Hal Lowed appreciated his parents’ warped sense of humor. When he was four years old, he realized the Lord’s Prayer said his name. Once this fact revealed itself to him, he listened for every Sunday, right along with the S’s that snaked through the congregation on the words “trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” He loved that part.

Hal remembered turning to his mother in the middle of the prayer, saying, “They just said my name!” A few people sitting near them chuckled at his boyish outburst because it was true. His family had a standing joke. His mom was called “Mother Lowed,” and his father “Over Lowed.”

His father’s real name was not Over, but Owen. As a child, Hal never knew what it was his father did for a living. They had a beautiful home, and his mother was one of the few in the neighborhood who got to be a stay at home mother. He used to get mad because everyone else was going to the daycare and played with their friends for several hours after school was out, while Hal had to go home by himself and play alone. He told this to his mother, who admonished him that he should be grateful to have her home with him and didn’t have to go to a daycare center.

Because Hal had limited access to people, he became a recluse. He started resenting people asking questions of him and never invited anyone home from school to play at his house. Hal seldom went to theirs. He enjoyed his company more than the company of others.

Hal would never forget when there was a rap at the front door. It was 7 p.m. on the day Hal would never forget. His father looked out the picture window before answering the door telling Hal to hide, and whatever he heard, he should not come out until the men were gone. Hal ran for the basement. He liked to squeeze into the laundry chute climbing halfway up. There, no one would ever find him.

He heard some shouting and a couple of quick raps, silence, then things falling to the floor like the silverware drawer. Hal listened as the men his father had seen out the window ransacked the house looking for something, checking every nook and cranny, even the basement. The footsteps on the wooden stairs made him hold his breath. The laundry chute door opened.

Hal spied the expensive wing-tipped dress shoes below him as the light poured in the cabinet door. The basket of dirty laundry was pulled out and emptied on the floor. The cabinet door closed. Hal continued to breathe quietly through his mouth until he heard the man running up the basement steps. He had been spared.

The house had been quiet for a long time. Hal felt safe enough to leave his hiding place besides he had to pee. He stopped in the downstairs bathroom and emptied his bladder but didn’t flush the toilet; they might still be there.

He took steps slowly, one step at a time, listening in the dark for any noises. There were none. Opening the basement door into the kitchen, he surveyed the mess. Everything had been gone through. The drawers and cabinets had been opened and emptied, the refrigerator was dripping orange juice and milk on the floor, and the light of the open door shined in the dark, backlighting the disarray.

Hal walked through the rest of the house. Furniture slashed, shelves emptied, paintings from the walls tossed to the floor. Someone had been looking for something. He did not find his parents downstairs.

Hal stood at the foot of steps that led to the bedrooms. His inner voice told him just to call someone, that if he went up there, he would see something that he could never un-see. Curiosity and the hope that one of his parents survived the attack drove him to look. When he opened his parents’ bedroom, what he saw made him vomit right there. He couldn’t take in all that had happened to them. It had been a slaughter. The bedspread soaked in blood, his mother’s face with a look of fear, his father’s face missing teeth from the beating he took before he was mercifully shot.

Hal ran down the stairs calling his grandmother, the only number he had memorized. He had been taught not to call 911 unless it was an emergency. His parents were dead. That was not an emergency. The worst thing that could happen had already happened.

Grandma Grace called the police and got there at the same time. When they were on the phone, she told Hal to hide and not come out until she or the police got to the door. She didn’t know if the intruders were still in the house or waiting outside somewhere. Hal was her only grandchild. Her continuance in this world depended on his survival.

Hal opened the door for his grandmother. The officers swept the house. Hal was questioned, but he didn’t know anything. He didn’t know what the men were looking for; yes, there was more than one, but he wasn’t sure. Hal felt it had been two. He hid in the laundry chute, they opened the cupboard, but never looked up. At that point, he broke down, and the officer told Grandma Grace she should take him back to her home.

The funerals were closed casket. The undertaker said there was no putting his parents back together again, sort of like Humpty Dumpty. His grandmother shushed the man mid-sentence and quickly glanced at Hal. The director looked back at his grandma, nodding that he understood. So, closed casket it was.

The house was professionally cleaned and sold at a loss. The bank wasn’t happy, but given the fact that the slaughter of two people happened in the house and someone was willing to buy it, knowing the history, should have been enough for them. There was nothing left from the sale for Hal, who received Social Security now that he was an orphan. His grandma refused to adopt him. If she did, he would no longer get the health insurance and money that came with being a ward of the state. Grandma Grace told him she was his guardian, and she loved him. That should have been good enough.

Hal ran with the wrong crowd after moving in with his grandmother. She lived in a less prestigious part of town. He had to change schools, and the kids were tough. Hal was tougher. It took many months, but he had every kid in his class afraid to go against his wishes. He was the Svengali of Bridgeport School. No one defied his word. Hal was big for a sixth-grader. He asked his grandmother what his father did for a living. It still bothered him that no one, including his grandmother, seemed to give him a solid answer.

“He was in sales,” his grandma told him.

“What did he sell?” Hal asked.

“Nothing good,” his grandmother answered. On his 13th birthday, he was approached by some men on the street.

“Hey, aren’t you Owen Lowed’s boy?” Hal stopped on his journey home from school, eyeing the man up.

