Bullet Proof

Len Kuntz

My sister's drug dealer has spicy breath with a hint of cilantro. He works a toothpick through the gaps in his teeth like a coal miner. His eyes are dark caves and heavy-lidded. So sleepy, he looks, but no, he's all business.

He takes my money and hands me a bindle and says to get out of here. Over his shoulder a flag billows in the wind like laundry. The colors are indeed faded but the stars are still white.

Sound of high pitched squeals, like dozens of baby chicks, those kids so happy and ignorant, some of them anyway, most.

Alfonzo works this corner with a boom box. I wonder why he can't afford an iPod. There's a bench he sits on, next to a metal sculpture of a capped gentleman reading a newspaper, the reader made of bronze but having gone green.

I know Zo's schedule. I've been watching him work for weeks now. He shows up by noon, second recess and lunch, and stays until the last bus is loaded. Smart fellow. Big, too. Beneath that faux letterman's jacket he wears a bullet proof vest. He can pay for that but not an iPod? Come on, man. But again, he's all business.

He glares down at me as if he's a mudslide with scurvy eyes. He loathes me. He doesn't see the resemblance, though. He's about commerce, yet he's stupid because even after I pull the pistol out of my jacket, he still thinks I'm joking.

I'm not.

I aim high, for the forehead. The bullet boot kicks his skull, whiplashing it as a slug of blood slurps out like motor oil between Zo and I. When he falls, Mother Earth does not reach out her arms to catch him. The ground shutters.

A guy is mowing the soccer field with a tractor. He's got earphones on. The children's squeals are muted against the rumble of the engine. No one hears anything. I thought this would have felt more significant or at least horrifying, but it's sort of as if I'm staring out to sea and not finding a horizon, as if the battle isn't ever over. Lily's dead and there will be others.

BIO: Len Kuntz is a writer from Washington State and an editor at the online literary magazine Metazen.  Len's story collection, "I'm Not Supposed To Be Here And Neither Are You", debuts from Aqueous Books next year. You can find him at lenkuntz.blogspot.com.