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Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Walt Trizna: Revenge and Redemption

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Art by Darren Blanch © 2024

Revenge and Redemption

 

Walt Trizna

 

I read the local rag to see what’s goin’ on around me. Sometimes the articles even make sense, but not too often. I swear, they must have fuckin’ monkeys for editors.

Through this source of confusion, I learned that in the last two weeks six old geezers in this area have been beaten to a pulp, and worse, for the few dollars they had. Pisses me off ‘cause someday I might be old, if the neighborhood lets me. Right now, I’m 70 and figure to reach my peak in about four or five years. Life has been shit so I’m lookin’ forward to that peak. From then on, it’s all a steep ride downward, or maybe a gentle slope. Endpoint the same. No problem, I got no great plans.

Anyway, I decided to get vengeance for those old folks in our shitty society and give those hoodlums what they deserve. Today old folks are less than respected, only looked on as marks. Thought it was time for payback.

Name’s Fred. Don’t like usin’ last names.

I live in a rough neighborhood. Always have and prob’ly always will. Y’ know how they talk about survival of the fittest? Well, I must be the fittest. Doesn’t say much for the rest of the population.

I don’t take any shit headin’ my way. That causes me trouble, more than I like to admit. I’ve been less than a model citizen. With where I grew up and how I was raised no other outcome was possible. Well, it was possible, but I didn’t follow that road and have no respect for the assholes who blame all their fucked-up actions on their upbringin’. I step up for what I am, no excuses, and no back doors.

Around when I was about 17, I was arrested for beatin’ the shit out of a guy who was ready to beat the shit outta me and went to a prison for minors for a year. I learned there to accept no bullshit and to dish out what the assholes I met deserved. Taught those who wanted to use me a lesson. Once they learned, I was left alone.

After I got out, met a guy who wanted to get the best of me. Wanted to take what I had. His big mistake. Stabbed the fucker to death. Felt no guilt. He got what he deserved. I walked away innocent.

Since then, I’ve been in jail a coupla times for minor shit, but if all the shit connected to me was known it would’a won me an extended stay at society’s expense.

So, I have a past. Who the fuck doesn’t? I’m not proud of mine, but there it is. These days I’m tryin’ to keep my head straight as long as society keeps its distance.

                                                                * * *

But times’ve changed. Today, everything is guns. When I was young, if someone pissed you off or you had an axe to grind you used your fists. I had many a split lip and black eye. Hell, delivered a lot of ‘em too. But both fighters walked away, one satisfied and one not, and everyone lived for the next disagreement. Now guns settle arguments and, until our asshole politicians stop takin’ bribes, they won’t do anything about this sorry situation. If nothin’ gets their asses in gear after Sandy Hook, with twenty six and seven-year-olds gunned down, nothin’ will. Proves politicians are worthless pieces of shit in this day and age. Prob’ly always were.

            Back to today’s fucked up world.

Decided to buy some guns. Yeah, I know what I said about ‘em. But I can’t stand shitholes takin’ advantage - ‘specially of people who can’t defend themselves.

You’d be surprised how fuckin’ easy it is to get a small arsenal in a short time.  I know I was. As soon as word went out on the street that I was lookin’ for firepower the gun-dealin’ assholes came knocking on my door.

Began carryin’ a coupla pistols wherever I went. Know it’s not legal. Don’t give a shit. The dummies I was after weren’t exactly law-abidin’ citizens.

On this one particular night I was walkin’ around the neighborhood where some of the attacks on the geezers’d happened. Piece in the back of my pants, another in the front. I was in a parkin’ garage to get the jalopy I use for transportation until one of us dies. I’m walkin’ along, happy as a clam, when I hear, “Hey you, turn around.”

As luck would have it, I was in front of one of those curvy mirrors that tells you whose comin’. But ‘cause it was a mirror, I didn’t know what direction was which. I was close enough that I was pretty sure the mirror didn’t catch my reflection, but it sure did catch the assholes standin’ in back of me. How far away were they? – no idea! But I could tell that the dudes on either side were holdin’ somethin’. The asshole in the middle definitely had a pistol. I had my hands in front of me so I slowly reached for the pistol in my front waistband - bein’ careful not to shoot my dick off. But, what the hell, at my age, no great loss.

Caught the jackasses totally by surprise. Fired all I had and all three went down. Sparks were flyin’ off cars just like in the movies.

