Part of 500 Shitty Words
A half-burnt joint dangled limply from Mago’s bloody lip. His right arm rested on the stone beside him, his left held the uncapped and increasingly empty bottle of Vulture Original bourbon. His ass sat firmly in the dirt, and his granddad’s snubnose sat loosely in the rear waistband of his jeans. Between the swollen black-eye, the night’s darkness and the haze of self-medication, Mago could barely see past his splayed-out boots.
Until the cars pulled up.
There were two cars, and two men in each. They left the headlights and engines on; this wouldn’t take long. Mago didn’t rise to greet the silhouettes that slammed the doors behind themselves, breaking the silence of the night.
They arrayed in a line before him; headlight beams slipping through their arms and around their bodies. One folded his arms in front of his chest, another cracked his knuckles, and a third brandished some kind of club in his left hand. But Mago’s eyes never left the man at the front, whose arms dangled at his sides, clenching and unclenching into fists.
“I told you never to come back here,” the front-man said, his voice malice and smoke.
“You did. I remembered it, too. I got reminders all over my face. The eye. The nose. The lip. Maybe a rib, too, I don’t know. Thing is,” Mago took a deliberate drag from the joint, “I just don’t care what you have to say.”
The plume of smoke hovered in the space between them, illuminated in twists and wisps by the headlights.
The front-man’s shoulders tensed. His men shifted, anger in their posture.
“Why don’t you just go home, before you get yourself hurt?” offered the fella with the club before giving it a showy twirl and slapping it into his palm with a loud thwack. Mago’s eyes never left the front-man.
“Because it’s date night. Nowhere else to be.” His voice cracked as he fought back the tears that stung around his battered eyes.
“You little sonuvabitch. You little fucking sonuvabitch!” the front-man roared, the contours of his face flashing in and out of the light, “You’re the reason she… she’s gone. You killed her, y-you worthless piece of shit…”
The front-man’s voice cracked, too. If he cried, Mago couldn’t see it. Wouldn’t have cared if he could.
“Yeah… I did.” Mago’s joint burned low, little more than ash.
“I should kill you.” The front-man’s hand slipped into the pocket of his jacket and stayed there.
“Maybe,” Mago pushed his right arm against the gravestone and lifted himself to his feet. He took a drag until the last of the joint burnt out. “But I’m not yours to kill.”
His hand slipped behind his back and found purchase on the cool metal barrel of the snubnose. He laced his fingers around the grip and trigger, and drew.
Neither the front-man nor any of his men saw it coming. Just saw the flash of metal against the darkness. Just heard the bang of a single shot. Mago’s body fell limp, collapsed next to the gravestone.
It was date night. He had nowhere else to go.