A FEW CASUALTIES SO WHAT

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Chapter 8

Pone wasn’t ready to pack it in, he was part of the small crowd still lingering to almost closing

time. Pone sat at a table to his own thoughts listening to Sam on the sax playing a slow noir tune. He

studied and could tell by the body language that the sax man was ready to go home. Even the bartender

wiping down the bar was giving the eye saying it’s closing time people. Pone knew that he could stay

as long as he wanted, after all he knew the owner and they knew he knew the owner. Pone’s was

thinking about that dinner they had at Wisdom’s with him trying to tell them how to live and change

their lives, the occasion felt like he was trying to clear his conscience, then again maybe the old man

was losing it. He lost a lot of pop in his punch though, back in the day Pone knew he would’ve ended

up on his ass seeing stars. No one had to tell him that getting old sucked. Grand-kids made the

transition to the twilight years worth while, he shrugged at the thought of it and the only way Wisdom

could get any simulation of grand kids would be through Birdie and Jade because Pone had no interest

in being called daddy. Jade was too young and needed to get her feet wet in the adult world and Birdie

wasn’t about to say I do to Tony anytime soon. Wisdom may never be a grand dad. Pone sighed,

bringing up Sheila was a low blow and he knew he had to properly apologize to the old man.

Pone held up his finger telling the guys it won’t be much longer. He went back to his thoughts;

laughing to himself about how the diminutive Crowe looked walking with the statuesque Red like she

was his personal body guard. Hell Red even dwarfed her boyfriend the new District Attorney who also

didn’t care much for Pone. Rudenbaugh was long gone and he knew that by the way Brown scanned

the area before hitting the road. Pone was waiting to say good-bye to Birdie who was in her office

with Antonio (or Tony, take your pick) and he didn’t want to rock the boat though there was nothing

to rock. Pone took out a small black pouch; it made a clinging noise. Two Chinese exercise balls

was in his hand. They were supposed to stimulate the vital acupuncture points in the hand to increase

the circulation of vital energy and blood. The manufacturer had a disclaimer to protect from lawsuits.

Pone whirled the balls until one escaped his grasp rolling up to the bar. Pone bent done to retrieve

it, and noticed a lady’s shoe revealing twig-like pointed toes. Pone looked up and saw puffed bug

eyes glaring at him.

“Tryin’ to check the engine?” Said the bug eyed woman. She crossed he atrocious bony legs

almost kicking him in the face.

Pone rose to his feet. “Say what?”

“Don’t play dumb. Droppin’ that ball, letting it roll near me so you could get a look.”

Pone wanted to laugh. The woman was highly unattractive: Short hair greased back on her

head like a helmet, pointy nose, dirty brown complexion like an Egyptian, and she was no

Cleopatra.

“Ma’am, I was picking up my ball and that’s all.”

Nigga please … you tryin’ to see what I got.”

Pone shook his head. The woman was so skinny that it looked like the dress was on a human

hanger.

“If you are a woman I already know what’s under your dress. I’ve used it from time to time and

it’s not that special. There have been times when I had regrets. Now if you’ll excuse me.”

Pone felt a presence behind him. He looked at the bug-eyed witch; she had a crooked smile.

He glanced over his shoulder and saw an average height bullish built bald man in black shirt and

charcoal suit. If this were a fairy tale he would be the witches troll.

“I go to the John to take a shit and this happens,” said the troll.

Pone squeezed the balls. “Keep your business to yourself.” Pone nodded. “I apologize for any

misunderstanding.” He showed the man the Chinese balls. “I’ll go back to my table and play with

my balls … not literally.”

The man spun Pone around; Pone put the balls in his pocket. The man pointed his stubby finger.

“You think this is funny?” said the troll.

“I guess not since you’re not laughing,” said Pone.

“He got a smart mouth,” said the bug-eyed woman.

“Don’t worry, baby I’m gonna change that … wait a minute … your face, I’ve seen it some

place.”

“I doubt that. It’s usually where it is right now,” said Pone.

“He still got jokes,” said the bug-eyed woman.

By then the bartender stopped wiping and Sam stopped playing. What was left of the small crowd

had cleared out. Pone decided it was best he did the same. He said adios to the bartender and told

Sam to say bye to Birdie.

Pone didn’t head straight to Lucille, instead he played the Pied Piper. He recognized the bullish

man in the club. Arnold Pratt. The name itself struck no fear, after all his name was Arnold. He was

no Schwarzenegger. Arnold was what the profession called a low rent hood. The type of guy who

wanted a piece of the action, but had to build a resume`. To get into the click: you either knock

off a cop, rob a bank or take out a guy with a bug reputation. Arnold started out small with pawnshops,

liquor, and convenience stores.

