Short story by Michael Botur
So we’re dragging our arses to the probation centre for our weekly PD when the ol’ van rocks up, one a them white Toyota Hiaces what people take spastics to school in, anyway the driver pulls over and we look at each other, eh, A Ride’s A Ride, gotta get to Periodic Detention fuckin gulag evenchaly, and the door sorta slides open by itself and the driver goes, ‘Yous’ll do, hop in.’ We’ve most of us lost our licence to drive, right, like me I gots a hundy demerit points and, like, $9,500 in unpaid fines. So we all chuck our belts on ’cause the ride to work’s faaaarkin dangerous ’cause pigshits always leave road spikes out to getcha.
Anyway so we scope the Supervisor, as ya do. The Super looks like Elvis, straight up, all us four in the back just look at each other like, ‘That cunt looks haaaaard like Elvis Presley.’ He’s like, ‘We can go straight to work, if yous wanna finish up early’ and we don’t even stop at the depot to sign in or nothing, we’re like, ‘Sweet’ ’cause driving’s the best bit of the day.
So there’s me; there’s this young G who thinks he’s a MC, Sparkxzz; there’s this kinda older-30s type dude who kills bitches; and this Original Gangsta like almost 60, just the four of us eh. Not even half a work crew. I’m butt-hurt me and the boys don’t get to see the Girl Gang at the Depot, I looooove them girl gangstas, ’cause you’re always guaranteed a sneaky root in the handicap toilets while everyone’s waiting to choose a van to go out and do their community service.
Judgin by the road Elvis drives, it’s pretty obvious we’re goin to Hill College, that’s this farm school way out in the Boondocks that gets the river floodin it every winter.
PD Elvis defnitly doesn’t talk as much as the actual Elvis. You can always tell how hard a cunt is from their eyes, but this cunt-up-the-front’s turned his rearview to the side so we can’t eye-spy him. Plus he’s got his shades on. I’m makin smalltalk to the young gangsta, Young Sparkxzz. Behind us is that cunt we call Ladykiller, or Lady for short. He’s always like droppin hints that he killed his missus, and I tell you right now, the cunt’s ugly enough to’ve done it, straight up, ugly crime for an ugly cunt. Then there’s OG, sitting up front like a innocent dude, he’s solid Original Gangsta, bro, wears a suit jacket to PD, honest to God, and you should see how black his gumboots is, reckons they’ve got Telfon on the coating so you don’t have to wash them as hard, and he’s got on these fuckin gloves so he don’t leave fingerprints on nothin. He’s a short fulla with black hair that’s silver on the edges and his skin’s real dark, like representin his soul.
Van full of stone-cold killers, G. Straight up.
We rock up at the College and it feels buzzy-as, no cunts around, just seagulls and them little birds that look like mouses, defnitly no teachers on a Saturday. First thing we notice when we hop out to roll some smokes is Elvis’s trailer’s real different, green tarp over it insteada blue, and his gear’s new-as, it still gots the price stickers on it. OG goes, ‘Purchased today.’ OG’s always usin hard-out words like ‘purchased’, and no one’s ever seen him take his sunnies off, honestly, even the Super Screws like Dr Irv don’t breach him, and bro, you do NOT wanna get breached by Dr Irv.
Far, I could spin some serious yarns about Dr Irv. Could spin some serious yarns about all these cold-arse killers.
Oi, so we’re unloadin the machetes and shears and Sparkxzz starts hard-out skiting about how many people he could disappear with the log chipper, that’s takin up mosta the room in the trailer. I’m like, ‘Buuuulllllllllshiiiit!’ and I’m fully gonna roll the cunt until the Lady steps in and he’s like, ‘Both of yous are dummies’ and we have a bit of a argument about what it takes to chop through people’s bones and shit.
We have to park the van outside the gate and wheel the trailer through this special trailers-only entrance they’ve got, and Elvis keeps looking at the road and he moves us round out backa the college by the incinerator. He takes one final glance and then chills a bit. I think his manager must be visitin that day, else who’d get that paranoid about who’s comin in from the road? Maybe it’s ’cause his van don’t have the full proper logo on it, the proper vans is sposda say ‘Corrections.’ Respect for that, if he’s, like, painted over it. If Elvis hates pigshits as much as us, he’s our boy.
Elvis takes us over to this pile of branches, it’s not that big, well, some branches is the size of your leg, spose that’s pretty big, these six piles of branches and logs. He goes how pretty much that’s all we gots to chop through today, then chill after. Sounds choice, ’cause you gots ta stay warm first thing in the morning, that’s the secret every cunt forgets, get all sweaty first-up then the sun takes over while you kick back at smoko ’round ten.
Elvis stands there and watches as we feed the sticks into the chipper one by one, and goes to the super, ‘Why don’t you do it, oi?’ and Elvis tilts his nose down and rolls another ciggy. He’s gonna be in helllllll shit when his boss turns up and sees his van don’t got the proper markings on it and he don’t have precisely two brooms, two rakes, two leaf rakes, two spades, two forks and not enough slaves. That’s regulations, bro: ten boys, ten tools, plus lunch.
