SHORT STORY | THE GREEN LINE
Published by Ascent Aspirations
The Green Line
Gunfire wakes me up early and I stumble over my own feet getting dove down proper under the bed. A thunder and lightening storm in Technicolor is what it looks like in here. Darby and me are on the run again and some people don't seem too happy about it. But what do they know? Gangster wantabe slacker psychopaths.
Sounds like the 4th Infantry out there, firing everything they've got at us: Shells clanging against the walls, shattering the window, ricocheting against the bed board. One pings off the sink and misses my face by half an inch. Darby's blabbering away half mad in the corner, trying to cover up her naked self. I stay clear of her. I don't know what she's crying about, she's not even hit, but with that hair trigger temper of hers I never know when she's gonna blow.
Outside in the hall dogs scream, their ear drums busted. I'd return fire if I could but I'm low on ammo and I'm running out of shells, and my gun's jammed anyway so what's the point? I hit the fruit cellar door and bolt, dragging Darby howling behind me. Narrow damned wet cave tunnel. Reach the street and poke my face up under a manhole cover. It's a hit man parade up there. Duck back down and pop up at the next one. Looking good so far. We make a run for it and grab a cab smelling of garbage and rat shit. Me and Darby, not the cab, although it's not all sunshine and roses in there either.
Darby's bleating like a gut shot coyote, blubbering away in the cabbie's rear view mirror. Looks like a kiddy porn producer the way he's staring at her. Somebody's gonna pay for that war back there but I'm in no hurry. I'm still young. Getting set up like that by Sammy Rats and his Dover Street crew is embarrassing: the rotten, yellow, racket boy bastards. They'd all sell their mothers for a fin if they could cop a buyer for the old coots. Bloody assassins must be getting minimum wage these days, judging by the way they can't shoot straight. Not that I'm complaining. Nobody's wounded, just Darby's pride. She's got nothing but a fluffy white towel on, wraps it tight around her bare legs and cries me a river.
Jump for the curb, blow off the fare. Fucking cabbie gets out and comes at me. Should have his head examined. Takes a look at my piece and craps his pants. Doesn't even know it's not loaded. Doesn't care. He's all asshole and elbows, gone.
We hit the MTA and jump the turnstile. Darby's towel is flapping in the breeze, giving the winos a free peep show. A bum throws her a dime and starts playing with himself. Best sex he's almost had in years. Fuck him. Get a job.
Riding the Green Line, Darby's sitting cross-legged, cool as a debutante on her way to Belmont Hill for tennis. Like that's gonna happen. She watches the doors close at the Boylston Street Station and peers through the window like she thinks Charlie's wife is going to throw us a sandwich as the train goes rumblin' by. We've got nowhere to go. We're just going.
Soho on the downtown train, looking for a hole to hole up in. I buy a .44 and a box of shells from a street, gun runner I know. Don't ask. Darby buys a pink, barely-there dress with noodle straps and a pair of shiny, black, kiddy shoes. She could be in sixth grade. I don't even know how old she is. I hope to God she's eighteen. She's happy dancing in a twirly fit, just glad to be gone and getting rid of the clanking of gunfire still rattling around in her head. I gotta get her outa here but don't know where the boys might be hiding. Never should have taken her with me. Or so says her abusive shit bag husband, Sammy Rats. Made his bones eating the tiny little heads off the creepy little fur balls. Says I'm a dead dick walking. A corpse on wheels. Tells me his child bride doesn't belong to me and wants her back. I'm going to make sure the sick prick perv never touches her again, only he doesn't know that yet.
Darby's still fuming, barefoot, sucking on a French fag, acting like she's Catherine Deneuve shooting through the streets of Paris with Belmondo on her arm. Tells me she's fat. Can't weigh more than a hundred pounds. Jesus, what is it with women these days?
Ducking shadows on the Green Line again, heading back uptown. Sammy and the boys will never see that one coming. Probably drag netting downtown for us as we speak. No way we'll go home is what I'm betting they're thinking. We eat on the fly, sandwiches that Darby made earlier with bullet holes in them. The rails hum and we hiss to a stop. Slip into the old neighborhood, quiet as grave diggers. Figure I'll turn the tables and start something up. I park Darby at her sister Beatrice's house and head on over to Sammy's place. I can still hear Darby snapping at me, "You'll take me with you if you know what's good for you!"
