someone coming after us, you know."
I heard his voice at the end of the line,
some LA freeway traffic roaring by.
Rob sounded like some guy I could have known
back at Anaheim Central junior high.
I imagined him shoved into lockers
by the last runty pick on varsity
football, or was it cheerleaders this time?
gripped the phone more tightly, palm squeaky.
"You have to get this fixed. That's why I pay."
Of all the things that I wanted to hear,
lectures were not my first selection, nor
my last one either. Dying couldn't come
in time to stave the torment off. I sighed.
his Bat Cave above the city depths,
Rob heard it. Voice now more like Al Capone:
"We had a good agreement, didn't we?"
The threat of the past tense was absolute.
"And will," I said. "You're too on edge, you know?"
I don't expect he liked hearing the tone
resounding in his ear right after that.
I thought it lucky that I just hung up
and went along towards the Suisse Chalet.
Christi beach was littered with snobs
among the kelp-wrapped dreams of gypsy kids.
I had a cigarette and sat down, slow
and careful not to disturb tourists' view.
(Nobody likes triggermen as lifeguards.)
I waited for the sign of the lowlifes
like me. Nothing. Jesus, I hated them
as much as I did Rob for this dumb game.
It didn't look like they would come,
at least in time for me to kill them off
and catch the evening flight to Mexico.
Rob's words reverberated in my head.
"There's someone coming after us, you know."
Sure didn't seem that way. I wondered if
the cops would catch on soon enough to me.
looking back, I should have left that day.
Screw fifty grand. I should have been long gone,
but my name and Rob's had to stay first-class.
six dozen packs of cigarettes
went by before I saw anything good.
Then they were there: Two guys, a total joke.
One spoke patois like some Creole cliché.
The other had a skin disease, it seemed,
Or maybe a suit against Tans-R-Us.
recognized the way they spoke of Rob
and me: "A pair of circus freaks, those two.
The San Francisco one in particular.
Who knows? He could have gotten here by now.
Maybe he's drinking cheap spic beer downtown."
I wanted just then, more than anything,
to kill them there and therefore solve it all.
But not that way: It would leave traces, clues.
I'd have to wait and see what I could do.
Rob was coming to see the rodeo.
where the fuck are you at now?" he said.
The Days Inn was not quite what I had thought
would be the best choice for a weekend trip.
But he was down here now to watch me work,
calling me from the plasticene lobby.
"I haven't heard a thing – I thought I would,"
he said. "If not from them, from you, at least."
"You will," I said. "Be patient and receive."
"Don't quote that shit at me." His voice was crisp.
stumbling hour slipped down upon the shore.
I followed in the night, my gun with me.
Then, sure that Rob was in the Days Inn loft,
an elevator operator girl
with him, I started firing quickly, sure
that tourists would not care. And they did not.
couldn't see the gunshots anyway,
and there was nothing close enough to hear.
If there had been, I doubt they would have cared.
their cash, I went back to the inn,
told Rob of the shooting, and we fled:
The Acapulco beaches awaited.
he and I took off for Mexico,
their faces peered out from airport TVs,
their corpses found on Corpus Christi beach:
One Haitian, one Texan, two bullets each.
They looked like shit. And then I heard Rob's voice
trying his very damnedest to explain
just why it was my money spoke in French,
(Buying me as anything but native
to California was a tricky sell)
when I knew just English and Je m'appelle.
I raised my hands and raised my gun as well,
and shot myself, Rob, and the world to hell.