Warning: Adult language - Editor
Jimmy the Snipe and The Meth-Lab Fiasco
by Kevin Atherton
A scream ripped through the night fog like a razor through fat, and it reminded me of a freshly castrated hog. Same sound no pork. Guy screws around with a rich man’s wife ought to be smart enough not to get caught, and Hog-Man was one stupid piggy. The job paid good money, and the only thing that would’ve made it easier was if my no-good partner Eli had shown up. The twit was always late and had some sorry excuse for bein’ late, and half the time I thought about cuttin’ off his skinny little dick just like I did on Hog-Man. Only thing stoppin’ me was, I liked Eli half the time, but just barely.
“Hey Jimmy, you’re sposed to wait on me,” said Eli who came strollin’ up like a rock star or somethin’. That was Eli. He never had a hair outta place, always smiling, and never phased by anything. He’s kind of psychotic if you ask me. Eli took in the Hog-Man’s pants wrapped around his ankles, the bloody stump where I did a little rough surgery, and the smile never wavered.
I said, “Jesus Eli, where the hell you been? What if I needed a little help because this fuckwad had some buddies along carryin’ knives and guns, or bazookas stickin’ out their ever-lovin’ assholes? What the hell about that? You just ain’t got respect for your partner, that’s what the problem is.”
“Relax Jimmy. I brought you some Twinkies, and I’ve been lining up some work that will pay big-time without even bringin’ up a sweat.”
“You know I ain’t supposed to eat that shit. I also withhold my judgment on any kind of “easy” work you’ve been trawlin’ for. You told me that before, and we wound up with bullet holes and broken bones. If you think I’m gonna fall for that crap again, your brains are floatin’ on sewer water. Hand over the Twinkies.”
“Hey, what about the Dickless Wonder here? You think maybe we should move this party elsewhere or what?”
I always had to think of these things because Eli had no common sense. He thought he was indestructible I guess. I didn’t think so, but he did have his moments. Eli thought up some good scams sometimes, but barely enough to cancel out the dumb-assed stuff that had more than once just about got us killed. Like I said, he was kind of 50/50 with me.
He said, “Yeah, you’re right about that. Let’s head to the ranch.”
I said, “No shit.”
A big fat Louisianan sun seemed to splash smack in the middle of the swamp, turning it the color of swirling blood and urine. The ranch was really little more than a shack plopped down on the edge of the swamp by a toothless, whiskey-brewin’ Cajun named Boon, and we liked Boon better than most. He’d give us whiskey and fried turtle, and nobody ever came around, because Boon would shoot on sight if he thought somebody was gonna mess with his still operation.
Really, Boon didn’t make much more whiskey than we drank because the swamp provided most food that was needed, but that day he paid an old whore to come stay for awhile. A little whiskey was sold for extravagances such as this. He said he was gonna gum her to death and go right for the taco, and Eli laughed so hard he puked up his fried turtle and a belly full of that rot-gut whiskey. I had to laugh thinkin’ about that skinny, toothless Cajun with greasy long hair, humpin’ that fat old whore while he gummed at her titties like a snappin’ turtle. Later on though, it made me kinda’ sad when I stopped and thought about the whole picture. I didn’t tell Eli about how I felt, because guys like Eli don’t understand about feelings.
We were drinkin’ Boon’s brew and watchin’ gators crawl-walkin’ towards the swamp, and they looked like guided missiles with claws. They had somethin’ planned because they all moved in together like they were on a mission. That turned out to be so when all of a sudden they were thrashing around and the water really did turn bloody. Turned out they were rippin’ apart another gator. Maybe it was dead or sick or somethin’, but who knows why gators do what they do? Guess they’re a lot like people in that respect, so I don’t hold it against them.
Eli said, “Don’t that just make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside? Them daddies are Gods of the swamp.”
I sighed and said, “Why don’t you just tell me about the job? I know you’re dyin’ to because you’re still packin’ a gun, and look happy as a dung beetle sittin’ on a turd gettin’ ready to take a bite.”
He grinned and said, “Jimmy, you shoulda been a poet but actually, the tellin’ was on hold until you asked because I wanted you to be in a receptive mood.”
“I don’t know if my “mood” is ever receptive where you’re concerned. I know you’re full of shit. Spit it out or go to Hell.”
He said, “There’s a methamphetamine operation right across the swamp about two miles from here if you could walk to it in a straight line. To drive there, it’s twenty miles or about forty-five minutes of weavin’ around on some crappy little roads. A buyer wants us to make sure his transaction goes smooth.”