Five years ago, Pone had a chance of meeting with Pratt. 2 a.m. At a 7-eleven. Pratt was robbing

a third-shift clerk who was supposed to be under the protection of the RPD. Most cops want no part

of playing body-guard especially for a convenience store clerk. The copper probably took off after

mid-night thinking nothing was going to happen despite convenience stores being robbed was the in

thing. What a way to make a living. In any case, Pratt had already pulled off the job. He was outside

the store and spotted Pone. He probably thought Pone was a cop and got the jitters and fired shots.

Before Sally became his companion, Pone’s best friend in those days was a Smith & Wesson body-

guard 38. special (a favorite of detectives) with a wing-sight laser. It carried six rounds. He probably

should have adopted a glock since it carried more rounds, but the revolver gave him an old style

gangster appeal and it made him feel cool.

Pratt fired and Pone quickly returned in kind. Having a revolver, you had to count your shots and

make them count because when it came to reloading especially in a gunfight, it could be a bitch. Thank

goodness for the invention of speed loaders, but pone didn’t have one because he didn’t expect to be

in a gunfight. Pone found cover in case he had to reload, but he didn’t bring any extra bullets because

again he didn’t expect to be in a gunfight. He didn’t care for glock types because of stories about

jamming. Both men had scrammed to safety; Pone behind Lucille and Pratt on the side of a

near-by dumpster. The store was near the plant area where they made pesticides and fertilizer.

The store was a sitting duck for robberies on Rozelle Ferry road a bad side of town and the

police rarely made rounds in the area and probably why the officer made a quick departure from the

store before mid-night because of the bad neighborhood. Pone didn’t fire another shot, he was hoping

Pratt would run out of bullets because he was constantly firing which meant he had a glock. All Pone

wanted was a 40-ounce Polar pop and a bag of Funyuns. Now he was hiding behind Lucille for cover

to keep from getting lead poisoning. Pone wanted to get away from Lucille since at the time she

was not bullet-proof, he saw a thick round cement pillar with a light pole, but that was a no go since

the light would make him an easy target. He sighed and settled for the fact that Lucille had to take one

for the team. Though he was on the other side of the law, Pone wished for sirens, but instead he heard

bullets hitting Lucille and that made him angry. Damn, how many bullets does that gun hold, finally

Pratt stopped firing; Pone figured that he must had to reload or the damn thing jammed. Pone peeked

around the front bumper and like a mouse sticking his head out of a hole Pratt leaned his head out

from cover. Pone fired a couple of shots causing sparks from the metal, which got into Pratt’s eyes.

Things got a little dicier when a young boy about six or seven appeared on the scene. Pratt had a

son and maybe he and his old lady were divorced or the kid was a love child, in either case themselves

cretin brought a child along on a nickel and dime hold up job. Pone didn’t notice the Chevy Lumina

until he saw the boy. He wanted to tackle the kid but too late. Pratt must have seen a shadow, got

startled, and shot his own son. The poor kid was curious to what was going on. As they say,

curiosity killed the cat, but do cats really have nine lives? When Pratt stood over the body, his

gun slipped through his fingers like melted butter. He cried like a baby holding his son. Pone could

have ended it there, a bullet to the back of the head, but thought the man killing his son was

punishment enough. He kept his attention on the grieving man until he climbed inside Lucille and

drove away. He hadn’t seen Pratt until now.

Pone led Pratt to an alley fifty yards from Nadine. He kept his back to Pratt knowing that he had

no time to go to his car and get a gun,

“You killed my boy!”

“Been a long time. Enough time for you to realize that your son’s blood is on your hands,” said

Pone.

Pratt got into a fighting stance; he impressed Pone by the way he handled his butterfly knife. Pone

also thought he’d better alert Birdie about getting metal detectors since Pratt must have sneak the knife

inside the club. Then he to would be exposed because he had been able to get away with breaching

Birdie’s security by concealing his straight razor. Pone reached inside his vest taking out his straight

razor. He preferred the razor over a knife because it was easier for him to carry on his body than a

knife. Plus he handled a razor better than he did a knife. To Pone, fighting with a knife meant extending

your arm giving your opponent a chance to grab it and ending up with a broken elbow. Others held a

knife like they were boxing and usually they’d trip over their own feet and ended up falling on the blade

trying to break their fall.

Pratt held the butterfly flat probably because if the blade were sideways, and he looked

uncomfortable doing it. Should have gotten out of the game, thought Pone.

“You good with that thing?” asked Pone.

“You’ll find out soon enough,” Pratt glared.

