Jack Moody

by Horror Sleaze Trash on July 13, 2017

Jack Moody is a short story writer, poet and freelance journalist from wherever he happens to be at the time. He has had work published in Down in the Dirt Magazine, Tipton Poetry Journal, The Round Up, Cold Creek Review, CC&D Magazine, Rat’s Ass Review, Ignatian Literary Magazine, The Legendary, and Southern Pacific Review, with work forthcoming in Brick Moon Fiction. He didn’t go to college. He likes his privacy. He doesn’t have a social media account. Don’t ask him to make one. Contact him at j.moody9116@gmail.com

 


 

A Considerable Fate

By Jack Moody

 

 

            “Do you believe in fate, Tom?” Mathew asked as his bat made contact with the car window.

            The alarm went off but I did my best to talk over it as I kicked out the taillights.

            “That’s a good question. I suppose one could argue that at the moment of the Big Bang, every moment and every piece of matter in the universe was put in its place simultaneously, you know? Like, the universe knew from the beginning how it was gonna end, and so in a way, we know. It could be argued that time is an illusion and every moment there ever was already simultaneously exists at the same infinite singular moment. So I guess I do, yes.”

            Mathew reached in through the broken windshield and lifted the pack of cigarettes resting on the passenger seat, lit one.

            “I hear you, yeah—you want one?”

            He handed me a cigarette and lit it for me, then continued.

            “I hear you, I do, but assuming that’s true, what does that mean for us?”

            I picked up a nice rock off the sidewalk and threw it at the plate glass window to a pizza shop. It shattered much easier than I thought and again an alarm went off.

            “Well, that would mean that essentially we have no free will. Everything we’ve done and will do was already laid out for us however many billion years ago.”

            Mathew moved onto the next car and ripped off the left rear view mirror with a single well-placed swing of his Louisville Slugger, 42 oz.

            “Assuming that’s true, doesn’t that depress you?”

            I took the liberty of kicking open the hood of the first car and used the Bowie knife tucked in my jacket to cut the wire to the horn.

            “Well, not really. Otherwise, It’s kind of like, too much freedom. You know what I mean? If everything that ever happens to us is purely on us, and we really do have total control of our futures and ourselves, then, fuck man…that’s a hell of a burden to throw on a guy who didn’t ask for it in the first place. I mean, I sure as hell didn’t sign up for that kind of commitment. I didn’t ask to be born, you know?”

            Mathew jumped through the broken glass window of the pizza joint and started lurking through the kitchen. I followed.

            “You think there’s some food in here? I sure hope so, I’m famished.”

            I shrugged and cracked open the register.

            “Pass me the lighter, yeah?”

            “What’re you gonna do?”

            “I’m fulfilling my destiny.”

            We both laughed.

            He tossed it to me with the Slugger leaning against his shoulder. I picked up the stacks of ones and fives and twenties and fifties, sat them on the counter, lit them all on fire.

            “C’mon let’s get out of here, that alarm is driving me crazy.”

            “Agreed,” he said. “But to answer what you were saying, I would say this: one hundred percent of the time, I would rather have too much freedom than not enough. The idea of being boxed in by some force outside of myself just bugs me out. If anyone’s gonna make me wrong or right, it’s gonna be fucking me. I don’t like the idea of anyone, no matter how big or omniscient, telling me what the hell I can or can’t do.”

            We stepped outside and wandered down the sidewalk, darkened by broken streetlights.

            “But let’s say that’s the case,” I said. “What then?”

            A young couple was walking down the sidewalk towards us.

            “You or me?” Mathew said, dragging the bat across the cement.

            “I think it’s you. Remember the last guy, with the poodle?”

            “Yeah, yeah,” he said. “Hang on.”

            Mathew produced the rusting pistol from the back of his waistband.

            “Hey! HEY! Wallets! WALLETS ON THE GROUND!

            The couple froze with wide eyes. The man stepped in front of his woman with his arms out wide. He was shaking.

            “Hang on, man. Just stay cool.”

            “I’ll be cool when you drop your fucking wallets on the ground,” Mathew said.

            “Okay…okay, man.”

            He motioned towards his woman to drop her purse on the ground.

            “You made the right choice,” I said.

            Mathew handed me the bat. It was heavy in my hands but it felt right. I swung hard and connected squarely with the man’s temple. He dropped to the cement and began convulsing.

            “That’s a HIT! Mickey fucking MANTLE over here!” Mathew screamed.