I replied, “OK, so what’s it pay?”
Eli said, “Thirty thousand dollars.”
I said, “I ain’t no math expert but if they’re payin’ us that much, I’d bet they want the dope at a discount price —like zip, nada, the big fuckin’ zero. Is that the direction this shitty little scheme of yours is heading?”
“Well, I was countin’ on you bein’ receptive.”
“Goddammit Eli, if this is your idea of easy money, you are from a different planet. Hell, those guys who make that shit are probably from that same planet or at least they’re thinkin’ they are, and maybe you and them should just get together and have some kind of wild reunion or somethin’, but leave me out of it.”
Eli said, “You know what happened to my kid sister, and now I guess I’m beggin’ for help. I’ve saved your ass a couple times, and I really wanna do this job. It’s like somethin’ I have to prove to myself. Y’know, it’s somethin’ that is holy to me.”
Shit, he always brings this up and I’m sick of it but he has a point and pokin’ his kid sister a few times before she overdosed on meth don’t make it any easier to turn him down. It’d be smart to withhold that little tidbit though. Eli might go psycho on me. He’s saved my ass more than a couple times. There’s that.
“I’ll do it under one condition and that would be when we are done, you and me are even. I mean when this is over, I owe you nothin’ and I got other stuff to do.”
He said, “Sure thing Jimmy, I understand.”
He was an understanding prick, and I understood I was screwed.
Eli’s old Ford truck ran with the grace of an arthritic octogenarian runnin’ across a floor of marbles. It did nothin’ for my personal happiness. It did even less for my pearly smile as my teeth rattled like a can of rocks in a paint shaker. I spat out little tooth chips, and was sick to my stomach from Boon’s liquid hellfire.
I said, “Crap, this ain’t no road at all. I don’t think it even qualifies as a deer path; it’s more like a few ruts made by beavers scootin’ their asses after takin’ a morning dump. Does it get any better?”
I was sweatin’ like a fool and there’s Eli —drivin’ and hummin’ along to some insane tune on the radio. He looked like he’d just had a shower and used a hair dryer to style his hair in rock-star curls. He never failed to piss me off.
He said, “Hmmm, truth be known, it actually gets worse when we go through the low lands.”
“Goddamn Eli, it’s a swamp, and don’t that kinda mean it is all considered low land?”
He said, “It’s just a matter of degrees. Parts of the road will be under water, and I’m just hopin’ it ain’t too deep.”
That also pissed me off, and I decided not to talk to the freak until I knew we were gonna make to the meth lab. “If” we made it and I wasn’t feelin’ optimistic at the time. The silence didn’t last long when it appeared we were going to drive into the middle of a freakin’ ocean.
“Stop the truck goddamn it!” I yelled as my hand shot out for the door handle, ready to bail out if need be.
Eli said, “Relax, there’s a ridge runnin’ right down the center, and it’s probably only a couple feet deep. I’m tellin’ you, I’ve done this before.”
I did not relax, and I didn’t bail out when I saw that we were surrounded by gators. They were just kinda watchin’ us like they wanted to invite us to dinner or somethin’. Getting out was no longer an option though, and I resigned myself to hangin’ in that old truck with Eli, the psycho-demented asshole. Turned out we made it across, but even if he offered me more Twinkies, I vowed to kick his crazy butt the first chance I got. I realized I would have to stay alive to enjoy that golden moment and turned to more practical thoughts.
I loaded a fresh sixteen-round cartridge into my Walther P99 and tried to psych myself up for confrontation. Eli was already wearin’ two in shoulder holsters and I didn’t have to ask him if the sniper rifles and grenades were ready to go. Eli was always ready to go. When we were doin’ a job, I didn’t care if he was a psycho, because on the job, he rocked.
Eli pointed through the windshield at a dilapidated pole barn situated between a copse of scraggy swamp oaks and a bog of stagnant water. He stopped the truck, jumped out, and peered through his binoculars for a few seconds. His eyebrows wiggled like furry wooly worms, and for Eli, that weird eyebrow thing is what substitutes for screamin’ and stampin’ feet in a normal person. You’d have to know Eli but I wouldn’t recommend it.
He said, “The buyer’s already in there and they ain’t sposed to be. They’re either plain stupid or were spotted while waitin’ for us. I’d reckon it was the latter or both.”
