Avenging Olimpia

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4-23-09 12:36 –– I suppose I could have locked the door, but something rotting inside me didn’t want to. Instead I waited on one knee, gun aimed chest high on an average adult male.

I heard them scuffle to a stop in front of the door. There were whispers, and then a foul silence. I imagined their ears to the heavy wood and thought to try a shot through it, but I wasn’t sure my 9 would penetrate and didn’t want to destroy anything in that historic flophouse that didn’t have it coming one way or the other. I wasn’t worried about it too much, though. The place was full of bullet holes already, and a few more would only refresh its infamous reputation. “This is the place where those two goons got killed!” René could say. In fact, he could splash it all over his fucking website. Just leave my name out of it.

A mantra begins to run in my head: could it be?––could it be?––could it be? The truth was I may never know if the men I was about to kill were those responsible for Olimpia’s murder. Maybe if I––

There was a loud BANG, and the heavy wooden door rattled like a kite but stayed closed. The idiots must have assumed it was locked and elected to kick it in.

BANG!

BANG!

I checked on Kiki who was peeking over the bed. She mouthed what are they doing? It was a good question, so I thought I’d ask them myself.

I stood up and walked to the door. It wasn’t a smart thing to do, as I figured they would be shooting the lock before long and I had no idea what they might be packing. But a long time ago I began operating under complete denial of any possibility of being hurt by a gun. When you’re collecting, there’s always a chance it could happen and if you thought about it too much you could psyche yourself out and never set foot on the curb. So far, so-la-tee-doe.

I put my hand on the knob, and pointed my gun at the crack. I glanced back at Kiki who was shaking her head with her mouth turned down. Was that genuine concern for me in her eyes? Jesus on a bender, honey, don’t fall in love now.

I turned the knob, jerked the door open about two inches, fired five shots without looking and shut the door again. I heard what sounded like two bodies hit the floor, and the first thought that entered my head was I hope those ass clowns hadn’t thought to fetch René for the keys.

Again, I checked Kiki and saw her staring about a thousand miles into the bedspread. Guess she was thinking the same thing. Maybe it wasn’t me she was worried about?

I opened the door, this time slowly, and peered into the dark hall. It was a double-order of death in every way. Two young men, both white––I’d say in their mid-to-late 20’s––both in wife-beaters and low-slung, denim clam diggers, and both lying dead or dying on the floor. Their shaved heads were touching at a 30 degree angle with the rest of their bodies stretched out as if they were pointing the way to the can. Two .38 pistols lie spooned between them in an almost mocking fashion, and there were two red holes––one in the center of the chest and one in the shoulder––in the guy on the left. The one on the right had a bloody crater where his left ear should be. He must have ducked. Badly. Where the other two bullets had gone, I couldn’t see. Something for René to figure out and add to the brochure, I guess.

Speaking of our gracious host, he emerged from a bedroom across the hall, his young, lanky frame and wide, handsome smile now hunched and frowning. He was angry, that’s for sure, and I thought it was with me but he seemed focused on our two uninvited guests.

“Thanks for not calling the cops,” I told him.

“I didn’t have time,” he said. “I figured you could handle yourself.” He took a second to inspect the floor (I assumed for blood of which there was very little, strangely), then knelt at the feet of the two young men and began untying the laces on their bright, white sneakers.

At that moment, Kiki appeared in the doorway and gasped.

René sighed, and said, “If the insurance company sees them wearing shoes, they’ll jack up my premium.”

“I wasn’t…” Kiki stopped herself. That’s when I heard a groan behind me. Seems Chet slept through the excitement and was only now waking up.

“You think you could give me a few more minutes before you call the police?” I ask René.

“Whatever, Hobert, but be quick, okay? I don’t have air-conditioning, you know.”

With that, he stood up and headed downstairs with the shoes. I had to hand it to him; he was the best man for the job.

I turned to Kiki and said, “Listen, maybe you should––”

“Having a whore as a witness isn’t exactly going to help,” she said. “Is that what you were trying not to say?”

“You’re not a whore, Kiki.”

She ran back into the room and returned with her oils, cradling them over her inside-out, unbuttoned blouse like a litter of newborn kittens.

“All you know are whores,” she said, and disappeared down the stairs.

Kiki was right, but I didn’t take it as in insult. Whores were honest people as far as I was concerned. They’d long given up on believing that the world was out there perfecting itself to make life easier for the struggling to stay afloat. Happiness to a whore is as close to just being alive as any new-age guru I’d ever met, and far more instinctual. Their lives were simple. They had nothing but what they needed, be it dope, drink or dick, and you would never catch them trying to convince you otherwise. With a whore, you always knew where you stood, and despite spending much of their lives on their backs, they were often the ones left standing. Which was certainly more than I could say for the two fools at my feet.

I heard the floorboards squeak behind me followed by sirens in the distance. Someone else must have called. Too late to question Chet, I grabbed a corner of my shirt and began wiping down the gun. It was time to improvise.

(continued)