My interest in becoming a writer started around my twelfth birthday. My mother gave me a book, “Little Men,” by Louisa May Alcott.
So, now I gotta tell you, too?
Louie the Leech stood on the corner of Fifth and Jackson near the Winslow’s Hardware, pulling a long drag out of the Marlboro he had just borrowed from Spike. You couldn’t actually call it borrowing ‘cause Louie never paid you back for anything. I should know ‘cause he still owes me thirty-seven bucks and the two switchblades that he used to terrorize some tiny punks with a couple of times.
Louie was watching this hot girl walk by him wearing one of them skirts that barely covers the cheeks. Wow! She was smokin’ hot! Louie made some kind of remark to Spike that set that fat tub of lard into shaking fits of laughter. I once thought that when Spike died, the oil prices in America would tank big-time. I wish I could’ve heard that crude joke Louie said.
I could tell really quickly why Louie and Spike took that side of the street, ‘cause hardly anybody walked my side that time of day. It was some kind of blistering. I swear the rubber from the Nikes I lifted from Harry’s Sporting Goods was becoming one with the concrete sidewalk. I cursed Louie and Spike for taking the side shaded by the buildings. The sun was shining down on me, and I was dumb enough not to wear a hat. To make matters worse, every time the cars would drive by, it was like standing in front of a huge frickin’ hair dryer set on high.
We were looking for Joe Kratzenberger, a local businessman who wasn’t keeping up with his debts. Two weeks had passed by, and he was not making his payment for business protection to Louie.
Well, you know. Uh, it was protection from the mean crackheads. You know how they like to go through and trash the businesses. Louie was offering him protection from those cheap thugs. A businessman needs to be able to operate his business without some loser coming in there and taking all his profits. Louie had a contract, a non-negotiable contract, with a lot of the business owners in that neighborhood.
Anyway, Louie was getting a little nervous that Kratzenberger – boy that is some weird name – Louie was concerned Kratzenberger was talking to you guys. Not that you guys are not good at protecting people. I respect the boys in blue.
So, what do they call you? Sarge? Oh, sorry man. I’ll get back to the story.
I’d known Louie for a long time, long before he got the nickname ‘Leech’. When I was twelve, I used to be his delivery boy, running his packages to his different customers. Huh? No! I never did any of that. His business was straight up, I swear. I had to keep an exact count of everything he sold so that he would know when someone double-crossed him. Louie loved his money. Had it pouring out of every orifice the body can have.
I learned that you should never double-cross Louie. You might end up like my friend Butch. Butch was a fifteen-year-old street rat who looked like he was thirty. He introduced me to Louie and helped me get the job. For a long time, Louie knew that Butch had been stealing from him.
One day, they were arguing about it and Louie caught him in a lie. Louie wanted to teach me a vital life lesson, so he made me watch. There was a weird look in Louie’s eyes, almost as if he was getting his rocks off, while he slowly cut Butch to pieces. I ain’t never heard a guy scream the way Butch did. Louie saved the vital parts for last so Butch died slow. I gained a new respect for Louie that day. I had never seen so much blood before.
I think it was Grecco. Butch Grecco, but you will never find his body. Louie sent pieces of him all over the city to all his different little street punks except for me. I guess he figured that since I saw what he could do, I would never turn against him. Trust me, if I wasn’t sure that he was dead right now, I wouldn’t be here talking to you.
So anyways, I was looking up at the clock on the Emerson Bank Building. You know, the one that has the naked lady holding her body out over the street. Several pigeons were on her back and strutting on the ledge she leaned out from. One of those stupid birds flew off and dropped a big glob of poop on this rich old woman. She stopped dead in her tracks and gasped like a sick hyena! She started gagging and I thought she was about to hurl all over a cabbie.
What? Man! That is part of the story!
She kept herself from puking by grabbing a Kleenex out of her purse. I looked up at the clock again, wishing that a dozen pigeons, all of them, would take off and crap on her.
