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Dirt

CS DeWildt is back in the Gutter with this heartwarming holiday tale about family, hope, and the bonds of love.

Who we kidding? DeWildt is a degenerate fuck-up who writes about people of his ilk. In other words, he is one of us.

Dirt by CS DeWildt




Gil Harris wasn’t proud of himself, not by a long shot. But a job was a job. And this job had him sitting in his car and watching the kids leave Grand Elementary. In his hand was a photo of a twelve-year-old boy. Blond, nice looking kid if not a little runty, a mouth full of crooked teeth. Gil scanned the stream of kids leaving through the front gate, looking for the face that matched the photo. He tucked the photo into the visor, alongside another photo, this one a high-school-age girl, dark-haired and pretty, barely smiling.

The flow of students slowed to a trickle of afterschool discipline cases and little bodies carrying giant band instruments and overstuffed backpacks. Gil was beginning to wonder if he’d missed the kid he was looking for and thought about taking a ride around the block when he finally saw the messy head of hair and crooked teeth from the photo. Gil watched the kid peek outside the gate, scanning the sidewalks and across the street. He put his head down and ran.

“Oh shit.” Gil shifted into drive, barely checking the mirror before pulling a wide U-turn amidst horn honks and profanity.

“You dumb motherfucker!” a lady in an SUV shouted out her window. Gil laughed and gave her a quick bird. Dumb motherfucker he might be, but he was a dumb motherfucker with a job to do.

Gil caught up to the kid quickly, passed him by and parked at an expired meter on the next block. He got out and watched the kid turn the corner. Gil hoofed it double time and crossed the street, walked the same direction as the boy on the opposite side. Foot traffic was light but there were enough faces that Gil could move among them and not draw any attention; this had to be done discretely.

The kid was looking over his shoulders, checking each small alley as he poised his body to run.

“Scared shitless,” Gil said into his fire as he lit up a cigarette. The kid made another turn and Gil had to wait for the light and lost sight of the boy. Gil defied the flashing red hand and angered the medium traffic to another chorus of honking woe.

Gil scanned the narrow street but it was dead. He considered turning back, make sure he hadn’t been wrong.

Then the muffled voices, and yelling, laughter. He turned the corner into an alley, and found the source, behind the trashcans. Four of them, older than the kid they had cornered, bigger.

“Faggot,” one of them said. “Say how much of a faggot you are. Tell us how much you like to suck cock!” The older boys were giggling as one of them pointed a cell phone in the little kid’s face.

“Budding filmmakers,” Gil thought.

“Come on! You like it in the ass don’t you, you little faggot?”

The kid stood stone faced. He had an angry look Gil recognized, a kind of pride that would make a kid bite his own tongue off before anyone forced him to say anything.

Gil stepped up like a cat and snatched the phone out of the cameraman’s hands.

“What the fuck? Give it back you fucking bum!”

The comment caught Gil off guard and he had to do a double take at himself, brown suit and loafers, worn but not necessarily dated. His beard was getting out of control though, and he hadn’t had a haircut in a few months.

“Give him his phone!” one of the guys said, reaching to snatch it. His finger grazed the back of Gil’s hand and it was all the pretense the man needed. He punched the little shit hard in the sternum, knocking him across the alley and on his ass.

“That’s assault!” a buddy said.

“What is it?” Gil said. Stepping a little closer.

“Assault,” he said again.

“Huh?” Gil said taking another step in and when the kid opened his mouth Gil closed the rest of the distance with his fist. The cameraman and the other kid took a step back. They didn’t want anything to do with the crazy bum apparently.

“This fun for you? Terrorizing little kids?”

“What do you care?”

Gil looked at the kid. “He’s my client.”

“Huh?”

“I do the dirt he can’t. Kid said four guys were messing with him on the way home from school.” Gil turned to the little kid. “Did you mean these girls?” The kid nodded.

“Can I have my phone?”

“Ha. No.”

“I’ll delete the video. C’mon. You got to. My dad will kill me.”

Gil looked at the boy for a moment, gave the impression he was considering it before throwing the kid a hard slap across the mouth. The kid just stood there with his jaw hanging open and Gil slapped him again, same side, drawing a trickle of blood from the corner of the kid’s mouth. The boy tried to run, but Gil caught him by the sleeve. The kid swung an arm and Gil dodged it easily, grabbed him by the scruff and showed the little shit the full strength of a man.

“Let me go! Help me, Kevin!”

Kevin tipped the flat brim of his Dodgers cap and was gone.

“Let me guess,” Gil yelled after him. “You’re the smart one!” He laughed and leaned into the kid he was holding. “Like you’re in a boy band. Wait, is that one? The ‘smart one?’ Which one are you?” The kid was crying now and that’s what he sounded like, a kid. “The sensitive one. I know that’s one.” Gil loosened his grip and shoved the kid to the street where the boy continued to cry.

“Pissed yourself, tough guy?” Gil said. He tossed the phone to the little blond kid. “Wanna record it?” The kid shook his head no, and Gil gave him a wink. They watched for a moment, the crying wet boy alone in the alley. Fortune shifted. Gil took the phone from the kid. “How about a ride home? Least I can do since we missed one.”

“Okay.”

Back in the car Gil took the confiscated phone from his pocket and began searching through the videos inside. He found a good amount of criminal chicanery: vandalism, underage this and that, one-sided fights and more tormented kids. Gil deleted the most recent video and then sought out another. He played it. A nearly identical scene to the one he’d just come from: victimized kid, laughter, slurs. The only thing that had saved the kid was the appearance of a bum who did look like a parody of Gil, a rattier version in a greasy brown suit and wild hair who startled the kids and sent them all scattering. Gil deleted it. He slid the phone into a yellow envelope and sealed it before handing it to the kid. “Glove compartment, huh?”

Near the highway ramp Gil slowed, pointed into the sun at a dark figure walking on the shoulder. “That your friend? The one who got away?”

“Yeah.”

“Open your door.”

“Why?” the kid said, but he did as he was told and opened the door, pavement moving slowly past.

“When I say ‘now’ you push that thing open. Hard.”

The kid didn’t say anything else and Gil wondered if he’d do it, but the kid came through when Gil gave the order. He pushed the door open, knocking Kevin from behind and sending him hard to the gravel, Dodger cap knocked from his shaved head. The little kid slammed the car door as Gil sped up and hit the on ramp.

***

Gil pulled in front of the kid’s house.  “You did good kid. Now get out. I have to get back to the office.”

The blond kid got out, gave Gil a wave and started toward the house.

“Hey,” Gil said. The kid turned. “Tell your mom I’ll be by around six. And do the dishes. You owe me.” The kid nodded, gave Gil the snaggle-toothed smile that was eventually going to call for braces.

“See you later, Dad.”
  
CS DeWildt is the author of the books Love You to a Pulp, Dead Animals, and Candy and Cigarettes. His new novel, "Kill 'Em with Kindness" is scheduled for release in the summer of 2016. He lives in southern Arizona with his wife and sons. Please visit him online at csdewildt.com