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Pistol Pete

All Lives Matter.

When your back's to the wall, that mantra can change real quick. 

Pistol Pete by Phil Rossi

Pete picked a subway car with the highest body count.

Robbed and beaten by thugs some time between last call and dawn, Pete had the daylights knocked out of him. The gang members left scars and divots from the stab wounds. Now, he thought safety in numbers.                                          

Since the bad luck, Pete plunked down a cashed paycheck in exchange for a firearm. A black-market snub nose to keep him company on the trains. Pete wasn’t there to cause trouble or seek revenge. The gun offered protection between the night shift and his walkup studio.                 

At each platform, the nameless came and went until Pete remained alone with two stops to go. The incoming terminal was a hub where he expected a crowd, even at that time. It was a bit of a haul. No mad dash between stations on this end of the subway line.

Before shoving off, a large man entered the subway car. Army jacket, baggy sweat pants, colors of a nefarious gang. Pete knew those colors all too well. The same ones that jumped him last time, grinding his body mass into wolf bait.                                                                                                   
Pete could tell the man was all muscle by the way he strutted around. Once he noticed Pete as the lone passenger, the man halted and grabbed a seat diagonally across the aisle.       

The train streaked through a ghost station, turning the car pitch black. Pete tried to keep his focus, but lost the man's shadow in the dark. The rattles and hums made it too noisy to trace footsteps.
Pete dipped his hand into the well of his coat pocket, just in case. Once the lights returned, the tip of a hunting knife was pointed inches from his eyeball.                                                                                                                                
"Gimme your money, and that gold watch too," the man demanded. No trembling in his hand or voice. This guy was all pro and meant business. The blade remained stiff as an icicle and big enough to stop a bear.       
Pete yanked the grip of his gun and squeezed the trigger. Fire blasted from the barrel, torching the man's army jacket. It's the comet, not the tail, one needs to dodge. Pete's nine grams plowed the man's gut. The gangsta flew in the air and dropped the knife, arms fanned out in a frozen jumping jack. When he slammed to the floor, his stiffened frame resembled an upended tarantula.                                                                                                                 
The train hissed to a stop and the doors rocked open. Pete bolted from the car and skirted the crowded platform. Once he turned the corner, screams echoed through the terminal.                                                          

Pulse sprinting, weak-headed, Pete hustled up the stairwell. He hit the sidewalk on the fly as police sirens sounded off in the distance. Flashing lights carved the main drag, all hands racing for the cursed station.                                                                                                                               
Back in his apartment, he felt the bones ringing inside his flesh. Pete tried gumming up the works with shots of Old Crow. The shaking wouldn't stop as he spat the bourbon back up. The flat turned lopsided as Pete puked a few more times before falling asleep.                                                       

Pete woke up with a pounding headache, hoping it was the aftershock of a nightmare. The truth proved him wrong once he checked the chamber of the snub nose. He palmed that single shell casing with the missing lead.                                                                                           
Busy hunting down the maniac from last night's shooting, the police were fielding the fire from all angles. A mob of local citizens, fed up with the violence, had begun marching for social justice. They carried signs, yelled, and pumped their fists. Traffic was at a standstill. Police cars searched for Pete.                    

The mayor held a press conference. He assured the charged-up crowd and TV land that he wouldn’t tolerate violence, especially vigilantism.

That's why there's a police force. Fair enough, but where were they? It's either him or me, Pete thought.                                                                                           

The police announced a person of interest, beaming out a police sketch. Man, were they getting warm. Red hot once the media released footage captured on the subway's video cams. Pete was afraid of running. What if he evaded the police only to be captured by the mob? 

The media had already proclaimed "Pistol Pete" the criminal and the thug a victim. If the Boy Scout decided to kick off and die, Pete should be fed to the dogs. As it stood, Pete was a racist, a menace to society. The star reporting hadn't gotten to the thug's prison record, gang relations, or the hunting knife found at the scene.       
The police were downstairs and had the building surrounded. Pete heard the fuzz mushing up the stairwell. Pete was about to become famous and didn’t want any part of it. All Pete wanted was to be home free, left alone. All he could think of was that catch phrase: “social justice,” what it meant, and if there was any left in the tank for guys like him.

Phil Rossi is a fiction writer and short filmmaker from northern New Jersey, right outside New York City. This is Phil's first appearance on FFO and he's psyched-out about it. Phil's fiction has appeared in various e-zines and he has also written two coming-of-age novellas, 'Soldier Hill' and 'Jimmy Baseball'. Phil also wrote, directed, and produced a short neo-noir film, "Ten Large", which could be viewed on his website: Twitter: Facebook: