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Bounty:Fury Riders MC

By:Zoey Parker

Chapter One




Erica





This is a bad idea.



It was all I could think as I traveled deeper and deeper into a seedy  part of town I had little experience with. The night seemed darker  there, deeper. Scarier. As a kid I was fascinated with the way darkness  changed the world around us. Things we wouldn't be afraid of in the  light, things we might even enjoy-trees rustling in the wind, a covered  bridge, our own front yard-suddenly became ominous once the light went  away. Shadow and darkness tended to do things to our brains.



That was why I started taking pictures in the first place. I became  fascinated by the way light and dark played off one another. We all  loved the light. We sought it out. We basked in it. Yet shadow made for a  great shot. Better than one that was over-exposed. A lot more could be  shown in a dark shot with just a hint of someone or something coming out  of the shadows than in one taken in a brightly-lit room.



Then again, we all brought a part of ourselves into what we observed. I  could hang a print on the wall, taken in one of those dark rooms with  just a hint of a shape coming out of the darkness-a face, maybe, or an  arm or a desk chair, anything-and one person might find it inspiring,  one might find it depressing, and one might find it frightening. Same  photo, three reactions. We brought our projections to the image we saw,  making it what we wanted it to be.



The only problem was, the part of the world I was exploring that damp  fateful night wasn't very pleasant even in broad daylight. Only the most  determined Pollyanna could see anything positive there. Roughly seventy  percent of the crime in the city came out of that specific area, only  twelve blocks square.



And I was driving into it.



"You sure you're gonna be all right out here?" The driver cast a  concerned look my way in the rearview mirror. He was a grandfatherly  type, and I saw the concern in his eyes.



"Sure thing," I said, sounding more chipper than I felt. Really, all I  wanted to do was go straight home and curl up in bed with a cup of tea.



It had seemed like a good idea when I came up with it. I was desperate  to find something riveting, something visceral and unforgettable. I was  getting photos together for a potential exhibition, one which I had a  lot of hopes pinned on. It would make or break me as a photographer.



I hadn't been seriously into the photography game for very long. I'd  studied it in college, but since my parents nearly dropped dead at the  thought of their daughter pinning all her hopes on a career in the arts,  I couldn't major in it and hope for them to pay my tuition. So I  majored in criminal justice-they were hoping this would lead to law  school-while minoring in fine arts. Three years after graduation and I  was still fielding the occasional inquiry into when I would be applying  for law school. But I was busy taking pictures.



I'd been taking pictures since I got my first camera. It was my tenth  birthday, and I'd recently spent a rainy Saturday afternoon watching a  documentary on street photography I happened to stumble across on TV. I  was hooked. I imagined myself taking pictures of people in their  everyday lives, capturing a slice of life for future generations to see  and ponder. I would be famous, a champion of the people.



Needless to say, my first roll of film was a disaster. So was the next. I  was still too young to be trusted with a digital camera, so all I could  work with was point-and-shoot. It was all right-a digital camera would  have been a waste of time. I needed to learn how to compose a shot  first.



One thing my parents couldn't ignore was my passion for learning all I  could about the medium. I wouldn't just point the camera at something  and click away. I was very serious. I took out books from the library,  spent hours doing research online. How to compose a shot. How lighting  affected a shot. What made a good picture. Why photos taken by  professionals were better than anything I could come up with. This  wasn't just a silly hobby for me.



It took three years of saving every bit of money I could get my hands  on, but I was finally able to buy an actual, serious DSLR. Countless  hours were spent taking shots, analyzing them, comparing them to the  ones I saw in photography books and blogs. It became my life, and I was  never without a camera in my possession.



So what was I doing three years out of college? I was working as a  portrait photographer in a mall. Hence, my parents wondering when I  planned to enter law school.



It was discouraging. I hadn't spent so much of my life learning the art  to take pictures of kids sitting in front of cheesy backdrops. Yet for  all my studying the art, I had no idea how to break into the business.



That's when I got the idea for the exhibit. After spending a lot of time  at galleries in the area, I'd made a few friends and one of them agreed  to showcase my work for a nominal fee. They had connections to art  writers at local papers who would cover the exhibition. This could be my  big break, enough to get my name out there and get people talking about  me and willing to buy my work. I was stoked-this was the chance I'd  been working toward.         

     



 



All I had to do was take shots worthy of being put up for the  exhibition. Nothing I'd already done was good enough. Even my favorite  shots were shit all of a sudden. I needed something raw, gripping,  evocative. Something nobody would forget.



Which was what gave me the idea to take shots of city life. Not the  glamorous, flashy stuff. The seedy stuff. Gritty, raw, real. The only  downside being the need for me to travel to these seedy places to take  the shots.



It'll be worth it, I thought as I rode in the back of the taxi. No way I  was driving my car around there-I would even know where to park to keep  it from being stolen.



"What's a nice kid like you doing around here anyway?" The cabbie peered at me.



I smiled to myself. Yes, Erica. What are you doing here? This was a far cry from the suburbs.



"Taking pictures," I said, holding my camera up so he could see it. I'd  graduated to a much nicer model than the one I bought more than a decade  earlier.



"Of what? A murder?"



A chill went up my spine. "Uh, I hope not!"



He chuckled. "Just wondering. Not many nice things happen around here. I'm sure you watch the news."



"I do," I said, looking out the window, biting my lip. I was well aware of what happened there.



"And you still wanna be here?"



"I'm a photographer," I explained. "I have to go where interesting things happen."



"Interesting. That's a word that can have many different meanings," he said. I smiled to myself. A philosopher cabbie.



We pulled up to the corner I'd asked for and I handed some money up to the front seat. "Can I ask one more favor?"



"Shoot."



"Do you mind if I take your picture?"



He smiled. "I'd have worn a nicer shirt if I knew this was coming."



I got out of the cab and looked around. What a depressing area. I felt  distinctly fluttery in my stomach but put on a brave face for the  driver.



"Okay, I'll stand here," I said, positioning myself to the left of the  driver, slightly in front of him. I crouched down. "You just sit behind  the wheel as though you're waiting for the light to change." It didn't  matter what color the light was or how long he waited-there was no one  behind him. The street was strangely free of traffic. My stomach gave  another fluttery feeling.



I got my shot and thanked the driver. "You want me to come back for you?" he asked.



I smiled. "I'll call your dispatch when I'm ready. It shouldn't take me long."



"All right," he said, grimacing. He looked me up and down. "Nice kid. A shame."



I didn't get a chance to ask him what the shame was before he pulled away. I didn't want to know what he was thinking.



I looked around again. There might not have been many cars on this  particular block, but there was a decent amount of foot traffic. I'd  dressed in dark colors, hoping to blend in, and I realized the bagginess  of the hoodie and jeans I'd chosen were probably meant to hide my body.  It was a subconscious decision at the time. My ash-blonde hair was  tucked up in a dark wool cap.



The only light came from the few working street lamps and the  illuminated signs for the handful of businesses on the street, all food  joints. Chinese takeout, pizza, wings. There was what appeared to be a  market of some kind, too, but no market I would ever step foot into. The  inside of the shop looked scarier than the street outside it, with dim  lighting and a menacing man in a bloodied apron smoking a cigarette out  front. I had my limits.



Still, he was a start. "Excuse me," I said, approaching with caution. I  spoke in a register lower than my natural one, in even tones. The last  thing I wanted to do was show him how nervous I was.



He looked me up and down, his eyes squinting. "Yeah? Whaddya want?"

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