SIX HUNDRED - JIMMY CALLAWAY
“So wha’d he say?” Two huge goldfish swam in the tank behind Murray’s desk.
Ramirez said, “He said a good credit score is six hundred or above. Lower than that...” Ramirez shrugged.
“And what’s your score?”
Ramirez held up three fingers.
“Three,” Ramirez said. “My credit score is three.”
Murray let out a breath. “Look, it was up to me, you could have your choice, any apartment in the complex. Not just a studio, neither. One bedroom, two bedroom, whatever you want.”
“But it’s not up to you.”
Murray took his glasses off. “Look, kid, you always did right by me inside. I’m not gonna forget that.” He replaced his glasses. “But I got to run your credit check through an outside firm, and they don’t give a fuck who you are. Christ coming down off’a the cross ain’t gonna get a place here if his credit ain’t in line.”
“So that’s it, then?”
“Whadda you, kiddin’? We got a couch that folds out, you stay as long as you want.”
“C’mon, man. You got a wife and three kids in a two-bedroom. You don’t need me underfoot.” Ramirez stood up.
“Where you goin’?”
“Gonna stick up the Taco Bell across the street. Can you call the cops and have ’em meet me there?”
“Hey, c’mon, whaddaya—”
“Look, I need a place to stay. The food might suck at Donovan, but it beats starving to death on the street.”
“C’mon, siddown there. C’mon, sit down.” Murray swiveled his chair around and watched his fish. He sighed. “I was hoping there’d be another way.”
Murray swiveled back around. “Let’s take a ride.”
Murray rang the bell of the big white house on the hill, overlooking Mission Valley, the football stadium. A nice breeze floated through the neighborhood.
“Jesus,” Ramirez said. “Come a long way, ain’t he?”
“Like I told ya,” Murray said, “it’s all his wife’s. Scumbag hit the lottery.”
The tall man opened the door, and his face immediately regretted it.
“And speak of the devil!” Murray said. “Paz! ’Member me?”
“Whaddaya want, Murray?” Paszkiewicz said.
“Well, our buddy Ramirez here—you remember Ramirez, right?”
“He just got outta stir, see, and well, we were hoping you could do us a favor?”
Paszkiewicz looked down at them. “Fuck you,” he said, closing the door.
“I understand, that’s how you feel,” Murray said. “Maybe your wife will feel different. We’ll just wait here, she gets home, maybe we’ll see—”
Paszkiewicz opened the door again. “You stay away—”
“Maybe she’d like to know about the little piece of chicken you’ve got out in El Cajon, Paz.”
Paszkiewicz blanched. “What—How—”
“I’m her landlord, you scumbag.”
“Just—just tell me what you want.”
“Well, see, Ramirez here is having some credit trouble, y’know, getting a place to stay. So I’m thinking, Paz’s credit’s gotta be pretty good, maybe he’d wanna help ol’ Ramirez out.” Murray whipped out the application and a pen. “Just sign on the dotted line there, Paz, and we’ll be outta your hair. Your hair looks good, by the way.”
“Are you out of your minds? I’m not signing a fucking thing!”
“Aw, jeez,” Murray said. “I was hoping there’d be another way.”
“Another way what?” Paszkiewicz said.
Ramirez cocked the pistol, pointed it at Paszkiewicz’s head.
“Y’know what?” Murray said. “Better fill out the whole thing, social security number and all that. That stuff’s hard to fake.”
A wet patch spread across the front of Paszkiewicz’s chinos.
“Go ahead,” Murray said, “we’ll wait.”
The next week, Ramirez moved into Paszkiewicz’s new studio apartment.
BIO: Jimmy Callaway lives and works in San Diego, CA. For more, please visit attentionchildren.blogspot.com.