Rain soaked streets rarely happened in Hollywood, one of the perks of paradise. A man being chased could crouch into deep corners, fade into alleyways. Not tonight though. Ziggy had been sprinting for blocks. The circus of neon was relentless, shining up off the boulevards, exposing every pocket of sanctuary. He crouched behind a dumpster at the rear of Pink Elephant Liquor. Magenta beams from the store crept at his shoelaces. His eyeballs bugged. It was a Cutlass full of homeboys, from which gang, who knew? It didn’t matter; he knew why they wanted him. Slanging dope was no longer ideal.
He waited for three cigarettes before heading back out, down Western. The streets were jammed with the usual Thursday night crowd, too many cars to keep track. He tucked his head and sped up; a horse with blinders. There was a lounge up ahead attached to a Super 8 motel. Place looked dark enough. An empty stool was out front. He ducked through the red curtain to get in off the streets.
The joint was cast in a crimson glow, damn near lethargic. A TV behind the bar spouted the Dodgers-Rockies game to an uninterested patron, trapped in a Dean Koontz novel. He sidled up to the counter, taking a look around. The juke box twisted CD’s in silence, entertaining a lonesome pool table. Pictures of cheerful patrons cluttered every wall, slapping high fives, wagging tongues; an ironic twist. He drum rolled his palms on the wood to spark a bartender. The person reading put up a finger before dog-earing a page. An older woman, short hair. The moment the book shut, she became animated.
“Hey, darling, how are you!”
The exuberance caught him off guard. “Okay, I guess. Busy night, huh?”
“Later it will fill out.” She smiled, “What you drinking?”
Her accent was foreign but he couldn’t make it. Russian? Probably Armenian. “Buschmills-soda, please.”
The pour was heavy. A splash of soda was music to his ears. She slid the tumbler his way, followed by two bowls of popcorn and almonds.
“Geez, what service.”
She smiled, adjusting the volume on the TV. Her hand slapped her thigh. “Ugh! Can you believe this?”
He squinted to make out the score. Dodgers down two. “It’s early, we’ll pull it off.”
She walked around the bar and took the first seat available. They watched Manny fly out. He figured her to be in her sixties, maybe a grandma. Her floral blouse screamed grandma.
“I’m Ziggy, by the way.”
He stuck out his hand.
“Rosie.” She shook it. “Ever been here before?”
He choked back a long pull and shook his head. “What’s the place called?”
“The White Horse Inn―been here for twenty-seven years.”
“Wow. Pretty impressive.”
Just then, a skinny black man waddled into the place. He stood by the door as if lost. She excused herself and tended to him. Before she even got to him, he waddled back out the door. She peeked outside and rushed back.
“Ray, my bouncer, is supposed to be here already. He usually handles that.”
“What, the homeless?”
“No, no. For some reason we get people in here thinking we have girls to take upstairs into the rooms. I don’t know how many times I have told people we don’t do that here, but they just keep coming in. One of the bad things about being attached to the motel, I guess.”
He laughed. “Well, don’t worry about me, honey. I ain’t Vice or nothin’.”
She gave him a look as if he’d handed her an excellent report card. He killed the drink. She got up and poured another. Vin Scully shouted out the tube. Ethier hit a three run homer. They cheered.
“Told ya,” he said.
Their conversation continued. They talked books and sports. He listened about her athletic nephews. They had the juke box rocking on shuffle, tons of Stones. She told him about how bad the area was. He acted surprised when she mentioned gangs.
“I’m serious,” she said. “I held a shotgun on the roof to protect the place last summer, every night for a week. It was a turf war—at least that’s what they say on the news.”
“Yeah, I read about that in the Times. Blood in the Streets.”
She shrugged, “Boys will be boys, you know? Some of them come in here from time to time. You just treat them with respect and hope that they return the favor. That’s really all you can do.”
The Cutlass sat idling in a parking lot off Western, behind a janky adult bookstore. Four bald heads scanned from inside, green tattoos aplenty. The white wall tires and Dayton’s made the rust bucket look hard. Saddle blankets draping the interior hailed Mexico. They’d covered a lot of ground but knew the fucker was gone. Sneaky rode shotgun and tossed in an oldies mixtape. The Delfonics crooned. He turned to Chente, the driver. “Let’s head back to the crib, ese.”
“What for? ‘Bout to roust this fool in a minute. We’re good.”
