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Something in how I lay exposed on the dresser when I should be concealed. The way the sun came in red and purple this morning, I felt it in my firing pin. Something is going down. Something to test my hammer. Something to break the monotony of Joey’s addled life, somebody better hope I don’t jam. 

When Joey finally wakes up, his boss comes first. He keeps an extra bag for the morning so he can start his day. Once he’s fixed, he picks me up and walks down the hill to the old neighborhood. If he thinks he’s taking me somewhere new, doesn’t understand what I’m about. All the places I’ve been, owners before him. He’s shifting from striding and shuffling.

When I hear the bells jingle, I know we’re in Sal’s Deli.  If Joey could find a state of normalcy he’d smell lemon and garlic. The prepared food under the glass case -  the antipasto, stuffed shells, and chicken franchise. I smell gun oil too. Sal’s got something under the counter or around back. He’s got to be cleaning that piece whenever the place empties out — like five minutes ago because we're the only ones here. 

And we loiter in the aisles. Past the imported olive oil. Down another row. Does he see the framed picture of the Azzurri, draped by il tricolore mini flags, faded now? I remember that’s the team. That summer afternoon this whole neighborhood had the game on. When they won 5-3 on penalty kicks, it was euphoric. They shot me off the rooftop until the sirens came.

Something tells me that was the night Joey had his first taste. Just a hunch how it felt like running the faucet in the bath,  warm water creeping up from his toes to his face until he floated away. I wish I could feel that euphoria just once. Joey worked me out yesterday when he found me on the rooftop of that abandoned building he squats in. This kid smells like shit. Someone OD’d in the tub last night and his friends just told him to go shoot up another room. Joey slinks past the artisanal pasta and imported olive oil over to the cold vault. 

I feel Sal watching us. Some of my owners were the type to draw the attention of sales clerks when they browsed through. Others are the type to give the eye like Sal. I was in a place like this once under the counter. On Saturday everyone will come back to the old neighborhood to buy cheeses and the meats - prosciutto, mortadella, and sopressata. Really a guy like Sal sells nostalgia, just like Father Rino at St. Anthony’s, and they both know it.  I’ve been to funerals there too. But it’s not worth it to have me hang around. People come and go worried about things they think will heal them, but I only know hurt. 

Joey can’t drag his feet any longer, he grabs a Coke from the cold vault and goes to the counter. All this for a Coke - wasn’t he broke?

I hear him say,   “I’ll take a pack of Marlbros.” And I know it’s on.

“No, no the Lights…And all your money.” 

He pulls me out from the small of his back, cocks and points at me, like I’m a bloodhound, released for the hunt. 

 “Ok, chief. You’re in charge.” 

“Keep your hands where I can see.” 

“Sure, but I have to open the register…You know all these yuppies and hipsters that moved in? They pay with credit. Costs me four percent right off the top, what a racket.” 

Sal’s got a whole act. Sometimes that tone changes things, but usually, it doesn’t. Joey’s not following. He’s been in a fog for years. 

“What's that gotta do with me?” 

“It means I don't have a lot of cash, douchebag. Look I understand everyone’s gotta eat, my inventory, those meats, is insured, we can work something out.” 

He squeezes me, but I hold back. Again he squeezes but not today I’m not doing it. Everything freezes with me. Control is euphoric. Joey runs out. Then at warp speed, I lost it. The bells jingle and a loyal gun rings twice. Joey drops me, he was trying to hold on as if I was good for something, and I slid across the sidewalk — waiting.


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