|Posted by johnwaisman on April 23, 2018 at 4:20 PM|
I didn't list the name of the second prequel because names can be "borrowed" by other authors. Obviously people will know after I've published it.
Meanwhile, here's the first chapter of the second prequel. Note that the first prequel - Don't go in the Basement - has been published, and you can find it here:
Okay, here's the first chapter of "Two":
Edward Goldstein walked up in front of the middle school. It was 2:30 in the afternoon. They told him the kids got out at 2:45. Always be fifteen minutes early, the Man said. The Man. The Boss. Mr. Payday. Mr. Always Generous, unless you screwed up. If you screwed up you went for a long swim.
Ed, or Eddy as his gang friends knew him, had a smile that revealed two gold teeth. The tattoos on his face were done in black. The ones on his back and ass had more color. The tats on his arms were strictly gang and were made up of configurations only members would recognize. And sometimes the cops knew. Some of them anyway. Some of them had been around this block. Some of them cared. Some didn’t.
Fucking cops, he thought, and fought to come up from the depths of his hatred. Ed wore a T today that said Candy Man. ‘Cause baby, that’s what he was. Got me lotsa good old candy here.
He waited. He was patient. That light load of smack he’d shot a couple of hours ago dissolved all the pressure. No shakes. No nerves. A little medicine for what ails you. Now he was all about customer service. Focused and kind. Attention to the needs of the customer. A lot of CEOs of major corporations would envy his calm and professionalism. He could teach a course on stress management. He laughed out loud about that one. Anyone noticed, they’d think he was crazy. screw it, he thought, let them. He was, he knew, a little twisted up there in his cerebrum or cerebellum or whatever it was. In this business that was a good thing. A little insanity helped sell product.
The first kid approached. This one had done this before. He thought he was in the know. Cool. Hip. A hipster. Black rimmed oversized glasses. His parents probably thought he was being stylish when he got them. Probably happy to pay the oversized bill. Probably didn’t know what anything meant these days. Straight and stupid. Shirts so starched they formed creases when they put them on. Big stupid grin on their faces like they owned the world instead of the other way around. Slaves to the system, too dumb to know it.
The kid asked Ed for beans.
Beans: he wasn’t talking about garbanzo beans or kidney beans or northern beans or beans and franks. The kid knew the language. The kid was smart in ways schools never teach.
“How many?” Ed asked.
“One,” the kid said. “I get my allowance Friday, though I could steal money from my old man’s wallet when he comes home and takes his nap on the couch, so next week it’ll be, like, two or three.”
The kid was trying to show off for Ed. Showing Ed he was cool too. Just like Ed, the drug dealer in front of the middle school, was cool. Cooler than almost anybody in the whole wide stupid square mind-controlled frikking world.
Showing off was good. Macho a macho. Kiddo a ex-con. Keep the money flowing kid, Ed thought. You’re slick. You believe it. I’ll pretend I do too. That was called customer service.
Ed waited five full minutes for the next kid to come along. Patience was a virtue. This one was a sweet looking blond girl with braces. My how the mighty have fallen, Ed thought. Next thing you knew some pretty little thing like this would be joining that terrorist group in the middle east, seduced into going there by twitter or facebook which she accessed on the cell phone her parents had bought her so she would be safe. If only they knew. The world was coming to an end, and Ed was happy to be part of that system failure. It meant he’d make more money. Let it fall, Ed thought. Let it end. Ed would be rolling in Franklins when it happened. Pictures of dead presidents would fill his pockets.
The next kid played the Game. Eye contact, sticking out his chest, the whole I’m-better-than-you drill. Ed laughed at that. But he kept the laugh inside. The kid must have been all of twelve. Maybe pumping some iron, doing his daily ration of ten push ups, and thought he could go ten rounds with someone who hung with monsters, the likes of which this kid would never know.
If the kid had even a hint of what Ed had done in prison. The fights for money. The sharpened toothbrush. The death. The blood. There was no time and no need to discuss that. What was going on now was selling beans and whites and occasional Ox and Vic, and even though it was legal now, weed was still in high demand for these toddlers, who by law couldn’t use the stuff till they were eighteen or twenty-one or whatever, and even then would have to have a prescription. Some crooked doctor would be glad to give them one for a fee. Maybe next year the country would go belly up liberal and they’d be handing out Ox with food stamps. Ed grinned at his unspoken joke and the kid in front of him asked, “You laughing at me, asshole?”