The two combatants circled each other. Pone observed Pratt who proved that he still had no business

in the killing business. Pone dodged all the forehand and backhand motions Pratt delivered like a tennis

player and Pone easily evaded his telegraphed thrust.

Pratt held the butterfly like a rapier. Pone knew that Pratt didn’t take any fencing lessons, and he was a

puppet to his anger.

Pone put the razor away making Pratt angrier. He was breathing heavily, age, booze, bad diet, and

perhaps too many ugly women were taking their toll.

Pone put distance between Pratt and himself. “Walk away. You will never be part of any cartel. I

know a restaurant owner looking for a dish-washer.”

Pratt screamed. “Motherfucker!” He charged like a raging bull. Pone was ready; he concentrated on

the knee cap. The knee was not meant to bend backwards. Pratt stiffened making an ill-advised thrust.

He was given another unwanted anatomy lesson when his elbow joint also painfully in a wrong

direction. Pratt was like a lame horse. Pone analyzed Pratt, what he saw was a broken man literally,

but not by bones alone, but his spirit. Pone didn’t feel it was his place to end the man’s misery. He

still never grasped why a horse was put to sleep after a broken leg. In those days, horses could

not pull a plow or carry it’s master around with a hitch in his step, and maybe the animal felt a

low self-esteem because it could no longer perform like it used to. In any case, he couldn’t allow

Pratt another chance to come after him. Pratt laid on his side in pain and whimpering. He didn’t

notice Pone picking up his butterfly knife and slipping behind him and placed the knife under his

chin. The cut was clean and quick, Pone laid him down gently. A witch-like figure startled him.

It was the bug-eyed woman from the club. Pone wiped the blade and wondered why the broad

followed. He strode without a glance. The woman spoke under her breath, but was able to hear her

disturbing words.

“Fool ain’t worth a shit. Gotta do this my damn self.”

There was a ruffling of a purse; shadow of an extended arm with what looked like a small

caliber pistol looking to do some damage. A hundred times a day practice of throwing knives

pays off. Pone moved with cat quickness turning in time with a Frisbee style throw hitting

hitting her in the larynx. There was a hard thud as if he hit bone. She looked like a walking

skeleton with a thin layer of flesh. She went down with the look of surprise in her eyes with-

out firing a shot. Pone took no pride in killing women even though some were part of he profession.

He left the blade in her throat; the bodies would be discovered in the morning. That was the least of

his worries. He realized while walking back to the parking lot that Pratt and this broad were hired

to put a hit on him.

“You know some baseball players don’t make it to the big leagues because they can’t hit a

curve-ball,” said the man on the phone. “It’s getting close to the ninth inning, and you’re down

by two runs.”

White swallowed hard with frustration and what was it with this guy and this damn baseball

shit. He wanted to crush the cell against the pavement and stomp the life out of it. He had enough

of the man using baseball terms. He just lost his second cousin in a matter of days and the reason he

hired her a career crack head to take out a pro like Pone was because she needed money to continue her

habit and had an on and off thing with Arnold Pratt whom White and almost every hip-hopper knew

that the wannabe loser-hood rat trying to be a gangster would remember Pone and be motivated to

ice him.

“Told you Pone was a seasoned pro, man,” said White.

“And yet you keep reaching in the minors to get the job done and so far you got zero results.”

White shook his head. Only if he could talk to this son of a bitch in person. He’d put a stop to

those baseball terms. “Two strikes, huh?”

A chuckle on the phone. “You catching on I’m impressed. Let me guess you want more money.

Let me think about that because I don’t want to read about another one of your failures in the

newspaper and you don’t need another failure if you know what I mean.”

White wanted to say fuck you. He’d lost two cousins to this gig and wasn’t about to have another

one on his conscience. Little buck-teeth Peanut wanted to get into the gangster life and instead he

ended up barbecued and in an early grave. Wanda well maybe he did her a favor since her crack habit

eventually would have put her on the ice. He thought about his unwanted partner, Krasko. Hell he

might know somebody to be Pone’s equal from the probono side. Since he already had three strikes and

White hated thinking about strikes because now the bastard was inside he head. He needed to buy some

time, no more sacrificing any more of his peeps. Time to let Krasko deal with the burden.

“Look . . . let me talk to Krasko. He may know somebody who can take out Pone. But it’ll probably

take some money.”

“If I get you more money you better not run out on me.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it. I owe you for getting me out of the pen “ Bastard probably the one who set

me up to go inside in the first place, though White.

“Let me think about it, but you better make sure Krasko knows what is at stake for the both of you.”

“You lead, I follow.”

The man hung up. White knew that the man had him by the balls. The man knew him and Krasko,

but the problem that faced them was that they didn’t know him or anything about him.”

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