Caesar would stand in front of his bathroom mirror practicing curse words, focusing on the resonance in his thirteen-year-old voice, watching his eyes and lips to make sure he was selling it. Then, afterwards, he would pray to God to forgive him for cursing.

He hadn’t quite figured out how to navigate his neighborhood and still be a good Catholic boy.

In confession each week, he would tell the priest the same thing and receive his absolution, then run home, lock himself in his bathroom and start the cycle all over again.

Survival was necessary. The streets weren’t the cathedral.

Ran Walker is the author of twenty-four books. He is the winner of the 2019 Indie Author of the Year and 2019 BCALA Fiction Ebook Awards. He teaches creative writing at Hampton University and lives with his wife and daughter in Virginia. He can be reached via his website, ranwalker.com. Twitter: @ranwalker.