All this shit’s supposed to be confusing and I know a lot a guys that’d be on the fucking phone calling for help the minute shit went sideways. Or they’d be pulled off the side of the road, puking their fucking guts out. What does it say about me that I never been either one a them guys?
I always fucking knew. When it goes sideways, if I gotta call somebody, I call that one guy and nobody else and only when I got shit settled, so’s I can say it’s settled. The head guys don’t want to deal with this little shit, that’s what they got you for, so they don’t got to fuck around with it.
I don’t got nobody I gotta call no more. No fucking way I call any’a Teddy’s guys to help clean this mess up. What, I’m gonna say, ‘I whacked your fucking boss, now this is what I need you to do’?
I’m on my own and it’s fucking funny but that’s a relief not having to call in to any a these guys. Especially when that guy was Teddy. Not that I thought it was fucking great having to call in to Benny when shit was done neither but Benny was different.
It’s gonna be light soon and I gotta get off the fucking road, go somewhere for a bit until I can get it sorted out. First things first. In the back, Rita’s holding the kid, rocking him back and forth. He’s not crying, not making a fucking sound, but holding onto his mother so hard his knuckles are white. Just like that I’m feeling guilty again.
“I’m gonna have to stop up here and change this shirt. You good?”
I got that fat fuck Arm’s blood on me and my knuckles are chewed up a little. It’s easier to explain my hands but the shirt’s another matter. Nobody’s gonna let that slide. There’s a place to pull off the road just up ahead and I’m taking it, pulling up close to a building they got there. Bathrooms and shit I guess. Probably locked anyway so that’s not going to do me no good.
Her eyes are like saucers as she looks back at me in the mirror. She’s pale and there’s a mark just under her jaw where that fuck hit her. I know from experience that it’s not gonna be a mark that lasts, not even on her.
“I don’t know what happens now.”
It’s like I’m not even here. Like she’s talking to herself, trying to sort it out in her head. I got so used to her fighting me the whole fucking way that the sound of her all quiet makes me pay attention like I didn’t before and it’s giving me fucking goosebumps.
Tried to stay one step ahead all this time and now she don’t know which way to jump. We’re pulled off good, out of sight of the road and I get out and open the back of the van, looking for the shirts I bought earlier. She’s turned to watch me, still not saying a fucking thing.
Blood’s still wet so it’s easy to clean up with some of the bottles of water and shit we got earlier. Knuckles aren’t so bad once I got the blood off them. I guess Arms was even softer than I thought, the fuck. A quick look and I know I’m good, pulling on a clean shirt.
“You two need to get cleaned up?”
She’s still watching me but it’s like she don’t see me, just fucking lost. When this shit started out I would’a loved for her to just be quiet and go along and now I’m just trying to get her to talk to me, how’s that for fucked up. After what she seen, I know it’s shock but we don’t got the time for her to fall apart.
She don’t move even as I jump into the back of the van. I get close but don’t touch her in case she freaks out. “Rita,” I’m saying again, trying to get her attention. Finally she looks at me like it’s the first time she ever saw me. “I need you to hold it together.”
Fucking understatement of the year. On my own I can handle all this shit. I done all of it so many fucking times I could do it in my sleep. Only thing’s different is that now I gotta do it on the run. And I got two people to look out for.
She blinks at me and it’s like she sees me again. “Are you going to hand us over now?”
Fuck me, I almost smiled at her. Not only talking finally but thinking, clear headed, wanting to know what the fuck’s going on. Okay, so she never put it that way but she might as well’ve. Still, that question’s hanging out there now. Am I gonna do it, hand her over. This whole fucking trip, that question’s been there in the background, what do I do when that minute comes.
She closes her eyes and holds the kid. It’s the first time in this whole fucking mess that I felt okay with what I was doing, like I was doing the right thing. I wasn’t gonna sit back there and make her a bunch a promises about how shit would go, that everything would be okay. I couldn’t pull it off and she’s not stupid enough to believe it, even if she really needs to believe something.
“What do we do next?”
Gotta admit, it’s hard not to admire that. She’s a brave rabbit. Fucking scared to death and even after everything that’s happened, she’s gonna dust herself off and keep running if she has to. Just doesn’t know where to run yet.
“First, you got any blood on you?” She’s shaking her head and I take her word for it. I figure she’d know, right? “We gotta get rid of this van.”
That’s easy enough. I got money, all I need is something low key to drive in. Not worried so much about the van getting tracked as I am about how it looks. For what I got in mind, driving something that’s gonna make me look like a fucking serial killer isn’t go do me any good.
