by O. J. Anderson
Table of Contents|
appear in this issue.
Berney Razor — a.k.a. “Razor Burn” — of the Special Crimes Unit of the Garden City Police Department, believes in a healthy diet: he makes his own fruit smoothies and bakes his own banana-flavored bran muffins. He also exercises healthily. However, he has not read the chapter titled “Moderation.” He has developed a physique of geographical proportions; he looms amply equipped to punch out the punks on the seamy side of Garden City. What can stand in the way of this law-enforcement juggernaut? We shall see...
“I wanna go home! I wanna go home! I wanna go home!”
“Shut up, kid!”
“Tie something around her face!” Skid, the mastermind running the operation, paces about the room like an Honor Guard soldier wired on a three-day smack and booze binge. With his mind tweaked on maggots, a chrome-plated .357 magnum shaking in his hand, his finger heavy on the trigger, Skid is as stable as a bottle of nitroglycerine in a microwave.
Amanda Yates, a spoiled rich kid used to having her way via kicking and screaming, continues her high-pitched shrill undaunted. “I wanna go home! I wanna go home!” She sits on the ratty, dark-stained sofa, her hands and feet bound.
Zipper pulls a pistol from his waistband and points it at Amanda’s head. “Shut up, kid! Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!”
Rushing over to the table, Skid scoops up a handful of the little white pills. He shoves them into his mouth, chews them up, then washes them down with a long pull from the bottle of hooch. His teeth grind. There is a short gagging session, a violent shake of the head, then another long drink off the bottle.
Zipper is busy banging the pistol against the side of his head, trying to sort things out.
Amanda continues screaming her mantra, driving the kidnappers further to the frayed ends of their mental tethers. Cheap drugs, cheaper booze, and that precious little brat; it’s like a million mosquitos buzzing around the inside of their skulls, sucking the sanity from their minds. How long have then been holding her now? Ten hours, ten years?
Skid snatches up the phone. Punches in a number. Waits for someone to pick up, then says:
“Listen up, Yates. Change of plans. I want the money in one hour or your little brat’s going home in a shoebox. Got it? In a shoebox!” He slams down the phone and reaches for the bottle.
There is a hard knocking on the door of the sixth floor apartment. BANG BANG BANG. The entire wall rattles.
Zipper quickly slaps a dirty hand over the little girl’s mouth. They wait, staring at the door.
Again: BANG BANG BANG. Somewhere in the apartment a framed picture falls from the wall and crashes to the floor, shattering the glass.
Skid calls out, “What?”
The voice in the hallway calmly says, “Thai food’s here.”
“Thai food?” Skid says. “I didn’t order no Thai food. I hate Thai food.”
Silence for a moment, then the voice says, “Pizza’s here.”
“Pizza?” Sober, Skid is as dumb as a sack of irregular marbles; but whacked on maggots, he’s as dumb as a sack of irregular marbles buried under a pile of rusty hammers. He looks at Zipper like he was just kicked in the eye. “You order a pizza?”
Zipper presses the pistol to his forehead. “I don’t know, man. Maybe.”
After a moment’s strained thought, Skid carefully unlocks the door and swings it open. He sees standing in the hallway, eclipsing the hallway, the massive, hulking structure of Berney Razor from the Special Crimes Unit of the Garden City Police Department.
Skid recognizes him from somewhere. Maybe on the news. Maybe on the streets. It’s a hard figure to forget, even for Skid; all brawn and thick, blue rope-like veins running up the neck. His arms two rippled archipelagoes of bulging muscles.
“You’re not the pizza man,” Skid says.
“Nope,” Razor says, stepping into the apartment. He stands six-foot three inches tall and speaks in a low timbre, making him sound taller. “But you’re going to get your ass kicked in less than thirty seconds, guaranteed.”
Skid brings up the pistol. “Oh yeah!”
Razor slaps the pistol from his hand. It goes flying across the room and punches a hole in the far wall. His other hand issues forth an uppercut that nearly removes Skid’s head from his neck. The withered body travels in a backward arc and hits the floor with a resounding thud.
Amanda bites Zipper’s hand, whose perception of reality is roughly ten seconds slower than everyone else’s. He yelps in pain and stumbles backward holding his hand.
With steps that send minor quakes throughout the floorboards, Razor walks across the room decisively and delivers to Zipper an extra-large ass-kicking free of charge; a blurred flurry of fists and elbows sends Zipper neatly into a deep state of unconsciousness.
It’s all said and done within a minute. Two more mutt-face junkies off the grid.
“Untie me! Untie me! Untie me!”
Razor looks at the girl and winces at the sound of her voice. First things first. He unclips a small walkie-talkie from his belt and says, “Negotiations complete. All clear.”
From his pocket he pulls a lock blade knife and frees the girl.
“What took you so long? “I’m gonna tell my daddy on you!”
The girl runs from the apartment, not a second too soon for Razor.
* * *
He awakens from the pain. Has no idea where he is. Up against a brick wall. The smell of urine and rotting garbage. Tries to call out, but is unable. What’s happening? he wonders. He can barely breathe. Chest is so tight. Feels like he’s boiling inside. Something’s not right. He’s come down hard before, plenty of times, but never this hard. Haven’t had a taste in what... four days? Should be on the upswing by now. He tries to stand but can’t. All his muscles are tied in knots.
Feels like he’s at the bottom of the ocean. Being crushed.
The man crawls through the alley. Grabbing for anything he can. Boxes. Broken pallets. Trash cans. Dragging himself. Anything that will help him to keep moving.
He must get out. Get help.
The headache is incredible. Like never before. Like it’s about to burst.
Can’t breathe. Struggling for air. Coughing. Gagging. Lungs are being crushed.
The man’s esophagus clamps shut. Tight. He reaches for his throat, clawing at it.
Nothing he can do now. He’ll go no farther than this. His body begins heaving and lurching. Bones snap.
The last bits of life are forced out from him in a wrenching moan.
It’s hard living on the streets. Even harder dying there.
Copyright © 2006 by O. J. Anderson