Category Archives: Rob Pierce

Busy Day

On slow days Lester shot things. It was good practice for busy days when he shot things.
+++++He didn’t want violence today, he just wanted to make a sale. When he was done he’d go home wanting Alana, but she wouldn’t be there tonight. He didn’t think much had changed between them but she’d sure stormed out. Like it was permanent, not like when she’d left him before.
+++++He circled the area where he was willing to park until at last he found a large enough space. The Buick was stolen, his license plates provided by people he almost trusted. The name on the registration matched the name on the driver’s license in his wallet. A wallet he’d throw in the sewer once this deal was done.
+++++Lester stepped out of the car and his coat slid open enough to reveal the Glock .40 on his hip. In case the Glock didn’t keep trouble away, Lester carried a Colt .45 in a shoulder holster and a Beretta Tomcat on his ankle. Crime prevention.
+++++He didn’t know who he was meeting on the sidewalk, only that it would be someone Dorst sent. Dorst. That motherfucker was all over his life, not in a good way. But he was paying for a lot of product, at least he said he’d pay. Lester had a lot on his mind. Not so much that he’d trust Dorst.
+++++The street was busy and cars moved slow. Lester didn’t like waiting. He could fake patience, he was a practical man, but the longer he waited the more he expected to shoot whoever showed up.
+++++It was supposed to be a simple exchange. Lester would walk away with a suitcase of money, the buyer would take the suitcase in the trunk. The car had served its purpose.

“It’s not about Dorst.” Alana faced Lester from the open front door of their house, her back to the outside world. Lester stood five feet away, empty glass in hand. “I went to him,” she said, “when you were fucking around with I don’t know who, but I’m not leaving you for him. I’m just leaving.”
+++++“Where?” He wanted to shout but she’d already left, his voice weak as he clung to the glass in his hand.

Lester blinked, got back in the Buick. Had to stop thinking about her, was stupid to wait outside where he was an easy target. He felt like shooting himself for leaving the car in the first place. He sat in the car and waited.
+++++A couple more minutes and a car across the street left its parking space. A few cars drove past the empty space, then a Nissan stopped next to it, waited until the cars behind it went around, then pulled forward and paralleled back into the space. Lester tensed and his hand moved to the grip of his Glock. The lane the Nissan had been in once again filled. Its driver paused for traffic to pass. Lester’s eyes slid side to side in case someone else approached.
+++++When the car had parked a thick-armed man in a snug black t-shirt got out, a suitcase in his left hand. The man with the suitcase looked both ways but the cars weren’t stopping. A slight break and he stepped into the street. The first car stopped. The car in the next lane braked hard. Its horn blared. The man with the suitcase stopped in front of it, turned and glared at the driver. The horn stopped and the man resumed crossing.
+++++He made it to Lester’s side of the street. From halfway down the block he took steady strides in Lester’s direction. Lester got out of the Buick, watched the man with the suitcase and stepped onto the sidewalk, faced him.
+++++The man’s skin was dark, his features Saudi or African, Lester didn’t care. Except about the contents of the suitcase and the gun the man probably carried. The man ten feet away, Lester spoke. “You from Dorst?”
+++++The man nodded.
+++++“Put the suitcase down,” Lester said. “Open it.”
+++++The man laid the suitcase on the sidewalk. No one else walked here, the usual for this block. Drivers on the crowded street, their views of the sidewalk blocked by parked cars, drove on. The man popped the suitcase open, lifted the lid so Lester could see inside.
+++++“Step back,” Lester said.
+++++The man took two steps back.
+++++Lester slid his coat open wide enough to show the Glock. “Way the fuck back.”
+++++The man stepped back farther. Lester pulled the Glock, aimed it at him, and he backed up more. Lester flipped through the rubber banded stacks of money with his left hand, picked one from the middle of the suitcase. He looked at the thick-armed man standing still, arms at his sides.
+++++The money looked right. Lester counted the stack, multiplied it by the number of stacks. The count was right. He shut the case, watched the thick-armed man blink. Behind Lester, a car door shut. Lester shot the thick-armed man in the chest and he fell on his back.
+++++Lester turned. A car had stopped on this side of the street but the man who got out was street side. No angle to shoot him, Lester turned back, shot at the thick-armed man’s head. The shot missed, but the man didn’t even twitch. Lester returned his attention to the street.
+++++He crawled forward on the sidewalk, reached his right front tire and crawled under the Buick’s hood.
+++++Someone stood in the street to Lester’s left. In range, but he could only shoot a leg. There was a Honda parked in front of the Buick. The man ran in front of it and ducked down.
+++++Lester crawled in the street next to the Buick. Cars honked at him. The hiding man stayed low. All Lester could see was his shoes and the bottoms of his black slacks.
+++++Lester knelt around the front fender and fired in the man’s general direction. The man stood and shot back. He was short and wide. Lester fired again, caught him in one shoulder. The man fell.
+++++Lester opened his door fast and got behind the Buick’s wheel. The key was in the ignition. He turned it, hoped the man he’d just shot stayed down. Hoped the car that dropped him off didn’t come back. His head low, Lester stuck his pistol out the door and fired. No response. He got out, dropped to the ground, fired again and made his way to the trunk.
+++++He opened it and removed the suitcase of smack. There were sirens now. The cars in the street sat still, no one visible inside them, windows rolled up. Lester holstered his Glock, grabbed the suitcase of money from the sidewalk and ran, a suitcase in each hand. He rounded the first corner then slowed to a fast walk.
+++++The sidewalk was empty, good for making time. And thinking about what he’d do next, but that wasn’t where his thoughts ran.

