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When It’s Good, It’s Good, When It’s BAD, It’s Better…

New Short Fiction: Professional Confessional

Some times justice is perverted.  What would seem like a slam dunk court case turns on its head because a group of twelve adults too stupid to get out of jury duty can’t see the obvious and a monster goes free.  There’s the usual community uproar, the victims crying foul, the judge simply shrugging his shoulders as he allows a man he knows has committed terrible, unmentionable crimes waltz right out of his court room.

At times like these, I can’t help but smile.  I customer is born through the rape of Justice.

My phone rings.  It’s an old fashioned ring, not a digital twerping but a mechanical ring that resonates even after I pick up the heavy plastic receiver.  The base of the phone is chipped and worn, an old phone that’s been sitting on my desk for the last decade.  There’s even a perfectly square patch of clean desk under the base.

I put the phone to my ear, exhale a little cigarette smoke and ask who’s calling.  2928447805_dc77e99c4a

There’s always that pause; an uncertainty as my client makes that all important decision to cross over the threshold of justice and revenge.  He wonders to himself in a matter of split seconds if what he’s doing is right or wrong.  If his request will send him to Hell in the end.  But they always come through for me, every time.  They cross that line ten out of every ten times, because in the end, it’s the face of a loved one that crosses their mind’s eye.  It’s their last memory of that person that pushes them to make a commitment to me.

The voice comes through a little tinny and scratched, a heavy heart that nearly bleeds all over my ear as they give me a few special details about their particular case.  I jot a note or two, particularly addresses, names.  I give a quote on how much all of this is going to cost and ask if their comfortable with my bid.

They are.  They always are.  Because I don’t give my clients a choice.

I set the wheels in motion at that point.  By the time my old cracked receiver with its tangled jumble of phone chord hits the crème-colored base, I’m already on the move.  There’s no use dawdling, as the information I’ve obtained from my client tends to vary as time rolls on.  If I don’t act now there might not be a chance to act in the future.

That’s one thing I ask the client, straight up:  How good is your information?  I can tell through the phone if they’re wishy-washy or not, it’s a confidence thing.  If there’s a pause or stutters or waffling, I won’t take the case.  I’ll hang up.  It’s absolutely no good to me if I show up at the wrong place at the wrong time and a whole shit storm unravels in my lap.  I’m a professional, not some junkie with too much time on his hands and not enough crack rock in his bloodstream.

I make a very careful selection on what tools I’ll bring to the job.  I base this selection on the information and what I already know.  Without them knowing it, I know a lot more about my clients than they’d care for me to know, but it’s through no fault of my own.  Their lives, problems, soul crushing defeats are played out in newspapers and tv for me every morning and night.  When I get the call, I know about 99% of the time exactly who I’m dealing with and what they need from me, right down to what they want to appear in the headlines.

Sometimes it’s a quiet-type of thing, other times, it’s a messy-type of thing.  Like a chef, I cook to order.

I pack up my things and take a drive over to where ever I need to be.  I sit and wait and watch like an owl over a barn.  I have endless amounts of time to spend just watching where I’m supposed to be watching.  No one notices me, no one cares about some guy in a busted up jalopy with out of state tags.aws_20080225_5003_c

My ride might look like a piece of shit, but trust me, she doesn’t ride like one.

I’ve spent probably a year in total time ensuring that my vehicle performs expertly, because as a pro I demand that my equipment operate flawlessly at all times.  What may look like a heap on the side of the road to the casual passerby is really a supped up Lincoln, complete with a V8 and enough low-end torque to throw the 800 dollar set of rear tires off their rims into the living room of the house at the end of the block.

So I wait, with the radio on low.  Some old Led Zeppelin song is playing.

Around ten I see the client; not the guy who called me, but whom he called about.  I stalk, never allowing myself to get trapped with tunnel vision or over exuberance.  Doing this for as long as I have, I’ve developed a sense of slowing my heart rate down to maybe just fifty beats a minute.  I can always feel my skin turn cold, and watch as the colors wash out of everything.

My client tonight is a recently acquitted child molester and murderer.  He has a conviction rap sheet longer than a giraffe’s neck.  The jury acquitted him due to a technicality brought to their attention by a righteous defense lawyer which blind sided the state’s attorney.  The prosecution requested a recess to discuss the technicality with their star witness – a 20 year career detective who made the arrest – but the damage had already been done.  The judge ruled that the technicality be admitted into evidence and the jury was made aware.  After two days of deliberations, they set the man free.

What could they do?  It was the state who fucked up their own case.

Now this guy is walking free, to do as he pleases like any other tax paying citizen.  That’s when I got the call.

