The Saint

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Reggie, 8 pm

 

It was bad, even for a 7-11. The clerks seldom bathed, the deli meats promised gastric distress and the diverse clientele ranged all the way from sad to hopeless. A congealed soup of unburnt hydrocarbons covered the parking lot to half an inch thick, daily refreshed by the streams of leaking Cavaliers and oozing Hyundais. Behind the 7-11, spent doobies sank into pastes made from old bubblegum, chewing tobacco and what Reggie assumed to be vomit.

 

Lenore like to hang-out back there and ply her wares – weed if you wanted to slow down, meth if you wanted to speed up, a blowjob if you wanted herpes. Reggie liked Lenore and so she only had to give up 15% of her take. Anybody else and it would be half.

 

The 7-11 sat on a fault line called Lakeside Drive. To the north, rich people with starched collars and late-model mini-vans lived in ease and tranquility. To the south of Lakeside Drive, Latin Kings and Bloods sold powdered Vicodin to pregnant middle schoolers.

 

The goal of a police force is always to protect people in mini-vans from people in dew rags and thus Lakeside Drive saw a heavy and regular police presence – heavy enough to spook the smarter gangsters 200 feet south, solidly into the ghetto. There had been cholo named Hector who used to hustle the 7-11 but he either wasn’t affiliated or wasn’t popular. At least, nobody retaliated after Reggie broke Hector’s jaw.

 

***

 

General Buildable, Internal Memo 1-443:

 

It is our commission’s recommendation that the contractor not tunnel through the Red Stone Canyon hills. Due to the higher cost, tunnels are only justifiable when traffic exceeds 50 vehicles per mile/lane during rush hour. Projections of the traffic to and from the Enclave development projects do not exceed 35 vehicles per mile/lane.

 

The commission thus recommends the contractor mitigate risks inherent in twisting canyon roads with extra nighttime lighting and reduced speed limits. We further recommend the use of high containment, “titan curbs,” along the shoulders to safely deflect vehicles away from the canyon edges.

 

High containment “titan curbs,” while more costly than traditional curbs, have been shown effective in containing even large vehicles. The curb’s convex shape and 14 inch height are designed to “catch” vehicle wheels, breaking the suspension and forcing the vehicle down. In testing, high containment, “titan curbs” have proven effective on a 3300 lb vehicle traveling at 50 mph, striking at up to a 20 degree angle.

 

***

 

Reggie, 8:30 pm

 

He shook out his hands and paced in front of the 7-11. His 7-11. The small bones of Reggie’s fingers and wrists moved with the frictionless grace of youth as he slapped them against his abraded, old blue jeans. He was not afraid, he was not afraid, he was definitely not afraid. Time to go in.

 

He smeared the glass doors with greasy fingerprints and glared at the cashier, a squirrely little bitch who thought herself better than anyone else. She cowered and he smiled. Reggie paid for a beer but pocketed three strips of jerky in plain sight. Another cashier came out from the back to challenge him for theft, saw who it was, lowered his head and avoided eye contact. As Reggie headed back into the parking lot a black woman and her limp wristed white boyfriend held the door for him.

 

They’d better, Reggie thought. They who dare not match his courage. They whose condescension and scorn dissipated only when they grew to fear his hatred. Punk ass bitches.

 

The evening cold nibbled at the lacerated skin of his knuckles. The making of those lacerations – Reggie smiled with the memory.

 

Reggie liked it when people exhaled. He liked a gentle sigh in the morning, took pleasure in a little puff when he pressed his hips against Lenore’s bony buttocks, enjoyed a cloud of marijuana smoke escaping between his lips. He liked involuntary exhalations even more.

 

Like last night, when he made the fat man with tattoos bounce off the concrete floor in Costco. Like when the security guard spit out his sunflower seeds and scrambled to give chase. Like when he lowered his shoulder into the security guard’s chest, felt the ribs compress and the spine bend against the shock, against the power and violence of himself.

