UNDERGROUND VOICES: FICTION - 03/2012
STEVEN LOTON

THE GUN

         Harry had a gun. But he had no bullets. So he kept the gun in his top drawer. He only took it out when he got drunk. He would take it out, wave it in the air, point it, aim it, look in the mirror and scream all sorts of tough guy talk. Mostly it was nonsense. Soon that got boring so he would shove it down his pants and just stand there looking in the mirror pretending to actually be a tough guy. More nonsense and that got shit too so he would just go back to the bottle. Harry never got tired of that. That was great.

         After another ball busting fight with Jessica, Harry thought, God damn this, I’m taking my gun and I’m going to the bank.

         “Darling,” said Jessica, “you are the dumbest sack of shit I have ever come across. No bank is open at ten pm.”

         Harry checked his watch. She was right. It was 10pm. But Harry couldn’t stand for that sort of lip. He had that all day long from the boss. He didn’t want to come home and hear it too.

         “What about bars ha, are they open at ten pm?” Harry enquired.

         “Yes Harry, they are. But they are full of witnesses. Do you know what witnesses are?”

         “Huh?”

         “Look Harry, pass me that nail polish.”

         Harry went to her makeup bag, emptied it. A whole bunch of crap fell out. He got the polish and threw it over. It landed nowhere near her.

         “How much do I pay for all this crap?”

         He was rifling through her drawers. Then he pulled her panties out.

         “These. Do you really need these? We could be rich if you didn’t spend my money on useless clothing.”

         Then he had Jessica’s work shoes. He was holding them above his head. They hung.

         “And these, what about these?”

         Jessica sighed and carried on painting her nails. She was lying in bed. The pillow propped her head up and she was wearing her fluffy night gown. The white one. Her favourite. Harry liked her to sleep naked. Or naked, but with stockings on. But Harry was usually drunk and forgot what she was wearing.

         “Listen baby, one day I’ll make it. I swear I’m the greatest driver in the company. Soon, I’ll be the boss. Then I’ll be on double what I make now. We’ll be rich baby.”

         Her nails were painted bright red and she was reading Huxley.

         “Say something then.”

         She looked up, blinked, “Harry you have been in that job for six years now. The only thing that has happened was the de-motion last year. You got ducked wages and then fired. I had to write a letter pleading for your job back. I was amazed they gave it back.”

         She blew on her nails.

         “But baby that wasn’t my fault. You know they were on my back. They were scared. I was moving up too fast. That’s the way it goes in the work force. The boss man doesn’t like to see workers succeed. They don’t want us to fail either. They just want us to stay still forever. It keeps society in check. Don’t you understand that baby?”

         Harry had his shirt off and was flexing in the mirror. He wasn’t much of a man but at least he liked what he saw. He used to be muscled and tanned. But he couldn’t keep up with that game. The gym was for wimps. All that grunting. He got sick of it. Now he was a real man with a real job. Driving trucks. Or sometimes loading trucks. But if he had his way, it would just be driving trucks.

         Harry turned the gun, pointing the barrel toward his face, and looked into it.

         “Baby, have you been playing with my gun? It looks like someone has been playing with it. Or maybe you were just cleaning it for me. Were you cleaning Daddy’s gun?”

         “No Harry, I haven’t touched your gun. I don’t know why you have that thing. It doesn’t even work.”

         “Oh it works. I can prove it. Look.”

         He was pulling the trigger. It went click, click, click.

         “Hear baby. Hear that. That’s a real gun.”

         He stood there pulling the trigger grinning like a moron. Or a subnormal. A subnormal moron.

         “I could hold up a bank with this. At least a small shop.”

         “Look Harry,” She slammed Huxley down and rose up from the bed. “Why don’t you then? You’re always talking about it. But that’s all. You are the biggest chicken shit I have ever been with. Maybe I should go back to Mike. He talked big but at least he backed it up.”

         “You think I won’t do it.” He pulled on a white T shirt on and climbed into his favourite pair of denim blue jeans. They really were disgraceful looking jeans.

         “I’ll do it. Ill rob a bank, or a shop, or an off licence. I don’t give a damn. I’ll even rob an old lady. I’ll do it.”

         “You fool.”

         She slid back into bed and pulled her eye mask down. That usually meant she didn’t want to talk anymore. Then she reached and pulled the cord on the lamp. It went dark.

         That was it. Harry had enough of this. On the way out he was sure to take his gun. No point in forgetting that. He opened the door, slipped out, and sure did slam it. He had to let Jessica know how angry he was. He let the whole building know.