Kids from bad families. Dad probably beat the crap out of him every night, so he didn’t care anymore. The way society was. Go figure, Ed thought. His own father had walked out the door right after he blew his wad into his mother’s loins. His mother worked three jobs and still couldn’t pay the rent. Then she’d discovered she could make money from those loins. The easy and wide. The world was a plethora of corruption, from the top down. Yes, Ed thought, I know the word Plethora. Yes, Ed thought, I’ve read books, taken college courses in prison. Yes, Ed thought, I know the same things these so called sophisticated people know. And yes, Ed thought, the politicians who ran the place were greedy bastards who were far more corrupt than Ed or his mother could ever be, but they weren’t necessarily any brighter.
The world was sick to the core, and quickly getting sicker. That didn’t bother him at all. He had no illusions like most people did. He knew where he was and he knew what he had to do in order to get by. He remembered the prison preacher admonishing everyone, quoting Jesus, saying The truth shall set you free. Another little chortle from Ed. Nobody watching him laugh out loud like a nut job. The truth was setting him free all right. Free as a mofo. Free to deal drugs to middle school kids in broad daylight right in front of their school and no one doing a damn thing about it. Now that was freedom. Hallelujah I am free he thought, and let go of another laugh. This time several parents looked his way. Ed’s grin broadened.
Those were thoughts for another time. Screw the parents and screw the bastards who ran everything. Right now he had a job to do. Right now he had to feed the needy. He had one of them right in front of him. The twelve year old with the macho attitude. This one asking to have his dental work rearranged.
“No,” Ed said. Meaning No, he wasn’t laughing at him. Ed’s smile grew broader. Oh, he was having a glorious day. Which intimidated the kid and made him change his mind and walk away without buying anything from Ed’s sidewalk candy store. Poor kid had his tail between his legs. Awe, Ed thought, I’ve done gone and hurt his wittle feelings.
Win some lose some, Ed thought. He didn’t like the kid anyway. Let him get his poison somewhere else. Let him get his Go Directly to Jail card from someone else. One of Ed’s brothers in the joint would probably shank the prick halfway to his thirtieth birthday. Ed would like hearing about it.
The next one was a looker. She must have been thirteen going on thirty, all clean and precise in the bod department and coming onto him. Jailbait, and she knew it. And he knew she knew. And she knew he knew she knew. Feedback loops. Treading water, walking on eggshells. That was the game.
“I’ll give you some Free you promise to come back for more.”
Ever the businessman. An equal opportunity salesman.
She smiled warmly.
Who was it, Jack Nicholson in the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest? He’d seen the flick in the joint. Laughed his ass off at that line. The guy Nicholson played had been arrested for having sex with a minor. The way he’d described the reason for his arrest had been funny, though Ed couldn’t remember the exact words he’d used. His lawyer, if Ed remembered correctly, had claimed mental incapacity, and gotten Jack’s character transferred to the psyche ward. It didn’t always work that way in real life, Ed knew.
He didn’t return the smile. Too frikking dangerous. In another life, before he knew how
things worked, he might have fallen for the trap. But not now. He was a smarter, wiser kind of criminal now. A real pillar of society.
Next thing he knew he had a line. Like he was a teller at the bank. Which was fine. He was a business role model. Teaching these kids things they never learned in classrooms. Maybe they’d put his picture on the cover of Fortune Magazine. Maybe next year he’d be sitting around the country club with one of those drinks with an umbrella in it, talking up the mayor.
Hey, he thought, it could happen.
One of the parents came running up to him and asked, “What are you doing here?” The guy must have been forty, short dark hair sprinkled with gray, long fingers that had never lifted anything heavier than a spoon or a pen, the kind of guy who’d be someone’s girlfriend in prison after he went down for his trillion dollar Ponzi scheme.
“Just hanging out, meeting some friends,” Ed said.
“I know what you’re doing,” the man said. Pompous ass.
“You’re dealing drugs to these kids.”
“No, man, I ain’t dealin’ no drugs.”
“You better leave or I’m calling the police.”
The man pulled out his cell.
Ed punched him in the nose. Felt the cartilage splinter. Blood everywhere, and the man went down, tears streaming down his sissy-assed face.
“I told you, I’m just meeting some friends,” Ed said again. The man must have loved pain because he picked up his cell phone from the concrete and was talking through the blood in his nose as he dialed 911. He sounded like he had a bad cold. Gotta get some Alka Seltzer, Ed thought. Ed listened to him talk to the cops, every word nasal and muffled. Drug dealer in front of my kid’s school. Better send an ambulance because he punched me. Like that. Ed was thinking of kicking him to death. Figured he could get away with it before the cops got there. He’d run up an alley, vanish like smoke. He heard the sirens in the distance and changed his mind. He’d let the asshole live. Why the fuck not? Ed Figured it was time to leave anyway.
He sauntered down the street. Damned if he was going to run. Screw that guy. Screw everything and everyone. Screw the damn cops too.