“Dead coil? The fuck does that mean?”
Silence as the man listened on his cell phone.
“Listen, I don’t give two fucks about your fancy accounting mumbo jumbo. Can you do it?”
More listening, then, “Hey, lemmie call you back… The sidewalk has ears.”
The man turned to Joaquin “The fuck you lookin at?”
“A dead man if you don’t show some respect.”
The man smiled. “Come ‘ere kid,” and beckoned Joaquin over.
Joaquin scoffed. “Kid? I gotta beat the respect into you?”
The man rolled his eyes and produced a knife with a long serrated blade. Pointing it at Joaquin, he said, “You might wanna re-think your options here.”
Joaquin smiled and walked up to the man until the knife tip was pressed against his chest.
“Shit, man. Youse got some stones, huh.”
Joaquin shrugged and leaned forward.
“Whoah! Shit man, I cut you, you gonna bleed all over my shoes.”
“You a member of the Sixth Street Kings?”
“What if I am?”
“I was thinking I need a few changes in my life.”
The man withdrew his knife slightly. “You think youse Kings material?”
Joaquin smiled. “You’ve got it wrong, friend. I wonder if the Kings is good enough to join me.”
“Bitch, that be some serious whack. Get yo’self on outta here.”
“What, I gotta audition? Like on American Idol, maybe? How ’bout I beat yo ass jes to show you I’m serious.” Joaquin thrust out his chin in defiance.
“This’s gonna be fun.” The man slashed upwards with the knife towards Joaquin’s chin. The serrated edge made contact with Joaquin’s chin and cheek, but no blood.
“The fuck, yo?”
“I’m sorry, did I break your concentration? I didn’t mean to do that. Please, continue, you were saying?”
“Pulp fuckin Fiction? Come on man, that shit’s old.”
Joaquin grabbed the knife by the blade and twisted it out of the man’s grip. He moved it to his other hand. “I guess it’s my turn, huh?”
“Who the fuck are you?”
I’m your worst nightmare, thought Joaquin. He put serious thought into saying the line from Rambo III, but before he could utter the tired quote, several youths ran up the sidewalk towards them.
Tee nodded to the youth running towards them. Joaquin smiled and stared at Tee while raising his his index and middle finger and striking Tee on the cheek and chin. “What ya gotta say ’bout that biatch?”
“Daymn! That fool chin checked Tee!” Everyone stopped and stared.
Tee looked into Joaquin’s eyes and shook his head in the declarative negative. Joaquin responded by nodding and smiling. Joaquin grabbed Tee by the jacket, spun him around and they landed at the edge of the curb. Tee’s shoulders were still on the curb, but his head was in traffic. None of the cars stopped, but several swerved to avoid what was happening on the sidewalk. Several of the youths appeared to want to intervene, but the youth that shouted to Tee held everyone back. A bus rumbled by close enough for Tee to feel it.
“Let me up, man!” he shouted.
“I dunno if I’ve passed the audition.”
“You have, man. You passed! You passed!”
“Ya mean imma goin to Hollywood?”
“Fuckin American Idol, dude.” Joaquin looked down at Tee he caught a whif and wrinkled his nose. “You fuckin pissed yo’self? What the fuck, man?”
Tee kept looking at oncoming traffic then at Joaquin. He kept pleading with Joaquin, tears forming and quickly drying by the passing traffic.
“Yo, I think ya made your point,” the youth stood a few feet away from Joaquin. “Name’s Charles, but everyone around here calls me ‘Lil’ Cee.'”
Joaquin lifted Tee up from the curb by his jacket. When he did, a motorist swerved and impacted a car in the next lane. Both swerved into oncoming traffic and were struck. The force pushed the mass of metal and glass back into the other lanes and was rear-ended by more cars from both directions. Horns, crunching metal and breaking glass were all anyone heard. Lil’ Cee declared, “Let’s get outta here.” He slapped Joaquin on the chest with the back of his hand. “Youse with us.” Lil’ Cee looked down at Tee sprawled on the sidewalk, watching the wreck, stinking of piss and shook his head. The group, minus Tee, strutted down the sidewalk.
* * *
Kristof looked out the window of the bus. He saw some sort of commotion on the sidewalk in front of a bank. Fuckin’ kids, he thought as he shook his head in disgust. During the ride home, he tested his strength several times, but it was gone.
What does this mean?
“Excuse me, young man.”