We snuck up for a closer look and along the way we found a spotter that failed at spottin’ us, and Eli slipped in behind him, slit his belly open, and intestines spilled out on the ground with a liquidy, sloshin’ sound. The spotter gawked at his guts like he expected them to do somethin’ for him, and then just collapsed on top of the whole stinkin’ mess. Eli had his game face on, and his toothy grin sparkled in the Louisianan moonlight like gunpowder lit on black marble.
We approached the pole barn with caution. It didn’t have any windows but I knew there was the possibility of about a gazillion peepholes in the rusty, steel siding. I was scared, Eli was nuts, and I figured we made an unlikely, but effective rescue team when we made it to the door without getting our asses shot off like a couple pucks in a skeet shoot.
I was thinkin’ that we shoulda made some kind of plan, but as usual, we didn’t. Eli opened the door and we ran in screamin’ and shootin’. The screamin’ thing happens because Eli can’t help it, and even though I’ve told him it ain’t right, he still screams anyway, so I join in.
Place smelled like cat-piss and there were pots of dope boilin’ on hot plates from one end to the other. Our first shots blew some unsuspecting shitheads into their brew and sent a mix of alcohol, ephedrine tablets, and blood spraying across the room that drenched other speed freaks with the stinkin’ crap. Eli smiled the same old smile, and I was scared shitless about how many were left to deal with.
Our screams built to a piercing crescendo as the first of the Speed Cookers came within range and Eli smashed him in the face with the butt of his gun. Speed Cooker did not have the sense to go down, so Eli shattered his front teeth with the barrel and pulled the trigger. The back of Cooker’s head exploded with bits of white bone, blood, and brain matter splattering the others who moved at us like a bunch of meth-induced zombies.
There was somethin’ about getting flecks of brain in their eyes and mouths that gave the illicit pharmacists pause, and me and Eli mowed ‘em down. Even after they were all dead, Eli kept screamin’ and stompin’ on their faces until they looked like a bloody gruel that kinda stuck to the bottom of his boots. He was walkin’ around leavin’ trails of that shit wherever he went.
I said, “Hey Eli, where in the hell are the buyers?”
Eli replied, “I don’t know. I was kinda busy.”
Eli kept walkin’ around cleanin’ off his shoes I guessed until he stopped and said, “Hey Jimmy, I might have screwed up. I knew they were in here but I just stomped the livin’ shit outa ‘em if they were.”
He kept walkin’ around in a circle and looked like a little kid who’d had his sucker stuck in a dog-turd by the neighborhood bully. A vehicle roared past the pole barn and Eli ran out to get a peek. I followed and he started jumpin’ up and down trying to waive ‘em down.
Eli looked perturbed and said, “That was them and they just took off without sayin’ a thing. What a bunch of assholes.”
I sighed and replied, “Holy crap Eli, you figure they might have been a bit upset about watchin’ you makin’ brain puddin’ in there? They paid you didn’t they?”
“Yeah, I made ‘em pay up front, but that don’t mean they have the right to be rude to me.”
I gave up and got the freak to drive me back to Boon’s. Just as Eli put the old truck in first gear and gave it some gas, the whole swamp seemed to explode. The blast propelled us forward and all kinds of shit rained down on the windshield that may or may not have been of this world.
Eli said, “I’m glad we didn’t hang around much longer. I knew it would blow at some point —damned meth labs are like a tickin’ bomb.”
No reply from me. I knew this too but rationalized that it was part of the job, and jobs all usually sucked.
We drove on. I needed a drink, and somehow I managed to get filthy while Eli looked fresh as a load of cum on the outhouse floor. He drove, hummed to rap music, and for once, I didn’t mind. It was better than dead and worse than just about any other thing.
Eli stopped hummin’ and said, “You serious about you and me bein’ done like you said when you were pissed off?”
I replied, “Nah, I’m afraid life would be boring without your psychotic shit makin’ it a challenge.”
“Thanks Jimmy. Hey, I’m kinda interested in seein’ if Boon is still humpin’ that fat old whore. Hell, maybe he did gum her to death.”
We laughed at Boon’s imagined antics all the way back to his still, where we got drunk and screamed at the Louisianan moon like a couple of baboons in heat. There is nothin’ that makes you feel younger than almost dyin’, and when I told this to Eli, he said it was the wisest thing anyone had ever said. He passed out about two seconds later. I didn’t make it much longer and Boon was still be humpin’ that fat old whore.