Hard Road (part two)
a fictional short
I woke up to grunting and an unintentional kick to my shin. Jack and Barbie were going at it on the filthy mattress by my feet. Sunlight shown through the apartment's smudged and gritty windows instead of the security lights.
Standing took some effort.
"I-made-coffee, Bill," Bambi said to the beat.
The kitchen had a degree of filth that the living room couldn't approach. I noticed a fresh bottle of Ten High that Jack must have brought home, so I opened it and tasted hair of the dog. "Thanks, Bambi, I'm fine with bourbon." Calling Ten High, bourbon is an affront to liquor distillers, but it's what I had at hand.
Jack finished, rolled to one side and offered, "Wanna poke, doctor?" I declined with a non-verbal shrug and took a long swig of Ten High. "What's with the dead nigger?"
"He broke in last night, burglar."
"You bled him out?"
"I think that I broke your bat."
Jack smiled, "Hit him in the head."
"Didn't do much?" He pronounced his question with satisfaction.
"Nope. But the .45 did him."
"You pull his ID?"
I replied that I hadn't so Jack walked to the corpse and rifled the pockets. "Says here his name Malik Boudreaux of New Orleans. He's a ways from home. We can wrap him in the shower curtain and take him down to the old folks home on Martin Luther King Boulevard. They'll pay fifty dollars and charge the medical school five hundred for the research carcass."
You have to hand it to Jack. He has not only experience with such things, but a hard business acumen to boot. He provided the university medical school and the chiropractic college with a number of cadavers by way of the old folks home.
"You came by to talk?"
"Let's go to the stoop."
Jack wrapped a stiff, stained, mildewed towel around his waist and grabbed a pack of Camels. I followed him out to the porch, overlooking the vacant lot and warehouses beyond. He wiped the dew from his stem and farted. Then he click-clacked an ancient Zippo, fired the coffin nail and said, "What's so urgent?"
"I'm out, Jack. Out for good. No more shooting negro burglars at midnight, no more torturing drug runners, no more midnight surgeries when one of Dixon's thugs has a few bullets in him."
He took a long draw from the Camel, "Dix ain't gonna like that. I can't say that I ever thought you liked the life, but now, with problems we're having with the longshoreman's union, now's not the time to pack up and take off."
"I've cashed out on my school loans, I have money in my pocket. The bookie I owed money to is dead."
Jack interrupted, "He's only dead because Bambi fucked him and you put an icepick through his ear while he was filling her."
"I gave her five grand for her work."
"She still has nightmares."
I found it highly unlikely that Bambi would find the incident to be the grist of nightmares, given her past and present situations.
"I'll do a boob job for her, gratis."
Jack smiled, "She'd like that, Bill. But you don't have to skip town in order to do her that favor."
"I need an office, a sterile environment, instruments, a staff."
"I get your point. What are you going to do about Dixon?"
"Tell the longshoremen where he sleeps at night, collect some traveling money from the stevedores in exchange for the information, and Carrolton, Texas and family practice here I come."
"She has to go all the way to North Texas to get a new rack?"
"I'll push the sizing for your benefit."
I went back into the apartment while Bambi showered, picked up the three expended casings and dug one slug out of Malik's shattered leg. Jack took down the shower curtain when she'd finished and wrapped the burglar's body in it. We wig-wagged it down the stairs and into the back of Jack's pick-up. He drove to the old folks home and I went back up to pour Clorox on the floor and clean up the blood. I rationalized that it would make the apartment smell a whole lot better.