May 16th, 2013


Wolves to the Slaughter

This is an intersection for LJ Idol on the topics "Chillin' Like a Villain" and "You Did the Best You Could." My partner is the lovely kathrynrose.

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I think I just fell in love wit a porn star
Turn the camera on she a born star—

“Turn that shit down, man.”

“It’s Kanye.”

“It’s shit.”

“It ain’t shit.”

“You got a point there. It ain’t shit.”

“Man.” Tee poked the button on the stereo until Kanye was four steps softer and looked out the window. Looked the same as it looked before. Streetlight washin’ dirty on six kids on a stoop, up too late, playin’ some kinda game with whatever cards kids were stealin’ each other’s lunch money for these days. Baby extortionists on every corner, he hadda go down and sort some shit out with some third-grade punk puttin’ slick-ass moves—he thought—on Tee’s own Larissa. Boy was he some surprised when he found out who Larissa’s daddy was, prob’ly still pissin’ himself. Amazin’ what a little social call could do, how much capital he’d finally racked up in the ‘hood, wearin’ black and blue, sporting a nice-lookin’ holster. Not that he accident’ly-on-purpose let it show. Much.

“Dreamy-dreamer. Use those big eyes.” Marcus was pointing, gesturing with his hand below the dashboard, breaking into Tee’s image of his sweet-faced woman and Larissa in his arms, walkin’ out on a Sunday afternoon, walkin’ through the ‘hood like he owned it, like nothin’ bad could ever happen there. Like he was somebody, and somebody had his back.

Tee saw the dark-haired girl just as she passed under the streetlight. The dirty yellow turned her hoodie orange and picked out ST. LOUIS across her back, movin’ down the sidewalk like she had some kinda right to be here. Some kinda attitude she had. Wasn’t lookin’ around. Actin’ like she had nothin’ to be afraid of. Wait’ll she find out she wrong ‘bout that one. She had a plastic bag in her left hand. A nice fat plastic bag.

Tee breathed it out without moving his lips, “She showed."

Marcus was looking at his phone, moving his thumbs like he was texting, we ain’t watchin’ you, we just sittin’ cool in this vehicle enjoyin’ the evenin’, sure we growed up here. “Nice to know Nicky wasn’t pullin’ about that one.”

“’S take it slow.”

“Yeah, good thing you said that, ‘cause I’m new at this.” Marcus was still looking at his phone, but Tee felt the blood rise in his face, all the way into his ears. He knew Marcus couldn’t see it, knew Marcus knew it was there. They been doin’ this together for a year and he still felt like Marcus’ little brother. Like he was never gonna get to be the driver or the man who give the report when they get back.

Marcus let the girl get a block ahead, then fired the engine, pulled the car out of the alley. The man drove smooth, Tee had to admit, pausing at the intersection a little longer than necessary to let her get ahead, not so long they’d look lost. Tee bobbed his head like he was down with the radio music, mouthin’ along, Posted on the porch just chillin’, but it was Macklemore and Tee had to fake it. Whatever. Cover was cover. The sweatshirt Marcus had dug up for him itched. He wouldn’t put it past Marcus to give him somethin’ lifted off some busted-ass punk, prob’ly lice, maybe crabs in there. His pants felt like they was gonna fall down any minute, even sittin’ down. Whatever. Whatever it took.

The girl turned up an alley, middle of the next block. Marcus eased by slow and parked a few places past it. They each touched their holster softly, Marcus caressing his right ribcage, Tee his left. “We a mirror,” he’d joked on the first day, but Marcus weren’t no joker.

At the edge of the building they put their backs against the wall. Tee drew, and Marcus flashed the Maglite around the corner while Tee stepped around and looked. He lowered his arms. The alley was empty. Brickwalled and empty. Brickwalled and dead-ended and empty. Marcus stepped beside him, still holding the flashlight.

“She fuckin’ fly outta here?” Tee slid through his lips.

Marcus flashed a smile, his white teeth huge in the reflection from the light, and pointed the Maglite at the dumpster. They walked softly up the middle of the alley, no point huggin’ the walls when there ain’t nowhere to hide anyhow. Tee stepped to the far flank of the big green box. Marcus to the near side, both of them on the draw. Marcus raised an eyebrow—one fuckin’ eyebrow! How did that fucker do it?—and Tee tried to raise one back, but his forehead got confused and he could feel his eyelids doin’ something funny so he just nodded, sharp and quick.

Marcus flipped the lid open and as he yelled “Police!” the other lid flipped open on its own and suddenly they was two girls there—girl in the red hoodie and a woman, a grey-haired, ain’t-got-no-right-to-be-hidin’-in-no-dumpster-for-no-ambush woman, both firing at head height because they was of course standin’ on a pile of motherfuckin’ trash and Tee noticed the old lady got Marcus four times in the vest and once in the leg and was mildly surprised that twice in his own vest hurt a lot more than once in the head.

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Jessie opened the door with red eyes in her pale sweet face, the girl—eight? Nine?—with creamy-coffee skin and a halo of blonde-black-girl curls hiding behind her leg and peering around.

“It’s Uncle Marcus,” Jessie said. “Larissa, you come out here and be a big girl.”

Marcus shifted on his crutches. His leg still fuckin’ wailed, as Tee would say. Would’ve said. He looked at Jessie, and she shook her head, so he didn’t say anything yet. Tee’s badge burned in his pocket. Later, there would be a bag marked Detective-Investigator Theodore Watkins, but some things had to be done by hand.

Jessie bent to pick up Larissa, bending her head so her hair washed over her face. “Never marry a policeman, baby girl. You never gonna find one good as your daddy was.”