Tuesday, July 21, 2009

SORRY I SCARED YOU

Sons of bitches rolled me out of the condo. That’s what got me back to your side of town.

After leaving the college library, I pulled some bills off my shrinking wad for food and ate as I walked back to the condo. I knew something was up when I saw a flashlight bouncing off the walls in the condo next to mine. Stepping closer to investigate means getting caught. I bailed, backpack strapped on. I lost a pair of socks and underpants, a t-shirt and a good place to sleep.

That’s not the worst of it.

I went back to Santa Monica. It was like reaching into a hollow, rotting log and searching for a gold ring, knowing the scorpions were in there waiting to sting you to death. Thought I’d drop in on Jasmine and have her set up a little face time with me and Rodeo. Didn’t even make it to her street. Scorpion stung.

Sig.

I was glad.

He was dirty and fucked up looking, had been sleeping outside like I had been. He’s not such a badass when he doesn’t have his gang. Or his car. Because he wasn’t mobile, he must have been staying in the parks, waiting for me to show up again. But I couldn’t just walk up and step on him like a bug. I knew he still had his 9mm stinger.

We spotted each other from across a street. It was quiet, real late at night. I didn’t have a chance against the gun. I stashed my backpack in some plants by a parking lot so I could streamline. Keeping Sig in sight and keeping my distance, I backtracked through the neighborhood. He tried to close the distance, but I would quicken my pace to stay out of his spraying range. Sig thought I was running away from him. I took us to the only safe spot that time of night.

Up on Wilshire is a 7/11, the lights are always on and before all this trouble started I would go there to spend what money I had on cookies or jerky or anything to get me by. In that parking lot, lit up and in full view of the dude behind the counter, I stopped and waited for Sig to close the distance.

The idiot was smiling when he stepped up and came within a foot of my face. I wanted to crush him with my hands until he was just meat. Then I’d feed him to the Rail Riders who turned on me. Sig pulled his plaid shirt aside to show the but of the Glock in his waistband.

I cocked my head toward the guy in the 7/11. “What’re you going to do, Sig? Shoot me in front of him and the security cameras? Then what, run all the way to Ballentine?”

Sig’s smile shook. “I’m going to fucking kill you.” That was all he could come up with. “Just like I killed your dad.”

Time slows down when you move fast. I pushed Sig in the chest with one hand. With the other, I grabbed the handle of the Glock. Damn, that gun feels good in the hand. I remember the texture of the plastic, the weight. And my brain was turning so fast that I realized that I had cornered myself. He couldn’t shoot me and I couldn’t drill him. I wanted to pull that trigger, the gun was ready. But I was sure the cops already wanted me for the Nerd’s stabbing. Shooting Sig in public would really heat up the manhunt.

Sig was still stumbling backwards when I decided I couldn’t shoot him right then. I threw the gun with all the strength I had. It flew across the parking lot and into some giant window of a building next door. Sounded like a big drum. Then the gun landed in some bushes.

Next thing I saw was the yellow lights around the parking lot. I was on my back. Fucking Sig punched me in the face. I rolled out of the way when he tried to kick me in the head. I put the tread of my boot on his knee and it gave me enough space to stand up. A little dizzy and saw some stars, but I wasn’t ready to give up.

Sig turned and started running for the bushes where the gun fell. I chased and he veered away when he saw how many bushes there were. He knew that if I got to him before he got the gun, it would be a hell of a beatdown. So he kept running.

Across wide Wilshire Boulevard. I was hot after him. Just him and me and a score to settle. We scattered pigeons out of the park over the bluffs. Woke up some bums.

Caught wheezing Sig by a tree and dove at his legs. We went down into the grass and wrestled, making pain where we could. He was hissing in my ear, “No one’s going to miss you. No one misses your dad. Even the Rail Riders gave your ass up because of him.”

I don’t know why he thought that would make me give up. Just made me fight harder. Almost tore his ear off. He kicked me in the stomach and ran again while I was trying to breathe.

Thought I had him cornered. Sig was up against the fence at the edge of the bluffs. I collected enough of myself to keep at him. Had a fantasy of throwing him over the bluffs and watching him fall. It’s got to be a hundred feet down. And at the bottom is a highway. A truck could drive over him.

Then I thought he took care of that for me. Sig disappeared. Could’ve sworn he tossed himself over for the big fall. When I got closer to the spot where he was, I saw that there were stairs leading down. And Sig was booking it on them and heading for a bridge over the highway.

Fucker was all the way on the other side when I hit the bridge. We both got spit out on the other end in an empty parking lot by the beach. Sig kept running.

Then we were both going in slow motion. Sand is impossible to move in. He stumbled, I stumbled. We crawled and I ate sand and felt it in my eyes. Waves were crashing about a hundred yards away.

Getting punched in the face hurts. Getting punched in the face by a fist wrapped in sand paper hurts worse. It was ugly, down there on the beach. I won’t lie. I tried to kill Sig with my hands.

But you got to know, Tokyo, why this all came down. He killed my dad. I’m fighting to stay alive. I’m fighting back.

It was dark and neither of us were any good at brawling in the sand. We lost each other. I couldn’t figure out if I was standing up or lying down. Black sand and water and sky. No fucking idea where I was. And I thought every shadow was Sig. Don’t know how long I wandered around at the edge of the beach and the highway. There are some buildings down there and I hid out, tried to get my bearings.

The sun came up. Beach was pale, like someone had cut its throat.

I used a spigot to wash the sand and blood off my face and knuckles. But I wasn’t clean. That’s how you saw me, Tokyo. Sorry I scared you. You were just out for your morning run, right?

I took the bridge and stairs back to the bluffs. The town was coming alive, walking its dogs and riding its bicycles. And there you were, Tokyo. You didn’t even see me at first, just another bum. Then you saw my face, recognized me. Then you saw how beat up I was. Sorry I scared you. All I could think was to tell you the name of this blog, so you’d understand.

You ran away. Don’t know if you’re reading this now. Hope you are. I’m not that far from you, at a library and I can’t come back here after this because people are looking at my face. Hope you understand me, Tokyo. I’m just fighting to stay alive.