Sunday, August 06, 2006

Untitled Submission - Elster

Editor's Note: First order of business - I wanted to thank Scraps and Jack again for being the sacrificial lambs at Storytellers.

We are slightly out of order this week. Sara was supposed to go third, but changed her story concept at the last minute so I am filling in here to buy her another week.

Please not that after Sara next week, we are going first come first served. Many of you have committed stories but to be honest, I have not gotten anything in yet (bad times). Please send me your stuff via email when you can in order to avoid me having to email all of you to beg. Now without further ado, here's my shot at telling a story:

Dante Reynolds sat at the bar, draining large quantities of tequila and fixing his homicidal stare in the wall-sized mirror. I approached him gingerly and inquired of his poor mood.

“Paula left me,” he said gloomily.

“Paula always leaves you,” I replied, trying to be reasonable.

“This time it’s different. She got all into Buddhism and she thinks my profession negatively impacts her Karma.”

“Well, you have to admit that our mutual profession could be considered a karma killer if viewed in the wrong light.”

He shrugged and ordered another double of Jose Cuervo. When the bartender set the amber liquid in front of him, he took out a sterile alcohol wipe and carefully cleaned the top of the glass.

“If you’re so damn worried about germs, why the hell don’t you just buy a freaking bottle and drink in your immaculate, germ free apartment?” I asked for the three-hundredth time.

“I like the camaraderie,” he replied.

“But your anti-social,” I reminded him.

He shrugged. “Still...” He drank the tequila in two long gulps and sucked on the obligatory lime (bought from an organic fruit and vegetable store, sliced with a carefully hot water and alcohol washed JH Henkle Eversharp blade smuggled into the bar). “You think there’s anything to this karma shit Mike?” he asked me.

“Isn’t karma that nonsense about what colors surround you?”

“No, that’s aura. Paula used to be into that too. She went around telling me my aura’s real black.”

I thought about it. “Wow, it must suck to have bad karma and a black aura.”

“If I got it then you got it too asshole.”

I nodded in agreement. “Well, that may be true, but I have some news that should cheer you up.” He looked at me expectantly. “I got us a job.”

The death look left his eyes and he broke into a smile. “Well partner, that certainly calls for a drink.”

“You sure you have enough Sani-Wipes?”

* * *

Four weeks later, we are back at the bar, this time at a very secluded table in the back, staring at a month’s worth of our shadowing the subject. Our surveillance has been supplemented by a dossier supplied by the potential client.

“He beats his wife,” I throw out there for starters, already knowing the answer.

“Big deal.”

“He’s obese.” I can’t resist. Dante has a thing for fat people.

He gave me disgusted. “What else?”

“Client says he’s into kiddie porn.” Dante makes another face, like he just bit into rancid meat. There’s really nothing worse than a fat man who likes to look at naked pictures of kids.

“Now we’re cooking,” he replied. He’s drinking beer from a sanitized glass tonight. When you decide a man’s fate, there’s no place for tequila. “Oh, and he drives an American car. Anyone who drives American deserves to die.”

We are drawing some interest from a couple of college muscle headed monkeys sitting at the next table trying to impress their girls. They seem to be listening in on our conversation. Bad idea. Dante simply fixed them with an unblinking stare. In under two minutes they have vacated their table. “Assholes,” he mutters. Dante has little use for people, except as a source of income.

He turns his eyes back to me. “I dunno Mikey. I mean yeah, he’s an asshole (Dante’s universal word of disdain), but I’m not convinced he should be a dead one.”

Dante Reynolds is the best partner a mechanic like me could ever hope for. He’s a solid pro with an artisan’s eye for detail. His plans, and execution of such plans, are always perfect. No witnesses, no evidence and no cops sniffing around us two weeks later. But genius always has a drawback. In this case, it’s Dante’s morality standards. No one gets offed until he decides it’s a righteous kill. Sure, to you it probably sounds stupid. Trust me, I think it’s even dumber, especially in light of the fact that his reasoning never makes any sense anyway. But that’s the price you pay for perfection. And if we have to pass on a couple of hits here and there, that’s ok too. We’re still making money hand over fist.

Dante leaned back in his chair. “Look Mike, this is just another case of one drug dealer wanting to muscle in on another, fatter dealer’s turf. There’s no Karmic balancing.”

“I’m sorry, what did you just say?” I’m starting to feel a twitch in the corner of my eye.

“I said there’s no Karmic…”

“Dante, please stop spouting off your ex-girlfriend’s bullshit. I have been listening to this nonsense for four straight weeks. I’m going insane.”

He sipped his beer thoughtfully. “Don’t be so unenlightened. There’s really something to this Buddhism stuff. I’m telling you.”

“Yes, you’ve been telling me for weeks. I’m begging you to stop.”

“Fine. What else you got?”

