Friday, December 23, 2011

Tabby and I

When I finally tracked down Tabitha she was sitting in the front lawn of her new house with a fat old boxer named Oliver. They were drinking tall cold glasses of milk. Drinking the warmth right out of the hot and sweaty afternoon....

I was lost in a haze of smoke and the smell of stale bitter coffee when the call had come. All I had was a name and a photograph. Tabitha. Find her, bring her back home and maybe make enough to leave the city to its dark unpleasant future. A pretty face when I thought they'd all disappeared. A pretty face in a city buried in ugliness. Should stick out like a vegan at a meat packing plant. Should be easy.

The city was bleeding. Thick waves of black sludge slowly but surely seeped through the cracks in the pavement. The sun had forgotten the city and the rain beat down in sharp drops that could cut your skin if you let it. I pulled my coat closer and walk on. Avoiding the puddles of sludge, the puddles of rainwater and looking for a pretty face to improve my mood. It was tough. The last pretty face in the city had left when the sun was still out. Why am I still here? Hope. And one last job. Scouring the clubs and the alleyways, back room poker games and all night blues bars, one thing was certain. Getting to Tabitha meant finding Oliver. A fat mean spirited boxer who had seen better days and now ran a protection service. Tabitha was his client and everything I heard about him led me to believe he wouldn't go down or let go without a fight.

I learned of an alley that Oliver frequented. An alley for dogs and hobos and women of ill repute. You know the kind. Every city has them. I dressed for the occasion, hoping to be just another face, a nobody looking for scraps. I hung in the shadows and waited. Sure enough, my information was correct. Oliver came lumbering in sometime past midnight. His rolls of fat jiggling with every step he took. Every step he took seemed like it could be his last. I'd met boxers like this before. A lifetime spent being a punching bag and with nothing to show for it but aching limbs and a meanness of spirit that would be the last to go. I'd met this kind and handled them. No problem.

My over confidence was my first mistake. Seeing only the meanness in his eyes and overlooking the intelligence. I stepped out of the shadows and called out to him. Second mistake. I was surrounded by a pack of 3 young cruel products of the street. Nothing more than strays but when in a pack, more dangerous than a herd of lions. The leader lunged at me. I fell and as my head hit the pavement I noted the cracking sound with a sense of detachment. When I came to it was raining again. The sharp cold rain cut through the pain in my bones and I stood. Blood. All of it mine. My head ached, my body ached and I seemed to be bleeding from a dozen different places.

I'd been set up. Lucky to still be alive and maybe Oliver thought a warning would be enough but this old dog had the bit between his teeth and wasn't letting go.

It took me a few days to get back on my feet. Get back on the street. I'd underestimated Oliver and was back at nothing. Every fresh lead I'd dug up had run into a wall and I was clutching at hope and Tabby's photograph. Yeah, she'd become Tabby in my mind. A pretty face will do that to you. Make you lose perspective.

I was on my fifth white russian and just about ready to throw in the towel. I reached into my pocket to pay and leave when I found a little scrap of paper. An address and nothing more. On the outskirts of the city and not a place that would welcome the likes of me. It had been slipped in without me noticing. Getting old and soft and primed for another trap. I had no choice though. I had to follow up on it.

I found the house easy enough and there she was. Sitting on the front porch with that mean old dog for company. She looked at me. Imperious with her green eyes and snow white fur. Took a last lick of her milk and darted in through the open door. I had to follow. Had to see this through. Tabby knew this and so did Oliver. He was standing on the porch, face split into a wide evil grin. Daring me to climb up the steps. Daring me to go after Tabby. I did. I had no choice.

Now, lying in my own pool of blood with Oliver looking down at me with amusement and Tabby calmly licking remnants of milk off her whiskers. All I could do was curse myself. I thought this was going to be easy and I thought I could leave the city. More fool me. In my line of work there's never an easy job and once you've lived in the city there's no leaving it. Like my ma used to say, "boy, you sure picked a hard way to make an easy living."

Thursday, December 22, 2011

last days of humanity

If life was a 50s noir then this is when I'd be drunk all the time and smoking a ton of cigarettes before karma finally caught up with me and I got run over by a bus. Preferably unknown, unwitnessed and with no claimant for my body. The last act in a 90 minute cycle of fucking up.

Hello dear diary. Its been a while. Did you miss me? Like Herzog misses Kinski maybe.

I've been up and down. More down than up. Now have one less thing going for me which brings me to a grand total of 1. Well done.