“A Lesson in Violence” by Kraig Pickel
Mondays Are Murder features brand-new noir fiction modeled after our award-winning Noir Series. Each story is an original one, and each takes place in a distinct location. Our web model for the series has one more restraint: a 750-word limit. Sound like murder? It is. But so are Mondays.
This week, Kraig Pickel wants to enjoy his music.
The teenage boys sat low on a curb behind the loading docks, employee parking, and emergency exits of the East Towne Mall, Lancaster County’s finest local shopping center. Joel dragged slowly on a white Marlboro cigarette. Rick drummed his hands in short, rapid rhythms to the speed metal sounds coming through his Sony Walkman headphones. The volume wheel was scrolled up to eight. Rick favored track number six on most albums, but this song was the fourth track. It was his favorite. Two minutes in, the presto tempo lifted to introduce the chorus when a whir and a screech garbled the lead singer vocals and the band’s heavy distortion. The cassette clicked off.
“Son of a . . .” shouted Rick. He pulled the head phones down around his neck by the ear cups and scrambled for the left inside pocket of his faded denim jacket. The Walkman fit tight inside the pocket. Rick continued to curse the machine and the jacket as he struggled to pull it free.
Joel started laughing. “What the hell’s a matter with you.”
“Ate my tape! This damn thing keeps wrecking my best tapes.” Rick had the Walkman in his hands. He pried open the side and pulled out a translucent cassette with a foot long tape streamer.
Joel’s laughter got louder as he slapped both of his knees with joy.
Rick was not humored at the disemboweled cassette. “Shut up, man. Don’t you have a pen or a pencil?” He felt a sense of urgency to wind the tape back into the protective plastic casing.
Joel’s laughter turned to coughing and he could barely form a sentence. “Why don’t you put your little pecker in it and twist.”
Rick frowned and used his index finger to move the spool a quarter turn at a time, slowly drawing the loose tape inside.
“You know that song ain’t gonna sound right no more. It’ll probably keep coming apart every time, when it hits that spot.”
“Don’t jinx it, man,” said Rick as he completed the repair. “This is a classic album.”
Joel shrugged, losing interest in the subject. “Hey, check out my new chain.”
Rick inserted the cassette in the player and stuffed it all back inside the jacket, giving Joel his full attention. Joel displayed a large dog choker chain. With both hands he snapped the links straight to their full extension.
“I like it,” said Rick. “You could whip the shit out of someone with that.”
“Right, and check it out.” Joel let one end of the chain free and spun it in a circular motion until his meaty fist was wrapped in chrome links. “Chain knuckles.”
“Sweet!” Rick clapped his hands once and rubbed his palms together. “Now, who needs an ass whooping?”
“Lots of motherfuckers do,” said Joel. “Lots.”
* * *
KRAIG PICKEL is a retired United States Marine and an MFA in Writing candidate with the Vermont College of Fine Arts. He currently resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Posted: Nov 30, 2015
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