KILLER STORY - ROBERT CRISMAN
Guys who go apeshit and start waving guns in the air? As far as Ramon was concerned that kind of shit was amateur hour.
He and Dennis were headed uptown on I-5, to a fleabag motel on Aurora, the one that Luis had skipped to. Luis had managed Ramon’s eastside dopehouse down in Tacoma. But dummy had started to dip in the product and then let the place get heisted by bikers in the midst of a good fucking groove. Then he split without saying goodbye. It had taken Ramon all of a day to find out just where he’d gone. Luis, a dummy indeed...
He and Dennis fought through the traffic, Ramon cursing streaks, then sped ahead as the traffic thinned out north of town. Another ten-twenty minutes, they’d be there.
“Seattle, man, shit,” Ramon said. “I came up from L.A. to get out of traffic, and, this shit.” He laughed. “It was different, back then, when I came here.”
The thought sent him tripping down memory lane.
“When I first came up,” he said, “I got into coke. Ninety-one, ninety-two. I knew some guys, and we’d done some business, they hooked me up with some guys, and, like, bingo. Fat money.
“It was a crazy scene, man, swear to God. I knew this one dude, his name was Dennis, like you. Zelman or Zigler, some fucking thing. I don’t know. Ziplock, don’t matter. They called him Z-Dog. Had this house out by Northgate. Nice fucking place. Nice neighborhood, man. He used to own an antique store, and that’s how he got it. But, you go into his place, man, what a trip. The windows are all boarded up, and he’s got these two-by-fours nailed all around by his bed on the floor, with nails sticking up, so if anybody comes in, they step on them, right? And, he’s asleep, that wakes him up, and he pulls his piece out from under the pillow, and blows them away.”
“Guns were everywhere in that house, man,” Ramon said. “Top to bottom, swear to God. Had a fucking sawed-off in back of the toilet, in case somebody busts in while he’s taking a shit. Whole bathroom was black. Painted black. Spooky, man, really. But you get that way, especially with coke. Paranoid, right? He’s always peeking outside, waiting for cops to come wheeling up on the lawn.
“They did, too, a couple of times. Guy had all these freaks coming over, most of them crazy as he was. All of them packing, and, just, crazy as shit.
“I can remember a couple of times, guys over there, looking to cop, and things got a little out of control. They’re short on the money, or he’s short on the weight, or some fucking thing, and now, all of a sudden, they’re yelling and screaming, and bringing out hardware, and, here we go, World War III in that house, swear to God.”
“I been in a house or two just like that,” Dennis said. “Not a whole lot of fun duckin’ ricochets an’ shit.”
Ramon laughed. “I heard about that thing you got into down in Tukwila, man, and you were the one throwing. You should’ve aimed better. Way I heard it, you blew all those holes in the house, wind up dry-snapping, the guy’s halfway to Portland.” They laughed.
“Fuckin’ Pepe,” Dennis said. “Fast little fucker, boy... I threw down on his ass, wasn’t nothin’ but shadow to shoot at. He’s, voo-o-oom, out the door. Little cocksucker. I got the money, though. He left his ol’ lady behind, an’ I got it from her.”
“She wasn’t so fast, huh?”
“Froze stiff, man. No sweat.”
“You ever see him again?”
“Nah, he’s gone. Probly dead. Dumbfuck was bangin’ halfa the dope in the whole fuckin’ world. He won’t be back.”
“No, I guess not. Anyway, man, Z-Dog. That fucking house... I remember he went over the table on this one dude after he brought this dude around that he didn’t know. Pistol-whipped the fuck out of him, dragged him down to the basement, tied him to a chair, and then poured gasoline on him, and then, went back upstairs. Left the guy down there three fucking hours. Goes back down, finally, there’s this puddle of piss in front of the chair, and the guy, he shit on himself. Almost chewed through the gag that Dennis had on him, and...” Ramon laughed, shook his head.
“He cuts the guy loose,” Ramon said, “and takes him upstairs, tells him, he ever even sees him again, he’ll set him on fire. He doesn’t care if it’s out on the street or down at the courthouse. Wherever. A 7-11. He meant it, too, at least at the time.
“He boots the dude out of the house. You should’ve seen it. Guy had his car there, a little ways down from the house, out in front. He goes and gets in, and just sits there, shaking. Dennis is ready to go out and get him again, but the guy finally starts up and books out. Far as I know, he fucking left town, because nobody I know ever saw him again after that.”
“What about the dude the guy brought in with him?”
“I don’t remember. I think, nothing. He must’ve just split when Dennis went over the table. He wasn’t around for any of the rest, I know that. He’d’ve probably been down in that basement, tied to a chair. Yeah, man, I’m sure he just split. Good move, too, because Dennis was crazy.
