Bad Kingdom - By Louis Lingjaerde

Back in the early 90’s my friend Enrico and I used to deal a bit on the side. Nothing too hard, we kept to weed and cocaine mostly. Anything stronger would get you caught, and that’s something we both couldn’t risk. You see, this was mainly to help fund what we thought would be our kid’s college education. We came from a nasty neighbourhood where opportunities to make money were huge. The law was in the hands of those who were ambitious enough to take it. The cops used to call us the “Bad Kingdom neighbourhood”.  I personally never liked the name because too often it reminded me of the hell I was bringing my kid into. And without no money I feared he might be forced to end up down the street with the other gang bangers trying to make a buck. I feared most he might end up like me.

Today I was more nervous than usual. Enrico told me to meet his supplier close to the docs to receive a shipment.  It was normally his job to get the stuff in, and mine to sell the shit out of it. It wasn’t my first time covering for him but I still wasn’t used to do this part of the job. This part of the business always made me nervous and soon my bold head started showing drips of sweat. Clamping on the wheel of my broken ass car I thought about driving off and blame Enrico for the misunderstanding. I mean he probably was still nose deep into last week’s supplies. I don’t blame him for that, I used to do much heavier stuff myself. But the difference between him and I is that I quit as soon as Mary gave birth to Joseph. I mean I was nineteen at the time and if that kid had not been born I would probably be in an abandon church with other junkies instead of here. This is why I keep this work line now. I want to be sure the same world that ruined me would not ruin my son.

I got lost in thoughts again. I checked my watch to make sure I wasn’t early. A whole hour late, did I have the right place? It was late and I needed to tuck little Joseph in bed soon so I decided to leave. But as soon as I started my car a flash of light blasted through the back of the car. It was a big truck parking there. I glanced at the plate numbers and instantly knew it was my man. I walked out and waved my hand at the driver covering my face from the burning beams of his headlights. The lights went off and someone came out. I couldn’t quite see his face, still blinded trying to adjust my vision. I could see however him reaching into the truck to grab something. He pulled out a giant Axe that instantly made me back away. The man raised his hands in the air and attempted to tell me something in Spanish. “Friend of Enrico” I said pointing a finger at my own face. He simply turned around and walked towards the back of the truck. I followed him behind steadily anxious that he might turn that axe against me. But then I saw him swing the axe on a large locked chain and then drop it. While opening the large metal doors he kept looking right and left. The cargo was all boxed as TV’s and microwaves. The man took one of the microwave box and placed it on the ground. I looked inside as he took more and placed them alongside each other. I removed the microwave from the box and inside it found two large tightly packed blocks of what I assumed was cocaine. “Cocaine?” I said pointing at the cargo to the driver. He simply nodded and raised his hand towards my face rubbing his fingers together. I was confused for a moment until he said “Dollars!”. I made him come to the back of my car and popped the trunk. I gave him the large brown bag filled with bills that was laying there. He opened it up, took a look and made me sign to move the cargo while he climbed back into his truck. Once the dope was all nicely packed in the back of my car he popped his head out of the truck window and waved goodbye.  

I sat back into my car and watched from behind the truck leave around the corner. When the lights where far enough I turned around and put the ignition key in to get going. I pulled out a cigarette and searched for my packet of matches in my pockets. I attempted to light one but the flame didn’t take. I tried again but my hands were too cold and so I dropped my matches by accident. As I reached down to pick them up I heard a loud gunshot noise and the sound of breaking glass above my head. I crunched down and in panic attempted to look through the broken glass of the back of my car. All I could see were flashes of light in the night accompanied with violent gunshot sounds. They weren’t aimed at me but a stray bullet must have reached my vehicle. I looked at the head rest of my seat and saw a big whole it the centre of it. If my head was an inch higher at that moment my brain would have resembled dog food. “Fucking Enrico!” The bastard probably was enjoying a good time with some whores and dope while I was trapped in a hailstorm of bullets. I ran out of the car crouching trying to run away from the gunshots fired in the distance. Looking aimlessly in the dark for something I could use as protection. And as I hid behind a large metal cargo I saw the edge of the axe blade being reflected in the moonlight. It was calling for me, good thing the driver didn’t think to take it back. But then something clicked. Why did he need an axe to open his own lock? As I stared at the axe I understood what was going on. It was certainly one of Enrico’s famous shitty ideas. He probably got one of his guys to steal a truck filled with Cartel owned cocaine and had ME pick it up while this non English speaking fucker got rid of the truck. I was gonna skin the motherfucker if I saw him. By gently crouching towards the axe I grabbed it firmly and set myself up on the opposite side of the parking. I was now closer to the gun shot action but at least I had a weapon. Well, don’t bring a knife to a gun fight says the saying. But I had a motherfucking axe. When the first armed up dude walked around the corner towards me, I swung my blade as if I was a professional baseball player. Homerun, the guy’s head was gone.  I heard the other guy behind the wall gasp as his friends head rolled over in the light. I was ready to jump on the other side and get him too when I heard another gunshot. Unsure of where it came from I waited until I peeked around the corner. When I looked I saw my good friend Enrico standing over the dead body of an armed Cartel member. He looked up and saw my bald head shine in the cool light of the docs.  

I walked over to the light and we both stood there in silence. Both knowing only one of us was leaving this hell alive. All these dead bodies meant the Cartel was going to be here soon. And they would blame us. The only way the Cartel doesn’t skin us alive would be if we turn in the head of the other as a peace offering. In fact the one leaving would probably get a nice check for getting rid of a thief. And so I heard his finger pull the trigger. But nothing happened. Out of bullets, looks like my lucky day. He stumbled backwards on the ground begging for his life. I slowly reached in to grab him, my axe ready to swing.