t was just the way he liked it, no noise, save the pull of his lungs on the Kools, the smacking of his lips at the bitter taste of the tar. He bummed three loosies from some guy off the street on the way over and enthusiastically smoked one before he made it to his quiet spot beneath the traffic under the bridge. After the first, his peace of mind slowly returned infusing him with the vacation from reality he sorely sought and needed. He could have done without being harassed but he knew that that was all part and parcel of the whole game being played. He was king of the shake down and almost laughed at them when it came his way. It was done abruptly but clumsily leaving him more annoyed than anything else. He could have smashed at least one of their heads in, the little one for sure, and sent the other larger guy to the hospital with a busted lip or blackened eye but something told him to be cool about it and remember what was at stake. He was high, which was a good thing. That entire scene could have gone down totally different had he been sober. He shook from the adrenaline rush that it gave him. The thing was so surreal. He felt like he was an actor playing a part in a movie. He was going to be the one left standing, ‘That’s for dang sure,’ he told himself. His enormously opposing mass alone made them sloppy with fear but unbeknownst to them, he was afraid too. Not because he couldn’t take them but because they were
panicking in an uncontrolled sort of way. That made them less predictable and left him on edge. He liked predictability. He counted on it. He had won many fights that way knowing exactly how things were going to turnout step by step anticipating his opponent’s every move. He used people’s cowardice to his full advantage. He could always take any situation and make it prefer him no matter what it looked like from the start. His eyes were shut for a moment as he mulled over the day’s events. Nothing out of the ordinary occurred, other than the fumbling attempt at scaring him. ‘So what I owe them money,’ he laughed to himself, ‘They’ll get it when I’m good and ready to give it.’ He didn’t even see nor hear anything coming. Normally, at this hour of the night his senses were as sharp as an alley cat but he had committed the sin of mixing whiskeys with rums. When he looked out through the thick cloud of smoke in front of his face he saw something, or someone standing there. Their features were contorted, and shadowed by the cement and iron slabs of the bridge’s old underbelly. Their hands were raised in shock and drool was coming out of their mouth. He followed their eyes down to his person, below his shoulders, above his rib cage, sticking out from his chest was a thick wooden handle, attached to a blade, now forced through his flesh. He hadn’t felt a thing. He didn’t know exactly what it meant either at first until his drag on his cigarette arrested in his throat and nearly choked him to death. It was agonizing. His chest didn’t swell on the inhale. It just froze slag in mid inhalation. The cigarette slipped from his hand. In slow motion it fell to the dirt. He watched it sailing down wanting desperately to pick it back up for one last puff. It was his
favorite part where the tobacco had disappeared leaving a wet cushioned filter that burned the edges of his fingers. He tried but couldn’t move. They both stood in silence for a long while staring at one another, both helpless, one for causing the injury and the other for suffering from it. He swaggered back, just in time as the hideous faced assaulter was about to retrieve his weapon from out of his heart. ‘Ain’t this a blimp,’ he thought, ‘I’m the victim of some random, ass crime.’ He didn’t have much time to access the irony of his predicament. He had to think fast. Like his cigarette, his sense of humor and his patience were gone. He wasn’t going to let that happen to his life.
About the Author Beverly A. Burchett placed second in the Billie Holiday Theatre Poetry Contest and thusly her love of writing was spurred. She’s a graduate of the famed High School of Performing Arts, and has acted in a number of national commercials as well as a few popular films, including “Fame”, and “Joey Breaker.” Her latest works Queen Kinni, Smart, Sexy, Spiritual, Strong, and Random Arts of Kindness, a journey, are available in stores and on-line at www.blackcurrantpress.com. Beverly’s also a published lyrist, who resides in New York.
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