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Authors: Preston Lang

Tags: #humor, #noir, #chase, #drug dealing

The Carrier

BOOK: The Carrier
6.78Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub




Preston Lang








Copyright © 2014 by Preston Lang
All rights reserved

Cover photograph
“Man with bag in dark hotel
by Kevin Jaako


Cyril hadn’t given another
thought to the frat boy. He assumed the kid had gone back to play
pool with his friends or drink beer directly from the pitcher.
Cyril turned to the bar and tried to watch
Monday Night Football
, but the
players hit each other too hard and he decided to head back to his
motel room. He was halfway to the door when the girl stopped him.
She was dark-haired with quick, vital eyes, and she had a voice—low
and tangy.

That boy you were talking
to is waiting outside—with two of his friends,” she said. “I just
thought you should know.”

Thank you for telling

They stood for a moment, neither one
ready to end the conversation.

Why did you call him a fuck
monkey?” the girl asked.

He was acting—like a fuck

I’m sure you’re right, but
what do you gain from pointing it out?”

It may have been a

The boy had banged on the bar with a
spoon and made two loud yips at a shampoo commercial on the TV
screen. Cyril was no more than ten years older than this kid, but
it felt like the gulf of a few generations. He hadn’t raised his
voice; he’d politely told the boy to stop acting like a fuck
monkey. He thought the boy had taken the suggestion and that all
was well in the barroom.

So what do you think I
should do?” Cyril asked the girl.

Well, if you really want to
impress me, you’ll go out the front and kick all three of their
asses with a really cool expression on your face. But if I were you
I would probably go out the back way.”

Where’s the back

Through the kitchen. Just
walk straight. The dishwashers will probably yell at you. By that
time you’ll be out the back door.”

Or we could sit down and
you could tell me all about yourself. By the time you’re done, the
boys will probably have called it an evening.”

Don’t you have somewhere to

Not really.”

You were

I was just going to go back
to my motel room, maybe watch TV, maybe steal some

You shouldn’t do

Why not?”

They find you and they make
you pay.”

Tell me more about this,”
Cyril said, motioning to a table.

He sat across from her with a view of
the door in case any angry young men got tired of waiting out in
the chilly Iowa night and charged in looking for a fight. The girl
said that her name was Willow, that she was a senior at the nearby
college, and that she wasn’t here with anybody. Other students
stood and drank with young energy; townies sat at the bar and
corner tables. Willow and Cyril told obvious lies about themselves
and laughed. Soon enough it was closing time.

You have a motel room?” she


I think that I would like
to see it.”

It’s about a fifteen minute

You didn’t bring a

I don’t drink and

You’re a really good

They had been walking almost a minute
when they saw the Fuck Monkey approach with two of his frat

Hey, you. Asshole,

He slurred his words but was
reasonably steady on his feet. His brothers were much bigger than
he was.

Go home,” Willow

Okay, darlem. You just step
back. I’m going to tear up your boyfriend here.”

?” Cyril asked.

I think he meant
,” Willow

The boy stepped closer to Cyril. His
brothers moved in a bit too, but it looked like they were going to
let the Monkey do what he could on his own before they joined in.
Cyril checked out the two big guys quickly—wasted and amused. The
Monkey poked Cyril in the chest.

Come on, Les,” one of the
brothers said. “Don’t play around. Bring the warrior to

Warrior,” the other brother
said in his deepest death metal bass.

Les came at Cyril with a big, wild
punch that was easily sidestepped. Les cursed and spun, and Cyril
grabbed Willow and tried to hurry away, but the brothers blocked
their path.

Fight me,” Les

Look guys. This doesn’t
make any sense. You’re all going to get thrown out of

Suddenly the brothers began to edge
away, holding up their hands and stepping backwards. Cyril watched,
puzzled, and then he turned to see that Willow had drawn a

Bitch is crazy,” a brother
said, but they had now turned and were retreating at a quick

That left only Les. His eyes were
drunk and scheming. He hadn’t given up yet.

If he rushes you, don’t
shoot him,” Cyril said.

I might shoot

Please, go

Les said nothing, and the insane ideas
that had been careening through his brain died out.

We’re going to walk away
now. Please, don’t follow.”

And that’s what they did while Les
slumped against the side of a building.

Is it normal at your school
for an undergrad to walk around with a handgun?” Cyril asked about
five minutes later.

