+ Shotgun : Fully Loaded +
Date: 8th Jul 2021
Why’d you bring a shotgun to the party?
Why’d you bring a shotgun to the party?
Everybody’s got one, there’s nothing new about it
Want to make a statement?
You should have come without it
++Boom. Dollface and I tried to get all the information out of them we could. It came down to guesstimation. They knew they had gainful employment once OPW limped off into the sunset to be put down. They were too collected and demure about a sudden contract loss. Then the envelopes arrived. Precisely on the top of the hour. Prearranged delivery. They didnít even try to hide it. They were blatant about it. I made sure of it. We were each in different timezones and in two different countries when the envelopes arrived. The same time in each time zone. 9am. They lost finesse points for using DHL as one of their carriers though. Whoever their Internet team is deserves a bonus. Tracked us like prime targets. I almost had to respect such detail, arrogance and grand scale personal intrusion on our private lives. It was some high class peak-KGB style swagger. As soon as I saw the address in the high quality stationery, which got them some points back because while I am a cruel woman at times I do appreciate fancy stationery and calligraphy, I digress…I knew the new place of operations. I knew the building well. A few blocks near the park. Couldnít help but notice it. Itís architecture. When the purple sunset hits the windows just right it looks like a prism. It was a bit of a jog from the Waldorf Astoria, but the funny thing about when dead people leave you their property, you donít get to pick where they get to be located. Still, I had to still at least make the feigned effort to be astounded and amazed by this very phallic shaped checkbook announcement. Thankfully one of my favorite restaurants happened to be nearby. The smell wafted up my nostrils of spicy grilled chicken, Empanadas, Cuban sandwiches, sweet plantains and mm my God CHICKEN FRICASSEE. I slid into my usual booth and stretched my legs out. I rolled my ankles and exhaled and shuddered orgasmically with the sweet release of finally being off the mean sweltering paths of the concrete jungle. My toes wiggled inside my moth printed ballet flat shoes. Sweet freedom of movement. I saw Benita making her way to me that big smile on her face. Such a beautiful creature and an old wonderful soul. As I got comfortable in the booth she slid in across from me++
Benita: Asere, la Isabel!! Always so brooding no? Whatís your fancy today Issa? I betting I can tell you why you here in mi restaurante.†
++I half chuckled. I loved that woman. I hated New York but I loved itís people. It was the one true thing I loved about what I did. Seeing the places I did in the capacity I was able too. As meant to be seen, not bogged down by political coups and world crisis. I met a guy working a gig in Jersey and he kept telling me I NEEDED to come to this womanís restaurant and I always said “yeah yeah, one of these days”. The night he retired he drug my ass into his beat up Toyota and he drove me here, asked Madre to stay open late JUST so I could experience her food. It was interactions like that, experiences like that, which made what I did appealing. If someone had told me just a few years later I would be the owner of an apartment in the Waldorf Astoria and have the ability to experience the true nuance of New York oh a whim and in itís full complex pallet, Iíd have told you that you were nuts. Yet here we are. I reached across the table and gently touched her hand++
Elizabeth: Shrimp in garlic. You know the drink…set me up with some sodas too. Iím expecting someone. He kind of really digs sodas so I want him to experience what international soda is like. Donít think he eats Cuban though madre, sorry. Just whip up a burger huh?
