Anatomy of a King (Language)

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KetMaliss
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Anatomy of a King (Language)

Post by KetMaliss » Sun Sep 11, 2005 9:50 pm

Prologue

“Move it, asshole!”

The words reached my ears; I heard them but did not register them. They simply passed peacefully into one ear and out the other. A horn honked somewhere behind me, but it too did not disturb my reverie. Angry drivers shouted more obscenities as they motored their vehicles past mine, waving angry fists at me as they passed, and none of it mattered. I could see nothing beyond the haze of corrosive tears that slowly coursed down my face; even the emerald of the street light barely registered in my perception, so lost was I in my thoughts.

I do not know how long I had been sitting here, idling in my car impervious to all before a slow dawning of reality crept over me. The radio began playing again; a melancholy tune was coming through the speakers – Phil Collins was crooning In The Air Tonight, and I thought it was a fitting song for my mood.

I was there...I saw what you did; I saw it with my own two eyes... I thought bitterly as he sang it, and my knuckles turned white around the steering wheel and shifter. Abruptly I realized where I was and what was happening around me, and I slammed the car into gear and hit the gas. The BMW surged forward with an unsurprising burst of speed, and I just had time to realize the light was no longer green before the semi plowed into my left flank, spinning me around before my front end came passionately, violently together against the front end of something large and red.

Something jammed painfully into my left side as my head whipped forward into the dashboard, and then the airbag shot out, rocketing me backwards against my seat with such force that I would imagine this is how the old dinosaurs felt when that triceratops charged into them.

The last thing I can remember thinking before the airbag slammed into my chest and sent me crashing back into my seat with the blackness already setting in was a vague sense of relief, and thinking very clearly that couldn't be right...could it?

My name is Ray Blackbury, I think...and I think I'm about to die.




If I'm to continue my story at all, then I must first start by relaying where I came from. I'm not entirely proud of my past, but I would not change it either. I had everything that a man could theoretically want; a very successful trade (note: not job), a loving girlfriend who I'm pretty sure I was about ready to marry, enough money to comfortably live on for a good long time, and all the possessions I could need, or want. More than enough, actually.

Hell, I even donated to charity, just because I could. Well, to be perfectly frank with you, there was another reason. I figured that when I got to the Pearly Gates and the Big Man Upstairs looked at my track record, I needed something to counter all the bad stuff I'd done...

Yessir, I was on top of my game and in fine form. Well, that's not entirely accurate. I was in f---in' great form, dammit. I wasn't a bad lookin' joe; I was of average height and in the peak of my prime – a regular work out kept my body in good condition – I actually had a set of abs, and believe me when I tell you that getting rid of the beer gut my youth had foolishly given to me was no easy task.

Whatever crap they feed you on those Subway commercials is a pure load – your not gonna lose weight by eating Subway as your only f---in' meal, nosiree – but gettin' with a buddy and runnin' 5 miles in the mornin' and night, combined with a decent, appetizing diet certainly helps. Time at the gym, does too. And, once upon a time, livin' on the third story of your apartment complex. Yeah...but not stuffin' your face full of so-called low-carb glorified pitas.

I'll tell ya one thing I'm not proud of is my mouth. Yeah, I've got a mouth like a sailor, and lately I've been thinkin' it's maybe too dirty. Lori (that would be my girlfriend), gets this ugly scrunched up look on her face every time somethin' nasty comes out around her, and lately I've been thinkin' about all the things she's not sayin' around me because of it, like she's afraid I'll use those ugly words on her.

I'm sure Freud or any other psycho-quack would tell me I've either got a new fixation on religion, and I'm feelin' guilty about my so-called potty-speak, or perhaps my concern with my oral spouting is the result of some kind of TLC from my father, and by the way, what kind of relationship did I have with him anyway?

Nah, I don't trust doctors...those types aren't for me. I'd just as likely sit there with my admittedly filthy mouth closed tighter than Hillary when Bill comes to call.

At this point, you might be wondering what it is that I actually do, but it really can't be narrowed down into one definable word. I suppose you could call it “criminal”, but I don't see it that way. I mean, it's all about perspective, right? For instance, and let me explain something to you...I might find it just as criminal for a cop to stick a gun in my face and tell me to lie on the f---in' ground right this f---in' second, or he'll blow a f---in' hole through my f---in' head as it is for me to, say...knock off a jewelry store.