The victim’s father- wrought with grief I imagine- called.  He said he got the number from a friend who suggested me.  I have a feeling I know who that person is, but that’s a story for another time.  The man on the phone asked if I could do this job and of course I said yes, I’d be happy to.  I gave him the price for my services and he agreed to my terms by leaving the backpack at the disclosed location with the proper amount of money inside of it.

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That brings us to now, where I’m strolling across the dimly lit street to a small house at the end of a shady side street.  My client, the man I’m supposed to dispose of, just closed and I assume, locked his door.  Without losing my stride I plant my plastic covered boot against the door, on the hinge side, because the bolts holding the hinges are weaker than the bolt in the lock.

The door twists inward, almost coming completely clean out of the frame.  Across the living room, into the eat in kitchen some twenty feet away is my client standing by the fridge, holding a carton of milk with a dumb looking, albeit surprised, look on his face.  He’s shirtless, whiskered, pants sagging down his skinny butt, pushed down by his bulging beer belly.

The first round hits him in the hip, because I want to sit his ass down.

He let’s out a surprised yelp because he never heard the round leave my gun.  There’s blood and milk all over the floor making things slick.  The yellow light being cast from the still open refrigerator cuts across his body, illuminating his good half.

I put the heavy door of the fridge between us, just in case he’s holding.

I know my caller-client wants my kill-client to suffer for as long as possible.  I can do that, however I’m not a torturer, I’m an executioner.

He squirms, kicking, trying to push himself away from me, leaving a wide streak of pale-lit pink back towards some cupboards.

I put another round in his leg, and he screams, clutching his thigh.  My heart rate has yet to go above 65 bpm.10125678

I watch him writher around on the floor and all I can think about is the mess that’s being made.  I’m not worried about leaving behind any evidence; my boots are wrapped in plastic bags, I’m wearing a tight knit beanie, latex gloves, and my gun doesn’t discharge spent casings.

He starts to plea with me, asking me to let him go.  He learned his lesson he says.  He holds up his hand in defense, his palm facing me, all five fingers outstretched.

I put a round through the meat of his hand and he screams, clutching the bloody stump.

I glance at the counter and see a Zipper lighter.  It’s brushed steel, a little pitted from use.  I flick it open and it lights instantly from so much use.

I close the cover, clicking it in my hand as I watch the client cry.  I notice the stove has gas burners.  I turn one on.

With one breath I blow out the tiny flame and then crank the dial all the way open.  I light the Zippo again and set the lighter down on the counter so the flame is flickering around the room.

I turn and leave, letting the man sit in his filth.

The next morning the papers ran an interesting story about an acquitted sex offender and murderer dying in a freak gasoline explosion.  And I’m open for business again.

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October 3, 2009 Posted by | Written Works | , | Leave a comment

866

My brain feels fidgety, which makes my whole body kinda numb, but panicked at the same time.

I think I’ve run out of things to do, to say.

But at the same time, it feels like my mind is swimming in gasoline, like it itches and I can’t scratch at it.

I need something else to occupy my hands, my attention, that sort of thing.

I feel bitter, like this beer in my mouth, this stupid lemon wedge the smiley face I don’t want.

I pretend it’s ok, because life is all about appearances.

Don’t let on that things are spinning out of control,

or that you’re unhappy.

Everything’s fine, really.

Turn up the radio, listen to the news.

Sip.

Listen to the sounds of your organs churning inside of you, your teeth gnashing, your muscles quaking.

Crack your fingers, sit down in front of the screen, stare.

Wait for it to come to you.

Backspace, backspace, backspace, start over.

Running head start.  Jump in.

Your eyes sting, your brow weeps, you look like a lost sailor.

You wish someone would see how hurt you really are.

You wish one person would see how hurt you are.

Fuck it, carry it like a load evenly distributed across your chest.

One step, two step, march.

Everything looks cheap and tastes cheaper.  You can’t get around the feeling that everything is set up to fall under your weight.

You get the sense that… despair is a better alternative.

But you fight against it.

You have plans, at least.

August 7, 2009 Posted by | The Great Indoors, Written Works | , | 1 Comment

A Snippet of What I’ve Been Working On

Been a busy week here at the BAD.  More news on that to come shortly.  While you wait, why not take a gander at 1000 or so words of the short fiction I’ve been working on after hours…

***

He packed lightly, bringing with him three books, toiletries, some clothes, two pistols, another ceramic knife, one hundred thousand dollars in bundled cash, sunglasses, SIM cards for cell phones, a pair of running shoes, and his iPod.

He had called Katie to see if she wanted to drop by and she said she was actually in the neighborhood, and she was going to pop over unexpected anyway.  Dreamer sat on his couch and watched tv until his door buzzed.

