The Crossover Gene
Brian J. Jarrett
Copyright © 2014 Brian J. Jarrett
Elegy Publishing, LLC
All rights reserved by the author. No part of this publication can be reproduced or transmitted by any means without the written consent of the author.
This book is a work of fiction. Any names, people, locales, or events are purely a product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to any person (either living or dead), to any event, or to any locale is coincidental or used fictitiously.
For Arthur C. Clarke
Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.
– Abraham Lincoln
Andy Davis squinted through a vodka haze as he waved to a pale girl in a white tank top behind the bar.
“Another,” he said with a drawn slur, trying to be heard above the loud music.
She flashed him a fake smile. “Sure thing, hon.”
She flipped over a shot glass and filled it with rail vodka before sliding it toward him.
“Jesus. No wonder I drink at home.” He handed her a five dollar bill and kept the change.
White Tank Top’s smile faltered.
Andy frowned. It’d taken her five full minutes to even notice him. Then she served two people in front of him. What did she want the tip for? Her deep cleavage?
He slammed the shot, recoiling at the burn as he snagged a glance at White Tank Top’s ass. His mind wandered until he had to remind himself that he’d never had a chance with her anyway, even before he stiffed her on the tip. He should have been going home to Jenny, but that ended months ago. The best he could hope for was to keep it up long enough to jerk off before passing out.
Today’s shit-storm at work (and the primary reason for being drunk again on a Wednesday night) had been over claims processing quotas. They wanted more work, Andy did less. He got seven different kinds of shit over it too. It would only be a matter of time before they tossed him out on his ass. Then he’d be scrounging for rent again.
And, of course, for another fix.
The smack was a nasty little fucker. He’d kicked it a half-dozen times, only to fall off the wagon each time. Currently he was off the wagon and lying in the middle of the road. The vodka didn’t quite feed the hunger the way the heroin did, but it helped. Surely better than nothing.
He waved a hand in the air for another shot that he knew he’d regret. White Tank Top ignored him again.
Well, whatever. Fuck her then. He still had ten bucks in his wallet and that would buy him a twelve pack at the 7-Eleven. He could use that to stretch out the night’s buzz. Besides, the guy at the convenience store didn’t expect a tip just for doing his goddamn job.
Andy dismounted the bar stool, nearly losing his balance. He used the bar to steady himself before shooting one more look back at White Tank Top. She remained oblivious to his existence, her back toward him as she washed shot glasses.
Oh, that ass…
He knew he should just give up on women altogether, but it was an odd sort of torture to want rid of something he couldn’t live without. A lot like the drugs, when he thought about it.
He checked his pockets for his phone and wallet before stumbling toward the front door. On the way out he glanced at the bouncer, a guy he knew from high school.
Their eyes met.
No recognition at all.
Andy stumbled through the door and onto the sidewalk. Outside, the sweltering humidity of the night air threatened to suffocate him as sweat beads ran down his back. August was the worst in St. Louis.
He suddenly realized he had to piss. Begrudgingly he headed back to the bar.
The bouncer held up a hand. “No way, pal. You’re cut off.”
Andy glared. “But I have to piss.”
“Piss in the alley then.”
Andy thought of telling the guy he’d just piss in his eye instead, but thought better of it when he got a look at the bouncer’s arms. As big as Andy’s legs. No wonder he was a bouncer.
Grumbling, Andy sauntered off in search of a suitable alley in which to relieve himself. He turned a corner and stumbled into the dark and narrow corridor behind the buildings. Beneath his feet, large swatches of the original brick still showed where the asphalt had begun to crack and break away.
He walked a few dozen feet into the shadows to avoid detection. Public urination could get somebody listed as a sex offender if they weren’t careful. He didn’t need that shit on top of everything else. He found a dumpster and sidled up to it. A quick glance around revealed no onlookers. A strong odor of rotten eggs, mixed with cabbage and mustard wafted from somewhere.
He unzipped and let go.
A voice behind him caused him to jump.
Andy closed his eyes. Shit. The cops.
He zipped and turned around. Before him stood three men, two wearing Fedora hats and something resembling pinstriped zoot suits with the third dressed in casual street clothes. The two in suits looked as if they’d jumped straight out of a bizarre gangster movie.
“Andrew Davis,” the man on the left repeated. Tall, his face covered with a couple days worth of stubble, his accent sounded strange. Andy couldn’t place it.
The man on the far right spoke with the same strange accent. “Your posterity statement?” he said.
“What the hell’s going on here?” Andy said, struggling to concentrate through the vodka.
The man on the right spoke again. “A posterity statement. Do you wish to make one?”
Andy only stared, befuddled.
The man in the middle spoke. He had an American accent. “Looks like no statement, boys. Go ahead.”
“On your knees,” the tall man on the left said.
Andy shook his head. “Wait…what?”
The man on the right grabbed Andy by both shoulders, forcing him down on his knees.
“What the hell, man!” Andy slurred. “I don’t know who you guys are, but this isn’t funny anymore.” The sulfuric odor reeked so badly that he thought he might vomit.
“Close your eyes, kid,” the man with the American accent said. “You don’t want to see this coming.”
Andy felt his balls constrict as the two large men produced revolvers that looked like miniature Gatling guns. They pointed them at his face.
Andy closed his eyes. Tears began to well. This is how he would die: killed in a filthy alley with a bullet in his brain, put there for reasons he couldn’t understand.
He always thought it would be with a needle in his arm.
He kept his eyes closed and waited for the end.
Two shots rang out, back to back, followed by the thud of bodies striking the pavement.
“Get up,” the American said.
Andy slowly opened his eyes. Before him the man stood holding a 9mm pistol, the bodies of his comrades crumpled on the ground on either side, surrounded by growing pools of dark-red blood.
The man extended his hand. Andy could only stare.
“There’ll be more where these guys came from, I can guarantee that. Especially once they find out about all this.” He gestured toward the dead bodies. “I think you’ll want to come with me.”
Andy slowly extended his hand. The man pulled him to his feet.
“I’m Cliff. I’ll explain on the way.”
“The way to where?”
As Cliff and Andy disappeared into the shadows of the alleyway, the bodies of the two dead men behind them began to smolder, quickly disintegrating into a gelatinous pool of brown sludge.