         His car was still parked out front. Hadn’t been touched. Not even the thieves wanted it. Piece of crap. He got in and started ripping up the engine. A cloud of smoke poured out of the exhaust. He really had to get that seen to. He fiddled with his gun, twisting the barrel like they did in the movies and thought about that for a while. Few minutes passed and nothing came to him so that was enough of that. Harry put it into first gear and took off. Just him and the open road. Man was born to drive alone. He snapped on the radio. Pop music. No luck. He fiddled with the dial. It set. Rolling Stones. Gimme Shelter. Jagger ha. That skinny bastard. That’ll do, that’ll do.

         He drove it steady along the grey road. There seemed to be no one about so Harry opened the valves up, tore along with the window down and his arm hanging out. Some breeze blew his hair wildly. Just like in the movies. He couldn’t see shit. Then he saw what he wanted. A bar. He parked it across the street and sat there. Then he turned the engine off real slow. He didn’t know what he was doing. In fact he felt very stupid just sitting there. Man spent so much of their life seeking solitude. When they finally had some they had no idea what to do with it. He should write that down, maybe. Later. He had more important things to do.

         The gun was in the glove box. Harry took it out. He got out of the car and tucked the piece away down the back of his jeans. Sprinted across the street, opened the door, walked in and sat down. He kept his head low. Finally he looked up. Nice place, respectable people. Some were even seated at the restaurant area. He counted two waitresses, but no bar man. Then he appeared. How could Harry miss him? He was about the ugliest son of a bitch Harry had ever seen. Or anyone had ever seen.

         “Whadyah want friend? Want food? I’m the chef too. Names Bill.”

         Jesus.

         “No thanks Bill. Just a beer please. Maybe in a glass, if it’s no bother.”

         He poured it from the tap and set it down. Harry grabbed the handle, bought it up and took a large gulp.

         “Drinking alone?” Bill asked. “Had a fight with the lady? Or you got no lady?”

         He released a laugh and all of his body parts wobbled and continued to wobble.

         “Oh he’s a ladies’ man,” Said the old guy two stools up. “I can tell. Isn’t that right Rich?”

         Then Rich joined in. Another loner.

         “I don’t know. I haven’t had a woman in years. I can never tell. I’m sure he does better than me, but that won’t make him a ladies’ man. Ah, hell I need another piss.”

         Bill hammered his palm down on the wood. The ashtray bounced up. There was some silence. They all looked or twitched.

         “Piss or shit Rich? You already clogged that toilet up once. You don’t wanna have to clean it up again now. DO YOU?”

         Rich just sat there staring into his drink and blinking. Bill wiped along the wood until he reached Harry. Harry raised his beer. Bill wiped under it.

         “Another one?”

         Harry nodded.

         “You a sports man, friend? We love sports here. That’s all we talk about.”

         “Women too,” said Rich. “We talk about women.”

         Just then door the opened. It flew open. Two men ran in. They wore all black and had stockings covering their heads. Both had guns. They were flashing them too. Every one hit the deck. Harry was last to.

         “WE WANT THE CASH. ALL OF IT. NOW EMPTY THE TILL FAT BOY.”

         He was talking to Bill, but Bill had trouble getting to his feet. Finally he did and opened the till. Bill was clawing at the notes. He was sweating, scared. The taller man hopped over the bar, pushed Bill over and started to empty cash. He was shoving all the notes into his pockets. Didn’t look like much. Bill was on the floor breathing heavily.

         “YOU LOOKING AT SOMETHING, OLD MAN. I MEAN, VERY OLD MAN?”

         The shorter of the two was talking to Rich. Rich looked up, damn near shit himself, said, “No sir, no I swear I’m not.”

         “Good.” He adjusted the stocking on his head. That was better. “NOW EVERYONE THROW THE WALLETS AND PURSES AND ANY OTHER VALUABLES ONTO THE FLOOR. DON’T BE SHY.”

         Nobody moved.

         “NOW.”

         Everybody moved. All the wallets and purses were out. There was even some jewellery thrown down.

         One fat balding lady began the family talk.

         “Please don’t hurt me. I got a son. A handsome son, Look.”

         She flashed a photo of her six year old boy. Ugly looking thing.

         “Please. And here’s my husband. A great man. Look.”

         She had a photo of him too. She held it up and showed all of us. Pops was no looker. The kid had no hope.

         “Harold,” said the short one “Come at look at this one. She’s just how you like ‘em. Fat.”

