Tuesday, July 7, 2009

PLAYGROUND BULLIES

You try and make things better and they get worse. Ain’t that always the way things are? Maybe you have better luck. You and I should switch places. You dodge the cops and gangsters while trying to get a slice of the pie and I’ll sit at your desk and answer the phone and take long lunches and collect your paycheck. Want to trade?

Didn’t think so.

You wouldn’t last a second out here. And I’d probably hate your life. Working five days a week? That ain’t human.

Besides, I still have business to settle before I disappear. Don’t know if there’ll be any payday, but I got here with nothing, I can get somewhere else with less. Kicking ass will be my reward.

Then you can hear about it on the news and know the real story. Tell your friends that you and Trey go way back and you were along for the ride. Hell, you might give my eulogy before the 21 gun salute.

Tell them how I left the safety of an empty condo behind and walked into Santa Monica ready to fight. I used Jasmine to call out Rodeo and it’s just a matter of time until I find him. I have some spots of his to haunt and if she talks to him, he’ll be looking for me.

There was one fight I knew wouldn’t be hard to find. All I had to do was stand out in the open.

Sig.

Time to end it. One less shark swimming around me. But it never works the way you want it to.

I had walked up and down the open air mall in Santa Monica, but Sig wasn’t there. Got a fish burrito to go and headed up a big street called Wilshire until I found a park with a nice bench for lunch. Strange sitting and eating out in the open. Hadn’t done that in a while. Been hiding out like some creature of the night. I’m the sexy vampire that’ll get the teenage girls creaming.

Halfway through my lunch I hear the rumble of the Valiant. I finished the food fast, knowing I’d need the energy. Let them come. Fuckers. Don’t ever tell anyone I backed down from a fight.

I was ready for this one. Polished off the burrito and walked through the park, finding an open spot between the playground and the basketball courts. There were a few people out, but these weren’t the type to start brawling.

The fight was all for me, Sig, Big Wes and The Eagle. The public place gave me one advantage, no Glock to attract attention. Sig must have been hoping beat me close enough to death that they’d be out of town before I kicked for good. Trey doesn’t go down that easy.

They came all three shoulder to shoulder like gunfighters. If we were all heavy with six-shooters, I would’ve mowed those fuckers down before anyone blinked an eye. Instead, I waited with fists until they were close enough to throw.

They were willing, too. No trash talk or jokes or threats. It went down real quiet. The Eagle was first. I knew he would be. They rely on him for all the heavy lifting. Big ol’ overhand right and I ducked underneath it. Got the toe of my boot on the side of The Eagle’s knee and he hopped sideways into Sig.

I tackled Big Wes and that’s when the people in the park started paying attention. Didn’t see them, but I heard some moms pulling their kids from the sand and the basketball game stopped short.

Sig grabbed me from behind, but I wasn’t done with Big Wes. Even as I got yanked off him, I landed shots in his face. Saw the blood on his beard.

Felt Sig’s knee in my side, then my back and I heard some snaps in my spine. But I’m still walking, so he didn’t break my back. He’ll wish he had.

I was kicking while Sig held me and The Eagle’s big fist tried for my face, but hit me in the chest instead. Still hurt like hell and I saw stars and lost all my air. I kept kicking.

Got enough breath for the hurt to really set in. That made me mad. Sig was having a hard time holding on to me and I twisted around and put an elbow into his head. It would’ve been satisfying, hearing him gag on the pain, except that The Eagle now had me by the ankles and spun me sideways. It was like motherfucking ice dancing. I flew through the air and landed in the playground, eating sand.

Then on comes Big Wes, spitting blood and pissed off. He’s flailing, kicking and punching. I took one to the ribs and tasted copper. He backed off a bit when I punched him on the inside of his thigh. Gave me time to stand up and get a good grip on him.

The jungle gym was metal bars, painted in rubber. The whole thing rattled when I slammed Big Wes into it. I doubled him over with a knee to the gut and saw Sig and The Eagle coming. I slid under the jungle gym for safety and yanked Big Wes’ arm through a ladder. He was groaning and gasping for breath. Big Wes found enough breath to scream when I broke his arm against a rung of the ladder. I heard the bone snap, just above the elbow.

I pushed him forward into Sig and The Eagle, just to slow them down. Big Wes turned into an animal. He screamed and shook and got his good hand into Sig and would not let go. Sig tried to pull away to come after me, but Big Wes put all the strength of his broken body into that one hand and couldn’t be moved.

But The Eagle was free to come after me. I ran. But it was to buy time, make a plan. I even thought about running into this big gray church across the street. That would just corner me and I don’t think The Eagle gives a shit about Christ or Buddha or whoever else. He cares about money and weed and pussy and lifting weights.

“Fuck Sig.” I threw it out and he kept coming. We were in the parking area of an apartment building, dodging around the cars. “You gonna take the big fall for him? Crossing state lines to mess me up is Federal, man.” Now I was getting to him, I could tell because he glanced back to the park where Sig was balled up with Big Wes. “Would Sig do that for you? Fuck no. You saw what he did that night. You were there, Eagle. Sig got out of the car and shot my dad without a fair fight. Sig ain’t right in the head. And he shouldn’t be running the North River.” This was all I had. I knew I’d lose a stand up fight with The Eagle. You should be. Sig’ll run the gang into the ground. You take over. Leave him here. Take Big Wes with you and leave Sig here. It’s my score to settle with him. Just the two of us.”

The Eagle thought, made conversations in his head. He spoke slow, so we both understood. “You can’t come back to Ballentine.”

“No,” I told him. “I’ll never go back.”

Somehow I’d always thought I might go home. Now I can’t.

The Eagle and I heard Sig running in our direction and we took off in different directions. I ran a big loop around the park and Sig chased. Out of the corner of my eye I saw The Eagle collecting Big Wes and helping him into the Valiant. Both Sig and I stopped running when the Plymouth growled to life and peeled away.

Sig is now alone. With me.

Come and get it, Fucker.

We didn’t have time to finish it that day. Couple of cop cars showed up with lights spinning and sirens chirping. Some of the people at the park started pointing and me and Sig disappeared in different directions.

When you see it on the news tonight, you’ll know why those homeless guys were fighting at the park. Tell your friends that I didn’t back down. And I’m still here, ready for more.

I’m back in the university library. Didn’t see any empty spaces for my dad in the Veteran’s graveyard. He’d be happier on this campus, scoping the hot ass all around. Even in summer, there are smart bitches with books and computers. I’d try to get in on one of their parties tonight, but I have other dinner plans.

With Rodeo.