Sneaky lasered a glare in response. He didn’t need a reason to let up. He was in charge. Chente put the car in gear and creeped up the block. Sneaky dozed, hoping for two minutes of peace. His brain filled with various images of gourmet dishes; rack of lamb, éclairs, lobster tail, etc. He got stuck on a plate of seared ahi tuna with a wasabi/mint garnish, could almost taste it. This was his relaxation mode. Brain chef. He began to feel much better.
The pad was just south of Little Armenia; a twenties-built termites dream with a wrap-around concrete porch. Youngster was sitting on a couch out front, drinking a Mickey’s grenade. He was white, unlike the rest. Maybe fifteen, wearing creased Dickies four sizes too big. His strawberry buzz cut made him look like a nectarine. He yelled at the guys as they approached the driveway. “Did you find him?”
Sneaky and Chente walked straight past the kid and into the house. No words. The other two sprawled on the porch with him after grabbing beers. They were twins, underweight with overbites. You could only tell them apart by their face tats, tears on opposite eyes. It took brazen acts to earn brands like that on the street, and they’d just gotten theirs before mobbing strip clubs legit. One of them spoke up.
“Nah. Found him where you said he was on Hollywood. Joto ran before we could get a bead on him, ay.”
The kid fell back into the couch, shaking his head. “Shooot.”
Sneaky and Chente sat in the dining room at a fold out Poker table. Chente was the hood yes-man. Whatever needed to be done, they grabbed Chente. He was a big boy, six-two and thick as a refrigerator. Sneaky, not so much. His dirt stache begged for manhood but his bloodline made him a shot caller. His father was an O.G., meaning he could aspire for nothing less. Chente could only dream of nothing more, acting as if Sneaky’s Pops was his own. It had been this way for years, Sneaky always reminding Chente to be careful what he wished for.
They stared down at a yellow tablet with a list of names on it. People they had sold the bad shit to. They knew for sure that one guy had died already—Youngster’s stepbrother, Jimmy. They should have tested every single baggy they bought. Half the shit was cut with more chemicals than coke. Small time stuff. Never trust a guero. They’d been had.
Chente said, “What now?”
“Call around, see if anyone’s seen this white boy rompin’ the boulevard.”
“Other than that, we just gotta wait. Fucker’s making a killing selling that shit, ay. He’ll turn up.”
Whenever Sneaky acted hard like that it was exhausting but expected. He got up and approached a cracked mirror over the fireplace, brushing dandruff off his bald head, wondering what he’d look like with long black hair. His white t-shirt was stained at the collar. No biggie. He had a closet full of the plain janes. He hit the porch through a flimsy screen door that welcomed flies. The twins and Youngster sat silent, watching three kids across the street fight over a big wheel. He pulled out a joint and let ‘er rip, trying to get back into character.
The kid looked up. His eyes glazed over from the single malt grenade.
“Come in here. Lemme holla atchu for a minute.”
As the kid rose, the bell of a late night ice cream vendor rounded the corner. The twins jumped off the porch, scrounging their pockets. Youngster watched until Sneaky killed his excitement with, “Come on, fool.”
He walked the kid through to the backyard. Chente was still on his cell, firing off Spanish. The yard was shaded from the moon by a monstrous tangerine tree. Rotten fruit filled the ground, omitting a potent scent of citrus better than a car freshener. He passed the kid the joint.
“Tell me how you met this guero again.”
The kid fumbled at pinching the J before slobbering all over the butt. He exhaled nothing and said, “That Azteca mural―across from the Metro at Western and Hollywood. Dude approached me while I was smoking. Seemed pretty square. He floated me that sample I gave you.”
“You didn’t catch his name, right?”
“Nah, like I said.”
Sneaky could see the kid was buzzing hard and let up. This was the third time grilling him on it today. “Okay, homie. I feel you. How was the funeral, yesterday?”
“Shitty, man.” His head kicked to the side. “The Moms is taking it hard, dog. That gochina of his didn’t even show up either. Puta. I told him she was no good. Should’ve dumped her ass, right quick.”
Sneaky rubbed the kid’s fuzzy dome, trying to smooth out the first of many knocks. This lifestyle brought on more downs than ups. A merry-go-round of romanticized death; once you got on, you could never jump off. Sneaky knew it all too well but still occasionally dreamt of trying. He glared back at the kid, remembering what it was like bangin’ at that age, trading awkward individuality for conformity and acceptance. Pure bullshit, he could only see that now. They used to call him Smiley back then. He tried hard to remember why. The kid peered up at him like a stray dog. “We’ll grab this joto, ese. Don’t even trip.”