“I don’t care if there’s other women any more.” Alana in the living room then, shortly before walking out. “It’s the way you live, what you do. The shape you got in. Not just your body, all of you.” She didn’t yell, just stepped away, like she dared him to do something.

Lester approached the Camry he’d parked an hour earlier. He dropped the wallet into the gutter and kicked it through an open sewer grate.
+++++Inside the Camry he dropped both suitcases on the passenger seat floor, started the engine and pulled away from the curb. Left hand on the wheel, Glock in his right, on his lap. He had one bit of business left with Dorst. There wouldn’t be a deal this time. Dorst was a dead man, but if Alana was with him? Lester didn’t know how busy this day might get.

A Small Knife Or A Large Vehicle

A small knife would remove a large pain. Or a large vehicle would remove me. The source of the pain was outside me, and very attractive, and if I removed her she’d be missed by others. Her lover was one of the others. It didn’t seem fair that I should be the one removed.
+++++The vehicle would have the advantage of a heater and stereo, versus the cold air of her breath and irritating pitch of her screams. Not to mention that she would resist, and the car would not. The keys were on my dresser, which was upstairs, and the knife was on the cutting board before me. The blade won the battle of proximity. If that were the only consideration, my body was closer than hers, yet it too would resist. And I did love that car.
+++++Using the knife would mean additional planning, and probably some luck no matter how well I hid the body. In fact, my best chances of avoiding a murder conviction would involve removing her body, which would also require using the vehicle. Which would mean cleaning out the trunk: I didn’t look forward to that.
+++++I walked up the stairs to where I’d left my keys. I grabbed them, but there was a problem with just leaving. She would get the house. And she wanted the house.
+++++The knife, then. I’d kill her first, then clean out the trunk, throw her in and drive her away. Bury her somewhere, come back to the house and really clean it. We always keep it spotless, I’d say if the cops ever asked. I’d even plant evidence against her lover, if only I knew who he was.
+++++“Gerald!” she shouted, as I stepped downstairs. “Where are you going?”
+++++“Just coming down,” I said, but she’d already heard my footsteps. The knife was in my inside coat pocket, but I’d meant to catch her by surprise.
+++++She looked up from where she lay on the couch and saw me at the edge of the room.
+++++I didn’t reach inside my pocket as planned. I’d have to do things in a different order. I took a step toward the door that opened into the garage. “Thought I might clean my car.”
+++++“Well,” she said, “if you’re in your car anyway, would you grab us some dinner? I’m exhausted.”
+++++I stopped and took a breath. I was too tired to shout across the room. If I had to get close enough for a conversation, I might as well kill her.
+++++“You wanted to go out anyway, didn’t you?” she asked.
+++++She didn’t ask me for anything these days, like there was nothing I could do, she had a future and all I had was the past. But here she had asked. I needed to do something, for her or to her. I stepped next to where she lay, leaned down and spoke softly, one hand reaching inside my coat. “You wait right there. I’ll get some take-out.”
+++++She lay with ankles crossed. I despaired at the beauty of her calves. We could barely stand each other – hell, neither of us liked either of us – but my life right now came down to this: her legs, that knife, my car.
+++++She reached up and grasped the back of my neck a moment, pulled me down to kiss her.
+++++She smiled as I straightened. “Thank you,” she said.
+++++We hadn’t kissed in months. My hand fell out of my coat empty and my face lingered near hers.
+++++“I’m sorry,” she said. “I made a mistake.” She looked close to tears. “I don’t know how you can forgive me.”
+++++“Sleep if you need to,” I said. “I wish I could stay. I love to watch you sleep.”
+++++“Curry beef,” she said. “Please,” and her tongue slipped out between her teeth a moment, then she smiled again.
+++++My eyes switched back and forth between her smile and her calves and I turned away, longing as I reached the door, knowing I was choosing the car but not as I had intended.
+++++I called in the order and walked outside. I’d pick up a bottle of wine on the way home. And either we’d fuck or I’d drink it alone. If I did, I would drink it all.
+++++I shook my head getting behind the wheel, pissed off at my own weakness; it was like a game show, I could have the car or the knife or her behind the door, but she wasn’t going to stay behind any door, I’d be lucky if she was there when I got back tonight. Hell, if we weren’t together, I’d be happier with one of us dead.
+++++I turned the key and it felt wrong in a way I understood quickly, but not quickly enough. I wasn’t getting fucked or drunk or even getting Chinese. She had chosen the large vehicle, but as weapon, not a means of escape. The engine started and her inviting tongue, as the car exploded, could soon be wasted on her lover instead of me.

