Sûrah XLI
"The good deed and the evil deed are not alike. Repel the evil deed with one which is better, then lo! he, between whom and thee there was enmity will become as though he was a bosom friend."


Vengeance is the act Defondo Cantrell Shireson craves, a week having passed since his brain was near-deranged by the "A-rab's" misfired gun: its muffled "CLICK", its muzzle's brimstone taste, its heat from a former discharge scorching rancor inexpungeable. He reiterates:


Hell to pay.

This phrase, articulated audibly by Stalactite's hefty kingpin, spells intent without conveying Squatman's predetermined means, the threat nonetheless expressing malice aforethought.


Read my lips; I want him now—no candy-ass excuses. Scour this city, stem to stern. Make sure he's breathing on delivery. Got it? Everyone crystal clear?

The squad of henchmen does not flinch before their Lord-and-Master's ire; displays of weakness earn few perks: no freebie prostitutes, crack, or cash (the prime incentives for their unilateral loyalty)...

...unlike Willie, whose allegiance dates from a tour in the first Gulf War
from a roadside bomb
from an hour of screeching
from alternating shell-shocked calm
wherein he feared he would not make it
wherein glances at his mangled groin ensured he did not care
except he did
between his "stupid spells" when residual drugs numbed fear
and helped distract his terror of multiple amputations.

It was during this dismal episode he and Corporal Shireson met, both troops a mere eighteen, though Defondo was much-the-seasoned veteran—knowing bleeder points, knowing where to press, knowing how to apply a tourniquet, and knowing what to say when someone rabidly insists that his exploded prick and balls are Absent With-Out Leave.

"Can't feel my mister! Where's my mister! Lord Almighty, lemme die!"

"Pipe down, niggah. All that you got missin' is a king-size chunk o' thigh."

"Jesus, who this saint gwon carry my Black-ass home?"

Through a sandblasted mile of seething desert, Squatman schlepped his load: wounded brother, fallen comrade, overgrown babe-in-arms, whose life, from that day to the present, Willie believed he owed...

...the chance to pay his debt missed yet again...

...having ducked to save his own skin,
as the gunman drew a bead,
instead of rushing him,
shielding Squatman from the would-be fatal slug
that, by the grace of God, had failed to leave its chamber.

Un-reprieved, he had collapsed across the rafters,
left foot stabbed by Jo's high heel,
as the attacker once more menaced the man whose safety was supreme,
whose selfless act had gone (for two-plus decades) unrequited—
Willie, as before, acutely incapacitated.


It ain't for lack o' tryin', Mister D. Got us lookouts posted everywhere: hookers, hopheads, even kids. Not one last-seen since him and Joleena hightailed it outta here.


And the car?


Car's collectin' tickets out in the Sunset. No one's moved it; not for days. We got it eyeballed twenty-four seven; seems they maybe dumped it. Least that's what we been told by...

...San Francisco's Meter Maids: entire platoons of them, in fuel-efficient Go-Fours, patrolling every neighborhood, citing mis-parked vehicles, summoning tow trucks, clapping on 'Denver' boots, and phoning a certain number upon detecting a certain Volvo to collect a certain sum (guaranteed to be nontaxable). This ploy worked. Except the bountied auto's owner remained, alas, at large.


You followin' Bruce?


Like bloodhounds on the trail of a bitch in heat. Ol' Bruceyboy sneeze, he'll hear gesundheit. But odds are that Joleena gave her drooly-ass pimp the slip.

A vicious SLAM from Squatman's pudgy fist sets bottles and beer cans quaking. Willie hastens to reassure his run-out-of-patience boss.


But she'll turn up.


Who gives a flying fuck about her? I want the A-rab, first and foremost; want his kneecaps broke, his elbows crushed; make 'im slither like a goddamn snake. He'll die in slow-mo, x-rated stages; that much you can bank on.

None dares speak... not even Willie, who has witnessed moods as dark as this before, occasioned typically when the ground rules Squatman sets have been infringed. Retaliation—fast and fierce—avenged all such infractions.

Whereas some men playact tough-guy roles in their rough-and-tumble fantasies (aside from beating their wives, or disciplining their children), Squatman actually murders people, often maiming them first, one particular incident seared into Willie's memory.

The man's offense? Dropping trou and mooning Mister Shireson—perpetrated in public, thus magnifying the insult and justifying the reprisal... to a point. Yet what was done, beyond the thorough thrashing (to a man who snuffed out cigarettes, once, in the lap of a local whore), surpassed what any 'normal' person might deem warranted. Willie had not participated, but he did withstand to watch, queasy yet surprised that pain could be so captivating, shocked that its inflictor betrayed not a wince.

Defondo Lantrell Shireson repeats his muttered oath; somber is his audience.


Hell to pay.