Big Ron’s is a ghost town and Junior and I are in a booth at the back. I ask him to put his phone away. To just turn the fucking thing off. Not a day goes by I don’t wish to have that piece of time back.
Junior looks up, his face as angular as ever, as angular as mine. He takes a swig of beer and then smiles the smile which tells me all the things I’d failed to teach. “Sure, Pops. The floor is yours.” Smart-ass. Him and the whole generation he came from. Couldn’t care less what the trophy they received for coming in last has done to hard work and what it has ever been about. I wished he understood this; that my words would break through. As ever, it was not to be. Not how I hoped.
Determined, I do as only a parent can do: I go on, delve deeper, and over-explain how men shot in the head can in fact come back from the dead.
Bob Moses was the man I failed to kill. Shot him point blank in the back of the head only to have him resurface years later and take out the man who’d ordered the hit. The bullet I released managing to ride the shape of Moses’s skull in an attempt at taking in the sights, I’m told. Agree or disagree, it’s the only scenario which made any type of sense. It jived with the scar tissue too, the majority of fence-work stretching from Bob’s right temple to what remained of his ear.
“As would I, Bob came back centered and with a plan. It involved a glass case, a man’s son, and a python big enough to take a man down whole. You might think this impossible, men being the size we are. You go and break the shoulders, though. Bingo: all men slide.” I hoped this would do it—this by far the most fucked up thing I’d ever heard done. “It means mistakes can be made. But we have to limit and learn from them. Especially when it comes to men like us and what we are paid to do.” True. Junior’s target a man by the name of Mapone. Dents in his forehead, Mapone was the type of garbage whose voice ran counter to what you thought it should be. Top to fucking bottom, an all-around nasty piece of meat. “And I know you think you know it all, but you don’t. Not as you should. But if you take anything from what I’ve been saying here, have it be this: two bullets will always prove better than one.”
Did he listen? Fuck no. That’ve been too easy. Mistake number one. Mistake number two derives directly from mistake number one and the reason Junior comes to hang by his entrails in front of Big Ron’s like a goddamn wind chime.
Kids, they never fucking learn.
Me, I’m a different breed. Old school. Take my lessons to heart and pride myself on never having made the same mistake twice. It’s why I end up at Mapone’s with a launcher strapped to my back and an aim which has failed to miss since I allowed a man to crawl from the grave.
As I tried to tell my boy: it’s the little things.