short fiction (written on the plane)

Stranded in an unfamiliar town and shivering under the bluish white lights behind the rear parking lot of an old motel, Stan pulled his last smoke from a cigarette pack and placed the butt-end in his clenched teeth.
He flicked his lighter while cupping the flame to protect it from the cold, February wind. And then he exhaled the smoke while tossing the crushed soft-pack over the chain-linked fence, which separated the motel property from the woods

“To hell with this,” he said. “I’m going back.” And by back, Stan meant back to the other side of the Hudson River. He wanted to go back to the downtown spots he was familiar with.
“I should have never left the city,” he complained.
“I don’t know why I let that stupid white boy talk me into this!”

Stan had a connection with a few different cop-spots downtown, but his friends on West 14th Street were all locked up.
Even the drag queen on 9th Avenue was hard to find; however, dope sick is dope sick, and the idea of a score is an idea for a score.
Stan needed to fix himself before his mind turned wrong, and as it was, the pains of withdrawal were already on their way.

“Wake up,” he said.
Stan shook Freddy’s semi-conscious body. It was Fred’s idea to leave the city. He said he knew a place to score, and he had an idea of how to grab some extra money.
Fred’s Army green coat was loose and unzipped. The blue hood from his hooded sweat jacket was pulled over his head and its inside white thermal lining was dirty and stained from blood.

Slowly returning from his nod, Freddy asked, “What’s the matter?”

Stan screamed, “What’s the matter? I’ll tell you what’s the matter, mother fucker, we’ve been out here all goddamn night and we haven’t seen one car pull up to this raggedy ass motel.”

He shouted, “All we’ve seen are hookers missing teeth, an old man fall, and a black cat chasing a rat from one of those filthy-ass dumpsters.”

Stan took a drag from his cigarette. “You got me sitting out here, freezing my ass off, telling me, ‘Someone will pull up in a nice car, buy one of these gummy mouth hookers, and then we can rob him’ ……but I ain’t seen shit since we’ve been out here!”

Stan was angry, but Freddy was unaffected. Freddy fixed his habit before they left the city.
He ran into Vince on 36th Street.
Vince pulled one hell of a score. He joined the methadone program for his habit; but, he received a second dose for pain management, which was due to a degenerative disease in his spine.
Two discs slipped in Vince’s lower back and the base of his spine was surgically repaired with steel rods.
He was short in size but big in balls. He had a scam for everything. Vince knew the angles and he was never  afraid to take a chance….
His face was wrinkled. He walked with a limp, and there was a scar along the right side of his jawbone.
The scar was from one of Vince’s scams. It seemed he found the wrong girl, a much younger girl, and he turned her on to the junkie scene.

As it turned out, that young girl had an older brother on the book. And by on the book, Vince described him as a bible-thumping radical.
The older brother was an ex-con, ex-junkie, womanizer, and thief. He liked to preach and he certainly enjoyed the sound of his own voice. And while yes, the older brother claimed to have found Jesus, this did not stop him from cutting Vince’s face near Washington Square Park.

The man punished Vince with the heel of his boot and said, “Maybe Jesus would forgive you for making my sister dirty!”
Then his spit one Vince as he lay bleeding in the street, “But I ain’t Jesus, bitch. Not by a long shot.”

Stan never liked Vince, but he would have gladly put those feelings aside for a taste of methadone.
He was on empty and watching Freddy sink into a dope-nod only made things worse.
Stan was big and heavy handed. Most of his knuckles were scarred from the fights throughout his young life, and nearly all of his fingertips were scarred while trying to disguise his fingerprints in his adult life.

Stan told Freddy, “I had to be out of my mind to let you talk me into this shit.”
“Relax,” Freddy assured. “This guy will be here soon.”

And just as Freddy spoke, a classic white Cadillac pulled into the parking lot. The car moved in slowly. The engine rumbled in a deep echo, and almost crawling in speed, the driver pulled into the middle of the parking lot. Overhead, the streetlamps glowed across the glossy white paint, with a white rag-top in an otherwise dark and dismal place.