‘Oi Super,’ I go to Elvis, ‘Got our lunches?’
Elvis snorts and spits toward the back of his van. That’s giving directions in, like, Spitinese language. As I’m rootin round in the back of the van through all these weird different types of uniforms, some of what looks like cops’s uniforms, some of what looks like road worker, he slides a box of cold fried chicken at me, the box shadowy with grease, and I pop the lid then push it back down like ‘Hoooo-leeeee sheeeet.’ There’s a meeean feed in there and I stick my pinky fingers in my lips and whistle to the boys and pat my belly. We’ve been workin for, like, almost 20 minutes. We’re not havin no egg samwidges with onions today. Elvis has got us a six pack of Cokes, even. He keeps takin pxts of us on his phone. Bit much, bro, bit much, but if you’re a supervisor, you’ve gotta have evidence to prove to the bosses your crims did the work, else you get in shit.
We carry on our argument, me and Sparkxzz, about killin peeps and gettin rid of tha evidence. We’re ripping and slicing the knobbly twigs off of bigger branches, to make sure the chipper doesn’t jam and we lose a arm reachin in there to clear the blockage. I guess all the cutting and hacking’s what’s got murder on our brains. Sparkxzz is all goin on about he could kill someone if he wanted, and I’m like, Pfffft.
Honestly: Sparkxzz is tryina make us think he’s this cold-ass mutha facko. He goes, ‘Oi, so I’m at this party on the Island, you know the island bro?’
We can tell we’re in for a funny-as, long-as story so we all stab our pruning saws into the dirt and take out our pouches and bite filters and put baccy in our papers. OG squats, I kneel and Lady sits on his butt and we listen. Elvis is off in his van filling out paperwork or whatevs. We can hardly hear him. We’ve left the chipper runnin and it’s makin heapsa noise. It didn’t like some of the bits of wood me and Sparkxzz chucked in. A couple of ’em are as fat as a arm.
‘So I rock up to this party and it’s these dirrrrrty skanks, bro, you only gotta ask them to borrow twenty cents and they’ll root ya,’ Sparkxzz is goin. ‘Once all my cousins’d left, I’m gettin the helllll eyeballs from these cunts, all showin me the white of their eyes, then outta nowhere, straight up, this cunt breaks this beauuuuutiful bong over my head, one a them three-footers? So I’m like fuuuuuck this and I shimmy up the fence and hoof it over the garage roof and I do the meeeeean jump into this bush but I fall and I can feel wood under my arse and there’s this craaaaaack and my ankle twists like a bowla noodles, bro.’
I’m chuckin a machete to Lady and he’s catchin it but we’re still listenin. We all roll more smokes. Maybe we should switch the chipper off, considerin we’re hardly chippin anything. Elvis is doin somethin on his phone, looks like he’s recordin us, anyways the OG is the only one you really wanna know what he thinks and he’s noddin and that’s like pressin Continue.
‘So straight up, they all try and mob me but know what I’ve fallen on and cracked open? Fuckin beehive bro. Ever cracked yaself open some bees? Didn’t thought so. Oi, if you ever seen anyone gets the hay fever real bad, that’s what it was like, bro, they’re all holdin their noses and coverin their mouths and all hunched up like they’re sneezin real bad, and honest to God, they all gap it and I’m lyin in a bush full of broken wood like What the faaaaaaa, and that was me learnin the hard way, eh: make it look like a accident.’
‘The fuck you mean?’ goes Lady.
‘Make it look like a accident,’ Sparkxzz goes, restin his arms on the handle of his rake, starin off into the sun, tryin not to blink or let his eyes water. ‘What you do is fight cunts in the street and let ’em step in front of a bus, or, like, in a fountain and droooooown them cunts. So it just seems like a accident.’
‘So did the bees kill someone?’
‘Dyou kill someone?’
‘Not allowed to say.’ He quickly rolls a ciggy, tries a few times to light it, blows a puff of air out like he’s ex-hailing. ‘Let’s just say someone may or may not have died of natural causes.’
Natural causes! I look at the OG and the Lady but they’re just spittin. I look over to see if Elvis is gettin his chuckle on. Elvis’s chin’s pointed at us. That means he’s been listenin and the slight wee smile lipsticked on his mouth means he’s found Sparkxzz funny as I did. Natural causes!
‘What you’re describin is one way to do it,’ goes OG as he, like, uneffortly ties the four corners of a tarp together, and swings this giant blue hanky of kindling into the log splitter. At the far end of the trailer the field’s covered with yellow wood shavings and blue strips of plastic and purple and white bits. The machine’s thrumming and we’re just tossin bits into it even though we’re sposda be on smoko.
Some of the wood must be soooo wet, it’s spattering blackcurrant juice everywhere. Must be the sap. I feed a log in, OG chucks a bit in. Even Lady snaps something wet and crackly over his knee and biffs it in the chipper. Dark shit splatters over the grass and we try to picture people gettin wasted by bees and buses.
