by Shamus O’ Leary
Nubs drove his grey 1990 Lincoln Town Car through the toll plaza on I-90 in Chicago, while holding his cell phone to his ear with the three fingers of his left hand.
“I’m going to visit with my ma. I’ll only be a little bit, and then I’ll meet you there.” He said, and hung up the phone.
He exited the interstate and swiped his card to pay the toll. Then, he drove into shittier and shittier neighborhoods.
“This place is going to hell.” He said to himself, looking at the run down houses, graffiti, and questionable characters. “It’s not like it used to be.”
He pulled up to his mom’s single story apartment, and dragged his massive frame from the car. He wasn’t fat. He was built. He worked out so he could do his job and pay the bills. He considered it a badge of honor to pay his debts, stay healthy, stay clean, and follow the code that he believed existed between professional men like him.
He looked at the neighbor’s parking spot with disdain. The guy was under the hood of some classic car with parts and oil everywhere. The neighbor’s yard was trashed, with kid toys, beer cans and baby diapers. It was like this all the time.
Nubs shook his head and walked through his mom’s immaculate yard. He believed that people had the right to live as they see fit. But sometimes, they cross the line and get a little filth on others. That’s when trouble comes. He entered his mom’s well kept home.
“Hey Ma! I’m here!” Nubs yelled.
His elderly mom came out of the kitchen and into the living room. She gave him a big hug.
“Samuel! I’m so glad you’re here. I just cooked lunch.”
“Great.” Nubs said.
He started setting out plates and silverware, on the table so he and his mom could eat lunch.
“I noticed the neighbor was out working on his car again.” Nubs said.
“He works on that thing all the time.” She said. “He revs the engine over and over, gets drunk, blasts his music, and beats his wife and kids.”
“He beats’em?” Nubs asked
He sat down at the table and started building himself a sandwich.
His mom sat down and dished out a salad.
“Well, she gives as good as she gets. They are always drinking, and beating the kids. Both of them. That baby never stops crying.” She said.
“Really?” Nubs asked.
He took a bite of his sandwich and happily chewed.
“They are always knocking on my door and asking for stuff. When I go outside they ask me for money.” She said.
Nubs stopped chewing. Nubs stopped being happy. He swallowed.
“They bother you and ask for money?”
“Yes, I bought the kids school supplies and winter coats.” She said.
He looked at his mother.
“That greasy piece of shit, sits out there fucking with that car and drinking instead of getting a job, and my fucking mom is expected to buy shit for his bratty ass kids?” Nubs said.
“Don’t cuss.” She said. “I don’t mind. Don’t do anything.”
“It’s not about helping them. It’s about that worthless sack of sh….that guy.” Nubs said, watching his mouth.
“It’s ok. We’ve had struggles too.” She said.
“Yeah, I struggled to get up every morning and go to my motherfu….My dang job!” Nubs said.
“I knew you’d be upset. I shouldn’t have told you.” She said.
“No, keeping things from me is worse. Just trust that I will handle it.” Nubs said.
“I don’t want people to get hurt.” She said.
“Some people need to get hurt.” Nubs said. “They are making us argue again. Their dead beat life spreads like a cancer, and brings everyone down. You are moving!”
“Ok, if it will bring peace.” She said.
“Peace doesn’t come from running away. That just puts it off for a while.” Nubs said.
“Ok” She said. “How’s your pasta salad? I tried something new.”
“I love it.” Nubs said.
They finished their lunch and Nubs helped clean up, then he kissed his mom.
“Start packing stuff. You are out of here.” He said.
“Ok” She said, smiling.
Nubs walked out the front door of his mom’s apartment and without a moment’s hesitation, he walked over to the neighbor who was under his car. He grabbed the neighbor’s feet and dragged him out from under the vehicle. The neighbor started cussing,
“What the fuck?” He said.
Nubs stepped forward, bent down and grabbed the neighbor’s shirt with his left nubby hand, and started beating the man in the face, with his right. The first punch shattered the man’s nose.
“You will not fucking ask my mom for shit. Your whore wife will leave my mom alone. You will be fucking quiet till she moves. And you will pay me for having to fucking move her.” Nubs explained, as he punched the man in the face for every point he made.
Nubs heard it and recognized the sound of a pump shotgun chambering a round. He did not hesitate. He spun around dragging the barely conscious man in front of him, and held him like a shield.
The man’s wife stood awkwardly holding the shotgun aimed at Nubs. She stood on the sidewalk among the trash and toys her kids had thrown everywhere. One of her kids was behind her crying, with snot coming out its nose.
“Let him go.” She said.
“No. You drop the gun and I’ll let him go.” Nubs explained calmly. This was not his first rodeo.
He lurched toward her, holding the man as shield as he went, forcing the man to stumble along.
She started crying and backed away.
“Drop the gun. I promise I will let him go and leave.” Nubs said.
“You promise?” She asked.
“Yes, leave my mom alone too.” He said.
She lowered the gun and sat it down in the grass.
Nubs tossed the guy aside and quickly drew his .44 revolver from the holster behind his back, under his jacket. He pointed the pistol at the woman’s shocked face.
He slowly backed to his car.
“Keep your mouth shut, or I’ll be back and you won’t like what happens. My mom is moving, so just relax.” Nubs said.
He opened the car door, holstered his weapon and sat down inside.
The woman ran to her husband and the kids gathered too. They had a real family love moment that they had not had in a long time, if ever.
“And get a fuckin job!” Nubs yelled before shutting the car door.
He started the engine, and looked up at his mom’s apartment.
A curtain swung back into place. She had been watching.
“Damn” Nubs said.
He backed out of the parking spot and drove off.
)Bio: Shamus O’Leary is a writer from Chicago, Illinois. He has published in The Yard: Crime Blog several times.)