View from an LA Limo by Mike Loniewski

He had a catch phrase on that shitty sitcom a few years back. You know the one, with the animatronic alien and the little kid squealing “Who’s your daddy?”. Anyway, that’s the kid back there, the ginger with the gun to my head. Tyler Quackenbush. I don’t think he’s been in a movie or T.V. show since then. Just living off royalty checks, the ungrateful little shit.

The night started off brilliantly when Tyler crashed a pretentious A-lister’s party. Some juice head caught him and dragged him out of the house like a freckled Raggedy Andy doll. Since then, we picked up a high end prostitute, stocked up on booze, and went off to get what I only can assume was gonna be heroin.

As we drove, I was serenaded with the sweet sounds of awkward fornication and a repetitive, wheezy “Who’s your daddy?” coming from that speckled prick. The occasional “Easy on the turns, dick head” were sprinkled in, too.

We pulled up on a row of condemned shit heaps and Tyler tells me to be quick with the wheel if shit goes down. Never a good sign. Gang bangers rose up from porches and cars. Tyler’s got his window down, and I could see money and baggies being passed. They made the deal then Tyler yelled something like “Remember me, bitch? Never rip a mother fucker off!”

I heard pops. Bullets pelted into the side of the limo like rocks on metal. Tyler screamed for me to drive, blasting away with a gun fifteen sizes too big for him.

I floored it, slamming through trash cans and onto the freeway. I tried to slow my pulse as banana peels and beer cans slid off the hood. I could hear Tyler panicking in the back, whimpering and cursing. I peeked at the rearview, the back seat was coated with blood. The prostitute was flopping back and forth like a limp puppet as I hit the seams in the pavement.

He freaked and ordered me to dump the body in some flood channel off the freeway. No fucking way. The spoiled shit flew off the handle, waiving his gun, cursing through his frustrated mommy tears. He doesn’t like to hear no, which is how the gun wound up pinned to my head.

“You’re gonna dump her body, bitch!” he screeches.

Normally, I’d do the sensible thing, here. But, this kid’s a complete douche.

“I’m not dumping shit. Not unless you want to pay me?”

“The fuck? I’m gonna shoot your ass, bro!”

“Go ahead! Then you got two bodies to clean up, not to mention a busted ass because a corpse don’t drive too well!”

The kid chews on my bitter logic, tells me he’s got cash at his parents’ house. I sit in the drive way of their fancy home in the Hills. The lights snap on inside and I hear yelling and cursing. Seconds later, Tyler comes sprinting down the driveway like a redheaded scarecrow and dumps a load of cash into my lap, all bundled up in neat stacks.

“Alright,” he says, out of breath. “Now, do it! Make it gone.”

Sure.

I jump out of the limo and run.

I run as fast as I can for freedom, clutching the money to my chest like the goddamn Monopoly man. I hear Tyler screaming behind me. I look back, he’s stomping his feet in the drive way next to my limo filled with a dead prostitute.

I stumble into a Spudnuts Donut shop on the main drag and crawl into a booth, order a coffee and a cruller, and I look at the cash in my arms.

It’s time to do the sensible thing. I take a bite of my cruller and get the LAPD on my cell.

The next morning, I pick up a copy of the Times. There’s a picture of Tyler being hauled off. The title reads “Child Star Arrested in Alleged All Night Murder Binge.”

I’m quoted in it. They call me a heroic survivor. Got myself an interview with Entertainment Hollywood, too.

Who’s your daddy?

A Beating by Mike Loniewski

There’s a fat guy pissing in the corner. Maurice doesn’t even notice the yellow river at his feet. He’s too busy talking about his damn cartoons.

“Captain Infinity, he’s like, the strongest. A comet hit him and gave him powers, you know?”

Maurice is a dumb shit. The polite thing to say is he’s slow. I’m not polite. Kid’s a dumb shit.

“And Dr. Jackal? Oh, boy! He’s the bad guy.”

It’s like sitting with a six year old.

“Maurice? Quiet.”

There’s a fat guy pissing in the corner. Maurice doesn’t even notice the yellow river at his feet. He’s too busy talking about his damn cartoons.

“Captain Infinity, he’s like, the strongest. A comet hit him and gave him powers, you know?”

Maurice is a dumb shit. The polite thing to say is he’s slow. I’m not polite. Kid’s a dumb shit.

“And Dr. Jackal? Oh, boy! He’s the bad guy.”

It’s like sitting with a six year old.

“Maurice? Quiet.”

I put my fingers to my lips to drive the point home. His eyes go wide and he nods like a moron. I sit him down on some crates and we wait for the others.

“Hey, you think we can go to the video store, rent that Captain Infinity movie again?”

It’s pointless. “Yeah. Sure.”

I say sure cause I don’t have the heart to tell him he’s about to get his ass kicked for me.

A door opens and Chris limps in, dragging his work boots across the floor. He’s covered in grime and grass clippings. Tattoos crawl their way up his neck.

I greet him, trying to keep the peace. He blows me off.

“Let’s get a look at you,” he says. “Take your shirt off.”

Maurice looks at me all nervous. I tell him it’s okay. He rears up like a damn grizzly on its hind legs. He pulls off his shirt, stretch marks ripping across his shoulders. I’ve never seen so much muscle, and Maurice don’t even work out. Chris smiles.

“Well, he sure as shit gonna scare the other guy. Let me see your hands.”

He grabs Maurice’s paws and looks them over. “What do you do?”

Maurice is confused.

“For work?” asks Chris.