It’s make or break time. The truth is, except for the fact that the mark is a dealer, he seems like a pretty decent guy. I play the only card left in my bag. “Client’s offering a hundred and fifty grand if it looks like an accident.”

He leaned back in his chair and stared, possibly contemplating Buddha. He stayed that way for a while, but I knew better than to interrupt him and he made his karmic balance accounting. Finally, he settled forward and drained the rest of his beer. “Hundred and fifty grand huh? Fuck it, let’s ice him.”

* * *

It’s two weeks later and we are back at the bar. Dante’s returned to drinking tequila and I’m nursing a beer. The job was, well it was perfect. Dante’s an artist. The way he pulled it off, “accidentally” bumping into the mark, the polite “excuse me” and he slipped the syringe into the mark’s arm, the moment of confusion, followed by a burst of pain. The “heart attack” that followed. Just a masterful piece of work.

Dante is saying something but I missed it. “What?”

He gives me annoyed. “I said, the beauty is that this will not have stained my karma.”

“Dude, you killed someone. From what I know about karma, you’re gonna come back in your next life as this guys toilet bowl, and he’s gonna come back with weak bowels.” I shudder at my own mental image.

He smiles at me condescendingly. If he starts calling me grasshopper I will take out my .45 and shoot him dead on the spot. “I have made my peace with Buddha. I have promised him many gifts will go deliver them to him at the Buddhist temple in Queens.”

There’s a Buddhist temple in Queens? “And what gift would that be?”

“The Buddha will receive three hundred hard boiled eggs and three hogs heads. Then my karma will be squared.”

“Eggs and pig heads.” I shake my head in wonder. Maybe I’m totally missing the boat with this Buddha thing. This religion seems to kick some serious ass.

“Yes, the Buddha has odd tastes. Of course, us westerners couldn’t possibly understand his great ways.”

I drain my beer and take out a twenty for my portion of the tab. “Okay Dante-san. I am gonna take my split of the goods and head down to Miami for two weeks of dog racing and Jai Alai at Hialeah.” He nods, lost in his world of hog’s heads, no longer concerned with the physical world the rest of us mere mortals are inhabiting, while he exists on a higher plane.

In truth it’s all good. By the time I get back, Dante will have forgotten all about Buddha and will be back with Paula and all will be right with Mike’s world again. See I have a religion too, cycles and patterns. And that’s the beauty of cycles and patterns; they tend to constantly repeat themselves.


Blogger Sara said...

Amazing job! This blog is turning into something really great.

I can't wait to go next...

7:01 AM  
Blogger Scraps said...

See, my ability to write is hindered by my reluctance to include swear words...hence the story I wrote for the first installment. I'll work on my creative writing for the next one.

Sara, I can't wait to see what you come up with!

1:58 PM  
Blogger Elster said...

Sara - Thanks. You have some big footstpes to follow :)

Scraps - The key is to sperate life from fiction. As a general rule I do not curse in "the real world" (though catch me on a bad day and all bets are off), but my characters swear. I am merely their scribe. People curse and we need record their character accuratly, lest we do them all a disservice.

2:30 PM  
Blogger Elster said...

Oh and Scraps, I'm honored that you think enough of the project to want to go another turn.

2:30 PM  
Blogger Scraps said...

Well if it's gonna go anywhere, you're either going to have to start hearing from a lot of the "maybes" or someone's gonna have to go again. ;)

9:40 AM  
Blogger Elster said...

I actually have 9 yeses not maybes. I just need them to get moving....

10:19 AM  
Blogger SS said...

Elster, why do you always seem to write ganster/hitman stories??? They're really good, but it's definitely a genre I've seen on your blog before.

10:44 AM  
Blogger Elster said...

SS - I know, I actually write plenty of other stuff. It's just that this seems to come a little easier for me. It's less "serious" and takes less brain power.

11:59 AM  
Blogger Scraps said...

I can understand wanting to be true to your characters. I also do. I just don't want to have characters that talk like that, which understandably crimps my style a bit.

7:11 AM  
Blogger Elster said...

Depends on what you are writing about I guess. ONe would imagine nuns don't use particularly off-color language though, admitteldly, I don't know any nuns myself.

8:19 AM  
Blogger rhapsody said...

nice stuff - you are the next david baldacci! the next Lee Childs! the next...heck, there are a lot of them. anyway, hats off to you

9:32 PM  
Blogger Elster said...

Rhaps, thanks for the kind words. I will settle for being the first Elster and just getting my stuff "out there".

7:43 AM  
Blogger MC Aryeh said...

Good dialogue. Interesting Character. And funny. You do the lighthearted gangster stuff very very well. I would like to see where you would take this with added time and depth.

4:57 PM  
Blogger Elster said...

Actuaslly, I believe it was SS who challenged me to write something less criminal. For my next trick, I'm going to give that a whirl.

6:50 AM  

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