By Brian Panowich
It's ringing. He picks up.
"Do you have my guns?"
"I have your car. Whatever's inside the car is none of my business, but I'm calling to tell you that you can have it all back."
"You steal from me and now you want to give it back?"
"I didn't steal from you. I repoed the car, that's what I do. The Charger was registered to one Eric Talbott. He hasn't made a payment on it in over nine months. The bank called my boss, and he sent me to pick up the car. That's it. That's the truth."
"You're telling me that my associate, Mr. Talbott, was in the position to have his vehicle repossessed? And that you had no idea what you were taking from me? You want me to believe that shit?"
"That's what happened, sir."
"What's your name kid?"
Kid, this asshole calls me. I'm damn near forty years old.
"And how did you get my number, Emmett?"
"Your boy Eric left his cell phone in the car. It rang a few times while I was driving. I saw one of the missed calls read Leon Nash and I immediately knew I stepped in something above my pay grade. I called hoping we could work this out."
A pause on the line.
"You're telling me my fuckin' name was in E's cell phone?"
"You know who I am?"
"I mean no disrespect, Mr. Nash, but who doesn't."
"Well, I tell you what Emmett. Why don't you tell me where you are and I'll send a few of my people down there to collect the car."
"Once again I mean no disrespect sir, but I know how this kind of shit can play out. You send some goons down here to collect, they put a bullet in me and dump my body in a wet foundation somewhere, then tell you I never made the meet. They make some coin off your hardware, you blame me, and we both get fucked. I'm not going out like that."
"I trust my people."
"Really? I wouldn't put a lot of stock in your guys if they are anything like the dumb fuck that landed us in this situation."
"No, It's gotta be you. I want to give you this shit and bad as you want to get it back, but it's got to be you."
"You got a hefty sack of balls kid."
"No, sir, they're just well loved by the misses at home and I want to make sure they get back to her in working condition."
"Who did you say you worked for?"
"I didn't, but it's Cobb's Auto and Repossession Service."
"Stay by the phone. I'll hit you back."
The line went dead.
Leon Nash broke kneecaps as local muscle for bigger sharks like 'Z' Williams and The German. At least that’s what he did until all three got popped on a Midtown bank job that went south. Luckily nobody got killed, but all three went down for armed robbery, sentenced to thirty years each in USP Atlanta Federal Prison. That was three years ago, and already Leon's black ass is peddling high-end gats down Peachtree Boulevard. Meanwhile, his bosses endure three hots and a cot behind cement walls and razor wire. Only one way he could be out that fast, but that wasn't my business.
The phone rang. I answered.
"Okay kid, you check out. You throw the party and I'll be there, but it's gotta be right now."
"I'll be at Brownwood Ave where it crosses the park in one hour. Look for the skinny white guy covered in tattoos. You can't miss me."
"You better hope I don't. So far, you've played this pretty smart, so I'm giving you this shot at making it right. But kid, you try something stupid, or I even smell cops, I'm gonna take my time on you. You get me, Emmett Cobb?"
He did check me out.
"I got it, Mr. Nash."
I hung up.
One hour later, a huge black Escalade pulls up behind Eric Talbott's recently repossessed Dodge Charger. Time to shit or get off the pot. Three people get out. Two gorillas, and the man himself. I'll be dipped in shit, he showed up.
I crushed a Camel Light out under my boot.
"I told you he was a fuckin' greaser, boss. Nothing to worry about. Look at him."
The second gorilla joined his buddy in underestimating me. I let him.
"I don't see Talbott."
"And you won't...ever again. I trust you left everything as it was?"
"I didn't touch a thing, Mr. Nash."
"Well then why don't you beat it before I change my mind. Maybe let Daryl blow a hole through that hokey-ass straw hat."
Daryl pulled up his windbreaker to show me the massive hammerless Glock 17 shoved in his waistband. He smiled a gorilla smile.
I removed my hat and held it with both hands.
"Mr. Nash, it's not quite that easy. I still need to keep the car."
"If I don't turn in the car, I don't get paid, and I really can't afford to miss a paycheck these days. Times are tight. I'm sure you understand that."
"I understand that I should have went with my guts and popped you from the jump, instead of letting you suck up this much air. You stole from me boy! And now you want to get mouthy, too? Daryl, show this motherfucker how we do things."
"Daryl, I said show this mother..."
"Daryl and that other goon are too scared to move right now, Leon, due to those little red lights in the on their chests."
