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Never Fade Away

When the wheel of karma turns 'round to crush you,

It doesn't matter if it's attached to a brand new BMW.

Never Fade Away by Angel Luis Colon

Harry did his best to look right through me as he held the keys to his BMW M5 in the air like a wet diaper. He wore a refined frown on his face that seemed as tailored as the suit and as polished as his shoes. I wondered if his smile was still the same—as comforting as wearing a loose-fitting pair of jeans without a belt.

I took the keys and smiled, “Harry, it’s been a while.”

Harry blinked, gawked, did that terrible double-take you’d see a bit character do in an old Marx Brothers flick. “Edward, I didn’t recognize you at all.” An awkward pause. “Well, how are you?” He ran his thumbs up and down the lapels of his suit jacket and gave me a smile—I was right, he needed more practice at that.

“I’m okay—in remission.”

“Well that’s fantastic, just fantastic.” This was as long as a pleasant conversation Harry would want with me.  I imagined micro-fissures appearing in his dental bonds; that smile threatening to fracture his skull and cleave his lips in half. “About time you got back on your feet.”

I laughed. “Yeah, one step at a time. Earning a little extra money here to get the ball rolling.” I gave him his valet slip.

Harry grinned. “Well,” he said and motioned towards the restaurant, “Dinner meeting. Give me a call sometime.”

“Will do.”

“Oh and do be careful.”

I nodded. “I heard about that earlier. Somebody with a rifle a few blocks north, right? They said nobody got hurt, thankfully, but that’s still scary.”

Harry stared at me. “Sorry, no, I meant be careful with the car. I just had her detailed.”

“Ah, well, that makes sense.” I slipped into the driver’s seat, careful not to reposition it. “Have a good night, Harry.”

Harry was already inside the restaurant.

I drove to the farthest parking spot in the lot across the street—where the lamps didn’t cast a spotlight—that we used for the more pricey vehicles. My grip on the steering wheel was firm. I didn’t want to get out. I wanted to enjoy this luxury for a few more minutes. This should have been mine, but the cancer came and ate away at not only my body, but my career. Guys like Harry were always ready to swoop in and he did just that. Now he drove a car I deserved to a restaurant I should have a private table at to discuss business that was rightfully mine.

No more dwelling. I climbed out of the car, walked over to the fencing only a few feet away, grabbed my rucksack, and popped the BMW’s trunk. I placed the rucksack inside and unzipped it. Procured a roll of antibacterial wipes and wiped down the contents of the bag, the bag itself, the trunk, and then cleaned any remaining surfaces I’d touched—steering wheel included. I slipped on a pair of gloves and walked back to the valet station to leave the keys and five hundred dollars behind to the real valet as payment for cutting off the CCTV camera mounted over the valet station.

It was time to wait. I walked the five blocks to my favorite pizza parlor, Lorenzo’s. I bought two slices of pizza and Coke. Watched the college football game on their TV.

When I was done I dialed a number on my prepaid phone.

“Yo.” The kid was perfectly suited for a life of service if he answered a phone like that.

“Hi, has the BMW been picked up?”

“Oh, yeah man, guy left like ten minutes ago. By the way, good looking out, tips have been garbage lately.”

“No problem, just make sure you forget me is all. You’ve been working there all night.”

“You’re already fading away the closer we get to the end of this conversation.”

“Did he ask for me when he picked up the car?”

“Nah, well, he asked for me to split the tip with ‘the other guy’.”

“How much was it?”

“Three fucking bucks.”

I laughed and disconnected the call. Dialed 911 to anonymously report a lead on that active shooter from earlier in the day. People had been hurt—thankfully, not killed. Still, we didn’t need a monster like that still running rampant and injuring people. What if there was a next time? What if someone did get killed? It just so happened this bystander saw the psycho pack up into a BMW M5 with plates matching Harry’s. This bystander wanted to be sure the man was caught and kept from doing any more harm.

Who knew how many more lives scum like that could tear apart? The kind of legacy that would leave behind was staggering, wasn’t it? That a man would become known for violence, for the singular act of wrecking lives without a care in the world—a malignant presence on society—and be granted no other legacy? It was the most severe punishment I could imagine for anyone.

I found a nice bench to sit on and lit a cigarette. That first drag was agony and ecstasy. My head swam and my scarred lungs ached, but I would not suffer the indignity of coughing—not then. I rode that wave in the silence and let the nicotine take me to my happy place. It was so quiet; calm. I leaned back and thought of Harry; of the glories he snatched away from me.

It was a good night. 

Angel Luis Colón works in New York City but has been exiled to live in the northern wastes of New Jersey—thankfully, they have good beer. His work has appeared in Shotgun Honey, Revolt Daily, Thuglit, All Due Respect, and The Flash Fiction Offensive. You can follow his grumblings on Twitter @GoshDarnMyLife. Or