         Harold raised his head, stood up, kicked somebody in the gut, jumped the bar and walked over, slowly. “Did you say my name?”

         “I’m sorry Harold, I’m sorry. I get nervous.”

         “Relax. Where’s this bitch?”

         “There. Look.” He pointed. She was really weeping, but now she had all the family photos out, flashing them around.

         Harold eyed her. He liked it. Then he mounted her. He used his hands to work her legs open. He got his pants down. She didn’t even struggle.

         Harry saw it. He had a raging feeling inside. Guess it was anger. Or maybe hunger. No, it was definitely anger. He hadn’t felt it in years. He felt alive. Like a powerful creature. He couldn’t stand for this. Jesus, he couldn’t stand for this. He stood up and walked toward the bar, stepping over people. A half drank beer was sitting there. He picked it up and belted it back.

         The short fat one saw. “Harold, look.” He pointed at Harry.

         Harold hadn’t even started working away yet so he climbed off, fuming.

         “What’s this shit tough boy. You wanna get blown away eh? Like bye bye.”

         Harold waved.

         Then Harry took his glass, stretched over the bar, grabbed the beer tap and pulled it. Beer poured out. Harry filled up. He took a good gulp then nodded to the lady.

         “Get up.”

         She gathered up her family photos, her bag, her fake pearls, her life, everything. She was up.

         “That’s a silly mistake,” Said Harold. He levelled his pistol at Harry. The shorter crook didn’t know what the hell was happening.

         “Don’t be stupid man. We got the money and wallets. Let’s get the hell outer here.”

         “Shut up Geoffrey.”

         “Oh shit, oh shit, you said my name. I don’t wanna go to jail man.”

         Harry finished his drink. He put the glass down then slowly reached. He pulled his gun out and let it hang to one side of his body. It felt good that way. Nonchalant. Like in the movies.

         “Look Harold, he has a gun. Oh shit we’re in trouble now. He looks nuts too. Maybe he’s police. You Police sir?”

         Harold slapped Geoffrey hard.

         “I said shut your hole.”

         Then he ripped Geoffrey’s stocking off and threw it to the ground. Geoff dived for it. Too late.

         “Oh shit, oh shit. They saw my face.”

         It was true. Everyone did. And it really shook up the old couple huddled in the corner. Geoffrey had red hair, slim lips, only a few teeth and the palest blue eyes. His facial features indicated that he had never had a woman in his whole life. Or even a man. He quickly pulled the stocking back on.

         “Now, I’m going to count to three” said Harry “If you’re still standing there. I’ll have to let off a few rounds. But I’m a kind man so I’ll count slowly. One....”

         Harold laughed. Geoffrey panicked.

         “Come on Harold. We got the cash and wallets. Let’s go.”

         “Two...”

         “All right tough guy. We’ll go. But I’m taking her with me.”

         He pointed out fatso. She was already screaming but she took it up a notch. She was very loud.

         “No can do, Harold,” Said Harry “Now, scram, before I reach three.”

         Geoffrey backed out first. He kept pointing his piece. Harold followed. Then they were gone.

         Harry went to the tap and poured another beer. People started to stand up. Some slowly, others helping. There were hugs and handshakes going on. Suddenly everyone was smiling. They all felt alive again. Some would go home and make drastic plans to change their lives. But nothing would ever come of it. Harry just drank his beer off.

         Then he heard the Police sirens in the distance. They were too late as usual.

         Fatso approached Harry.

         “Thank you sir.”

         “Harry.”

         “Thanks Harry. My son thanks you too. Here look.”

         She flashed the picture at Harry.

         “Yeah, yeah okay lady, put it away now.”

         “Listen,” said Bill, “Police are here. You got a gun too. You better get the hell out of here. Go.”

         Harry looked around. Everyone was nodding. They all had tears in their eyes. Then Rich pointed to the back.

         “Go that way.”

         Harry finished his beer, got up and walked toward the exit. Then he stopped, turned and looked at the gun. It was sitting on the bar. He blinked, turned and was gone. Gun in hand.

         Harry got into his car and sat there. He wasn’t in shock. He put the key in and jacked up the engine. He drove off slowly. Two police cars came racing toward him. They flew past. He checked the rear view mirror. Their flashing lights disappeared into the night. Harry drove along like a good citizen.

         When Harry got home Jessica was sleeping in her white night gown. Harry took his T Shirt off, those jeans and climbed in, slowly, so not to wake her.

         Then Harry wrapped his arm around her, pulled her in close and smelled her hair. Like strawberries it was. They slept.








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