Monday, August 15, 2016

17. "billy"

by nick nelson

illustrated by palomine studios

for previous episode, click here

to begin at the beginning, click here

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.”

18. "soft son"

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