Larry Daniels was smooth, taking long drives from North Carolina to wherever the best prices were.
Doctor’s weren’t prescribing pills the way they once were…so most of the heads were turning to heroin.
With nothing but some kush, the re-up money, and a loaded 38 revolver…Larry crossed state lines thinking of everything that could go wrong. Maybe they didn’t have the product and just wanted to rob him for the cash. If the deal went successfully there was always the law to worry about on the way back.
Larry knew a lot of people but never brought on a right hand man. When it came down to it, partners wanted their share of the money but would want him to take all the blame if things went wrong.
Around his part of town there was no one to trust anyway.
A guy he once hung out with, James Breyer, just got pulled over with 20 grams of ice and a loaded shotgun in the trunk of a stolen car.
His bond was set at $15,000.
A sure sign that ole James was singing to em.
Larry knew people caught with less, who ended up with a $50,000 bond and up.
Not like it mattered, a petty loser like James couldn’t get out on a $15,000 bond unless his mama put up her land.
Back when they used to hang out and do business, it didn’t take long for things to go sour.
Worse was the fact that it happened over a woman.
Some dirty blonde dope fiend stole James’s heart. So he didn’t like it when she gave up the pussy to Larry. For weeks James, with his hat turned backwards hiding his thinning hair, went all over town telling people he would beat the fuck out of Larry if he caught him without his pistol.
Just so happens they ran into each other at a bootlegger spot way off from the road.
The yard was filled with cars on a rainy Friday evening. Larry was only there to make a sell when he spotted James, drunk and stumbling. As soon as he saw Larry he threw his hands up and waved. “What’s up man,” he said, “I haven’t seen you in awhile.”
Cutting the bullshit Larry says, “I heard you wanted to fight me over that bitch Sandra.”
James’s smile and eyes both dropped as his expression changed to fear.
Still trying to hang tough he says, “Larry, you knew I was talking to her. Why did you have to mess with her?”
Clenching his fists hanging down by his sides Larry says, “The bitch wanted some dope but didn’t have my money. So I got her to suck my dick.”
He reaches to pull the pistol from his jeans and James backs away quickly. Tossing the revolver on the ground he says, “If that’s what’s keeping you from jumping…well I don’t have it..so come on motherfucker.
Shocked, James’s mouth was hanging wide open. Lying, he stuttered, “You’re right, just an ole dope whore…no reason for us to fight.”
Before walking away Larry says, “Just keep my name out of your mouth…or next time I’ll smack the shit out of you with the pistol.”
People stood outside in the rain just to see some shit go down. Disappointed a couple of em ragged on James, “Man he threw the gun down, so what you gonna say now?”
Larry was a bigshot in the area. Everyone used to say he won’t play no fucking games.
Away from the drugs and violence, he wasn’t happy with how his life turned out at all.
His son was in high school now and never bothered to call or text.
Larry was sure the boys mother filled his head with all kinds of nonsense. He could just hear Lisey telling Jack, No, your father can’t make it to your basketball game, his dope dealing and whores are more important.
He and Jack used to be pretty tight. More lenient than most fathers, he’d let Jack stay up all night shooting zombies on Black Ops.
It got to the point that Jack hated to see his mother pull up to get him at the end of those weekends.
Then 6 months ago, Lisey met some clean cut guy named Mark. A decent man who worked hard and didn’t do the things that Larry did.
Driving by this guy’s place one evening, he saw him and Jack shooting hoops in the yard.
Later on, Larry called to pick up Jack for the weekend and Mark had taken him on a fishing trip.
It worked out this way because Mark worried about not remodeling a house in time. Unlike Larry who was concerned about killing his clientele with heroin cut with fentanyl.
They had extremely different lives and Mark was honestly best suited to take care of Jack.
Angered by his failures as a father, Larry started getting into altercations almost everywhere he went.
With his pistol tucked away he fist fought a tough nod head who owed him money. It was outside a bar and Larry nearly beat this poor guy to death.
Before taking off he pulled the revolver on the bar owner and threatened to come back and blow his brains out if he mentioned his name.
Larry had enough! Soon, he’d get in touch with Jack and try to work on their father son relationship.
True he was a good for nothing dope dealer about as sorry as they get, but Larry did believe that he should spend time with his son.
He called Lisey and asked to see Jack.
Right away she said this really isn’t a good time.
“What the fuck do you mean it’s not a good time!” said Larry, “I haven’t seen my son in months.”
“And trust me, you don’t want to see him now,” said Lisey, “Jack is acting like a total prick lately. It’s all your fault, he’s turning out to be a lot like you.”
“Okay, I’ve heard enough,” Larry said, “I’m on my way to get him.”
On the drive Larry’s mind flashed back to Lisey in the delivery room. He pictured himself holding newborn baby Jack for the first time.
His mind raced through memories as Jack grew up.
It was terrifying to think his son might end up just like him. Larry wanted a better life for his only child.
In his beat up ragged Honda Accord, he was ashamed to pull into the driveway next to Mark’s huge shiny Ford F250.
Sitting there he sprayed cologne in the air to try and cover up the scent of marijuana.
Jack rushed out the door…turning back he yelled, “Fuck you mom!”
Mark came out in tight fitting jeans and buttoned up shirt tucked in. He said, “Don’t ever let me hear you talk to your mother that way again!”
Standing toe to toe with him, Jack looked to be in good shape. He said to Mark, “What are you gonna do about it, you’re not my father.”
Mark said “I’m gonna knock the Hell out of you…that’s what I’m gonna do.”
