Sonnet to a Blind Man
The man sitting opposite me is dangerous.
He slouches, blunt fingernails bouncing off the table top. His other hand is shoved so far down his pants you'd figure he was getting happy right in front of you. A sliver of metal shows above his belt buckle. A blatant ostentation. After everything that's happened, he still has to keep hanging on to the fear. As if he had people to fear now.
This guy is just a washed up junkie. One more investment on the end of a dealer's list. One more living corpse, one more walking time bomb, one more breathing sonnet to man's insatiable lust for self-destruction.
His hand stops tapping and cradles a cigarette, his third since I got there. Home-rolled. Two pinches of tobacco and a filter he stole from some other gutter rat. Shaking, he lifts it to his mouth. The room smells of piss and shit and crack and something worse than crack. It is the kind of place that draws fuckups to it like leaches to an open wound. Where convicts, rats, hookers, fags, junkies, freaks, suppliers, dealers all meet to feast and fight and fuck.
Right now it is empty. The river outside is devoid of bodies. There is nothing left.
Dark eyes watch me, their lids traced in shadow. The man has watched me look around his place. Let me figure out for myself what's happened. That they've all gone. He is all alone now. His soiled pile of blankets all he has in the world.
The smirk appears. It widens, lengthens, as he turns the case towards me.
"You want a smoke?"
An effort to be civil. I am pacified, and a little amused. "I don't smoke."
He shrugs. Takes another, flicking ash from the former into a steadily-increasing pile at the foot of his chair.
"So. You want my story?"
"Two grand, in cash, by tomorrow."
Feet scrape against the floor. Narrow shoulders shift.
"This don' make no fucking sense. The cops know what I did. Why don't you go ask them for your precious story?"
"I need to go direct to the source."
"Read the fucking newspapers."
I consider him coolly.
I stand up. Then I seize the front of the boy's jacket and tear him out of his seat. His arms windmill, unsure as to what is happing or how to defend himself. His face is against the floor. I grind it in. Once. Twice. The boy screams. Three times. I let go of his hair, then frown. My gloves are filthy.
"Jesus, Adrian. Can't you wash?"
The man is on the ground, eyes trickling as he rubs his face ineffectually with his sleeve. He doesn't bother answering, just looks at me with hound dog appreciation. My mind goes to thoughts of my .45. It would be for his own good. Since that broad ran off with his balls and his heart, he's not been fit to live. My coat twitches as I reach inside my pocket.
"No." Amazingly, his voice is controlled. I look at him, surprised.
He is not like the other junkies, that voice tells me. Those faggots and fuckups, moronic kids born too early to moronic parents. Those eyes say that he was a man once.
The moment passes, and I sigh in relief. In one way, it seems inevitable. I knew when I agreed to come here it would wind up like this. I pull up a chair beside him, my piece tucked away.
"Alright, junkie, you've earned 50 more seconds of life. Now listen to what I have to say and tell me if it seems like a good deal to you.
I want your story. No shit, no lies, no crap. Understand? I want to know everything. Everything. Who your first teacher was and what your mommy smelt like. I want to know what it was like the first time some dumb girl blew you. I want to know what it felt like when you killed a man. I want to be with you when you killed the man.
"I want to be with through it all. You give me a story, something I can sell, and you're looking at a cool two grand to spend in any way you please. You could put it towards a car. A house. A new pair of shoes and some clothes to go to a job interview in. Or you can get smack.
"So, kid. What do you say?"
It is a stupid question. I already know the answer. The man sitting opposite is dangerous.
But not as dangerous as me.