The Ol' One, Two
Georgey parked his rusted out pea green 71 Ford Pinto on North Street and 2nd. He decided to walk the rest of the way to Rex’s apartment. He would head south through the soaking wet night as rain poured down in torrents overhead. He reached in the glove compartment where he kept the .38 revolver and stuck it in his pants. He wore a dark hood to hide his face and leather gloves for fingerprints. The city was filled with its usual noises: talking, yelling, car motors, and squeaky tires wet with rainwater. The streets were a kaleidoscope of color from the oil oozing to the surface.
The weight of the gun made his pants droop as he walked under the awning of the delicatessen. A few newspaper boxes stood on the outside. All the headlines talked about or depicted the Challenger Space Shuttle explosion. It was raining hard and it might be a few hours until Rex got home. He walked up to the payphone and dropped a quarter in the slot and called his wife. After a few rings his daughter answered.
“Hey, Sweetheart it’s Daddy.”
“Is Mommy there?”
“Ok, give your brothers a kiss for me and hand the phone to Mommy.”
“Hey Honey, working late?”
“Yea, We just got three barges left, but...”
“I know, I know. How are you doing? Otherwise, I mean.”
“Char, that’s the furthest thing from my mind right now.” Georgy’s hand gripped tighter on the phone. The plastic of the telephone crunched together under his grip.
“Ok, ok, I won’t speak another word about him. You’ve spent enough time on that asshole anyway.”
“Exactly. Ok, Char, I gotta go. I love you and kiss the kids for me.”
“I will, I will, love you hun. Stay safe, looks dangerous out there.”
“Ok, bye.” Georgy slammed the phone in the payphone ending the call. “That motherfucker,” he said low through gritted teeth. It had been a year since he called Rex. He tried the number. His heart raced. A woman answered the phone.
He hung up the phone and the quarter fell into the coin tray. He took a few deep breaths and slid the quarter into the slot. He tried the number again, sure that he had just typed it incorrectly the first time. The phone rang and rang again. Then a voice came through on the other line.
“Yea,” said Rex.
Georgey hung up the phone.
“Motherfucker,” said Georgey. The coin slid out into the coin tray.
Georgey walked in a calm rage. A kind of anger where ice instead of blood ran through your veins. A fighter’s anger, cool and calculated. He was back in the ring again after twenty years. The sounds of the city faded from his ears. He kept his chin down peering up from beneath his brow. His clenched fists sat waiting in his pockets.
Rex’s apartment sat in a nice high-rise. At least, nice compared to the run-down basement apartment Georgey, his wife, and kids lived in. Georgey peered through the list of names to find Rex’s apartment. His gloved finger ran over the names, Apartment 224 Rex Schilling. He pressed the button for the surrounding apartments. He started with Apartment 225. But no one answered. He then pressed 226 Hector Gutierrez. A gruff male voice came through the speaker.
“Who is it?”
“I’m a friend of Rex, can you let me in?” He covered his mouth and tried to disguise his voice. His voice was surprisingly calm as he could feel the beat of his heart pounding in his ears.
“Yeah right, you probably just want an autograph, crazy fucking fans. Don’t ring my buzzer no more, asshole.”
Georgey searched again and settled on 222 apartment The Hendrikson’s. He pressed the buzzer and a small voice came back to him through the speaker.
“Hello...hello,” said the girl.
Georgey’s mind wandered back to his little girl. And her sleeping in a bed she shared with her two little brothers. What am I doing here? I can’t leave Charlotte to take care of them alone? I’ve wasted enough time on this bum. What am I doing…
“Hello,” said the girl. From the background, a woman said, “Holly get away from there. Who is it?”
“Nobody,” said Holly.
Georgey’s gut dropped.
Georgey moved to the next apartment, 223 Holly Neffer. He pressed the buzzer again and again, but no one answered. He was about to move onto the next apartment when an elderly woman’s voice came over the intercom.
“Hello, who is it?” said Ms. Neffer
“Hi, I’m one of Rex’s friends.”
“What do you want?” There was an edge to her voice.
“His call button is broken and I was wondering if you could let me in, please mam.”
“You’re not one those loud boys from the other night are you?”
“Agh, alright, you sound like a decent enough fella. Just don’t be too loud, yea?”
A loud buzzer sounded as the high-rise door locks opened. The lobby was decorated with a few plastic plants and ordinary wall art. Locked mailboxes lined either wall towards the elevator. There were no cameras. He could feel the pressure on his carotid artery as his heart beat faster and faster. As soon as he opens the door he’s dead, that son of a bitch. The elevator doors opened to a long hallway on the second floor. Still, no one saw him. His feet made no sound as he walked towards apartment 224. A plain white door with a brass door handle and no peephole. His heart was quiet now. He rang the bell. Soon, the fight would be over. He pulled the gun from his pants and waited. The brass door handle turned and the door opened. Rex stood in the doorway with a towel wrapped around his waist. His chiseled physique gleaming with sweat. At that same time, a door from down the hall opened up.
“Get inside,” said Georgey in a calm but stern tone.
Rex looked down at the gun and slid back inside, his hands up.
