“the white race, billy - the pissed on, shit on, downtrodden white race.”
mitch pulled the datsun over about a block from the arby’s, beside a lot where a house was under construction.
the lot across the street was vacant, and the two houses that were visible from where they sat had their lights off.
“aren’t we going go to arby’s ?” donna asked from the back seat.
“what are you, starving?” mitch answered.
“i could use a bite.”
“you can get one later. i think this is a good place to talk. don’t you agree. billy?”
“we can talk wherever you want,” larry told him.
“we could talk at arby’s,” donna said. “nobody’s going to be listening to anything we have to say. or give a shit about it if they did.”
”i said we can to go arby’s later. “
“what, you think arby’s is bugged?” donna persisted. “he’s more likely to be bugged himself.”
“i don’t think so,” said mitch.
“then why don’t we find out? we should have done it back at his house. just find out, then we can all be happy.”
mitch sighed. “sure, why not? you don’t mind, do you, billy? we are all friends here.”
“mind what?” larry asked, although he had an idea of what they were talking about.
“me checking you out,” donna said. suddenly she leaned over the seat, grabbed larry around the neck, and shoved her hand inside his shirt.
larry shuddered at her touch. it was like having a big fat cat crawling over him.
donna reached a little further down and grabbed him around his crotch. “unzip your fly,” she told larry.
“what?” larry gasped. mitch laughed.
“i’m not interested in your needly dick, i just want to see if you have a wire on your leg.”
“can’t you tell just from the outside?”
“unzip your fly and let’s get this over with. you think this is comfortable for me?”
larry complied, and donna with her head almost down in his lap, ran her hand into his pants and down his thighs.
at least she was quick about it, thought larry. does she do this sort of thing all the time? who are these people?
“now your ankles and we are all set,” said donna, leaning back but still with one arm around larry’s neck.
“put your feet up on the dashboard,” mitch told him. “pull your pants up snd your socks down.”
larry did as he was told. donna and mitch gazed thoughtfully at his bare ankles.
“all right, we are all set now,” donna announced and sat back in her seat behind larry. “nothing personal, my man, but you know how it is in this evil world.”
larry, who watched a lot of spy movies and tv shows, thought, yes, unless i have some kind of transmitter in my teeth, or in my skull, but of course he did not say so.
mitch pointed at larry. “hey, pal, your fly is open.” mitch and donna both laughed at this.
“i don’t think billy was too thrilled at your touch,” mitch said as larry pulled his zipper back up. “but i always knew he was that way.”
“all right,” said donna, “where were we?”
“where were we?,” mitch repeated. “where we are is now we are all friends, we are going to have a nice little talk about the old days.”
“but,“ larry repeated yet again, “i don’t know - o k, maybe don’t remember - anything you are talking about.”
“jesus christ!” mitch banged his hand on the steering wheel.
“can i make a suggestion?” donna asked.
“what is your suggestion?’” mitch answered her, glaring at larry.
“just fucking humor him. isn’t that what you were going to do? just humor him. instead of him saying i don’t remember and you saying yes you do every fucking sentence all night long, just tell him who he was and what you two did together and we can go from there.”
“yes, that sounds good,” mitch agreed. he took a deep breath and leaned back in his seat and looked out the window away from larry. “all right, billy, you know what ‘soft son’ is, don’t you?”
“uh - no.”
mitch laughed. then i guess you must not get the newsletter of the national equality watchdog center.”
“the what?” the name sounded vaguely familiar to larry, something he had heard on the news or read online or in the paper.
“’soft son’ , mitch went on, “is what you call an acronym. the first letters make a word. s-o-f-t-s-o-n. and you know what that stands for, right?”
“why don’t you tell me?”
“it stands for ’sick of faggots, totally sick of negroes’. it’s an organization. me and you started it, even though i always knew you were really a faggot yourself. just the two of us.”
“at some fucking college,” put in donna. “a couple of bright boys.”
“that’s right,” said mitch. “at wade hampton teachers college. just the two of us. and do you know what?””
“no. what?” larry asked.
“from that humble beginning, we are now the third worst hate group in america, according to the national equality watchdog center. the third worst.”
“that’s third worst,” said donna, “not third biggest. there’s a difference.”
“she’s right,”said larry, “but still - third worst. that is something. so it’s not like we are nothing.”
larry did not know what to say. the crazier this gets, he thought, the more certain it is these two idiots will finally realize their mistake. but then what?
“this is a lot to take in,” larry said out loud.
“whatever you say, billy,” mitch smiled at him.
“i - um - whatever i might have been when i was younger, right now i don’t really have anything against faggots - or against negroes.”
mitch just laughed.
