Rata and Jack made their way down the slimy wooden gangplank set haphazardly into the shittier sections of the road, sections where feet and scooter tires would sink into sludge.
I’m wealthy so it’s appropriate I camp in a Cadillac. Those luxuries! Genuine simulated wood accents, leatherish trim, shiny bits. The exterior paint is nearly unblistered and all glass is intact, except the impact snowflake embossed into the windshield. Despite the daytime warmth I barely detect the previous owner’s carpet-blood.
Emma was pissed off. She hadn’t seen him since he got out of jail after doing a weekender. He’d been huckled for theft and fighting with the security guard who caught him. She knew Sean’s logic only too well. Getting done for the theft was fair enough but the fighting was the guards fault for catching him.
The crowd of people standing around roulette table number fourteen was three deep. Only four people were placing bets, the rest were watching the high roller raking in piles of chips. Every time the ball dropped, a cheer went up, and more people left the other tables to have a look. I knew from experience that the lack of people betting cost the casino about 1-K a minute.
The only light in the room came from the green numbers displayed on the digital clock by the bedside table. The numbers 3:47 were barely enough to cast a pallid blanket over the nose and forehead of the man sleeping on the bed. The only sound came from his breathing, which accompanied by the slow rising and falling of his chest under the blanket, also provided the only movement in the room. The girl lying next to him was silent and still; her thick black strands of hair spread across the pillow, stretching out towards him. Heavy curtains not only blocked out the orange glow of the city outside, but kept the room undisturbed from the sharp gliding sounds of taxis and the occasional drunken black car against the wet asphalt. The numbers on the digital clock clicked to 3:48. The man slowly sat up, as if he had responded to the ever so slight change in the room. He had been staring at the ceiling, and no longer finding it of any interest, now found himself searching the dark square outlines of the furniture scattered around. Soundlessly, he got up and moved towards the window where he pulled the curtains back to let in the glow of the streetlamp. He should have gone back to the ceiling, but instead turned the handle and stepped out of the cold air-conditioned room, on to the balcony. It wasn’t very high up, but he could see a fair amount of the city. The monstrous skyscrapers loomed over him in the pathetic menace of their palely lit and empty offices, and the great condominium buildings in the distance faded sadly in the background – their inhabitants had long since switched off the lights. He felt his naked body drenched in the humid air, and was suddenly aware of the thousands of windows, the bright and blind eyes taking in the sight of him. But the street was empty below, and the man seemed to exist only in the blind spot of life, and of all that was still awake at this time of night. He lit a cigarette, meaning to savor the quiet and watch the way the purple sky swelled up with each passing minute. He only took a few drags though, before deciding it was too hot, and going back inside.
The shuffling line stretches out before Maurice and Estelle.
“Walmart on Black Friday,” Maurice quips. His face is red with effort and a drop of sweat is stranded in unfamiliar territory on the tip of his nose.
A black and green lamppost, tall with chipped paint, across from Bryant Park, in front of a classic brown and gold twelve storied building, the wind reeking of the park’s dead yellow grass, cigarette smoke, automobile exhaust and blood. Hanging from the lamppost is a half-skinned, large white male wearing only trousers, supported by ropes about his torso, legs and arms. In agony, still alive but barely. New York City is some kind of town these days. He will be dead in less than a day.
And so the night sparked the beginning of something reckless and dangerous.
He wanted to show me the city after a drink or two. Shotgun, wondering why I dated a policeman. I sat cozily in his car as he drove around in the moonlight. I had the time of my life and he seemed to notice that. It’s a pity I had to kill him before sunrise. He perceived almost everything about me just by looking into my eyes. He spent the whole night explaining to me everything he saw in me. And he was right – mostly – which is creepy if you consider it was only our first date.
When you’re crawling in the dark towards a desperate destination you can’t drink or drug, you can’t play the guitar, the goal is to duck under the barbed wire fence, under the surveillance and arrive undetected to attain your purpose. You’re crawling with a swede saw round your neck, and you’ve driven all the way from the Rockies, a giant circle travel to this vineyard once again. To exact vengeance. You’ve filled five weeks pruning grapes for nothing, with an oral contract signed by two voices, yours and the owners. And the owner won’t pay. After three weeks, he said the job wasn’t complete. You knew it was. But you wanted the cash. So you did the extra work. Pruning the vines down to the nubs. You laboured two weeks more. And afterwards the owner sighed and said “the field must be weeded and the debris hauled away,” and you said “No. That wasn’t in the contract. I don’t have a pickup to do that”
The Bannions, from every direction and for as many reasons, pushed things their way, until all targets or causes fit the one corridor of family wishes. The power and might of their numbers, of their attitudes and abilities, made them a most pernicious band of unity tight as closed fists already past the knock-out punch and on for the kill, no matter the added punishment often unneeded.