 

His goods were the virtues of the strong and the fierce. His evils were the sins of the timid and retiring and the specter of sin drew heavy over Reggie this evening.

 

***

 

Reggie, 8:40 pm

 

A new BMW, big and black and phallic, ignored the no-parking zone in front of the 7-11, the rider’s 7-11, and disgorged its contents. An older woman in a pencil skirt and blue silk blouse whose hair formed a sort of platinum blonde helmet stepped out and extended her spray tanned hand to a man still inside. The man was in his thirties, unshaven and had his arm in a sling. They looked exhausted. They looked like targets.

 

“Marcus,” the woman said, looking first to the man inside and next to Reggie. “Get out of there before we have to deal with these people.”

 

Reggie threw his blunt onto the concrete in front of Marcus as the one armed man reached for the door handle. Marcus ignored him. Reggie initially ascribed this to either pain medication or disrespect. It didn’t matter.

 

“Motherfucker,” Reggie said.

 

Marcus and the woman stopped just long enough to smirk before continuing on their way. Reggie lost it. He didn’t give a damn if the woman was old or the man had a broken arm. Nobody disrespected Reggie at the 7-11. No force in heaven or earth would return him to those adolescent days of enforced humility and meek deference. Respect for the lowly comes from fear alone and Reggie would have his respect. Think you’re better than me? Reggie thought. We’ll see how you feel when I’m shitting in your mouth.

 

The female cashier ducked behind the counter and the guy in the back shrieked. Reggie threw the glass door open hard enough to knock down Mountain Dew promotional display. He cocked his right fist and grabbed the man’s shoulder with the other hand. A strong, fluid strike began. Reggie’s hips uncoiled like a heavy spring. His shoulders and spine unfurled in concert, driving those still lacerated knuckles toward the smarmy fucker’s smarmy fucking nose.

 

Then Reggie’s muscles, from the tiny nasalis muscle maintaining his nostril flare to the strong quadriceps extending his knees, rose in revolt. A million cramps erupted at once, he involuntary urinated, consciousness came and went. There was a period of silence before Marcus spoke to the woman.

 

“Hey Mary,” he said. “Mind if I borrow that thing? A Taser might make my life a little easier on the bridge project.”

 

The woman laughed, they stepped over Reggie’s prostrate body and disappeared out the door.

 

 

***Clark County Depart of Traffic Safety, Public Release***

 

Recent research seems to indicate that drivers who feel safe are more likely to perform risky maneuvers and drive at higher speed in order to stave off boredom. The Clark County Department of Traffic Safety has instituted a trial program based on this data.

 

We have built a limited number of “unsafe feeling” roads. These roads are characterized by a large number of obstacles, fewer traffic signs and narrower lanes. In rural settings, such as the new Enclave development zone, our agency has also selected a winding, canyon road in leau of a more costly tunnel.

 

Initial findings are promising.

 

***

 

Reggie 9:50 pm

 

The physical pain was nothing. It was the knowledge that everyone in the 7-11, the toothless Indian customer and the snotty cashier, had seen him writing on the ground, drooling and pissing his pants. More fundamentally, they’d seen him too weak for revenge, they’d all had cause to believe, however briefly, that Reggie perhaps did not deserve his respect, did not deserve to be feared. They had seen Reggie afraid.

 

He’d never felt such hatred as when he’d watched that BMW vanish into the suburbs north of his 7-11. This was beyond the showy anger he used to intimidate Lenore’s customers. It went beyond the shallow heat of a beat down. Reggie could almost taste the malice, he had shivered with the icy, giddy expectation of inflicting pain on every lace-curtain motherfucker north of Lakeside Blvd.

 

He wanted to laugh as their teeth broke and smile with each blow. He wanted them to look up in terror, exhaling unevenly with each plea for clemency. H wanted to place a boot on these people’s necks as he pissed on their wounds.

