The Glock has one bullet in the chamber and fifteen in the magazine. Roy’s got it cocked and ready. He bets me twenty bucks he can fire all sixteen while the target’s coming at him, but that’s not all. He says: “I’ll alternate – head shot, body shot, head shot, body shot, squeeze out all sixteen, and make fourteen, before the target’s five yards out.”
The phone calls start. Her mother has taken Evie’s words to heart and calls at least ten times a day. Evie can let the machine pick up at home, but at work, she has to answer. Sometimes, she puts her mother on hold for half an hour at a time, hoping the theme from The Nutcracker playing over and over again will drive her to hang up. No such luck.
Today must be the day. It’s icy out. February. No berries of any kind to be plucked for waffles. Elroy has his boots on, but still. I know how slick that ice can be. I know how you can be walking steadily and carefully one second, and the next you’re sucked to the ground. I have a vision of falling. Of Elroy’s blood seeping onto the ice for some animal, or worse, a child to find.
Tim never met the world’s gaze, his look always askance. Here, again, someone who’d rather not see. Well, I’d see about that.
“A problem, Tim?”
“That’s a load of crap,” he said. He avoided me, his classmates, choosing the black of the board. I waited and slowly, uncomfortably, he swiveled to face me.
I winked at him and said, “Yeah, Tim. Figures you’d say that. I’ve seen your mother.”
But even more than music and making art, Sara thrived on sex. For Sara sex was sustenance. There was simply no other word for it. She insisted on getting off once a day, and preferably not at her own hand. It was no accident, then, that she’d shown up at Aislinn’s wearing a plain Hane’s tank top.
On the sixth day I tried to forget about you completely and think only of survival while my eyes attempted to focus on the unending blue horizon. But I remembered the things we said we would do if you were here. I told you once I would open a vein for you and watch in erotic delight as you placed your lips around the open wound and transferred my blood to your body.
I care for small animals.
Once a week, I smuggle mice out of work. I stuff my jacket pockets with three sometimes four mice and deliver them from their overpopulated cages to freedom. It is a non-profit, non-political, non-religious, even-the-smallest-animals-count campaign that I started three weeks ago. It is a fact that mice can swim up to a mile and a half before they exhaust their energy and drown. With a highly acute sense of smell, they can also find their way home from up to five miles away.
Your uncle Paulie told you never carry a knife unless you know how to use it, right? That advice kept you alive for years. Even if it didn’t stop that kid from shooting you tonight, goddamnit. You’re flat on your back trying to hold your own blood in with your bare hands, wondering why it doesn’t hurt like hell.
The middle of the Brooklyn Bridge is not quiet, peaceful, or romantic, but sometimes when we were there together it seemed that way. We would meet there on summer Fridays, late afternoon; he would bike in from Manhattan and I would ride in from Brooklyn. We would meet somewhere in the middle, whoever got there first parking the bike and staking our claim.
As Carl Crowley eased his pickup over the rock-studded dirt road, a white dog slid from wheel-well to wheel-well, too weak to lift her head, too weak to whimper, her one good eye rubbing in the sandy, cold steel track bed. The dog was nothing more than loose bones and filth, and when Carl pulled up at the end of the road, she came to rest at the front of his track like a half-filled sack of grain.