Friday, March 30, 2012

Crazy Eight’s

I put my size nine in the door and it splits in a shower of particleboard and cocaine residue. There’s two boneheads on the couch and the sight of my blue eye and .38 launches them out of their seats. The first, a big skinhead with a beer gut, gets two in the chest, one in the forehead and the red stuff spiderwebs across the back wall. Number two squeals and trips over the coffee table. Something about having his best buddy’s brains on his cheek doesn’t seem to agree with him. He hits the floor and rolls over, belly up.

–Fuck man, I didn’t do nothin’! I didn’t do nothin’!

He stretches the second “do” out into a low whine. I stomp him and feel his ribs cave.

–I’ll let up just long enough for you to get five words out. Where’s Jackie?

The guy’s face blanches and he starts burbling spit and Cheetos.

–I don’t know, Remy. I-

He realizes he’s screwed up and whips his head back and forth in an exaggerated shake. The good news is he knows my name – that’s makes things easier. I drag him to the kitchenette and take him by the wrist. Once we get to the sink, he knows what’s about to happen.

–He goes to Crazy Eight’s!

His hand goes in past the rubber catch and I make sure he feels the blades.

–You better not be lying to me.

He looks up and sneers. What teeth he has left look like ripped newspaper.

–Why do you care, motherfucker? Huh? Tell me that.

I think of Blair lying asleep in bed and all the scars Jackie left. The stare-down I give him lasts just long enough for him to lose his nerve.

–I just do.

And then I throw the switch.


Crazy Eight’s. Fantastic.

Crazy Eight himself – a geezer from the days when biker gangs were cool – is crazier than a shithouse rat. You’d expect any establishment of his to be the last place you’d want to be on a Friday night. And it lives up to expectations. The bar is in the basement of an apartment building, if you could still call it that. Broken windows stick out like a glare through black eyes. Once upon a time, Crazy Eight’s had been the gang’s clubhouse. Nowadays, it’s just a wide spot in an empty road.

Most every building on either side of the street looks like a tornado came down and sucker-punched it. Hell, who’s to say it hasn’t. All I know is, I’m feeling pretty damn exposed out here. I pull the Trans Am around the building and kill the engine. It dies hard. There’s not even any wind to rustle what live grass there is left – there’s not even another car in the lot. I sit and wait, thumbing my pistol in one hand and tapping out a cigarette with the other. I think about switching on the radio just for some noise, but decide against it. I settle for playing with my lighter. Flick flick. Flick flick.

The lights in the bar are on, but that’s it. Maybe the building’s tenants checked out. Maybe they’re all asleep. In one way or another, at least. A few minutes of eternity later, I’m sweating under my jacket and my head’s starting to pound. I stub out the cigarette and climb out.

I sidle on up to the door and try the knob. Locked. I could kick this one in too, but something suggests a subtler approach. I whisper a few choice words to the lock and it slides out of place. Call it a parlor trick if you want – not all magic is throwing fireballs. And it’s damn handy. The door swings open without a sound and I creep inside.

BTO’s singing on the jukebox, but aside from the cigarette smoke, the place is empty. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet, sings the juke. Next thing I know, I’m greeted by a bottle of Corona across the teeth and a haymaker chaser. My knees give way and soon I’m kissing the floor.

–Remus Blackwood. Shoulda’ guessed.

The voice chuckles.

–Take him outside, boys.