34th and Winchester
The wall of brick left of Colton's stride as he skulked into the alley off 34th and Winchester had been scrawled upon with a round cartoonish graffiti face in red spray brighter than the rustic adobe beneath it. It was mocking him. With its sneer, snap-back ball-cap, and slack-jaw under lazy eyes that gazed at half-mast which were dilated and stoned, it levitated there on the wall like a jovial specter. Colton was tempted to stop there, to admire the mocker, the attention to detail, the seamlessness of its color. Even at a glance, the viewer sensed no hint of brick-red or cement-gray underneath the strict bright coating of spray that constituted the floating, somewhat ovular attempt at a circle.
Colton was watched, though.
From the faraway middle of the long alley, at a steel drum fire near dumpsters where now obscure figures congregated under the cloudy moon near the back exit of a pasta spot, he was keenly scrutinized, watched, judged, sized-up by eighteen eyeballs. They expected him.
Colton attempted several times to lift his head as he made his way down this infamous alley; to walk tall with each step toward the fire as he was directed to; to conceal the fear dripping from every pore; to control each nerve-wrecking wheeze that escaped his concave scrawny chest into the cold night air. But each breath puffed more loudly as he neared that firelight--the only direct light existing now in the abyss of the alley besides the foggy moonlight that shone down sparingly beneath the overcasting layer of filthy acid rain clouds.
The wet street dirt crunched crisply beneath his squeaking Doc Martens with each trudge that grew steadily slower as he approached, like a heart attempting at steady slumber. His coming was anticipated but each fireside figure spared no caution. Colton gripped cold black steel hanging from beneath his left jacket flap as he approached, removed the safety, gained a better view of heads alit by the firelight as he gradually came close enough to discern. He marched forward ungainly now; unintentionally uncouth to his advantage. He was a mad figure stalking like a fiend in the night to those looking on; a more terrifying sight than he had intended.
The cloak-like duster that billowed over his scrawny frame in the light evening wind embellished Colton's figure; made him more like a hellish reaper than a tradesman from the shadows. But that's what he was: A man coming to make a trade, a man alone. There had been rumors of this kid with the big jacket and the boyish face and the Gospel-true kill-shot and the old-timey Civil War era custom-hewn Reminger six-gun that he fired louder than thunder and as quick as lighting. The rumors were loud and thick in the streets. "Crosshatch" they were calling him. Apparently, no one had known his name because he lived in a different city and only did business in Baureng. The man at the front of the drum-fire, closest to the approaching Crosshatch, didn't have his hand on his pistol but stood calmly, openly, with an upturned scowl as Crosshatch approached. He had done his research. He never conducted a transaction like this without knowing as many ins and outs about those involved as he possibly could. He knew his name. His name was Colton Kimsley.
"Crosshatch Colton" the front man said quietly to himself after a deep drag from a cigarette that he had spent 'all goddamned day trying to find', he had earlier vented to his coworkers. 'They hardly sell a shit's worth of quality tobacco in this town, let me tell you.'
These eighteen eyeballs had seen their share of cutthroat but small time drug pushers with a lot of bullshit preceding them. The trumped-up small timers were like famous rappers: lots of talk, lots and lots of talk. And lots of talk began to happen for them after awhile--besides the talk they were talking themselves--if they stayed alive in this game long enough. If you do one or two "bad-ass" things (the front man knew), even surprising yourself by doing them, you set yourself apart a bit. Then people get to talking and the talking spreads faster than gonorrhea had spread in this nick of the woods according to the news reports. It spread like wildfire. People loved to make street legends out of small timers because it made good talking points. It gave people a purported street cred to say they had done business with a sort of "Crosshatch Colton" like "Pistol Pete", "Pappy Mason"--a modern-day Bill the Kid for the urbanite professional criminals in Baureng.
Each party to the trade anticipated a beat, a deal gone bad, just from the vibe emitting from Crosshatch--this skulking stranger in the dark that approached them. They exchanged glances among themselves and drew nearer. The front man sensed it, finally removed the cigarette he perpetually tufted as he watched the boy approach from what felt as miles away and demanded something of him.
"Steady, lad" his lilting but fearless voice broke firmly through the increasingly cold air. It was an Irishman called O'Neal, the front man. Colton could see that beneath his sharp-cut scruffy chin crawled a black swastika crookedly up his face, almost reaching the bottom of his left ear as he faced Colton's cloaked figure which finally emerged into the firelight from the edge of the alley. O'Neal then took another drag from a half-smoked and barely lit Turkish Royale standing closest to the barrel-fire, so as to be seen most clearly among the nine men with guns discreetly drawn. Colton had long-noticed they were drawn by now, and kept his hand beneath his jacket, a bold and almost insulting move.
O'Neal was clearly less tense than the other eight, didn't have a finger near the Desert Eagle sticking up from the right side of his wear-worn, low-cut True Religions. Colton could sense the metallic symmetrical bulge the gun made at O'Neal's hip by the light of the fire. Colton contemplated for a moment whether or not he meant this pistol to be passively detected by anyone that stood before him and he decided that he did. Colton would later see that it had been customized at the barrel with an etching of the Iron Cross, had high-grade bullets that outclassed the weapons of the gun-show customers that guarded him. The safety latch had been also customarily removed by a machinist that specialized in guns. O'Neal rarely used the gun these days and even less rarely required the safety latch, but was surgically accurate when he did wield it. This was a reputation he developed through no word-of-mouth effort other than the words of the mouth of his gun.
Author's note: This story goes on for a few more pages but I have already transcribed a lot here from the original manuscript. It's a small sample of my style and the breadth of content that I have saved up. This particular excerpt is from a completed chapter of an incomplete novella I'm developing. I hope you have enjoyed it. Contact me if you're interested in my work through Prose or, more preferably, at email@example.com. Thank you!