Larry had heard enough. Getting out of the car, he said, “What the Hell is the problem?”
Turning to his father Jack says, “You know Mark says you’re too stupid to work a real job. He says that’s why you don’t do anything but slang dope.”
Looking Mark dead in the eyes, Larry says, “I don’t care what you say about me but if you put your hands on my son…I’ll shoot your do gooder ass right here.”
Mark says, “Put that damn gun down and talk that shit big boy.”
Larry’s voice raises, losing it he throws the gun down once again.
Stepping towards Mark he says, “I’ll show you I’m a Goddamn man.”
Lisey rushes out. In Mark’s face she says, “Really? You’re gonna let Larry provoke you into a fight.”
Her shoulder length brown hair blows as a breeze passes through. Her green eyes scan the neighborhood. She says, “You know people are peeking out their windows.”
Mark says, “You act like this is your place. I lived here before you and I’ll still be here after you.”
Lisey turns to Jack,”Are you happy now? You’re finally starting to ruin the best relationship I’ve ever had.”
Larry looks at Jack, he asked him, “Do they bitch and argue like this all the time?”
Jack, without missing a beat says, “Everyday of the week.
Larry says, “Lisey I’m gonna take him for awhile. We’ll figure out something about school.”
Shaking her head with fresh tears in her eyes, she says, “You’ll let him drop out, that’s what you’ll figure out.”
Mark says, “Don’t freak out honey, he’ll get tired of this loser and be back in a few days.” Larry and Jack both ignore the comment and get into the car.
They were almost out of the development when Jack says, “Dad, you know that cheap cologne ain’t covering up that funk.”
Larry thought he heard it wrong and had to run it back. Smiling he says, “When did you start smoking? I thought you were playing basketball and doing good in school.”
Riding shotgun Jack resembled his father with high cheekbones and short haircut .
He said, “I was doing good but then I failed math and missed a free throw late in a game to tie it. After that, I just got tired of giving a fuck.”
Larry says, “Well, you better rest up and start giving a fuck again.” He tells his son, “You don’t want to go anywhere near this road I’m on.”
Changing the subject, Jack says, “You know I get super deals on a quarter if you need some dank ass bud.”
The rest of the way neither of them say a word.
Larry feels guilty after thinking, here’s my right hand man, my 16 year old son sitting right beside me.
There was no way he’d ever introduce Jack to that lifestyle. Not when he so desperately wanted to leave it behind himself.
Over the weekend they played video games and smoked pot. Both of them were fine with ordering pizza all weekend.
Talking to Jack, Larry couldn’t deny that he had totally failed as a father. Jack didn’t speak to him as if he were an adult. No, he talked to his old man as if he were his best friend.
Jack, pounding the buttons on Larry’s Playstation controller, stares at the screen and says, “If I tell you something, will you promise never to tell mom?”
Larry agrees and Jack goes into the story never taking his eyes off the horde of zombies he’s mowing down with bullets.
“Well, I had my first girlfriend you see and we were fucking without me wearing a condom.”
Some huge master zombie emerges from the shadows on the screen and kills Jack’s character.
Now looking at Larry he goes on saying, “Anyway, I got the bitch pregnant and her father agreed to pay for an abortion as long as she didn’t have anything to do with me again.”
Hitting the bowl Larry says, “Damn boy, you out here trying to make me a grandpa at 38 years old?”
Jack’s cell phone starts to ring, he has some gangsta rap ringtone. Picking up his pack of cigarettes he opens the front door and walks out on the porch.
Larry, now trying to gun down this master zombie himself, could almost hear everything Jack was saying out on the front porch.
When he heard his son ask someone to save him a couple of Percocets he paused the game and got up right away. Larry opened the door and told Jack to get off the phone.
Once they were both back inside, he tells Jack, “I don’t care if you smoke reefer and cigarettes but under no circumstances do I want you out here doing pills. Do you hear me?”
Rolling his eyes Jack says, “You haven’t been there for me, you can’t tell me shit.”
Larry says, “You know percs will lead you to doing heroin right?”
Jack says, “You should know all about it dad…you’re the one out here poisoning the community.”
Larry says, “I just want you to be Okay. I don’t want anything bad to happen to you. Is that so wrong?”
Jack says, “Damn, you sound worse than mom. Chill out, I’m not gonna get strung out on pills, heroin, or none of it. I mainly just like to smoke loud weed.”
A knock at the door startled both of them. It’s Sandra, skinny as hell with her oily hair put up.
Her eyes are sunk far back in her skull so much Larry wonders how she can even see.
Larry says, “I thought I told you I had my son and wasn’t doing anything this weekend.”
Nearly in tears herself Sandra said, “You did and I’m sorry to bother you but I really need something…right now!”
Playing the game Jack says, “Don’t hold up your business just because I’m here.”
Before they walk in Larry’s bedroom, Sandra said, “You know I’m back with James now.” Laughing she says, “He told me he’d slit my throat if I ever had anything to do with you again.”
Towards the end of his senior year, Jack took a gun to school. Plus he got caught selling marijuana and percocet .
He thought he could get used to this life.
He’d be just fine on the same road his father was on.
Robert Ragan from Lillington NC lives his life for art and writing. He has stories and poetry online at Vext Magazine, Outlaw Poetry, The Dope Fiend Daily, The Rye Whiskey Review, Drinkers Only, Under The Bleachers, Cajun Mutt Press, Punk Noir Magazine, Synchronized Chaos, Terror House Magazine, and Rust Belt Review, Horror Sleeze Trash. Alien Budha Press has published his short story collection “Mannequin Legs and Other Tales”.