He keyed the speaker, she identified herself and he buzzed her in.  He popped the door to his apartment and got out two beers and set one on the counter top while he sipped the other.  A few moments passed and Katie walked in the door wrapped in a short pea coat, her eyes behind square rimmed glasses, her face beaming.

“This for me?”  She motioned for the beer.

“No, it’s for your sister,” Dreamer said with mock sarcasm.  She lifted an eyebrow and picked up the beer from her side of the counter and took a pull from the bottle neck.  She took off her coat, revealing her thin-but-curvy body, and pressed herself up against Dreamer who was leaning against the stove in the tiny kitchenette.

“Funny, I didn’t know my sister was in town this week,” and she kissed him lightly on the lips.  Dreamer kissed back a little, his mind someplace else for the time being.  The conversation with his handler still lingered in his psyche and it was readily apparent to his girlfriend from the bookstore.

The two of them had been dating regularly for the last month or so, enough to the point where Dreamer considered her to be his girlfriend exclusively.  That is, he didn’t really have much time to go out and see anyone else, but nor did he want to.  They had sex, and sometimes she would crash at his place.  Seldom did they ever really go out, maybe to the occasional bar or night club, once to a comedy club in Manhattan, but most nights were spent in eating take-out Sushi or Tex-Mex.

Once, Katie cooked an actual home-made meal for Dreamer, which Jimmy thought was comparable to his own mother’s home cooking.  It was then that she sealed it for him.

“What’s the matter?”  She asked, which brought Dreamer back to Earth.  He cleared his throat and set his beer down between the gas burners on the stove.

“I gotta go away for a while, and I don’t know how long,” he said evenly, with the cold efficiency he had developed through much practice in front of a mirror and victims.  She hesitated as her hipster-thin body became stark and rigid.

“Huh?”

“It’s business related.  My company is uh, relocating me for an unspecified amount of time to do some work up in Canada I guess. Montreal.  So uh, I gotta leave tonight, by train.”  She pushed back off of him and leaned against the opposite L in the counter.

“Well, how long are you going to be gone for?”

“I dunno, but I guess I’ll be coming back, eventually,” Dreamer shrugged.

“That’s fucked up- they didn’t even tell you how long you’d be gone for?”  She asked.

“No,”

“Not even a ballpark?”

“No.”  She swallowed this.

“That’s fucked up,” she repeated.  “I was just starting to kinda like you too.”

“I know, me too Katie.  It’s not fair, but it was better than the alternative, I guess,” and Dreamer realized he was thinking out loud more than talking to his girlfriend.

“What was the alternative?”  He knew she was going to ask so he had an answered prepared.

“They were going to let me go,” he said and sucked on his beer bottle.  She nodded and scratched her chin a little.

“Can I come and visit you?”

“Eventually, after I get things sorta established, you know?”  She nodded and closed the distance between the two of them.

“Ok, just, you know, be safe, that sort of shit.  Given with what you read, I’m sure that won’t be a problem for you though, you know?”  She referenced the copy of Complete Hand Combat Vol. 9, and a beaten copy of Famous Small Arms Review 2001 on the coffee table in the other room.  Dreamer smiled a little and gave her rear a squeeze.

“Sure.  But listen, I gotta finish packing up, I gotta catch a seven o clock train, so,” and he trailed off.  She leaned up and kissed him softly, and touched his face.

“Just be safe ok?  I worry about you sometimes.  You tend to get very serious out of no where and it’s just…”

“Yeah I know, it’s just my job, you know?”

“Yeah,” and she broke away.  She picked up her coat, took another swig of the beer and let him walk her to the door to his apartment.

“Give me a call when you get in, ok?”

“It’ll probably be early, like, five-ish,”

“I don’t care, I’ll probably be up with worry, you know?”  Dreamer rolled his eyes.

“I have a mother, you know,”

“Really?  I thought you were hatched,”

“Such a smart ass.”

“You love me”

“Maybe.”

“Bye, James.”

“Bye Katie, walk safe, ok?  Oh here,” he dug into his wallet and produced a yellow Metro Card.  “I still have like, two weeks on this Unlimited, you want it?  I’m taking a cab into The City so…” She snatched it from his outstretched fingers.

“I’ll give it back to you when I see you again,” and she smiled.  They said their good byes again, and he shut the door after her.

Although he was already packed and it was only five in the evening, Dreamer wanted some alone time and decided to take a shower, since he was probably going to be stuck on a train for up to fifteen hours.  He undressed in his bedroom, took a towel from his linen closet and padded into the shower.

