CLOSURE - TOM LARSEN
What happened to Tommy was they woke him up. Two guys with sledge hammers wailing on a dumpster inside the senior center parking garage. Make that noise to wake the dead and Tommy wild-eyed at the first BONG. And again and again and he threw on some pants and beelined over.
It was the way he said it, fat fuck in a hard hat.
“For as long as it takes, pal.”
And maybe the ‘sorry sack of shit’ wasn’t called for but Tommy wasn’t a morning person. He ducked fat fuck’s punch, could have gone for the body but wanted a clean shot. And when it was over he just walked home.
It was the short cop, Mike something. Tommy opened the door before he could knock.
“Wanna tell me what happened, Tom?”
“Nothing to tell. The guy threw a punch.”
“That’s just what he said.”
“The old ladies were catching the sun. Ask around, Mike.”
“Guy’s got a walnut under his eye.”
Tommy said nothing.
“OK, look, just stay away from there. Would you do that for me?”
“For you, Mike,” Tommy nodded.
“So, you want to file a complaint?”
“Nah, hey, just two old fools blowing off steam.”
“Well, he might. So I may be back.”
“You’re always welcome here, Mike.”
He never came back.
Three days later, Tommy met Elaine for lunch.
“So, I see you made the papers.”
“The police blotter, I assume,” he made the joke.
“Aren’t you a little old to be punching people?”
No joke and she had a copy. His name and address, a poorly worded account with fat fuck a dozen years his junior. Fucking Mike.
“Hey, you OK?” Elaine leaned in.
“Yeah. Yeah, I’m fine.” He set the paper aside. “I mean, it’s not like anybody reads those things.”
“Are you kidding? That’s the only thing they read. It’s called dishing the dirt.”
Tommy would tell you, good things take forever; the bad things blow in overnight. Ray D was waiting on his front porch, copy in hand.
“Let’s take a ride.” He nodded to the boys in the Benz.
They drove the Expressway south, Ray and Dominic up front, some greaseball with a gun to Tommy’s ribs. Ray D did all the talking.
“Six years come September. You know how they say time heals all wounds? It’s a crock, Tommy-boy. See, you shoulda just put one behind the ear, at least then we could get on with our lives. But six years watching your kid brother go down the tubes... it works on you, I’m not gonna lie.”
Kenny D The Wanna-be. Would have emptied the gun if not for the cops and their crosshairs. Would kill him today in his fucking wheelchair.
“I need to settle this thing, know what I’m saying?” Ray zagged past a big rig. “Then yesterday, I get a call. Friend of mine, lives up here, says guess what I just read in the local rag.
“It wasn’t like I was looking for you. I would have just banged it out, the whole thing, kept up with Kenny and lived my sorry life. But you had to resurface. Had to fuck up and now I can’t sleep at night. Believe me, that can work on you, too.”
Tommy kept his mouth shut. He’d been on Ray’s end and everything you say sounds stupid.
“You shouldna slugged that guy. You brought this on yourself, T.” Ray said.
Tommy stared off into the pines.
BIO: Tom Larsen has been a fiction writer for fifteen years, his work has appearing in Newsday, New Millennium Writing, Puerto del Sol and Antietam Review. His short story “Lids” was included in Best American Mystery Stories – 2004. His novel FLAWED was released in October. He’s been published here before.
Irish Times Crime Fiction column, February 2018
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