The front door smashes open just after midnight.
What the hell has Tyler done now? is my first thought, and I am ashamed of it.
I hear two voices discuss something, and then a shout: “Yo! Tyler’s big bro! You in here?”
Me? and then adrenaline takes over. I pull out the gun locker from under the bed, and I’m trying to enter the code with shaking fingers when a baseball bat connects with my lower spine. White-hot pain, and now I’m on the floor, gasping for breath.
“Nothing personal. Gotta send a message to all the other dumbass losers, that suicide ain’t a good way to get out of owing money to our boss.”
The implication hits me even harder than the bat. “Tyler… he…”
“Yeah,” the thug laughs. “You might say he caught a train. ’Course the train was going 60 miles an hour.”
The other man whistles from downstairs. “You be a good boy and don’t move. We’re done.”
In my final moments of coherent thought, I wonder why he’s lighting a match despite having no cigarette.
Then I notice the smell of gas.