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Billy the Kid Faces the Music: A Short Story
Welcome Back to Part Three
I promise this is the end. This began as a short story and a short story it will end. If you haven’t read the first two chapters you can find them to the right of this text. It appears our hero (?) has gotten himself into quite a mess. Let’s see if he can figure a way out of this dilemma.
- Walking the Streets on a Cold Fall Night: A Short Story
Take a walk with me along the mean streets of America
- Billy the Kid Rides Again: A Short Story, Part 2
A story about life on the mean streets of New York.
In the Café
The Russian’s laughter echoed off the grease-stained walls of the café. He poured two shots of vodka and pushed one in my direction.
“Damn, boy, you have mouth on you. Do you wish for death? Crazy Mick bastard, I do not know whether to gut you like a carp or make you lieutenant in my organization. I need men like you. You are either fearless or crazy, yes? Which is it, Billy? Are you crazy to talk to Ivan like this?
I didn’t answer the big Russian. There was no point. He had already made up his mind, probably before I entered the café. We were just experiencing foreplay before we got down to the bump and grind. I raised my glass to him in salute, drank it off and continued to look in his eyes, bottomless pools completely lacking in compassion.
The laughter ended and darkness descended. This was the Ivan many had seen just before a nine millimeter bullet tore through their brain pan. There is a story that has been on the streets for years, a story of Ivan teaching a rival a lesson and, in fact, making him an object lesson. The poor bastard, who mistakenly believed he could crowd Ivan out of the Heights, was quartered with a meat cleaver and his sections hung from various stop signs around the neighborhood, a head on 85th, an upper torso and arms on Ellwood, the lower torso on 56th and the legs just outside City Hall. It was before my time so I can’t verify it, but I don’t doubt its veracity.
“I have problem, Billy,” he said to me. “Perhaps you help me with it, yes? There is man selling crack without my permission. This I cannot allow. You will do me favor and take care of this problem, yes? If you can do that for Ivan, perhaps you will be worthy of my daughter. Perhaps I can find place in organization for crazy Mick bastard. What say you, Billy?”
Not the solution I was hoping for but better than being fed to the fish.
“Let me make sure I hear you correctly, Ivan. You want me to kill a man. Are we on the same page?
“I want you to take care of problem for Ivan, yes? His name is Carlo Bangini. He owns dry cleaners on south side. I send Georgy with you, make sure there are no problems. Go now. Make Ivan happy and then we talk about my daughter.”
Either way I was a dead man. I could speed up the clock by telling him no, in which case I would be dead within the hour, or I could do his task and then die at Georgy’s hands afterwards. Men like Ivan do not negotiate and they sure as shit don’t leave witnesses.
Taking a Load to the Dry Cleaners
Georgy and I made our way over to the dry cleaning shop. We took his car, a ten-year old Cadillac, leather seats, nice stereo system, as clean as the day it left the showroom floor. Say what you will about the Russians but they love their cars and they know how to take care of them.
We pulled up at the curb a half-block from Bangini’s place. Georgy shut off the engine. He reached under the seat, pulled out a Glock 19 with silencer and handed it to me. “Make quick, Billy the Kid. I will wait here. In, out, bang, bang, we leave. Understand?”
I took the gun from him. Checked to make sure it was loaded. It had been awhile since I’d shot a Glock but it felt like an old lover in my hands. I smiled at Georgy, stuck the gun in his ribs and pulled the trigger. I have to admit, I felt kind of bad about it. He had taken such good care of the car and now he was leaking blood on that fine upholstery.
I pushed his body so he was leaning against the driver’s door. Just a big guy taking a nap in his car on the streets of New York. Nothing unusual about that. Chances were the cops wouldn’t notice him until he got ripe.
I wiped the gun down and left it on the floor, walked half a block and entered the dry cleaners and asked for Bangini. The girl went to the back to get him; he came out front alone.
“Can I help you?” he asked.
“You don’t know me. Let’s keep it at that. I was given a job by Ivan to kill you. I ain’t doing it but I wanted you to know. Your days are seriously numbered if you don’t get out of town very soon. It’s your choice. My mind is at ease now that you know. Have a long life, my friend, and for Christ’s sake, leave the crack alone.”
And That Should Have Been the End of It
Here’s the thing: I don’t like taking orders, and I sure as shit don’t like being told who I can screw and who I can’t.
I got as far as the subway station and turned around. Walked back to Georgy’s car. He was still in it, taking his nap. Very peaceful. He wouldn’t be needing the gun so I grabbed it off the floor and stuck it inside my coat. I left the car and started walking. It was only ten blocks. Really no need for us to have driven. The wind picked up and it was brutal, stinging my nose and ears, sending shivers through me, the concrete jungle feeling like an icebox. New York in the winter, man, it can be a bitch. I’ve walked these streets all my life. Maybe it’s time for a change.
Petra’s Café was getting busy with the lunch crowd. I was hoping Ivan was still there. It was too damned cold to be searching for him. I got lucky. He was still at his table, still holding court with his admirers when I opened the door and walked in with more bluster than confidence.
He looked up when I entered. For just a brief moment a look of surprise passed over his face. Then it was gone and he was in control again.
“Billy Boy! You do job for Ivan, yes? Where is Georgy?”
“He’s taking a nap, Ivan. He said you’d be joining him shortly and you know, he was right. No, I didn’t do the job for you, Ivan. I decided to hell with it, you know? So I came back here to give you a word of advice. You don’t mind, do you?”
The Russian leaned back and laughed. “Crazy Mick bastard. No, please, tell Ivan words of advice.”
I pulled the gun out of my coat. “Never give a crazy Mick bastard a loaded gun.”
I shot him. I shot two of his men as they started to rise. There was silence for several seconds and then a woman screamed. She kept screaming as I backed out of the café, gun trained on the rest of the Russians. My legs felt like linguini. My hand shook. The wind took a bite out of my ass as I stepped outside. It pushed me to the subway. The subway would take me to Penn Station.
I’ve always wanted to see the south. This seemed like a perfect time for a train ride. As for the Ivan’s daughter? Chances were pretty good she wouldn’t want to date me after plugging her old man.
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Billy the Kid, that crazy Mick bastard, is heading off for more adventures, but this is where we leave him. He’s a loner by nature and he really doesn’t want our company as he takes a train for locations unknown. I can’t say I blame him.
Thank you for reading these three chapters. Maybe one day I’ll feel the need to tell more of Billy’s story. Until then, I hope he’s smart enough to stay in the shadows out of harm’s way.
2015 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)