Posted 30 April 2013 - 10:17 PM
A night to remember...
“Max,” said Janelle as I finished my scotch. The ice inside was still well and formed. I myself was well and truly peaked. Any more drinks and I’d have been giving Marcos a sh*tty morning cleaning dry puke off the floor. I looked to Janelle quickly.
“You’re a good man, Max, Marcos and I can see that!” she seemed sincere. Somehow, for the first time in my life, I’d had people who were willing to make me feel like a valuable asset, not a burnt out or a piece of sh*t bodyguard. As my mind burst out in violent swarms of words, it had occurred to me that I was probably the least capable of taking a compliment. Being surrounded by people on a daily basis had made my social apathies lessen.
“Thanks, I uh...yeah,” but I was never big on the small-talk anyway.
“He’s just being harsh on himself, baby,” Marcos replied, his hands connected around her. God-damn, had I ever wanted a woman in my arms worse than that night? Probably, but the alcohol didn’t fuel the hatred anymore; it just widened the hole of loneliness that seemed to tear from the inside.
“Alright, Barry’s turn, Barry’s turn, he’s got a good one!” yelled Mickey as he exhaled another gasp of smoke. His cigarette was already out as he slapped a semi-conscious Barry. Wa-tish! His eyes shot open and he immediately yelled.
“Woah- Alright, here’s my story!” Everybody put their eyes on him.
“No ass-cheek jokes in this one?” I asked with a smile.
“No, none, man! Ser..seriously! So I was in the TA a while back. Tactical Army. sh*tty UK army garbage, y’know,..”
“Like the navy?” asked Mickey with a raise of his half-filled glass, his voice flamboyant. He started his own Jersey rendition of In The Navy. A British arm lazily swung at him with a groan.
“Alright, alright...Anyway- so my camp dude or bunk leader’s obviously a pork swordsman,” he let out a hiccup and slumped his head onto the table with a grunt.
“Pork swordsman?” I asked; another splutter of drunken chuckles flowed from my scotch-stained mouth, “Man, that’s a metaphor for the books if I ever heard one.”
“What does porksword-“
“It means he’s gay. He likes men,” said Janelle as she gave her man another firm kiss on his tanned cheek.
“Oh,” his smile returned, “continue!”
“Oh god, he’s gonna tell us some erotic pulp friction,” Mickey nudged me with a wink.
“No! Okay so he’s obviously not heavy-handed with the obstacle course. One of the soldiers, some Latino guy who was raised in the UK somewhere up north, he was as camp as a row of tents. But nobody knew if he smoked the sausage or not,” continued Barry.
“Ooh, Barry, I don’t need to hear about them having sex!” said Janelle as she stood up with raised arm. She sauntered behind the bar suddenly to pour the last drinks of the night. My eyes followed her quickly before they slung back to a semi-coherent Barry.
“Yeah, I’m not drunk enough for that either,” I said half-involved.
“f*ck yoush all! So one night we’re doin’ night runs on the course and our bunk-captain gets me to watch over the guys on the course cause he’s gotta do a routine inspection and of coursh who’s he inspecting? He’s inshpecting-“
“Mister Latino!” yelled Marcos!
“Exactamundo, Marky!” replied Barry as he lazily pointed a finger at him; one eye closed, another one open, “Exacta-f*ckin’-mundo!”
“Oh god, I’m gonna need another drink to replace the puke you’re cleaning up, Bazman,” said Mickey as he turned a little green. Janelle returned with a tray drinks, she slowly came over and began to lower them.
“So yeah, the captain is stark naked and out of nowhere comes this-“
A sound, something that cut the sound barrier exploded suddenly. The scotch drinks exploded as something blasted through them in a straight line. Barry’s words were cut short; an explosion of blood shot out as the Bazman was launched from his chair. His limp body hit the floor with a thud. We all shot up and looked down at Barry; a massive hole where his forehead used to be gaped up, his eyes were white and empty... Oh, god!
