten a few words in.
It then starts to don on him. If Sam believes all humans to be the enemy, Giovanna will be in danger if The Makers find out.
“Don’t want to embarrass myself, but even us gifted need to use the bathroom.”
Dominick was looking for a way out of the kitchen. He needed to get upstairs to more properly hide Giovanna. He was initially assuming he would be able to bring her up to The Makers, and it is why the only thing hiding her from the group was a flight of stairs and her bedroom door, but everything has changed.
He gets upstairs, but does not know what to do. There’s no going downstairs with her. Nor is there time to think of anything too complicated.
Dominick does have a plan. He does, however, need to wake Giovanna to let her know of it. If she were to awaken during it, she would be scared and scream out.
“Giovanna.” Dominick says as he gently wakes her up. “I want to play a game.”
“It is really late, Daddy. I’m tired.”
“It is a fun game. I promise. You can actually sleep through most of it, if you want.”
Dominick explains how he’s going to put her in “a sort of bubble.” That she’ll be invisible to both him as well as herself. He needed to tell her this, as Dominick didn’t want Giovanna looking at her hand and flipping out to see it not there.
“I don’t understand, Daddy. Why are we playing this game?”
“Our guests are still here. They aren’t as friendly as I was hoping.”
“They are like you?”
In the meantime, The Makers are around the kitchen table discussing Dominick’s prospects as being a member of the group.
Sean has no opinion. As powerful is he is, he has survived as long as he has by knowing when to pick his spots. In his mind, Sam is the most powerful of the gifted. Dominick is just another one of them, but not nearly as powerful. Whatever Sam believes, Sean does as well.
Tracy is conflicted. She has been this entire visit. For the longest of times, she was hoping Dominick “from a place to be left alone” would reach out to her for help. To join her group. To help her balance The Makers’ ideology. She’s been on an island ever since siding with power over one’s own morality.
Now that Dominick has reached out, she regrets bringing Sam to his doorstep. To his kitchen table. Like Sean, she too knows the power within Sam. It is why she decided to side with him during the group’s civil war.
As Sam says how he’s worried Dominick is hiding something, Tracy simply and consistently nods her head in agreement with him.
“Be silent, love.” Dominick tells Giovanna upstairs. “I will get them out of our home quickly.”
“I love you, daddy.”
“I love you too, baby. Get some rest.”
Dominick reaches out his hand. A small gust of wind sweeps around Giovanna. As it increases in speed, her visibility diminishes, as does others from being able to see her. This goes on for a few seconds until she’s completely invisible.
As he walks back down the steps, Dominick is wondering how he’s going to get The Makers out of his house without there being violence. Without them, these people, hurting the sole survivor of a massacre his own hands caused seven years prior.
Dominick walks back into the kitchen with a weird grin on his face. In his mind, he’s trying to disarm the group before he begins to ask them to leave.
“It is getting late,” Dominick states. “There is a lot I need to think about. Sam… you all, you have given me many things to go over.”
Sam begins to look Dominick up and down.
“There’s something off about you. I can’t exactly put my finger on it, but there’s this thing. I don’t know what. But just this things about you… it wasn’t there a few minutes ago.”
Tracy looks up to Sam, who has since stood up.
“Sam?” Tracy asks.
“Wait. Wait. Tracy, I got it.” Sam replies.
“Everyone, let’s just sit down. I think our new friend here needs a little history lesson on us. Something he is probably unaware of, as he’s only previously met one of the gifted before.”
A sense of dread is washing over Dominick. He knows something is wrong here, but not sure what. He thinks maybe he’s insulted Sam by asking them to leave. But he is more worried that he somehow knows about Giovanna. But how?
“Us gifted, right?” Sam starts. “We all have these awesome powers. These wonderful, mighty powers. We can levitate things, pick up heavy objects with ease, and so many other things that we put comic book heroes to shame…”
Sam stands back up, walks over toward Dominick slowly, then continues:
“One of our weirder, if not useless most of the time, powers happen to be that I, and maybe it is just I who has been blessed with this specific power, can tell when someone else has used one of theirs. Did you, by chance, need a little extra help in the bathroom with something?”
Dominick’s stomach goes uneasy. At the very least, Sam is aware he used an ability.
“Lazily, I used it to flush the toilet.”
The entire room lets out in laughter. His response was so quick, and he said it was such disbelief on his face, that the group believed it to be embarrassment and not anything more important than that.
Even Sam laughed. And laughed hard he did.
Until he didn’t.
“Wait, Dom. Wasn’t it you who told Tracy you despised humans for wasting their own potential. How their laziness to overcome and adapt in 1980s New York made be done with them? You loathe laziness, but use your powers to flush a toilet?”
The gig was up. Sam realizes Dominick is hiding something. Dominick knows Sam knows.
Thinking quickly on his feet and out of fear, Dominick tries to piece together all the information he has at his disposal. He looks at Tracy, then at Sean, then finally at Sam. He has no better options. He’s going to trust the unknown.
“You two,” Dominick cries out. “Do you even follow this man because you do so willingly, or is this an act of survival?”
Sam is not amused. He reaches out his hand, lifting Dominick off the ground. He tries to fight it with his own powers, but he’s overmatched.
“Tell me, Dom.” Sam says. “Tell me what it is you’re hiding.”
