Kev was fucked.
He had no home, no car, and nobody to lean on. It was thirty-eight degrees outside and dropping on a chilly autumn evening. He made it to the shelter two minutes past curfew…just in time to have the door shut in his face.
It was going to be a long night.
He was wearing a pair of smelly, ripped jeans and a threadbare polo shirt. Holey shoes from the shelter and no socks.
Two days had passed since any solid food went in his belly, and he drank his last beer four hours ago. Now he stood in the warm entrance of a twenty-four hour Wal-Mart, pretending he was waiting for a ride.
He knew that after a while someone would complain about his existence and the manager would come out and ask him to leave. Either that or they would just call the cops. Maybe he would get belligerent and get a jail cot for the night.
Kev perked up when the stranger walked in and snapped a hundred dollar bill in front of his face. He almost got a hard-on.
“You want this?” The man asked in an Eastern European accent.
The hard-on went away.
“I ain’t no fag,” Kev said.
“Good. I’m not looking for a blow job,” the man said.
“What do you want?”
“I want you to beat someone up.”
“Yeah, sure. I’m a real badass.” He spread his arms out to display his skeletal frame. Kev couldn’t have tipped the scales at more than a hundred and ten.
“I’m going to tell the manager you’re panhandling. When he comes out to ask you to leave, you lay into him with this pipe.”
He held out a formidable piece of lead. Kev instinctively reached out and took it because he was used to taking whatever was offered to him. Just then the entrance doors slid open and a fat woman in too tight clothes and tattooed ankles pushed a squeaky cart through.
Kev tucked the pipe under his arm. The fat lady glared at him through piggy eyes and walked away fast.
“What’s the deal, dude?” Kev asked.
“The deal is simple. You beat the shit out of the manager and you get the hundred dollar bill. You can get a cheap room and a bottle of whatever you like to float away to paradise on.”
“You know there’s like, cameras all over these fucking stores.” Kev nodded up at the ceiling where there just happened to be a smoky glass orb above their heads.
“That one isn’t working. I’ve already made certain of it.”
Kev shrugged. What did he have to lose?
“Here,” the man said. He held out a trucker hat and wraparound shades.
Kev donned the thin disguise and waited while the stranger passed through the sliding doors. Very little foot traffic passed him in the meantime. A couple of housewives came out with loaded grocery carts. He imagined it was the best time to do their shopping, while their kids were home in bed and nobody was out.
He bounced against the wall. The liquor stores were closed, but he could get as much malt liquor as he could carry from any 24 hour gas station and still have plenty of change for a cheap room and a sack of Big Macs.
Before he could think about anything else, the automatic doors slid open and the stranger came out with a fat man in a blue plastic vest with the Wal-Mart logo on the breast pocket.
“That’s him,” the stranger said, pointing at Kev.
“Sir,” the manager started.
But before he could say anything else, Kev pulled the pipe out from under his arm and swung.
The fat man was surprisingly fast. He not only moved out of the weapon’s reach, but he did something to Kev’s arm that hurt like a bitch and made him drop the pipe.
“Oh my!” The stranger gasped.
Kev screamed and held his arm. It felt like it was broken. Then his leg went out from under him. Before he felt the pain in his leg, he heard a loud snap and found himself lying on the ground.
The fat manager stood over him in some kind of karate pose, like Mr. Fucking Miyagi. Then he bent over and picked up the lead pipe that Kev had dropped. The stranger had a phone in his hands, pointing it like a camera. He was taking pictures or a video. And he was smiling like a lunatic.
“What the fuck is this?” Kev shouted.
The manager turned and looked over his shoulder.
“Are you recording this?”
The stranger stopped smiling. He lowered the phone.
Kev tried to get up. His leg was broken and he couldn’t stand. But he could crawl…barely.
The manager’s aggression shifted to the man with the camera-phone like a shark smelling fresh blood in the water. He charged forward with the intent of ripping the device away at the very least.
The stranger was backed against the wall and tried covering himself as he stuffed the phone away in his pocket. The manager snarled and grabbed his arms, dropping the piece of lead that clanged on the concrete floor.
Kev painfully crawled towards them. The two men went to the ground struggling for possession of the phone. Sirens cried in the distance. One of the shopping housewives had called the cops.
Kev’s injuries were painful. If he was lucky, he would be kept in the hospital overnight and released with some good painkillers. Then he would be out in the cold again. Winter was around the corner and he needed a more permanent solution to his homeless problem.
The other two men had become so busy fighting over the little phone that they didn’t even notice Kev pull himself up on his knees. They didn’t see him raise the lead pipe high up in the air with his one good hand.
Bio: Dana C. Kabel’s stories have appeared in A Twist of Noir, Black Heart Magazine, The Flash Fiction Offensive, Muzzleflash, Mysterical-E, Out of the Gutter, Shotgun Honey, Thrillers, Killers ‘N Chillers and Yellow Mama, to mention a few. He has a story in the upcoming Otto Penzler collection, KWIK KRIMES, and he blogs at www.thenonstopbullet.blogspot.com