Powder Burn Flash # 221 - Christopher Grant
by Christopher Grant
My street is a cesspool. It's literally a dead end.
There have been six murders on this stretch of asphalt and concrete in the last three weeks. A couple were gang-related. A couple were lovers' quarrels. The other two are still unsolved, with motive still a mystery. The children that still live in the neighborhood are never let out of their houses after a certain time of day. At least those that still have parents living with them. Those that don't have already fallen in with the killing crowd.
I own a handful of guns. I've contemplated taking the law into my own hands so many times I've lost count. I've thought about being a superhero. I think this world needs a superhero.
But everytime I make up my mind to do something, to clean up this dead end, to change my street, I back off.
It's not fear, per se. At least not of the thugs that roam my neighborhood. Not of the cops and their response or lack thereof, if we're being honest. I can't describe what it is but it feels like my bladder is opening up and I'm going to piss my pants. I shake and shiver and my teeth chatter uncontrollably and my muscles start to twitch and my heart beats like a drum, threatening to burst out of my chest.
And I back off.
Last night, I didn't back off. Not after the repetitious sounds of exchanged gunfire. The last straw was the bullet that crashed through my window and embedded itself in the wall just above my head. Another six feet lower and it would have been in my head and I wouldn't be telling you this story.
I got up, dropped the remote on the table and went to the gun case. I grabbed two handguns. I checked them, cocked them and then calmly (I surprised myself how calm I was) towards the sounds.
There were three of them, two on one. Unfair odds, I thought, and joined the imbecile that had decided to get into this firefight without backup.
He was eighteen, if a day, and when he looked over at me, he wore a confused expression. As I fired back at his opponents, his expression changed. He had no idea that, once we were through with these other two motherfuckers, he was going to be eating lead. Such was my scorched earth policy.
I hit one of these jokers in the thigh and hoped that I nailed an artery. The other one proved that there is no honor among thieves (or wanna-be gunslingers), as he took off and left his friend to lay there, bleeding out.
"Thanks, man," the kid I had backed up said, putting his gun in his waistband and his hand out. I looked at his hand for about two seconds, raised my guns and, as time slowed, watched the understanding come over his face, understanding that he was going to be dead in a second and there was nothing he could do.
One of my guns went BANG! and he hit the ground, a hole in his head, the back of it (and his brains) painting the pavement and a chain-link fence behind him.
I felt it then, the lead bouncing around inside of my own body. It's a strange feeling. Some people ask if it's hot or cold or if it hurts or if it's just over real quick and you don't feel a thing. I can only tell you that time slowed down again and I felt my arms go numb, heard one of my guns clatter on the pavement. I hit my knees, my eyes went frantic and I found him, my would-be assassin. I fired twice and, as I pitched forward, I blacked out.
When I came to, I was looking up at an antiseptic white ceiling. A redheaded nurse was looking down at me. She had full lips and smelled very nice. If she were the only sight, I would have been smiling, looking forward to getting her number. She was gorgeous.
The hairy cop to my right was disgusting.
"Five minutes," the nurse told him and moved out of my sight. I wanted to scream after her and ask her to come back and get rid of this asshole. My mouth was dry and it betrayed me.
"Mr. Neri," the cop said. "Let's talk about your street."
BIO: Christopher Grant is the owner and the editor of A Twist Of Noir. His fiction has appeared on the late, lamented DZ Allen's Muzzle Flash, as well as here at Powder Burn Flash