Filed under: Killer Year Members
The below is Chapter 12 from my second book, AT THE CITY’S EDGE. The novel comes out January 22nd; if you’re interested, you can join my mailing list to get a heads-up reminder. Hope you enjoy!
Anthony DiRisio was bored. He couldn’t see how the police did it, sitting on stakeouts for hours and hours. In the movies, they always made it look like the cops had just enough time to share a war story before something went down. But he’d been waiting half a block from the niggers’ house for two hours, and the only thing that’d happened was he really needed to take a piss. He sighed and stretched, the shoulder holster riding up on his ribs.
He was parked far enough away that nobody would notice the van, but still had a good angle on the front porch, where homeboys sipped bottles of Eight Ball. They were clowning and posing like the lords of all creation in the midst of a neighborhood looked like the Lebanon. Crumbling bungalows with steel cages over the front doors, tiny yards grown to shit. No respect for their environment. Graffiti on the billboards, graffiti on the lamp poles, graffiti on the goddamn street in front of the house.
A muscular guy stepped outside, his body silhouetted. Bass-heavy rap flowed out from the open door like theme music. Dion Williams, called himself “C-Note.” Anthony called him “C-nappy-ass nigger.” He bumped fists with one of the brothers, and the jig got up and followed him back inside.
He knew it wasn’t fashionable to call them “jigs” anymore, but it was the word he’d learned as a child growing up south of Taylor, and it stuck in his mind.
He reached down beside the seat to the recline control, eased back a notch, trying to take some pressure off his bladder. Waited.
Ten minutes later, two of the guys on the porch stood up. They gave elaborate handshake-hugs to the others, then pimp-rolled down the steps. The one they called Brillo stopped at the bottom and tilted his forty back in a long swallow. When he’d finished, he tossed the bottle on the grass. No respect even for their own things.
The two climbed in a 1970 black Monte Carlo, a lot like the one Denzel Washington drove in that cop film. Denzel, he was all right. Anthony didn’t expect Denzel threw empty beer bottles on his front yard. Chaser lights circled the license plate, and bass rattled the frame. Sounded like something locked in the trunk trying to get out.
“Can’t spell crap without rap,” Anthony said to himself, and started the van.
He hung back and let them have plenty of room. They passed a Currency Exchange lit up like Vegas on one corner, a couple of storefront businesses with hand-lettered signs on the other. Waited for drive-through at McDonald’s, then turned down a neighborhood block fronted by a sign saying it didn’t tolerate drugs or gangs. A Gangster Disciples tag was sprayed right across the sign. The Monte Carlo pulled up next to an abandoned lot, and the music cut off abruptly.
He drove past. When he came to a stop sign he paused, glancing in the rearview. Brillo and his boy walked across the street, the greasy white bag dangling. Anthony circled the block and found a parking place. Spent a moment listening to the engine tick before he took his case and got out of the van.
First thing he did, he went alongside the house the two jigs had gone into, fished out his dick, and tagged the house Anthony DiRisio-style. Felt like a new man once the last drops splashed down the mortar.
Back at the Monte Carlo, he took a thin metal strip from the toolbox. He eased the slim jim behind the window seal until he felt it seat against the control arm, and then pulled over and up. The lock popped.
Inside, the air was heavy with weed and the cheap scent of evergreen. The windows were tinted so dark that he could hardly see the street. Anthony pulled the air freshener from the mirror, clicked the volume knob on the CD player off, then took a thin screwdriver from his case and wedged it into the ignition. He used a hammer to tap it further, tightened a wrench on the blade, and then cracked the hammer down to snap the mechanism. The whole assembly came out in his hand.
One twist of the rotary switch, and the engine woke with a sexy purr.
Anthony smiled. Any car built past about 1985 wouldn’t have been so easy. And most from the last decade had an RFID engine immobilizer to keep them from starting without the key. Bless the homeboys for choosing style over substance.
He turned the radio back on, the volume at a Caucasian level. A CD started immediately, and he punched the button to eject it. Checked the title out of habit—know your enemy—saw it was DMX, “It’s Dark and Hell is Hot.”
“Amen, brother,” he said to himself, and chuckled.
He tossed the CD in back with the air freshener, spun the radio dial till he found real music, Phil Collins singing how he could feel it coming in the air tonight, hold on. The shoulder holster dug into his side, and he removed the pistol, a Swiss-made SIG-Sauer P-226, and lay it on the seat next to him.