She’s nodding. Putting it all together in her head. Kid hangs on to her a little tighter but she’s pulling him back, making him sit up even if he don’t want to.
“You need to sit up, Matty, okay?”
It feels like a private conversation and I walk off a bit, take a piss off the roadside while I listen to make sure she don’t just make a run for it. It’s half-hearted. I don’t think she’s going nowhere. A few minutes later the kid comes out and stands beside me, pissing over the edge of the road. The john’s locked up tight.
“I’ll keep watch, you wanna go,” I yell out to her.
She’s making a point of looking away which is kind of hard to do when she’s trying to watch the kid right beside me. Just like that, the kid’s got his hand up waving to his mother like this is any other fucking day. Some little kid adventure. Back to pissing like it’s nothing and I gotta look the other way to keep from smiling at the brave little fuck.
Rita don’t go too far, just behind a box they use to store the garbage bins and she pops her head out. Keeping an eye on us I guess. When the kid’s done, I watch as he runs back to the van but stay where I am so she don’t get nervous. I got no idea what she said to the kid when she was in the van with him but whatever it is, the kid’s cool with me now.
It’s a little tense for a couple’a minutes when we all get back to the van cus she’s not sure what the deal’s gonna be. I don’t say shit all, just get behind the wheel and wait for her to get in. The kid’s back to looking out the window but she’s watching me like she isn’t quite sure what’s happened. It don’t take her long to sort her shit out.
“Do you know we’re you’re…where we’re…going?”
Yeah, I know where we’re going but I’m not gonna say all at once, at least until I got a few things squared away in case I gotta change plans. So she gets the short version.
Never been there so what the fuck am I gonna say about it, right? To me it’s just some fucking place on the map. I get a nod from the back seat. What’s she gonna say about it? She don’t know where we are either.
She’s still tense like she don’t know if she should shut up or not. Over the years I got so used to being kept in the dark and fed bullshit from the guys above me. Don’t mean I took it easy, that not knowing what the fuck is going on, so I get where she’s at. There’s the kid too.
“We get something to eat and I gotta make a call. Get rid of the van, hole up for a bit and get some rest.”
Never been big on telling nobody what I intended to do, it was always easier to keep them guessing. Even when I had to talk to the bosses, I only said what I had to, they never got everything. I’m still not telling her everything but she seems okay just knowing a little of what’s going on. Like knowing the next step is enough to get her through. She’s been on the run a long time, always trying to think one step ahead. Guess that’s easier when you know what the fuck is going on.
“Mom…mom! Can I have pancakes?”
“Yeah, kid,” I answer before she’s gotta ask me. Kid wants pancakes, that’s fine with me. For the moment, he seems happy.
It’s quiet as we drive into Wolf Point. Just past sunrise. The place is so small that everything is on the main drive and I’m pulling into the backlot of another tiny motel, just before we drive out of the other side of the town.
Got the keys in my hand and the tension’s thick enough to cut with a knife. The last time we did this, it was fucked up and I don’t want to have to go through that shit again. Definitely don’t want the kid to see it.
“Outside with me now.”
Rita don’t know what to do. Looks like she’s gonna cry or fight and I’m betting on a fight. When she’s standing outside the van outta earshot of the kid I lean in, pressing close against her. So’s I don’t gotta raise my voice and cus I know it’ll scare the fuck outta her and make her listen. It’s fucking funny but I don’t really wanna scare her, you know? But I got to make sure she gets it, so’s I don’t have to yell and do some shit I don’t want to do like tie them both up again.
“Don’t make me regret what I’m gonna do.”
Rita’s scared and presses back against the van but she’s not running. Just looks up at me, all defiant and shit like she’d fight me anyway, no matter what the fuck happened.
“Will you tell me what’s going to happen? I need to know.”
I hear that little extra on the ‘need’ bit even if she don’t want to have it come out like that. She needs to know, and I get that.
“As soon as I know for sure. You’ll know.” Letting her go, I stand back a bit to give her space. “I gotta get us a room and make a call. Don’t-”
Defiant again but she gets it, just walks back to the van. I got no idea how long that’ll last or how real it is but I got the keys to the van and she’s got nowhere to go. I wait until she’s back in the van. Matty’s waving at me through the window. I wave back at him, some underhanded shit, and then go to get a room and make a call.
Copyright © 16 April 2009 xxxevilgrinxxx