Snippets -- Clutched From Other Lives Part Two
I'm listening to Chris Bell and feeling really underwhelmed by graduate school today. So I figured now was as good of a time as any to flex my fiction writing muscles and post another installment of my sojourn into fiction writing -- ""The Jukebox Played An Old Sad Song." I feel that some of this story might seem a tad cliched, or intentionally pulpy, but I am going with it. Writing is an unrewarding task sometimes, but most of the time I can't imagine doing anything else. One of these times I will put up revisions.
He grabbed a pool cue from a corner rack. The bar was somewhat of a dive with dirty concrete floors and cracked brown wall panels covered by decades old beer signs. The only new embellishments included new lights over the pool tables and large screen led televisions with 24 hour sports blaring. The pool cue he grabbed was one of the old ones; it had some heft. It wasn't one of these 19 ounce 2 piece cues, great for shooting, but horrible for what he was going to do. The cue felt sure in his hands. He walked over to the bar and swung it brutally, but surely, at the head of a man sitting at the bar nursing a bourbon. The stick shattered on the man's hard skull and he dropped. The heavy thwack alerted the bartender and the one other man in the bar.
The bartender came from the back with a “what the fuck” look on his face. The man calmly pulled a small pistol on him. He said nothing, but the bartender knew to stay back. The other man in the bar was not so compliant. He raced towards the man with little fear in the stance of an amateur wrestler. He made to circle the man in an effort to go for a take down. The man expected him to throw a knee. He smoothly and effectively kicked the man's legs out from beneath him. He put the man into a full nelson and banged his head against the floor. Then he punched once. The man was out, but the bartender was heading for the phone. It was good that the place had no quick alarm system. The man made a quick dash for the bar. He had been hoping he wouldn't have to do this. He grabbed the broken cue and hit the bartender in the back. As the man turned, he caught him with a right hook. That was all it took. He left the man laying behind the bar, then pulled on a pair of gloves. He calmly went back to the first man and searched his pockets. He grabbed his wallet, pocketed it as well as an envelope from the man's sport coat, and grabbed the broken pool cue. He would get rid of it later. Then he quietly left. He wasn't scared of being caught. Even the bartender would have a tough time identifying him. He knew that he looked like every other schmoe that came in the bar. He had no distinguishing features or trademarks. He was so unassuming and normal; no one ever noticed him. He was sure they wouldn't this time either.
Hank Mardow was the man to go to with this kind of information. He had his hands in all the appropriate piggy banks, pies, illegal investments; you name it. He knew all the right people and spoke all the right languages. The man had dropped off his package, but he needed to know just what he had delivered. Usually he did not peak at his clients' personal files, but there was something about the package that uneased him. He knew he could trust Hank. He just wanted to see what his bosses were getting into. There were few lines he would cross, but he thought his bosses had crossed one. Mardow looked at him with some doubt. “You seriously want to know? This could open a whole new can of worms for you. I'm not sure if I'm comfortable telling you. I also don't want your employer to get her little ass kicked or to get mine kicked. This must remain a secret, if I tell you. Or you have to swear that you will not mention me. I'm staying out of it.”
“I wouldn't ask you, if I wasn't worried. I usually just shut my mouth and do these jobs. I'm really good at these jobs, and I'm always discrete. I just want to know what they're doing. I'm thinking of moving on. This might just make my mind up for me. Don't worry. I'll leave your name out of it. I don't think that she will expect you anyway.”
“Alright. It is heroin just as you expected. She is getting into harder and harder drugs. She's been upping the business, selling larger amounts with more and more dealers. But you are still only delivering messages and settling scores. She would never make you deliver the drugs. Hell, you won't even see them. You're too good of a delivery man and enforcer. Don't worry about it. Just continue doing your job.”
The man seemed satisfied. He took his leave with few words. He had made his decision to get out. He wouldn't tell her why. He would just quietly finish these last jobs. There was no need in hurrying. There was no need in worrying. He would remain anonymous. That was his way.
A strange darkness swathed the city in aberrant violet hues, leaving a filmy wash, which obscured the lamp posts. Charlie had just arrived in town. He had never liked it all that much. He played few gigs here and spent as little time as possible thinking about why. His uncle had lived here -- a thin, austere man who had little love for children; he had worked for years selling used cars. He was as gray and unimaginative as the city itself. As a sub-suburb of Chicago, it was innocuous. It was solemn with many old factory houses pushing against the sky. Charlie's uncle had lived this way. He was always pushing against something, but remained insignificant. Charlie could never shake the thoughts of this solemn old man. They shadowed him like a pall as he drove his car into the city limits, looking for a place to park its rusty, overtaxed frame.