“I work at the old folks home. I lift up old people.”

Chris shakes his head. “But you a badass now, right?”

Sure he is. Just as long as he keeps his mouth shut.

I hear car doors slam shut and I know its showtime.

The fixers walk in. City folk, with their nice shoes and clean clothes. Even their jeans look ironed. Their stud steps out behind them. Got himself a flat nose from getting it punched in. He zips himself out of a shiny track suit, not a single hair on his body. Weird. He starts bouncin’ around on his toes, slappin’ his chest. Another moron.

Chris leads us into the barn. Degenerates hang off the beams and stand around a makeshift ring. Everyone’s hollerin’ and Maurice is lost, like some scared puppy. I ignore it. I see money changin’ hands, big wads bein’ passed around, bets that are gonna save Chris’s ass from these city folk. Same time, I’ll be square with Chris. Everyone wins, except for Maurice.

Chris leans in. “Make it look good.”

I smack Maurice on the shoulder. “Go get him, big dog.”

The city boy charges, pounding Maurice’s gut. He’s stunned. He tries to hit back. Misses. His face gets jacked, again and again. The wet smacks fade into shouts and hollers. There’s blood, around his eye, flowing from his nose. It spreads with each punch. I yell for Maurice to keep moving, just for show.

I need him to get hurt. Maurice is a fall guy, a bullshit champion made up to save our asses. He was easy to convince; a dim wit who likes cartoons and candy. Innocent as a kindergartner. One look at him though, you’d think he’s the real deal.

Maurice is on his knee now, an arm up, batting at punches like a child. Chris looks over to me, satisfied. The beating grows louder and my stomach turns.

Maurice lets out a shout. “Captain Infinity!”

Oh, shit.

He drives his heavy fist through the guy’s nose and the life goes out from under him. The barn erupts. Maurice rises to his feet and our plan crumbles to the floor.

Chris panics. He tries to slip through the crowd, but the city folk are there. They’ll hurt him. Maurice and I’ll be be next.

A thick hand drops on my shoulder. I look at Maurice’s face, mashed into a wad of blood and swelling. He smiles. “I got him.”

White Trash by Mike Loniewski

The trailer kitchen is a fog of gun smoke; dirty food and garbage are splattered all over me.  The screaming heffer in the corner is Ethel.  Everything about her is stained, from her teeth to her soiled nightshirt to her blackened, dirty feet.  Mike is slumped on the linoleum floor clutching his collarbone and looking up at me with these big, wide eyes and letting out this high pitched groan.

I keep my gun on Ethel and radio dispatch for a med evac. The radio crackles back their response time as I grab Mike’s hand and plug it in the hole under his neck.

“Mike? Mike, you gotta hold it, man. Press down”

“I’m shot, Neal.”

I move over to Ethel. Her fat ass has slid down onto the floor.

“Ethel, you gotta stop that goddamn screaming.”

Every time she moves there’s this stink that explodes off her, like rotted meat and vinegar.

“Does he have her with him? Goddamn it, Ethel does he have her with him?”

She nods her fat face. What I wouldn’t give to punch it in. I turn to Mike.

“Keep pressing on it.”

“I’m shot, Neal.”

His face is white and he’s dropping into shock.

“I know, man. Keep pressing, buddy. I gotta go out there.”

I’m through the door and sprinting across the snow and over to their rusted Ford. I can hear Ethel yelling inside the trailer.

“He’s commin’ out, Emil! He’s commin!”

What a fat bitch. I take off for the woods.  I’m no runner. Christ, I was a lineman in college. We don’t run.

I’m hunching now and something pops and zips past my ear. Snow starts kicking up at my feet. More pops. I slip and fall and I start grabbing at the snow and pull myself to a tree. Shreds of tree bark spit in my face.

I squeeze off six rounds into the air and move up a bit before he starts firing again. The pops are louder. We’re close. I’m on my gut, face in the snow, breathing heavy, lungs burning, everything going light. I see something, about fifteen yards out. It’s Emil’s skinny ass, but I don’t see the girl.

I roll out from the tree like a beached whale and start firing.  The slide kicks back and I rush to my knees and I drop the empty magazine.  Emil dives, or falls, into a thicket of fallen branches. I slap the new mag in and empty it just as quick into the thicket. Emil’s just fine; not a scratch. He fires back.  Jesus, am I that shitty a shot?

I crawl up to a thick stump and something bites my shoulder. It jacks me up and I spin around. I flop around on the ground like a bitch from the pain. It saves me from a bullet in my skull.

I hear crunching. He’s rushing me. I scramble for the gun. A pop. Another bite. More bites, sharp in my back. I grab the gun and turn. A bite in my leg now, my stomach. I see Emil right on me, scared shitless but blasting away. Something slams into my chest.

I fall back and raise my gun and just squeeze. I keep squeezing. My head is in the snow now but I keep squeezing. I feel the slide kick. No more popping. No more sounds, just pain and even that starts to fade.

I lift my head up and everything’s white and my ears are clogged.  Something heavy sits inside my chest, I can feel it. Emil lies in a heap and I barely notice that he’s all jammed up. I spit something up at him.

“Where is she?” I yell at him.  “She run?”

He gurgles something out and he’s gone. I hear crunching. I look up and I see a frightened girl, pretty and dirty and shivering. She’s alive and that’ll have to do.

I think I hear sirens. Those are sirens. Maybe she won’t be scared and she’ll run to them. Maybe then she’ll forget all about Emil and Ethel and the duct tape and the squeaky, stained mattress. Maybe I will, too.