“WHAT THE f*ck!?” I heard Mickey yell over the screams of Janelle. I turned quickly as a piercing scream rang out; my back suddenly heated up. An ear-shattering explosion rattled from behind. I flew over the poker table that was blown back. Marcos was thrown across the banister of the raised floor. Mickey landed behind the table with me. Ringing; constant ringing in my ears. What the f*ck’s happened? Oh god. I looked across; Mickey had his snub-nose out. I crawled out of the cover of the poker table. The entrance to the place was half gone; somebody had fired a god-damn rocket at it and from the gaping, burning hole a barrage of muzzle flashes followed. Bullets filled the bar.
“Seriously!? What the fuc-“Mickey’s body was pushed back as hundreds of bullets suddenly riddled his body; by the time the bullets had stopped moving him, he was already dead. I looked across, the ringing still strong. Oh god, what the f*ck did I do? Hit another Don’s kid? Janelle screamed my name but no words were audible. I looked at my hands that shook.
“I’m...I’m here Janelle!” I screamed back. I reached across and grabbed the snub-nose that had launched out of Mickey’s grip like a frightened bird. I checked the rounds with my heart racing; three shots. I was still in shock; my body burnt like the gaping entrance. The alcohol didn’t help. Was this really happening? It was like the god-damn Brazilian army had come down on the joint.
“Max, save Marcos!” I heard her scream, her voice broke through the ringing. Where was Marcos? He’d jumped over the banister! Hopefully still breathing, hopefully not punctured and riddled like Mickey and Barry. I crawled down the back of the bar as bullets continued to spray above my head. “Marcos!” I screamed before a series of coughs took over. No reply. Christ, he’s dead. Janelle popped up from the bar, a shrill scream escaped from her as somebody ran in with a pistol screaming Brazilian. I turned and fired; as a single round made a course for the man’s head but a force blew him to his left; launching him. From behind the door behind the bar, Marcos appeared with his smoking double-barrel. Janelle ran to him as they both fell to the floor; a barrage of lazily fired bullets skimmed the bar. Ping! Crash; shattered drink glass.
“CAN’T YOU READ THE SIGN? WE’RE f*ckING CLOSED!” he said as another man ran in; pellet-shot knocked him back out of the hole onto the street.
“Marcos, are you okay?” I yelled over the blaring tone that filled my head.
“Max, I’m alright, get out of the way!” he screamed back, a single bullet flew in, shattering the poker table into two. That was no pistol round. I turned around and crawled over to Barry; my arms becoming stained and red. I’d just been talking to this guy; how could this be happening? I couldn’t look at these men like this. I couldn’t deal with anything at this particular time. Bullets skimmed the bar; between the ringing and the yells, glass-shatters and pings filled my ears. These men weren’t firing with aim; they were making sure the entire place was coated. I dived behind the bar where Marcos and Janelle were.
I slumped down. Marcos reloaded; Janelle’s hands covered her ears. “Marcos, we can’t stay here!” Ping! Zing!
“Max, these fools have destroyed my bar, they have killed two of my friends! I am not letting these punks get away with it,” he screamed yanking out his Colt; he fired several rounds; each one exploding out of the gaping hole.
“Marcos, you have to get Janelle out of here! These aren’t punks! Look at the guy you just plugged!”
Marcos raised his head over the bar and peered over at the very dead man. I lifted my head and peered over too. The man was geared up with some kind of flak jacket; a blue cap covered his face and hanging loosely from an almost detached ear was some sort of communication wire. These weren’t punks, they were financed soldiers! Images of Cracha Preto flickered in my mind but my hands trembled so violently that the imagery didn’t stick. I slumped back down; Janelle’s hands caught me as I fell.
“Marcos! Please stop!” screamed Janelle; I put my hands on her young face, tears streamed down it. “Max, he’s not gonna stop!”
“Janelle go...go in the back!” her face contorted into more cries. She didn’t know what was going on. I let her face slip away as she crawled into the back; she looked up at Marcos who continued to fire at the barrage of muzzles that slowly died down. As the door slammed shut I grabbed him and yanked him down.
