Tangent: S1

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These motherfuckers had no idea how easy they had it.

Coors leaned against the wall, a foot wedged beneath him as a seat, a hand filled with his gleaming .45 resting on his upraised thigh. He thought the gun, and the things he had done with it, were the reason he didn’t have to go through this shit. Like bunnies never hopped off the porch somehow had got ear of his legend and were impressed.

Bullshit.

I’d put almost ten times as many fuckers in the ground as The Silver Fucking Bullet, and here I was, again, dealing with some shithead just had to find out for himself. Coors. The Silver Fucking Bullet. Idiot even painted his bullets with fingernail polish. Seven shades of shit. Can’t even make fun of shit like that, might hurt ‘is widdle feewings. Fucker was handy with that silver, though, so you made some concessions.

He was dead fucking wrong about what kept him from having to prove himself to every fucking tyke wanders in off the damn street. It wasn’t the gun displayed on his leg, it was the shriveled, swinging cock displayed by the too tight jeans he’d taken to wearing the last year. If he knew how underwhelming an impression the look made, bet the fucker’d rethink some of his fashion decisions.

Regardless of size, the mere fact of his flaccid flesh sack was why he wasn’t standing in front of this fresh inked kid, twisted sneer not helping the pimply face. Having a cock meant he was part of the club. Dick swingers were supposed to be violent, so just off a couple of fuckers and everyone’s like, ‘yeah, he’s a killer, leave that fuck alone,’ or some shit.

Keep your sex stuff on the inside, where it’s sensible and safe, and you could have a body count in triple figures and still be having this conversation, even if you were the longest standing head of any criminal organization on the west coast.

Fucking. Bullshit.

“I have good news, fuckface.”

“Like I giv’a,”

“Shut. The fuck. Up.”

The knife I pressed up against his lips was the only reason the dumb shit stopped talking. Coors chuckled behind me. The kid’s eyes darted toward the man, and I could see his confidence falling with the edges of his sneer at the sound. Coors had the kind of chuckle that made evil clowns envious. I was pretty sure he practiced it.

“The good news,” I started again, “fuckface, is that life isn’t fucking fair.”

From this point, as long as the dimwit beneath my blade didn’t get any fun ideas, everyone knew their lines in the play to come. We had performed it often enough. Which gave me enough mental space to recall the phone call from this afternoon and I saw a drop of blood peek from beneath the tip of my knife. Fuck. Stay on task.

“V,” I called.

V stalked to my side in two long, smooth strides. He stalked everywhere, really. Shorter and smaller than Coors, V never carried a gun. Carried damn near everything else, but never heat. Where Coors got respect for having bodies behind him, V got fear because he didn’t. He never killed, to the immense regret of not a few miserable bastards.

To be fair, V also got fear for the matching scars running cheekbone to chin, infused in some dying process I’d never asked about, to stand greenish blue against his caramel cheek.

“V,” I said again, without taking my eyes off my knife, “tell fuckface how you got your scars.”

“They were your kind indulgence.”

“For what?”

The fuck was now not sneering, but trying to look both at V’s wrecked face and the blade tucked under his nose, eyes getting wider. That would make the next part easier.

“For besmirching your reputation.”

“And do you think it was a fair exchange?”

Besmirching. Fucker always said shit like that. Spoke better English than most of the assholes born in this country. When he chose to speak.

“No, it was most unfair.”

“What would have been fair?”

He didn’t even look at the kid as he talked, just stared at the ground as if he could see through it, like always. He’d explained once that it was for the same reason he didn’t speak much. Something about eye contact and speech being and invasion of one’s existential space or some shit. End result was that he stalked around silent as darkness just staring at the ground all the time. Creepy fuck.

“Death.”

“Why would death have been fair?”

I leaned in a little, tilting the blade with a little twist, taking a small slice of a nostril, narrowing my eyes to press the blade firmer as the fuck started to lean back. I gave him the smallest flick of an eyebrow. A bead of blood ran down the edge of the steel, and I smiled. I bet the fuck would wet himself if I licked the blade right now. Even small wins were wins, and I had to take what I could get right now.

“Because one’s reputation is one’s life, damage to your reputation is a threat to your life. Death is appropriate for one who threatens your life.”

“And are you angry about where I left my indulgences?”

“No, I am every day grateful.”

“And for what, exactly,” I leaned in again, shifting my feet and settling my grip on the blade, and a tear broke loose from one of the fuck’s eyes, “are you grateful?”

V waited a moment, and Coors filled the space with another chuckle. An acrid aroma wafted from the fuck. Damnit. Meant I owed Coors a rack. This shit kept getting worse. V raised his eyes to meet the kid’s.

“For aiming low.”

Creepy bastard. The little fuck’s eye’s brightened with the dawning of understanding, and he made as if to pull away in earnest, which might have worked if my blade wasn’t already pressed against his face.

Stupid fuck.

A quick snap of my hips, driving my shoulder through my elbow, tearing my knife loose with a quick snick-sploosh-snick as it caught on bone both before and after transforming an eyeball into a gushing sack of spilled fluids.

The screaming was going to last for a while, so I cleaned my knife while heading to the wetbar in the corner. On the bright side, the screams were doing a fantastic job blocking out the echo of that word that had been ringing through my head ever since I answered that damn phone.

I pulled a beer and took a drink. Deep breath. I could feel the fury rising again, unexpected its intensity after so many years. Despite the fact that I had known this day was coming. This call. Surprised it had taken this long, when I thought about it. But Johny had always been a man of his word.

Clear as if it were yesterday I could remember him lying in the mud where I’d shoved him, crutches little help on the hill with a leg cast up to the hip. He shouldn’t have even been out of the hospital, yet. I’d screamed at him then, demanding to know how he dared show his face at their funeral if he wasn’t there when it mattered, when he could have done something. He just laid there, and it was impossible to know how much of the water running down his face was from the clouds mourning above us.

Johny hadn’t argued, didn’t point out that I hadn’t done anything and I’d been there. He just nodded, and then did exactly what I told him to do and never spoke to me again. Not when Moms went to join the boys, not even when I carried the casket at his sister’s funeral. It was just me and Johny, now, after Momma and Nana. The only ones who knew. It had to happen. He was always going to tell the boy. Always.

Just hadn’t been ready to hear that word. Got caught off guard, flashed back to all the games as a kid, the half mocking, half doting celebratory cheers when I’d finish whatever new obstacle course they designed long after they’d all conquered the terrain, getting called in from the lake as the night descended, that last ruffling of my head before they stepped onto that pier. . .

Sausso.

The screams had peaked, more throaty rattling was getting thrown into the mix. This fucking day. Almost glad to have this little asshole to take my mind off things. At least this is some bullshit that I’m used to handling.

I shook my head, and threw back the rest of my beer, slamming the glass onto the bar before walking back over to the fuck curled in his pooled fluids. His scream was tailing into a whimper, but flared back up again as I planted a foot on his shoulder, pressing his face into the soaked ground.

“Now that you have a better idea of how the fuck shit works around here,” I leaned on the leg pinning him, extending my blade to trace along his remaining whole eyebrow, “Go ahead.”

“Call me cunt. One. More. Time.”

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