Ziggy was four drinks deep in no time, perfectly numb. The Dodgers post game show heralded the comeback victory. A pair of thirtysomethings in miniskirts marched through the curtain, letting in a sliver of moonlight. They were both brunette unless the red light was deceiving. The homelier one rushed over to Rosie and hugged her. Rosie’s face looked like she’d bitten a lime. The other girl dipped her hand into his popcorn, chomping like it was dinner, sending him the eye.
“Oh, mama, I missed you,” the hugger said.
Rosie feigned reciprocation.
They moved down to the far end of the bar, nearest the entrance. Rosie whipped up Cosmos. Upon closer examination, he could tell they didn’t need the drinks. Their pupils were the size of Mickey Mouse ears. Rosie uncrumpled the twenty they handed her before shoving it into the register. She rolled her eyes, perching back onto her stool.
She whispered, “They aren’t supposed to be in here. The one that hugged me, Carly, got 86’d last night. I don’t know the other one. What good’s a bouncer when he doesn’t show up, huh?”
“You want me to tell them to leave?”
“No, darling. It’s fine. She doesn’t remember.”
They blatantly stared at the girls, skyrocketing through their weird world of narcotic bliss. He tried to share her disgust but gazed on at potential clients.
“Poor thing,” she said, “I can’t believe she’s back in here again. Her boyfriend just died a few days ago.”
He turned to her with a scrunched brow. She got up and approached a far wall, tearing a pair of pictures from it. She handed them to him. Carly was in both, sidled next to a clean cut, Polo shirt type. Looked like a nice enough guy. He wondered why he was settling for her. Carly’s face was a billboard for hard times and worse decisions.
“Overdose. So shameful. I warned him so many times.”
He glanced back at the girl carrying on at the end of the bar as if life were peachy. She had to be on a bender. He could probably unload the rest of his stash. Rosie delved back into her book. He stood and fingered the packets in his pocket before heading for the men’s room.
A single light flickered above the toilet. He was sure to lock the door before seeing exactly what he had left. Two green baggies the size of matchbooks. The diamond emblem on each let him know they were already cut, way beyond ribbons. He’d give them both to the girls for fifty bucks. A steal. For him at least. Unload it and bail, he thought, exiting without a flush.
Sauntering over to the juke box, he asked if anyone had any requests. Rosie said, “No.” He turned his attention to the girls. This was his usual approach. The bait: innocently invite them into your world. Carly stopped from sipping her Cosmo. She wanted to hear some Rancid. He could’ve guessed that.
“Shit, that’s my favorite band of all time, girl. You got good taste.”
She could’ve picked any band, Stryper for fucks sake. Didn’t matter, he’d love them just the same. They exchanged smiles. She was nibbling at the hook. He grabbed a seat by them; close, but not too close. There was a brief introduction, customary, dull. The other girl was Tanya. The girls picked up from where they left off, before he moved in, talking about some cunt named Mallory. Bitch had the “pampalomer virus” or something. Too much time on her back.
Tanya went on and on, gnashing in between words like a cow at pasture. “So, this bitch has the audacity to sleep with my ex-husband and get this...he left me for her.”
“No,” Carly gasped. Her pupils nullified shock.
The two interacted as if just getting acquainted. Ziggy sat limp as whiskey dick, waiting for an in on the conversation. Rosie was back to book worming. The juke wanted Salvation. Carly was blindsided by the tune. Come on baby, won’t you show me what you got.
“Man, I remember when I heard this for the first time,” she told Tanya.
The in. He blurted, “Where were you?”
“A parking lot at Rat Beach. Me and my girls were partying with peppermint schnapps. Saw berries and made a run for the lifeguard tower. My first time busted by the cops. Prolly should’ve lowered the stereo, I guess.”
“Beach bunny, huh?”
“ South Bay girl.” She let out a party whoop-whoop.
He improvised. “Shit, I knew a chick from down that way.” He thought of a wholesome suburban name. “Stephanie? Stacey?”
Tanya got up to use the ladies room. Carly scooted closer. “What high school did she go to?”
“Uh, I really don’t know—she was big into coke, I know that.”
She scoffed, “Who isn’t?”
He leaned over close to her ear. She reeked of lilac. He whispered those magic words. “I’m holding.” Her eyebrows jumped with bona fide interest; hook, line, and sinker.