I heard moanin’ and didn’t know if any of ‘em was dead and didn’t give a shit. They asked for it and I delivered. I got in my wreck and drove away to the sounds of approachin’ sirens. Drove to the river and flung the pistol from a bridge. Read in the paper that two had died and one was in critical condition and couldn’t be questioned. Shithead probab’ly wouldn’t remember much anyway. There are cameras set up to record everythin’ that happens in this fuckin’ world, but I’ll take my chances. I’ve seen too many surveillance videos where the dummy doin’ the crime coulda been Mother Teresa. Most of those camera shots aren’t worth shit. And it happened too fast for anyone to take out a cellphone. Anyway, there was no one around.

Spent the next few days walkin’ the town. One night I was out and decided to take a short-cut through an alley and heard, “Hey fucker, turn around.”

I did as ordered and turned to see this dude, maybe twenty, must’ve been liftin’ weights since he was one. He was a walkin’ muscle. I also thought he might be a muscle from the neck up pushin’ aside any small brain in his shaved head. He had no weapon. He was the weapon, ready to pound the shit outta me. I taught him a lesson he’d never pass on; muscles don’t stop bullets.

Another pistol into the river. At this rate, lucky I did have a small arsenal.

A few days later it happened again. I’m on a darkened street when I hear, “Pops, turn around and empty your pockets.”  I’m armed of course, so I turn around and see a kid, maybe eighteen, wearin’ a hoody with his right hand in his pocket. Somethin’ in that pocket was pointin’ at me.

I made to empty my pockets and instead of valuables pulled a pistol. If that dude’s eyes had gotten any bigger his eyeballs would’ve fallen out.

I said, “Now you turn that right pocket inside out?” The kid was sweatin’ bullets - a good sign. I waited to see what sorta weapon he had. There wasn’t one. I laughed and said, “Hey shithead, what caliber’s that finger?”

The kid said nothin’ and looked at the ground.

I said, “Right now I’m decidin’ what to do - blow your head off or take you to the cops.”

He didn’t say a word. Just kept lookin’ down.

That struck me as strange. In his place I would’ve been yellin’, “Don’t kill me!”  But this young kid didn’t give a shit about what happened to him.

“What the hell is wrong with you?”

“Nothing.”

“Bullshit,” I said. “You should be showin’ somethin’ - fear. But you’ve got the emotion of a dummy. What the hell is goin’ on?”

We stood quiet for a few long minutes, then he said, “Ain’t got nothin’, so I ain’t got nothin to lose.”

His answer set me thinkin’ about my past, and the memories weren’t great. What an attitude for this young guy. But a part of me understood.

“Where’s your home?” I asked.

“Ain’t got a home. Live mostly on the streets. My mom’s usually strung-out and her boyfriend’s pissed off all the time. When I’m there, he gets pissed off at me.”

I’d heard about lives like this—seen it face to face many times—but this kid was different from those lost causes known as families. At least, I hoped so.

“When’s the last time you ate?” I asked.

“Don’t remember.”

I grabbed him by the hood and pulled him forward.

“We goin’ to the cops?” he asked.

“Maybe, maybe not. Right now, we’re goin’ to that diner up yonder.”

There it sat, Mel’s Diner. A beacon of eats in the middle of the night. Mel’s is one of my favorite joints to chow-down. The food’s plain, but good. The staff is friendly, but won’t take no shit. And you won’t find any fancy people eatin’ at Mel’s, just real people livin’ their lives as best they can. The place had a row of worn stools facin’ the counter and old booths against the wall.

We sat down in a booth. I figured it was time for introductions. “My name is Fred, what’s yours. Names might make the conversation easier.”

“Andy.”

Molly, a waitress I’d known for years approached our booth. The years showed but her friendly personality hadn’t changed, she said, “Hey Fred, what can I get for you and your young buddy?”

“I’ll just have coffee and my young buddy needs a menu.”

She brought the menu, and it might as well been written in Chinese. I don’t think this kid went out to eat very much. Wasn’t sure he could read. I took the menu and explained it for him and ordered what he wanted.

This kid was a magician. When his meal came it just disappeared.

Molly came by and cleared the table, “Want any dessert?”

I ordered each of us a slab of apple pie with vanilla ice cream. Molly put the order of pie in front of the kid and the pie disappeared too. I finished half of mine and caught the kid lookin’ at my plate. I pushed the plate over to him and don’t have to tell you what happened.

Molly brought us the check, and said, “You boys have a good night.” As we left, I threw some bills on the table. Molly deserves all the kindness she can get.