“Got to hell. You will not take her away from me.”
“Her, you say?”
Tracy looks over to Sean. Her facial expression is that of a question being asked to him. It basically reads, “What are we to do?” Sean, this mountain of a man, appears too scared to even acknowledge the look despite clearly seeing it.
“You do know, Dominick. When I murder you, whatever powers you used, they will stop. They’re not lasting. Who is it you’re hiding?”
Sean stands up. Tracy has told him and Sam the story of the Maple Street massacre, as Dominick told her when he called for help. How Dominick murdered his neighbors, including an infant, to stop them from outing him as a gifted. The story never sat well with Sean.
“Sam, it is the Francis daughter. He has her.” Sean said.
“Is this true, Dom? Are you hiding a little girl?” Sam asks. He then says with a disturbing laugh, “Are you pretending to this little girl you are her father?”
Sam hurls Dominick’s floating body to the wall with so much force he falls through it and into the living room.
The Makers’ leader is done with him for now. He wants to go upstairs to see the little girl Dominick spent the night hiding.
“You mustn’t, Sam.” Sean screams.
“You are a powerful man. A burly, strong, powerful man. A silent man. You are not, however, one with great conviction. You dare to defy me now, Sean??
Sean looks over at Tracy. He nods his head. Sean then sprints towards Sam with such fury behind him, the kitchen cabinet doors are falling to the ground, glass breaking everywhere.
As Sam and Sean are doing battle, Tracy knows the latter will eventually become overmatched. She has very little time to help Dominick and this mystery girl. She runs to the living room to revive an out-cold Dominick.
“Dom! Dom!” Tracy cries out. “We have precious little time. Whoever it is you are hiding, we must get you out now. Sean can’t stop Sam for much longer. I can’t stop him.”
Dominick, still hurting from his brief encounter with Sam, looks Tracy in her dark, mesmerizing eyes, “We, Tracy… we will stop him. He cannot have Giovanna.”
Tracy stares at him for a few seconds. She’s spent years purposely avoiding taking a stand. Now a man she only knew from a moment on a stoop many years ago is essentially asking her to commit suicide so a regular child might survive.
“Tracy, god damnit. Please!”
The two quickly usher back into the kitchen where Sam is holding Sean up around the neck by one arm.
“You see this man. Sean is a powerful man. He is a gifted man.” Sam then looks at Tracy and Dominque, “And now, he’s no man at all.”
Sam releases his hand from Sean’s neck, with Sean still floating in the air, his neck and head spin around like a top, eventually twisting off like the cap of a soda bottle.
Dominick rushes Sam without abandon or regard for his own body. This is a fight he cares not to win, but certainly does not want to lose.
Fists are being thrown, the traditional kind, with Tracy using her powers to pick up objects to hurl at Sam while the two men are fighting. Each time an object nears, Sam reaches out his hand to make it crumble.
This goes on for minutes. It is a back and forth fight, with Dominick proving to be a far more admirable adversary for Sean than either men figured he would be.
Inevitably, as it had been for all men who opposed Sam before Dominick, the leader of The Makers found himself on top of Dominick, battering him in the face with ability-enhanced fists and elbows.
Tracy jumps on his back to try to stop him. She is quickly hurled off his body with a simple throw.
“You fools. You will be no more, but I will remain. I will rebuild The Makers.”
As Sam turns to focus his attention on Tracy, a loud curdling noise is heard, blood begins to trickle out of his mouth.
Tracy looks, stunned, she can’t figure out what happens. Slowly, Sam looks back toward Dominick to see what he had done to him. He sat there, nearly in the fetal position, far too weak to have done anything.
“Daddy,” a voice calls out from the steps. “The bad man will leave us alone now.”
Giovanna is on the steps. She broke from Dominick’s powers, but how?
“I don’t know, Daddy. I just wanted it to stop… and it stopped. I couldn’t hear the screaming anymore. I don’t want to lose you.”
Sam stares at the girl on the steps. The one he was so desperate to see only a few moments prior. She is the one responsible for the blood. He reaches out to her, she reaches back out with her hand, then the rest of the sharded glass lodged in the lower-side of his head comes through the front of his face. He drops dead. A golf ball-sized hole in his face.
“What about her, Daddy?”
Dominick – dazed, confused, and even scared – weakly looks back at Giovanna.
“She’s a friend, Giovanna.”
“That man, Daddy. The man who tried to kill you. He said I wasn’t your actual daughter. Is that true?”
Giovanna begins to cry as she slowly lumbers down the steps.
Dominick looks at Tracy, the entire disaster in his house left in the wake of the epic fight, “Giovanna, you need to know I love you. But I’ve withhold this for far too long. It is time I told you a story about seven years ago. After that…”
Tracy looks at Dominick shocked, “After that, what?”
“After that, the three of us need to figure out what is next. If Sam was this powerful, with that belief system, he was a dangerous man. He is unlikely the only one.”
“And?” Tracy asks.
“And humans are by no definition inherently good. But they are not inherently bad as Sam had said. People like him… people who want to use their powers to obtain anything other than peace, they need to be stopped.”
“Now, about that story from seven years ago, Giovanna. I know tonight has already been a lot, but you are best served hearing this sitting down.”