After coming to a stop, a thin prostitute in a wavy blonde wig and wearing a long, probably fake, raccoon style coat, rushed over to the passenger side of the car.
From Stan’s view, he could see the shadowy outlines of two people sitting in the front seat. He watched the driver appear to hand money over to the prostitute, and then he saw the head of the prostitute disappear into the lap of what looked to be an overweight man in the driver’s seat.

Stan flicked his cigarette to the ground and then shoved Freddy with his knee. “Freddy…..get up, man. Is that the car?”
But mentally, Fred was too far away to hear Stan. Freddy was slumped down with his back against the chain-linked fence.

“Come on, man….that’s got to be him!”

Stan watched….
The surge of withdrawal crept in. His appetite for junk was beginning to overthrow any process of logical thought.
As Stan watched the man enjoy his prostitute, the man in the car tilted his head backwards and brought a small torch to the tip of a clear glass pipe that dangled in his mouth.
Next, a tiny glimmer of light flashed inside the car, giving a glimpse to a heavy-faced man with bulgy eyes and a thick neck. His salt and pepper hair was slicked back, and gray chest hair, entwined with several gold chains, poked up from the collar of an opened, buttoned-down shirt.

Stan reached inside his long black coat to retrieve a small .22 caliber pistol, which he bought from the drag queen on West 9th.
He then walked around the outside of the parking lot to avoid attention. Then he reeled back in order to rush in on the unsuspecting man being serviced by an otherwise crack-whore prostitute.
Stan was no stranger to violence. This was not the first time he held a gun in hand or succumbed to violence to get his way.

Born from a family of mixed descent, Stan watched his white father bash two teenagers with the butt of a .357 magnum. He stood by and watched as his father executed them for chasing down Stan’s black mother and screaming, “White Power!”
At the time Stan was 12. The two men dressed in black shirts, and black pants, tucked inside black boots, which rode just beneath the knee and were laced to the top with white laces, chased Stan’s mother while swinging a chain and threatening to beat, rape, and kill her.

As his mother, Tabitha, began to run away, one of the two shaved-headed men kicked her leg and tripped her from behind. The other ran in and knocked Stan down with a punch to the back of Stan’s head.
Stan was furious, but he was too small and too young to do anything. But before the beating was underway, Stan’s father ran in and punished both men until they lay bleeding. And to complete the punishment, Stan’s father shot both men in the back of the head on an eastern Long Island street.

That was the last time Stan saw his father. It was the first time; however, Stan learned the option of violence. He was never bothered with guilt or remorse. To Stan, life was a cycle and dying was a part of that cycle. And since he had no trouble in pulling the trigger before, Stan was not concerned if he had to pull the trigger again.

But the trip to New Jersey was not supposed to result in murder. This was supposed to be a set-up. This was just a scam to take money from a man with supposedly deep pockets. This was a way to keep two heroin-filled junkies from being sick.

As he moved in, Stan thought about his need. He thought about the pin, which would pierce the vein in his arm and disperse the warm, soothing effect.
He thought about the slow drift from society and the mental vacation, which brought him into his own euphoric cocoon.
He lowered himself and with the gun in his right hand, Stan reached for the handle on the driver’s side door. The shiny metal from the handle gleamed beneath the streetlamps; the wet blacktop below glistened, and Stan’s heartbeat pounded like a funeral drum.

Rising up, Stan gripped the door handle and screamed, “Open up!”
The heavyset man with his pants down and a drug addicted whore between his legs, shook, and flung the glass pipe from his mouth.
His bulgy eyes opened as wide as they could, and horrified, the overweight man raised his hands to submit.
“Don’t shoot,” he pleaded.
The prostitute backed away.
“Open the door,” Stan shouted.
“Don’t shoot!” cried the man in the white car.

The bullet was unexpected.
The glass from the driver’s side window exploded and blood flew.
Apparently Stan was not the only one with a gun….

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