“Streak of Evil” by Kevin Richard White
I was at the Elks. Cabrera struck out looking. Then the Bookie called me.
“You know where,” he said. “Be here in an hour.”
I had another old-fashioned first.
I met him at Memorial Park, right by the old baseball fields. I sat across from him as he read a real estate guide in the dark.
“I don’t have your money,” I said.
He set the guide down, stared into my face until I broke.
“I don’t have any money,” I said.
“I never did.”
“Follow me,” he said.
“So now what?” I said as we had a coffee at the Pottstown Diner.
He didn’t drink his. He looked out the window. Lives continued to be lived; deaths continued to be counted.
“Steve,” he said to me, “you do all of these things to yourself.”
“And since you began it, you end it.”
He didn’t say anything for a long time. We left, and we went out to his car. He opened the trunk and handed me a grocery bag, heavy and dirty.
“What’s in here?” I said.
“Your way out,” he told me.
We sat in his car minutes later as I looked at the gun in my hand. I had never actually held one.
“Who am I going to kill?”
The Bookie just ignored me, gazing into the freezing cold bullshit night. I held back vomit.
“You can’t tell your family about this,” he said. “They can’t know you’re going to kill a man.”
“I’m already dead,” I said.
We watched cars on the highway. I gripped the gun, wanting to shoot them all.
“You’re going to kill my bookie,” he said. “I owe him too. I was going to pay him off with the money you were supposed to win. So he needs to go.”
“Why do I have to do this?” My bones, ice cold, yearned for fire I couldn’t fathom.
“Because. You’re just a person. I’m a man.”
I didn’t know what to say. The Bookie gave me all the info I needed. Then I left, all bullets and no brains, all fear and no heart.
I slept with my wife—last night with her, I was sure—as I had the knowledge of my death, and all she cared about was the alcohol on my breath.
I went to the place I was told. I thought about Cabrera striking out again. This was his fault. You don’t need to know all of this next bit—I was desperate. I needed to win. The guy, whoever he was, opened his mouth to speak some bullshit. I didn’t want banter. I shot him in the mouth. The exit wound didn’t look half-bad. I took all the money out of his wallet. I was ornery, but I could be sly. I left to meet the Bookie.
“You did it?” he asked me.
“How do I know you did?”
He glared at me. “I don’t know, Steve. If you didn’t, we’re both dead.”
His face suddenly bothered me. He knew where I lived. I didn’t want him to see my wife.
“Hands out of your pockets,” I told him.
“You heard me. Show me your hands.”
“I think you lost it.”
Evil can do great things to a man. I shot him in the stomach. Then, as he doubled over, I shot him the neck. The blood sprayed, oozed, all over the alleyway floor. Franklin Street was used to gunfire noise by now. We all were, being in this town. It looked neat. I took his money. I wiped my fingerprints. I covered him in nearby stray garbage bags. I left the gun. I didn’t care. It was all Cabrera’s fault.
I went to have an old-fashioned before I went home. But when I got it, I didn’t drink it. I just waited for the next game.
KEVIN RICHARD WHITE is the author of the novels Steep Drop and The Face of a Monster through No Frills Buffalo. His short fiction and poetry have also been previously published in Essence, Shoofly, Eskimo Pie and Leaves of Ink. He lives in Pennsylvania.
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—Your story should be set in a distinct location of any neighborhood in any city, anywhere in the world, but it should be a story that could only be set in the neighborhood you chose.
—Include the neighborhood, city, state, and country next to your byline.
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Posted: Jun 22, 2015
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