“Bullet holes in the passenger’s door say otherwise,” she teased.
The first day is always special, so I decide to listen to “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and get extra ripped. Leaving my tucked away hellhole of a complex where all the degenerates live, I do only one album a day, going at different times and sitting in the always-full McDonald’s parking lot. I eat my hamburger and fries at a leisurely pace.
Discs one and two of the “White Album.” I switch parking lots, remember every day to write down the time I leave. Every night I get home and compile the results of my reconnaissance before I get ripped and head over to Marcus Guller’s and do more of the same for the rest of the night. Sometimes I have work. I text Cara, Tracy, Sophie, Katherine, Suzy, Meadow, Sindy (with an “S”), Lauren, Aubrey, and Angela but none of them answer me anymore. And no one has seen Katherine after she told us her and Nile Russell were eloping in the fall and she disappeared into his apartment.
“Let it Be” (Naked)
“Magical Mystery Tour”
“Beatles for Sale”
On “Rubber Soul” I decide it is the day. An Asian restaurant, at least I think. Who the fuck knows? The gun I stole during my dealing days is loaded with the four bullets that were loaded when I found it. I slip it into the front left pocket of my tattered zip-up sweatshirt, the zipper perpetually stuck at the top so I have to take it off like a hoodie every time.
I wait for cars to pass on the street, take multiple attempts to light a cigarette because I made sure to get extra messed up before leaving today and didn’t wait for more than two songs to play before I decided to do this and still don’t think I have reached my plateau yet and definitely haven’t started coming down yet. I make it across the road and into the McDonald’s lot by way of flailing arms and sudden bursts of twitch-induced speed. I see a couple exit the restaurant with a take-out bag and inside there is a man at the register, pointing with a sweeping index finger at the menu above the head of the confused looking immigrant behind the counter.
A bell tinkles from above me as I enter. I trip over the metal on the floor of the door frame. “Fuck.” The middle-aged employee and older customer turn around. I shuffle over to a table in the back of the eating area. There are only five other tables not counting mine, so I still feel like I am right next to the men. They aren’t paying attention to me anymore and the older one finishes ordering and sits down across the empty space. He pulls a book from out of his jacket.
I reach into my pocket for the cell phone I can’t afford anymore and come up empty-handed. The employee (owner) looks at me a few times, or only once, maybe he is staring at me. I can’t be sure. I, myself, am staring intently at what must be a menu that I found on the table.
I imagine the customer getting his food multiple times before it actually happens and when it does and he turns around and is walking out his face has ants crawling all over it and I want to scream out loud but I don’t and I can’t get the image out of my head so I stare at the menu some more. Then I realize I am alone in the restaurant.
“Can I help you?”
“Can I help you?”
“You want take out? You want eat here?”
“Hey buddy, you need help reading that? What kind of meat you want? Buddy? Can I help you, buddy?”
I walk up to the counter, the middle-aged immigrant restaurant owner, I see his wife in the back. She is cooking but also staring at me. I look up at the menu.
“Buddy, hey buddy, you got money? You just look at me, ok? You on something buddy? It’s alright, just tell me what you’re feeling? Hungry for.”
“Chicken.” Do I say that?
“What kind of chicken?”
I did. “Sweet. Sour. Sweet and sour.”
He repeats this to his wife in a foreign language.
Why am I ordering? “Why am I ordering?”
“What? Buddy, what did you say?”
“Sorry, how much?” I don’t have any money.
“Buddy, eight dollars, fifty cents, eight fifty.”
I don’t have any money. “I don’t have any money.”
“What? What do you mean buddy? Eight dollars, fifty cents, no money? What are you on buddy?”
There is a gun in my pocket. “I have, there is a gum in my pocket.”
“Gum isn’t money, eight fifty, sweet and sour chicken, eight dollars fifty cents.”
“Sweet and sour chicken. Give me all your money.”
“What buddy? What-”
“Give me your, give me all the fucking, all your fucking money, everything in the drawer.” I pull out the gun and it is heavy and I am wasted and I point it at his head then his chest, his wife has stopped frying the chicken. “If you move, you fuckers, I blow your fucking brains to the ceiling. The fucking ceiling.” As if I am consciously trying to ruin my own robbery I really point the gun above my head and expend one of my bullets into the ceiling.
“Fuck you buddy,” he starts speaking with words I don’t understand, I can’t decide if it’s English but I hope that it’s not. His wife runs down the aisle of stovetop counter space and disappears before I even lower my arm. Now the two of us are just staring at each other. I remember I am supposed to be pointing my weapon at him. When I do this he actually raises his hands in the air and this starts to fall into the realm of one of the hundred ways I imagined this going. All hundred of them being positive.
“The money you fucker, the money or I blow your brains out, out of the back of your fucking skull. Safe? You thieving thrifty fucks have a safe, and I want you to open it. Show it to me, open it, fucking give me what’s inside.”
He keeps looking behind himself, not ever fully turning his whole body, just his head and shoulders.
