12 Rounds (Knockout 1) - Page 5

At the time, I'd gazed out at the abandoned buildings, empty streets, and junkies living in cardboard boxes in a nearby alley, and thought to myself; Who the hell would want this?

Seven years have gone by and I still think that.

I don’t run the blow anymore, but I am the one who picks up the cash from a new runner. I’m sitting in an old, beat up navy Chevy Mini Van, parked underneath one of the flickering street lamps. Complete with a My kid is on the honor roll at Shaker High bumper sticker.

Yes. I’m a God damned genius.

The five-o never suspect a mom with an honor roll student.

This drop is taking longer than I expected it to. I’ve been parked on this street corner for thirty minutes waiting.



Impatiently tapping my fingers on the dashboard.

I watch the cars that slowly drift by, their puttering mufflers spitting out clouds of gray smog. Watching the hookers stroll across the corner a half a block down, hoping that the car that just pulled up next to them isn’t an undercover. And last but not least, hoping that this transaction with Murph, the drug runner Connie has working this part of town, comes up with correct amount of cash, and I don’t have to explain to Connie where his missing money is. Also, so I don’t have to punish Murph for the missing money.

And by punish I mean put a bullet in his fat head.

Trust me, that’s not something I want to do. I like to think most people would rather not shoot another human being, let alone their best friend.

But sadly, when you pledge your loyalty to the brotherhood, your ability to make choices like that fly out your car window as you coast down I-80.

Murphy O’ Fallon is a huge mother fucker. At six feet six inches and three hundred pounds, he stands out in a crowd and moves pretty damn slow too. We’ve been best friends since the second grade when I first moved here from Ireland. A couple boys in my class thought it would be funny to pick on the new kid. Until Murph came along, grabbed two of them by the collar, and asked me if I was all right. Even as an eight year old Murph towered over the other second graders and nearly doubled them in girth.

Hell, I was terrified of him at first.

He’d sit in the back of Miss Pierson’s second grade class and crack his knuckles, way too big for his desk, looking like he stuffed himself into the seat and it was going to break beneath his weight at any second. I automatically assumed he was the one who’d be picking on the smaller kids.

But I couldn’t have been more wrong about Murph.

He’s tough when he has to be, but other than that most people would call him a gentle giant. And after the moment he came to my rescue in the second grade, well, we’ve been best friends ever since.

The sound of jingling change cuts into my thoughts and I avert my attention across the street. Murph waddles toward me, the dim light from the street lamp flickering off his round, bald head and he’s yanking on his over-sized jeans, trying to secure them around his hips. He’s got a brown paper bag shoved in his right pocket and something gleaming and silver fills my gaze. God damn it.

Murph props himself up against my window and I can’t seem to stop looking at the shining aluminum foil wrapped around the half-eaten burrito in his right hand. “A burrito, Murph. Really, a fucking burrito, now? You do know that Connie hates when his money is delivered late, right? You were supposed to be here thirty minutes ago.”

He takes a huge bite of the burrito and a dollap of sour cream gets stuck in the corner of his mouth. He flicks his tounge out, licks his lips and the says, “I was hungry man.”

I groan and shake my head. “You’re always fucking hungry.” Murph shrugs nonchalantly because he knows it’s the truth. Then he glances around warily before sliding the brown bag through the window. I eye him cautiously. “Did you count it?”

He takes another bite of his burrito. “No, man.”

“Jesus Christ,” I huff and spill the contents from the paper bag into my lap. “For future reference, my friend, always count the money.” I gather up the bills and sift through the cash, counting hundred after hundred. You never know when a junkie is going to try and stiff you. And I know Connie better than Murph does. I’ve seen the man put a bullet into someone’s skull over a missing fifty. The man is very particular about his money.

Murph is new at this. Which is why he’s running drugs. That’s how all the members of the brotherhood start out. You start as a runner and work your way up with experience and age. I used to do what Murph does. Until he came along and replaced me.

I could have killed him when he went to Connie and told him he wanted into the brotherhood. “You don’t know what you’re fucking asking,” I shouted at him. “You don’t want this kind of life!”

“I do!” He shouted back and gave me a shove. “What else is out there for me? Huh, Sean? I’m not college material and you’ve got to be fucking high if you think I’m working a lame ass nine to five just so I can live paycheck to paycheck!”

I lowered my voice and shook my head, then stared at him deadpan. “Murph, you don’t know what you’re fucking asking.”

He insisted he did and I dropped the subject after that.

I wish I could have told him if I had a chance to take it all back I would. I would have found another way to keep me and my kid sister together without taking Connie up on his offer. After all, my Ma, God rest her soul, never wanted this life for me. She’d always say, “You’re so bright, Seany. I can’t wait to see what you make of your life.”

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