***

April 26, 2009 Posted by | Not Enough Time, Shameless Self Promotion, Written Works | , , | Leave a comment

Tag, I’m It.

I was hit the with “Splotchy virus” a few days ago, and am just now getting around to posting it.

It works like when you used to spend your summers sitting around a camp fire with your friends or family and… wait, you never did that?  You grew up in a city and never went camping?  Oh… well ok, someone starts a story and then others are tasked with adding to it.  It goes around and around and becomes a big mess.

So here’s the story so far… look for my addition towards the end:

The bus was more crowded than usual. It was bitterly cold outside, and I hadn’t prepared for it. I noticed that a fair number of the riders were dressed curiously. As I glanced around, I stretched my feet and kicked up against a large, heavy cardboard box laying under the seat in front of me. (Splotchy)

I couldn’t believe my eyes. Surreptitiously, I tried to establish, without giving it away, if anyone else had seen what I had. For ten years I had been looking for that box. What looked like an ordinary cardboard box to most contained something most precious. Only by the small golden “P” was I able to identify what I was looking at. (Freida Bee)

How the box got here, or how I happened to be on this bus with it now–these questions were immaterial. I just had to get that box. The bus slowed to a stop, so I steadied myself. Just as I was about to make a grab for the box, however, it moved. Someone else was picking it up to take it away! I had to stop her! (Dguzman)

What? This couldn’t be happening–to get this close and watch some quick-footed little dwarf just up and snatch it away from me…no! I got up and just as I did the sweaty hillbilly in front of me stood up and stepped into the aisle. Moving like a bad mime imitating a man in a box he extended his arms and stretched, looking up at the ceiling as he did so. The dwarf with the box–I couldn’t be sure if it was a man or a woman, but something about her seemed feminine–slipped out the front door and off the bus. I took a deep breath and slumped back down into my seat.(Bubs)

“Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck!” I mumbled under my breath. I leaned my head against the cold window and watched the dwarf threading her way through the crowd. She held the box tightly to her chest as she leaned into the wind and rushed forward. The small gold P on the box flashed teasingly between the coats and legs of the passersby. I bit my lower lip, trying not to cry.

I had a brief flashback to the last time I’d seen that box. Agnes and I had just enjoyed a concert at Crew Hall. We ducked into her father’s book shop for some tea. As we shrugged off our wraps, we heard her father arguing animatedly in French with someone in the back room.

Agnes laughed and waved her hand dismissively at me when I looked at her questioningly. “Eetz nussing!” she whispered. “Eetz, mon pere and mon oncle! Zay are deescussing an order.”

Just then Agnes’s father jerked open the door to the back room and hurried out. His face was ruddy with anger and he was carrying the box with the small. gold P. A second later, Agnes’s uncle followed. He opened his mouth to say something, but seeing Agnes and me staring at him, closed it again with a snap. His large mustache quivered.

The bus pulled away from the curb, jerking me out of my reverie. I shook my head to clear my thoughts and searched the crowd on the sidewalk for the dwarf. There she was! Keeping my eyes glued to her, I stood again and yanked the bell cord. I’d get off at the next stop and see if I could catch up to her. The bus pulled up to the curb a couple of blocks away. I could still see the dwarf as she hurried in and out of the crowd. I lurched to the front of the bus and ran down the steps, still not taking my eyes off the dwarf and the gold P on the box. (DCup)

I hit the sidewalk hard, my ankle actually bowing out and causing me to limp a little, but that fucking dwarf was still in my sight, and I’ll be damned if I was going to let her get away with what was rightfully mine.  And besides, didn’t she see the signs on the bus?  Those, “If you see something, say something” anti-terror signs that are on every subway train and bus and fucking cab in this city?  The ones that warn about suspicious unattended packages?  Who did she think she was just grabbing some random box from under a bus seat and hustling off with her little fucking legs, the goddamn cripple she was.

I snaked through the crowd, the majority of which was against me, walking towards downtown as I hustled uptown, like a salmon trying to fight the down current.  I was quickly within hailing distance (largely due to that fact that one of my strides was at least two or three of hers) and unplugged from my ears my white ear buds and shouted.

“You, shorty, with the box!”  I called out, my voice cutting like that of an authoritarian.  Most of the jaded urbanites barely noticed my command to stop, but from the distance of about twenty feet I could see the little bitch jump with a start.  She knew I was coming for her, and I wasn’t about to let a fucking hillbilly or a mime or even a goddamn Elvis Impersonator get between me and that box.

What the box really meant to me, aside from a connection to my kindred past, was the sense that it was something that personally belonged to me, that someone else had in their possession for a number of years.  It was insulting, damn near infuriating to see someone else just skip off with what was properly yours.