We walked to the register, I paid and we went out into the night. Again, I could see the life I’d led in this kid.

“Now we go to the cops?” he asked.

Andy’d set my brain in motion. I have this problem, among many. My compassion outruns my common sense, just as my mouth sometimes outruns my brain.”

“We might go to the cops later, but for now we’ll be goin’ to my place.”

Okay, my place isn’t fancy. It’s small, very small, but meets my needs. Come to think of it, my needs are small too. There’s one bedroom, a bathroom and a room serving as a kitchen, dining room and living room.

I opened the door and the kid looked around the place. I figured he was lookin’ for what to steal. But I caught somethin’ else in his eyes—a new fear. He looked at the single bed. I could sense he was worried about pay-back time for my kindness. I went to my closet, reached in and dragged out a sleeping bag from my homeless days, and said, “Andy, this is your bed for now.”

Later I bought a fold-out couch for Andy.

                                         * * *

         Well, days stretched to weeks and weeks stretched to months. We got used to each other, but to be honest, I’m a loner and at times wished he’d just leave. But then I’d think of the life he left behind. Talk about a conflict. Thought of my life and wanted to set this kid on the right road.

What he noticed right off when he came to my place was a guitar sittin’ off to a corner of my multi- purpose room. I don’t play—never have, and never will. The instrument was a gift from my good friend Jerome. He makes ‘em and they are, more or less, all he has to give. Jerome’s built a reputation in the local music scene and is known for his craftsmanship. He doesn’t need to advertise to make a livin’. Word of mouth keeps him busy and that’s how it should be.

Well, one day Jerome came over while the kid was foolin’ around with the guitar. When Jerome sat down, I began to talk, but he put up his hand for me to stop. He wanted to listen to the kid.

After the kid stopped Jerome had the slightest smile on his face. Unusual for Jerome.

“Hey, kid,” Jerome said. “You could use some lessons.”

And I said, “And I could use some bars of gold. Any ideas?”

Talkin’ to the kid and ignorin’ me, Jerome said, “I really need someone to keep my shop clean, run errands. I’d be willing to pay you, but it won’t be much. And when there’s time, I can give you lessons.

I never saw the kid’s face light up like his did. Jerome had a slave. My face lit up too. I’d have some alone time.

Well, Andy stuck with the job and the lessons. One day Jerome and I were havin’ a few beers at our favorite tavern when he said, “You know, Fred, the kid’s pretty good. He doesn’t have the chops to be great, but he’s pretty good.

Time passed. Andy got his GED and goes to the local junior college now. He’s also a member of a local band, a band good enough to play some local bars as patrons drown their sorrows. He’s on his own now. He stops by now and then and always shows his appreciation for how I changed his life. Not so much in words—but I know.

* * *

I still like to walk around town. I don’t carry a pistol anymore, but it’s temptin’. The other night I was walkin’ down a deserted street when I heard, “Hey you. Turn around and give me your money.”

I turned around slowly to see this kid, maybe 14 or 15, snot runnin’ from his nose with his right hand in his pocket. Somethin’ in his pocket was pointing at me.

I’m getting’ too old for this shit.

                          

                                                                    

                                             The End             

Walt Trizna is a former scientist having spent 34 years in research and has been writing for 20 years. His publications include a novel, New Moon Rising, published by Mélange Books. This publisher also published his novella, Elmo's Sojourn, as an eBook and in a print anthology. He has also published numerous short stories.

Darren Blanch, Aussie creator of visions which tell you a tale long after first glimpses have teased your peepers. With early influence from America's Norman Rockwell to show life as life, Blanch has branched out mere art form to impact multi-dimensions of color and connotation. People as people, emotions speaking their greater glory. Visual illusions expanding the ways and means of any story.

Digital arts mastery provides what Darren wishes a reader or viewer to take away in how their own minds are moved. His evocative stylistics are an ongoing process which sync intrinsically to the expression of the nearby written or implied word he has been called upon to render.

View the vivid energy of IVSMA (Darren Blanch) works at: www.facebook.com/ivsma3Dart, YELLOW MAMA, Sympatico Studio - www.facebook.com/SympaticoStudio, DeviantArt - www.deviantart.com/ivsma and launching in 2019, as Art Director for suspense author / intrigue promoter Kate Pilarcik's line of books and publishing promotion - SeaHaven Intrigue Publishing-Promotion.

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