Business As Usual
by Beau Johnson
I watch him from across the bar, half hammed-up and wired to go. He smokes cigarette after cigarette, each exhalation pushed from his nose. Dressed in dirty jeans and a black leather jacket, he’s the type of scum who wears shit-kickers because they make him look tall. It would have to be tonight. I was almost sure of it.
Five days before Batista puts the disc in my lap I have no idea Reggie and his cohorts exist. Once I do—once I see what these monsters are capable of—is when things go and change. When gloves not only come off, but get lost in the process.
“This is on you, Rider. Each of them got off. Each of them needs something done. Do what you do.” I agreed, which is more likely than not the reason I’d been smuggled the disc. Batista’s conscience couldn’t handle it otherwise. “I may be a cop, but shit like this—this shit is beyond what ain’t right.”
The man had a point, as the men I stalked were godless, each one in a position they would soon regret. Though he would never admit as much, Batista had begun to get off on what we did. The man believing he held some sort of control over what he considered to be the lesser of two evils. If it gets me within spitting distance of where I need to be, so be it. No skin off my ass.
Reggie tips his beer, leans himself over and into Malcolm. They laugh harder than I believe they should, and then Malcolm taps Reggie on the back. Already up, I follow Malcolm into the john; walk up right behind the big man as he does what he means to do. I am quick, the steel small, and what was recently used in force could now be used no longer. At this he drains, but not before I feed him the wall.
Cops come, cops go, and I watch as they wheel out the bag which holds a man who will never hurt another again. I continue to wait. I continue to watch. I see Reggie give his statement. His biker buds too. Their eyes are small, their jackets big. They’re unnerved, it seems. I could give a shit.
Once he agrees to no longer scream is when I remove the tape. I’d surprised him in his home, at the fridge, and more than likely as he was going for a beer. He didn’t say much at first, when he noticed me, just a titling of the head, and then nothing after I’d knocked him to the ground. Awake was a whole other story. As I’ve said: tape.
First two fingers of his right hand go before he agrees to my suggestion of a nice quiet talk.
“Who are you, man?”
“You really need to know, seeing where we’re at?”
He did, it seemed, so I told him my name. Also said I was a vested party interested in all things Reggie, especially anything else pertaining to the video he’d put himself in.
“They were good, y’know. So good,” he says, and then spits up in my face. “The daughter ‘specially.”
I’d misjudged him. Where I should have seen jackal, I’d assumed wolf, though it shouldn’t have surprised me; was in fact what usually happened when people like Reggie found themselves near the end. Either way he bled the same.
Two days later I take care of the remaining two in a basement much like the one from the disc which started this all. Both cried. Both pleaded. Neither did much after that. Done, it’s business as usual. I record it all; write down everything that fills the void. This is who I am. This is what I do. Some could be offended. I never will be.
For my sister. My mother. All of them to burn.