Perspective, as I say...your perspective is probably telling you right now that I'm an asshole, and you should hate me and everything I stand for. True or not...I won't tell you what to think, I'm just giving you the facts of my life as it has recently been.

But anyway...petty theft is not my forte...no, I believe in a higher calling. I have people that don't have such morals do the petty theft for me. And...well, basically everything else. I've done my time on the streets, and I deserve to reap the profits these days. Someone's gotta do it, right? If your store didn't get knocked off, or destroyed because you didn't pay your monthly fee, or whatever ill omen may happen to you, how would you appreciate the good things in life?

Like when I kindly pay to restock your store for an extra bit each month.

Don't get me wrong; I'm sure I've painted an awful picture of myself for you, but I'm really not all that bad. There is a sweet side to me; thing is there's just a business side too, and I'm not cut out for the desk job, and the only thing I did in college was drink, fool around both in class and with the more delectable of the fairer sex, and make the acquaintance of some charming gentlemen who to this day work for me.

Anyway, I do believe I've gotten off topic. I've got a story to relate, so if you'll be kind enough to get your popcorn out of the microwave, sit back, relax and scratch all your itches, perhaps I'll continue. Or not. It's up to you, really.
"The line between good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being." - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

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KetMaliss
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Post by KetMaliss » Tue Sep 13, 2005 9:17 pm

Chapter 1 (Three Days Before)

I sat in the car, fingers tapping the leather-wrapped wheel of my M5 impatiently. A look in my rear-view mirror showed my face tight with frustration, and a look I knew well. Annoyance. I hated being made to wait. Especially over trivial matters. As if Joey couldn't just pick up his damn cell phone and check his account via the wonders of satellite. But Joey just happens to be a paranoid compulsive, and he insists that somebody, somewhere is watching his phone, and if he puts in such sensitive information as his checking account number, somebody, somewhere is going to decode it and steal all his money.

I thought Joey had watched too many X-Files reruns, but he swears up and down he knows a guy who had it happen to him. Myself? I could care less what Joey does with his time, as long as he doesn't waste mine, which he's decidedly close to doing.

“Hey Joey!” I yelled out the window, stressing the last half of his name in my thick accent as I honked the horn. “How long is it gonna take you to get a damn balance receipt? I got places to be, and if you make me late....”

“I'm comin', damnit Ray!” he shouted in reply, his back to me as he hunched over the ATM. If I knew Joey, he was probably usin' the knuckles of his fingers to punch all the keys, just in case some clever crook with a fingerprint kit happened to be watching and waiting for us to leave so he could get the most recent marks. Sometimes, I thought Joey was a mite too paranoid for his own good. A little caution never hurt anybody...but too much'll drive you insane. Just look at Joey. “Just gimme a second, will ya? I'm almost done!”

Sighing, I switched on the radio and searched through the stations. Creed...nope. Britney Spears...nope, although I wouldn't mind searching her belongings...Garth Brooks...I decided I wasn't in the mood for country, and tried another station. AC/DC. A slow smile stole onto my features, and I let it stay. Those that know me would say I didn't smile much, and it freaked 'em out when I did. Back in Black seemed to fit for some reason, so I left the radio where it was.

I had a busy day ahead of me. I didn't normally go out and do the dirty work often, but sometimes people needed a more chilling and personal reminder of things. And sometimes your goons just didn't cut it.

Joey Citgul wasn't just any goon, however. He was perhaps as close to a right-hand man as I had. Joey was one of those college acquaintances I mentioned earlier, and we'd been runnin' together for close to a decade now. Only a year younger than I, at thirty-four he kept himself in pretty good shape too, though he was almost a foot taller than I was.

Unlike myself, Joey was not tied down in an enjoyable relationship - Joey hated being attached as much as he hated those damn feds he was sure were starin' down from those satellites watchin' his every move. His paranoia didn't help, either. He killed a girl once because he was certain she was tryin' to poison him. During sex. He claimed she was tryin' a Romeo and Juliet and had put some kinda toxin on her lips. He killed her. I like Joey...but sometimes his paranoia amazes me. What's even more amazin' is that he still seems relatively sane. You'd think I would fear for my life, or want someone less crazy around me, but the truth is there is nobody I trust more. Joey's paranoia has paid off before, and as intelligent as he is, he's also blindly loyal.

At this point he was about to blindly push me over my patience boundaries.

