Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Beating

There’s a fat guy pissing in the corner. Maurice doesn’t even notice the yellow river at his feet. He’s too busy talking about his damn cartoons.

“Captain Infinity, he’s like, the strongest. A comet hit him and gave him powers, you know?”

Maurice is a dumb shit. The polite thing to say is he’s slow. I’m not polite. Kid’s a dumb shit.

“And Dr. Jackal? Oh, boy! He’s the bad guy.”

It’s like sitting with a six year old.

“Maurice? Quiet.”

I put my fingers to my lips to drive the point home. His eyes go wide and he nods like a moron. I sit him down on some crates and we wait for the others.

“Hey, you think we can go to the video store, rent that Captain Infinity movie again?”

It’s pointless. “Yeah. Sure.”

I say sure cause I don’t have the heart to tell him he’s about to get his ass kicked for me.

A door opens and Chris limps in, dragging his work boots across the floor. He’s covered in grime and grass clippings. Tattoos crawl their way up his neck.

I greet him, trying to keep the peace. He blows me off.

“Let’s get a look at you,” he says. “Take your shirt off.”

Maurice looks at me all nervous. I tell him it’s okay. He rears up like a damn grizzly on its hind legs. He pulls off his shirt, stretch marks ripping across his shoulders. I’ve never seen so much muscle, and Maurice don’t even work out. Chris smiles.

“Well, he sure as shit gonna scare the other guy. Let me see your hands.”

He grabs Maurice’s paws and looks them over. “What do you do?”

Maurice is confused.

“For work?” asks Chris.

“I work at the old folks home. I lift up old people.”

Chris shakes his head. “But you a badass now, right?”

Sure he is. Just as long as he keeps his mouth shut.

I hear car doors slam shut and I know its showtime.

The fixers walk in. City folk, with their nice shoes and clean clothes. Even their jeans look ironed. Their stud steps out behind them. Got himself a flat nose from getting it punched in. He zips himself out of a shiny track suit, not a single hair on his body. Weird. He starts bouncin’ around on his toes, slappin’ his chest. Another moron.

Chris leads us into the barn. Degenerates hang off the beams and stand around a makeshift ring. Everyone’s hollerin’ and Maurice is lost, like some scared puppy. I ignore it. I see money changin’ hands, big wads bein’ passed around, bets that are gonna save Chris’s ass from these city folk. Same time, I’ll be square with Chris. Everyone wins, except for Maurice.

Chris leans in. “Make it look good.”

I smack Maurice on the shoulder. “Go get him, big dog.”

The city boy charges, pounding Maurice’s gut. He’s stunned. He tries to hit back. Misses. His face gets jacked, again and again. The wet smacks fade into shouts and hollers. There’s blood, around his eye, flowing from his nose. It spreads with each punch. I yell for Maurice to keep moving, just for show.

I need him to get hurt. Maurice is a fall guy, a bullshit champion made up to save our asses. He was easy to convince; a dim wit who likes cartoons and candy. Innocent as a kindergartner. One look at him though, you’d think he’s the real deal.

Maurice is on his knee now, an arm up, batting at punches like a child. Chris looks over to me, satisfied. The beating grows louder and my stomach turns.

Maurice lets out a shout. “Captain Infinity!”

Oh, shit.

He drives his heavy fist through the guy’s nose and the life goes out from under him. The barn erupts. Maurice rises to his feet and our plan crumbles to the floor.

Chris panics. He tries to slip through the crowd, but the city folk are there. They’ll hurt him. Maurice and I’ll be be next.

A thick hand drops on my shoulder. I look at Maurice’s face, mashed into a wad of blood and swelling. He smiles. “I got him.”