A New Hobby
He wheezes, holding his hands up in an absurd gesture of protection. He won’t look at me.
“Please man…please don’…just don’…please…”
He has these strange, green gloves on against the cold, those crappy hobo gloves you always see guys wearing in heavy metal videos. They wave randomly in front of his face.
“I got nothin’ man…just don’….”
I stand at clinical distance. There is nobody around. The stony hallway is empty except for some trash containers. No windows. Nothing else to interrupt our conversation, not even a passing car. Vapour clouds through my balaclava, hanging with meatlocker stillness in the narrow alley.
He is sitting on a pile of cardboard. Weren’t there shelters? It makes my job easier, anyway.
He begins to moan. Apparently, acting coherent and sober is possible for only a few moments at a time before the act breaks down. All he emits now are animal grunts and whimpering. In the dirt beside him is a Coke can, flattened on one side and perforated with dozens of pin-pricks. His crack pipe.
I pull my pistol from my pants, fully loaded. My .45 ACP. Seven in the magazine, one in the chamber, a design perfected a decade before the first American soldiers in their pie-plate helmets took them to the trenches in World War I. I have it cocked and locked, the safest way to carry this piece around when it's in your waistband. I point it at his face.
“Look at me,” I say. He begins to sway his head, the palsied dance of an old man. But he is 30, tops.
I squat, reaching out with the .45 to press its hard eye against his forehead. “Look at me,” I whisper. Big dogs don’t need to bark. “Look me in the eye.” Stoned or not, he knows he’s about 10 seconds away from getting a hardball plunged through what’s left of his grey matter. Nothing is more scary than a guy with a gun who is whispering things at you.
This isn’t thrilling or anything, this knowledge. It's just a tool you use, like telling a woman she looks beautiful to get what you want.
Finally, he looks up. He is crying. His eyes are strawberry jam.
“Who deals around here?” I say. “I just want a name. I’ll let you live.”
“Fuck you, yo…you’ll fuckin’ cap me, what do you care,” he says. He hangs his head like a bad dog.
“Just a name. Give it to me. I’ll cap you if you don’t, I don’t give a shit.” I didn’t.
He considers his options and spills it.
“Smurf does. Smurf, yo.”
“Where.” I’m getting cold, and bored. I’d actually prefer to beat what I want out of this stinking heap of rags. It would feel better doing it, but then I’d get all sweaty. Also, I might leave something behind.
“He goes to da Side Bar. Weeknights. Too many kids onna weekend,” he says.
I stand, head cocking. No people nearby. No cars. I can’t hear a thing. I have two routes to my car, parked in the dark two blocks away with swapped plates.
“Thanks,” I say. I flip off the safety. A .45 is subsonic, so the sound won’t carry the way say, oh, a 9 millimeter would. I step away, damning him. I also want clean pantlegs.
Hold still, you. I wait until his panicked hand moves enough so that I can put the bullet into his eye socket without him blocking my aim.
I grab my brass and clear out. The drive home is uneventful – not even a single siren to race my heartbeat.