Just as I was about to get out and knock him a good one upside his head, he stuck his wallet back in his pocket and returned to the car, casting a single suspicious glance skyward before opening the door and climbing in.

“Well?” I asked irritably. “Everything in order?”

“Yeah, Ray.” he replied, rolling the window down and setting his arm on the edge. “The transfer went through. I guess they were good for it after all.”

Joey had recently completed a high paying job for a client I had learned was as good as his word...which was, more often than not, about as good as my reputation. Still...this particular client had learned the hard way not to mess with me and mine more than once, and it was nice to know that old wounds still scarred. Perhaps a new reminder was necessary, just to make sure the old one didn't fade.

Good help can be so hard to find...

“Good...good...I'm so glad.” I retorted, rolling my eyes. “You forgettin' somethin, Joey?”

“Not this time...I got my card this time...that filthy machine ain't stealin' from me twice.”

I wanted to smack him silly. I really did. Sometimes he could be so stupid...but then, who couldn't? Hell, I know I have my moments...Lori never fails to point out every stupid thing I do. I think it's a quality all women have, maybe makes 'em feel superior in some way when they can rap our heads, waggle a finger in front of our face, and say “look here, stupid.”

I don't know much about that, but I do know I'm not half as ignorant as I would be if Lori was correct, which leaves it as some kind of exasperated token of her affection - not unlike fondly telling your sister she's a moron after she's recovered from an overdose that almost killed her.

“Buckle your damn seatbelt; what do I always tell ya? You don't get in my car without bucklin' your damn seatbelt!” I said calmly. Well, if you consider a heated voice just a few octaves below a shout calm. I meant it to be calm, anyway...wanted it to be. For the sake of what we would be doing soon, I needed to be saving my anger, not unnecessarily wasting it on Joey. “If for some reason we end up gettin' pulled over, I don't want it bein' because you broke a minor traffic law.”

“Sorry Ray...” he muttered, reaching over to snap his seatbelt in place before resuming his previous relaxed position. “Safety first...” he mumbled sarcastically, than laughed. “Or head first.” than laughed even harder.

I just shook my head and put the car into gear, leaving the bank behind and merging onto the main road.

“So, let's just make sure we understand what's goin' on properly, okay?” I asked, attempting to sound cheery. “This should be a real simple operation; we go in, speak with Larry for a time, make sure he understands his place, move on. Simple. Done it a hundred times, right?”

“S'right, Ray.” Joey nodded, taking out a cigarette from his pocket and sticking it in his mouth. While his hand fumbled in his other pocket for what I hoped was a lighter, I casually reached over and grabbed the smoke out of his mouth.

“I know you weren't planning on stinking up my German Speed Demon with your addiction, were you?” I asked, flipping the cigarette back and forth between my fingers before handing it back to him.

A look of sullen disappointment flashed through his eyes briefly as he took the cigarette back and returned it to it's pack. “No...but I gotta tell ya...I think you treat this car better than you do Lori.”

“For what I paid for the car, if anyone is gonna ruin her, it's gonna be me.” I replied easily. “And if I ever decide to do that, it won't be by covering the ceiling with a nicotine stink and my dashboard and floor with ashes.”

“Yeah, sure Ray...” Joey said, obviously disappointed. He'll be fine, I thought as we came to a stop at a red light. I was just about to open my mouth to tell Joey the significance of quitting that habit when this obnoxious thumping sound became audible, low at first but progessively louder and progressively obnoxious, until the source arrived next to us. An old IROC Z camaro; it's color faded and paint cracked and peeling, it was far from the glorious orange it must have once been.

The t-tops were off, and this young brother was sittin' in the driver seat, blaring the most annoying music I've ever heard. The bass was so high the car was shaking, my windows were shaking, and you couldn't hear anything at all over the groaning of the speakers as they attempted to push out more bump than they were capable of handling. What must have passed for words came out as nothing more than a garbled transmission, forever lost in the audacious bump of what should have been bass.

I've heard this music termed as rap, or hip-hop...but I call it crap. Of course...some people call what I listen to crap, so it all leads back to my initial point of perspective. I think any music where they talk faster than I can listen is garbage...but when I was growing up...rock and roll was considered the same. Look at it now.

I looked over at Joey, and he just smirked as his eyes met mine and then returned to the driver next to us. This guy didn't even have his hands on his steering wheel. He had them fully extended and pumping up and down in alternating sequences, and he was looking all over the place: left, right, behind, and in between that, he was leaning back in his seat, then surging forward, then leaning back again.

