~ a work of FICTION ~
It isn’t something you do on a whim. The urge must be kept at bay until there’s that perfect moment—and even then, you can never be sure. There’s always a chance somebody’s watching. There’s always a chance something will be left behind. The only way it can be done is quickly. In this case, I knew his pattern. I knew what he had done. And finally, I knew it was time to act. I’d spent long enough studying him and now there were others on my radar. The child molester on Ford Avenue. The murderer just south of town. There was much work to be done. But for now, I had to focus. On Jimmy Watkins.
This moment was going to be special because I knew Jimmy from school. He’d had a rough go being brought up by drunk, abusive parents. But any sympathy I had for him was dashed away as he peppered me with spit wads in shop class, called me a fag in the hallway, and got in trouble over the years for various evil acts. He raped at least two girls. Cracked a little boy’s head with a baseball bat. And was accused of many acts of violence against animals—especially cats. One time, during his daughter’s birthday party, he threw the family cat into the fireplace. When others tried to rescue it, he shook the fire poker at them and promised that if they tried to save it they would be next. The cat screamed and clawed and jumped and died as Jimmy sipped his Busch Light.
There’s more than this, believe me, but a rat like Jimmy would never confess, and the chances he’d ever truly pay for his crimes were slim. So, that’s where I come in.
Not tough enough to hang out at the real dives in town, Jimmy tended to spend most of his nights at JJ’s. Bellied up to the bar, trying to flirt with waitresses half his age, and picking fights with anybody within earshot. On this particular night, I decided it was time to sit next to him. He had just chased his third shot of Beam with a Busch Light short. There was a commercial on the TV above the bar. Some pre-election propaganda. I couldn’t hear the words, but I could see President Obama on the screen.
“Fucking nigger,” Jimmy said.
“What’s that?” I asked.
“Nothing,” Jimmy said.
I ordered Johnny Walker Black. Sipped it. Watched Jimmy’s reflection in the mirror behind the bar.
Trump came on the screen. Jimmy slapped his hand down on the bar.
“That’s the man!” Jimmy said. “The fucking man!”
“Oh, he’ll look out for you, all right,” I said.
Jimmy’s head swiveled quickly.
“What did you say?”
“Your man there,” I said and nodded at the TV. “He’ll be sure to take care of you.”
“You’re goddamned right he will. No more bullshit political correctness. No more handouts and all the fucking immigrant aliens can go back to Mexico.”
“Aliens take your job, did they?”
Jimmy stood up. It wasn’t hard to rile someone like Jimmy.
“Hey,” he said. “I remember you. I used to kick your ass in school.”
“Yep, I’m the fag from shop class,” I said.
I stood up. I must have been about four inches taller and had him by fifty pounds easy. If this were going to be a bar fight and I was a spectator I’d put my money on the chubby married guy with kids. Me. Nice guys like me have plenty of shit pent up and even the dirtiest, toughest, rat like Jimmy doesn’t stand a chance. I looked around the bar. There were no watchers now, it was nearly closing time and everyone was gone. Even the bartender was out of sight. She had stepped outside for a smoke.
“You better watch yourself, you little bitch,” Jimmy said.
“How bout I watch you?”
Jimmy was pissed, clenching his fists.
“You little bitch!”
I finished my scotch and left twenty bucks on the bar.
“Leave that money there, by the way. Don’t go stealing it to donate to the KKK.”
I walked out quickly and headed for the 2nd Avenue bridge. It wasn’t long and I heard him coming. I walked faster. The air was cool and fresh with the smell of Lake Huron. The sky was sprinkled with stars. I thought of my wife and kids all tucked in a few blocks away, warm and cozy in dreams. It was another night of Daddy being restless, unable to sleep, pacing, they’d think. I would wake tired, as usual, but do my best to be upbeat, positive, and make sure that whatever I was doing was intended to make their lives as comfortable and safe as possible. That’s what made this moment so necessary. It was for their safety. For the betterment of the world. For everything that is truly right and good and just. I put on my gloves. Took the wire out from my coat pocket. And I stood there waiting. Watching. Listening, as the dark water of the Thunder Bay River readied itself to receive the sins of Jimmy Watkins.