I saw that it was two-forty-five. I held my breath and began to watch the front doors of that very building. The old lady was blocking my view, and that made me even more nervous. If I let Kratzenberger get away, Louie would have my head.
I’d been watching Kratzenberger for the last two weeks. Even though he owed Louie two weeks protection money, the big kicker was that he was trying to welch on a ten thousand dollar bet he lost to Louie. Nothing pissed Louie off more than losing money he did not have to do anything for. It was a stupid bet if you ask me. Kratzenberger placed a bet on a lame horse. Not even ten yards out of the gate and the stupid horse tripped and rolled over on the jockey.
Kratzenberger ran a small business down in the Lower Quarter, fairly close to the projects. He really needed Louie’s protection. I used to buy candy from him when I was a little snot. I always thought of him as a good fellow, until he started doing Louie wrong.
Louie had me tail him for almost a week. Kratzenberger never left money in his store at the end of the day, even though he kept the store securely locked overnight. He just did not trust the neighborhood. Word came around that he was looking to sell out and move to Florida. The store was closing. Louie did not mind him leaving just as long as he paid off his debts before he left. Kratzenberger was trying to squirrel away everything he could. Somehow, he knew when Louie was on his way and the store would be closed when we got there. Louie decided it was time to confront him before he could get the money into the bank. It’s kind of crazy carrying around a lot of money by yourself, but Kratzenberger must have thought he was safe in broad daylight.
Not today, though. I had Kratzenberger’s daily trip to the bank down to a tee. I saw his shiny bald head come around the corner of Jackson and Fifth, heading toward me. He was bringing his three o’clock deposit right into our hands. I coughed into my hand and turned into the direction in which the little twerp was approaching. Louie was already out into the street to cut off any escape from behind. Lard Butt was still in the shade of the buildings on the other side. His job was to intercept Kratzenberger if he tried to run into the street.
Kratzenberger was like a little mouse, you know, moving around with quick little jerks. He was always looking around like he was nervous or something. I thought he noticed me once as he was approaching, but I ducked quickly behind the support column of the building. I reached inside my pocket to get the little gun Louie gave me. It was ready for some action!
No. I left it at my crib ‘cause I didn’t really need to bring it down here, you know, ‘cause you guys all have guns already.
I pretended to be looking into a pawn shop window at some televisions until Kratzenberger was almost right beside me. I spun around with the gun leveled right at his belly button. Louie followed right behind him and we both guided him into the alley. I’m surprised he did nothing to oppose us. He knew better than to scream when we were around. It was not good for his health when Louie was angry.
What? No! Oh, hell no! I never laid a hand on him! You can ask him for yourself!
Louie and Spike roughed him up a little, but that was all. I think Louie wanted me to shoot him, but I lost the nerve. I really did not want to see that old man die. He used to sell me candy. I kind of liked him in a way.
Louie must have known I was soft and wanted me to be the trigger man just for funs. Kratzenberger was begging for his life and promised to pay twice what he owed. Louie and Spike roughed him up something fierce and took what he was going to deposit in the bank. Louie wanted me to shoot him, but I ran. I just could not shoot the only person who had ever been nice to me.
I had run ten blocks before Louie even caught up to me. I would have kept running, but it was too damned hot. Louie was too exhausted to lay into me, so we both sat on a park bench and waited another half of the day before Spike caught up to us. I thought I had it bad! He was pouring buckets of sweat and gasping like a fish out of water. Somehow, he had managed to find all of us a soda, for which he was forgiven, at least by me, for being so late.
After the soda, Louie decided he needed a hit. The thought of getting high seemed to re-energize Spike. I personally don’t like getting high. A beer buzz is okay every now and then, but I’ve seen way too many of my homeboys wreck their lives just to get a few minutes of feel good. Louie had that fresh wad of cash from Kratzenberger, but he wasn’t ready to part ways with it. We knew this little oriental guy that paid for protection who marketed crack on the side.