 

***Sebastien Raikkonen ***

 

In the 2012 Red Canyon Rally, Sebastien Raikkonen set a new record time on the very fast, 8.9 mile tarmac section called stage six. Raikkonen’s Mitsubishi Lancer Evoluntion had been carefully prepared for stage 19. He’d requested stiffer front springs, a conservative, 50/50 torque split in the adaptive center differential and asked that the rear wing be set to the highest downforce position.

 

In all these things, Raikkonen sacrificed agility for high-speed stability. A particular corner, described as “6 left over crest, tightens” in his pace notes, was the primary reason for this conservativism.

 

Raikkonen approached the corner at slightly more than 110 mph. He let off the throttle at corner entry and trusted his rear wing and stiffer front springs to keep the Mitsubishi stable as he dialed in the steering. Midway through the turn the road bent up a small hill and compressed Raikkonen into his seat. He used this added grip to force the rally car all the way to the left edge of the road. Bits of gravel and debris pounded the Mitsubishi’s under carriage as the driver’s side tire dropped off the shoulder, saving Raikkonen some infinitesimally small fraction of a second.

At the top of the small hill, the corner both tightened and dropped away as the Mitsubishi went ever so slightly airborne. Raikkonen let the car drift to the far right edge of the road, leaving four angry skid marks. He missed the high containment, “titan curb” by 2.3 inches. Raikkonen cursed himself for wasting 2.2 inches as the Mitsubishi accelerated away.

 

***
Reggie, 11:20 pm

He picked a blue two story house on the north edge of Riverside Drive partly because the street lighting didn’t quite reach the front door, partly because the driveway was empty and mostly because Reggie wanted to act before his nerve failed.

A side door gave way beneath Reggie’s foot and he rubbed unburnt hydrocarbons into the thick, white carpet. He turned right. He opened the closet. He found a shotgun with a camouflaged grip and texturing that felt just like backpack straps. A light came on upstairs and Reggie grew afraid.

Am I really a chicken shit?

Reggie told himself no, but there was something too earnest in his assurance. Something that bordered on the desperate.

A shirtless man in pajama bottoms saw the shotgun and raised his hands. Reggie relaxed, he’d gotten the respect – the fear – from this rich cocksucker and now he could go easy. Perhaps the pissing-on-wounds thing would prove unnecessary.

“Gimme your keys,” Reggie said. “I won’t hurt you if you give me your keys.”

“Okay, okay. They’re right here, next to the garage.” The man turned and yelled upstairs. “Honey, I’m giving him the keys. He’s not going to hurt us. Just stay upstairs.”

Reggie palmed the keys. One says Acura, another Mercedes-Benz, a third Harley Davidson. He keeps the gun trained on Mr. PJs as he backs into the garage. The Harley coughs and spits before finally catching. The garage door opens and Reggie is free and with his freedom he is unafraid.

 

***Jeanette Landon***
Most industry figures consider Jeanette Landon the godmother of the modern cruiser-class motorcycle. Large displacement, long, heavy and designed for comfort above all else, the highway cruiser has fast become one of the highest volume sectors for manufacturers, not to mention the most profitable.

In the modern market, cruisers account for 58% of annual sales. Luxury features, such as surround sound, cruise control and Bluetooth, are often included on these machines at 70% to 100% markups.

Ms. Landon revolutionized the cruiser sector when she realized a low seating position, combined with extensive noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) counter-measures could help manufacturers penetrate the hugely under-served female and family demographics.

By sacrificing chassis rigidity, light weight and transient response for greater comfort and female-friendly seating positions, cruisers like the Honda Goldwing, Triumph Rocket and Harley Davidson –

 

***
Reggie, 11:45 pm

“Electra Glide Ultra.” The words rolled around Reggie’s mouth like a fine hashish. He pulled the glistening bike into the 7-11 parking lot and barked at the cashiers, customers and hangers-about. Those motherfuckers in the BMW, he said. Had been paid back in full.  Lenore swooned a little and Reggie made a mental note to stick it in her butt later.

