As Rider’s story grew, so did the parts of his narrative I knew absolutely nothing about. Being a short story writer, however, I did know this: there are only so many ways to insert what came before without repeating yourself and god forbid, bore the reader. Hence, the unnamed narrator and how I choose to frame certain stories as a “previously on.” As a side note, this piece is actually a prequel to Known Associates from A Better Kind of Hate and did two things at once: it allowed me to relegate Rider to secondary character status, which, if I’m honest, he doesn’t much care for, but more important, it let me view Bishop’s world from an angle I had yet to.
When I mention life has always been about choice, I’m not telling you anything new. I think you’re going to want to be comfortable, is all. Shoe on the other foot and all, I know I’d want to be. Mind if I open a window, though? This trailer of yours, no offence, but it could really use some air.
There—better. Now listen, Pete, me and you, we’re gonna go over some stuff here. Things you probably know and stuff you’re gonna wish your mind could erase. It’s all you though, bud. Every bit. You may think otherwise, sure, and hey, that’s your right. But I should enlighten you to the type of man I am. I’m the type who believes in doing his homework, Pete. A man who believes it is better to know than it is to assume. With what’s comin’, you’d be wise to remember as much.
So, the elephant in the room. Bishop Rider. Ring any bells? Mm-huh. I thought it might. Let’s you and I go one better, though. You see this nail gun? For the moment, let’s pretend it’s Rider. Now put out your hand.
Good. Now picture your hand being all the things wrong with this world. You doing that, Pete? No, come on, lemme see your eyes. Good. Now, I pull this trigger, it unleashes something that has already occurred: a man who has had enough. A man who will not put up with one bit more.
Cool. And would you look at that—now we have ourselves a base! Looks like it smarts some, too. It could hurt more, though. Oh, yes. Loads. It could hurt as much as, say, losing a mother or sister might hurt.
You see where it is I might be going with this, Pete?
Sure you do. I know you do. A refresher of sorts might be in order it seems. Something to get the juices flowing, no?
Abrum gave the order, this we know. But of the brothers, which Abrum had it actually been? Marty or Marcel? I don’t think it much mattered, not once we got to the guts of things. At the beginning, though, when I first met Rider, when he ventilated the back of Marty Abrum’s head into his fettuccini alfredo, this was an entirely different story—the man all heat and grief and rage, lashing out at the world the only way he knew how. Me, this is where I come in, me being an associate of your brother and all.
Before we get to that, however, I must mention Batista. John Batista, he’s Rider’s guy on the inside. They used to be partners, back before Rider threw in the badge. This is how we stay one step ahead of guys like you, Pete. How we’ve chosen to take the lot of you down.
The look on your face leads me to believe you disagree with this. If I’m wrong, please, forgive me, but as a rebuttal, let me then ask you this: was it your brother who decided to force Rider’s family into the van that day, or was it you? Yes, Pete. We know. The surveillance they found—it’s the very reason we sit across from one another now. Better yet, it’s the very reason we haven’t allowed your dogs to feed this entire last week.
What? You think a beatdown and a nail gun was gonna be the worst of it?
Pete. Pete, m’man.
Six men in masks fucked April Rider to her death, the Abrum brothers filming and distributing the entirety for all the world to see. This over and above the murder of Maggie Rider, who’d been guilty of one thing and one thing only: showing up in the wrong place at the wrong time. I mean Pete, truly, if it’d been you, can you say you would have responded differently?
But it wasn’t you: I can tell that’s what you’re thinking. Among other things, of course. But it was you, Pete. Only not as you think. It’s why we need to talk about Richie now. We’ve tried, but we seem unable to locate that brother of yours. He’ll turn up eventually, sure, but we want to do this our way, on our terms. Oh, did I say we?
Yup. Sure did. Didn’t even hear him come up behind you, did you? Nimble as fuck for such a big guy, ain’t he? Brings us to the main event if I’m to be completely honest. I’ll make you a deal, though. A last-ditch effort to save yourself some pain. You tell us where Richie’s been holing himself up and we’ll let you keep the hand a few minutes more. Fair enough, yes? Though retain is a far better word in a situation such as this, I think. The alternative being something not many people know and something that is going to happen regardless of the scenario you choose. Dogs, once starved, they tend to eat slower than one might think. Either way, it comes back to what I mentioned earlier: comfort. Not only how we view it, Pete, but how we choose to embrace it.
How it can be twisted to meet a certain level of need.
Fast or slow, both hands or not, it allows me to promise you this: your dogs, Pete, they’re about to eat like kings.
BEAU JOHNSON lives in Canada with his wife and three boys. He has been published before, usually on the darker side of town. Such fine establishments might include Out of the Gutter Online, Spelk Fiction, Shotgun Honey and the Molotov Cocktail. Besides writing, Beau enjoys golfing, pushing off Boats and certain Giant Tigers.