Home | Archive | Itineraries | Events | FAQ | Columns/Links
Advertise | Newsletter | About/Subscribe | Submissions | Art Walk | Books | THE2NDHAND Writers Fund

**PRINT: FRIENDS FROM CINCINNATI: Installment 24 features this part coming-of-age short by Chicago's Patrick Somerville, author of the Trouble collection of shorts out in 2006. | PAST BROADSHEETS |

Back to Archive Index

Shya Scanlon

I crouch behind a barrel in the street and let a dozen rounds whiz by my head. I roll out into the line of fire during their reload and start blasting. Result: one down. Guy lets out a classic cry and splatters blood all over the place. I roll back behind the barrel. More shots. Just idiots wasting ammo. I creep out and advance a few yards, inching by an oil slick. If they shoot the oil slick while I'm near it I'll be fucked. I get past it and crouch behind a barrel. I hear the enemy reload. I reload and check my stats. I was hit a while back but the bleeding stopped after an episode with my first-aid kit. Health okay. Ammo okay. I take a swig of pop and roll out into the street and blast away. One more down, with the scream and the blood all over. You never get to see them up close but the blood stays and by the time I pass an area it's all red. A door opens to my left and I roll in blasting. A pub. Overturned tables and the mirror behind the bar is broken and scrawled with something in a bullshit language. Typical bar scene. Some posters. I crouch behind a round table, wood. The exit sign begins to blink, but not to the door I came in. I reload and take another swig of pop. I make for the door. Ambush! Two guys in black drop from the rafters (I forgot to fucking look up) and take a couple stabs at me with big-ass knives that have these crazy hooks at the end. I dodge left and then right and open fire, offing them both. I run straight for the exit sign, which puts me in a long grayish hallway with your standard hallway pipe running down the upper right hand corner, which I see 'cause I'm looking up all the time now, with more pipe running up the wall to meet it with those wheels attached to them. I go try to operate a wheel -- sometimes you can turn them and something happens. Nothing happens. I reload. I take a swig of pop but the can's empty and I run over to the recycling bin real quick and toss it in. On the way back I hear shots and duck and roll as quick as I can. When I stand up I'm in a different room. It has a desk and a couple chairs and some shit on the walls and I realize this is where I have to plant the first bomb. I check my pack and pull out the item and look around for the place it goes. I find the indicator and squat to drop the bomb and turn around to look for the door I came in just in time to see two second level guys but with machine guns instead of knives coming into the room. I try to shoot but I realize I still have the pack in my hands and end up dropping it instead of filling these motherfuckers full of lead. I drop and roll and crouch behind the desk. Shots fly by over my head and instead of getting out my Glock I access a grenade. I try to throw it but I can't while I'm crouching which is so fucking stupid so I have to stand so I stand up. Fucking Blam! I'm hit and I'm knocked over. I stand up which takes two moves because I have to crouch first and by the time I'm all the way up the room is empty, which is sort of spooky. I've never seen that. But then I've never gotten this far before. I go to my pack and pick it up and make for the door but the fucking bomb I placed blows and blood comes pouring down the screen. I don't even fucking letter. I grab my jacket and turn around. There are three fat kids standing around waiting to play and I almost turn back around and continue but I remember I'm out of quarters. Shit. I push through them and take a look around. Bunch of fat kids. Fats kids all over the place. I look down at my shoes and see one untied. I crouch down and tie it and stand back up. I take off my pack and grab another pop -- Mountain Dew 'cause I don't drink fucking Pepsi which is all they sell here -- and crack it and take a swig. I look at my watch: 8:34. I look back at the machine and see a fat kid get blasted. Blown to bits on level one. Ha. I make for the door and I'm blowing by people coming in and they yell and call me an asshole cause I clipped one in the shoulder. It was an accident but I turn around and say Fuck you too and I'm out. I look both ways and then cross the street. I cruise up 7th and pass by the video store where I look in to see if Nancy is working. Damn, she's fucking it -- unbelievable body. But the bitch ain't at work so I'm out. I duck into the driveway of the next building over and crouch down behind a car and load up my little one hitter and take a toke for the road. Someone turns in the driveway just as I'm standing up and it's probably the owner of the car cause he says, Can I help you, to me in that tone like I'm fucking up. I doubt it, I say, and walk off. I start down 7th again, faded. It's dark. Cars fly by way too fast for 7th. I pass by a parked Porsche 911 turbo, black with a bad-ass spoiler. 