“House was a nut farm, I swear to God. All kinds of crazy-ass shit going on, all the time. Neighbors are going out of their minds. One night, he gets drunk, on top of the coke, for Chrissake, and goes out on his lawn, and starts shooting out street lights. Twelve fucking thirty at night.
“I was always kind of surprised the cops didn’t come and just roll him on up. But there, for awhile, I think the neighbors were too fucking scared to call in.
“He was some fucking cowboy, I’ll tell you. He looked kind of like you, as a matter of fact. Like a pirate, or Bluto, or something. Big motherfucker.”
Dennis grinned. He liked the comparison.
“There was this one bitch,” Ramon said. “We were riding in my car, him and me, and she’s in the back seat. He’s taking her to get this $3000 he says she owes him. This bitch is in trouble. She’s trying to plead out, am I right? And it’s one bullshit story after another, and he keeps telling her to shut the fuck up. She just keeps on blabbing and blabbing—and the fucking guy, all of a sudden, he jumps over the seat and starts whaling away on her ass! Right there in the middle of traffic!
“We’re on Eastlake, man, four o’clock on a Friday, rush hour, man—and my car’s a convertible, top fucking down—and here’s this wild man from Borneo beating the living shit out of this bitch in my car! And all these people, these cars, man—rush hour, right?—they can’t believe it. Dude just, right there, in front of the whole goddamn world! And I’m thinking, cop, he sees this, we are fucked.
“So, man—and then, we’re at a red light, stopped dead in the middle of this shit. People, cars and the sidewalks and shit, they’re just, this fucker killin’ this bitch, and it’s hey, man, call Eyewitness News! Like O.J, or something, but right out on front street, tape at eleven!” Ramon shook his head, laughed. “And, I’m trying to, you know, ‘Hey, Dennis, man!’ and he doesn’t hear it. And, man...
“Light finally turns green, I manage to bogart the inside lane, and, around a corner and onto a side street, and I’m going to bust out of this mess—except, I look back, and he’s strangling her now—and then, he’s got one hand on her throat, and the other one, he opens the back door, and he’s going to throw her out of the car! I’m barreling ass up this side street, going 45 miles an hour, the fucking back door flopping open, bitch hanging halfway right the fuck out, and, Boston Strangler, he’s got a death grip, and, man, I can’t tell you!
“I’m trying to get out of there, man! Going up this hill, bumpety-bumpety-bump on these cobblestones, man, almost get hit by a truck coming down, and back in the back fucking seat—and this bitch is still hanging on, like a bulldog! She’s gripping the door, she’s gripping the seat, she’s got his shirt, and she’s grabbing his face, the broad’s got eight hands, her feet got a grip, and she’s screaming, he’s pounding and pounding and choking her ass—and she hauls off and bites him, man, right on his neck!
“Her whole upper body was out of that car, and she reached in and bit him, man, so help me God. And don’t ask me how. Took a big fucking chunk, too, right out of the side of his neck.
“He fucking went nuts. He’s like, yagggghhhh! And he goes and bites her, in her neck! And he’s got her! He whole fucking neck’s in his mouth, man, almost, or it seems like, and—he’s shaking his head, you know, like a lion or something, and you should’ve heard the sound he’s got going. Like out of the ocean, Godzilla, something, I couldn’t believe it. And now, there’s this weird, high-pitched eeeeeee! out of her, and goddamn! Like a fight to the death at the zoo, man, no shit!
“And then—he lets go, and pulls out his gun! He’s gonna shoot this broad—right in my car! I’m fucking, fuck this! I slam on the brakes, big old errrttttt! You could hear it five miles. I’m fishtailing all over the street—and she tumbles ass out of the car, and Dennis gets dumped on the floor. She picks herself up, and she’s booking straight up the hill, like she’s Flo Jo or something, just, faster than shit.
“Dennis busts out of the car. He’s going to get her. But, by this time, she’s way up the street. So he stops. Brings the gun up. He’s going to plug her! Right there on the street! We’re all going to jail for ten million years!”
“You shoulda just left him.”
“Are you crazy? He plugs her, somebody saw it, took down my plates, I am fucked. I can’t let him shoot her. I’m out of that car, and I’m on him. Took his legs out from under, and then climbed on his back, got a chokehold, and took his ass down. And we’re wrestling around, and I get the gun. Throw down on his ass, swear to God. What a clown show. People drive by, they almost run into a telephone pole.
“I tell him, get in the car. And, at first, the fucker doesn’t even know where he is. I had to stick the gun in his face. Now he knows. He gets up, and we go.