“WHAT THE FU-“
“Sshh!” I said as the bullets suddenly stopped. I waited for more to follow but an eerie silence followed. A calm before the storm; like the Alamo These ‘Mexicans’ were going to take it all. A flicker of a megaphone clicked and then a barrage of Portuguese as violent and snappy as the previous-bullets hailed the bar.
“What’s he saying?” I asked.
Marcos tilted his head as he began to reload his Colt from the box under the bar. “He say...Come out unarmed and nobody else gets hurt. He says...” his face went deathly white. He sighed and slotted the magazine back up, “He says he wants Max Payne!”
“You’re kiddin’ me right?”
“I sh*t you not! He says he wants Max Payne!”
“Well,” I began to stand but Marcos’s tanned hand gripped me and brought me back down; freezing me to the spot.
“If you go out there, they’re gonna kill you, man!” his eyes had genuine fear in them. I knew what it was; he didn’t want to lose three friends in one night. I looked across at the destruction of the bar with a sigh and stared at Barry and Mickey, both now bloody messes of their former selves. It hurt to think just minutes ago we were all laughing here. Something deep down in me ached, seeing your loved ones laid out was something you could never truly stomach. The stench of hot lead and scotch nauseated me; or maybe it was the shock. I couldn’t tell anymore.
“If I don’t go out there, they’ll kill you and Janelle!” I whispered back.
“No man! You can’t go out there. Slip out the back; I’ll cover you!”
“I can’t leave you.”
“Go, Max!” he said as I crawled through the backdoor. Marcos continued firing; more bullets flew in. I slammed the door and looked around. Still trembling I climbed up the wall and took a deep breath. I had no time to mourn; I had no time to do anything anymore. Time had slipped out the back before the guns had started their symphony of lead.
“Janelle?” I whispered with a gasping cough. The explosion had rattled me. In here, the place looked untouched. The staff-room was well lit and clean. It resembled a hospital waiting room; one littered with uncomfortable chairs. A cheap coffee-maker was placed on top of a washing machine. I stumbled through the hallway and yanked out the colt. What if they’d gotten in this way? What if they’d spotted Janelle and popped her two for good measure?
“Max!” she said weakly as she strolled from down the stairs. She came forward slowly, “Is Marcos?” she held her stomach and gave a weak yelp.
“No, no,” my hands found their way to her face that I cradled again, “They want me, not Marcos. We’re leaving. Marcos wants me to go.”
“Wh-what? Wait, no! You can’t leave him!”
“If I stay, they’ll kill you both. I need to get out of here!” I budged past her but she didn’t take the hint. She followed after me as I stepped out of the back. But I was yanked back in violently; I fell to the floor; my face landing with a thud that rattled the headache within. I was drunk. Christ. I wasn’t pulling any punches.
“Ack, sh*t,” I spat as I found my feet. The bump on my noggin’ hurt like hell.
“I’m sorry!” she said with a gasp; her hands reaching her mouth. Tears poured down her cheeks, she turned back to the door as muffled screams of bullets hit the doorway.
“Hide upstairs with me, they’ll think you’ve ran!” It was a dumb move, but like we all knew, I was a dumb move guy. I let her lead me upstairs into Marcos’s apartment. She slammed the door behind me and ran into the living room. This place was beautiful; everything reeked of expensiveness. A 60 inch widescreen TV eyed me from the living room. Janelle grabbed the remote and clicked it, the TV flickered to life. A blue screen flickered after the start-up.
“Marcos had CCTV installed after that bad night back when you first showed up,” she said with a sniff. Poor girl, she’d never been under fire before. I weakly came forward and took the remote as it flicked to a grainy channel of the bar. “There! Marcos! He’s alive!” but as my eyes studied the screen, I realized that things had taken a turn for the worse. “Oh god, they’ve got him!” she screamed as she slumped onto her knees, watching intently.