Aren’t you glad I had

I suppose.”

What were you
going to do, make a little speech to the
You’re going to get in soooo much

They kept walking, past the main
business district and into the darker residential streets. Cyril’s
motel was off a side road somewhere close by. He hoped he could
find it in the dark, but everything looked very much alike. First
he led Willow down a street that died at the barbed wire fence of
an empty lot.

If I didn’t know better,
I’d think you were taking me down a dark alley on purpose,” she

Why, so you could shoot

Willow smiled.

They found his motel, a
cheap little two-story chain: the Firstway Inn. The room smelled
flat and dusty, and only one of the three overhead lightbulbs
worked. She jumped on him, wrapping her legs around him, toppling
him onto the bed. She kissed his face and his neck then worked
inside his mouth, biting his inner lip. They tore off their clothes
quickly and tumbled off the bed. Willow was urgent, like they were
the only humans left in a world full of zombies—
there’s nothing else out there except mindless death, but
this has got to happen now.
Then she put
her clothes back on. When she got to her shoes, Cyril sat

Where are you


Cyril started to get

You don’t have to get
dressed,” she said. “I just like to have clothes on.”

That’s too bad.”

Willow put on her jacket and then she
pointed her gun at Cyril.

I’m going to need all the
money,” she said.



Saida was upset that a convicted sex
offender had moved into the apartment complex. She told Marcus that
the man, a short Asian guy named Danny Chin had been looking at

Looking at you?” Marcus

Yeah, walked me all the way
to the stairs. And then he made sure I went up first,” Saida

Isn’t that being a

No, it’s so he can look at
my ass.”

But you’re supposed to let
a lady go first.”

On level ground, not up

But you can look at a
lady’s ass on level ground same as you can look at it walking up

It goes upstairs, it comes
right to eye level.”

What does?”

The ass. So he can bite

Did he? Did he bite your
ass? Because if he did, then I’d go over there right now, kick in
his door.”

Well, all right. Fine. He
bit my ass—took a bite like he was at Taco Express, enjoying a

He’s Chinese, why’s he
eating a taco?”

Chinese man can eat a

He didn’t touch you, right?
Didn’t do anything other than let you go first up the stairs,

Marcus was a big, stupid-looking guy,
but once you got to know him you realized he wasn’t as dumb as he
looked. A little bit after that, you realized he wasn’t exactly a
genius either. He was a sweet man, and he loved Saida very much.
But she’d sacrificed a lot for him, hadn’t she? It was for the sake
of his job that she’d moved out here to Leprechaun-fuck,
Massachusetts, where everyone drank hard and talked in that stupid
accent that sounded fun the first time you heard it, but after a
few weeks it turned into donkey. These people talked like a pack of
jackasses. Saida was sick of it, and now Marcus was being difficult
about an actual sex criminal?

Saida had tried to see if there was a
legal way to get Danny Chin banned from the apartment complex—too
close to a school, a playground, something? But they were out in
the middle of nowhere, near a gas station, a warehouse, and a
quarry. If you had to put a rapist back into the real world, this
would be the place to put him, out here next to some

Anyway, you’re always
saying how there’s nothing but white people around here. Now a man
of color moves in and you want me to kill him,” Marcus

Let me see if I get you:
I’m supposed to be happy that a pervert moves into the complex
because at least he’s a man of color?”

You’re always

How would you like to live
in the ‘hood—whitest person you see is a half Puerto Rican? How
would you like that?”

I’d be all right with

Yeah, that was true. Old Black ladies
loved Marcus—he called them ma’am and didn’t mind when they
compared him to large animals. With his size and his Virginia
manners he’d be fine in Saida’s old neighborhood.

I just want you to take
care of one little, dirty man. Step up to him and let him know he
better run and hide when he sees me coming. Can you do that?




It was two days later that Marcus saw
Danny Chin walking back to the complex. Danny wore a bright blue
shirt and white jeans, and he had a bounce in his step. Either his
clothes were new or he used a better detergent than Marcus

How’s it going,” Danny said
with a smile, recognizing a neighbor.

No. I need you to
understand something.”


Danny stopped and gave Marcus his full
attention: he was ready to understand.

You know my

No, who is she?”

Short, African-American
girl—lady. She lives in the complex.”

With you?”

Yeah, with me.”

BOOK: The Carrier
6.78Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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