Benita: Si! Si! Eating light though? Me thinks Miss Bella is up to something. On the prowl…si. I pity the poor man. Bendice al padre.†
++She laughed with that deep, hearty laugh the whole way to the back. I returned my gaze to the window where I could see the new digs of FIGHT in full unhindered view. I rifled through the cross body bag I had set on the table and pulled out the unsealed envelope and tapped it against the vinyl table top. I loved how she had salvaged so many of the tables and chairs she had. As the tip of the envelope end tapped I continued looking off in the distance to the structure, towering with uncertainty, unanswered questions and suspicion. I donít like when someone plays the game as good as me. It isnít that it isnít fair, itís just that it makes it less enjoyable. I know it was bothering Dollface too. We both had strong suspicions and gut feelings that we could do nothing about. All we could do was sit, talk amongst ourselves and postulate and theorize as best our experience would let us. Dollface. Such a curious creature. I knew how it appeared, taking her into my confidence so easily and without making her prove herself to me. Validate her loyalty. Only one other person was granted that boon and that was Caleb, and only because of my unique relationship with Alexander. Unless you were a part of the family or lived long enough to get to know the family and be accepted, you wouldnít understand. Alexander’s mark held a place on my body and it signified not just my loyalty to him but his bond of trust to me. The thing was that Dollface was on my level. There were certain tells and codecs she used that I understood. It was like our own secret code. THAT was why she was taken into my confidence. She worked best in the shadows and the absolute best alone. I respected that. We both had similar scars and that was what mattered. A common bond. A common ground. I finally sat the envelope down flat, opened side up, the flap hanging open and the sleek black invitation peeking out++
Elizabeth: The sad part in all of this is that somehow The Cure is supposed to be surprised by these sudden invitations except, they couldnít contain themselves. Repetitive phrases, beats or blinking are well known communication tactics within Terrorism cells. Itís a groomed behavior. When you have a secret you donít want the enemy to know or feel they may be getting smart to more mundane methods, you break out the code words. One or two people saying “FIGHT” is a coincidence. Iím not beyond happenstances. But when more than one key player on the game board is citing the same word, that is a red flag. It is a pattern, an anomaly, not a quirky universal serendipity moment. When the same people repeating the same phrase also ran in the same pack, fucked someone from the same pack or is somehow otherwise related to or involved with someone within the pack current and former, it gives itself away. Where one head is cut off, two more take its place and that is exactly what is happening here. Johnny was in the way. He had jumped the tracks and was no longer best for business so that just leads to the question of which one of the ones who had a hand in his downfall brings this reinterpretation of “bigger better, more mainstreamed” to us? Money and power talks and I know that better than anyone. This is above either of the Montouriís. Both of them present themselves as men in the know, the top dog, the big man on campus but mostly are just blowing smoke out their asses to make themselves seem better than they really are. No. This has a different scent. A familiar scent. I know what my guy is saying and I donít like it. I think maybe later Dollface and I needed to have a chat. Compare notes and see if we were on a similar train of thought. If we were, so be it.†
++I heard the door to the restaurant open and looked over in the direction. Eric. I had noticed the food was delivered without my ever noticing. That woman. Slick and sly. Already packed into takeout bags. I raised my hand and snapped my fingers getting Eric’s attention. He seemed distant, angry. Well you would be too considering what was done. I also imagine his trip to Ireland wasnít as fun as he thought it would be. He slid into the boot silently, his eyes fixated on me. I returned to looking out the window at the tower, silently thinking to myself. He didnít say a word. I finally removed myself from thoughts of business, what had happened and what was to come and started on my drink taking a long sip through the straw and stirring the contents++
Elizabeth: I ordered you some Coke, hope you donít mind.†
Eric: No. Thatís fine. It looks old though?
Elizabeth: That my dear Eric is Mexican style Coke. Try it.†
++He hadnít shaved in a few days and it showed. I knew finding out certain truths would have an affect on him. His hair was wet with sweat from the NYC heat and it was stringy, dingy. His novelty T-Shirt clung to his sweaty body. He looked nothing like Eoin. Only around the eyes. They both had his dads eyes. Eoin had that beautiful fiery hair. Those deep green eyes. Eric had dirty blonde hair, brown eyes. I didnít ask for him to come here. He called me. I didnít want to see him but he said he had something he wanted to say to me in person. He sat drinking his Coke quietly and I killed off my drink++
Elizabeth: Cmon, Iíll get us a cab and we can go back to the apartment. Itís too hot out here and have the type of conversation I think you want to have. Thereís a burger and fries in here for you if you donít mind carrying it?
Eric: Yeah. SureÖ
++He was curt. I could feel the tension between us. As I slid out of the booth I left the cash and the tip on the table. Outside the restaurant I waved a few times, finally hailing a cab. I gave him the address and looked over at Eric. He was stoic. He seemed to be silently psyching himself up. I knew something felt off. As the cab wound through the streets headed towards the destination I made sure to keep a visual distance between us. I wanted to make sure he understood that I noticed his demeanor and it was offputting. He was dumb but he wasnít stupid. As the cab pulled in front of the Waldorf Astoria, I paid the fare and got out. Eric slid out and looked up at the famous building, taking it all in++
Eric: You…live here? What?
