Portrait of an American Family by Benoit Lelievre

They thought five bullets would be enough. Idiots. Had they never heard about “Kill the head and the body dies?”

My guts were leaking through my belly, but using my jacket to compress the wound, I found the strength to get up, sit in my car and turn on the ignition. I knew where they were. They went back to the restaurant to have a meal and celebrate a job well done.

The cardinal rule of the game was that you couldn’t attack somebody in his own home. Tough shit, because rules don’t matter anymore when you’ve already lost. They beat me at the game they invented. The best I could do now was to make sure nobody wins.

I parked the Mustang in the shopping mall lot to light a last cigarette and savour the moment, but I choked up and vomited a little blood. Stein was eating baby back ribs, smiling and laughing at Gildoff, who was up, mimicking me, begging for my life a few moments earlier. I didn’t know what was so funny. A few moments ago, I still had a girlfriend and a baby I could go back to; human beings that loved me and relied on me for the future. They were probably home, worried out of their mind, but I didn’t have the strength left to call. Fucking Gildoff, wouldn’t have done better at my place.

A week ago, Stein and Kaminski were telling me how I was like a son to them, and how they had plans for me within the organization. We were going to make money together and it was the most important thing. A week ago, I had dreams to provide. I had dreams not to be an asshole. I had dreams of sticking it to every teacher who told me I would mop floors for a living.

I revved the engine and focused on the window, my target. I stomped on the gas and shifted gears. My ride wasn’t the most subtle; they could hear it from where they were if there wasn’t any music playing. I knew because I’ve been in this restaurant before. Last week, I sat at the same table with them. Worst comes to worst they would survive and remember me until their dying day.

Images came back to me like an MTV video as I sped toward Bob’s BBQ Pit. The first night with Melody; when we were sixteen at Grant Powers’ house party. Our first kiss in Grant’s sister’s bedroom. The first time I shot a handgun with dad, just before he died. I was so impressed. William, of course. Plenty of images of William. All these nights I spent on the couch with him and Melody, trying to shush him into sleep. One last goodbye.

I had a few seconds to appreciate my last stand. My final work of art. They never suspected anything. Gildoff’s face became white like the stucco wall behind him and his eyes grew wide and round. All his certitudes went out the window in the flash of a second. His money, his reputation, everything he loved and lived for. Same thing for Stein and Kaminski. Killed for being creatures of habit. Killed for being fucking cocky about killing.

My car went through Bob’s BBQ Pit’s window like God’s fury on the heathens. They couldn’t avoid it, they weren’t even close. They were too old, fat and slow. I guess the one thing money couldn’t buy was the reflex to survive a suicidal maniac. I heard the thud of soft flesh against the bumper before my car went slamming into the bar at the end of the room with a satisfying squish. My throat hit the top of the steering wheel and broke my windpipe.

Come on, it’s over now. You’re even.

Let go.

Full Moon by Benoit Lelievre

One minute ago, everything was fine. The bar was booming, beers were clanging together. Usual Saturday. Now, Landon has his Glock buried into Shawn’s right nostril. Kevin is aiming at the back of Landon’s head, hoping that if he has to shoot, he’ll split an eyeball with the bullet. Problem is, Neil is pushing his weapon into Kevin’s left ear. Shawn has two Berettas hidden in his belt, but right now nobody knows and nobody cares. The question on everybody’s mind right now is: what the fuck’s going on?

Blaming Shawn is almost too easy. He’s twenty-three years old and just received his bachelor degree from Penn State in geology. It’s his first time in Vegas and he’s already drunk to the point everything’s a blur. He kissed so many girls tonight, he’s not sure the exact number. He already kissed more girls in Vegas than during his complete tenure in college. Right now he’s trying to remember which one looked already taken or uncooperative, so that he can apologize. Because he’s looking at Landon right now and he thinks and thinks, but he’s not able to replace him.

Speaking of which, Landon’s not all pure in this story. It’s also his first night in Vegas, but unlike Shawn, he plans to stay there. He’s from Carson City, not that far away and he just got kicked out by his father. He found his son’s stash of pills and kicked him out, saying he has enough to deal with his own alcoholism already. Landon moved to Vegas with his friend Hector, who he considers a badass. He’s determined to make most of this opportunity and make something of himself. Landon dreams to be a gangster. He pulled his new gun on Shawn because he told him: “move over, pussy” and you don’t talk to a gangster like that. Right now, Landon is looking at the mirror at the end of the bar. He doesn’t know who Kevin is, but he’s telling himself he’s a friend of Shawn.

But Kevin doesn’t know either Shawn or Landon because he’s from Chicago. He’s on a business trip. He’s by far the baddest guy in that room. He just had a very bad day and his nerves are shot. He walked into the bar, hoping to find a little peace at the bottom of a Budweiser bottle. He was still nervous when Landon pulled his Glock out right beside him. All he saw was a shining object flying by. He pulled his new piece out by reflex, but now he’s looking at the possibility to take a little solace and get a kill for his trouble. Anybody would do. The only thing that saved Kevin from his temper was Neil.

Neil doesn’t know shit and he’s not pretty to look at. Tonight, he mixed crank and booze and he wouldn’t be able to recognize his own mother . Neither could she recognize him. Nobody in the bar knows who Neil is or why he’s holding such an impressive piece. Nobody knows who these guys are in the first place or why they’re flashing their guns in a Mexican stand-off like they were in a Quentin Tarantino movie. Nobody but one person.

Behind the bar, Wilson is smiling. He’s the only guy smiling in the joint right now. He’s filling a pint and shaking his head. Today has been a good day for him. The thick pile of dollar bills in the front left pocket of his jeans is a proof of that. His smile has a hint of bitterness in it. Fucking tourists, he tells himself. You give them booze and guns and look what they do.