Just sitting on the Electra Glide Ultra was like packing on 20 pounds of muscle, stuffing a 9 mm into your waistband and making it rain at the club all at once. Reggie felt a contentment deep and pure, almost good enough to make him forget the humiliations of earlier.

 

*** Max Rossi***
“That’s the biggest difference,” Formula Grand Prix rider Max Rossi said. “The cornering is just a totally different world between a car and a motorcycle.”

“Could you explain in a bit more detail?” the reporter asked.

“It’s mostly about understeer and oversteer,” Max Rossi continued. “Understeer is when the front tires skid and oversteer is where the back tires skid.”

“So how’s it different on a motorcycle?”

“In a car, understeer is relatively safe and oversteer is dangerous. On my bike, understeer means I’m about to have a very large accident.”

 

***
Reggie, 11:54 pm

Reggie loved the feeling of wind in his hair. He loved the sound – a sort of bark, like the devil exhaling with each revolution. He knew he’d have to dump the bike soon if he wanted to avoid the cops. He turned all his attention to procrastination. Certainly he could ride though the Enclave developments and the Red Stone Canyon without tipping off the fuzz. It’s not like anybody lives out there. It’s not like Reggie was afraid.

 

*** Tertullian ***
You are fond of spectacles. Expect the greatest of all spectacles, the last and eternal judgment of the universe. How shall I admire, how laugh, how rejoice, how exult, when I behold so many proud monarchs and fancied gods groaning in the lowest abyss of darkness. So many magistrates liquefying in fiercer fires than they ever kindled against the Christians; so many sage philosophers blushing in the red hot flames; so many celebrated poets trembling before the tribunal; so many tragedians more tuneful in the expression of their own suferrings; so many dancers …

 

***

Reggie, 11:57 pm

Why had he been afraid? Those lace curtain motherfuckers weren’t near as tough as Hector or the Bloods. All bullshit, getting scared just because they had shiny BMWs and $60 pajama pants. Reggie’d be damned before he let anybody punk him like that again. He was not afraid.

He pulled off the highway and entered the Red Stone Canyon. He would prove to himself – prove to the world that …

 

***Screamin Eagle Owner’s Manual***
The manufacturer recommends a maximum of 6,500 rpm for the 120 cubic engine. Exceeding this engine speed can cause connecting rod failures, among other problems. Connecting rod failures can result in several pounds of hot aluminum exploding into the rider’s groin area.

 

***
Reggie, 11:59 pm

The big Harley screamed in pain as Reggie spun it to 8,000 rpm in first, then second, then third gear. The wind turned vicious in his hair and the engine rattled as if it would explode and still Reggie was not afraid.

Reggie approached the corner at a little over 110 mph. The fat, low performance tires squirmed under their cruel load. The soft, comfort tuned suspension bottomed out and the chassis juttered. The road turned up a small hill and compressed Reggie into his seat. He used the extra grip to wrestle the huge bike all the way to the left edge of the road. At the top of the hill the corner tightened and the Electra Glide Ultra went slightly airborne.

Reggie landed and felt the front tire slip into understeer. The Harley bucked, veered right and headed straight for the high containment, “titan” curb.

 

*** John the Revelator ***
And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.

 

***

 

Reggie, 12:00 am

The Ultra Glide crumpled and gave way beneath him. The sound was no more. The air clean and sweet. Then there was whiteness and then there was nothing. And still he was not afraid.

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6 comments

  1. Kudos. You are definitely still at the top of your form.

    1. Thanks!

      I wonder if you’ll prefer this or the second version I’ll be posting soon. 🙂

      1. Second version as in a different edition of the same story? Or do you mean the same story told from a different perspective?

      2. Very different flavor of the same story.

        This one was an experiment with weaving together seemingly disparate stories. The next one is much more focused on the thug’s religious experience.

  2. Like the cat who would eat cheese and then lay open-mouthed in front of the mouse hole, I’m waiting with “baited” breath.

  3. Very good descriptions, B.

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