The old fart smiled at us as we approached his shop. Obviously, he respected the value of Louie’s protection, ‘cause he always paid his dues on time. He was sweeping the front step of his business and set the broom down to go inside. He left the front door open for Louie and Spike. They looked at each other and laughed out loud. I do not know why, but I felt uneasy going inside that shop. I should have listened to my gut instincts, but it was hot outside and at least there was shade and fans inside.
I went steady with this Chinese girl once when I was in seventh grade, but it didn’t last long. She was way too short after I hit my growth spurt. I like to look them in the eye when I kiss them. This little oriental guy was short like her, but he was not Chinese or Japanese. I do not know what kind of Oriental he was. He kinda looked like one of those bad ninja teachers that you see in the old Kung foo movies. He walked all hunched over with one foot that seemed to drag behind him. I got a good look at his face. One eye was squeezed shut while the other looked at me. It was all grayish-white and, in the dark of the little shop, seemed to glow.
I thought that it was strange to have it so dark inside the shop. There was a haze of incense that stunk up the air inside. How could you run a business if it was so dark inside that you couldn’t see what you were buying? I could tell why Louie and Spike liked this place, though. The darkness made it much easier for them to pocket some of the goods without being noticed.
I realized the old guy was a junk dealer as well. I bet he was one of those people you saw sifting through junkyard trash to find something of value. There were a few things on the shelves that might have had some value. I saw a tambourine with two of the silver things missing from it. There was also an old torn picture of some dude who was in the army or navy or something like that. Through the back door that led into a storeroom, I saw this statue of a woman who looked like she was crying about something. Now that was worth getting a better look at.
The old man was smiling as Louie leaned down over the counter and said, “Time to pay up, old man. And I will take some of that dust you been marketing.”
I moved around so that I could get a good look at the statue in the back room. There were several back there, but the one that interested me the most was the lady. She seemed almost life-like. I turned and looked at the old fart and found him staring at me while he mumbled some oriental gibberish to Louie. I stepped a little closer to Spike so that I could whisper to him without interrupting Louie’s business deal. The statue of the lady looked too real and seeing the old man staring at me made my skin crawl.
“Hey, Spike. Does this place not give you the willies?” I tried to sound like nothing was bothering me.
Spike looked at me with that half-cocked grin of his and I knew I would regret saying anything to him. I would never hear the end of it for the rest of the night. I should’ve kept my big mouth shut. It was always getting me into trouble.
I looked back at the old man. He had turned his attention to Louie, but I could not help myself get rid of that creepy feeling that he had been watching me, studying me for some weird reason. That made my skin crawl. I turned and looked back out the door to make sure that no one else was coming and to reassure myself that there was still light outside.
Louie was getting angry. “Listen to me old man! I know you can understand me! Give me the dope you got stashed and I will let you go.” He walked behind the counter as the old fart was mumbling something. “Stop talking trash and speak English, you freak!” He shoved the cash register to the floor.
When Louie needed a fix, he was always at his worst. Me and Spike both knew not to say the wrong thing to him. You might end up nursing a broken rib the next day. Spike moved around the opposite end of the counter and grabbed the old fart by his armpits. Louie flipped out one of my switchblades and twirled it with his fingers, like a baton, awfully close to the geezer’s nose. I swallowed a lump in my throat as I began to feel sorry for walking into the shop.
Louie let the switchblade glance across the old man’s nose. “Give me the drugs!”
The old man clammed up and I swear his eye turned clear with anger. Louie doubled his fist and punched him in the gut. I heard the hit. It was like slamming your fist into a side of beef like Rocky used to do in those movies of his. Louie immediately grabbed his hand and howled out in pain. He started jumping around and shaking his hand like he had hit a brick wall. I was surprised. Louie could break two by fours with that punch of his and the old fart did not even flinch! He even seemed to smile at Louie.
