Put the needle to Motley Crue's Shout at the Devil and get a taste of the eighties with a bit of Todd Morr's Fiero on this Free Sample Friday.

Chapter 6 - Grey – Salinas

   "So this Chollo is saying 'no hablo', while he shows me his right hand and I know something is up."

   "Like maybe he is telling the truth, no shortage of guys around here that don't speak English," the girl in the halter top told Grey as he bagged up her twelve pack of Shaffer and carton of Kools. She did not quite have the body anymore for the top she was wearing, but Grey was at the age where he could not be so picky. Actually, he was happy for anyone, no matter what the gender or body shape, who would listen to his stories from his days riding a black and white and keeping order over on the East side.

   "Probably couldn't, but I was speaking the international language."

   "International language? Like love?"

   "No, the other international language: Pointing a gun at his ass yelling 'get on the floor motherfucker'. Fact is, if I'm in Russia or China or fucking Mars and someone points a gun my way and starts yelling, I'm putting my hands up at the very least. If the man with the gun yelling points on the floor I'm on the floor."

   "I guess."

   "Guess my ass. You can't show these bastards any mercy because they sure as hell ain't showing you any."

   "Did he get on the floor?"

   "Nope, wouldn't be much a story if he did. I kept yelling while he kept saying 'no hablo' while waving his right hand at me. Which was supposed to distract me while he brings his left hand around his back."

   "You shoot him?"

   "Nah, too much paperwork for that, nice thing about the standard issue thirty-eight is it's light enough to hold with one hand. He is a lot more distracted by my gun than I was by his stupid hand waving. I caved in the right side of his face before he knew what hit him with my night stick. Tough little bastard though, took three more swings to bring him down."

   "You kill him?"

   "Nah, but I heard he started talking funny after that, not so much from the night stick but the heel of my boot stomping on him after I saw what he was hiding. He ended up in Lompac where I'm told they called him Stutters."

   "What was behind his back?"

   "Goddamn Uzi, the only reason I'm alive is he was having trouble turning off the safety."

   "Jesus."

   "So you can see why working here by myself, even at night, doesn't bother me much."

   Halter top nodded while Grey counted out her change. He was hoping she would be impressed but instead she looked like she was sorry she asked him if he hated working by himself.

   After watching her leave Grey eyed the kids by the video games. He told the owners of the 7-11 not to get a Defender machine. In his experience, both as a former cop and a current clerk, Defender was the favorite video game of lowlifes. He recommended Pac-Man or some good old fashioned pinball, sure stoners played those too, but they weren't drawn to them the way they were Defender.

   The last thing they needed was more losers hanging around, he already felt he was working at scumbag central. These two looked like they were tweaking hard, but this was no longer his concern. All that mattered in his current position was they paid the quarter and didn't set any cigarettes on the machine. A year ago, at his old job it would have been his business, but an excessive force charge took care of that. He couldn't believe punching that woman cost him his badge. So what if she was pregnant, bitch should have known better than to tell a cop to go fuck himself and hit him with a broom. How was Grey to know her smart ass little punk of boyfriend wasn't even holding. If they had drug tested him before he went into a coma Grey may have still been a cop. After keeping his job after a questionable shooting (not questionable to him) he couldn't believe they were going to toss him over roughing up a couple of junkies. He had gone from keeping the streets safe to watching for shoplifters, checking I.D.'s and giving out correct change.

   He kept a close eye on the kids, hoping one would be dumb enough to steal something. He considered going out front to have a cigarette, just to get them thinking he was not watching, but late afternoon on a Friday was prime beer selling time, not as much as on Thursday's when dudes working the fields brought in their cash, but still pretty busy.

   Some gang looking kids came in, and Grey instinctively checked to see if his gun under the counter was within easy reach. He would never admit it, but he was disappointed when they just bought a twelve of Bud and couple packs of cigarettes. They were even friendly and polite. The disappointment continued when the pair by the machine ran out of quarters and left without shoplifting.

   The overweight long haired loser who used the pay phones out front came in, almost bumping into the pair of tweakers at the entrance. For some reason the two tweakers thought Andy going into 7-11 was hilarious. More proof to Grey doing drugs made people stupid. Andy was hardly impressive, but nothing about him was exactly funny, sad maybe, but not really funny.

   Grey was pretty sure Andy sold weed. As a cop he would have enjoyed busting a kid like this, maybe put a little beat down on him just to get him thinking about walking the straight and narrow, but as a clerk, he found him harmless. Kid was occasionally good for a conversation, at least as long as he stayed on the listening side.

   “What’s happening Grey.” Andy said.

   “More of the same,” Grey replied, wishing he did not have a name tag, he preferred a punk like this call him sir.

   “Looks like you forgot your socks again,” Grey added as Andy got closer to the counter.

   The kid laughed, “It’s all about the fashion. This is the style.”

   The fat kid confirmed Grey’s Defender theory by digging a quarter out his dirty blue jeans and saying "Must be my day, no one on the new Defender game when I have a few quarters."

Double Tap - Two Shots of Central California Noir

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