Dirty Santa has no money is the reason why he calls me about a possible job. And look, there have been times when I have studied at the events of my life, the decisions good and bad, the whole nurture vs nature thing, in hopes of figuring out exactly how I came to run around with folk like Dirty Santa, but seeing as how I’m broke and down to my last everything, today’s not one of those days.
What job, I ask him.
I should know better by now than to trust the viability of Dirty Santa’s ideas. Once he wanted us to rob my parents, us dressed up all in black and with ski masks or Halloween masks on over our faces so they wouldn’t know it was us robbing them. I didn’t bother telling him that anything that they had that was worth stealing I’d already taken, and simply by walking through the front door and taking it.
They’ll know it’s me, I told him instead. No matter what kind of mask I’ve got over my face, they’ll know it’s me, because of the fucked up way I walk.
See, I walk on the balls my feet, some would say on the tippy toes, and no matter how much I’ve tried to fix that I can’t, so no matter what I’m wearing or how I’ve disguised myself, people always know me by the funny way I walk.
Once, in elementary school, I wore every piece of clothing I could fit over myself, and then a new heavy coat no one knew about, and then a ski mask, and then a hat over that, to pretend I was a new kid that no one knew and whose face was maybe burned by acid or something? Like kids do sometimes. But right away, see, everyone knew it was me, and I felt kind of like an idiot.
Anyway, when I thought I’d finally convinced him robbing my parents was a lame idea, he told me, Okay, okay, I get you, but here, just meet me at this address, and we’ll do this other job together. Then he handed me a slip of paper with my parents’ address on it.
I guess what I’m saying is, Dirty Santa isn’t the brightest bulb, but, since the thing I botched with the McNamara job, he’s the only bulb I know right now who’s willing to bring me in on a job.
He tells me the job and then the plan—a musician owes The Angermeier money but now it’s too late for the money and so we’ll wait for him at a bar in Brooklyn where he’s supposed to be and there beat the shit out of him and take all his stuff—which seems, for Dirty Santa, like such a straightforward and thought-out plan my Spidey-Sense should start tingling, but maybe because I’m hungry and I haven’t been sleeping too good lately, nothing tingles or whatever tingles doesn’t tingle loud enough and I miss it.
It’s a surprise, then, and not a surprise, not a surprise at all, when the address he gives me isn’t a bar, is just an empty storefront, half-burned down, and Dirty Santa’s there with another guy, some guy I don’t know, and I wonder, in the split second before it all falls to shit, I wonder if he called that guy first or second, if he laid out a plan as simple and sweet to that guy as he laid out to me, except instead of collecting from a musician, he told him, There’s a guy I have to take care of and I need a second guy with me, and if after the two of them take care of me, I wonder if Dirty Santa’s going to say, Hey, how about, now that we’ve done this, we go rob your parents?
Anyway, I start to run because I’m in no position to do anything else, and, truth be told, I’m not in much of a position to do that, either, but I start to run anyway because, fuck, what else is there for me to do?
Story by Manuel Gonzales
Photo by Emily Raw