The papers are signed and my wife, well, Barbara’s gone gone gone. Can’t sleep and the pills aren’t helping at all. Even my good pal Jack Daniels doesn’t offer much comfort. So come midnight and here I am walking, just walking these streets for hours like some sort of brain dead zombie. I’m in the business district, I think, judging from the few lit windows of the office buildings which house so many of those ass-hole suits burning the midnight oil. I’ve no idea where I’m going, and I don’t much care, my head is aching so. I’m feeling like one piss poor specimen of a human being when I hear someone moaning from the shadows of an alleyway.
“Help me. Please, help me …”
The guy’s words are weak gurgles and he’s laying there near the empty sidewalk, the victim of a crime evidently committed moments ago. For an instant I consider just quickening my pace, being in no condition to help myself let alone some other poor fool. But clearer thinking prevails and I get to one knee thinking maybe I can
coax some words from him.
“Are you hurt?”
He looks at me, just stares and says nothing. Then …
“I’m shot. Oh Jesus, I’m shot.” He indicates his chest where the overcoat he’s wearing is smeared with an expanding stain. Pulling his coat open he reveals a gaping wound still oozing blood. At that precise moment my stomach churns and I realize I’m no hero.
“Let me go for some help, okay?”
“Don’t leave me here to die. Please, don’t leave -”
“Listen, I’m not certain what to do. I don’t know any first aid.”
There’s no one near, no traffic, nothing. So I tear open his shirt to give the gaping hole in his chest some air because that’s all I can think to do. But he’s turning pale and seems to be growing weaker. I’ll be looking at a dead man soon if I don’t do something, so I reach for my cell phone.
“I’ll get some help,” I tell him while punching in 9-1-1. A woman answers and she’s all business.
“Nine-one-one Emergency. Please state the nature of–”
“A man has been shot!” I tell her trying to keep my voice calm.
“Where are you located?”
It’s a good question. I’ve been walking half the night, but damn if I can remember why. Being new to the city I have no idea what block I’m on and there are no street signs visible from where I am.
“I don’t know exactly. I’m in front of an office building of some sort but it’s dark. There’s a closed coffee shop across the street. I can’t see any street signs from here. Listen, a man’s been shot. He needs help right away.” A siren screams in the distance. “There’s an ambulance or something going by a few blocks from here, if that helps any.”
“And your name is?”
I was afraid she might ask that.
“I was just walking by, okay? I just happened to find this guy here on the sidewalk. Listen, I think he’s hurt pretty bad.”
“Unghh …” he manages to mutter.
“Stay … the line, sir. There’s … patrol vehicle in … area.”
The operator’s voice is dropping out. I look at my cell. The fucker is down to one bar and the ‘LO’ battery indicator is on. I flick the phone with my thumb, the universal meaningless act of desperation performed by every putz who suddenly finds himself in a mindless panic.
“Are you there, Miss?” Nothing. “Miss? Are you still on the line.”
The cell flickers, gives a weak beep. Over and out.
Thank Christ some rationality remains. My attention turns to the man whose blood now is leaking small puddles onto the sidewalk. “Listen, do you have a cell phone I can use …?” The guy is fading too quickly for me to waste time with the formalities, so I rifle through his coat pockets. Finding nothing I go into the pockets of his sports jacket. Blood smears my hands, and some cheese like goo is dripping from my fingers. Christ, it’s worse than I thought. This poor sap is going to die if help doesn’t arrive soon. I can’t find his cell but he’s got a wallet.
Whoever put this bullet into him, the guy wasn’t very thorough. There must be several hundred still in his pocket. He’s wearing a damned fancy watch too, one that looks to be worth a nice piece of change. If this was a robbery, the crook with the quick trigger finger must have been a complete idiot.
A police siren wails. It seems a few blocks off, so the cruiser must be searching for the place I described. Thank Christ! All I have to do is wait. I’ve still got the man’s wallet, and curiosity gets the best of me. The guy’s ID reads David Solomon, and for a moment the memory doesn’t register. Then Ka-Boom! the thunderbolt comes.
The Law Firm of Lansky and Solomon! I’ve heard of them, damn straight I have. And this David Solomon, he’s the lawyer who was Barbara’s attorney during our less than amicable divorce. Not a bad looking guy, either, from what I remember during our earlier encounters, although he doesn’t look so good right now. A man prostrate on a dark sidewalk, hell, you don’t recognize him so easily. My hands make the decision for me, and I glance inside the wallet at the photo he’s carrying.
My stomach feels like I’ve been sucker punched.
The photo shows a woman posed on a beach wearing a wisp of a string bikini. I recognize having seen that bikini a dozen times, maybe more. Because …
… because the woman in the photo is Barbara!
The sirens are closer now, probably no more than a block or two. The police will be here any minute. That sudden realization has cleared my head. Blew those cob webs right out of there.
This David Solomon, this legal piranha bleeding at my feet, this is the man who has done a completely thorough job of separating me from both Barbara and my kids …
… and this is the man who for years has been doing as thorough a job fucking my wife!
The police cruiser rounds the corner. Its lights strobe along the sidewalk, turning the pale flesh of Mr. David Solomon red then blue then red again. The guy isn’t moving any more, and I listen close to hear if he’s breathing. He isn’t. I slap him. Hard.
“Come on, goddammit! Don’t you fucking die on me!”
No such luck. Barbara’s lover lies dead at my feet.
That thunderbolt again. Ka-boom! and suddenly it all comes clear.
The gun remains inside my pocket, a .22 small enough to fit into the palm of my hand. But it was big enough to blow a hole through the heart of Mr. David Solomon, attorney at law. And earlier this evening through my whoring wife’s brain.
“Hold it right there!” an officer shouts.
“Put your hands up where we can see them!” another one adds.
… and suddenly I remember the reason why I have been walking these streets so late at night for so many hours.