The man eating breakfast certainly looked like Nicholas Cutter. He had the same pale skin. The same shaved head. The same technicolor tattoos peeking from beneath his T-shirt like graffiti on a whitewashed wall.
|Illustration by Pete Ryan|
Yet, from across the kitchen table, his sister Rainy saw a stranger. Once an extroverted older brother, Nick was now buried inside himself. His goofy, jack-o'-lantern grin had hardened into a grimace. His eyes were clouded, as if the former soldier were still lost in an Iraqi sandstorm. He sat shoveling cereal into his mouth, staring into the past -- into the perpetual war raging inside his head.
Suddenly the doorknob on the Boynton Beach ranch house began to rattle. Nick's eyes rekindled. The knob rattled again, and he rose from his seat.
"Someone is trying to break in," Rainy said. She reached for her phone to call 911, but Nick was already walking toward his bedroom. When he emerged a few seconds later, he was carrying the biggest weapon his sister had ever seen.
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