Youngster napped in the living room once the world stopped spinning. None of Chente’s phone calls had panned out but now all the homeboys were on white boy lookout. The twins were still out front, puffing blunts, eagerly into a blistered game of bloody knuckles. Sneaky lounged in the back bedroom, studying a recipe from a Mario Batali cookbook he found at the Goodwill. Sausage cacciatore. He often imagined being a world class chef, working in Paris or Vegas with one of those funny hats. In this life, his best dish was a mean peanut butter molé. Cooking was relaxing for him, peaceful. That’s what he planned on doing in the next life.
Dodger highlights lit up the television as Chente poured every bad gram they had left from the guero into a salad bowl on the kitchen table. Tiny green baggies with diamonds speckled the floor. A large metal sauce spoon was gonna help him cook every last drop.
“Sneaky, grab me the rig back there,” he hollered. “The big one, ay.”
Sneaky approached from the far room, holding a black leather pouch, bound by a rubber band. He handed it to Chente, busy refilling a butane lighter the shape of a pistol.
“Why you using my sauce spoon, dog?”
Chente rolled his eyes. “Don’t worry. I ain’t gonna ruin it.” He snapped off the band and opened the pouch on the table. The needle inside was one he ganked from the hospital last time he broke his hand on some knuckleheads melon. He saw a doctor plunging cortisone into a chick’s shoulder with one just like it. He managed to grab three freshies but this was the only one he had left. The syringe looked like an empty baby bottle.
The kid woke up and saw them. “Whatcha two doin’, man?”
Chente said, “Making a hot shot.”
Youngster watched as the rig sucked up a gooping spoonful. “You’re fuckin’ crazy if you slam that, ay.”
Chente chuckled, scooping another spoonful and adding water droplets. “I ain’t stooped, fool.” The pistol torched. “This hot shot is for our hot shot, ay―when we find his ass. I want you to see the look on his face when his heart explodes.”
The machismo in the air hurt Sneaky’s brain.
All five of them were huddled around the table now, watching as Chente finalized the vile with disaster fluid. The twins said the juice looked like warm menudo. A rustling came from upstairs. Youngster and the twins hit the porch. They knew what was up there, about to come down; Sneaky’s father. Chente and Sneaky remained at the table. A nervous twitch could be seen on both their faces as footsteps thumped down the stairway. A hulking menace of a man yawned behind them. His face half covered by a thick, overgrown mustache. He was fifty-ish with a stone chest and arms, blurred ink in abundance. Anyone could see he had a few stints under the belt. He went straight for Sneaky, slapping him on the back of the head as if it were a stripper’s ass.
“Why ain’t you wake me up, fool? Supposed to be at work coupla hours ago, motherfucker.”
Sneaky rubbed the back of his bald dome, “Sorry, Pops. We found that joto who burned us and chased him in the Olds.”
Chente rose and embraced Ray with their signature handshake and a half hug, fists bopping each other’s back.
“You chop him down or what, Chente?”
“Nah, Ray. Fucker busted a Carl Lewis.”
“Shit.” Ray laughed and looked at Sneaky. “Buncha small timers, ay.” His eyes caught the syringe on the table. “The fuck?”
Chente rushed to it and said, “I thought of this, Ray—for the guero, when he peeks his head. Word’s out on the streets already. Dead man walking, ay.”
Sneaky marveled at what life had dealt him as a father, the back of his head still tingly with pain. Ray hadn’t called him mijo in forever. His mind drifted back to Batali’s cacciatore medley, wondering if it was a family recipe.
The big man walked over to the rotary phone in the kitchen. “Gotta call work ‘cause a you two vatos. Rosie’s gonna be fuckin’ pissed.”
The phone rang twice before she answered. “White Horse Inn.”
“Rosie! It’s Ray.”
“Where the heck are you, darling? I’m all by myself here.”
“Fell asleep. Sorry. I’ll be there in a few. Is it busy?”
“No.” She whispered. “That girl’s back though―Carly. She’s with a new girl. Saw them buying something off this white kid a minute ago―little green bags. He didn’t seem like trouble at first. Got to be drugs, right? You need to kick them all out.”
“Shit. Alright, mama. I’m on my way.”
The phone hit the receiver and he hurried to grab his SECURITY windbreaker. “Chente, drop me off at the White Horse.” He caught wind of the baggies strewn at Sneaky’s feet. He pointed. “Those the baggies the white boy sold you?”
