Friday, July 29, 2011

Lessons Learned

The kid eased into my Jaguar in half a heartbeat, all smug self-assurance and low-riding jeans. And a snub-nosed .38, which he jammed under my chin. “Drive,” he said, and it seemed like the best option, so I did.

The light turned green and the traffic moved sluggishly along Storrow Drive. I checked the rear view. Maybe the soccer mom behind me had seen the kid and was even now calling 911. Guess again. Her cell was pressed to her ear, but she was laughing and snapping her gum and I knew a bomb could have gone off at the light and she would simply have driven right around it and on to the gym or the spa or wherever.

It seemed apparent there would be no miracle rescue.

I concentrated on the road ahead and kept the kid in my peripheral vision. Maybe I could lift my forearm up under his gun hand and shove it back, cold-cocking him with a left at the same time.

But almost as if he could sense my thoughts, the kid slid away, putting his back to the passenger door, gun now trained on my chest, out of range of my fists. Bad development. Thing about a snub-nose, it’s basically useless outside of about a dozen feet; any farther than that and most people couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn.

Of course, my Jag is a lot less than a dozen feet wide and the kid looked ready to blow my ass to hell if I didn’t do exactly as he said, which, at the moment, consisted of following a series of turns tossed out almost casually, turns that I knew were designed to take us to I-93 and out of the city.

Toward the suburbs. Where even around a city the size of Boston, there are plenty of places to take care of business without any pesky witnesses.

“You don’t have to do this,” I told him.

“Shut up,” he said.

“You haven’t hurt anybody yet; you could get out right here and no one ever has to know.”

“Shut up.”

So I did what anyone would do. I shut up. Soon we were crossing the Zakim Bridge toward New Hampshire. I knew we would never get that far. The kid was headed someplace secluded, someplace he had already picked out, where he could take the wheel of the Jag and dump me.

I knew all this. The only question was whether he would pull the trigger before he did it. The funny thing was the kid didn’t even look old enough to drive, although a teenager willing to stick a .38 up someone’s ass probably wasn’t too concerned about the DMV’s licensing regulations.

We got to the Stoneham exit in about ten minutes, making excellent time. Traffic was light. Lucky me.

A few more minutes and we turned onto a crumbling stretch of pavement in a densely forested area. And we were alone.

And he said, “Get out.”

And I said, “Forget it.” I’ve owned that Jag for years and I wasn’t losing it to some snot-nosed punk.

And he said, “Get out now!”

I ducked my head to the right and unloaded a roundhouse left, and knew immediately I had fucked up. The kid was lightning-quick. He pulled the trigger. That was that.


“So, what did we learn today, Robbie?” The Crown burned pleasantly as I took a deep swallow. I gazed at my son.

He shrugged. “Nothin’ new.”

I nodded. “Damn straight. You were perfect. Give the sap a chance to surrender his stuff, but if he makes a move, you take him down. You’re training’s officially over.” I smiled. “It’s time you join the old man in the family business. Tomorrow you start for real. Don’t forget to load the gun from now on.”

I passed the bottle to Rob to celebrate. Sure, you could argue this was no life for a teenager, but I didn’t earn that Jag by sitting on my ass. Besides, working’ll keep him away from those damned video games the kids love to play.

Have you ever seen those things? They’re too goddamned violent, that’s what I think.