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Banged Up

Everybody wants to move up.

In The Gutter, it means crushing the heads of those beneath you.

Banged up by Mike Loniewski


The rickety bicycle rounds the corner of the cafe with a skinny bloke wrestling the handle bars. A kid with an Uzi hangs off the back. He’s not aiming for me, but for the other guy at my table. A young, American tech-billionaire arsehole who cashed in on some face tweet thing I’ll never understand.

The Uzi starts spitting and people slip under their tables as if it’s an ordinary course of the dinner. I, on the other hand, pull my HK over the American kid’s shoulder and put neatly cropped holes in the bicycle twins.

Wirat, the delivery boy, pulls up with his tiny car on cue. Wirat’s a friend and a gifted drunk. Put a few in him and the bastard turns into an F1 champion.

I shove the American and my bag of food into the back. Wirat hits the accelerator. We’re weaving through congested streets as people rush to the cafe to see dead bodies. They love dead bodies out here.

“Can you hear what I’m saying to you?” I ask.

Kid’s in shock. Maybe just stoned. He looks at me with dinner plate eyes. “Is my ear bleeding? My ear’s bleeding”

It’s bleeding, alright. A forty-five went off at his ear.

We’re out of the alleys and market streets and into more civilized traffic, trying to elude an unstable man with a passion for chopping up limbs and trafficking drugs.

“Have you heard of this fellow Ukrit?” I ask the American.

“Yeah. Shit. I know him.”

“That bicycle was property of Ukrit. I happen to work for Ukrit.”

The kid fiddles with his ear. “Why the hell did you cap your coworkers?”

“I saw an opportunity.”

Wirat pulls us up a block from a dingy fish market. 

Ukrit’s somewhere inside waiting for the food from the cafe. Sick bastard ordered food from the same place he ordered a hit.

I hand Wirat the to-go bag, tell him to run it inside and to be quick about it.

I turn back to the kid. “You’re having yourself a blast smuggling heroin to artists in Europe. That’s a far cry from your computers in California. Drugs are Ukrit’s job.”

“Ukrit’s got poor business sense. He’s local. I’m taking it global,” he says.

This wanker. Part of me’s thinking I should just hand him over to Ukrit. Hack him up proper. But I can’t manage this without him.

“Bangkok’s going to kill you before you’re twenty six. If it wasn’t for me, Ukrit would have made sure of it already,” I say.

“Why do you give a shit about what Ukrit does to me?”

There’s no sense telling him how I’ve drowned myself in booze to erase the memory of killing my own men in combat, and how I ended up a mercenary to pay the tab. I don’t tell him about the cancer and how I just want a few good days to make things right with the people I’ve fucked over. I just tell him it’s about the money. “A dead man always leaves a few prizes in his pockets. Ukrit’s pockets will have plenty of prizes for the both of us.”

The kid shakes his head. “Don’t need his money.”

“But, I do. And you need his growers.”

He laughs. “So, we’re ripping off Ukrit? You don’t need me for that. There’s something else.” 

He’s right. “I need those computer talents of yours. Fill some personal accounts with Ukrit’s dirty money. Wash it clean. Same time, I deliver Ukrit to his maker for you.”

“You got some crazy ass plan to kill Ukrit?” he says and laughs.  

I flip open the burner phone. “Do you know what Mok Huak is?”

“That I do not.”

“It’s tadpoles and fermented fish. Ukrit’s favorite.”

I hold out my hand. “We have a deal?” 

We shake and I press send on a text to a receiver tucked inside that slimy glob of Mok Huak from the cafe. I only hope Wirat’s made it out.

Silence. There shouldn’t be silence. The charge inside the to-go bag should have detonated instantly.

Things are really buggered when I see Ukrit and a small gang come strutting out of the market toward our cab. Ukrit’s swinging something in his hand.

“Holy shit! Is that a head?” The kid screeches next to me.

It’s a head, alright. Wirat’s.

Flashes pop off behind Ukrit and the cab’s windshield cracks into spider webs. Rounds explode off the grill.

I jump over the driver’s seat and press both hands down on the gas. “Steer, you cunt!” I shout at the kid.

As bodies thump against the hood, the kid screams again.

I take a peek and see Ukrit—still alive and high on something—smashed through our windshield.

“Shoot him,” I shout.

The kid takes my HK and—as his generation would put it—“caps” Ukrit in the head.

I slam the brakes and the drug lord’s body ejects. 

The kid’s whimpering like a puppy. Christ, he’s gonna need some toughening up. He’s just turned himself into a drug lord.
           
I straighten myself and pat him on the shoulder. 

“Right, then. Let’s see what’s in those pockets.”



Mike is a writer from New Jersey. His fiction has been published by Out of the Gutter, Shotgun Honey, OneEye Press, and others. His comics have been published by Image Comics and APE Entertainment. You can find him on twitter at @redfox_write.