Ella

The light turned yellow. Making it through before the red was wishful thinking. I am not a wishful guy.
+++++I sat at the light and waited. For the cops, the apocalypse, for anything but her. I would not have been surprised if she found me here. Now that I did not want her, she might come to me at any time. I held the wheel in one hand, a bottle in the other. I would go straight ahead when the light changed. The wheel did not need my attention.
+++++I drank. It was bourbon, it was necessary. Not something I usually drank from the bottle, but I did not usually have this much to fear.
+++++The light changed and I wedged the bottle between my thighs, gripped the wheel with both hands, and screamed into the intersection. It was me that screamed, not the car, and even if my windows had been down, the music was up loud, I don’t think anyone would have noticed. This was Oakland, people screamed all the time without being noticed.
+++++I’m short and white and don’t look intimidating, but everyone knows you don’t fuck with a crazy person. Unless you’re another crazy person. That was where Ella came in. It was also why she’d had to go. I don’t know whose call that was.
+++++I wanted to be downtown, I wanted to just wander. I wanted so many sights that I’d never see what I’d left behind. A normal life, but only my version of it.
+++++Downtown Oakland was better than that. It was warm outside, mid-seventies. The homeless or close-to-it were on every corner, at every bus stop, pushing their shopping carts or wearing their blankets. I drove a twenty year old Buick. To them, I was rich. I looked for eyes as I drove past, but no one looked at me. I was driving past, I could not give them anything.
+++++I turned off the radio, drove forward in ugly silence. The next light was green. I drove through it scared. I drove slowly, Ella in my head like a pillow pushed down against my face. I drove even slower. There was a bus stop at the corner up ahead on my right. An old woman sat there. She wore a baseball cap over her bald head and a torn puffy blue coat that she’d zipped all the way. It hung to her thighs. Her ancient uncovered legs were heavily bruised. One of her bare black feet kicked at a tennis shoe a couple of feet away. Her other leg hung lifeless.
+++++I rolled to the red and reached across the passenger seat, turned the hand crank for the window. “Hey!” I yelled. “Want some food?”
+++++Her head cocked, as though trying to acknowledge my existence in her reality, her eyes concave things that had seen too much and chose to see no more.
+++++“Get in!” I said. “I’ll drive you where there’s food.”
+++++She opened her mouth and shut it. No words came. “You are the Devil,” she rasped.
+++++Her voice sounded satanic. I nodded. Yeah, I thought, I am. “I will drive you to food,” I said.
+++++She stood from the bench and took a feeble step toward the car. “You,” she said, still rasping, her head still turned, only now her eyes worked, and they glared through mine like lasers.
+++++Still bent to reach the door, I opened it, let it fall toward her.
+++++She stepped back. “You!”
+++++“I will buy you food,” I said. “I will buy you shoes.”
+++++She stopped where she stood. “You always want me naked!” she yelled.
+++++I sat up straight and my foot hit the gas pedal. The Buick leapt into the intersection, my door still open, the light still red. Cars came at me and swerved. I yelled. Drivers honked their horns at me. I yelled louder, pushed the gas pedal harder, got out of their crazy ways.
+++++I heard skids behind me but I was on the next block, away from everyone who made loud noises at me like they loved me. Away from all of them but Ella. I would never see her again but she would always be with me. She would always love me. I had bought her food and shoes. Like I had bought them for all the Ellas before, and would buy them for Ella again.