Huh? That doesn't sound good. Sammy's not answering but I can smell his cat puke cologne. Peek in the window. Double check my piece in case things get tricky, me waiting here in the lion's den and all. The door suddenly rattles open and I duck around the corner, but not in time. Boots stomp across the wooden floor towards me like the SS coming for a Jew. Sammy shits a brick when he sees me but doesn't even flinch when I kick off the safety and fire a round at his fat head. Slice a nice, red crease over his left ear. Messy this vengeance business, but better him than me. I fire three more rounds but don't hit shit. He's never alone and I hear the rustling of more cheap polyester slacks, scraping down the hallway inside the house. Most likely some of the boys, stumbling around, trying to decide what to do next. Fortunately there's not a brain among them, so I have time to hit the back door and go. By the time those demented slugs make up their minds what to do, Darby and I will already be in Italy, slamming back Chianti, slurping spaghetti, and squashing grapes barefoot.
When I get back, Darby's gone, her purse on the floor but no note. There's a butt burning in the ash tray and Beatrice and Darby don't smoke. This can't be good. Seems one of the boys made a decision after all. Shit! This is really starting to piss me off. I reload and go looking for Beatrice who's ain't there either. Must have taken her too. Big mistake. She'll keep them up nights with her Oprahfied take on things, chatting up her ignorance. Hates the world, men, life. Don't know how Darby ended up so sweet. The boys'll ditch Beatrice in two seconds flat once she starts talking her trash so she won't be that hard to find.
Sure enough, when I rush outside Beatrice has her panties in a twist, screaming at a buffed up muscle car that's about to disappear around the corner. I recognize Sammy's right hand man, Ducky Jack, rumbling down the street with a broken tailpipe hanging down. I double back through the house and across the yard and cut him off near Beacon and Centre. When he sees my .44 pointed at his pointy face he looks like he thinks I'm Satan and aims his rumbling Camaro rust bucket at me. I let loose with everything I've got at it and duck. It's the OK Coral around here, bullets flying every which way. Poor Ducky Jack's got a hole in his neck the size of New Hampshire and his car's upside down against a dumpster and his radiator's blowing bubbles like Moby Freaking Dick with a harpoon up his ass. Fuck him. I didn't ask for this. He could have stayed home, slammed back a few bottles of Guinness, and watched Ireland choke in the soccer finals.
I drag him out of the car and ram my piece half way down his throat till he tells me where Darby is. He's got about two breaths left and squanders one calling me names. He'll live but who would want to if they were him. I get in my car and drive up slow and easy and park a block from the shack that Sammy the Rat's left hand man, Little Dick, owns off Piccadilly Square. It's dark and there's no lights on, so I know he's home. Garage is empty. Dog knows me and goes back to scratching his balls. I can smell Darby in there, all jasmine and pine needles. If I was Little Dick I'd get busy protecting my tiny bag of family jewels and keep a close eye on Darby, because if I was him, I sure as hell wouldn't want her mad at me.
When Little Dick pokes his head out from behind the living room curtain I start shooting. You'd think I'd stuck a knife in his eye the way he's carrying on. I don't have anything against the entertaining little weasel and only wing him, but there's pieces of glass in his face and there's blood splashing all over everything. He drops his gun and gives up. He ain't going nowhere, but at least he's still breathing. Darby's bleating like a stuck goat from all the glass in her hair and dives into my arms. I can't carry her and have to keep my piece on Little Dicky so I set her down and we go. That pretty much leaves Sammy Rats to deal with. And I wouldn't put my money on Sammy if I was you. Not after he'd snatched Darby like that, and after all he did to her and all.
You'd think the weather had something against us the way it's falling all over everything, acting like it owns the place, spitting rain and sleet as sharp as razors at us. What did we do? Darby's wet and pouts about her new, water logged kiddy shoes, mad as a pregnant wasp with her teats in a ringer. Her dress is a mess and I know she's gonna eventually make Sammy pay for that along with everything else. It's just her, him, and me now. And judging by the look in Darby's eyes I'm glad I'm not him.
We park and slip up to one of Sammy's safe houses off Newton Center. Before I can stop her, Darby reaches into my pocket and pulls out my piece. "This is personal," she says and moves around to the back door. Shit, I'm thinking. I better hurry up see if I can get this show on the road before she shoots me by mistake. I throw a rock at the front door to distract whoever's in there and duck as the fireworks go off. Sounds like D Day at Normandy in there. Somebody must think we've got the Fourth Division with us from all the fire power they're throwing at us. Then all goes quiet on the western front, and I don't like it. I slam my body against the locked front door and see the last of Sammy's brain damaged lackeys, Slow Eddie, lying in a cesspool of blood. He's alive but barely. I don't see Sammy, or Darby, so I go check out back. Nothing there but muddy boot tracks. The back door's ripped off it's hinges and there's clumps of blond hair and blood on the gravel. I check the garage and alley. Still no Darby.