I’m blocked!  A pair of piano movers are moving a large upright, lacquered brown, covered in movers tape and styrofoam, from the store to the back of their truck, and that little twat of a munchkin just ducked under the instrument and got an extra thirty or so feet on me.

Fuck this, I thought to myself and ran around the outside of the truck, narrowly being smooshed by a speeding cab.  I saw a chunk of concrete from the side of a building, roughly baseball sized laying on the sidewalk, and the bitch with my box had entered a clearing, void of worker drones on their way home.  In my mind I called back to my old baseball days at State, picked up the chunk of rock, and hurled it at the back of the dwarf’s head.

The chunk of concrete smacked home with the accuracy of a 6-4-3 double play, and she went down hard, face first at the end of the side walk.

This would’ve been fine if not for the fact that the box skidded down the ramped end of the sidewalk and stopped roughly fifteen feet out into the busy street.  A quick glance in the way of on-coming traffic showed a big Mack Truck barreling down,  it’s front tire right in line with my box.  (J. @ IJS)

I’m tagging Jake and Hokie, Wulfie and Arkay.  Do your worst.

I’m just sayin…

December 15, 2008 Posted by | People I Love, Too Much Time | , , , | 1 Comment

A Conversation I Wish Would Happen

I litter. I litter alot. I don’t know why I choose not to reuse, and pollute, maybe it’s because I’m lazy, or maybe it’s because I was molested as a child by a man dressed up as Captain Planet.

Either way.

Whether it’s little bits of paper receipts or pocket lint or a forty ounce bottle, I tend to just toss shit on the ground and not care about it. Call me an inconsiderate prick, and I’ll simply call you a member of Al Gore’s Bong Brigade.

In all seriousness, I could give less than a fuck about the environment. I have flashbacks of living in NYC where I would be forced to circle my apartment’s block for two hours looking for a space I could squeeze into, and still have to walk half an hour to get home. This is ridiculous, because people want to preserve the natural splendor and beauty of Mother Earth, yet I have to take three buses and a subway transfer just to get home, after driving home from work.

Fuck that shit. Pave it all so I don’t burn twenty minutes looking for a place to park so I can return these DVDs…

So earlier today I was killing a little bit of time before a doctor’s appointment and I got some Wendy’s for lunch. I ate in my truck, which I was very careful in doing so, because I didn’t want to spill anything on the new interior, and when I was done, I had a neat little ball of trash.

In my old truck, that trash would probably still be sitting on the floor of the passenger side (ask The Lady), but since I’ve had my new truck for about a week, I wasn’t about to start littering in HER! So I scanned the parking lot I was eating in for a trash receptacle and found none.

Let me clear something up before I go any further: I will throw garbage out if there’s, within reasonable distance, a trash can or some shit. I’ll walk across a parking lot to throw something as big as a wadded up ball of fast food rubbish, oppose to just leaving it under a bush, which is exactly what I did.

So I’m looking around, and there’s a Papa Gino’s, a TJ Maxx, some other stores. No one has a trash can outside. Now I’m starting to look like a homeless person, wandering around a parking lot with a vacant stare on my face, clutching a ball of waste. That’s when my “fuck it” moment struck me, and I stuck the trash under a bush.

I dropped the ball and kicked it under the bush and took a look around. There was other scattered trash in the area and I shrugged and walked back to my truck. No one seemed to notice/care.

But what if someone did? What if this someone was some Ultra-Hysterical Obnoxious Enviro-Hippie in a Prius on his or her way to a pottery class? I’m sure this is how the conversation would’ve gone…

Ultra-Hysterical Obnoxious Enviro-Hippie: Excuse me, sir? Sir? ….SIR! You dropped your garbage under that bush…

Me: Uh, yeah, thank you, I know. And I didn’t drop it, I kicked it there.

UHOEH: But… but, you can’t just do that!

Me: Yes I can, I just did.

UHOEH: But you can’t litter, you’re destroying the environment!

Me: …In case you didn’t notice, I drive a big black pick up truck. I’m sure you can assume that I don’t care about the environment.

UHOEH: But what about your children! You’re ruining the planet for them to inherit!

Me: Fuck’em. I like air conditioning too much.

UHOEH: Ugh, a tough guy huh? Well you know it’s a state law not to litter!

Me: Yeah, but… I don’t care. Fuck it.

UHOEH: You’re an asshole!

Me: Go play hackey-sack, or …save a whale or something.

God I fucking hate hippies, even the ones I imagine.

I’m just sayin’…

August 13, 2008 Posted by | Out and About, World Wide Events | , , , , , | Leave a comment