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FICTION on the WEB short stories by Charlie Fish

by Gordon H Sharp

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The decaying warehouse situated in the Bronx carried many warning posters announcing its dangerous condition and imminent demolition; but the three teenagers standing amongst the dirt and rubbish that littered a corner on the ground floor were unconcerned. They idly kicked the rubbish about, totally ignoring the warning signs. The trio made a habit of ignoring all warnings, be it from their parents, the police, or any other persons in authority, because they were the "Bronx Brethren." They were a newly formed gang that were seeking to make a name for themselves in New York's east side.

"What'ja bring Butch?" growled Willie. Seventeen year old Butch grinned, showing a mouthful of teeth that spoke of the years he'd spent avoiding dental care. Then he pulled an old, worn carving knife out of the inside pocket of his tattered leather jacket; he waved it with a theatrical flourish under Willie's large nose. The gang-leader drew his head back smartly as the sharp blade almost cut off the tip of his hooter.

Willie spat in the general direction of Butch and grunted disgustedly. "Huh! Is that it?" He half turned to the last and smallest member of his gang, but as he did so his nose started to drip, much to his annoyance. He snarled, as if the runny nose had been brought on as a direct result of Butch's stupid actions with the worn out knife, instead of the snort of heroin he'd used before the meeting.

Heroin usually made Willie feel all powerful, but today it confused him. It introduced angry, violent thoughts into his mind. Everyone he relied on was letting him down badly. Seemingly; the whole world was against him.

Angrily wiping his runny nose with the back of his hand, he said savagely, "I suppose you failed again too Jose, you little prat, just what is your problem? Big trouble with Momma again. Momma doesn't like you mixing with Willie does she?" Willie was so intent on delivering his sneering rebuke that he deliberately ignored the bulky, untidy parcel of newspapers that poked out of little Jose's gaudy shirtfront.

Mournful looking Jose, his dark head hanging down low on his chest as usual, was about to stutter out a reply, but Willie, aware that Jose's speech handicap always took lots of time, forestalled any reply by whisking out of the rucksack that he invariably carried the biggest handgun the boys had ever seen.

On sighting the gun, the two subordinate gang members moved back hastily. Both knew that Willie did crazy things when he was high, and they'd never seen him higher than he was today. He was out of it!

Willie laughed wildly at their fearful reactions, and after proudly waving the gun about, he cocked it, and pointed it first at Butch, then at little Jose.

He began to swing the gun slowly in an arc between the two of them as he yelled excitedly, "I told you prats to bring something that would prove how deadly our gang were, and what did you bring? A bloody old toothpick, and, and," he switched his wild, bloodshot eyes to gaze at the terrified Jose. "A bundle of bloody newspapers. Did you bring any matches to start your stupid little fire Jose?" Sarcastically he addressed the abject Jose with utter contempt. Now, as the anger rose again, Willie spoke softly and ominously as he steadied the gun and aimed it at the cowering Butch's head. "You both lose!"

The deafening report made sad, little Jose jump, and immediately his widened eyes were rivetted by the sight of the neat hole that had suddenly appeared between Butch's eyes; plus the huge patch of blood and brains that now decorated the dirty, whitewashed wall behind his erstwhile comrade.

Jose shrank down alongside the body of the unfortunate Butch, and, staring up at the now prancing figure of his leader; he managed to stammer out faintly, and hopefully, "W-W- Wer- Willie, er I've got sticks."

But Willie, by now full of bloodlust, ignored the grovelling Jose, and shrieked triumphantly. "I win. I win." His nose was dripping profusely again but he ignored it as he set about repeating the headshot on Jose, but indecision took over in his confused mind, and the gunbarrel finally came down - because Willie had decided to let the little Mexican have it in the belly.

His aim was now just below the parcel in Jose's shirt, and Willie fired twice, but the kick from the big handgun was strong, and although the first heavy bullet hit the target, the second round lifted and entered Jose's pathetic looking newspaper parcel. The subsequent explosion could be heard five blocks away, and it blew out the sidewall and all the remaining windows on the ground floor.

The investigating fireman, after counting the body parts and probing around the scene of devastation in the warehouse, shook his head and said to nobody in particular. "What the hell were this bunch of losers doing playing about with sticks of gelignite?"

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