            I smiled and faked a swing at the woman. She took off down the street.

            “So what were you saying? Oh right. If that was the reality, despite what I prefer to believe. Well, then anything I ever did, even if I thought I was breaking the flow of my predestined path, it wouldn’t mean anything. So everything I’ve ever done has been meaningless. So by extension, my whole life has been meaningless. Meaning can only be real if made by man’s choices that aren’t predetermined.”

            I pondered that as I kicked the purse into the gutter.

            “So either we were meant to do what we do, and really can’t be blamed for these particular cards we’ve been dealt, or we are what the general population would call ‘terrible people’.”

            “What’s the difference?” Mathew laughed.

            “Well, that’s what I’m trying to figure out. …I’m thirsty,” I said. “Is that a bar down the road?”

            “It certainly looks like it.”

            He handed me the rusted pistol and I tucked it into the back of my jeans and passed the Louisville back to its rightful owner.

            “Think it’s happy hour? I’m short on cash.”

            “I’m sure it is, Thomas. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”

            “And if you do, name it after me,” we chimed in tandem.

            The bar was mostly empty, a few regulars and a single bartender, most likely without a sawed-off resting beneath the counter. Mathew gently leaned the bat against the counter, sat down and ordered a whiskey ginger with a twist of lime. I walked up to the bar next to him and waited to make eye contact with the bartender, a green-eyed balding fellow with a long black beard meant for a much older man.

            “What can I get you?” he asked.

            “I need the money in your cash register. All of it.”

            “Excuse me?”

             I pulled out the rusted pistol.

            “I’ll need everything you’ve got, and a whiskey ginger for my friend here.”

            Mathew gestured towards me with a shrug, indicating to treat myself.

            “And a whiskey neat for myself, if you’re not too busy. A double.”

            He reached under the bar for something. It could have been a bottle to pour our drinks, but I wouldn’t have known. The nine mm bullet slid loudly into the center of his skull, just above and between his two green eyes. He dropped.

            “Fuck, MAN!” Mathew screamed. “We could’ve gotten free drinks out of him! You ignoramus!”

            I shrugged and holstered the smoking weapon.

            “Fuck it, grab the bottle of Jim Beam.”

            “You don’t want the nice stuff?” 

            No, this was a deal gone sour. He deserves a certain amount of dignity.”

            Mathew grabbed the bottle off the shelf and stood triumphantly, facing the small crowd of drunks.

            “Free drinks for everyone!”

            His enthusiasm was greeted with silence. No one moved from his or her seats, shrunken by horror and the dim light of the room.

            “Well, they’re just a little frightened. They’ll get over it, let ‘em be,” I said.

            We waved goodbye to the stone faces and walked back outside, trading swigs from the pilfered whiskey bottle.

            “You know, now that I think about it, I have a bone to pick.”

            “Please, shoot.” Mathew chirped.

            “Now, you said that life is meaningless if it’s beyond the control of man. Essentially, if fate exists then life is devoid of purpose. Correct?”

            “Precisely—do you wanna…?”

            An elderly man was walking his dog about a hundred meters ahead of us, heading in our direction.

            “No, no. No animals, Mathew. They deserve to catch a break, you’d agree?”

            “Fair enough. What about him?”

            “Well that’s fair game, buddy. I believe you’re up.”

            “I believe you’re right.”

            We juggled the whiskey bottle between us, trading his bat for my Bowie knife and continued forward.

            “Hold that thought, though, Tom. I’d like to hear what you have to say.”

            Once the man came within range, Mathew swooped down upon him.

            “Oi oi! How’s it goin’, old timer?”

            He tried walking past us but was blocked by my outstretched arm holding the Louisville Slugger, 42 oz., across his path at a horizontal angle.

            “Lovely evening, isn’t it?” Mathew smiled.

            The knife plunged into the man’s lower abdomen. He dropped to the ground rather softly, all things considered.

            “Go free! Go free, pooch! You did it!” I undid the collar around the dog’s neck and motioned for it to join the great wilderness of the city streets. It looked at me a bit puzzled before wandering off in the direction behind us.

