Basement Goon Number Two by Rene Cajelo
December 12, 2013 Comments Off on Basement Goon Number Two by Rene Cajelo
The highway was wet with the previous night’s rain. Inverted discs of early-morning sky in puddles unraveled beneath passing tires, swirled and re-formed, good as new. Ellis snaked his car through sparse traffic. The sun was low on the horizon and filled his car with burnished light.
He drove into the underground garage of a big black building, parked his big black sedan next to other big black sedans. In the break room, Ellis drank coffee while colleagues came up to him and clapped his shoulders. They congratulated him and wished him good luck.
He finished his coffee and went with his co-workers to the wardrobe department, where stylish young women gelled their hair flat against their heads and brushed dark makeup around their eyes, giving them all a heavy-lidded appearance, detached and menacing. Ellis’ stylist grayed the hair around his temples, and he nodded approval at the mirror. He looked to himself like an old Russian soldier, damaged by ghosts, simmering with silent rage.
The armory was down the hall from wardrobe. Ellis stood in line. The men straightened their ties and adjusted their earpieces and shuffled forward. He took out his phone and sent a quick text to his wife. He made it to the front of the line, where he handed over his phone for a flashlight and his name for a gun. The gun was bulky and oiled, fat with bullets.
He took his spot in the sprawling, empty lobby, next to the metal detectors halfway between the revolving doors and the humming bank of elevators.
He forced himself to ignore the clock on the wall.
Each minute cried out to be ticked off in his head.
Instead, he studied the people passing by on the sidewalk outside.
That woman there, didn’t she have nothing left to lose after being betrayed by her greedy corporate overseers? And those two, behind her, wasn’t one a punchy hotshot with a chip on his shoulder and the other a by-the-book schlub getting too old for this shit?
His throat tightened.
By now his wife would be readying the house for his retirement dinner. He was suddenly curious to see the bunting his daughters were hanging up.
His supervisor called to him from behind the security desk.
“Just lost the feed from the subbasement camera. May be nothing. Take the rookie and check it out.”
The rookie was an inner-city black man who only took the job to support his new baby, due any day now. They looked at each other and felt things fold.
They shook hands in the unlit stairwell, below them, a noise that was probably just the wind. His went for his gun, then he changed his mind and took out his flashlight instead. A face resolved itself in his mind. They descended the stairs. He clicked the light on and it lit up the darkness.
© 2013 Rene Cajelo
Rene is from the Philippines, though he writes out of a van in the Ozarks. He has several regrettable tattoos.