Salvation by Donald Glass

Wind blows the snow into a swirling mist of pain as he shuffles along the sidewalk. Through ragged shoes Mother Nature assaults his swollen and blistered feet. Three toes were black the last time he checked. He supposes they are rotting even now as he stumbles along, he doesn’t care. He can no longer feel them.

There would be a cop ahead. He’s always there. He needs him to be there, to help get back what he’s lost. He prays for strength, to a god he no longer believes in. All he has to do is make it three blocks.

The last time he ate was three days ago, but he can’t remember, not for sure. He knows what he ate, a half-eaten burger someone had thrown away. He found it in an alley, still in the Mickey D’s wrapper and partially frozen. The meat covered in congealed grease, thick and phlegmy, had been his saving bestowment. His mouth waters at the thought of it, and he’s filled with disgust.

Discarded clothing and rags cover his wasting body. Newspaper stuffed into his jacket and pants do little to cut the knife blades of wind that assault every step. Numbness covers most of his body. He walks on ever diligent.

Few people pass him huddled in their overstuffed coats. They rarely see him and almost never make eye contact. Ignorance is bliss. If they don’t see it it’s not really happening. He doesn’t blame them. He hasn’t looked at himself in a long time, and wouldn’t recognize his own reflection if he did.

Crossing streets he barely avoids being hit by cars. Drivers honk their horns, gesture, and shout. He doesn’t respond. He no longer hears them.

The banks display flashes -3 degrees as he passes it. He’s watched it plummet daily from 10 to 5 to todays -3. With the wind chill it’s even colder but it doesn’t matter anymore, it will all be over soon.

He won’t survive another night on the street. He can no longer go on living this existence. His days and nights blur into one. Starving and half frozen, he’ll fall asleep, and never wake up. Death, like the plummeting temperature will come slowly by degrees, his body will simply shut down.

Small crowds of people go about their day. He’s worked this corner and recognizes some faces. Most are indifferent and pass without a glance. He’s not really a person to them; he’s a thing, an object, a blemish best hidden. A few are kind, offering bits of change when they have it. Some are mean spirited and a few are cruel. He sees the cop, standing just ahead.

When everything is taken from you, what’s left? His only true possessions were carried in a tenuous grasp, and they’ve slip from his fingers, lost. Dignity and respect.

He searches the crowd. Staggering more than walking he moves slowly. Weary of what will happen when it’s done, and terrified of what will happen if he doesn’t do it. For a moment he hesitates unsure. Looking at the crowds of people going about their day, the wind gusts sending more pain throughout his entire being, and it’s decided.

‘The lord helps those who help themselves’ a mantra preached at one of the local shelters. It’s time to help himself.

The knuckles of his right hand creak and pop painfully as he grips the knife in his coat pocket. The knot in his stomach tightens. A man wearing a blue top coat passes in front of him, one of the cruel.

Using all the strength he has left in his wasted body he thrusts himself forward. The knife plunges easily into the man’s scarf covered throat. Blood quickly blossoms on the scarf staunching the fountain pumping from the severed artery.

The cop is on him before the man’s body hits the ground. His face scrapes the pavement. A rib cracks from the weight of the officer slamming down on him. The pain is extreme but welcome, and he smiles. It’s not the smile of a man who is happy but a small pitiful smile of one who knows he’ll live another day and sleep some place warm for a very long time. Someplace where his final desperate action will give him back what he’s lost.

Down Swingin’ by Donald Glass

The Scorpions have the best parties; you just have to know who not to fuck with. I’ll tell you who that is … nobody. As long as you’re cool with the MC they’re mostly cool with you. I’ve never been a club member, never wanted to be.  I’ve always been independent, making my own rules, my own choices. I like my freedom.

The night started out great. The liquor flowed like water and the pussy was plentiful. A prospect called Tank started giving me some shit over a piece of ass I had been dancing with. She wasn’t anyone’s old lady and wore no patches. It being an MC party I decided to make an early exit. If you fight one of these fuckers, you fight them all.

Tank followed me outside. He was alone, which seemed odd. They’d go to war for one of their own. They’re brothers in the truest sense of the word. We had words and words led to fists. He didn’t fare so well. I guess all shit he was talking was just that, shit. I’d boxed when I was younger and trained MMA for a while. He was tough but not tough enough. I made quick work of him then split. I left him lying in the parking lot with a smashed nose, and a broken jaw.

I’m sitting at a bar two days later, when I see Butch, Bobby and a few others walk in. Butch made a beeline for me. I’d seen him around and thought we were cool, but today all pleasantries were put aside.

‘Blackjack wants to see you,’ Butch said.

‘What for?’ I asked.

‘He just said to bring you, let’s go,’ he replied seriously.

Blackjack was President of the Scorpions. I didn’t know him very well, but I knew enough about him to know that one way or another he always got what he wanted, he didn’t take no for an answer. I downed my beer in two quick swallows and we left.

When we arrived at the clubhouse Butch followed me inside. He motioned me toward the Chapel. Not being a member, I’d never been in there. It’s for official club business, members only. I had a bad feeling. I walked inside and knew it was gonna be worse than bad. Every local patched member was there and a few from the other chapters.  None of them looked happy.

Blackjack sat alone at the head of the table. The others were outlining the room, like sharks circling prey.

‘Thanks for coming,’ Blackjack said.

‘Did I have a choice?’

‘There’s always a choice, ’ he replied in a calm tone, ‘people make choices every day, good ones, bad ones, and sometimes ones that get them dead.’

I kept silent; it seemed like the smartest thing to do. I saw no sense in aggravating him.

‘I heard you had a problem with our prospect. You fucked him up pretty good.’

I heard knuckles cracking. I had a feeling this could get very bad.

‘A prospect does what he’s told,’ he continued, ‘ whether it’s detailing bikes…or picking a fight. They follow my orders, no questions asked.’

Now I knew why I’d been brought in, the fucking prospect. I wished I’d beaten him more now.

‘He was following orders?’ I asked puzzled.

‘You were supposed to be a tune up for the bare knuckles match Saturday. I told him to fuck up the meanest looking prick he could find. He found you. He made a bad decision’

‘That’s why no one jumped in,’ I said.

‘That’s why no one jumped in…but we’re all here now.’

I looked around the room and counted fifteen in all. I saw half a dozen I thought I could easily handle and a couple that I gave myself a 50/50 shot with, but all together there’s no way. I wasn’t going out soft.

‘Is this all you brought,’ I said smiling, ‘I’m gonna have me some fun.’

That bold statement put a smile on Blackjack’s face. The fucker was really enjoying himself.

‘You’re cocky…another time, another place and I probably wouldn’t like you,’ he paused and then said, ‘I hear you’re a good mechanic and you can handle yourself when the shit hits the fan, Tank’s face is proof of that. More importantly we have no one to represent the club Saturday, and we have a substantial amount riding on our fighter.’

‘What exactly are you saying?’ but I already knew what he wanted.

He reached over to the chair next to him and picked up the Cut that had been hanging there. He tossed it on the table. My colors, a center patch and lower rocker… a fucking prospect’s cut. There was only one thing that went through my mind.

What’s gonna happen when I try to walk outta here?