Kristof looked up from his window reverie to see a senior citizen addressing him. He cleared his throat. “Ma’am?”
“I’ve lost my earring and my vision isn’t what it used to be.” She motioned to her glasses. They were thicker than Joaquin’s cell phone.
“Where were you sitting?”
The woman pointed to a seat a few rows back. Kristof saw a reflection off something shiny on the floor, but another bus patron scooped it up. Kristof patted the old woman on the shoulder and walked back to the other rider. “Hey, didja find an earring on the floor?”
A girl, perhaps sixteen or seventeen, pressed pause on her iPhone and looked up at Kristof. “¿Que?” She replied exuding innocence.
“I saw you pick something up.”
“No habla inglés.”
Kristof smiled. “I know you speak english. Your iPhone is in english.” The girl turned the iPhone away from Kristof’s gaze. “The textbooks in your backpack are in english. The girl’s eyes darted slightly towards her open backpack on the seat next to her. “And finally, Klarissa” Kristof leaned in and grinned displaying his teeth. “I can see the outline of your necklace under your shirt.” Klarissa covered the lump just under her collar.
“Fine!” Klarissa held out the earring in the palm of her hand.
“Oh, no, Klarissa. I think you need to give the nice old lady her earring.”
Klarissa sighed and rolled her eyes. She was about to retort, but the retort died in her throat when she saw Kristof raise his eyebrows. She trudged over to the old lady and dropped the earring into her waiting hand. She turned to walk back to her seat but Kristof cleared his throat.
More eye-rolling and heavy sighs from Klarissa before she reluctantly said, “I’m sorry.”
When Klarissa made her way back to her seat, she turned sideways to allow Kristof to pass. He looked down at her and she fixed him with an icy stare. Smiling, Kristof returned to his seat and resumed his gazing out the window.
* * *
Kristof hopped off the bus and leaned against the bus stop. The old woman waved from her window as the bus pulled away. Kristof raised his arm in reply and smiled wider as the teenage girl shot icy daggers at him. Ignoring her glare, Kristof shoved his hands into his pockets and walked up the street towards his house. He was still a block away from his house and he looked off into the distance. He could clearly see the stain from the internal fluids when he smashed that punk’s car. That was, what? Sixteen days ago? He stopped and scanned the front of his house. A newspaper lay, rolled up on the sidewalk. Kristof could read the newsprint clearly from a block away. He looked up at an airplane flying overhead. “BR549” was emblazoned on the tail of the aircraft. He stuck up his thumb and the plane disappeared from his sight. He closed one eye and his thumb jumped, revealing the plane.
“What’re you doing out here?”
Kristof turned to see his wife. “I, uh… was sent home by doctor Flax.”
Krystal spread her arms. “No, what are you doing, right,” she emphasized the word by pointing at the sidewalk, “here?”
Kristof looked towards his house and saw a shadow on his porch.
* * *
“Major Globe, another incident with subject three-one-seven.”
Without looking up, Jacob Globe reached out his hand. He took the folder and set it down beside the document he was studying. “Thanks,” he mumbled.
Footsteps receded and his door was closed quietly.
* * *
Joaquin looked up at the seven story building covered with tags. He looked at Lil’ Cee.
“Home sweet home.”
“Don’t let the outside fool you.” A large man held open a door for them to step through. “It’s inside that counts.”
* * *
“What should we do about Joaquin?”
Anne looked up from a scroll she was reading on her ornate desk. “The Malaya Nevka River,” she declared.
“Grigori Rasputin. He was stabbed, shot three times and beaten with a club, but he did not die.”
Justin leaned on her desk. “You think Joaquin is of the same bloodline as Rasputin?”
Anne nodded and regarded Justin’s gloved hands. “Maybe you can take care of him?”
Justin shrugged. “How did the Tsarina get rid of Rasputin?”
Anne smiled a feral smile. “I drowned him.”
I rolled a 15 and a 19 for Chuck’s random title challenge. I did some quick googling to see if I could somehow abuse alternate meanings of Dead and Coil. I didn’t know “dead coil” was an acronym used in accounting. I’m still struggling with the speech patterns and such with Joaquin and his world. Once 16Sunsets is done and I start the editing and rewriting phase, I’m gonna have to put some serious effort into fixing that. I’m 2% over on my word count at 1,530. This will bring the total count for 16Sunsets up to 13,666.