Dead Hit
by Ronald James Stelly, Junior

I thought I knew what Hell was supposed to be.

It turns out that I had no idea. The human mind just can't comprehend that much pain. Oh, yeah! I'm sure you think you do, like I used to. But, I'm telling you, you really ain't got no idea of that dismal an existence. I wish I was back in Angola right now. I sincerely do. At least I'd have died a clean death. Even if it was at the hands of the AIDS virus, or on the end of a shiv.

My name is . . . I'm having trouble remembering things. My name is . . . damn IT! What's my name?!

I can remember the weapon in my hand. A Ruger P95 9mm pistol. Nice cold-blue stainless steel, with a fifteen round magazine. I know that my daddy gave it to me on my sixteenth birthday. He was so proud of me. His love made me cry. Like I'm crying now. He took me shooting down south of the house. I remember the bright sun and smell of magnolias. I remember it was the last time I saw him alive. Just before Frank's boys killed him in back of the local video store.

I even remember going to the Don when I was nineteen. And taking up my daddy's position. Don Scorelli was so proud of me. I was the little Cajun boy who filled his daddy's shoes.

And I especially remember shooting Frank's boys. I put one round in Regi's forehead. And I put two rounds through Billy's heart. It took him a whole minute to die. I watched it. And I enjoyed it. God damn IT! I enjoyed that bastard's last moments. Like I was a sick-twisted-fuck or something. He did kill my father.

Now I'm really in trouble. I feel cold, like I was in a meat locker. It doesn't bother me much at all. It should, and that worries me the most. My hands are trembling, wait I . . . I don't know what just happened. A tremor went through me. My hands have stopped shaking. I feel much more confident. I look down and don't feel the ragged entry wounds from Nicky's .45 automatic. The two bullet holes seem to have stopped bleeding. Maybe I ran out of blood? That stands to reason, considering I'm standing in a really big puddle of my own blood. I mean REAL big.

I slide the second spare magazine into my 9 and look to the wall nearest me. Yes, there are two blood stained bullet holes there also. Why am I still alive? Why? The answer isn't pretty, I won't say it. I have trouble remembering it.

They stopped shooting. Now I stand up from behind the counter. Why in Hell did I get into a shoot-out in an ice cream shop? There, two of Frank's boys took cover behind an over-turned table. There should be a third one outside. Crap, he just kicked the door in! I'm surprised for a second. So is he, he lingers on, inspecting me. There's a look of . . . well, terror on his face.

I don't like it, so I shoot it off. He falls backward into the street. I know his name. His name is William Fontenot. He's got an ex-wife and two kids. Well, he had at any rate. Some part of me is saddened by my ruthless murder. But the rest of me wants to know how the fuck I know anything about a dude I've never met before?

I wait patiently for the others to stick their heads out. One finally does. I don't give him a chance to get a look on his face. Two quick rounds, and he rolls back against the glass next to the door, under big, reverse, cartoon words. I know his name as well. It is, was, George Neilson. He was having a homosexual love affair with his ex-boss' son. He had just given up chain-smoking. And he wore Spider Man under-roos as a child. How do I know that?

What's my fucking name! What!

I stride out from behind the counter, stiff-legged. Soft serve yogurt squishing under my shoes. It mixes with the blood, forming a delicious taste treat, yummy! I fight the urge to drop to my hands and knees and lap it up like the family dog. I've got a job to do. I've got another one of Franky's boys to murder.

I think he heard me coming. He throws his .45 automatic across the room. He's shouting something about how I should "please" let him live. He stands up, hands held behind his head. It's Nicky, the dude who shot me.

Nicky's eyes almost bug out of his head. I can't understand why they're looking at me like that. Then, before I can react, Nicky pulls a gun from his sleeve and shoots me. The round strikes me in the gun arm. I don't feel it. I can't feel it if I wanted to. I shoot him. Nicky cartwheels backward, smashing the glass, landing on the sidewalk. Large cartoon letters fly everywhere with a glassy sound. I don't know his full name and past history. So he must still be alive. I join him outside after a stiff-legged walk. I kick him over to find that he's burbling blood. I look into his eyes and see the reflection of something in a George Romero movie or an Anne Rice novel. Nicky's talking to me. He's saying my name! He's saying my . . .

I shoot him twice in the face. Why'd I do that?! Why the fuck did I do that?! Like a reflex, but I don't think I have any more reflexes. Nicky wore size 12 shoes. Blue was

his favorite color until he was six. I remember Nicky's daddy taking him south of their home. Nicky's daddy is teaching him how to shoot. I remember magnolias and the bright sunlight.

What's my name?!

I can't stop crying. Daddy, what's my name . . .


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