Monday, November 20, 2017

Rare Breeds by Beau Johnson


Rare Breeds

The wood chipper in front of me is on wheels.  The Rottweilers to the left are not.  “I’m told you gave my son two choices before he died.  To you I will offer the same.”  Pigeons respond to this, coming down through the sunlight and then, thinking better, head back up to the rafters above.
Like his son before him, Marcus Kincaid is the kind of man who pushed obesity and conceit in equal measure.  Suit jacket removed, he hands it to Nicky, the man he’s put in charge of the chipper.  The man holding the dogs at bay is another beast entirely, Jimmy Belts, a man almost twice my size.  Especially now, me being strapped to a stool as I was.  Two minutes prior to this and a burlap sack is obscuring my view.  Back up three minutes more and it’s me and the back of a trunk making time in the dark.
“You do realize why it was I put your boy down, right?”  Of course he did.  The question rhetorical.  But men like Marcus are the rarest of breeds, believing they hold a particular type of power.  This belief, unbeknownst to them, is the very thing which brings men like me to life; men who are more than happy to prove them wrong.
“Doesn’t matter, Jack.  Blood is blood.  Same reason you sit there is the same reason I stand here.”  I wanted to laugh, I did, but most of what he said rang true.  Not all, no, but in the fucked-up way that got men like Marcus and me into trouble in the first place.
“Fair enough,” I say, but it wasn’t fair.  Not when children become involved.  “You believe you are justified.  I believe I was justified.  Comes down to the person who strikes hardest I suppose.”
Marcus shakes his head, smiles, then goes about shifting his pants upwards a good four inches.  Kneeling, he beckons the Rotties, rubs each of them under the chin once Jimmy gives the leashes some slack.  Marcus’s other guy, one-eyed Nicky, continues his wipe down of the chipper, that aforementioned eye failing to leave both my good ones.
“It’s not that I ever wanted this, Jack.  My boy, I’ll admit, he had some problems.”  No shit.  Mine?  Her death the end result of said “problem”.  Before that, however, came the nightmare every father fears to dream of.
“A better man might call you weak for how you’ve handled this.  Me, I say it proves the apple don’t ever fall far from the tree.”  He’d never believe that---not a man like Marcus.  His choice to keep his son above ground proving my entire goddamn point.
“I was going to handle him in my own way, Jack.  In my own time.  Trust me, what he did wouldn’t have gone unpunished.”
At this I do laugh, which brings Marcus to his feet.
“You don’t believe me?”
“I believe you believe in exceptions to the rule.  I believe you embrace what most of us will not.”
“Now look…,” but I wouldn’t look, not ever.  Not how he believed I should. 
“No Marcus, I think it’s better if it’s you who looked,” I say and throw my head to the right, towards a now armed Nicky, the man having taken his cue.  “It’s hard to imagine, I know, but men like you leave men like me very few choices when push comes to shove.”  I go on and explain how situations and me have always gotten along; that I’ve always found it best to examine every possible scenario that could or should occur.  I also state how some lines should never be crossed, but if they are, then it’s the man on top who should hold the required girth to set things as right as possible.  “This has never been the case with you, Marcus.  Not from the get go.  Nicky and Jimmy here, they saw things this way too, of course, but only after the three of us had our own little sit-down.”
I gave them everything they asked for.  Every bit.  For truth, I’d have given them it all.
Beside himself, Marcus can only turn from Nicky to me and then to Jimmy and the dogs.  Gun still trained on the man he used to work for, Nicky steps forward and cuts me free.  I stand.  Stretch.  Go about rolling up my own sleeves.  “If anything, Marcus, know you were right about one thing: I did offer your son a choice.”  It’s here I come to see it dawn in his eyes; everything he now knows he should have done.  Too late, it takes him to his knees, but his pleading, it falls on deaf ears.
“In keeping with the theme, I believe we’ll offer you the same.”

-End-

Bio Beau Johnson has been published before, usually on the darker side of town.  Such fine establishments might include Out of the Gutter Online, Shotgun Honey, Spelk Fiction, and HST.  Come August 2017, a collection of Beau's shorts titled A Better Kind of Hate will be released by Down And Out Books.  Once that happens, perhaps he'll take the hint and stop with the dancing.  If yer so inclined you can connect with him at the usual hangouts, Facebook and Instagram.  He is also new to twitter @beaujohnson44 where he fails at tweeting spectacularly.

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