Ten year old Jocelyn Turner peeked out the window, counting down to one under her breath.

“Jo, come away from the window and have your dinner!” Her mother, Ruth shouted from the kitchen.

“I don't want to eat without Daddy!” Jo replied and continued her counting.

Ruth shook her head and smiled, her daughter was a regular Daddy's Girl. She was never content when her father was away. She watched TV with him, she played with him, she read with him, and happily followed him shopping. Sometimes, Ruth worried that Jo's only playmate was her father. In her opinion, girls her age needed friends who were also young and in elementary school, but Jo clammed up whenever she was introduced to children her age.

When Ruth had asked her why she didn't want any friends, Jo had looked her straight in the eye and said, “I have Daddy, and he's enough for me.”

Jo hit her foot on the floor when she counted down to one and her father hadn't knocked on the door. She folded her hands across her chest and pouted, she hated it when her daddy was late.

“Daddy, please come back. I'm really hungry.” She implored, still looking out the window.

Immediately, the familiar figure of a man wearing a trench coat appeared on the doorstep and knocked.

“Mummy, Daddy's home!” Jo shouted with glee as she went to open the door.

“Oh no, you don't. What did I tell you about opening the door?” Ruth demanded, coming out of the kitchen.

“You said I have to ask who is at the door.” Jo said impatiently.

“Good. Now, do that.” Ruth said.

“But Mummy, we already know it's Daddy. Why should I ask?” Jo asked.

“You have to. What if it's not your Daddy? We can't let strangers into the house.” Ruth said.

“Fine.” Jo said. She rolled her eyes as she asked, “Who is it?”

“It's me, Daddy.” Came an amused voice from behind the door.

“I already knew that.” Jo replied. She turned to her mother and asked, “May I let him in, now?”

Ruth nodded, and Jo got to work, unlocking the multiple bolts on the door. When she was through, she opened it and her daddy stepped in, looking tired but smiling at her.

“Daddy!” Jo shouted as she launched herself into his arms.

“Hi, Jo bug. Did you miss me?” Her daddy asked, kissing her hair.

“Yessss. Daddy, I have a lot of things to tell you.” Jo said.

“Which will wait until we've finished dinner.” Ruth said.

Her daddy set her down and went over to her mummy, “Did you miss me too?” He asked.

“You know I did, Gabe.” Her mummy replied before they kissed. Eeeeew! Jo thought as she closed her eyes and wondered why parents had to such disgusting things. Didn't they know a gazillion germs could be spread by kissing?

When they were through, she opened her eyes.

Her daddy ruffled her hair, “I'm going to get out of these dirty clothes, then you can tell me about your day, Jo bug.”

*   *   *

Gabe listened as his daughter told him about the drawing she'd made of the both of them driving around town in a car.

The drawing was a child's squiggle, made with crayons, but to him, the Mona Lisa had nothing on it.

“It's very pretty.” He commended her, giving her a high-five.

Gabe was glad for his wife and daughter, and was disappointed in himself for not giving them the pampering they deserved.

Gabe hoped that one day, they'd have enough money to move to another block, because Odton was no place to have a family. It just wasn't safe because of the hundreds of gangs out there, robbing and extorting people.

Gabe tried to save as much money as he could from the convenience store he ran, but most of it was spent on protection money; money given to gangs to protect his store from them, or other gangs.

The problem was, many gangs were collecting protection money from him, so at the end of it all, he wasn't making as much profit as he should. Adding the economic recession to the volatile mix, Gabe knew that relocating to a safer block was nothing short of a pipe dream. For the time being, they were stuck with a fixer upper in an unsafe neighborhood.

“Daddy, you aren't listening!” Jo accused, snapping Gabe away from his thoughts.

“Yes, I was.” He said, smiling at her.

“Then what did I say?” Jo asked disbelievingly.

“I've forgotten. My brain's old.” Gabe joked.

“Nooooo. Does that mean your brain will die soon?” Jo asked, concern etched on her face.

“No, young lady. Get the plates, let's go wash them. I'll teach you a new song while we're at it.” Gabe promised, and Jo did as he bid. She loved it when her daddy taught her songs. 

They were about to start when a knock sounded on the door.

“Let me get it.” Jo volunteered, but Gabe held her back. He wasn't expecting anybody.

“Ruth, are you expecting anyone?” He asked.

Ruth shook her head.

“Wait here.” He ordered the both of them before he went to open the door.

When he did, he saw two adolescent boys dressed in denim, with matching green and black bandanas tied around their foreheads. They looked gaunt and had tattoos inscribed on the various parts of their bodies he could see. One held a baseball bat.

Gabe knew they were gangsters, and was annoyed. What were they doing at his door?

“Who the fuck are you and what do y'all want?” He snarled.

“Now now, mister Turner, no need to get your panties in a twist.” The one with the baseball bat smirked.

“O.G sent us. He says you owe him protection money. Fork it over.” The other said.

“Am I supposed to know who that is? Moreover, I've already paid protection money.” Gabe said intractably.

The boys looked offended, “You don't know O.G? O.G is our leader. The leader of the Night Snakes.”

“Yup. And you mighta paid protection money, but you didn't pay it to us. You know what I mean?” The boys said, explaining to Gabe as if he were a five year old.

“Look, you go back and tell your O.G that I'm not giving him nada. He can go fuck himself for all I care.” Gabe said, trying to intimidate the boys.

“Now, that ain't happening. If we return without the money, we're going to be dead meat.” One of the boys said, shaking his head.

“Again, I don't care.” Gabe said, and tried to slam the door in their faces.

“Okay, Gramps. Playtime's over.” The empty handed one whipped out a pistol.

Gabe immediately threw his hands up, silently cursing himself for coming out without his own firearm.

“Okay. Put that away before shit happens.” Gabe advised.

“No. Now, where's the money?” The pistol wielding one asked.

“I don't have any cash on me. Why don't you two go home? You can come to the shop tomorrow and collect it.” Gabe said.

“No, thanks. If we don't take it now, O.G gon' kill us.” He replied.

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