“She ran, probably didn’t even call the fucking police. Just ran. And now if you don’t give me everything you have my finger will be forced, forced, it will be forced, I will be forced to fucking kill you.”
He’s looking at me funny now. Smiling I think, and I don’t know why. My arm, the one holding the gun and three bullets, falls to my side and I stumble. I try to point the gun at his face but have a hard time; I can’t pinpoint the exact location of his face. I give my arm one last attempt and more immigrants, a handful, in real life, come out from where the wife had disappeared. The restaurant owner completely turns around, then back at me and he is definitely smiling. I manage to raise my arm but my vision and control are so fucked that the first shot I take is way over everyone’s heads and into another tile of the ceiling.
“Don’t fucking, back up, stay behind the fucking counter you immigrant fucks.” None of these things matter to them as two are already to me and a better aimed shot goes over one of their shoulders. I am backing up. “Fuck, fuck, stop, fuck.” I look at the restaurant owner. “Sweet and sour chicken,” I shout. He laughs horribly.
I run out of space in the store, there are at least four of them in front of me now, all of them armed I’m sure, even the ones that don’t look armed. I find the glass door with the back of my free hand and think sanctuary. I fall out into the afternoon air and my body lands on concrete. My head, perfectly too long to land with my body, whips down over the curb and smashes against the front of it. I fire my last shot, it doesn’t matter where it goes. I see a drive-thru lane busy with the lunchtime rush, cars going by in the street, all of this upside down.
Hands grab both of my arms and I am airborne, at least the top half of me is, but I can’t tell for how long. My feet, the toes of my shoes are dragging against the concrete. I am back inside and can finally figure out what is happening, at least to me, internally, I’ve taken too much. Externally? Who the fuck knows, my hundred different outcomes, none of them accounted for this. I am going to pass out, or maybe I am just hoping I will, but I’m already back inside and being taken behind the counter, VIP treatment. The owner and his wife are nowhere to be found. I want to pass out. My head is leaning forward, my eyes are watching the bottom half of the kitchen going past me. I throw up and manage to get quite a bit on me, despite the angle of my head to that of my body. One of my escorts laughs and says something I don’t understand to the other one in charge of my now gunless arm and both laugh.
They take me to a room (there’s a safe in the corner), pull a chair from the table cluttered with trash and half eaten meals, a break room and back room at the same time. Now it is a torture room as I see one of them pull out wire from nowhere in his jacket and another one over by a counter top that is being used as a tool bench. I am forced to sit. I reach the chair and they take their arms off me; I try to stand up, succeed, and I start for the door, only to stumble again and land face first on the floor. I need to pass out. More laughter, from all of them now, I am back in the chair and the wire is ready for me finally. They hold me down this time, though lightly, knowing I can’t go anywhere. All of them look like they’re going to get a round in with me.
I realize I am not in fact going to pass out, at least not at this moment. I would have by now if I was going to. I realize I had hit a plateau and started my descent without even noticing.
Red party dress melted to his body, flames from a Molotov I had thrown into his car clinging like a coat while he stumbled through stopped traffic. Heading toward the man-made lake in Marcs Park, still in heels, but he would never make it.
When was the last time you talked to Martin Price?
Girl, you didn’t hear about it, I’m guessing.
Guessing not, do tell. Mind if I grab a Diet?
Sure thing, though a regular wouldn’t kill you.
Thanks boo, I’ll keep that in mind. Didn’t you and Martin, I don’t know…
Have a thing? Is that what you were going to say?
Yeah, that, I guess. I prefer to give you the opportunity to phrase it however it was.
Yeah that I guess. I mean if you count receiving anywhere from five and eight blackout hand-jobs during our spring-break-shit-show a thing.
I guess not. So that’s why he doesn’t talk to you?
You really didn’t hear the story.
Friday, day before we left, he disappeared with what we all told him explicitly was not only a Dominican male prostitute but also a pre-teen Dominican non-male prostitute. He didn’t listen, disappeared, we left without him.
I know, our group was huge, like thirty some people, I was the only one that was a close friend of Martin’s, the only one that knew him at all really, someone else had the tickets. What am I doing? It’s no excuse. He came back two weeks later and looked like a pinata, even then, from all of the swelling. He’s missing a thumb.
Wow. Just. Wow. So I guess that’s why? I’m so sorry I brought it up.
Yeah, that I guess.
“Yo, Pete, you hear what they’re doing for the next hockey game? They tell me they’re bringing Burt Sheppard out onto the ice. Yeah, that Burt Sheppard. Don’t tell me how they’re going to, I don’t know, I mean, don’t ask me how, since he’s been dead since before the millennium became a pre-teen. But anyways, they’re having a tribute to him for taking the boys to the Frozen Four those five of seven years we had him. Great years. Those seven. They’re bringing him out onto the ice during the second intermission and are giving him an open net shot. Can you believe it, how awesome is that?”
Rain pattered on a soaked roof the color of burnt sienna. The man creeping across the shingles stepped with great care, avoiding a fall into the sentry-filled garden belo- I hit the Delete button until that all had disappeared from the document.