Elizabeth: Yeah. I know. Itís a bit much. Iíll explain on the way up cmonÖ
++Through the doors and past the front desk towards the elevator, I nodded to the desk clerk and the doorman hit the button, I told him the floor and we both slid into the elevator, as the doors closed, I put some extra room between us. Each of us having our own side of the elevator. I stared at my reflection in the mirrored interior, brushing a stray hair away from my face. I adjusted the pentacle straps of my mid-drift top. He awkwardly looked in his own direction, trying hard not to catch a glimpse in the reflection++
Elizabeth: I came to own the apartment through the death of someone. It was more of a cruel ironic joke than anything. You see, my Grandfather on my Fatherís side detested me. He hated that I was ever brought into this world. He hated that I had his familyís blood. That his son sired me. He fasted and prayed for the last thirty days of my mothers pregnancy that she would either die during childbirth or that I would be still born. He prayed daily since the day the knowledge of my conception became known that she would fall down a flight of stairs, anything, if it would mean losing the pregnancy. I was born in Paris and he threatened to disavow my Father if he signed the birth certificate. My Father abstained. I was passed off to my Aunt not long after so that my mother could return home, to her mother and eventually collect her own inheritance.†
My Aunt lived in New York. He was well aware of what had transpired. The switch off, the other girl given up for adoption, and he relished in it. When I was ten he was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor and given six months. I paid no mind. What was there for me to be upset about? Until he actually died and I had to attend a private reading of the will here in New York City. I was absolutely confused, wouldnít you be? The guy who wished you would have died in the womb leaves you something in his will? I went and he left me this. The apartment. I couldnít have it until I turned 18 and it was financially taken care of until then. After I turned 18 he said he was sure that his pathetic son would sign the birth certificate and make sure somehow I could keep the apartment because he was soft and nostalgic, half the man that he himself was. That I would always be the bastard of the family and that him giving me the apartment represented my shame, a bastard living a lie. The daughter nobody wanted. The little girl who meant less than money and inheritances. That I was just a mistake. Dad signed the birth certificate after be buried his father. When I turned 18 I wanted to sell this god damn apartment but my Father refused. Not because it belonged to his father but because he felt I deserved it. He wanted me to look at this place as an investment and a goal. A reminder of where I came from and what could be. If not for me, for Fionn. That didnít work out so wellÖ
++The elevator dinged and I stepped off, moving to the left and down the hall a bit until I swiped the key card on the lanyard attached to my hip and bumped the door open. Eric followed and I dropped my crossbody by the door, telling Alexa to turn on the lights and the led candles. Eric sat the food down on a marble top art deco coffee table and started unpacking it, setting each container aside and opening them. He seemed uncomfortable and it dawned on me that he wasnít used to luxury. He was used to the Salvation Army, not Wayfair and West Elm. He shopped at Goodwill. He didnít buy couture or custom pieces. He was a simple man. I slipped out of my moth print shoes and walked into the living room, placing my hands on either side of the tufted purple Chesterfield couch, my black matte coffin shaped nails clawed against the fabric. The astrology nail art shimmered as the light hit it++
Elizabeth: If you feel more comfortable sitting on the floor then by all means. I know I do sometimes.†
Eric: No. Iíd rather stand because we need to talk.†
Elizabeth: So weíre going to do this now? Alright. Shoot your shot kiddo. Iím going to get myself a drinkÖ
++Dismissive and disrespectful. If he was going to take a swing I was going to make it as irritating and stressful as I possibly could. I swiftly turned back around, headed back into the kitchen and opened the fridge to grab a pre-filled blender out and set it on the counter. I reached up grabbing myself a small old fashioned and filled it up. He started moving towards the kitchen eyes fixated on me again and started pulling off his shirt tossing it aside as I took a drink++
Eric: Did it make you feel good? Hurting me like you did? It still hurts, you know, that scar you gave me. What did I ever do to you? Huh??