            “Look at that! Look at that, Thomas! No loyalty to this man!” He pointed down at the expiring septuagenarian violently gasping and bleeding out on the sidewalk. “This man believed he had a relationship with this animal just because he fed it and allowed it to shit while chained to a leash that won’t allow it to go farther than ten feet away from him. This man was wrong! What this was, Thomas, was slavery. We’re not in communion with nature, don’t you agree? Just look around.” He threw his arms up in the air, his eyes directed towards the tops of the skyscrapers looming over us in all directions. Blood from the knife in his hand was dripping down his forearm. “Look at all this gray and black and cement and granite.” He then pointed back to the man at our feet. “That blood running into the gutter is the most natural thing in this fucking city. This man should be so lucky to experience this.”

            I looked down at the dying man briefly, taking in the moment, and drank from the bottle dangling in my free hand. His eyes were bugged out of his head like a puppet, chest heaving up and down; desperate for air as the pools of blood filled up his lungs. He was seeing true fear and I envied him for that. For the next couple minutes before his death, he was going to be more present than he ever was in his life. I left the Louisville Slugger next to him in case some hoodlums came by and tried to take his wallet.

            “So, as I was saying—”

            “Oh right, right!” Mathew shouted.

            It was getting darker as we made our way deeper into the city. The crescent moon was hidden somewhere behind a thick blanket of gray clouds. The air tasted of car exhaust.

            “Why is life meaningless if fate exists?” I said. “Wouldn’t that mean that life could be even more meaningful, full of meaning even, if the truth was that we were all unsubstitutable—pardon the word—all-important cogs that the universal machine simply couldn’t continue without? What’s more meaningful than that? Knowing that just by existing, you are all-important to the ability of the universe to continue existing?”

            “Freedom, Thomas. Freedom. That’s why. I want to make my bad decisions, my good ones too. No one else can make them for me. I want to be to blame for everything I do. It’s too easy to play off your mistakes nowadays: God willed me to fall so that I can rise again; it was just a lesson to be learned so that I can have new opportunities provided for me. That’s bullshit. No one takes responsibility anymore. Look.”

            He pointed to a homeless man curled up under a pile of rags resting in a side street we were passing by.

            “Hand me the pistol.”

            I did.

            “Now watch.”

            He raised the rusted pistol, took aim at the motionless derelict and fired. I could hear a muffled grunt behind the muzzle flash and saw the man slump over just enough to know he died.

            “Now, see, I don’t want that to be a necessity—an action made to fill the appropriate space in the universe so that the machine can keep turning. I want that to mean something. You understand? I want that to equal chaos. I want that to be my choice, something that could have been avoided. I want to make a difference by my own design. Not some fucking invisible force compelling us to do what’s supposed to happen. Freedom, Tom.”

            The sound of police sirens erupted a few blocks down the street before I could articulate my answer.

            “Hear that?” he said. “That’s control. Yeah? That’s order.”

            Mathew began walking back out into the middle of the road, dropping the pistol on the ground by the dead homeless man. He was smiling wider than I had ever seen.

            “Well? Are you coming or not? Come embrace your destiny, right?”

            I flinched and whipped my head around, eyeing the chain-link fence at the end of the alley behind me. I dropped the whiskey bottle to the cement, letting it shatter like a gunshot upon impact.

            “What’re you doing?” I yelled at him, both hands cupped around my mouth.

            He waved over his shoulder without turning around, facing the glow of the red and blue lights.

            “You dumb motherfucker! You dumb motherfucker!

            If he was planning on responding, it was stifled by the shrieks of the policemen, surrounding him in a half-circle with two vehicles blocking the street, their sirens howling like banshees. I stood frozen, hidden in the shadows behind the alley wall, watching—waiting for Mathew. Through their shouts and commands, I saw Mathew turn to me ever so slightly, that stupid goofy grin painted across his face, and he winked. His right hand then went to the back of his pants, came out lightning fast in the shape of a handgun; thumb pointed up and index finger pointed squarely at the armed policemen.

            “BANG,” he screamed.

            The flashes from the responding gunfire blinded me momentarily and I stumbled back against the wall. When my vision returned, Mathew was lying flat on the street behind splotches of reds and blues and yellows swimming through my retinas. Before I had time to decide if he was dead or not, the barrels of four police-issue handguns were pointed at my head.

            The hood of the police cruiser was cold against my skin as they slammed me down and handcuffed me. While the officer was pushing me into the backseat, rambling off my Miranda rights, I craned my neck up to the sky. I figured it would be the last night sky I would ever see, clouds or not. But when I looked up at the night hovering over my dirty metropolis, I saw stars. I saw a black sky and white, glittery stars. Everywhere. Boy, that sure was something.

 

 

 

 

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