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Heavy Lego

Who says there's no honor among thieves? The best criminals live by a very strict code. Especially in the Gutter....

And rule #1: you don't fuck with kids..

Heavy Lego by Beau Johnson




OK. So here’s the deal.

Most messed up thing I ever done was cut a dude in two. This takes talent. And very steady hands. Doesn’t hurt I’d worked out all my life, but that’s neither here nor there. What matters is how true my hands had to be to pull something like this off. I split the damn bastard right across the equator. 

I am by no means a good guy, not in the clearest sense of the word, and I would never want such a thing misconstrued. I am not “bad” either; the line I ride is fine. Drugs and addiction are the reasons why. I will not wrap it, what I am, so take it or leave it; I couldn’t really give a fuck.

***

“How much is you lookin’ for?” Except for his voice, Virgil was a cross between Eric LaSalle and a young Ving Rhames. Dressed in grey slacks, a beater tee, with enough gold so his neck would never need a gym, he was the undisputed king of 5th and Dime.
 
“Twenty, yo,” I say through the bars and screen. Usually I just wait there on his porch, my dick in my hand, until Virgil decides to saunter back with what I ordered. Why today played out differently, I will never know.

“Have a seat, m’man. Take a load off. All Big Daddy wants to do is talk a little.” I have never trusted people who refer to themselves in the third person. This was how the big man talked, right down to the hand gestures to his chest and the fondling of his junk.

It was dark too, and gloomy, the only real light coming in through slats in the blinds. I asked: “Where’s T-J and Bench?”

“The crew’s done gone, dawg. Down to Haldone’s to get the place some drink. Don’t mean no never mind, though—gives us the time to talk.”

I know. Fuck me, right? I had no choice, though, not since a particular letter of the alphabet had gotten her hooks into me. 

In front of me sat a glass coffee table. Atop this table, all the things I’d come to cherish: balloons and needles, papers and spoons. Scales too, a pair of them, where I assumed Virgil weighed every ounce he’d ever thrown my way. Above us, a ceiling fan droned on, me in the high back chair I’d been led, Virgil on a leather couch. The ax I would come to use stared up at me from bottom of the table. You didn’t need spider sense to know the reason it’d been left there. Shit like that was bread and butter to men like Virgil, where word of mouth could work like bullets. Sometimes better.
 
Now I think about it, I suppose it’s pretty much the reason I went and arranged him the way I did.

“You like what you been gettin’, Clement? You think—” He didn’t get to finish. The door behind me—the one that led to the cages I would soon find out about—blew open. 

A child no older than eight stood there. He was white, this boy, pale, in nothing but his Fruit of the Looms. Wild eyed, screaming, he moved towards the front door with a purpose I could relate to. He did not stop once he reached the bars; no, he backed himself up and ran into them again. And then one more time for good measure. I wanted to tell the kid to stop, that it was locked and to just give us a minute, but my mind doesn’t work that way. Might be because my father beat me that my mind does this, might be because my mother did not. Only thing I know for certain is that you don’t fuck with kids.

“What the hell?” Virgil was standing now, as was I, the both of us truly astonished by the sight of the boy and his continued attempts to escape. As they say, it is here that the shit got real.

I look at Virgil, my grill set, and you know what this mutherfucker does in turn? It ain’t bake cookies, that’s for sure. We fight. One black man. One brown. Drugs go flying. Needles too. And suddenly my back is through the glass coffee table. I’m cut, sure, but I’m more worried about the hands around my neck. Struggling, kicking, watching darkness seep towards me from all sides. I reach out, grasp for anything, a piece of table, syringe, carpet, anything, and then the handle of the ax is in my hand and I swing it sideways and up and the blunt end takes Virgil in the ear. It is enough to daze him. The next whack knocks him flat out.

I jump up, sucking air harder than I ever have. In the corner by the door, the kid huddles, chicken bone arms around chicken bone knees. I tell him to stay where he is, that he’s safe for the moment, and that I just have to see. Down I go, hoping that what I’m about to find is not as evil as I feared. One look at the cameras and the cages and I know I have never been more wrong.

It is here that something shifts in my head and I realize why the ax had yet to leave my hand. It surprised me, sure, but not as much as you’d think.

What shocks me more is when the kid gets in on the action and starts to help; when he grabs the top portion of Virgil by the arms and tugs forward, big chunks of the man’s busted vertebrae falling out like heavy Lego. Me, I take the legs, put about twelve feet of thick ribbon between us.

“That’s good, little man. It’ll due.” And it did. T-J and Bench listening to every word I said with eyes wide and mouths agape, taking it all in as they looked from one piece of Virgil to the other. “No more kids,” I tell them; there was a new king in town. 

I am by no means a good man, I tell them, nor am I bad, but I have no problem riding the line to get me what I need.

They’d be wise to remember as much.

In Canada, with his wife and three boys, Beau Johnson lives, writes, and breathes. He has been published before, on the darker side of town. Such places might include Underground Voices, the Molotov Cocktail, and Shotgun Honey. He would like it to be known that it is an honor to be here, down in the Gutter.