Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ticker - 1

He waited for his hands to stop trembling before he finished cleaning the gun. He wiped his sweaty palms on his shirt, went back to wiping the .45. He’d had it forever, and he’d been meticulous about its care. It was forty years old and might last another hundred.

Unlike him.

He didn’t figure he’d get a chance to use it this time. Johnny, well, he’d been pretty cautious as a young man and old age had left him careful edging into paranoid. Jimmy was counting on it. Still, cleaning the gun, the steady rhythm of something he’d done a hundred hundred times calmed the pounding his chest down.

No use waiting. He stood up and shrugged on a shirt, looked at himself in the mirror. He was an old man, maybe, but his hair was still thick and his shoulder were still door frame wide. He looked pretty good, if you didn’t look at the tremble in his hands or the shadows under his eyes. Don’t look at that, and he still looked pretty good.

He tucked the gun into his waistband. Careless, probably, but he didn’t figure it mattered much at this point, if it mattered at all. The doctors had talked about surgery, about drugs, but he knew. He’d watched his father, oxygen pumped through his nose, lips blue, hands weak. He watched him in that bed and swore it’d never be him.

But time rolls over everyone. The doctors said he could keep going, said that a transplant wasn’t ruled out. But he knew better. He knew if he went that way, he’d go that way. He didn’t have a son, he didn’t have anybody but Johnny.

Him and Johnny had come up together, pulling kid’s shit when they were kids. Jimmy had spent ten years in change in the crotch, shooting people he didn’t know for reasons he didn’t understand in miserable shitholes. He’d loved it.

He got back home, he didn’t have any real prospects. He’d done the steel mill, like his Dad, but he couldn’t take foreman hovering over him, breathing down his neck. Johnny’d been doing okay, so he gave Jimmy a job. Double J, just like when they were kids.

It wasn’t quite a partnership, but that was okay with Jimmy. Johnny’d always been the smart, the one with the plans. He wasn’t afraid to get his hands bloody, but some how he never did. Johnny was theory, Jimmy was the application.

Johnny wasn’t, generally, a violent man, which was maybe why he’d done so well. Johnny wouldn’t send a bunch of thugs to break knees when a single well shot would do. He understood the balance of power like an engineer understood mechanical forces. He knew just where to apply a minimum amount of power to get what he wanted. Forty years on, he lived in a house bigger than the high school they’d graduated from.

Jimmy had been his favorite instrument to create the situation he wanted. Jimmy knew this, and he didn’t mind. That kind of shit was Jimmy’s main talent. The Marines had loved him for it and Johnny loved him for even more. It was a job, and he was good at it.

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