Elizabeth: Nothing. It wasnít what you did, it was what you said. I didnít like the tone of your voice or what you were insinuating. Nobody asked you to tag along that day Eric you came on your own accord. I asked for Eoin. Period. I knew you had a weak pussy ass stomach so why would I ever ask you to come to a situation where I knew there would be death? You put yourself in that situation and yet somehow it was MY fault? You interjected yourself into a narrative that you didnít understand and when it all went down it was my fault you stuck your nose into it? You wanted a monster and I gave you a monster. SO tell me sweet Eric what IS it that you want?†
Eric: I want you to apologize for what you did! It wasnít cool! You canít bully me! Iím tired of bullies!!!†
Elizabeth: How cute. Youíre tired of bullies. Life is full of them, Eric get used to it. Are you mad at ME or are you mad at finding out how much of a piece of shit your dear old daddy was? I wonder if Eoin actually dumped it all on you or only what was relevant to him because I know he still looks at you like some dumb puppy dog. You questioned my authority to someone UNDER me and you got what you fucking deserved. You want the scar to go away? Fine Iíll fucking pay for it, get you some skin graphs if it bothers you that god damn much but I wonít apologize for doing something that YOU EARNED. You want me to be sorry over something you brought on your own damn self, typical fucking male.†
Eric: I thought what you did was fucked up man! I thought what happened was fucked up man! IT WAS SO FUCKED UP!!! Why is everything that happens when you are around so fucked up!? Like that Scotty dude. HEíS DEAD! You ended his career and shit and then he went into a coma and now heís DEAD!!! Itís scary! CAN I BE SCARED!? Is that okay? Bad shit happens when you want it to! I thought you were gonna kill me that night!†
++I casually took a drink of my Zombie and heartily laughed in his heated face then leaned back against the counter crossing my arms++
Elizabeth: If I had wanted you dead Eric you would be by now. Donít you get that? I could have killed the both of you in that desert and left your bodies for the wild animals just as I left hers. You want to be real right now BRO? You want to do this right here and now? Alright kiddo buckle up and lets do this. Both of us are damaged goods and we know it. Youíre a drug addicted social reject and Iím a bitter mental case that runs from her problems. What YOU call “bad shit” is up to interpretation. What you SEE is the climax to situations and events that happened way before I ever knew you existed. It was her or me and it wasnít going to be me. You live in a fucking bubble and as long as you are left in that bubble you are content but I live in the real fucking world and I have to face shit head on. So allow me to give you that experience. I bet he didnít tell you that the only reason he even ended up here was because of that piece of shitís brother. When his mom offed herself like the weak bitch she was, his dad was already in the fucking wind over here plowing your mommy. You know where he met your mommy kiddo? She was a fucking stripper that worked gigs on the side. She was a SLUT. She had low self-esteem, had daddy issues and was desperate for ANYONE to want her.†
She was a perfect target for your old man. He liked em easy. Less resistance. Easier to control em and shape em into the perfect ideal if he could keep them under his thumb and she was MORE than willing because she was a white trash trailer park queen and thought what he gave her was love because she was too fucking IGNORANT to know the difference. She was more than willing to let him give her those drugs. Anything for him. Coke? Snort it off my tits baby. Heroin? Use your belt baby, strap me tight and get me high. She folded like a fucking house of cards for his so called love. When she was pregnant with you, he didnít WANT you. He kept hoping the drugs would cause her to miscarry. He fucking SHOVED HER DOWN THE STAIRS to try and remove you from the equation, instead she went into pre-mature labor. You were born ADDICTED and in the neo-natal unit for the first few months of your god damn life. She got clean, she had no choice. They detoxed you. He cleaned up his act. It looked REAL fucking good but a month later? Needles in the arm, any and every drug she could get her hands on. And your pops? He was already fuckin with some new cheap whore. She found out and flew into a rage. He was the one who had her committed. He put her in that shit hole. He signed his rights away and shoved you into the fucking system and then blew town like neither of you ever existed.†
YOU are a fucking mistake that HE didnít want and that SHE came to regret. Did he tell you how they found her Eric? HUH?
