diary of a professional antagonist
Desert Death Rattle
It was gone when I woke. She’d taken it. There was no doubt in my mind. I stumbled out of the cot, legs still working their way back into sensation. My head was pounding and I was numb from the waist down, that is until I pulled on my slacks, wrenched the zipper and tore a landing strip off the shaft of my still erect prick. My legacy, my name, my next two weeks were fucked, and catching the bitch wasn’t going to be easy.
The engine rattled a strained growl as it barreled down the highway. The desert sun was hot as hell, crossing lizards popped beneath the rubber and bugs kamikazied into my windshield. All this ending life and impending death didn’t cost me a thought, all that was on my mind was the box. All I hoped was that she hadn’t undone the leather belt that held it together. All I knew was my crotch was warm with blood and I hadn’t yet taken the time to piss out the last bottle of dollar wine. I prayed I was still limber enough to bend around the stream and save myself the sting, but with God in absentia and my middle aged legs shriveling under the weight of time, win or lose pain was on the horizon.
Then I saw saw a flicker just ahead. Was it a mirage? And if it wasn’t, was it even her? I jammed my foot down hard on the gas and soon realized it was. The taillights were broken, one on each side, just like I’d left them. The rusted silver side panel jarring against the sun bleached red of the rest of the machine. That blonde hair trailing in the breeze off a head so fuck-me-now beautiful even the man in hell would be tempted to ignore the conniving glint in her gold digging eyes and take a dip. I decided to play it cool. This time she wouldn’t get the drop on me. I eased off and followed until she stopped at gas station then pulled in the other side of the cashier building, grabbed the tire iron and carefully negotiated the side wall.
The cashier was a dope in his late teens, drooling over the counter at her tits like a sloped fucking yak as he handed her a pack of cigarettes. She’d probably already done enough to convince him to say “on the house ma’am”. I convinced myself this was the case as she kissed him on the cheek then collected a pack of chips from a low shelf. He was good as dead the way that short red skirt was bobbing and weaving off her hips and didn’t even notice when she collected a bottle of suds from the fridge on the way out. I don’t know what made me madder, the fact that she was getting away with it again, or that I’d fallen for the same routine twice already and was still watching her in action instead of taking it.
I bucked up and slid into the passenger seat just as the car pulled away. She wasn’t even shocked, just looked at me like another bump in the road she had to run over. But at least with the tire iron I had her attention. I asked where the box was. She didn’t have it any more, she’d stashed it somewhere safe and if I wanted it I was going to have to do something for her. I asked what, considering I had a tool worthy of trying my hand at dentistry in my grip. Naturally she used the tools at her disposal but the second her hand contacted my crotch I yelped like a scolded pup. Most people would retract, but she knew the score and spun the wheel into off-road terrain and dug in. The car filled with dust and in the blinding pain of confusion and with gravel adding to the problem I suddenly realized I was alone.
The trunk creaked open, a shotgun was racked and a deafening boom of buck pelted my door and shattered the window. I crawled over, knocked it into drive and revved hard. Dust sprayed everywhere. I couldn’t see her. BOOM! This time the back window exploded into pieces. I sliced my hand open on the seat debris then out of nowhere there was clarity and a drop into a drainage ditch. Two teeth hung from my mouth from a long, thick glob of blood then parted company with me once and for all. I shoved the door open and toppled out. The sun vanished as she stood above me then cracked the butt of the gun into my forehead. All I hoped was that when I woke I wasn’t tied to a cactus getting gang-banged by a bunch of vultures.
Consciousness came before sight. I figured I was in the trunk of a car, which had to mean that she had an accomplice. Just then the car slowed to a stop. Two people got out and I waited until their footsteps had cleared earshot. After some more kicking sunlight washed over me and when my retinas had adjusted I clambered out. We were at a junk yard, a lost and forgotten wasteland filled with every trash and crap-mobile since the forties. I saw her disappear into the hut set in the center of it all a couple of hundred yards away. They were going to sell the box – had to be why they were in such an isolated dump. I was fucked, then, realized the car was the heap I’d driven to the gas station, I grabbed the spare key from the glove box, started it up and turned to face the road. “Get far away” ricocheted inside my skull but then something came over me. Maybe it was pride, or self loathing at my cowardice, or just that plain old nasty instinct that usually put me in that position, but as I looked in the rearview I knew that I couldn’t just let her get away with it.
