Nicky looked across the street and put on a half smile. It was Nan. She was standing under a lit lamp pole. It was dark and the street was only partially lit up. But that's ok. They grew up in this neighborhood. They could both walk these streets blind folded and reach their destination with no problem and no time spared.
But tonight was different. Nan had not come down this way in over 6 months . She lived on the upper side of town now. They barely spoke since the last incident.
There were so many incidents in the past 2 years. Nick hardly remembered them. They weren't the kind of occassions one may want to remember. He hoped Nan's memory was as fleeting.
But standing there seeing her brought back a flood of memories. He always knew his feelings for here were extraordinary. She was like the last beacon of light. Nan was something unwavering. Once you knew her, then you really knew her. She didn't change much. Except to get better in everything she ever did.
Nan left the lower side of town 3 years ago to take a job uptown and continue her college education on the upside. She visited often though. She didn't want Nicky to be alone or become despondent. But those were the only two things that Nicky seemed to be attracted to.
Nan shifted under the light of the street lamp. She took off her cotton Tam snuggle cap. It was a bit cool that night. Nicky remembered how often she would catch a cold when they were younger. Mom would always make her wear a warm woolish Tam.
Something ran through Nicky. It was like an electric shock. It was so familiar. As kids, Nicky and Nan could never walk down a corridor or enter a room together and not distinctly reach out to touch each other. They used to laugh a lot and as they got older Nicky couldn't help throwing small punches at her to get her attention. Sometimes he would rap her on the shoulder from the back, then pretend it wasn't him. Nan would laugh...or frown on occasion. But she always got him back. She would tug his hair, or kick him on the shin. But it was all playful. An unspoken cord of love that kept them United.
When Nicky made the last few steps across the street, there was no need for words. Nicky and Nan embraced as only twins could, under a lit lamp Pole, on a deserted street in their old neighborhood.
Nicky was the first to cry. When it came to Nan he never held back or felt that he had to justify his emotions. So much had always transpired between them in their lives without words.
But finally they spoke.
"I cant believe you're here." Nicky said.
"I am. I really wanted to see you. I'm sorry. It's been too long."
"Nicky you have to give up now. It's time to move on now."
Nicky sniffles. He pulled away a little to look Nan in the eyes. They were still holding each other.
"You know I can't. Those were our heirlooms. Mom and dad didn't have much but the Scarlet Collection was everything to them."
"No Nicky. You and I were everything to them. The jewels were just a part of their history. It was a good story about our ancestors and the family jewelry making line."
"No Nan! It was so much more. It was who they were. I know those jewels are still in the neighborhood. Noone has pawned them yet. Mom and dad did not lose their lives for nothing."
"Nicky, two people got killed in your last escapade. It's not safe. It's not right. We need to end this!"
Nicky pulled away.
He looked down at his feet. Under the lamp light Nan could see the tears.
"I know it's not easy but..."
"Do you really? It's always been like we have the same heart but you don't get this thing...and I...I can't let it go. We can't bring mom and dad back but we can preserve their memory."
"We can but not like this. You have become a robber and a vandalizer . I wander if you aren't trading the hurt of losing mom and dad for bringing harm and hurt to others."
Nicky was chocked up.
"They killed mom and dad brutally for those jewels..our heritage. Nothing I've done could be worse than that."
"I want to help Nicky. I think...I know you will see things different once you leave this place. I want you to..."
"No Nan! I won't forget. I won't forget like you did. I have to stay here. I have to avenge mom and dad...and get our heritage back. I will find the jewels. I will." Nicky was trembling and his voice was louder. It echoed against the walls of the surrounding buildings. It was eerily distinct.
"Nicky, we have to start over. I...I don't want to...I can't live any more being scared everyday that I may lose you too. There is something we have to do."
Nicky looked at Nan. He squinted his eyes and tried to make out the look on her face.
There was something there but he wasn't certain what ot was.
"Nan...what are you talking about?"
Nan opened her mouth to speak but before any words came the loud sound of the police sirens screeched out. A police vehicle with blaring lights came from the upper slide of the street.
Nicky froze and panic rose in his throat. Before he could finish that thought another siren attached to another police car rang out. It's blue and orange lights flooded the narrow street. Both cars headed straight toward them.
Nicky looked around in panic trying to figure what to do.
He looked at Nan with pain in his eyes. It matched the pain in hers. She was crying.
Nick turned to bolt down an alley between two buildings. No game. Three police officers emerged. They were armed with pistols pointing right at him.
"What have you done Nan?"
Nan sobbed heavily now.
"I'm sorry Nicky. It's the only way I can save you...save us."
"Save us? By getting me locked up? What are you thinking Nan?"
The sirens were still blaring and more officers were now surrounding them.
"There's nowhere to turn to. On your knees Nicky." The announcement came from the first police car. The cop was standing by the police car speaking into the attached microphone.
Nicky looked back at Nan.
Before he could say another word she jumped into his arms and squeezed him tight.
"I am thinking that I Love You! I am thinking you are mom and Dad's gift to me. I am thinking we need to grow old together with our families. I am thinking we need a fresh start."
The officers came up and pulled Nan off of Nicky.
They weren't rough about it; they were just doing their job.
"Nicky. Your sister has explained a lot to us. If you cooperate, you can get a short sentence and long community service probation. It's a win win. Special investigation is going to begin into the loss of your parents."
Nicky couldn't take his eyes off of Nan.
"You betrayed me." He breathed out slowly
"I had to. I had to betray you...to save us."
Nan watched as they put her brother into the back of the police car.
His eyes never left hers
You betrayed me
The look was there. It would haunt her tonight and maybe a few more nights ahead. But getting Nicky out of the neighborhood was the first step to saving him...saving them.
Nan watched as the car pulled away.
You betrayed me