“Listen, buddy take what you want, but all the prize money is in the bank. I know you think you’re pretty slick pulling this shit, but...”
Georgey took off his hood.
“Georgey! What the fuck are you doing here trying to scare me like that?” He put his hands down and tried to turn around thinking this was all a joke. Georgey cocked the hammer on the revolver.
“Turn around and face me you dumb bastard,” said Georgey
“Georgey, what’s wrong? Huh, bubby?”
“Don’t you fucking call me that. I hated it when I liked you. You dumb bastard, you don’t even realize the situation you’re in, do you? You always were a stupid bastard.”
They both moved further into the apartment and it opened up into the living room. A suede leather sofa sat opposite a burgundy corduroy easy chair. Between the couch and chair was a round glass coffee table. Behind the coach was Rex’s bedroom. In the bedroom, the shower was running and a boom-box was playing Whitney Houston’s new tune.
“Anybody else here?”
“No and Georgey I know you’re mad with how things turned out, but please don’t do anything stupid. Just walk away and I’ll forget all about this.”
“Shut up, I’m talking now. Sit down.” Georgey motioned for him to sit on the couch. He replayed the monologue that he must have practiced a hundred times. “You remember when you called me and begged me to train you? I told you no. What did your dumbass do but hop on a train to my gym I was working at. You walked in and I couldn’t believe it. I thought about what heart you had to come all that way. You asked me again. Will you train me? Telling me all the right words. You knew exactly what I wanted to hear, didn’t you? You’re a manipulator. That’s what you are. You were fucking nothing when I started in on you. Yea, you could punch with that lazy right of yours but you were nothing. I built you up from a scared, weak kid into a fighter. Remember that time you were sparring with Johnny Gambo? And he kept hitting you in the balls. The round ended and you wanted to quit, walk out, right there. You kept saying ‘he’s dirty, he’s fighting dirty.’ Remember what I said to you get back in there and punch him square in the nuts or I’m done training you. You walked right over to him and knocked him one square in the jewels. And he didn’t fight dirty anymore. You’re a dirty fighter Rex and all those years I sacrificed for you. I missed all of those Thanksgivings and Christmas’ for you. I sacrificed time with my children and my wife for you. The love of my children, sacrificed for a bum like you.”
“Georgey,” said Rex.
“Shut up, you’re done talking. How many hours, weeks, months, did we spend developing that jab? You won a title with that jab.” Georgey paused and looked around the apartment. He settled on the huge television and Sony surround system. On the opposite wall hung a huge painting depicting Rex in his boxing gear throwing a punch, a jab. “Rex ‘Money Man’ Schilling wins the WBA light heavyweight division title. It was because of me. What did you say to the judge that day in court? ‘I no longer require the services of Mr. O’Malley.’ You should’ve just said, fuck off Georgey. I made you a champion and you ruined me. ‘How come Rex don’t want to train with George?’ they said. ‘Something must be wrong with O’Malley.” You took my gym. You took the title from me. And the money, Jesus, the money, How much did you win in that title fight?” Georgey’s face was red. Rex sat there not saying anything, his eyes not leaving the gun in Georgey’s hand.
“How much?” said Georgey.
Rex looked up from the gun and said, “Three hundred thousand.”
“No, the total.”
“You know the total, Georgey.”
“Tell me anyway.”
“A million. If you need the money. I’ll give it to you.”
“A little late, don’t you think?”
“Come on, put the gun away and hash this out. How much do you need?”
“You’d like that, wouldn’t you. To see me down on my hands and knees begging for money that should be mine. You signed a contract. I was your coach and you were my fighter, but you broke that for a bigger cut of the winnings. My cut would’ve been two hundred thousand. Do you know what that money could’ve done for my wife, my daughter, my sons, my family? Jesus Christ, what the fuck am I doing here? I’m letting you do it to me again, Fuckin’ ruining my life again! What are they going to do now? Huh? You do what you want. I’m done with you.” Tears streamed down his cheeks.
“I’m sorry Georgey, it’s just business.”
Georgey stood up from his chair and began to accent each sentence by pointing his gun at Rex “Is that what I’m supposed to tell my children, it’s just business. You lazy motherfucker. You fuck me over and say ‘it’s just business’ Business would have been following your fucking contract and letting me take the money I worked so hard for. I’m supposed to take care of my family, me. How am I supposed to do that now?” The gun hung limply in his hand by his side.
“Rex,” came a woman’s voice from the other room. It was the woman from the phone earlier, beautiful and unlucky. Of course, Rex lied about someone being here. Behind the couch, a woman wrapped in a towel fresh from the shower stepped through the doorway. She looked over the room, saw Georgey and then the gun.
She screamed out, startled by the stranger. Georgey aimed and fired. Bam! The sound of the gun and Bam! The sound of her body as she fell to the floor dead. Rex charged at Georgey. It was easy. Georgey fired again hitting Rex in the head. His body crashed through the glass coffee table. Shards of glass littered the floor as blood pooled around Rex’s corpse. Georgey stood there motionless when a banging came from the neighboring wall.
“Who was going to take care of them now?” Georgey sat and waited.