“So you’re telling me that you spent three hours in a strip club and Layla Huffington wasn’t there?” Peter Tucker asked me while we were staying at the Red Roof Inn off 91. “Meanwhile, I had to smell Donovan McNabb’s farts while sitting in a van under the blazing sun?” he continued.
“That’s correct,” I replied.
“Why are you lying?”
“Why is it so hard for you to believe that I’d spend three hours in a strip club?”
“You’re a Christian man for fuck’s sake!”
“I was doing my job!”
“Goddamnit Jack! You’re hiding something!”
“No!” I screamed, “NOOOOOOOOOO!” I threw my .38 into the mirror, shattering it into a million pieces. The gun itself, my most prized possession, was destroyed. “Pete, you don’t know the burdens I carry,” I said, “men have families, people they love. I have no one. Men have friends, people that understand them. I have no one. I have been, and I fear always will be, an instrument of God’s wrath. Only Jesus can understand the weight I carry on these shoulders!”
I stood silently by the window while Peter picked up the crippled .38. “You broke your little gun,” he said.
I said nothing.
“Sally Wally was right about you back in Cleveland,” Peter continued, “you are a menace. I know you know where Layla Huffington is. So get her and take her back to the pit of hell where you come from. But know this: today won’t be the last time you’ll see me. I will find you. You are getting what’s coming to you.”
Peter grabbed his coat and slammed the hotel door. I poured a shot of bourbon and joined Donovan on the patio where he was smoking a joint.
“What was all that commotion about?” he asked.
“It was nothing.”
Donovan took another hit off his joint and began to stammer. “You know Jack,” he finally uttered, “I’ll never forget what you did for me back in El Segundo.”
“What do you mean?”
“Shooting that knife-wielding porno guy in the face like that. That really meant something.”
“It was all instinctual. I would have done it for anybody.”
“Yeah but…it’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me. I’m really thankful that you mysteriously appeared to me on the streets of Oakland. After Layla left me, I thought everything was over. But I didn’t realize that this was only the beginning of my journey. While I still want to face her, I feel like I’m becoming whole again. And for that, I feel like I owe you one.”
I took a swig from my bourbon and looked out to the Riverside cityscape below. “I’m gonna cash in on that favor immediately,” I said to Donovan. “I’m going back to the Glory Hole again tonight and I don’t want you there. But I’m gonna need a SHIT TON of quarters.”
TO BE CONTINUED…