“I should’ve just dumped the guy after that, but I didn’t. Money got too fucking good. Lesson in that is, don’t get too greedy. It almost got my ass in a sling.”
“Almost?” Dennis said. “The fuck you call this thing, the circus on Eastlake, ol’ Flo Jo an’ shit? A walk in the park pickin’ flowers?”
“No shit,” Ramon said. “Anyway, couple weeks later. We’re up by the freeway, headed toward Broadway. This time it’s his car, and he’s driving.
“We go into a turn, he tries to jambam inside, and he scrapes the car driving next to us there. We’re both going fast, and we’re fishtailing there for a minute, and we all kind of swerve to a stop in the middle of the street. Tires screeching, like on the TV. Good thing it was night and there wasn’t much traffic.
“It’s two Arab-looking guys in the car that got dinged. Big old scrape on the passenger side. Just fucked it up. Nice car, too, late model Buick or something, and these guys are pissed. I don’t fucking blame them.
“They come shooting on out of their car, and one of them’s waving this tire iron, man. Calling us all kinds of cocksuckers, right?—and what we have now is a problem. They weren’t really big guys, but they weren’t all that small.
“I had my piece with me, and, fuck, maybe we’ve got to shoot these fuckers to slow their ass down, they’re so hot. Or, you know, negotiate, you know? So I kind of slip my hand in my coat, to get ready for whatever—and before I can even get my hand on the grip, fucking Dennis is out of that car and right at these dudes! He’s got this metal pipe in his hand, and he’s bringing it up, and, I know these dudes weren’t ready for this. They didn’t have time to blink or do anything, man.”
“Just, bang, huh?” Dennis laughed.
“No fucking around,” Ramon said. “And he roasted them, man. Just fucked them all up. He’s about your size, man, big, and the fucker could move. He hit the dude with the tire-iron first, like, ka-whack, and caved in his ribs. And then, he busted him upside his head, and the guy went down like a wet sack of rocks. Then he whirls, and busts the other guy right in the mouth. Just, toasted him, man. The guy goes flying, bounces off his car, and when he comes off, Dennis got him again, in the side of the head. Ka-whump, like he’s busting a pumpkin. Guy hits the deck, and he’s gouting blood, and the way that he’s lying, it looks like he’s dead.
“Dennis gets in the car and tosses the pipe in the back. Doesn’t say a word. He starts up the car, and jams out. First guy he hit, the guy’s sprawled all over the road, and his legs are sticking in our lane. He rolls over them, bumpety-bump, keeps on going.”
Ramon shook his head. “That was it, man. Hanging with this guy was either going to get me killed, or stuffed in a jail for the rest of my life. Way it was going, the dude, he, the guy was a fucking psychotic. He didn’t have to spread those guys on the street. I think he killed the one guy. I never saw anything in the papers about it, or anything like that, but, Jesus, that guy was fucked up.
“We could have at least tried dealing with them some other way. He shouldn’t’ve hit their car in the first fucking place. But he didn’t give a rat’s ass. Hurt somebody? They shouldn’t’ve been there. End of discussion. That’s too much, man. And, the thing, too, he didn’t give a fuck who was around. Witnesses? Yeah? Who gives a fuck? Flipped his dick at the whole fucking world, then pissed on their shoes and says, Eat me.
“So, anyway, I went home that night and packed up my shit and got out of there, man. Called my cousin and he came and got me. I didn’t even want to see that dude anymore. Didn’t want him knowing where I was, or anything.
“Way I figured, sooner or later, and probably way sooner, something will happen, and we’re going to butt heads. And I’m going to kill him, or he’s going to kill me, or he’ll get me killed, or tossed under a jail. Fuck all that shit.”
“You ever see him?”
“No. I heard later he got busted, and then died up there in the Walls. Good thing if he did. Some guys are too crazy to be on the street even breathing, and he sure was one.
“Plus, man, coke freaks, they’re all nuts. Hang around, you get caught up in the bullshit. I got out of coke, man. Way too much heat. Far as I’m concerned, they need to put all those motherfuckers to sleep. Make the world safer for children, small woodland creatures, and all that good stuff.”
Dennis laughed. They wheeled off the freeway and drove toward Aurora and the motel, to see Luis.
As Ramon would tell you, fuck the emotions; killing is business.
BIO: Robert Crisman writes crime and noir fiction. He spent 15 years on streets in downtown Seattle and has some idea of what really goes on in these realms. He’s had stories posted on A Twist of Noir, and some scheduled on Yellow Mama and Darkest Before Dawn. A movie he scripted, Chasing the Dopeman, is currently in post-prod down in L.A. and, with luck, it’ll be ready to go sometime this fall.