i - detroit
The moments that make up a dull day.
Perfunctory moments. Sitting at a red light for a cab driver. Commercial breaks for the couch potato. Masturbation for the porn addict. For normal folks…brushing your teeth, wiping your ****, stuffing that last French fry into your mouth.
But not murder.
I know to some people, murder ‘aint no thing.’ To some people in fact it’s just a way of life. Like you or I would dye our hair, buy tampons for a girlfriend, or walk the backstreets trying to score a dime bag.
Thugs and gang bangers. Soprano guys. Hit men…and women. Military type people.
Killing is what they do. Just another cursory part of the day.
And thank sweet Jesus for them right. I mean, some people just need to die.
But not me.
I ponder this as Kirt pulls a shiny metal gun out of his jacket pocket.
He placed it in the same pocket moments before walking out of his house in Grosse Pointe for the very last time. He told his wife he was going to meet me for, ‘One final game.’ That was the last time he saw her or the kids. That was one week ago.
I told my wife I was going to see my mistress. I know better.
If I told her I was coming to meet Kirt she would have packed up and left me immediately. Not an entirely bad scenario to be honest. Could still happen.
The air in this room is thick, dank and dirty. Los Angeles thick. Midwestern basement dank. Mexico City dirty.
Only were in Detroit. And it’s the dead of winter.
It’s a second floor, one-room studio apartment on Van Dyke, between Harper and I-94. East side hood.
Kirt rented it a few months back in anticipation of this very night. He selected it knowing that in this area a loud bang wouldn’t raise too many eyebrows. It smells like bong water, shitty diapers and suicide.
The only light in the room comes from two oversized Christmas candles I lit on the windowsill. I brought them from home. Jules will no doubt be looking or them.
We sit facing each other at a small circular table in the center of the room. Behind me, the door. Behind him, a window facing I-94. It’s early evening and I can hear the traffic on the expressway scuttling like roaches to get out of the nasty city and home to the comfortable burbs before dark.
To my right, a dilapidated dresser shell, only one of four drawers left. The top one. It’s once white exterior, where not bruised and chipped away, now covered with gang graffiti. On the wall to my left in huge black spray painted letters, BMF.
Kirt sets the gun down on the table and with a magicians wave and an incline of the eyebrow, seemingly offers it up to me.
I remain motionless.
I watch his face intently, looking for any indication that he’s changed his mind…any sign of betrayal. I swear, if I hadn’t known him his entire life there’s no way I could sit across this table, look at him directly and know him as he is now. His appearance has changed so much in the past few months.
His once light brown eyes now dark with depression, or despair…maybe both. Or worse yet, maybe neither. Smooth as silk hands now jagged. Tailored suit now ragged. The square jaw and deeply cleft chin that once drove women nuts now buried under an unmowed lawn of wiry black beard. His hair disheveled beyond MTV recognition.
I know he wants to go first, but he’s trying to be a gentleman.
I don’t appreciate the attempt. It’s no longer about sportsmanship with us. In the game we created, it’s all about winning or losing.
But this is the feeling out period. The first round of a heavy weight battle. Each of us looking for that opening. That small edge so we can get the advantage.
Problem is, we know each other too well. No grand facades here. No masks can hide our intentions.
He rests his dirty knuckled hand on the piece and slowly pushes it toward me. The friction creates a screeching sound, not unlike a child’s fingernails across a blackboard. It doesn’t bother me but I notice that his face quickly contorts into a cringe.
Then, as quickly as it came, it’s gone…and in its place a raw grin.
I stretch out a manicured hand and rest it on the cool metal object.
My eyes scan the table. Dingy, with circular markings left from shot glasses drunkenly overfilled and black crusty cigar and cigarette burns. I marvel at the foreshadowing of the event.
So romantic. So tragic.
I slowly rotate the gun around on the table, recreating once again the blackboard screech.
Trying to make him cringe again. Trying to gain that edge.
The same uncooked smile spills off his face.
“All right then…you go first.”
I pick it up and clumsily pop open its hollow belly. It looks hungry.
Kirt pulls a shiny slug out of his pants pocket and rests it in the middle of the table. One lone bullet.
We both regard it with respect and awe.
I reach out and lift it into the air.
‘Hey Mom, look at me! A bullet in one hand. A gun in the other. I am capable of creation and destruction. I am a GOD!’
I insert the sparkling stud into the empty chamber. Slowly. It’s a perfect fit.
I feel a moan escape me.
I re-close and spin it like a carnival ride.
“Okay then. I’ll go first.”