My brain started working around two seconds before I plowed the car into the shack, but by then it was too late and when the dust settled I’d slammed some fat guy I didn’t know into a spike on the wall and was face to face with the shotgun, in her hands. She told me to get out. She was teary eyed, it looked like genuine sorrow but it might have been rage, I wasn’t sure. As I got out I stumbled on something rubbery and only after I found equilibrium again did I notice the gas station cashier’s head sticking out from under the chassis. It was rage. I took another shotgun butt in the nose, it broke, and given the number of previous breaks I knew that after this I was going to resemble some sort of a retarded puffin for whatever number of days I had left. She didn’t like that notion, though and as she racked the gun one last time I knew I was seconds from oblivion.
SNAP. All out. SLAP. Knocked out. I caught her before she fell. Bad a bitch as she was it would have been a crime to let that body bruise. I tied her hands to the wheel then looked for the box. She came to after five or so minutes and laughed in my face. This wasn’t a sale, this was a negotiation. The box was not here. The money was not here. There was nothing here except two dead men one hot broad and a retarded puffin. I’d killed the only party interested this side of the Grand Canyon and her partner in crime, the only one who could safely retrieve the box without drawing unnecessary attention. She was out of friends and I was out of luck so against my better judgement, which I’d last seen the night I turned twenty one, I teamed up with her one last time.
The gas station was quiet at night. The passing trade was slow. Then the night cashier came into view, resembling an aggression repressed MMA fighter, which was just perfect. She was about to take him down all by her lonesome, one bat of the eyelids and a long deep breath and he would be in the back toilet working her for all she was worth, but then the law rolled in. They questioned Mister MMA, showed him a photo or two, then pointed at the CCTV. Someone was looking for the goober I’d crushed back at the junk yard, and the only person of interest on those tapes was my red hot passenger. It was only a matter of time before they searched the place and found his locker. It was all or nothing time, so I headed for the back toilet window.
Once inside I could hear them bantering away out front. The muscle bound freak manning the desk was doing a wonderful job of not making the cops’ job easy, simply because he had the mental capacity of a grape and was getting pissed at the questioning.
“Go in back and get the God-damn feed from today”.
“Fuck you, pig – make me”
“I’ll get it myself.”
“Not on my watch, mother fucker.”
“Get outta my way, dummy.”
SLAP. SLAP. SLAP. I couldn’t help but look. MMA and the two cops were fighting full tilt. I found the locker, nabbed the box and got out the window without any of them noticing a thing. Everything was golden, all I had to do was get around the corner, back in the car and drop over the horizon before the next squad car arrived and I was made. The only problem was that the car was gone. Bitch.
I ran off into the desert, knowing that if I was caught with it that’d put me down for everything and clear her slate. I made it as far as the Canyon just before dawn. I stank and vultures were circling overhead by noon. A tour bus had pulled in a few hundred yards ahead. I couldn’t risk exposing them to it, fuck that, letting anyone near enough to swipe it so I decided to climb down into the red rock and hide it. I didn’t get far before my sense were crippled with fear but luck was on my side and I stashed it in a crevice. The markers were decent, a flagpole, a wood cabin and a memorial plaque for some dead guys who went down the canyon river in row boats back in the day. I was choosing a forth when I saw her.
Taser in hand, approaching at pace, she jabbed it into my side, knocking me to the ground. I scrambled to stay clear of the edge. This time she wasn’t letting me get any sort of a second chance and kicked me in the face. I gripped pathetically at the earth as I slipped over the side. Then I felt the pain. She dropped her stiletto hard, stabbing it through the bones in my hand and pinning me to the wall. Some of the tourists noticed the activity and unsurprisingly started to take photos and video as gravity conspired with her stiletto against me and began to tear a slow line through the tendons, inching me closer to death by the second. She looked at me, didn’t have to say anything by way of stating the obvious. I nodded. She dropped the taser, reached down and took my free hand. Dumb broad. I fucked her into the canyon and climbed to safety.
The stiletto came in handy. I managed to latch onto the leather belt around the box and drag it up as distant sirens rang out. I had no choice left but open it. Fuck the fortune it was worth, fuck the loss, fuck the death it had brought by my hands – if I was going to walk, this was the only way. I crawled under some shrubs, unclasped the belt and wrapped it around my hands. The latch broke apart on contact. I sat there for a moment, listening to the rush of footsteps on approach. The words I picked up indicated that the cops knew what I had. They were cordoning off the area. The flesh on my fingers slipped between the lid and the bulk then prized it open. The last thing I remember is the blinding light.
I woke in the desert, close to the highway, the box lying empty by my hand. A tour bus was pulling away. The windows were blacked out. I sat up, scanned the horizon until I saw the flashing blue lights way out in the distance. It’s value was gone, she was gone and I was back at square one again. I sat by the highway until sunset when I began to slump. Maybe it was the dehydration setting in, but the last time I looked the belt was clasped tight around the box and a car was on approach. The driver’s blonde hair was trailing in the breeze.