Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Tragic City, Chapter 4, Copyright 2016 Robert McDonald All Rights Reserved

At a quarter to five Steve came into the poker room and asked what I thought about cutting out early and getting some food at Saw’s while we waited for the meet up. I was twenty-five dollars in the hole in a five dollar buy-in game so that seemed like a good idea. The Opus X I was smoking was down to the nub so I tossed it into an ash tray and cashed out the couple of dollars in chips I had left in front of me.
There was a little traffic on the way to Avondale but nothing major. When we hit 41st Street South I parked in the alley between Saw’s and Post Office Pies. We were lucky, there wasn’t much of a line at Saw’s and when we got our food we took it to one of the picnic tables on the alley side of the building and dug in. Steve had gone for a Saw’s classic, pork and greens over cheese grits. I had never developed a taste for greens and had opted for a pork sandwich and fries. The food was great and the only disappointing thing about the meal was that I was not washing it down with Vanillaphant Porter from the Brewery down the street.
We sat around shooting the shit while we waited for the meet up. This consisted of Steve giving me shit for driving the car from Bullitt, living in an Art Deco building, but wearing a piece of shit Timex watch instead of something like his Daytona.
“I just never saw the need to spend a lot of money on something I only want to tell the time,” I said. “I guess it would be nice to have something fancier, but why spend five grand on a watch when I can spend it on a gun?”
Steve just rolled his eyes.
I was sitting with my back to the entrance to the alley with Steve right across from me. Over his shoulder I watched an early eighties model Cadillac that had probably been candy apple red at some point in the past pull up to the curb and park just on the other side of Saw’s in front of a used car dealership. The thing looked like it was held together by rust and duct tape.
“Guy said he’d be in a red Caddy, right?” I asked.
Steve looked over his shoulder just as the driver’s door screeched open and a tall, slim black guy with a full beard stepped out with a small box in one hand. He kicked the door shut and walked around to stand in front of the car.
“Damn,” Steve said. “He does need money if he’s driving that piece of shit.”
The man saw us watching him and smiled.
“One of you Steve?” he called out.
“Yeah,” Steve called back. “You Raymond?”
“Yeah, man!” Raymond said, and sat the box he was holding on the hood of the wreck. “Come check out this sweet Rolex!”
“I’ll be right over,” Steve replied and turned back to me and rolled his eyes. “This guy seems okay. Hang out here but keep your eyes open.”
“Okay,” I said. “I can come over with you if you want.”
“Nah,” Steve said as he pried himself up from his seat. “This’ll be quick one way or the other.”
As Steve walked the twenty feet over to Raymond’s car I got up and moved around to the other side of the table so there was nothing to slow me down if I needed to get over there in a hurry. I kept my eyes on Raymond and his smile slipped when he glanced my way but it was back as his gaze returned to Steve.
Raymond didn’t seem like the type to own a house worth twenty thousand, let alone a watch. He was wearing a plain gray t-shirt and black jeans. On his feet were a pair of dirty sneakers that might have been white in a past life. If this guy had ever owned a watch he’d found it in a box of Cracker Jack.
Steve stepped off the curb into the street with Raymond, and they talked. Raymond seemed antsy as Steve gestured at the watch, but he finally reached out and opened the box, standing back to let Steve lean down to take a look.
Steve didn’t even attempt to pick it up. After a glance he straightened back up and shook his head. Raymond tensed up at this and I stood up and walked a couple of steps closer. Raymond was getting agitated and gesturing at the watch as he mumbled something to Steve, but Steve just kept shaking his head.
“It’s not even a Rolex, Man,” I heard Steve say as I got closer.
I could feel the adrenaline start to hit my system as things heated up between them.
“I’m not buying that,” Steve scoffed.
“Fuck you!” Raymond yelled and his hands went towards his waist. I was startled and hesitated for an instant but I started my draw as Raymond’s hand came up holding a screwdriver in a reverse grip. He pulled his arm back ready to stab down yelling, “Gimme the money, Motherfucker!”
Steve dropped his cane and threw his hands ups in front of him in a placating motion while backing away from the snarling Raymond. My left hand had my shirt pulled up and out of the way as my right hand found the grip and started drawing the Glock out of it’s holster.
Everything felt like it was going in slow motion as I watched Raymond stab down into Steve’s arm. Steve cried out in pain and shock as Raymond pulled the screw driver out of Steve’s arm and back to stab again. Steve backpedaled trying to get away but tripped over the curb and fell back on his ass.
My eyes were locked on Raymond as he stepped towards Steve ready to continue his attack and then my eyes shifted to the Trijicon HD front site on my Glock as my support hand wrapped around my strong on the grip and brought it into my field of view. I pressed the trigger twice just as I completed the press out and I saw the two rounds impact on Raymond’s chest. He continued forward not seeming to notice. My eyes and front site moved to his face and I pressed the trigger again. The shot impacted on the outside of Raymond’s left eye socket and there was a splatter of blood and brain matter from the exit wound on the other side of his head. Raymond collapsed to the ground like his switch had been flipped.
I took quick steps toward Steve while keeping my gun on Raymond. I was pretty sure he was done, but I wasn’t about to take any more chances than I already had. When I reached Steve I got a good look at the exit wound on the back side of Raymond’s skull and knew I didn’t have to worry about him any more. Bits of white skull and gray brain matter were sprayed with blood onto the hood of his piece of shit car. A large clump of hair and skull was hung up in the grill.
I looked around. There were a few people standing around looking frozen in place and as I made eye contact most of them looked away and followed that up with quickly walking out of the area. A few ran. One, a light skinned black woman just looked back while taking deep breaths. She was wearing a lime green sun dress and matching heels. Her hands were up at her sides in the surrender position. She was holding a cell one in one hand.
I holstered my pistol and yelled, “Call 911, my friend needs an ambulance.”
I pointed at Raymond’s body.
“Tell them that man was stabbing him and someone shot the guy doing the stabbing.”
She nodded and got on the phone. I could hear her tell the operator where she was and what I had told her as I knelt down next to Steve to see how badly he was hurt. He had a hand pressed to his forearm and I could see blood seeping out from around it. He was rocking back and forth muttering, “Fuck, fuck, motherfuck…” over and over.
I touched his shoulder so he would look at me.
“Just keep pressure on it,” I said. “Help is on the way. I’ll be right back.”
He nodded and I stood and ran over to my car. I pulled open the door and snatched my messenger bag from the back seat. I unzipped one of the front compartments and pulled an Israeli compression bandage and ran back to Steve. I could already hear sirens in the distance.

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