Sneaky said, “Yup.”
“I think this fucker’s slangin’ at the lounge right now, ay. Rosie said that bitch Carly hit up some fool―green baggies.”
The boys outside heard everything and stood alert. Chente had the car keys in hand and pounced out the door. Ray got back on the phone and told Rosie what was up. She obliged to stall the guero if he tried to leave. Sneaky made for the door until Ray noticed the syringe, still lying on the table. “Grab that shit, stoopid!” Sneaky flinched. He ran back, picked up the rig and made for the Cutlass.
The trio was getting sloppy at the end of the bar, launched by liquor and whatnot into that perfect void. Rosie hung up the phone and stared on, wondering if this really was the prick responsible for Jimmy’s OD. If so, what a cruel world, allowing Carly to be seated at his hip, basking in sweet ignorance. She got up and poured them a stiff complementary round. Ziggy shot up his hands in protest.
“Whoa, Rosie! I think it’s past my bedtime. I really should be getting on.”
Carly and Tanya pawed at his denim jacket in protest. He’d let them test plenty of his personal stash, the good shit, before unloading the bad. They were his now. He was the man of the hour but for all the wrong reasons. In a blink, he pictured the many things he could get the girls to do for him, to him, to each other. Rosie broke his carnal reverie.
“Nonsense, darling. Just one more―on the house. I’ll whip up a hot dog for you, too. Don’t want you out there with an empty stomach.”
Carly said, “She really does make a mighty good hot dog, Zig.”
Tanya wet her lips. “I just love a good foot long.”
His ass hit the cushion, pronto. One more drink would do. Looked like the plan just got sidetracked. The party flowing in his blood stream was working overtime. He took a long pull off the fresh tumbler. Why did he come in here again?
The dogs were as good as any microwave could muster. The girls’ eyes nagged him for more bumps in the bathroom. Rosie pointed a digital camera at them from across the bar. “Say cheese!” The three of them barely showed teeth before she snapped the shot. “For the wall,” she said.
Carly whispered in his ear, “Tanya’s got a room for tonight.” Her eyes went to the ceiling. “You should come up for a while.”
He tried not to get flush. “Okay,” he said. “I’ll hang for a few.”
The girls got animated, clawing at their purses, trying to stand up straight. Rosie overheard them and tried to sling three more hot dogs. Ray would be there any minute. It was too late. The trio pounced out the front curtain, saying good-bye with a single wave. She picked up the phone and dialed.
“Super 8. Monica speaking.”
“Hi, Monica. This is Rosie. I need a favor, darling. Three people are about to walk in, one of the girls has a room for the night. Call me back and let me know which number, okay?”
“Sure thing, mama.”
The Cutlass pulled into the White Horse’s adjacent parking lot. Youngster was stuffed in the trunk since the cab was jam packed. There were at least five glocks in there with him, poking at his back. When the lid opened, the first thing he saw was Ray’s chiseled arms, yanking him out like a sack of potatoes.
The twins surveyed the lot for bystanders. They didn’t want to take out guns while people were watching. Ray led the way after the boys suited up, grabbing a roll of duct tape before slamming the trunk. They swooped into the lounge, expecting the best. Instead of meeting the guero eye to eye, they stood watching Rosie, reading a book. She put up her finger, dog-eared a page, and pulled out the camera.
“This the guy, Ray?”
He grabbed it and showed the picture to Youngster.
“That’s the motherfucker, ese.” He double checked the photo and noticed his brother’s girlfriend on the guy’s left. He couldn’t believe it. Puta.
Ray said, “Where’d he go?”
Rosie stepped behind the bar and grabbed a shotgun from below. She placed it on the counter. “Upstairs. Room 208.”
Ray almost handed the shotgun to Sneaky before rethinking and tossing it to Chente instead. The rest of the gang sped out the door. He hung up his bouncer jacket on the coat rack near the entrance and followed. Rosie could hear the thudding pitter-patter as the boys rushed up in the motel to the second level.
Carly and Tanya were sprawled across the seashell bedspread, mouth to mouth, tongues wrestling, clothes gently coming off thanks to each others’ grimy claws. They giggled and moaned for Ziggy to come play. He was sitting on the toilet with the bathroom door locked. Who would’ve thought a threesome could be so daunting? Seemed like the party was everywhere but his cock. He sat there in a towel, thinking happy thoughts, trying to beat life into it.
