Anyhoos, on with the post in hand, being an excerpt from Will Hoyle’s (right) TIME AND TIDE. Will Hoyle has previously featured on CAP here or hereabouts, so feel free to clickety-click when you’re done here …
TIME AND TIDE1. DON’T TAKE YOUR GUNS TO TOWN
South Boston, MA – 2008:
Guys that look like me don’t do well in prison.
They just don’t, it’s proven fact. If you’re not one of the blacks or the Mexicans or the skinheads or the chinks, you’re in no man’s land and you might as well kill yourself on the first night because you’d only last two days, maybe a week tops and that’s if you get yourself thrown in solitary. If you’re just an average guy who’s not quite white trash but who’s not exactly white collar either, the only way you even think about taking a long hot shower or eating a peaceful meal at chow time without finding your own dinner fork oscillating in your back is if you’re a degenerate mick convict who at one time worked for my old man, if you’re still loyal to him now. And as blind luck has it, I’m a spitting image of the sonofabitch, the soft-spoken but equally seedy criminal, racketeer, loan shark, gunrunner and convicted cold-blooded murderer.
Billy Ray Landry.
I know that his death will mean my death but when you got nothing and when you know he takes away and takes away without ever giving a single thing back, the color of your skin and the status of your prison popularity starts to mean a lot less. When he took away that one thing in the world and came away with a menial forty-five year sentence, up for parole in twenty, the color of daylight, of your own blood starts to mean a lot less to you.
Leaning against the brick structure of the Kelley’s Pasta Village on the corner of E. 3rd and L Streets, dragging on my Marlboro and slowly working my way into doing what I swore to myself I’d do.
Still dark, still early.
The sky a deep blue watery grave, the morning sun a ravenous, reclusive beast. Car horns, ambulances, cop cars screeching and wailing and serenading the city with their monotonous, luminous nocturnes.
The unmistakable stench of diesel fumes and car exhaust, grime and garbage, dirt and desperation.
A massive hangover from of a night of blood drunkenness, the smell of Italian food that’s been sitting cold and clumpy throughout the night, forcing my stomach and the world around me to spin against one another like yin and yang.
I fish my cell phone from my pocket and check the time. Nearly five in the morning, the bitterly cold sea breeze whispering up the port and through the streets, as unseen and unmerciful as the Angel of Death. I stand and wait in this northeastern nebula of a city, crammed and packed into this blue-collar community, this hard knocks haven. Restless, can’t sleep, and honestly who could when you have as much weighing on your mind, your shoulders and your heart as I do? It was a long walk to get here, and I know it’ll be an even longer one into the loving arms of Boston’s finest.
The brown leather jacket covers the gray wife beater with the frayed edges and the snag and the sweat stains in the armpit and that just barely covers the black Smith & Wesson .44 hiding in the waistline of my jeans. The one Billy Ray gave me, ions ago. Another lifetime ago. The one he used to chase her with down the dark and muddy and lonely Eagle View Road back when I was still a baby. Before I was big enough to actually defend her.
The one I plan to raise some hell with even though it’s not even loaded.
Through the thick clouds of cigarette smoke, I squint over at the Exxon across the street, Newhill Plaza opposite the gas station on the corner of E. 3rd. When I cut my eyes back over to the station, I pay close attention to who goes in, and more importantly, who comes out.
Flailing headlights, the warm buzz of the occasional car and the clunking and roaring and grating motors that propel them, all blazing down L Street ahead of me and all around me. I wait for the cattle to clear the beaten path before I even attempt to cross the street and do what I told myself I had to do.
What I have to do or I won’t respect myself later tonight or any other night for that matter.
I run a surprisingly steady hand through the long and unruly dark blond curls on my head and use my dirt-caked fingernails to scratch my dry scalp. I reassure myself it’s just a deep itch and not a nervous tick. I reassure myself that I’m not apprehensive at all because actually getting away with this crime is not something I’m really trying to do anyway.
I’m the ticking time bomb who will intentionally fail to detonate.
Now that the sunrise has finally managed to crane its neck up from behind the navy blue skyline of downtown Boston and up from over the top of Southie’s brand new row of condos, I know I look more than suspect as the unrefined, tattooed construction worker type, loitering and staking out the gas station across L Street, the enclave’s main drag. My location is completely intentional but no one else in the world would know that and after I’m apprehended, I’ll probably end up on one of those World’s Dumbest Criminals programs. Maybe I should’ve come later in the day, rush hour maybe when I’d cause a lot more attention. It’s common knowledge that most criminals don’t want to be seen, noticed. But even though I look the part of the lowlife, the grimy and seedy petty crook, I think I’ll just take a seat on the dirty tile floor and light up another smoke and wait until the cops take me willing and grinning to Cedar Junction Maximum Security Prison after I stick-up the Exxon.
It’s not like I have a deathwish or I’m scared to be a contributing member of society because I have been for the past eight years. It’s just that now she’s gone and she was the only family I had except for Billy Ray.
I wait and I smoke and I continue to lean against the pizzeria until I see the subtle hints of the sunrise, batting its eye up from behind the John Hancock Tower. That’s when I leave behind any lingering apprehensions along with the shortened cig butt I crush beneath one of my steel-toed Wolverines. That’s when I quickly secure the .44, take a deep breath, wait for the Pest Control van to clunk its way through the yellow light and then cross L Street without waiting for the pedestrian crosswalk sign.
A jaywalking armed gunman, off to do the Devil’s work.
© Will Hoyle 2009