Front, Then Center

Mistrust, jealousy, envy, possessiveness. These are the rapids through which our emotions ride.

And then, when the water is white and choppy, they give way to our favorite: Homicidal Rage.

Front, Then Center by Beau Johnson

Not one of them, but two, and it’d been narrowed down to Sacks and Jimmy D.  Both were tall, both were built, and both held their faces as men like them should; that they would not take shit from anyone, not unless I told them to.

Each was fucking my wife.

Where Jimmy D was white, Anton Sacks was black.  I say this to prove differences; that I am a man who clearly sees.  Not as one might think, but as one who has proven his ability to adapt and survive in an industry which will always be less than kind.

“You want I should pull the car around, Boss?”

I look up to the big man.  His suit is tight, his hair tighter, and all at once I picture him taking Miranda from behind.  This isn’t the first time something like this has occurred.  Moreover, it’s that I hate admitting as much, as admission is akin to weakness, especially when respect is involved.  My father taught me this, usually doing so with his fists.  Same as the smell of his aftershave, I have remembered such lessons well.  You mess with the bull; you get the horns being first front, then center.

“Yeah, Sacksy, you go get the car.  Be nice to end it early for a night.”  It’s then that I turn my attention toward my number two, my Jimmy D.  His entire dick is wedged within Miranda’s young, sweet mouth, her entire throat engorged.  I know it’s not real, not really-real before my eyes, but I know it’s happened regardless, there behind my back.  How do I know this?  I pay people.  How the fuck else?  Another sage piece of advice courtesy of a man I’d come to hate.

“Not really much to look at tonight anyway, eh, Boss?”  He was right, the talent up on stage far from the best we’d employed.  I make a mental note to do something about that—once this current set of circumstances had been remedied, of course.

And that each of them still called me Boss, every day, even though they continued to ball what wasn’t theirs—that’s what chafed me most, I suppose.  Made a man angrier than he has any right being, taxing his emotional limits past a point he’d ever want to see.  This is all conjecture, of course, so one need not get their panties in a bunch.  The old rules still played here, same as they ever did.

“I ever tell you about that time my father took me to task for stealing lunch money in grade school?”  Jimmy’s expression is counter to the one I pay him to provide, looking less than thrilled that I began what I had and more like he wished he were someplace else.  Made me smile is what this did, but not for the reasons you might think.  

“No, Boss, I can’t rightly recall you doing so.”

Can’t rightly recall?  Really?  Fine.  We’d play it this way then.

To Jimmy it was just another day in the life, another dollar, so he doesn’t sense anything when I tell him I want a moment alone with Bruce.  Once Bruce is beside me I give him the man his cue.  Ten minutes later I have what I want: the place is a ghost, the music is gone, and the house lights are up.  During this time Sacks had come back in, the car brought round, and takes his usual place three feet behind wherever I am.

Contrary to what people believe, there is an I in team.

My old man again, rearing his head as he’s always doneI used the phrase anyway, stating it as I tell them to take their seats, saying we had some business to discuss.  To his credit, I sense that Sacks recognizes that something is off, but still, he does nothing but what I ask of him.  It’s only when Bruce walks out onto the stage with his wheel barrel that we come to the bones of it.  I especially appreciated how he’d arranged her head, there atop her thighs, almost as if he’d taken the time and done the hair himself.  The way it was matted there, tucked behind the ears, tufts of blond gold curving towards red.

From behind we are joined by a couple more of my guys, Gus and Frankie P.  They come slowly, guns drawn, and take the two pieces Jimmy D and Sacks wished they were holding.  I don’t know this for fact, but it’s the very thing I’d want if our roles had been reversed.  Last but not least are the two bull queers I’d purchased just that morning.  One black, one white, they come in naked except for their G-strings.  Like it should, it adds an air of symmetry to the proceedings, and if I’m anything, it’s a man who loved his symmetry.

“So the story I was wanting to tell is of the time I took a thing that didn’t belong to me.”  They are not stupid men, not in every regard, and their faces begin to release everything I’d hoped for.  This should have relieved me, but no, the images continued to come—these two men I’d employed for years now double teaming the woman who’d given me my son, one deep into her snatch by way of his tongue and the other at home where the sun didn’t shine.  “It reminds me of this kid I once knew, we’ll call him Billy.  Billy was a scrawny little fuck with sticks for bones.  Whenever we’d come to teams, it wasn’t that he was picked last, but that he wasn’t picked at all.  Shit like that leaves a certain kind of scar on a person, creates a different type of rage.  You see what I’m saying here?”

They did.  I know they did.  But it was only Jimmy D who spoke.  “Way I see it, Boss, if you’d been able to satisfy your wife, well, she wouldn’t have needed Sacksy or me at all.  That much is obvious.  But since she did, well, maybe a part of that lands on you.  Whether you see this or not, I can’t say.  What I can pass on is this: she was the sweetest piece I ever took a run at, Boss.  I mean, the throat on that woman.  Damn.”  Not stupid, not in every regard, but I wasn’t about to be baited, not after all the thought I’d put into this.  And thus the scene was set, and suddenly I didn’t care anymore—suddenly more angry with myself than anything.

It’s a poor man who blames his instrument.

Really, Dad?  Really?

But I was through with being polite.  You fuck with something of mine I will fuck with something of yours.  They knew that; had enforced the very rule.  That’s what gets me most of all---that despite knowing what I might do, they chose to continue anyway.  The only consolation I receive is what I need: their screams.  The ones that come as the two bull queers start giving them the horn.

More than the manner which ends them, it’s this I will cherish most.

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