Thursday, 20 July 2017

Just in Time

[Media prompt] ‘Nobody kill anybody’: Murder-free weekend urged in Baltimore.
Just in Time

“It’s nearly midnight,” said DeAndre, “you better get on with it.”

Malik looked at his watch. “We’ve still got time.”

They stood in the shadow cast by the rising moon of a burned out three-storey on the corner of Chester and Fairmont. One of them was tall and thin, the other had arms that looked like deformed party balloon animals. That was DeAndre. Every time someone told him to go easy on the synthol, he denied he ever touched it. But if you believed God gave man arms like that, then you needed to start believing in another god.

Malik was doing a favour for Trevon Mckesson, a guy on the east side who hooked you up with high-speed access on someone else’s fibre-optics, along with hookers and stolen credit cards. As far as illegalities went, it didn’t usually end with drive-bys or the electric chair. But sometimes you needed to take care of business, which was Malik’s job. And sometimes Malik needed help, muscular or cerebral; sometimes a soul to keep him company. On this night, he just wanted someone to talk to.

Trevon pitched the job as an in-and-out affair, a stroll for a man with Malik’s experience. About a month ago, a young entrethug had started syphoning off petabytes of memory from Trevon’s pipeline, selling it to gangbangers for half the price. Not a naturally violent man, he was nevertheless cognisant of the necessity to sometimes send a message. To kill a chicken to scare the monkeys. Which is where Malik came in.

Malik was not only naturally violent, he was also creative. He had been known to turn hits into games of ‘hunt the monkey’, with every hoodlum for blocks around chasing down some poor unfortunate who had a two-minute start on them. He once hung a guy from a light post, selling shots from an Mk-11 sniper rifle at five hundred yards for twenty dollars a pop. He’d made over five hundred dollars before a contender hit the sweet spot.

“Here he is,” said Malik, nodding towards the dimly lit door to a boarded up shop. “Come on.”

He nudged DeAndre, setting off across the street, hands in his pockets as he always did when he meant business. The young thug, seeing them coming, stood for a moment, his arms slack by his side, smiling with the confidence born of arrogance, and said, “Yo, man.”

DeAndre groaned, knowing Malik's distaste for fake gangster bonhomie. Malik pulled his hands out of his pockets, firing a bullet from the handgun directly into the guy’s chest. He crumpled to the ground with barely a whimper, the look of surprise on his face morphing into a grimace of pain.

“Eleven fifty-eight,” said DeAndre. “That's cutting it fine, man.”

Malik shrugged. He revered holidays as much as the next man. There was still two minutes to midnight. He put his gun away, kicking the deflated body on the ground with his boot.

“Hey, it’s a holiday,” he said to DeAndre. “Lighten up. No kills for a day. We can honour that.”

DeAndre smiled. After all, No Kill Day was his favourite day of the year.

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