Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Do Some Damage Hard Times Flash Fiction Challenge - Keith Rawson


I come through the bar door, blazing afternoon sun at my back and let all the soon to be dead men take a good long look at the two UZIs I have pointed at their heads. The bar I’ve walked into is known as the Gismo around the neighborhood. It was known as the Gizmo because its real name was some unpronounceable wop name that started with a G. The wops who hung out at the Gizmo called it by its real name, but they were the only ones. I’d been in there once before, when my SUV broke down and I’d forgotten my cell phone at home and I needed to call for a ride. The wops who were inside when I walked in the first time were the same ones who were looking at me now and they were all giving me the exact same dead-eyed stare as they are now.

A look that said:

“Who the fuck are you, kid? You don’t belong here.”

The first time I walked in, I was so scared I was nearly shitting my pants. I knew who owned the Gizmo. I knew the type of guys who hung out there. You didn’t live in the neighborhood and not know that these were the sons of guys who used to run Vegas; they were the sons of guys who used to pull the strings of every labor union in the country; these were the sons of guys who most likely killed a President of the United States because he didn’t have enough balls to invade Cuba and get their casinos back.

They were just the sons, though, they weren’t the real thing. Sure, I guess they were real enough. They still had some pull. No way could they pull off killing a President or any shit like that, but they were intimidating enough to still control the local drug trade and a few different labor unions, including the Central Phoenix Carpenters Union, of which I was a member.

Nearly fifty percent of my dues went into the pockets of these fucksticks. Union dues that me and my family couldn’t afford to pay, but did anyway because being a union carpenter guaranteed certain things, like health benefits, like steady, consistent work. At least that’s what I thought it meant. But I came to find out it was all a line of bullshit. See, the thing is if you’re a young guy with the Carpenters’ local, and you do a good job, but you’re young and inexperienced—the low man on the totem pole—and if one of these filthy, scheming goombas has a kid who needs a job because the illiterate fuck-up can’t keep himself in steady work, the young, inexperienced guy gets bent over, gang-banged in the ass, and then left bleeding and crying in some anonymous, filthy alleyway.

It sucks out loud to be the young inexperienced guy, especially if you have a wife and a three year-old kid with asthma with another kid growing in your wife’s belly who’ll most likely have asthma, too, and you ain’t got no health insurance, and you ain’t got no job. Sure, you’ve got unemployment coming in, but unemployment ain’t shit; it’s just enough to keep a roof over your head and maybe a carton of top ramen and a tub of generic peanut butter to feed your fucking family for a month. The whole situation pissed me off all to hell and I had to do something about it.

My girl, I love her to pieces, but she don’t do nothing all day long but watch entertainment shows. All day, every day, she sits on the couch with my boy and my baby girl growing inside her belly, and watches all these motherfuckers who’re famous for doing nothing but appearing on these reality shows. The shows she watches drive me up the wall, but I still watch ’em with her because I really don’t have nothing to do other than sleep. And I look at these people on the reality shows, all of ’em are nobodies. They’re working stiffs like me and my girl, but here they are driving brand new cars and living in million dollar homes all because they let camera crews bought and paid for by basic cable channels follow them around 24/7. Not a single one of them has a bit of talent and the reasons they’re being follow around is for the dumbest shit. They get filmed because they’re midgets, or because they had a bunch of kids at the same time, because they fucked some black guy and the dude filmed it with a hidden camera and then sold the tape on the internet.

All these reality shows got me thinking. They got me thinking, hey, I wonder how much one of these basic cable networks would pay to follow around a good young working stiff who just happened to walk into a bar one day and opened fire on a bunch of rapists and killers; a bunch of wanna-be gangsters; guys whose dads used to hang out with Frank Sinatra and the rest of those Rat Pack motherfuckers. The way I figured it, they’d probably pay out the nose to follow the young killer around as he was arraigned for murder, as he met with his lawyer to prepare a defense, as he interacted with his distraught wife and kids. The more I thought about all this, the better it sounded.

So what I did was this morning, I stopped by my old foreman’s house. The crooked old bastard was on vacation in Mexico and I knew the asshole was a serious gun nut. I knew all of this because the asshole asked me to feed his dog while he was gone; he left me his key ring in order to get into the house. I walked in, unlocked my old foreman’s gun closet, pulled out two of the three UZIs he owned, loaded four clips, slapped two of them home and shot my old foreman’s dog to make sure I’d loaded them right and then I drove over to the Gizmo, pretending that my car broke down again so I wouldn’t attract any attention. While I pretended to work on my SUV, I called the local TV stations: ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX.

Shit, I called the FOX people twice just to make sure they’d be the first on the scene. The cops were the last ones I called, with them I dialed 911 as I walked towards the Gizmo, the guns strapped around my neck. I told the cops to send a hearse.

And now I’m standing here, the sun washing over me, well-oiled steel in my hands and I feel no fear. I mean, come on, all these fuckers are the sons of greatness, I doubt anyone one of ’em could shoot their own dicks on a bet.

I breathe deep and the Gizmos door slams shut behind me.

BIO: Keith Rawson is a little known pulp writer who lives in the alkaline desert wastelands of southern Arizona with his wife and very energetic three-year-old daughter. His stories have appeared in such publications as Plots with Guns, Pulp Pusher, CrimeWav.com, Bad Things, Powder Burn Flash, A Twist of Noir, Beat to a Pulp, Needle Magazine and many others. Keith is a frequent contributor to BSCreview, a staff writer with Spinetingler Magazine and, along with Cameron Ashley and Liam Jose, he edits and publishes Crimefactory Magazine. You can also find him stroking his overinflated ego at his blog, Bloody Knuckles, Callused Fingertips.


Paul D Brazill said...

Brilliantly tight. Perfectly well told. Love it.

pattinase (abbott) said...

No longer "little known" I think. Nice one, Keith. I love the idea no one would pronounce the name so they called it gizmos.

Dana King said...

Not just noir, but Noir-and-a-half. Great ending.

Dorte H said...

Great description of the main character with several fine details.

Greg Bardsley said...

Great voice! .. Nice cadence, too, Keith.

Al Tucher said...

Starts with a great title and gets better.

Joyce said...

This is really perfect. Just positively perfect. That says it all.

Unknown said...

Thanks for all the great comments, folks.

And Patti, I've had 2 literary agents call me a 'writer's writer' this week, so.....I'll still go with 'little known pulp writer'