“Why do you want to know?” He puffed up his chest to make himself look bad. The man laughed.

“Just like your old man.” Hal was caught off-guard when he heard that.

“Wanna make 20 bucks?” Hal nodded yes.

“Take this package to this address.” He handed Hal a crisp $20. His eyes got big when he saw the bill, but then remembered what he had learned from McGruff, the crime dog in school. Gangs picked out kids to deliver drugs so that they wouldn’t get arrested, and once you did this, you belonged to them. Hal decided he wanted nothing to do with it, but he quickly told the man, “I won’t do this, but I have a few friends I can set you up with for ten percent of the delivery fee.” He had learned fractions in school, and he understood the concept. The man chuckled.

“Okay, I want to meet these so-called friends.” Hal arranged that meeting. He had several boys and girls standing in line in his garage. They all wanted to make money. For delivery of a package? 20 bucks? Hal loved it. He was going to be making money like crazy. If these kids delivered what he thought they could, there was no danger to him, and he would be making more than 20 bucks a day.

“Raise your right hand,” Hal said. The kids in the garage raised their hands. What a motley crew, but they were his crew. He did the only oath he had memorized, the Lord’s Prayer.

“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.” The kids repeated after him. “You see, I’m doing the Lord’s Prayer so that you will be protected. Hal Lowed be thy name.” The kids said, “Amen.” Hal walked them to the corner, and each child received an address and 20 dollars. They ran in different directions.

“You did well,” the Weasel told him after the kids disappeared, handing him $26. “You are smarter than your old man was. It was too bad he forgot to deliver a few of the packages; he got greedy.”

This news sent shivers through Hal, who looked down at the man’s expensive wing-tipped dress shoes, a flashback to when he hid in the laundry chute.

Everything he had wondered about was answered at that moment. Hal would find a way to get even with the man. He felt a little bad about getting his friends involved. He also felt terrible that his father was a criminal; this new fact was confirmed by Weasel.

As the business continued, Hal was making more money convincing kids in different neighborhoods how they could make money. He was a ringleader at 17. The kids were drawn to him, but were also afraid. He was a big man and could be quite convincing. They did not want to suffer the beating he threatened them with for not joining the running group. Weasel trusted him implicitly. For seven years, Hal had faithfully brought him recruits, all the while keeping his hands clean and taking money for every delivery made in the city.

Hal saved every dime. He planned to leave Bridgeport as soon as he turned 18. No one could stop him. He would go somewhere and start a new life. His grandmother wouldn’t even know where he was. He felt terrible for her, but she didn’t have much longer to live anyway. She was in her eighties.

A few weeks after his 18th birthday, Hal met the Weasel in the alley behind a strip club. The Weasel handed him his money. There was a lot of it. Hal couldn’t help but notice that the Weasel had more in his wallet. Hal realized that the Weasel had been holding out on him. All these years. Hal overlooked the fact that the man helped kill his parents, but he couldn’t ignore the man who had been skimming money off the top. Hal felt like an idiot.

The Weasel lit up a cigarette, inhaling deeply. “Another profitable day, my friend.” Weasel exhaled the smoke into Hal’s face. Angered, Hal punched the the Weasel hard enough to knock him to the ground. Stunned, the Weasel sat there trying to get his bearings.

“What the hell did you do that for?”

“You’ve been skimming. I see all that money in your wallet. That should have been handed over. You are a Weasel. Now get on your knees.” As the Weasel went to his knees, Hal grabbed the gun from his belt, patting him down for more weapons. Hal held the gun on the man, who begged for his life. Hal wondered if his parents were made to do the same thing.

“Say the Lord’s Prayer,” Hal shouted, pointing the gun at the man’s head. Weasel folded his hands.

“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.” With that said, Hal pulled the trigger on the pistol with the attached silencer. With a quick whoosh of air, the Weasel’s brains dripped down the side of the building.

“Don’t forget my name.” Hal wiped down the gun and put it in the Weasel’s right hand. He hoped it looked like a suicide.


He heard the hiss of the air brakes and felt the gentle forward movement. The town looked like a nice town. Hal stepped off the bus. All he had was a large amount of cash in his carry-on bag. Hal would have to find a new way to make a living. First, he needed to find a new identity, so he headed for what looked like the shady part of town that the bus went through on the way to the station. He only carried only the amount of money he thought that he needed after leaving his carry-on bag in a locker, the key buried under the third fence post in front of the terminal.

Hal walked along until he found a few outcasts asking for someone to make him a new ID. That was the beauty of how the underground worked: you could always find someone who knew someone for a few dollars. He was a big, strong kid. No one seemed to want to mess with him.

Once he got his new persona, he felt the need to go to church and ask for a new life to be granted to him. Hank Lowry, aka Hal Lowed, had a clean slate, a new ID., and a nest egg. He wanted guidance as to where he should start.

Hal sat in the church pew on Sunday morning, listening to the congregation as they recited the Lord’s Prayer. “Hallowed be thy name.” It gave him comfort when he heard his name on the lips of every parishioner there, because he wouldn’t hear it again, now that he was called Hank. Hal closed his eyes and smiled when he listened to the S’s that snaked across the church when everyone said, “trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” He loved that part.