The Boys of Summer
There are a lot of gangs in this town.
A ridiculous amount when you think about the size of this place. More gangs than districts and if you threw a stone there’d be a fight about whose territory it landed in. You’ve got the Harlequins down by the docks, all the fired workers and old sailors ganging up to protect their piece of the pie. Parklife over in Highfield Green, Alcatraz in the prison district. The Mechanicals, The Bootlegs, The Cartwrights, the list goes on.
Then of course, nestled in the black heart of this dirty town, you have the Boys. The Boys of Summer.
They’re the current kings of this place, around which every swirling eddy of misfortune circles. The drugs, the guns, even the banned toys go through them. That’s right, the Boys control everything here in Clifftown.
The upper echelons gather sometimes in Summerhall. It’s the fancy manor that sits incongruous amongst the factories as they belch their foul smoke into the atmosphere, coating the hall’s stone walls with a thick layer of soot and grime. The inhabitants were much like the hall, dirty, out of place and filled with secrets. The best of them would gather in the dining room, at least half of them every night, for the parties. There would be honoured guests from the other gangs, like Hercules Watley of the Harlequins. He sat at the top table, laughing and carousing with the leaders, waving a tankard in his fist as he raised his voice in song.
Mother Van Cartier shook her head shook her head at the interruption and turned back to her fellow Widows. They were in charge of the old religious district, long abandoned by the priests and the martyrs. It was now a hive of scum and villainy, just like the rest of Clifftown. Their conversation was quiet and reserved in a direct contrast to Watley’s squawking.
A gong sounded, deep in the bowels of Summerhall. The revel stopped dead, a veil of silence falling across all of the guests. They knew what the gong meant.
The King of Winter was joining them. This was going to be an important night.
Two of the Autumn Knights threw open the doors. The Knights were the elites of the gang, those who had worked their way up through the ranks of the Boys to positions of responsibility within the gang. The one to the right of the door as the guests were looking at it, was Irwin Smedley. He was the shorter of the two, broad shouldered and condensed. He wore a perpetual grimace as if the world disgusted him and every step was a stomp, a vicious attack on the ground. He could be found at most revels in a corner, in an argument and in trouble.
His companion was his opposite. Tall, gangling and he barely spoke a word. He was known only as the Stranger. He wore a mask over his face that covered everything but his eyes, eyes trapped inside two small windows of glass. They are frenzied and bloodshot and constantly roaming. If the eyes are the windows of the soul, the Stranger’s mask turns them into mirrors. They say that the King knew his real name and what face he kept hidden beneath that mask.
Smedley and the Stranger stood to attention on either side of the doorway, ramrod straight. Silence remained the champion of the room, stilling even Watley’s enthusiastic tongue.
A series of sharp ticks grew in volume, spurs clacking against the stone slabs of the hall. A figure grew from the shadows, a long coat swirling the shadows into a frenzy. As he passes, the gas lamps to either side grow in power and then dim again, as if the King gives power to his surroundings. He walked into the room and surveyed his guests, all of them sitting expectantly with drink and food raised to their mouths, conversations paused, all their interactions halted by this mans power.
He grinned and clapped his hands. ‘Don’t let me keep you from a good time!’
I’ve had this idea floating around for a while, ever since I heard a cover of Don Henley’s The Boys of Summer by Front Country. It’s one that needs some work, needs a few of those details ironed out, but as a start it works for me. A city of criminals and crime, with everything led by my mysterious Boys of Summer. I’ve put this into the Sky Pirates category as I can see this linking in with my Argent Siren stories, though it could yet be something independent.
Also a favourite song? Out of all the available music in the world? Can’t do it. I can’t even choose a top twenty, let alone a favourite. The other idea I was going to go for with this one, had I not gone with the Boys of Summer, was a collection of very short pieces based on ten or twenty of my favourites. Then I would link them together.
That sounds a lot like hard work though…
The Idiot in Tin Foil