“i don’t think we really give a shit,” said donna.
maybe i should have called the police, larry thought.
but he knew it was too late.
he finished making his cheese and tomato sandwich.
“mitch” and “donna” - larry still doubted those were their real names - seated at the kitchen table
with their beers in front of them, watched as larry put the sandwich into the toaster oven to grill it.
larry stood in front of the toaster oven watching the sandwich.
“you going to stand there and watch that thing?” donna asked.
mitch took a sip of his beer. “billy likes to make sure things are done right, don’t you, billy? that is the way he always was,” he told donna. “that is why he is going to be such a valuable addition to our crew.”
“that thing should have a little bell in it that rings when it’s done,” said donna. “this is the fucking 21st century.”
“yes, but billy likes to make sure himself,” said mitch. “it’s a good way to be. ain’t that right, billy?”
“whatever you say,” larry answered.
“sounds like a good way to always be slowing things down,” said donna, “but what do i know?”
larry took the sandwich out and put it on a plate and took the plate over to the table.
mitch and donna continued to watch him as he got a small carton of milk out of the refrigerator. mitch wth an amused expression, donna with a look of disgust - but that seemed to be her permanent look.
“we finally ready to talk?” mitch asked when larry sat down.
“you can talk,” larry answered, “but can i say one thing first?”
“sure,” mitch answered, with a hint of exasperation.
“i don’t remember anything about - about when we were together before.” he held up his hand. “i am not arguing with you. i just don’t remember - i must have amnesia or something, that is all i’m saying.
so if i am going to make sense of anything you tell me, maybe you should fill me in on - on when we knew each other before.”
“really?” mitch looked really annoyed now.
“this is bullshit,” said donna.
“you are starting to try my patience, billy,” said mitch, “just when i thought we were getting on the same page.”
larry just shrugged and took a bite of his sandwich.
“you know what i think?” said donna.
“no, what?” mitch asked.
“i think this place is fucking bugged.”
mitch snorted. “i don’t think so. what, did he know we were coming?”
“maybe not, but think about it. here he is, asking you to ’fill you in’. the oldest trick in the book when a place is bugged. ‘refresh my memory.’ ain’t that right, slick, ‘refresh my fucking memory’ while the tape is running, so everything is spelled right out for the prosecutors.”
“you checked the place out,” said mitch. “or did you?”
“i was looking for guns, not wires.”
“but -“ mitch was still not convinced. “why would he have anything? we were never that big before, that anyone would bother to bug him.”
“maybe he went on to bigger things. maybe he is in the witness protection program, that would explain why he has a new name.”
“yeah. it would, wouldn’t it? is that right, billy? are you in the witness protection program, my old friend?”
larry laughed and held up his hands. “no, i am not in the witness protection program. all right, don’t tell me anything. i will try to make sense out of what you tell me the best i can.”
“on the other hand,” said donna, “he might not even be the guy.”
“oh, he’s billy, all right. he admits it - “
“he sort of admits it.”
“but it’s him. i know him, not just his face, but the way he acts - the little pussy way he walks and talks - but you can count on him when the game is on the line, right, billy?”
donna glared at larry, who was taking another bite of his sandwich. “i say let’s get out of here. let's play it safe. we can talk to him in the car - or go someplace, like the arby’s we passed coming here.”
“maybe you’re right. how about it, billy? you mind going for a little ride? even though we just got here.”
“sure, why not?”
“you can finish your sandwich.”
“that’s all right.” larry was happy to get them away from the cellar. “i will put this in the refrigerator, and heat it up later.”
“that is disgusting,” said donna. “letting a greasy sandwich like that get cold and then heating it up? that’s just sick.”
larry ignored her and got up. he put his milk and sandwich in the refrigerator.
mitch chugged the rest of his beer. donna just left hers on the table.
larry followed them outside. the woman across the street, mrs carter, was standing on her lawn.
“good evening, mister miller.”
“good evening, mrs carter.”
“a nice evening.”
“yes it is.” larry smiled at mrs carter and followed mitch and donna to their car, a gray datsun.
neither mitch nor donna had turned to look directly at mrs carter. mitch got behind the wheel. he pointed to the front passenger seat and larry got in it.
“nosy neighbor?” he asked larry.
“not particularly, that i ever noticed.”
“let’s get out of here,” donna said from the back seat. “let’s go to arby’s. get some real food, not some crap somebody made in their own house.”
mitch pulled out. they drove a few blocks in silence.
“now,” said mitch, “we can talk. finally.”
“about what?” larry asked. this is getting old, he thought.
“about what? the cause, billy, the cause. what else would we talk about?’
“oh? and what cause might that be?”
“what cause? you ask what cause? “ mitch laughed and turned to larry. “the white race, billy - the white race. the pissed on, shit on, downtrodden white race.”