A PRESCRIPTION FOR NERVES - ROBERT CRISMAN
In any cooperative venture, you have to get issues worked out. Sometimes it takes the threat of a good left hook to the jaw.
Dennis and Eddie were scheduled to hijack a dopehouse in northend Seattle. Jefe Ramon had set the heist up. Eddie got more and more nervous the closer they got to nutcutting time.
Eddie was always chewing his lips and sweating the small shit, you know? Short, skinny, sharp-featured, pale, he looked like those yoyos they bust on that TV show Cops.
Those guys should worry...
Dennis, 6’5”, 250, with muscles he ripped off some bear and a face beefed like Bluto’s, was good at bringing Eddie down out of the trees, though sometimes he had to work to get the job done.
They were strolling through Pioneer Square. Eddie was off in some tunnel of thought. At King Street he said with a frown, “So, what? El Jefe’s calling on Thursday? We meet the man and get this show on the road?”
Dennis said, “Man, listenin’ to you? You seem to have some kinda problem. Why don’t you just spit it out.”
Eddie chewed on his lips. “It was like I was saying before.”
“You know, Ramon.”
“Ramon what? All I heard so far was, he’s a cold motherfucker. Jesus Christ, Eddie. Okay, he’s a cold motherfucker. You sure know how to nail a guy. What is it with you? You know what the deal is.”
“Yeah, man, I know but...” Eddie shook his head.
“Well? What the fuck? Like I told you—”
“Aw, man, spare me the business lecture, okay? I—”
“Hey, man, you know what? You’re startin’ to talk like some softbrained little bitch. You don’t like Ramon. Never mind you don’t even really know the motherfucker, you still don’t like him. Cool. You don’t gotta like him. You don’t even gotta know him. I know the dude an’ he’s fuckin’ okay with me. The reason is, he takes care of business an’—”
“Hey, Dennis, you know? All that? He can go ahead and be the next Jesus. I don’t give a fuck. And you—you should be teaching business school or some fucking thing. Bring Ramon in, do a seminar. Ethics of narco-capitalism or something, how’s that? Be the hit of the century. Fucking guy. And you—you’re like a fucking cheerleader. Rah rah Ramon. Mexico’s answer to Bill fucking Gates. Jesus, man, you married his sister, not his fucking ass and—”
Uh-oh. Dennis’s voice just dropped deep. This was the time for Eddie to pay some attention.
“What man?” Eddie said. Like, say your piece and get done; I’ve got more stuff I want to unload. That wasn’t paying attention.
“All this shit, man,” Dennis said, “you’re really startin’ to piss me off.”
Eddie backed off a bit. “Okay, man... What it is really... I mean, if this is such a sweet deal, how come he isn’t going in? Him or one of his monkeys, you know?”
“Ah, Christ. Eddie, lemme explain somethin’. The man’s got other priorities. An’ his other guys, I dunno. He didn’t want ‘em on this. They’re busy or somethin’. Anyway, that’s why you’re here. An’ it’s a pretty good deal for you, am I right? Come outta this, you can start eatin’ somethin’ besides macaroni an’ popcorn lint you found in your pockets. He don’t go in, so fuckin’ what?”
“You make it sound like he’s doing us a favor. Changes my whole fucking outlook. Shee-it, Dennis! I don’t fucking think so.”
Dennis came to a stop. “Okay, asshole, you got the answers. You tell me.” He folded his arms and looked lasers at Eddie. You could see his jaws jumping. It gave Eddie pause.
“Well, c’mon, man,” Dennis said. “talk to me now.”
“Okay...it’s like this. I think he thinks that this isn’t the cakewalk he wants us to think. We go in there, something can always go wrong. And Ramon, if it does, he’s, Oh, well, too bad about Eddie and Dennis, and especially too bad about the loot they didn’t bring back, but, oh well. No final skin off his ass.”
“Well, c’mon, am I right?”
“Eddie, goddamnit! All you been doin’ is piss an’ moan like a bitch! An’ here’s what it is! It ain’t Ramon, it’s you. You’re worried, we go in, somethin’ breaks funny, an’ you can’t handle it or somethin’. Well, I’ll tell you somethin’. That’s makin’ me a little bit nervous right now, you hear me?”
Dennis had just punched a button. “Hey, man,” Eddie said, “fuck you! You’ve never seen me scared, man! But you—it’s like fucking Ramon sprinkled magic dust in your dog biscuits, man, and now we’re supposed to just skip down the Yellow Brick Road and—fuck that!”
Eddie’d barreled too far over the line. Dennis whirled and slammed him hard with the flat of his hands and then came in fast. Eddie backpedaled, looking for something to grab or duck under. You ever get charged by a grizzly? It can wreck your whole year.
Dennis feinted left, Eddie jumped right—smack into a wall. Dennis was on him—and then, there was this couple, stone squares, giving the action the fisheye.
An audience. Just what they needed. Dennis uncoiled, dropped his hands to his sides, trying to look blasé. Eddie saw that the squares had bought him a reprieve. He sagged with relief.
Dennis was pretty well chilled.
“C’mon, man,” he said. “This is stupid. We’re actin’ like monkeys. Let’s take a walk, talk this out. We ain’t gotta fight.”
He laughed a little. Eddie unpeeled from the wall.
Dennis walked. Eddie caught up.
Dennis talked. Eddie listened.
The threat of a bruising had hosed the shit out of his ears.
BIO: Robert Crisman knew Eddie and those guys way back when the world was young. At long last it came time to get off the streets and do something useful. He writes these days to turn his years in the mix to account.