I finally figure what's up and kick myself for letting Sammy set me up like that, sending that demented bed wetter Slow Eddie, out solo to catch all that lead Darby unloaded on him. From the way she's hitting everything she's shooting at, she must have snuck off to one of those yuppie shooting ranges and took some lessons when I wasn't looking. I didn't even know she could lift a gun that big. I take it back and ram it in my pants. Sammy's got a pay day coming for sure now and there's nowhere he can run to. Besides, I know where is, because it's where he always goes when he's all out of luck and good ideas; the house he bought his ex-wife Lorraine in Jamaica Plain before she wised up and left him. Sammy doesn't even know about her and me, and all those sticky hot, naked nights we spent rolling around in the pussy willows. Why would I tell him? Serves the son-of-a-bitch right for the way he treated Darby.
When I get to Haymarket Station I see Sammy dragging Darby along behind, trying to squeeze her into the packed train. May as well try to jam a rhino through a knot hole for all the good that's going to do him. She's howling like a colicky monkey, slandering the Savior's name, and if I was Sammy, which, fortunately I'm not, I'd just let her go. But he's stubborn like that, not to mention that he's sick as a rabid dog. Who knows what he'll do next?
Subway doors close and I slip in just in time, two cars down. Easing up to Sammy, I see Darby, her teeth sunk up to the gums in his arm. He's flapping his gun in the breeze, screeching like a pig in a sausage grinder, trying to get her off him. But Darby won't let go, and right before Sammy cuffs her a good one, I about break my piece in f slamming it against the side of his ugly face. He's down and out cold. People are ducking and running for cover all over everywhere like there's a sale at Filenes's.
The train sails into a black tunnel with no light at the end of it. Sammy's bellowing like a gut shot mule, steam pouring out of the gash in his face. It'll take more than that to put him down. I know I should probably squeeze off a shot and finish him, but I don't have anything against all these people, so why start up a freaking Holy War down here?
Looks like I slowed Sammy down good and there's nothing he can do about Darby and me changing trains for Kenmore Station. I'm figuring we'll get lost at Fenway for an afternoon double header and disappear for a few hours. Sammy hates baseball. Unfortunately so does Darby and she talks me into getting off at Boylston instead so Her Royal Highness can buy a new dress and then go looking for new shoes at some yuppie shit hole called Anthropologie. I didn't even own a pair of frigging shoes till I was in fifth grade. Darby's trying on her twelfth pair when I see Sammy staring through the window at her, still bleeding hard from the head. He doesn't see me and stumbles in after Darby who's concentrating so hard on trying on shoes that she doesn't notice him sitting there on his chubby little haunches salivating, staring up her brand new pink dress.
I'm so pissed that I'm thinking I should just pop a cap in Sammy's back and put an end to this shit once and for all. He'd do the same to me if he had any decent firepower, which he doesn't, but I figure it'll be less noisy to just put a fist in his face, which is what I do. He's lying quiet as a deflated Pillsbury dough boy on the floor and, when the smoke clears, I see Darby slipping out the back without me. What the hell? What did I do? I just saved her skinny white butt from that abusive pile of hog guts, Sammy, and now this? I can't figure it. Who knows where she's going? Jesus! Women. I'm going home.
My house looks like the Battle of the Bulge. Who needs this shit? I pack every bag I've got, slam everything I own in a suitcase and head for the station. Fuck it. I don't care where Darby is. I'm better off without her anyway. Treachery and desertion. Who knows, maybe she liked having Sammy Rats slap her around.
I'm almost down the porch steps when a high heel shoe slams up against my head. Darby's standing there, smoking from the ears, furious, screeching at me. "Where did you go, you big, dip shit pecker head? When I came back from the ladies' can at the shoe store, you were gone. What up with that?"
She's gotta lot of gall asking me where I went. I'm not the one that ducked out the back of the shoe store when things got dicey. She looks like a soggy Halloween skeleton with a hornet's nest of blond curls glued to the top of her head. She's traipsing around like Festus in Gunsmoke on one blue shoe, blood splattered all over her pretty pink dress, and her bottom lip quivering like a worm on a hook, but she won't back down and lights right into me. "I was so scared back there that I had to go take a pee and when I got back you were gone. What's wrong with you anyway? You don't like me anymore? You got a bimbo stashed away somewhere?"
I don't know who put a stick up her butt. I thought she'd skipped out on me. It's an easy mistake to make. What was I supposed to do? I guess it's good to see her. She's cute when she's mad. We jump the Green Line and go. I don't know where. South.