The bass beats echo in their ears. “Four on the floor”. Club standards. Ironic, considering the drunks. Nothing out of the ordinary.
The kids stagger out. A convenience store conveniently materializes before them. A bright white beacon of hope, they would say, if they knew what despair was. A man goes up to them. His hand is on his side. “I’ve been shot,” he says. “Help me.” The kids stare, glassy gazes gaining ground on incredible insight: “Shot,” they say. They say it over and over, louder every time, as they beckon the man back into the club.
Their voices echo in his ears. He falls to the floor. Post-party parking lot late night standards. Nothing out of the ordinary.
I was a college sophomore when a friend pretended to hold me up. I was walking alone by a grassy field when he whispered, “Holdap ‘to.” I replied, “Ay, puta.”
Copycat cologne creepifying the cells. It’s a male rest room on prom night. Three mirrors stand behind three sinks. Blobs of barf dot the third like drunken braille. Behind it is a sorry sack of shit slumped silent and sleeping. A key chain, with the logo of a sports car maker, hangs from his hand.
He thinks he can leave. Someone tells him about giving coins to the parking lot kids. He thinks he can leave. He didn’t give them anything, though. He owes no one. When he drives drunk down Dustberry Drive, he’ll think of slapping his bitch wife and fucking her sore, after she makes him a drink.
She thinks she can leave. Husband’s drunk again. Fantastic Friday fuckery. When he walks to his convertible, an ice pick might persuade its way into his gut. It was a good deal. Coins for the kids, saving the big ones for a new black suit for the funeral. She’ll play the shocked good wife. I’ll play the friendly consoling neighbor. Out with the old, baby.
“I’ve outlived my usefulness.” I imagine that my glass, wanting to be full again, is speaking to me. “They’re out to get me.” The waiters, perhaps? White-garbed undercover military agents out to “get” my company for the night.
I have trouble trusting middle-aged men who wear heavy gold chains around their necks. I have bigger issues listening to people who talk too much. He’s making it all up: his stories about his marksmanship, close calls, sexual conquests. I play along.
“Fix your house and make it look like you’ve been expecting them,” I say. He should sit on a comfortable chair facing away from the door. The TV would be on one of those late-night shows. Canned laughter and static on low. Whiskey in hand and a smoke on the other, he won’t even face his would-be killer. He’ll take a drag and say, “Took you long enough.”
He laughs. “Wouldn’t that be something?” He finishes his drink and stands. We do not shake hands. He’s off to work, he says, but he’ll be passing by a 7-11 first. I leave an hour after he does. I drive faster by convenience stores, just in case.
She sizzled as she swayed serpentine through the scene. It was almost midnight and I’d been saving slick shit for half an hour. She smiled and it reset the lotto jackpot prize. She slid into the space saved for her. She said, “Hello.” I was hoping for a kiss but it was maybe next time, kid. Maybe I’ll cash in later. I had trouble thinking because I was thinking of trouble while trying to talk her into tantalizing themes. She talked about numbers. I was thinking of just one in particular.
“500 pesos,” she said, “Is the street value of a life nowadays.” Her blood red lips ripped into a grim grin. “And what we’re drinking now, these drinks are worth two men, a bullet each.”
My brain buzzed, bang bang, buckle up boy you’re going for a ride.
“The night is young; don’t tell me that’s a ‘no’ for shots at the bar later,” I said.
She witch-winked and I felt cold coat my skin. Bad juju jiving jabbed into my jeans getting tighter and tighter.
“Only if you’re paying.”
I stand under a street lamp and bask in orange light. The Aurora Avenue air is thick with smoke. I inhale with contempt. Somewhere, tonight, someone is dying. Onstage I begin my monologue.
I will commit the perfect crime. They will not find my murderous tools, for I shall kill with my mind. From it I shall craft a knife of salty ice. I will stab him and leave him there to contemplate the face of his killer. I will melt away before the sun rises to showcase my work.
I’m in a cafe, writing about my musings on disappearing murder weapons and being dramatic alone at night. On the other side of the window, by the sidewalk, a couple is fighting. The guy slaps the girl, then storms off, leaving her in tears.
I look at my phone. I check the time. A minute has passed. Outside, the girl is crying on the steps. I seem to have trouble moving.