Both gorillas were frozen, staring at Leon like helpless little girls.
"Those lights are connected to two Barrett M98 bolt action sniper rifles. You should know the make, the trunk here is full of them."
"You son of a bitch! You think you got juice? You think I don't know who you are? Your one of Jack Parson's boys. Jack would never cross me. You clear this shit with him? I bet not. When this is over I'm gonna take my time on you! I'm gonna..."
I raised my left hand six inches, and Daryl's shoulder exploded into pink mist.
It spun him completely around.
"That's Jack saying hello. My buddy Kenny is out there too if you were thinkin' of name-dropping him too. Now listen up ladies, this is what’s going to happen. The big retard that isn't bleeding is going to collect everybody's guns and cell phones. Then he’s gonna throw them into the back seat of this Charger. Next, I'm going to pop the trunk and let you get all your shit out of it. The guns now belong to you two jack-offs. Go make a few bucks and get Daryl's shoulder looked at. It looks pretty bad."
"You two fucks better not listen...”
"And don't worry about Mr. Nash here coming to look for you. I promise you that ain't gonna happen. Do you understand what's going on here?
"So get it done."
"Who are you working for?"
"I told you already, Cobb's Auto and Repossession Service."
"Bullshit, man, be straight. 'Z' hire you to do me? Or that German piece of shit? I got money. I'll give you twice what they're paying."
"Nah, I hope those two pricks rot in prison for the shit they've done to this city. I'd never take a dime from them or you. Daryl, tell your girlfriend to hurry the fuck up."
He did, and they hurried. Within seconds they were packed up and ready to roll.
"Take that shit and get the hell out of Atlanta."
Two gorillas in the wind.
Two red lights now on Leon, center-mast.
"I'm in the fuckin' street here!"
"And you're gonna die in the street."
"Why? Who are you? What the hell did I do to you?"
"No, no! Wait, okay."
I squatted to face him.
"Why are you doing this?"
"Because of the girl."
"One week before that piss poor attempt of a bank robbery that landed your fat ass in prison, you let a nineteen-year-old girl die on a piss stained sofa in one of your flops. You snatched her out of her life and force-fed her a needle. You brutalized her for weeks. You passed her around like a goddamn party favor. You stole everything from her. Everything that made her human, and when you were done, you pumped her full of poison and left her to die in her own filth."
"Let me guess, this girl? She your woman? Your sister? Shit man, I just joined in the party. I never did nothing they didn't want..."
The left jab I gave him came fast. It shut him up, and took out a few teeth.
"She wasn't my sister, or my woman. I didn't know her at all. I just happened to be the one to find her. The one who held her while she died. It took some work just to find out her name. Do you want to know what it was?"
Another jab. More teeth.
"Francine. Francine White from Salt Lake City. She came here to go to Georgia Tech. She wanted to be an Engineer. She didn't even get to start classes."
"Juss anover junkie whore!"
"No, she was somebody's daughter. A human being. I don't expect you to understand what that means. You're the farthest thing from human I know. The minute I watched the life drain outta that girl I knew I'd find you and your buddies. I knew I'd kill you like dogs in the street, but then you botched that bank job and got yourselves arrested. Prison saved your life. Well, it saved the other two. You decided to be a rat and take your chances out here. I wasn't about to let you do to someone else what you did to Francine, but you were holed up pretty good. Lucky for me you're stupid, and you employ stupid people. It was pretty easy to flush you out."
Nash looked up at me like a whipped dog. The intended outcome.
I reached into the back seat.
"This is how you get to go out, Leon. Here's a gun and a bullet."
I tossed both to the ground.
"Do the right thing. But don't take too long. Jack is an impatient man."
He stared at the gun and held his bloody mouth.
I got into the canary yellow Dodge and cut the highway into black ribbons. I still had thirty minutes to make it to the airport and tell Cobi what happened before she flew back to Salt Lake. Her sister, Francine, could finally rest in peace. Her parents could start to heal. In the rearview, I caught a glimpse of Leon scrambling for the gun right before silent shots caused roses to bloom on his forehead and chest. My boys didn’t feel like waiting. Fine by me. He took a nosedive into the pavement and died sucking Charger exhaust.
I think I'm gonna keep that Glock 17.
Brian Panowich is the author of critically-acclaimed novel Bull Mountain. To learn more about Brian Panowich, visit his official website, like his Facebook page, or follow him on Twitter @BPanowich. Also listen to our podcast with the author or Panowich's writing playlist.
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