It was like some kind of strange dance, and it was also the stupidest most absurd thing I've ever seen.

“Does he think he's bein' cool?” I asked, half to myself in bewilderment.

“I suppose he does...” Joey muttered in the same tone. “I guess he's tryin' to show off...though to what purpose is beyond me. I wouldn't be braggin' about moves like that..he looks like an idiot.”

I silently agreed with him, but as I prepared to make another comment, the light turned green and the moron took off. I glanced at Joey and left the green light behind with a throaty roar and a cloud of smoke, easily surpassing the punk in a matter of seconds.

And a good thing it was too, because glancing back in my rearview I could see him actually driving while still doing his strange little dance, and he was constantly in and out of his lane as a result. I certainly did not want to be behind him with driving like that. I didn't want to be anywhere near him.

Luckily my turn was coming up, and I eagerly took it. I could hear the loud thumping of his car as he passed me by, and half expected to hear the loud crash as he took his bobbing and weaving car straight into someone else's.

“Some people...” Joey said with amusement, and I cracked a faint smile, patrly for his comment, partly for the building I saw up on the right.

Larry's Cuts was a local barbershop with an underground reputation of dealing on the side. As a result, there was a pretty fair amount of cash coming in, and that made it worthy of my attention. Larry and I had a pretty good arrangement with each other: I sent customers looking to buy his direction, I kept the place under surveillance and kept other criminals looking to cause trouble out, and he gave me what I consider a fair cut of the profits in return.

Larry however, had missed a payment, and I wanted to know why. We'd always had good dealings in the past, and this was not an assignment I wanted to entrust to one of my underlings. I wanted to meet with Larry personally...and personally ensure I received my share. Plus a little extra for my trouble.

I turned into the parking lot, taking a spot right up front and turned the car off. I nodded at Joey, and he cautiously adjusted his handgun under his shirt. When he nodded back, I opened the door and stepped out, waiting until Joey was out to shut the door and set the alarm.

With Joey following behind me, we entered the barbershop and, not seeing Larry anywhere in the public area, headed for the office. The front attendant, having long ago gotten used to such visits, said nothing and made no move aside from batting her eyes at Joey and blowing a bubble with her gum as we passed.

We reached the office, and finding it closed, I knocked politely on it twice. Larry’s voice rang out in a tone that spoke of obvious annoyance. “Yeah? What is it?”

“Hey Larry…” I replied pleasantly. “Got time for a friend?”

I heard a muffled curse from the other side of the door, and when he replied, his voice was considerably shakier than it had previously been. “Yeah, yeah…come on in.”

There was an electronic buzzing sound, and Joey pushed the door open as Larry triggered it unlocked.

Entering behind Joey, the first thing I noticed was that the office was cleaner than usual. Not normally something I’d remark on, but at Larry’s? His office often had the look of a second home. A messy second home.

“How are ya, Ray, Joey?” he asked nervously, though I could tell he was desperately trying to hide it. He tried twice to control the reckless darting of his eyes, but could not. He looked, I thought, like a child with his hands caught in the cookie jar.

“Doin’ good Larry.” I replied smoothly, as Joey shut the door behind us. “Things have been goin’ well…mostly.” At this last word, my voice lost some of it’s pleasantness.

“Yeah, yeah – you look good.” he said. “Fancy suit looks good on ya, Ray.”

“Larry…why don’t we just cut the bullshit and get right down to it.” I said, casting another glance around the too-clean office. “You owe me a lot of money.”

I stepped closer to him.

“And I don’t like it when people break agreements they’ve made with me.”

Another step closer.

“It’s a foolish thing to do, Larry.”

“Ray…c’mon…you gotta understand, I ain’t never missed a payment before, have I? But times…they’ve been rough, man!” he said, backing up slowly until he was against the wall. His hands were wringing nervously near his hips.

“Doesn’t matter, Larry. If you knew you were gonna be late, you shoulda said somethin’ to me. But you didn’t, and now your gonna pay double this month for the trouble.”

One of his hands brushed against his pocket and I tensed, half expecting that perhaps this dirtball might have finally grown a spine. But he didn’t grab anything, didn’t even go into his pocket…simply left it hanging there, as if resigned. The other hand came to rest on a countertop adjacent to him.

