Bad seeds and ecstasy, soulless love and ball bearing beat-downs. That's one helluva mother and child reunion.
I'm not sure this is what Rhymin' Simon had in mind...
Kid Louie by T. Fox Dunham
|Fiction between 300 and 1,000 words|
Guidelines and Submission Form
Let’s not kid ourselves. Kid Louie’s a cracker when he’s fisting ball bearings. You’d never know it to see the jerk—wearing a sweaty Phillies shirt, cap, and baggy white shorts. His head only comes up to my shoulder, and I’m no flagpole. When I danced with chicks at the Ben Franklin H.S. Annual Spring Dance, they led. Kid Louie didn’t dance. Instead, he laced the plastic cups with acid hits. The cops finally broke the evening up. Half the seniors wandered about in a daze. The other half broke into a Roman orgy. Kid Louie sat above it all on a folding chair on the gym stage, swaying his arms like an orchestra conductor. King Goddamn Louie.
Most his hair fell out at eighteen. It made it hard for him to push ecstasy and acid. Upper management in West Philly took him for a narc, nearly got his throat slashed. Cash changed their opinion. After that stunt at the dance, he’d created a new market, turned most of the Senior Class into junkies. Dominick, skipper of the local crew who held court at Kingdom Come Pizza, knighted our boy Kid Louie. At first, Louie acted like a chump, all shits-and-grins when you addressed him by his title, then as he passed into his twenties, he’d pistol-whip you if he thought you were even thinking of him as Kid.
“Shit, Lou. This prick is connected up the ass. You don’t hit a made guy.”
Louie wiped the sticky-red off the gun barrel on his dirty Phillies shirt. He slammed it into his jeans and grabbed the green roll off the table, leaving the bag of pills. Dominick’s guy got to his knees and reached for his piece. Louie grabbed ball bearings from his pocket and pounded his face to pulp. The guy dropped.
“He was thinking it,” Louie said. “Fucking Kid. He wasn’t saying it, not with Dominick’s dick in his mouth, but he was thinking it. Could see it in his eyes.”
“You better lay low,” I said.
We walked out of the slum house. The brick building next door had collapsed from snow weight in the winter. A side brick wall remained like a cracked bone.
“I’m not doing shit,” said Louie.
“Sometimes I think you’re looking to get your ass six feet under.”
“I’ll put three in the ground with me if they try.”
We all knew he would, too. He’d never go down like a pussy. He’d kill enough soldiers to make CNN. Dominick didn’t like publicity. It had saved Louie’s ass before.
We partied that night after the score. We had plenty of women, addicts who’d lay you for a free hit. Louie loved soulless love, when women dead inside filled themselves with his body. Love intimidated him. His mom left him at age three, running from a debt to a drug dealer. She broke his heart. He went to live with his abusive grandmother. One day, a city electrician found Grandma at the bottom of the cellar steps in their row home, her neck snapped. Dominick paid off the cops. She’d taken a bad fall.
Business flourished. Louie offered escape from a shitty world. The cops think they can stop it, but it’s like pulling up weeds. Two more just grow back. Our kind would always exist as long as there were shit-poor people, hopeless folk who can never climb out of the slums. It didn’t matter if the drugs killed them. The system was already grinding them.
“I’m so fucking old,” Louie told me, driving home from a score. “I’ve been running this shit since Rome. I’m not a man. Just a force of human nature. I serve the dark seed, the unquenchable need. Kill me, and I’ll just come back.”
We pulled up in his 1978 Camaro into a No Parking spot. I grabbed the case and followed behind him, fingering my piece. I knew Dominick wouldn’t let the insult pass—snake-patient prick.
She waited inside on the front steps. She’d pierced her ear with a safety pin. The skin on her face stretched and cracked like old leather, like mummy flesh. Track-marks scarred her arms in deep, red strokes.
“My baby." She limped towards us.
“Mom?” Louie said. “Thought you were dead.”
“No baby. I’ve come home. You don’t have to be alone anymore.”
Louie palmed ball bearings and raised his fist. I made a mental note to grab coffee. We’d be up all night digging a hole under I-95.
“Shouldn’t have come back,” he said. He couldn’t look her in the eye.
“I have some money,” she said. “Your Uncle Louie, your namesake, died and left me some stocks. We can go away like I always told you about, go west and start over.”
Louie hunched over, his spine melting. He sucked down a sob. Jesus Christ.
His mom opened her arms wide like Saint Peter welcoming the dead. Louie floated for a bit, then he dropped his fist. The ball bearings fell from his hand, hit the floor and rolled into the dark hall. Louie embraced his mom.
“Oh, baby,” she said.
She pulled the knife lightning fast from her back pocket. Before I could raise my gun, she slit Louie’s throat. He didn’t rage, didn’t go for his piece. He slammed back into the wall and dropped on his ass. Blood surged down his Phillies’s shirt. He left this world with his eyes locked onto his mom.
“I had no choice,” she said, wiping off the knife then dropping it by Louie. “Dominick bought my marker. He found me in Florida. I have a baby son there.”
Dominick knew Louie wouldn’t fight back, wouldn’t scream if his mom whacked him. He’d played it like a spider spinning webs.
She knelt and kissed Louie on his bald head.
“I’ve got to take care of my kid.”