"Sure is a cold one aint it." I utter through chapped bleeding lips.
"That it is." replies Fred.
"I didn’t think K.C. got as cold as New York" I questioned.
"Cold as anywhere I suppose." He answered.
Behind us rose a loud rumbling noise. Must be a car I thought. Snow and ice crumple and give way to the tiers of a large SUV parking along side some piece of shit car . A latch opens then another, footsteps circle one another in the newly fallen snow. Conversation between the two parties begins.
"You hear that man" I inquired Fred.
"No what they saying?" He replied.
"I donno some thing about drugs I think, we aint in the best part of town" I answered.
A car door slams shut. Exhaust sputters spitting into the cold night air. The lager of the two cars drives away. I can’t stop looking, waiting for something interesting to happen. Like every one else I guess I am fascinated by crime. More so since I used to be a PI before I hit the bottle and lost my job. The remaining two men look our way.
"Hey man I think they coming this way,” Fred warned.
"They got no beef with us we just bums, act dumb like you don’t know your ass from a whole in the ground." I urged him.
"Hey!" the taller of the two men shouted as they hurriedly walked our way.
The shorter man put his hand into the pocket of his long leather trench coat.
"Guy on the left is packing,” I whispered to a now frightened Fred.
The tall man starts what will probably be a eventful conversation,” What the hell you looking at you bum, you see me and my friend taking care of some business?"
"No sir I didn’t see a thing, How about you did you see anything?" I questioned Fred.
"Nothing but the bottom of this here bottle" He said as he held up an empty whisky bottle.
As Fred lowered the bottle the short man strengthened his grip on his gun. Fred noticing this secretly passing me the empty bottle. I acted as if I took a drink then held the large glass bottle by my side.
"We sure don’t want no one knowing the kinda business we do am I right" The tall man asked the shorter man to his right.
"No sir, these bum mother fuckers will stay quiet if they know what’s good for them." Demanded the short man.
I couldn’t stop thinking how I would love to shove this bottle right down his throat. These low life’s come around and stink up our neiborhood then threaten us because we was here minding our own.
"We wont tell nobody." Fred distressfully said.
Fred you idiot you make them think you know something. And with that the short man begins to pull the gun from his coat pocket. My hand grips the cold hard bottle tight. I turn around sharply and deliver the bottle to the short mans groin. He gasps for air and drops his gun to the ground. Fred is stupefied standing with blank expression. As I dive for the gun my sweatshirt collar bites into my neck. The world spins and suddenly I get a blast of cold wetness in my face. The taller man stands over me then delivers a kick to my ribs. They hold up. He tries to make me eat his boot but I surprise him with the bottle. I musta broken all of his toes. He hunches over grabbing his foot. As I stand up I try to shove that bottle down his throat. It doesn’t make it past his teeth. He falls back unconscious. I hear metal grind metal. A loud bark. Something tears at my sleeve. I turn quickly. Fred is trying to man handle the gun away from the shorter man. He saved my life, musta grabbed him as he was shooting. The shorter man throws Fred to the ground. I use this opportunity to sneak up behind him. After throwing my friend to the ground he stands up straight and looks to see where I have gone. I smash the bottle against the back of his head. The bottle breaks. He falls to his knees. The gun slides across the snow and ice. I go after the gun again. I put my hand on its handle. Nice gun Smith and Wesson 40 caliber. Musta cost at least two hundred bucks. I turn around and point the gun at the now awakening man, wielding it like a master. The taller man spits a bloody ball of teeth and flesh to the ground.
"Get the fuck out of my alley!" I demanded in a voice just short of gods.
I don’t want to have to kill these shits. I hope they can listen to reason.
"Get out of here or I’ll fuck you up good!" I added.
The taller man helps up his shorter friend and they hobble to their piece of shit car. Sounds come from the car like I aint never heard before. What a piece. After ten seconds of milking it they finally get their car started and drive off. 595-HAM, for some reason I tell myself to remember their license number.
"You all right buddy" I questioned Fred.
"Yea just a little banged up but I will be algight,” He answered.