++I pushed myself off the counter and towards him. He puffed out his chest and stood his ground. I killed my drink and slammed the glass down. As I calculated my steps closer I continued, watching his face contort into bitterness and rage. As I reached within arms length I watched him square up. I guess he did want to fight. His shoulders went level and he held his head up. Even though he was a few inches taller, Iíve brought better men than him to their knees and broke their jaws. I scoffed at his posturing and looked up snarling++
Elizabeth: They found her face down in her own fucking vomit, overdosed. One of the orderlies started sneaking in drugs for her and other patients. She spent her last few months in a padded cell, babbling like a fucking idiot, hallucinating and hopped up on tranquilizers and anti-psychotics. The staff KNEW she was getting a fix on the side but they get paid to house them, not actually give a fuck. She was naked, hadnít been checked in on in hours and rigamortis had already set in. They had to break her FUCKING BONES to move her malnourished, drug riddled body. Post mortem found somebody FUCKED HER before she ODíd. Her orderly no doubt. Even in the end your mom was trading pussy for product!!! She died as she livedÖ.a living breathing SEX DOLL!! That was your momma Eric…you were half fucking starved when you went into the system. She sold everything she had, from valuables to fucking FOODSTAMPS to get a fix. Your old man was too busy across town getting his knob slobbered on and snorting coke off strippers tits to care if you were fed, clean or clothed. You were your motherís biggest regret, your fathers biggest mistake and even your own half brother wanted nothing to do with you. Thatís the story of YOUR life Eric, the mistake that nobody wanted to take responsibility forÖ..
Eric: FUCK YOU!!!!!
++Always the left hook. Fucking Boston southpaws. He cracked my jaw and sent me stumbling backwards, holding my jaw. I shook my head clearing the ringing bells and spit some blood onto the tile floor and looked up at him after seeing he drew it. I charged at him, spearing him into the opposite counter breaking the glass of the cabinets. He grabbed my hair as I repeatedly punched him in the ribs and abs, trying to pry me off of him. With a swift yank he whipped me back and flung me around like a rag doll, putting me into a headlock, using his body weight to pin me against the counter and pulling backwards, arching my back and choking me. I sunk my nails deep into his side arm, trying to break the skin until my nails broke and he roared as one of them punctured his arm++
Eric: Youíre a fucking heartless bitch!!!†
Elizabeth: I am a product of what men and mental illness made me!!! I AM YOUR MOTHER!!!! WEíRE ONE IN THE SAME!!!
Eric: You should have died!!!!
++It was then that I saw the knives. I was snorting as he was cutting off my air. I reached forward hoping he hadnít noticed, and he did too late as I grabbed one of the long knives and slashed his arm spinning around and holding the knife to my own neck, my eyes wide and crazed as spit spattered on my mouth and some snot dripped from my nose from the exchange. I grabbed his hand and put it on the knife and pushed it deeper into the neck++
Elizabeth: Then do it!! DO IT!! Do you think Iím afraid to die? Do you think I havenít BEGGED FOR DEATH in my life? Why havenít you asked me HOW I know all those details Eric? Huh? Arenít you curious? Just a little bit? Before you slit my throat and spill my blood to appease your rage donít you think you should ask???†
++He tried to back away but I gripped his hand harder, keeping it on the blade and the blade on my neck. I arched my neck a little more, exposing the arteries just a bit more, he swallowed hard and seethed++
Eric: How? How do you know??
Elizabeth: Because I was a patient in the SAME MENTAL HOSPITAL!! You call me evil, you call the things I do bad but you donít know the half of it Eric. Your mother was a fucking schizo!! He used the goddamn drugs to replace her meds! Told her that she didnít need the meds that they were garbage and just used to enslave her. He learned A LOT when he ran with the IRA. Like brainwashing! Iím Bipolar Eric! I have a personality disorder!! Iíve BEEN institutionalized. I KNOW what she went through because I traveled the SAME fucking path. Only she lost the fight and Iím too fucking stubborn to die. I didnít take a shine to you just because I wanted to fuck you and rile your brother up, but because I felt BAD for you. Cause nobody fucking wanted me either. But if slitting my throat will make you feel better after holding it all in for 20 fucking years then you go ahead and do it because Eric, death is a warm, welcomed friend. DO IT!!!!†
++The blade had begun to nick the skin. His hand was pale and starting to noticeably shake. I locked my eyes with his and continued breathing heavy through my nostrils, the ends flaring with each exhale. He finally dropped the knife and took a few steps backward resting his back against the retro style fridge, panting. My shoulders slumped as my back slid down the counter until I was on the floor, knees resting against my chest. I wiped some excess blood from my lips and coughed some, gagging a little as the air returned to my lungs. He leaned back against the fridge, looking down at me still angry but now mixed with shame and apology++
Eric: Why did you end up there? What happened? I donít understand? I think Iím missing something?
