Thursday, January 29, 2009
The Colorado Option: hard-boiled, low down, dirty stories of broken men, last-ditch efforts and guttered-out dreams. This is one of those stories...
Fool Me Once... by Buck Spidero
Warning: This depraved tale contains content intended for mature audiences.
I reclined in the driver’s seat of my ancient Impala. The neon sign across the street mocked me with its cheerfulness: Flagstaff Arms Apartments. It made me want to puke. I downed the last of the fifth of whiskey I’d picked up. It dulled the pain, but didn’t kill it. It still lurked inside; an itch I couldn’t scratch. Where was he?
Headlights cast a better light on the building as Rasdower’s Buick pulled into the lot. It definitely cracked my top five shittiest flophouses. I watched him walk to the front door from the street. After he was inside, I pulled into the parking lot and backed into a space a couple of doors down.
I wanted the car facing out in case I had to make a quick exit.
I took the elevator up to Rasdower’s floor. Should have taken the stairs, you broken-down, out-of-shape old man. I found his door and gave it a once-over. Not nearly as sturdy as something in a newer building, though newer buildings tend to not smell like piss. I briefly considered knocking before deciding to just kick it in. It didn’t put up much of a fight. One good kick and it flew open. I gave the room a quick look.
Then, from the bathroom, a muffled “What the hell?”
I smiled as I headed for the hallway. Rasdower came out still pulling his pants up, and I slammed him against the doorframe, my forearm pressing against his throat.
“Spidero!” He sputtered, gasping for air. “What the fuck is this?”
I loosened my arm a bit. “Sorry, Rasdower. Couldn’t sleep. Thought I’d stop by for a chat.”
He took a swing at my head. I saw it coming but still caught part of it. Before he could take another I kneed him in the groin, followed by a punch to his kidney. He started to go down, and I turned him around, bending him over the sink. He kept struggling until I put my .38 special to the back of his head.
“I know what you did to Mary, Rasdower. Mary. That angel. Why did she have to suffer like that? We all know.”
“What’s it to you?”
I pressed the gun harder. Just get it over with. “Explain why I shouldn’t just kill you right now.”
I cocked the hammer back. Shoot him! “Wrong answer.”
“You won’t do it. You don’t have the balls. Cops’ll be all over you.”
“They can try. I don’t exist in half the states in this country.”
“You won’t do it.”
I kicked his feet out from under him. His chin cracked on the cheap porcelain and he went down in a heap. I put the gun to his head again. “Let’s try this one more time. Were you going to cut and run once you screwed me over? Were you going to try what you tried in St. Louis?”
He coughed and spat out a tooth. “It’s not like that. Besides, you need me. You know what I can do, and you don’t have the time to find someone else.”
The problem was, the bastard was right. “You try to run, and you won’t make it fifty feet.” I slammed the gun into the side of his head, knocking him out.
I stood up and walked out of the apartment. The hallway was quiet; it didn’t seem like anyone was reacting to the scuffle. I took the stairs down, slowly, trying to calm my shattered nerves. Why do you do these things? Why do you hurt people like this? I made it outside before I started dry-heaving. Took a few deep breaths of the Arizona air and took out my phone. I dialed McFinney.
“Hoop, it’s Buck. Rasdower’s going to play ball”
"Glad to hear it. See you at the rendezvous.”
I hung up and headed for my car. Rasdower said he wouldn’t try anything, and after what I’d just put him through, I doubted he would. He'd come through. We wouldn't end up like Mary, who got a pager and her name on a clipboard. We weren't going to go out like that. The next time we dined at the Flagstaff Bar & Grille, we wouldn’t have to wait for a table.