We sat in the cold of the night around the warm fire of brining newspaper all night. I felt like a hero I saved Fred and well, he saved me. We spun stories about when we weren’t bums and retread the events of the evening. Fred opened a new bottle of whiskey and finished it. I don’t drink any more not for my sake but for Claire and Jim. Thinking of them keeps me warmer than the fire but reminds me of a time when I was colder than ice. After Fred passes out I tuck him away in his bed, well as much a bed as an old refrigerator is. My "Home" is about ten minutes from here I had better start walking now.
The morning sun filters through the rusty holes in the roof of the dumpster I call home. You don’t know how much luxurious a bed is until you aint got one. Snot runs down my face, proof that it is still cold as hell even under all of these old blankets. I crawl out of my house and stretch my arms and legs out. The wind blows sharp and cold. Winter air hits my face like a thousand needles. It’s something you get used to. I look up at the large clock on the side of a bank. 10:50 time to meet Fred and go to the soup kitchen. Around the holidays people sure are nicer to us. They open up soup kitchens and sleep houses. Too bad most of us miss out cause their aint enough beds or soup. I don’t like charity but my stomach twists in disagreement. I had better hurry to miss the crowd. The alley I spent most of last night in is between two of the noisiest factories I have ever heard. They make paper for greeting cards or something like that. The large red barrel that housed the warming fire of the night before sits on its side. That’s strange I think. I hurry my walking towards the large rusted refrigerator that houses my best friend. I pull the blankets back and am witness to an atrocious sight. My friend Fred is stripped naked. He has cuts across his chest. I feel his ebony skin. Cold as ice. The cuts they spell something. "Hero". Those sons of bitches came back. I should have known. They got their ass kicked by some bums that must have hurt their pride. I sure as hell aint gonna stand for this. Motherfuckers killed my only friend in the world. The nicest man I had ever met. My stomach growls like a dog in heat. I go to the soup kitchen with out my best freind. They serve me something that looks like broiled intestines and water. They call it chicken noodle. I guess I should be grateful. A fat slob is sitting where my friend aut to be. He smells like booze. I think I know how I can find them bastards who did this.
After I am done eating and my gut untwists I start walking towards downtown. They been renovating it in the last couple of years trying to push people like me out of it . Putting up fancy sidewalks repainting the graphite-ridden walls. I guess I just aint a human in the eyes of the public. Well I guess before I lost my life that’s what I thought of people like me. The cold hard ground punishes my feet. The melting snow wets the cuff of my pants then quickly turns to ice. If it gets much colder I’ll hafta kill myself so I can go to hell and warm up some. After what seems like an eternity of walking I finally reach my destination. A large office building downtown. An old friend owes me a big favor. When I walk into the building every last blue-collar jackass stairs at me like I got the plague or something. They just don’t understand. I should be used to them by now. It’s been hell all these years living on the street. The security guard asks me where I am going. I tell him, he lets me. In the elevator I notice a circle around me where people aught to be. They’re all up against the walls like I was a leper. I reach the twentieth floor and step out. I swear I hear the bastards in the elevator sighing with relief. I walk down the hall to a door marked "Dan Mitchell Private Detective Services". I walk in and am solemnly greeted by a secretary.
"May I help you?” She asked.
"Yes I am here to see Dan" I replied.
"Do you have an appointment?"
"No, just tell him its Chuck and it’s important,” I said.
I waited in that small room for the better part of ten minutes until the adjacent door opened.
"He will see you now" the secretary informed me.
I probably smell terrible I haven’t showered in months. I walk into a hallway that leads to a fairly ornate wooden door. I open the door. There sitting in a red leather chair is Dan. Good old Dan. Cocky and head strong he has apparently made quite a living. We used to work together back in the good old days.
"You look like shit" He said astonished at my appearance.
"Yea living on the street does that to your appearance" I replied.
"Is this what happened to you, I mean after what happened with you and your wife."
"That’s not why I am here" I interrupted.
"You owe me a favor and more that ever I need it cashed in,” I demanded.
"Long as it's legal?" He questioned.
"I would like you to run some plates and give me a name and address"
"It's Personal!” I barked
"You better not be planning something illegal man I swear to god I am not helping you get yourself put in jail, that’s the last thing I need." He demanded.
"Just need to have a little talk with them that’s all” I answered.