Elizabeth: I was living in Salem when my daughter died from a brain tumor. My cousin is a Senator, I grew up with him because his mother raised me. She PRETENDED to be my mother for years. I was given up so my mother could collect her god damn inheritance. Anyways. When Fionn died I lost my shit. Yes. I forced Cage to blow his brains out at the threat of killing his unborn child. I ended up there because I went insane. I was in there for 90 days before the court agreed I could be released and put on trial. Your name rang a bell. So I made some calls to some friends that worked there, from my time there and they told me everything. I even know where she is buried. Sheís just a plot and a number now but I knowÖ
Eric: But Eoin saidÖ.
Elizabeth: Eoin…assumed. In most cases it IS true but, I know the caretaker. Heís worked those grounds for 20 years now. He knows where she is. If you want to see her grave…make your peace…I can do that for you. I donít know what closure is or what it feels like but maybe I can help you experience it.†
Eric: Why…are you like this? Why do you do the things you do man? One minute youíre cool and then you do some bad shit and I just donít get it?
Elizabeth: I do what I must to achieve the ends I desire. If my personality is such a problem for you then you are free to leave my company at any time Eric. You owe me nothing. Not your time, energy or companionship. Not even if I am fucking your brother you owe me nothing. You are free to go and live your goddamn life without me in it if I am such a terrible person to you. Boston ainít that far from here, you know where the fucking door is kid.†
++Silence. He pushed himself off the fridge and started to walk past me, as if to leave. Bent down and picked up the knife setting it on the counter. As he got closer to the front door I heard him make an offhand remark++
Eric: I hope that fucking weird van isnít still outside when I get home. I mean what the hell are they working on anyways? And for three weeks? What the fuck dudeÖ.
++My head shot up like a rocket and I yelled out to him++
Elizabeth: ERIC! WAIT!! Stop!!! Donít go!!!
++I lurched forward and grabbed the counter to try and pull myself up. I suddenly felt a strong hand grab my arm and tug me up. Eric. The color had drained from my face when I looked up at him++
Elizabeth: IÖ..look I think maybe you should stay here tonight, maybe for a few days?
Eric: Huh? What? Why?
Elizabeth: Please? Just this once just trust my word. I REALLY want you to stay here. Maybe getting an apartment in that building isnít such a bad idea. Iíll call their realtor tomorrow but Eric pleaseÖ..stay? You like Xbox right? I got it. Whatever you need or want I can get it but please, stay hereÖ.
Eric: Youíre freaking me out man…you like wanted me to kill you and shit and now you want me to stay and shit? My fucking head hurts man.†
Elizabeth: I know. I know. It makes no fucking sense I get it but Iím asking you to do this because I care and IÖ
Eric: Ohhh shit is this the part where we have sweet makeup sex? Is that what youíre trying to say? Cause I mean, Iím down for that.†
Elizabeth: You know what that is EXACTLY what I am trying to say. Weíve had a big fight and now we need to make up soÖ.stay? Please?†
Eric: Ohhh. Yeah sure thatís cool. I mean that makes sense. I mean I came here to confront you and shit and we did that so yeah obviously makeup sex comes next. Sweet. Iím sorry I hit you…but holy shit you took that punch like a fucking champ shit. It was kinda hot. Actually that was all kind of hot. I wonder if thatís what it feels like for EoinÖ
Elizabeth: Well…if you stay we can explore it a little more. Yeah?
Eric: Yeah. I like the sound of that. Awkward fight boner is awkward though…sorryÖ
Elizabeth: Why donít you go take a quick cold shower to take the edge off? I have to make a phone callÖ
Eric: Yeah. Cool.†
++He wandered off, exploring the rest of the apartment as I rubbed my face then my sore jaw as my free handle fumbled for my cell phone which had found its way on the floor and across the kitchen next to the mini bar. I stooped down and picked it up, thumbing through the contacts before dialing. I waited for a few rings until a familiar voice answered on the other end++
Elizabeth: Alexander. How Iíve missed your voice. I hate to impose but we need to meet. I think we have pushed it off long enough. Certain matters need to be discussed and I feel it is only fair I keep you in the loop seeing as you were so benevolent to allow Caleb to work with me on this red crusade. Letís compare schedules…