Out on the city street, he leaned back in the leather, feeling good. Always struck him as funny, the things gangbangers cared about. Their sneakers couldn’t have a speck of dirt. Their rides had to be pimped and shining. But they’d happily live in crumbling shitboxes, the kind where when you moved the furniture, a colony of roaches scattered for the walls. In a drug crib, they might have forty grand in cash stacked beneath a fifty-inch flat-screen TV, and a bucket half-filled with piss by the end table, because the toilet didn’t work and they couldn’t call a plumber. Anthony hated going into the houses, hated the stink of them. Hated the posturing of teenagers who hadn’t put in their work and become affiliated, hated the attitude of the O.G.’s that ran the set. Hated the monikers and dope and rap and bling and bandannas and brutal rivalries none of them could explain and demand for respect none of them had earned.
Nights like this were more fun.
He rolled west, watching the numbers climb and the buildings change. Bodegas began to crop up, little urban markets with bright fluorescent light spilling into the night. The graffiti changed too, crowns and stars, the occasional number thirteen. In the parking lot of a taquería, the cars had Latin beats playing and cholos leaning: the men in chinos and work shirts, the women with that full-to-bursting lushness. Say what you like about the Mexs, and Anthony could say plenty, but their senoritas did have something.
He slowed to a crawl, letting them get an eyeful of the Monte Carlo. Menace coalesced. The men straightened, and a few stepped forward. Most were beefy, their shirts ripped to show muscles ringed with tattoos, some the faded black of prison tatts. He wondered if any of them knew the car belonged to Brillo, or if they just saw a ghetto roller that wasn’t theirs. Either way.
Two minutes later, he’d reached the street. Tract houses ran down both sides, a few abandoned, all looking like shit. The night was hot, and people sat on porches. “Angel of the Morning” came on the radio, the original Merrilee Rush version. He turned it up a little, liking the way her voice rang out clear and strong. Halfway down the block he killed the headlights, the car a black shark, a predator in dangerous waters.
To an untrained eye, the house looked the same as all the rest. Chipped brickwork, faded siding, metal gates. But every window had a security screen, all of them welded or secured with case-hardened locks. The front door was dented above the handle, where a police ram must have tagged it at some point. The yard was bare, not even the scraggly bushes that fronted the other houses. Thick shades masked all the windows.
Anthony put the car in neutral. Play time. He took the SIG from the passenger seat, the black plastic grip made for his hand. Merrilee was getting into it, singing she was old enough to face the dawn. Anthony hummed it with her, rolling down the window and aiming along the barrel, the SIG’s white dot-and-bar sights clear in the dim light.
Just call me angel of the morning, angel.
A blast of fire spat from his hand, the crack rolling out across the darkened street. The upstairs corner window exploded in a sparkling rain.
Just touch my cheek before you leave me.
Down the street someone screamed. Anthony moved to the next window, squeezed again. He’d blown a third window before the glass from the second hit the ground.
Just call me angel of the morning, angel.
He shifted down, the pistol an extension of his arm. Exhaled and then squeezed twice, blowing out the porch lights in a shower of sparks. He paused, forearm resting on the window, waiting.
Then slowly turn away.
Someone yanked at the front door, and before they’d cleared it by more than a couple of inches, Anthony triple-tapped it, a nice cluster near the handle that kicked it all the way open. A silhouette suddenly exposed jumped back into hiding. Anthony heard cursing in Spanish, someone calling him a son of a whore.
Not a wise thing to say to a guy who grew up south of Taylor.
He swiveled half an inch, bringing the SIG to bear on the left side of the door frame. Squeezed twice. The 123-grain full-metal-jacket rounds punched through the tired siding and rotting wood like they weren’t there. There was a difference between yelling and screaming, and the man on the inside demonstrated it.
Anthony grinned, tossed the gun on the passenger seat, then neutral-slammed the Monte Carlo, sending it lurching forward, the engine revving crazy as he squealed away.
In the rearview, broad figures boiled out of the house, guns in hand. Anthony whooped and mashed the accelerator. Sharp cracks sounded from behind. He reached the corner and jerked the wheel without touching the brakes, tires squealing, and then he was in a long clean straightaway, and he let the Monte Carlo run, the roaring engine mimicking the roaring in his ears. He cranked the radio as he wove back and forth, pops and screams dying in the background.
And as the good burned smell of gunpowder filled the car, and Merrilee screeched over the speakers in full ghetto bass, Anthony DiRisio burst into laughter, and leaned forward, beating the wheel like a jockey whipping his horse to death.
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