“Bruno, you don’t have to kill him.” I was wasting my time. If Bruno wanted to kill someone, nobody could talk him out of it, least of all me.
“Shut the fuck up or I’ll start on you next.” Bruno was the enforcer in this part of town. He was somewhere around six-foot-five and built like a brick shithouse. He spent at least an hour a day in the gym, so one punch was usually all it took to put most men on the ground. They banned him from cage-fighting for being too violent.
My job was to drive him around. Bruno was in a constant state of road-rage, so the people who paid him paid me to drive instead. That was the closest thing to control anybody exercised over Bruno. He tolerated it because he got to sit in the back seat yelling and cursing at me while he worked his sports-book app. Saying “sorry” fifty times a day was the best way to stay on what passed for his good side.
Today, the guy on the ground was a new community organizer. He was a do-gooder, here to help clean up a neighborhood where rich suburbanites could buy drugs without getting out of their car. Everybody was happy with the arrangement except the people who lived here. They complained to the new organizer, so he promised to take on the dealers. He played football for some little division three college so he thought he knew rough stuff. He was finding out the hard way just how rough it can get on the street.
We saw the guy walking past some abandoned factories. I pulled into an alley and Bruno grabbed him as he passed. Soon, he was in the basement of an abandoned factory with a busted arm.
“Quit crying, you pussy.” Bruno kicked the guy in the kidney to emphasize his point.
I tried to distract him. “Bruno, you said to remind you we’re supposed to collect from the bakery guy next.” Bruno liked collecting from the bakery guy because he’d help himself to a box of donuts.
“Okay.” He looked at the guy on the ground. “Crawl back to your mommy, asshole.” He gave the guy a hard farewell kick right in the chest. The guy’s body jerked like he was hit with a live electric-line. He gave an agonizing gasp and went still.
I watched the guy for a few seconds. “I think he’s dead.”
Bruno was looking at his phone. “Tough shit for him.” He began walking away. I followed.
As we were ready to walk out, I heard crying. There was a kid, a young girl, hugging the dead guy on the floor. I was so startled that I stopped. It was a mistake, but too late to fix it. Bruno turned and saw where I was looking.
“Shit.” He turned and started towards the kid.
“No, you can’t kill a kid.” I wasn’t exactly a moral person, but killing kids was too much.
“No witnesses.” His hand went to his gun.
I saw an old four-by-four sitting in a trash pile. I knew what I was doing was stupid, but I grabbed it and went after Bruno. My problem is I’m old and I’m slow and my footsteps are loud. He heard me before I was close enough to take a swing, so he turned and put one in my stomach. As he turned back to the kid, I pulled my phone out to call nine-one-one, but I didn’t expect what came next.
The kid stood up so suddenly that even Bruno wasn’t ready for her move. She pulled a gun from behind the dead guy’s back and shot Bruno point-blank in the face.
It was a little revolver, maybe a twenty-five or thirty-two. Bruno looked like he was smacked with a Louisville Slugger. He staggered back, confused. He leaned against a pillar with his gun still pointed at the floor. The girl walked right up to him, as calm as if she were ordering an ice-cream cone. Bruno started to raise his gun but she stopped him with two shots in the neck and chest. He bled out fast.
I didn’t move. I just stared.
She took Bruno’s wallet and put it in her pocket. Next she took the cash out of the dead guy’s wallet, wiped the gun, and put it in his hand. Then she came over to me.
“Thank you for trying to save me. Give me your phone and I’ll call an ambulance.” She held her hand out.
I couldn’t understand how she could be so calm after killing the nastiest bastard I’ve ever known. Something seemed wrong, but my hand was shaking so bad I handed her my phone.
She looked at it and asked for my PIN. She typed it in and the screen lit up, but, instead of calling for help, she walked over to Bruno and took his picture. I yelled, “What are you doing?”
She looked at me with eyes that were flat and devoid of emotion, the kind of eyes Bruno had before she shot them out. “I need a picture and the wallet to collect the reward.”
This conversation seemed surreal. “Reward?”
“The people in the neighborhood set up a GoFundMe page for anyone who takes care of the ‘rat’ problem. I need proof to collect.”
I stared at her, speechless.
I guess she thought I needed more of an explanation. “It’s enough to get me and my mom out of the shelter.”
I looked down at my stomach. My shirt was soaked with blood. “Call me an ambulance, hurry.”
She looked at me for several seconds then put the phone in her pocket. “Sorry.”
She started to walk away but stopped and looked back. “No witnesses.”
About the author:
Al Kanach wasted many years building things like power and pharmaceutical plants – and sometimes knocking them down. Now he’s gotten down to some serious writing and has had stories appear in Yellow Mama, Close to the Bone, Shotgun Honey, Mystery Tribune and Pulp Modern. He’s sending out his first (crime) novel and finishing a political thriller.