THROWING HEATERS - CAMERON ASHLEY
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AUGUST 2009 AT POWDER BURN FLASH
Di had mitts like a heavyweight prizefighter. They were swollen, ugly things, much too big for her delicate frame. They looked like they were transplanted from some Jack Kirby monster. Thick and heavy, they compressed into mammoth-knuckled, near-rectangular fists. They were the one thing doctors couldn’t do much about when Di decided she didn’t want to be David anymore. She didn’t mind so much. They were pretty useful. They were sandpaper rough, they were crude, and if you could take your eyes off of them to look Di in the face whilst they were raised, you would know she could throw some serious heaters with them.
Di looked like Joan Jett. She wore some tight black jeans, some fuck-me boots and a little low-cut black blouse with an eighties biker jacket over the top. She wore a long delicate gold chain around her neck as if that was enough to soften the outfit up. She sucked down some slurpee and hung out with Amandeep. Amandeep had the hots for her. He never noticed the slabs of meat attached to the end of her arms; he was too enraptured with her delicate cheekbones, her pink, glossy lips, her pert little heart-shaped arse. He stocked cigarette shelves behind the counter and complained to Di about how often he got held up by junkies and nutbags.
‘“There’s a brothel on one side and a mental home on the other, so these things happen.” This is what the boss says to me.’
Di shook off some brain freeze.
‘What did you say?’
‘I didn't know what to say. I stood there blinking like some moron. “These things happen.” Psshh. I’d like to see how he would handle a knife or a bat or a needle stuck in his face.’
‘You’re a brave dude, Amandeep.’
‘I am not brave. I give these fuckers the money. It’s not my money, so why should I be brave? The police, they patrol more, but really, what can they do? You know what I need? I need someone here. All the time. Every night while I am on. Either that or a gun. I wish I could have a gun. If my parents had chosen for me to study in America, I would have a gun.’
‘Yeah,’ Di said. ‘But so would they.’
She shaped her left mitt into a gun. It was the .44 Magnum of imaginary guns. Hand-cannon personified. She pointed it at Amandeep and gave a wry glossy-lipped smile.
‘Chk-chk-Boom and all that, man.’
Di’s first night on junkie patrol was uneventful. She shot the shit with Amandeep, watched him serve smokes, meat pies and flavoured milk to drunken twenty-somethings with bad haircuts and over-designed t-shirts. She put away heaps of Slurpee and worried about her waistline. The second night was much the same, as was the third. On night four, she was outside smoking and watching a group of drunks crack themselves up when it happened.
He came in with an eighties-looking Rambo knife probably stolen from Army Disposals. Amandeep sighed and hit a register button marked CASH. The register drawer sprang open and Amandeep started flicking up money clips. Later, cops viewing the security tape would joke how bored Amandeep looked, like he was enduring some menial chore like scrubbing the shitter.
The convenience store doors slid open with a ding and the kid was down from a kidney shot before he could turn around. Di kicked the knife away and hauled the kid to his feet. She jabbed him with a couple of short rights; sharp shots that snapped his head back. She threw a huge left hook that broke his nose and opened up a crescent-shaped wound across its flattened bridge. She threw a right that crushed his orbital socket and finished it off with a straight left that took out five teeth.
Di’s knuckles were barely grazed.
As Amandeep called the cops, Di looked down at the unconscious kid, blood-covered, pieces of his face re-arranged or missing. She wondered if, before all that disfigurement, he looked something like the little arsehole who, a week prior, had given her shit on the train. Hard to tell. Perhaps the beating had re-sculpted his face to look more like him. Shit, covered in all that blood, he could’ve been anybody.
One of the investigating cops took the footage of the beating, put Joan Jett & The Blackhearts Do You Wanna Touch Me (oh, Yeah) over the top and stuck it on YouTube. Di’s mitts and arse-kicking ability achieved moderate internet fame. The night of their first date, Di and Amandeep got stopped on the street. A fan asked for a photo with Di, wanted to see those massive fists close up.
Di didn’t mind.
They came in pretty useful sometimes.
BIO: Cam lives, drinks and edits Crime Factory in Melbourne, Australia. Jimmy Callaway, as usual, helped big time with this one back in the day.