By Dick Johnson
It was a sad day in a house full of assholes, and I was dying. It wasn’t always sad, like it wasn’t always daytime, but they were probably always assholes.
It was a house in St. Louis. It was one of those slum houses. I’d tell you where, but no one really cares. It was a crack house and I had gone there for a buy.
I parked at an old church down the street which was the way T-Bone and the boys wanted it. When I exited the car I felt like I was being watched so I looked at the church building. A brick structure that looked like it was built in better times, but was run down from lack of money or lack of care in the ghetto.
Someone stood outside one of the doors and watched me. It was either the preacher or the janitor. I’d say preacher because he had that smug look on his face, like someone who had stepped in dog shit. He shook his head and went back inside his church. He was probably going to pray for another lost sinner going to the crack house.
I patted the .380 in its holster in the front of my ratty jeans, and pulled the torn thread bare coat tighter around me as I walked up the street. The road was a slope up from where the river flowed, and all the houses along it were no better than shacks.
I shoved my left hand in my jeans pocket to make sure the roll of 20’s was still there. It would buy enough for now. It would buy enough to shut things down for a bit. The wire felt like it was still in place, as well.
I entered the small yard of the house and started to mount the steps. It was a cement block porch, with five steps leading up to the door with 2 large windows on either side. The third step was eaten through with rot, and I took two steps to avoid it.
Before I got to the top step two guys came out to meet me. They flanked the door, and left it open. The darkness inside was cavernous.
“What you want?” one said.
“I’m here to get what I need?” I said.
“You know him?” The first one said to the other.
“Yeah, I seen him.” The second said.
The first looked at me.
“What you need?” He said.
“You know.” I said.
He nodded, and tilted his head to indicate that I should follow him into the house. I followed and his partner stepped in line behind me. He stood close. He stood way too close. But, I swallowed it and didn’t let it bother me.
We entered the front room and my eyes adjusted to the darkness. There were people sitting around the room on broken down couches and recliners, they all watched me. Smoke filled the air and made a haze that looked weird with the light filtering through broken venetian blinds and grimy glass windows.
The first guy kept walking into the house and turned into what I assumed was a bedroom. I stopped and waited while the guy stood with me, close enough to smell his breath. One of the guys on a couch leaned forward and took a beer can off a filthy coffee table. He took a drink and grabbed a cigarette from his pack of Kools. He lit it and looked at me.
“You a cop?” He asked.
Everybody perked up at that point. I have had this happen before.
“Nah, I just got one of those faces.” I said.
:A cops face?” He pushed.
“Nah, my nose looks like a pig’s nose. “ I said.
A couple of them laughed at that. One of the girls thought it was extremely funny.
“I’m just fucking with you man.” He said.
“Ol’ pig face.” Another said, and they laughed.
“Captain Pork-Belly” Another said, and they laughed.
“Pig Balls.” Another said. Nobody laughed.
“Why you always talkin about balls for?” The first one asked.
“Cause he like balls:” another said, and they laughed.
“He likes big balls and he cannot lie.” Another said, and they laughed.
“That’s fucked up” Pig Balls said
“You said it…” Kool said.
“He likes balls on his face.” A chick said.
They all laughed.
“She got your ass.” Another girl said.
“I’ll put my balls on your face, bitch.” Pig Balls said. Nobody laughed.
“I’ll cut your fuckin balls off, bitch” A dude said, stepping toward Pig Balls.
I stood watching this display that probably went on in different ways, everyday. And yet they all stayed friends and loyal to each other’s hate.
T-Bone came out of the bedroom with the first guy and another dude in a Rams sweat shirt. T-Bone wore a black hat turned backwards, and a red sweat suit.
“You got money?” T-Bone said.
He started to wave me back into the bedroom to do business, when Rams said.
“This dudes a fuckin cop”
He drew a pistol, so I pushed off backwards into the guy who was standing too close, we both went falling to the floor while Rams fired rounds that missed me, and went into his buddy instead.
Everyone scattered, running out front doors, back doors, and getting behind shit for cover.
When I hit the ground my .380 was in my hand and I opened up on T-Bone, Rams and anyone in that general vicinity.
Rams took a round to the face. He dropped his weapon and fell to his knees holding his head with blood pouring onto the filthy wood floor.
T-Bone rolled into the bedroom with the other guy.
I stood up and started to run out of the front door when a guy came charging in gun blazing. I dropped to a crouch and fired twice, hitting him in the chest. He fired again hitting me in the shoulder.
He leaned against the door jam and slid down to a seated position. I fell to my knees in shock and dragged myself behind the couch where two girls were hiding and crying. They looked at me and screamed running out from behind the couch, and stepping over the guy in the door way trying not to touch any of the blood.
I changed magazines in the .380 and went at a crouch toward the bedroom where T-Bone had gone. The room was empty. There was a mattress on the floor and a few boxes. I moved into the room, weapon at the ready, with my wounded arm dangling. It was good thing he had not hit my right shoulder.
I came around a door frame ready to shoot into what I thought was a master bathroom. But, it was a hallway. They were gone. They must have run down the hall and out the backdoor.
Then, I heard a familiar sound of a closet door rattling.
I felt the hit before the boom, and I knew I was fucked. The impact flung me to the wall, and I turned with blood sliding down the wall to the hallway floor.
The guy looked at me, like he’d seen a ghost, and I knew that he was sorry.
What a world? What a life? I thought as I lay dying in a filthy house among rat shit, in St. Louis.
What’s the point? Everybody is just trying to survive. Is this what it’s like to die? Peace?
He ran out of the bedroom still holding the shotgun. I heard gunfire and yelling erupt from the living room.
“Police! Police! Drop it!”
Well maybe I won’t die after all.