"You really have hit rock bottom, Nobody sees or hears from you in five years and you come back out of nowhere expecting me to do some favor so you can get into more trouble? He ratter off.
"How’s she doing these days?" I questioned.
"Who, oh Claire, a well... good I guess, well for her anyways." He rambled.
"What's that suppose to mean?"
"Well she has remarried, some guy she works with"
"That’s good, long as she’s happy and far away from me"
"Man I still think you got a bad rap"
"I did what I did now I am where I am. I got lots of regrets and lots of time to think how it all went wrong. But all that thinking aint gonna change nothing. Just glad she's happy,” I explained.
"Yea I guess so. Hey it will take about an hour to run these plates can I buy you something to eat or.”
"No man I don’t want no charity" I interrupted.
"Alright then meet me in the dinner across the street at five thirty, ok"
"See you there and, Thanks"
I exit his office and walk to the lobby. As I exit the lobby the secretary stairs at me as if trying to see if I have stolen something and hid it in my pants. Stupid bitch. She don’t hold a candle to what Claire used to look like. Haven’t seen her in years. Claire, she was the most beautiful woman in the world. We were married for ten years before we split. We had one kid Jim; I named him after his grandpa. Ten years of happiness, well maybe five. After five years of being married I hit the bottle, hard. When I was drunk I was happy but every one else they were sad. Sad because I yelled at them. Sad because I was a loser and a drunk. I hit the bottle so hard it bounced off me and hit them. Being drunken aint no way to live. It was my downfall. It cost me my family, my job, my life. Five years ago I was married and happy. Five years ago my wife went to the police and reported me for beating her and Jimmy. Five years ago I died. Today I was reborn. I have purpose I have meaning. I am gonna fuck those bastards up. They gonna get done in by a drunk wife beating bum. I got an hour or so to kill, guess ill see if I can stay in this warm building for half that long.
I hid in a repair room until they threw my ass out on the cold unforgiving street. That’s ok I got me some new pants I found in there. I guess when you are in my position stealing don’t seem like such a crime. It's 5:27 time to make my way across the street. I walk into the dinner and sit down. I got about five bucks change in my pocket.
"What will it be?" asks an overweight waitress.
There he is in his thousand-dollar suit. Making his way across a busy street. We used to be friends not any more, not after what I did to our business. He lumbers in the door shaking from the cold. Sits down and removes his coat.
"Here is what you wanted,” He whispers as he slides a cleanly folded piece of paper to me.
We bullshit for an hour of so before he tells me he has to go home to the wife and kids. I wish him well. I will probably never see him again. He won’t miss me.
I walk down the street in pace with some disco song I heard at the dinner. The snow turned slush squishes and gives way to my tattered sneakers. The cold heavy chunk of deadly metal in my pocket slaps against my side. I can’t help but smile. You bastards you’ll never be expecting it. Never expect a bum to track you down and finish you off for killin his friend. As each car goes by a wind blows under my clothing that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. It is a nine-mile walk. It lasts for an eternity
I approach a large rundown brick apartment building. Amazing, it is a security building. I buzz the appropriate apartment.
"Hello" questions a husky female voice.
"Yes I am a friend of Jack's" Friend?
"Ok come up"
The lock on the door clicks open. I reach in my pocket with both hands making a clicking sound of my own. Twenty decrepitated doors, ten yelling children two fellow bums a cloud of pot smoke some syringes and about ten flights of stairs later I am at the door. I nock.
"Come in" a woman’s voice demands.
"He is in the shower,” she informs me.
"Mam, do you know what your husband does?" as the words exit my mouth I take note of my surroundings. Directly in front of me is a kitchen. Horribly kept. To my left is a small child sitting too close to an old TV. On the kitchen table lies a pipe. A crack pipe. Fucking crack head. Smoking in front of her child. I can still smell it in the air.
"What the hell is that suppose to mean,” she demanded.
"Nothing just, well Mam I think he deals drugs." I uttered.
"HONEY!" she yelled.
"Listen to me very closely" I calmly said as I took the gun from my pocket and placed it on the table.
"I want you to go and get out of here, if you call the police I will kill your husband."
She grabbed her crack, then her child and scurried out the door down the stairs. I got up quickly and went to a small hallway filled with the sounds of running water. Suddenly the water stops. A russlein noise along with metal scraping metal. I hold the gun in my line of sight weighting watching.