Louie growled in anger and then backhanded the old man, who then just laughed in return at Louie. The situation was going from bad to worse. Louie glared at both me and Spike, looking for some kind of suggestion about what to do. I wanted to leave, although I was secretly pleased that the old geezer had the brass cajones to make fun of Louie.
Then Louie was looking past me, down at the floor. His eyes took on that strange look he sometimes got when he was standing over one of his victims. I shrank back in fear of my own safety, wondering what I had done to anger him. Louie crouched down low and started walking toward me. A small cat, twining itself around the legs of a chair, looked up at all of us indifferently.
“Here kitty, kitty, kitty,” Louie called out as he approached her.
I should have stayed there, but I stepped aside while Louie went to pick up the old man’s cat. Unsuspecting of the danger she was in, she allowed herself to be held. The old man was struggling against Spike’s grip as Louie turned to him. It was then that I decided to say something about what he was about to do. I kind of like cats. They were my first and only friends when I got dumped by my folks in this city when I was a little snot. I knew what he was about to do, and I didn’t want the cat to have to suffer.
“No! No!” The old fart was now begging for mercy. “I give drugs! I give drugs!”
“Too late, you old freak!” Louie’s eyes grew wide with excitement and the corner of his mouth twitched. He was petting the cat with the blade of my knife. “But if you hurry, I might let her live.”
The old man hesitated. The poor cat howled something fierce as Louie twisted her left foreleg up over the back of her head. You could hear a definite pop as her shoulder broke. She squirmed in Louie’s strong grip as she tried to bite and claw for her freedom, but he would not let her go. Spike was shaking with his stupid laughter again.
“That’s enough, Louie! Let her go!” I still can’t believe that the words had escaped my mouth. Before I could pound some sense into my head, I followed with, “Don’t hurt the cat anymore!”
“The hell you say?” Louie glared at me with a snarl trying to escape his mouth. “The hell you say?” He repeated.
Some of my senses came back to me. “I’m sorry, Louie. You know how I feel about cats.”
“Who’s running this show, uh?” Louie wasn’t going to back down, even when I cowered in front of him.
“You are, Louie,” I answered as softly and peaceably as I could, but I still couldn’t hide my resentment about the cat.
“He’s got the drugs, Louie!” Spike sounded extremely excited. “Man! There’s a lot here!”
That drew Louie’s attention away from me. He knifed the cat just to spite me and laid her up on the counter. I stood there in the doorway, watching that poor cat as it flopped around trying to stand up. I wish I had the balls to put a bullet in Louie’s skull right then and there. The cat didn’t deserve to die like that. I wimped out and started crying over the pitiful thing. I tried to calm her by petting her. I clutched the pistol, but I didn’t have the guts to pull it out.
I forced myself to look away to where Louie and Spike were having their fun with the old geezer. They shoved him between the two of them as he tried to produce the drugs they wanted. I decided that I no longer wanted to be involved with anything Louie did. Both he and Spike looked like small-time hoods as they greedily stuffed their pockets with the bags of white powder. I felt sorry for the old man as he scooped up what was left of his pet and began to cry. Louie grabbed me by my shirt and pulled me along behind him as we left the store. When I passed by the old man, he was whispering something in that Oriental language of his. The cat was barely moving now.
I do not know. Kind of out of place, though. It’s not a pawn shop or anything like that. It’s just a little store in an old building close to the park. It shouldn’t be too hard to find. All the other stores in the area were boarded up.
By the time we got back to Louie’s crib, he was so hard up for a fix that he forgot to pound me for trying to stand up to him. Spike wasn’t going to remind him right then, ‘cause he wanted to party now that we had bucks and candy. As soon as we got inside, Louie laid out two lines of the geezer’s dust and snorted up as if his life depended on it. Spike joined him a moment later. Louie tried to encourage me to take a hit.
Sure, I’ll pee in a cup for you. I told you I’m clean. I don’t waste my money or my time on getting high.