“Ray…I think I need to tell you something.” Larry said, and I knew something was wrong then. His voice no longer sounded afraid or cowardly…it sounded confident – a quality I would not have attributed to the previously groveling barber in front of me.

Joey had noticed too. He had taken a step closer to me, and I could read in his body language that he was tense, prepared for anything.

I was on guard, but only emotionally. I was ready to spring into action at a second’s notice, but I was not visibly tense. I was simply ready. “Yeah, Larry?” I asked, my voice steady.

“I’ve made new arrangements, and they don’t include you.”

That was it. Joey was going for his gun, and I was moving towards Larry when the buzzing sounded again, and the door was kicked in by a large man in a black suit brandishing a gun.

The following action should explain why I like Joey so much. As much as I can like anyone working for me, that is. No sooner had that office door exploded inward and the man in black’s presence announced than Joey had sprung into action. At the man in black’s first step into the room, Joey had already launched himself, and his large frame tackled the newcomer with the force of an NFL quarter backer just as the other had started to take aim.

Half a second later I heard the crash of body forcing body into hardwood wall, but my attention was no longer on Joey or his fight. My attention was on Larry, who was opening a cabinet.

I advanced on him, if not as quick as Joey had on Larry’s new friend, then it was quick enough. Larry had just gotten his hand into the cabinet when I had grabbed it with one of mine and pulled it back out before bending it slowly back, forcing him to his knees,

Larry devolved into the man I knew. He sniveled and groveled. I broke his wrist as my other hand grabbed his neck and forced him back into a standing position, and brought him eye to eye with me.

“No Larry…I’ve made new arrangements…and they no longer include you. However, I might be inclined to let you live awhile longer if you’ll quit crying long enough to tell me where my money is.”

I heard another crash against the wall come from outside, and loud shrill feminine screams.

“I got it, Ray, I got it! It’s in the safe!” he whimpered.

I released him in a forceful shove towards the safe. “Get it.”

He put in the combination, and I heard the click that announced he’d put it in properly. I drew my gun and leveled it at him. “Nothin’ funny, Larry…” I said sharply, as I cocked it.

He tensed, and I knew he’d heard my gun.

Three seconds passed before he turned around again, and handed me a large strap of hundred dollar bills. I flipped through it, and satisfied that each was a hundred dollar bill, I noted that it was probably a bit more than I would have required had we been on different terms than we now were.

I stuck the bills in the pocket inside of my suit.

“Pleasure doin’ business with ya, Larry.” I said, as I slammed the butt of my gun into the side of his head. There was a pleasurable cracking sound, and Larry collapsed to the ground. I turned around, and Joey was starin’ at me, a newly formed bruise on his upper temple, but I knew he’d be in better shape than the man who had put it there.

“Let’s get outta here.” I said sharply, returning my weapon to its backside holster, and stepping out of the office, glancing once at the body lying crumpled just outside of it. There were fairly large indentions on both sides of the hallway, and Mr. Blacksuit’s head was still resting in one of them, his body lying motionless save for a few twitching fingers.

The main room was understandably empty, save for the front attendant. She’d seen the like before, obviously. I reached into my suit pocket, and came out with two hundred dollars and handed them to her.

“I’d appreciate your silence on the matter, honey.” I said, as she took the bills and pocketed them as quickly as I had.

She flashed me a quick grin, an alluring smile to Joey, and nodded. “Not a problem. Come back again, maybe…especially you, guy.”

Joey blushed. Not a thing I’d seen him do often. I knew that he was usually the aggressor, and apparently a forward girl was more than he was used to. The chasers usually didn’t know how to handle being chased.

“I’ll send him around again…but we’ve gotta go. I’m on a deadline.” I stated. “C’mon, Joey. Pick your jaw up.”

I exited the shop, and after a second heard the door open again and knew Joey was behind me.

“You got a way with people, you know that?” I asked. “It isn’t that much different from huntin’ ‘em, ya know? Only difference is you aren’t startin’ the conversations.”

“Shut up, Ray.” he muttered. “I just like to pick ‘em, is all. I’m not used to them pickin’ me.”

“You’re a strange guy, Joey…but I love ya.” I said, amused. “Now get in the f---in’ car.”

He did, and I walked around and climbed in, sticking the key in the ignition as I settled into the seat. The car started smoothly and I slowly backed up, casting Larry’s no second glance as I left it for good.
"The line between good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being." - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

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