"Hey Sherrill!! What’s going on, who is here?” He shouted.
From here it was all slow motion. He exited the bathroom drying his hair. I couldn’t help but notice his small-shriveled cock. I thought tall guys were supposed to be well hung. His eyes were as big as saucers when he saw me. When he spoke I noticed he was missing some teeth I mocked him accordingly. I made him kiss my feet then told him he could leave if he told me where his short friend lived. When he was about to walk out the front door I did it. I aint never killed any one before so it was hard. It was horrible the bullet entered below his left shoulder blade and the door was sprayed with blood and god knows what. He dropped to the floor. I stood over him pummeling a couple more rounds square between his eyes. It was bloody. It was revenge. As I ran down an alley I heard police sirens wale behind me. They will never catch me they can’t connect me to him and I killed him with his friends gun. I was sure not to touch anything with my hands. You learn shit like that from being a PI and I used to be the best. I figure I will get to the short one’s apartment before he knows his friend is dead. Along the way to his house I see a man walking a cute German Shepard puppy. Dogs are so cute when they are puppies. As he passes me he gives me a strange look. I reach my hands to my face. Oh shit, I have blood on my face. I quickly wash my face off in an ice-cold pool of water.
After my makeshift bath I continue to walk. An hour or so passes. I can no longer feel my hands. The steel in my pocket has turned to an ice cube. Spit dribbles from the corners of my chapped frozen lips. My bones feel as though they are made of lead. The wind blows unforgiving, unmercifully, bitter. With each gust I shutter almost collapsing. So far I been going on soup and some poor excuse for a cheese burger I had at the dinner. I try to keep my self going by thinking about Fred. About how he didn’t do nothing to deserve to die. How we used to talk all night. He made living on the street bearable. Getting mad aint helping none. The cold makes dark clouds creep in from the sides of my vision. Gotta keep going. I think about Claire, we used to make love on Sunday morning. I remember how her skin felt. How she looked with the new day’s light filtering in through the blinds. Her sweet lips, her soft touch. Fucking drunk. You lost the best thing you had cuz of a drink. Stupid drunk. The thought of her touch is just enough to keep an old bum from becoming a statistic.
Another hour passes as I come up to a small ranch house. No lights are on and no one is in the driveway. Fresh tracks in the snow lead out of the garage into the street. He must have heard about his friend. He wont know whom or why don’t worry. A small chain link fence encages the house. I jump it and let myself in the basement window. As I step down into the cellar a wet musty odor fills my nostrils. He must be quite a shut in I think. Books line the walls of his basement. I walk up some unfinished steps. I go into his kitchen then down the hall into his bedroom. He must be single. He has a computer by his bed with a stack of porno magazines and Cheto’s wrappers the size of a mountain. His bed is unmade and smells like old shoes. A rumbling screech echoes thought the house. The garage door. I slip away in a nearby closet. Footsteps resonance down the hallway. He is almost here. I pull his gun out of my pocket, ready, waiting. He sits on the end of his bed unlacing his shoes. Son of a bitch. I wonder if I should even let him know what’s coming. I step out of the closet gun drawn, aimed ready to kill.
“What the fuck” He mummers.
“Remember me you shit!!” I exclaimed.
“Yea I remember you, we carved up your friend real nice hu, hero.”
A thunderclap rang out. The muscles in my arms and back tightened with tension. Fire shot out from the muscle of the gun. His brains painted a mural of horror on his bedroom wall. Clunk. I hear a noise behind me.
“What the hell?” I didn’t under stand what was happening until it was too late. Two more bolts of lightning. Waves of pain rippled thought my body. I fell limply to the floor. He had some one with him. I am as good as dead now. Shot twice in the gut, you don’t survive that. That’s ok I am ready to die. I take with me my motive. I can see it now crazy killer bum terrorizes suburbia. I don’t care. I did the right thing. Claire I am sorry baby and Jimmy don’t grow up to be like me. I look up at my killer. He has a grin wide as the Grand Canyon. He points the gun at my head. The last bolt of thunder claps. White light hits my eyes. My head gets pushed back. Things go dark. The End