I’m about to ask OG if there’s another way of doin it when Elvis comes over. He’s got on these maaaassive sunnies. We should tip all the reddy-black sludge and slurry and wood chips into the river, he goes. I’m waitin for someone to say that’s a dumb idea but it isn’t, eh, half the time what makes PD go so long every weekend is tidying up our grass mounds and fuckin clippings and curls of paint that we’ve grated off the sides of old shitty buildings. We just look at each other like ‘Sweet, bro,’ and Sparkxzz has a good time scraping all the shit into the drum and putting the lid on the drum and rolling it down to the river. Rubbish dispooooooosed of, and it’s not even ten.
‘If I can continue,’ OG’s goin in that cold-start throat-clearin voice. See, you know how half of white boys is pussies and half’s staunch? This white boy’s made of rocks, bro, honest, he shoulda been one of them white boxers that beats the black dudes in movies and you’re like, Respect. Say a man was once offered eleven large to make a problem disappear. There’s not a man alive who wouldn’t accept such a deal.’
‘Honest,’ I go, ‘You get three zeroes to disappear someone?’
‘Did I say that?’
‘So don’t go putting words in my mouth.’ That’s what’s real scary about this cunt: he doesn’t even need swear language. ‘Back to the story: if a problematic person needed to be disappeared, most of the cash figure should go towards covering one’s rear-end, if one values one’s freedom.’
‘Hard,’ one of us goes.
‘And yourself?’ OG arks the Sparkxzz.
‘Straight up I cover my fuckin rear end,’ Sparkxzz goes.
‘Then you’d better get the problem-person highly intoxicated on free piss, have the problem write something emotional as its status update and usher the problem to a very elevated overpass under the pretences of a stroll in the fresh air, hadn’t you.’
While we all roll fresh ciggies lookin away from one anotha, we let OG’s words sink in. Chuckin a bro off the overpass and makin it seem like suicide? Shit’s cold as school in June, bro.
Lady hoiks up some good throatyboogers. From the way he uses his throat muscles to rip the shit off the lining of his throat, you can picture the colour of it, it’s that thick sticky yellow shit that wobbles in some clear gunk, zactly like a cracked egg. So anyways, Lady’s not really the type ta command a audience. If he’s famous for smashing chicks, that’s not really that gangsta. Like, Chris Brown’s not gangsta. I mean defnitly a bitch’s gotta get the bash if, like, she lets your cousin finger her in the back row at church, but you shouldn’t smash a bitch like a bro. Aren’t their bones, like, made of shark cartilage?
Anyway so Lady spits a egg onto the grass and that gets us listening while we’re checkin out his spit.
‘Darts. A game of skill? Familiar with it? Good.’
His pouch’s got some tailies mixed into the baccy. He pulls out a tailie ’cause it’s the closest he can afford to a cigar. ‘Study like me and you’ll go far. Apple seeds: natural reservoir of potassium cyanate. Heard of it? Didn’t think so. Take yourself an ordinary pub dart, split open an apple, prick the tip of the dart in the apple seed, squirt a little superglue inside the apple, glue the apple back together, you know, line up the bits of red and yellow skin precisely. Now, what you wanna do is prick the bitch between her toes while she’s sleeping. If she wakes, tell her she stepped on something while she was sleepwalking. We’re talking an entirely undetectable spot for injecting poison.’
‘Why don’t ya just buy a new apple?’
‘I beg your pardon?’ Lady takes another tailie out of his pouch. I guess he reckons saying ‘beg your pardon’ means he’s stepped up in society.
‘What’s the point of putting a apple back together? Apples is worth, like, ten cents.’
Lady hoiks up a crème brûlée. ‘If you want to do a 20-year lag, keep thinking the way you’re thinking. Now—’
‘Buy yourself a five-pack of work socks and shove ’em all in your fat gob,’ OG goes. He snaps a twig over his knee. He looks at the broken ends and you can tell he’s imagining it’s someone’s thigh bone he’s just split. ‘Don’t speculate: premeditate. Understand me?’
‘Yes sir,’ I try to go, but a big-arse scuffle erupts, Lady’s all butt-hurt his expertise has been dissed, and Sparkxzz is tryin to hold Lady away from OG ’cause we know OG’ll have something psycho like a Taser hidden in his pants, and we’re all spittin in each other’s faces and tryina smoke and yell at the same time and Sparkxzz keeps gettin pushed to the back of the fight, and the river’s gone, like, beetroot-red from the woodchips we’ve dumped in there, and this extra voice comes on top and it makes us all stop.
‘You boys got it all wrong,’ Elvis is goin. He’s leaning out the driver window of the van. He’s drove up real close, but his wheels are pointed away. The van’s rumblin. He’s about to fuck off outta here.
‘What you wanna do is hollow out a medium-thick tree branch, ya amateurs,’ he’s goin. ‘Carve out the centre of the wood, chop a sheila up, stuff ya meat in there then feed ’er into a ordinary wood chipper. Bob’s your uncle.’
‘Eh?’ I go. ‘The pigs’d still getcha. How would you dump it?’
Elvis spits out the window and revs the engine. ‘Get some wannabes to chop up the body while they discuss various methods of killing women, and film the entire thing,’ Elvis goes, and winds up his window, and we’re sprintin after the van, but he’s gone, bro, gone.