Sûrah XXXI
LUQMÂN
"Be modest in they bearing and subdue thy voice. Lo! the harshest of all voices is the voice of the ass."

31
SQUATMAN

In major cities throughout the United States—San Francisco no exception—gunshots uninvestigated are an everyday occurrence. The gunshot heard at Stalactites, case in point, went scarcely noticed; it might have been a backfire or a dumpster's fallen lid; it might have been a door-slam, easy to ignore. Corpses, on the other hand, are hard to overlook. Oversize plastic trash bags, however, rarely draw attention. And it was into one of these that Raymond Dobbs (aka the Henchman) was crammed expeditiously.

  • He had family somewhere, a sister in Des Moines.
    "Don't bother. Funeral's over."

  • He had a whore who gave him head now and then.
    "Shit happens."

Otherwise Raymond's passing went unheralded and unmourned, a local landfill pressed into service for his unmarked grave.

WILLIE

You'll never guess who I found out front, Mister D; will ya lookee here?

Willie hoists his captive, Bruce, like a hapless marionette—the latter's lime-green leisure suit looking tawdrier than usual, his lanky shoulders hunched in the puppeteer's forceful grip. Not much shorter than Willie (if decidedly skinnier), Bruce is up on tiptoe (maximally taxed to free his scruff).

BRUCE

Been meanin' to have a word with you.

SQUATMAN

What a coincidence. Okay, Willie, you can leave ol' Bruceyboy go.

Willie's forklift fingers drop their gangling load.

BRUCE

You seen Joleena?

Squatman levels a who-are-you-trying-to-con look that penetrates Bruce's artifice, causing the latter to blanch behind rose-tinted sunshades.

BRUCE

Bitch walked, plain disappeared, Mister D. Happened right here, last night. One minute she's beggin' me for a loan to buy some crack or somethin'. Presto, next she's gone. No word, no trace, no nothin'. Completely vanished.

SQUATMAN

It was hashish.

BRUCE

I beg your pardon?

SQUATMAN

And it cost me a few gray hairs. And if you think I'm buying the bull you're tryin' to shovel, think again.

(to Willie)

Re-bore his asshole.

(to Bruce)

You familiar with Willie's penknife?

As Willie's switchblade wrist-flicks into position, Bruce sustains its prick, half an inch or more penetrating his slacks.

BRUCE

I swear on my mother's...

Willie, wrapping an arm around Bruce's torso, worms in the blade, blood despoiling the fabric, anal ring impaled.

BRUCE

Wait! Please! As God is my judge, I was gonna cut you in! I even brought it; your commission, Mister D. In my coat. Have Willie check.

A nod from Squatman earns a grope from Willie, frisking Bruce's pockets. In an envelope labeled "Defondo" is a sizable wad of bills.

BRUCE

Didn't I tell ya; see? The way it went was: Jo says, "Hey, I got this john sellin' hash, want I should buy some?" And I say, "Sure, but don't forget this is Squatman's turf."

With Squatman's tacit approval, Willie twists the knife.

BRUCE
(correcting himself)

Mister Shireson's turf. Sorry, sorry.

(to Willie)

Will you stop with that thermometer!

Another nod grants nominal relief from the infiltrating metal.

BRUCE

So I tell 'er, "Make the buy; we'll settle with Mister Shireson soon as the deal is done. Jo says, "Cool." Then off she struts. And that, I swear to Christ, is the last I seen of 'er.

Willie jiggles the blade.

WILLIE

Your story sucks.

Squatman, pursing his lips, seems equally unconvinced.

SQUATMAN

Weren't you privy to our little scuffle in the rafters, Bruceyboy?

BRUCE

Negative.

Willie's continuous prod does serious damage.

BRUCE

I heard, of course. But not until afterwards. Musta missed it. Left on business. Had to tend my other sheep. Jo's just one of a flock—though the worst for going astray.

WILLIE

That freak's dead meat.

Bruce half-turns to assess if this is a threat or a fate accompli—the move itself a detriment to his lacerated sphincter.

BRUCE

Fine with me. What I'm tryin' to get across is that we done the deal ass-backwards. Shoulda come to you straight off, Mister D. That's what I come to say. To make it right.

(unvoiced)

(You fat-fingered son-of-a-sow! I'd rather roast in Hell than have to humor scum-of-the-earth like you; I'll make you pay, first chance I get, you steaming piece of' excrement!)

This subtext, though inaudible, is vindictively implied by the crooked rictus now afflicting Bruce's drained-of-color puss, as he attempts to cope with the pain, control the outrage, and stifle the ignominy of a four-to-six-inch trespass mangling his large intestine.

SQUATMAN

That'll do.

The knife's withdrawal is almost pleasurable insofar as it spells relief. Bruce, though weak in the knees, disinclines the proffered chair.

BRUCE

So, no hard feelin's?

Willie wipes the blood and feces onto Bruce's sleeve, its glossy polyester slit by the weapon's razor-sharpness. Bruce grows visibly faint envisioning how his anus must have fared.

SQUATMAN

Apology accepted.

With a trickle inching down his pant leg auguring septicemia, Bruce makes haste to beat a woebegone retreat.

WILLIE

Waddles like his cherry's just been popped by the 7th fleet.

Defondo Shireson laughs, as he counts the penitent's tribute.