Then it was time to party. Louie was a different, almost friendly guy when he was stoked. Louie could throw down some outrageous socials. He hired a couple of girls from the street for himself and then two others for me and Spike. He had to pay twice as much for Spike’s girl, ‘cause she did not want anything to do with a fat, smelly guy. Even my girl tried to get me to take a hit, but I’m telling you again. I’m legit.
It all started to happen right at midnight if you can believe that. The cat still bothered me, so I wasn’t much into sex that night. My girl was passed out on the sofa across from me. I was sitting in the chair right across from the big screen. I didn’t even feel like turning on the Playboy channel. I hardly noticed what was going on around me. Normally I ain’t too prejudiced about pumping a girl. I was vaguely aware of Spike grunting as he wallowed all over the blonde. I don’t see how she could have gotten through the ordeal without suffocating.
I remember popping open a can of beer. It was my fifth one and I already had a pretty good buzz going. The room was beginning to distort. Everything seemed to be getting bigger. Louie stumbled into the living room from his bedroom, trailing the two girls he had been railing on in there.
One of the girls was nearly screaming in agitation. Louie had puked all over her crotch. The other girl was trying to hold her puke in, but it wasn’t going to work. The smell of Louie’s puke was reaching all of our noses. Louie’s two girls were the first to continue the puke fest. I tried to hold the beer in my stomach, but it was already frothing at the back of my throat. One of the girls tried to get back into her clothes but slipped and fell in her own puke. Louie started to protest, but got sick again, spewing milky white fluid with chunks of meat into Spike’s hair.
Spike didn’t seem to notice. He was trying to finish off what he was doing to his girl. Louie’s puke dribbled out of Spike’s hair and into the girl’s mouth as she reached – Yes, everybody was getting sick. It was disgusting. Spike’s girl immediately spewed her guts back into his face. His first reaction was to slap that girl for ruining his perfect moment. She responded by kicking him in the groin.
Spike moaned out loud and grabbed his crotch. I wanted to puke and laugh at the same time. I could almost feel his pain, even though I secretly enjoyed seeing him suffer. I guess that I did both, though for some reason I could feel nothing at all. In fact, I couldn’t move at all. Then I realized that I couldn’t laugh, either. I could only watch as the others fell over in stinking, puking heaps.
All the while that Louie was puking all over the place and Spike was having his jewels crushed, I saw a strange thing happening to my girl. She had curled up into a tiny ball and was now starting to shrink. I know this ‘cause she had already put on her clothes to leave when the other girls had finished their duties. When she first arrived, I had noticed how every luscious curve was trying to bust out of her skimpy clothes. Now, as I looked at her, her clothes seemed to be falling off her...and her skin was turning gray.
Spike started puking. Just like Louie’s, his vomit was milky with chunks of meat in it as well. I tried to remember what we had eaten earlier in the day that could produce this kind of a mess. There was no place I could recall, except for the hamburger joint we ate at before we met Kratzenberger. This stuff looked like raw meat.
Louie scrambled over to Spike, holding his stomach. He was beginning to turn that same shade of gray that my girl had turned. I then realized that they had grown smaller and looked like little deformed children crawling around the furniture. Then Louie let out with the weirdest scream I ever heard from him, kind of high pitched. He looked around at his butt, where this pink appendage was breaking through his skin at the end of his spine. Spike fell off the couch and started writhing on the floor. They were changing.
Look. Can you let me go take the test now so that you will know that I have never done drugs?
I saw this happen with my own eyes. I ain’t lying! Louie, Spike, and the four girls were turning into mice! I swear!
Quit laughing, ‘cause I got to tell you the rest of the story!
So, I’m sitting there, and I can’t move for some reason. I think the old fart had something to do with it. The drugs he gave Louie must’ve been laced with something. I could only sit there and watch while they all shrank and changed into mice. I noticed something move out of the corner of my eye. It was the old geezer’s cat! She was still alive! The window was open, so she must’ve come in from the fire escape. She had jumped up on the arm of my chair and was now watching the others as they finished changing.