There was a hard thud at the door. The girls yelped. He stood, opened the bathroom door, “Who’s there?” The girls were locked in embrace at the foot of the bed. Brown and pink areolas, cookie to cookie. They were as alarmed as he was. A second thud. A third. Before he could get his pants on, the door cracked open at the hinges and six armed men flooded the room. There was a shotgun to his nose before he could get a look at their faces. He didn’t have to. Their bald heads said plenty.
The twins man-handled the girls, grabbing them by the hair and slapping till quiet. Ray secured the door, making sure no tourists on the floor got nosey while Chente and Youngster confronted the guero, bawling like a baby.
Youngster said, “Remember me, fool?”
Ziggy’s eyes popped.
Chente said, “Fuck yeah, he does.”
Ray tossed the duct tape to the twins. Chente kept the shotgun leveled as they neutralized the trio, smothering their mouths with sticky strands.
The girls were hog-tied and put in the bathtub. Youngster belted Carly with his tiny fist, cracking the bridge of her nose. She became a faucet, weeping as he berated her for missing Jimmy’s funeral. He tore off the gag and asked about the picture on Rosie’s camera, implying she helped the guero kill his stepbrother. She pleaded ignorance, told how they just met. He didn’t care, smacking her again and again. It just felt right.
Ziggy was strapped to a lone desk chair, watching in horror as Chente flicked bubbles from inside a monster syringe. Sneaky sat on the bed, spacing out into nowhere, cradling his gun. This caught Ray’s attention.
“Chente, give that shit to Sneaky. I wanna see him do it.”
“I got it, Ray. Ain’t no thang, ese.”
Ray’s silence spoke volumes.
Chente let out a disgruntled sigh before nodding in compliance. Ray’s eyes got huge as Sneaky rose slowly towards Chente’s outstretched arm.
“Don’t be a pussy,” said Ray. “Gotta start actin’ like a real man sometime, homie.”
Sneaky never knew what the hell that meant. He’d been hearing it his whole life from Ray, the months he was out of the clink―a real man. He snatched the rig from Chente’s grip.
Chente used the white boy’s belt to tie off a tourniquet. Sneaky’s hand trembled, buzzing the syringe over a bulbous vein. He squinched his eyes. The giant needle attacked Ziggy’s arm like a prehistoric mosquito. He thrashed to no avail. Snot flew from his nostrils. The moment Sneaky hit the vain, Chente yelled for Youngster.
The kid came from the bathroom and saw what was about to go down.
“Come here,” Chente said. “I want you to look this fool in the eyes and tell him what’s up.”
Ziggy’s eyes were swimming from the tiny amount of poison already trickling through his arm.
Youngster said, “This is for my brother, Jimmy. He died snorting your shit, joto.”
For a split second, Ziggy almost knew what the kid was talking about.
Ray yelled, “Do it already.”
Sneaky began to plunge the rig and then stopped, frozen, trembling.
Chente uttered, “What the fuck?”
Sneaky’s heart pumped crazy. He could hear Ray approaching and anticipated the smack. He closed his eyes. Mario Batali. Sausage cacciatore. His head jarred to the left, his ear on fire. Seared ahi tuna. Wasabi/Mint garnish. Ray grabbed Sneaky’s hand, forcing it on the plunger, all the way down. Mario Batali. Sausage cacciatore.
All six of them watched on as the guero convulsed and foamed, his insides about to blow, eyes frozen at Youngster. The kid would see those eyes forever, he knew it instantly. Nightmares.
Ray was pissed. “Do something with these girls, vatos. I’m going back to work.”
Chente turned to Sneaky, trying not to laugh. “Let’s turn them out for a few bucks in downtown, ay.”
Sneaky nodded, spinning around to see Ray shaking his head out the door in disgust. He pulled out the rig, stared at the dead white boy, and prayed to swap souls with the bastard.
Ray grabbed his SECURITY jacket and pulled the stool in from out front. He posted up near the entrance, on duty. An older gentleman with silver hair approached. Ray acknowledged him with a nod. The old guy mumbled something about girls being available inside. Ray said, “We don’t do that shit here anymore, gramps. How many times I gotta tell you, fools? Get the fuck on, already!”
The man looked startled, shuffling back to his eggshell Deville.
Rosie could hear the boys fumbling around upstairs. She looked up from her book at the ceiling, then back at Ray. He shrugged his shoulders. She didn’t ask. She already knew.
“You want a hot dog, darling?”
“Sure, mama. Make it two.”