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Crime Story.

What the fuck was he doing here?
Theo had planned this out. He had contingencies in place for many things: a beat cop who happened by, a browser who wouldn’t leave, a kid who had to have a Charleston Chew from this store every night at nine o’clock.
He hadn’t planned for Fitts.
Theo felt the ball under his foot as he slid into the van’s passenger seat. “What is with you and these damn balls?”
“For my dog,” Sammy said.
“You don’t have a dog.”
“I’m thinkin’ of getting one. I’m trying to be prepared. Seems like a waste of money to buy balls …”
Theo picked up the ball. “I’m gonna bust my ass on this thing.” He tossed it onto the sidewalk.
“Hey!” Sammy said.
Jimmy squinted out the windshield. “That who I think it is comin’ this way?”
“Yeah,” Theo mumbled. Something always gumming up the works.
“Fitts is in the game. He won’t bother us.” Jimmy checked his Timex. In his Elvis voice he said, “It’s now or never.” He got out and circled around to the sliding door.
Theo disagreed with his father. Fitts talked too much. Why the fuck would this degenerate moron come to this liquor store of all the grimy places in Springfield? To Theo’s thinking, his plans had just exploded. They had to get gone before that Korean behind the register registered what they were doing there on the night of the pick-up.
“Jimmy Waterston. I thought you were in the joint.” Jimmy was leaning into the van, getting the Halloween mask out. Fitts must have spotted him when he walked around the front.
“Hey Fitts. I’m surprised you’re still out here yourself.” Jimmy rubbed his mustache, shaking a piece of fried rice loose.
Fitts adjusted his crotch, then slipped a flask out of his coat. The guy smelled like moldy bread.
“Ha. Not for want of tryin’.” Fitts took a swig. “I’m supposed to lay off the fire water, but fuck, I’m half-Indian. What do they expect? Where’s that bastard kid of yours?”
Theo tried to hold Sammy back inside the vehicle. Sammy charged out the sliding door, tackling Fitts to the dirty sidewalk. He pummeled Fitts until Jimmy yanked him off.
“Jesus, Sammy! The guy’s an asshole, sure, but what’s gotten into you? Jimmy said as Sammy struggled. “Theo!”
Theo hopped out and held on to Sammy while Jimmy checked Fitts. “Shit, Sammy, he ain’t movin’.”
Sammy spat. “Good!”
“What the fuck is good? We’re trying to keep a low profile. Tonight’s the only night of the year you can wander around in a costume and mask and no one’ll say boo.”
“Actually …”
“Shut up, Theo!” Jimmy shouted.
“Hey, what do you always say, ‘stay cool, stay free,’ right, dad?” Theo shoved Sammy back against the van. “Get rid of Porky Pig and let’s get back to work.”
Jimmy snatched the flask off the ground and took a swig. His face convulsed. “Ahhh. Goddamn that’s nasty shit.” He passed it to Theo, who drank and barely reacted.
Sammy waved it off. “I ain’t touching lips to that bottle. This motherfucker offed my old man. I’m gonna beat his face to mud.”
Jimmy patted Fitts down. A twenty-two and a switchblade. He poured half a bottle of water over Fitts, who sputtered, his eyes transforming from shock to anger.
He shook his head, bearing his teeth like a junkyard dog. “You’re gonna pay for that, Barker.”
“Let’s go now!” Sammy said trying to shove around Theo, who stiff-armed him against the van.
Sammy pulled his piece and pointed it at Theo. Theo backed onto the sidewalk, hands high, bumping his father who crouched next to Fitts.
“Theo, I said …” Jimmy trailed off when he spotted Sammy. Despite the enraged expression, Sammy’s shooting hand was steady.
“Boy, I normally don’t fuck anyone over twelve, but I’m gonna fuck you so hard the Vatican’s gonna give me a post.” As he said this, Fitts reached behind his back. Fear skated through his eyes as he realized both his knife and gun were held aloft by Jimmy Waterston. Sammy’s was the only toy in the sandbox.
“Put the gun down, Sammy. You don’t want …”
Sammy cut Jimmy off. “Why’d you do it, you fat bastard?”
Fitts pushed his stringy hair out of his face and wiped a sleeve across his mouth. The fear vanished. The junkyard dog was back. “You’ll have to be more specific, boy.”
“I’m not a boy. I’m man enough to kill you. Tell me why.” Sammy pushed the gun through the air several centimeters, but kept three meters between himself and Jimmy and Fitts. Jimmy stood between them and the liquor store to Sammy’s left.
“You’ll have to be more specific, boy,” Fitts repeated.
“Michael Barker. My father. You knew him.”
Fitts wiped his slug-lips a second time. “What the fuck, Sammy? I’m gonna eat your dick with some cayenne after I cram that gun up your ass.”
“Why’d you kill him, asshole?” Tears had formed on the edge of Sammy’s lids. “Why’d ya do it?”
Jimmy still had his hands up, the gun and blade held between thumbs and forefingers to show Sammy there was no threat. “Come on, Sammy, just chill it. Chill it. There’s people looking.” He nodded to a growing crowd at the corner half a block away.
“Shut up, Jimmy. This fat bastard offed my dad. I want to know why.”
The liquor store clerk they’d scoped weeks ago had come out to see what all the commotion was. He glanced their way then disappeared back inside.
Theo squirmed. “Sammy …”
“I know. I know. I don’t care.” Sammy responded. “He talks or we’re all going down.”
Theo started to move behind Sammy, who’d always had an uncanny sense when someone snuck up on his six. Sammy side-stepped moving toward the hood of the van.
“What ya doin’, Theo, old pal?” Sammy said. The tears retracted.
Theo stopped. “I set the flask on the hood. Just want another sip.”
“Fuck that.”
Theo muttered, “Listen to my pops or we’re gonna get popped. This guy ain’t worth it.”
Sammy’s eyes fixed on Theo, but his gun never left Fitts, who’d repositioned himself on his knees. Sammy shifted his attention back to the genuflector. “He’s coming with us. Get the duct tape.”
Jimmy started to drop his arms. Sammy swung the barrel to Jimmy. “Ah-ah, hang ‘em high.”
Jimmy raised his hands. “Man, my arms are getting tired.”
Fitts pitched the ball on the sidewalk at Sammy’s head. He spotted the object out of the side of his eye. He ducked. His gun discharged. Jimmy’s head snapped. The gun and knife flew. The gun landed next to Fitts. He snatched the weapon.
“Dad!” Theo cried, diving to catch Jimmy. Blood streamed over Jimmy’s face. The distant wail of sirens mingled with a second gunshot as Fitts brought the twenty-two up, Sammy planted a third eye in the center of the big man’s forehead.
The two boy-men, who’d been partners in crime since age eleven, grabbed either end of the bleeding Jimmy Waterston and hauled him into the maw of the van and slammed the door.
Sammy leapt into the driver’s seat. “Where are the fucking keys?”
“Shut up and drive!” Theo shouted. The sirens grew.
“Keys. I need ‘em.”
Theo stared at his father, who didn’t move.
Sammy shoved Theo aside and searched Jimmy’s body. He started the engine as blue and red swirled up from the residential street behind them. Ripping away from the curb, the dark van fled into the night.
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