She looked back at me with little regard, blinking those blue-green eyes at me. Then she began to watch Louie and Spike, her tail switching back and forth. The only way I could tell the difference between the two of them was that although he was tiny, Spike was still twice as fat as Louie.
Spike saw her first and let out a squeak of terror. Then Louie looked at her and snarled at her. I think he was too doped up to realize the danger he was in. He started to run for the bedroom, I guess ‘cause he kept a gun in the nightstand by his bed. The cat leaped ever so gracefully onto the coffee table and then bounded over the back of the couch. She had a slight limp in her foreleg, but that did not keep her from quickly cutting off Louie’s escape.
Louie turned back in my direction and squeaked at me. I know he wanted me to do something, but I couldn’t move, and I couldn’t understand him. The cat chased after Louie and caught him under the coffee table, her claws digging into his legs. He squeaked out in pain and turned to fight her.
By that time Spike was coming to his senses and decided that this was no place for him. Instead of bolting for the bedroom like Louie had tried, he just rolled up on all fours and carefully squirmed under the edge of the couch.
Meanwhile, Louie and the cat were into it good. She had Louie pinned to the floor with her forepaws. She had to keep pulling her head back out of reach of Louie’s teeth. Once, he was able to nick her on the nose and she howled out in fury. She lunged at his throat and caught him with her massive jaws. She then shook him violently. She tossed him up in the air and he landed on top of the coffee table. He wasn’t moving.
The cat jumped up there with Louie and then eyed me briefly. It was a cold and brutal stare that sent a shudder all through me. I thought that I was next. Louie tried to get back up and she pounced on him, biting into his neck again. His squeal was weaker this time and he was no longer struggling against her.
The cat let go and began to look around the room. I think she was looking for Spike. Louie made one last effort to get away. She hooked her claws into his side, pulled him up into the air, and then began to gnaw on his head. I wanted to look away, but I couldn’t. That stub of a tail was twitching as she put him down and started chewing. I finally puked when I heard the bones of his skull crunching inside her jaws.
The cat rose from what was left of Louie and searched the room for Spike. The girls were scrambling for cover, but the cat wasn’t interested in them. Her ears zeroed in on the corner of the couch where Spike cowered. In a flash, she was down on the floor near the corner of the couch. She was ferociously reaching under the couch, trying to catch Spike. I heard him squeal in pain as she caught him and pulled him out. She played with him for a while until he couldn’t move anymore. The girls were gone.
The cat left Spike alone and turned her attention to me. I thought for sure I was a goner. She jumped up on the arm of the chair and came awfully close to my face. I could smell Louie and Spike’s blood on her breath. She looked me in the eyes and then sat back to bathe herself. She rubbed her head against my face and then purred softly. Then, as if remembering some other task, she jumped down from the chair and took Spike’s limp body into her mouth.
That is the last thing I remember before blacking out. The cat carried Spike in her mouth up to the window that she must have come through and left me alone in Louie’s apartment. The next morning, I woke up on the stoop to Louie’s building. I was dressed, and all my belongings were with me. I decided then that I was going to go back home to Texas. I was on my way to the bus station when your boys found me. I’m telling you the truth. If you don’t believe me, you can go check out the old fart. He is in the old section of Second Avenue across from the park. Take a good hard look at that cat, too. You’ll see.
© 2020 Eddie Dollgener
Eddie Dollgener (author) from Texas on January 08, 2021:
I enjoy writing in different genres.
Eddie Dollgener (author) from Texas on January 04, 2021:
Thank you. I had fun writing it.
Eddie Dollgener (author) from Texas on December 25, 2020:
Thank you. I wrote this piece during my experimental stage.
peachy from Home Sweet Home on December 25, 2020:
very unique story