0-60 in 5.2 seconds, top speed 180mph. I finish off my pop and put the can down on the pavement and crush it and pick it up and put it in my sack with a couple others from earlier. I should have emptied it out at the arcade. Tomorrow. If, that is, I can scam a couple bucks off Debbie again. Which of course I can, by the way. I put the pack on. Tomorrow I have to remember to put the pack away right after I place the bomb cause that's the thing that fucked me up, I realize. I look at my watch: 8:47. I'm cruising down 7th. Someone turns the corner a half a block down and starts heading my way. Dude better be chill. He keeps walking my way, and I take my hands out of my pockets and pump my fingers. His head is down but he knows I'm here cause he keeps to the left side of the sidewalk like a good dog. That's right. Keep walking. That's right. He passes me and I turn to look at him and his dumb-ass blue jacket, then I turn back around. I'm at house number 1003. All these houses are ugly but they're big. Then I'm home: 1623. I jump up to the porch and pull out my key chain. It takes me four fucking tries before I hit the money. I reach my arm in around to the right to flip on the lights and flip 'em on. I push the door in and step in and close it behind me. I run to the kitchen and reach in the doorway to the right and turn on the lights in there, too. I turn around and look into the living room where I came in, and then back to the kitchen where the refrigerator is. I literally jump to the box, and open it. Fucking bullshit is what. I take a piece of bread from the bag and fold it up like four times and take a big-ass bite. Then I leave the kitchen and go into the bedroom and reach down the wall as I slide in against it until I find the switch with my fingers. Bedroom's a mess. Mostly Debbie's shit 'cause all my shit's in storage. Fucking dropped a load on that. Two of the keys on my key chain are keys for my mini-storage unit out in Edmonds. I leave the bedroom and then I'm on the sofa so I load the Nintendo and start a new game, then I crawl through this endless mud with barbwire over my head and crossfire above that to this hut on the far side of an encampment. I can crawl fast or slow. But fast runs my stamina down. But I grab a first aid kit in the first secret spot so I crawl fast. I'm fucking flying. Gunfire everywhere. When I hit the little hut thing I roll right and crouch behind a burning trash barrel. I take a minute to take another bite of my folded up bread and chew for a second. I don't have to rush this part because I can stay right behind this thing forever and never die. Once I left it on all day and every time I turned the TV to channel 3 to see what was happing there I was still, crouched behind the burning trash barrel with bullets flying by my head and a full clip of ammo and 100 percent stamina. It's basically the beginning of the game really since there's actually no way you can die while you're crawling through the mud. I've tried. It doesn't let you stand up, which is kind of dumb. You should be able to fuck up if you want. I dive to the ground and crawl over to the tool shed. Then I sneak up behind the guy standing guard and stab him with the bayonet. The bayonet is the kind that has the blood channel cut into the side of the blade, and when you kill someone with it, blood actually comes up and hits you in the screen. The door opens and Debbie walks in and throws her keys on the table next to the door and drops her purse and lights a cigarette and says, Hey. Hey, I say, as I go in the shed to get the machine gun and the 4 free clips of ammo. There's a little trick that Mike taught me where you can stand right on the edge of the door to the shed after you've got the ammo, you have to sometimes go back and forth until you get the exact spot, and when you get the right spot you reload the shed and you can pick up four more ammo. There's a new gun each time but you can't pick up more than one of the same gun. You can do this until you have basically unlimited ammo. I did that for a while, just to see the higher levels, but it's totally cheating. Mike doesn't think so because he says Why would you be able to do it if it was cheating? But I don't do it unless I'm playing against him because he'll kill me in points unless I do it. But if he doesn't do it he's fucked. Debbie comes over to me and sits down next to me and watches me kick ass. I stab two more guys in between the tool shed and the first barracks, and I kill their dog. You don't have to kill the dog. It gives you the option of giving the dog part of your food and then it will help you for a while until it gets shot. I do it just to piss off Debbie. Doug, she whines when I off the dog. She leans up against me and I smell booze on her. I'm almost to the barracks when she sticks her hand down my pants and starts stroking my cock. I toss the controller toward the TV and sit back on the sofa and close my eyes. Her hand is cold but really soft. I unbutton my pants and give her some room to work. She strokes my cock for a minute and then puts it in her mouth but then takes it out all of a sudden and gets up and runs in to the bedroom and turns off the light, squealing. I look at the TV. I've already been killed and the screen is flashing for me to continue or start over. It doesn't matter which. I reach for the controller but then change my mind and stand up, grabbing my pants so they don't fall down. On second thought I let them fall and step out of them and pull off my sweatshirt and walk into the bedroom. I leave the door open. I run and jump on the bed and accidentally knee Debbie in the shin. She says Ow but it's muffled because her head is under the covers. I look at her clothes all over the room and can't tell if she's naked. I am now naked. I lift up the covers and climb in and Debbie is there already naked and she takes my cock in her mouth again but then pushes me down and tells me to fuck her. I'll fuck you, I say, and climb on top of her as she grabs me and puts me inside. She's warm and wet. It's totally dark under the covers. I fuck her as hard as I can and then come inside her 'cause she's on the pill. I came too, she says. I roll off her and push back the covers and I'm all sweaty. Debbie's eyes are closed and she's breathing hard and I'm breathing hard looking at her. We lie like this for a long time. I think she's asleep. Her breath is slow and even. I look down at her. I'm propped up on my elbow. Her eyes are closed and she still smells like booze. Her mouth is open. She is like a flower.