Kockroach by Tyler Knox Read Free Book Online

Book: Kockroach by Tyler Knox Read Free Book Online
Authors: Tyler Knox
Tags: Contemporary
and Hubert once again knew my name. He had tracked me to the Square, he was stalking me now like a panther stalks its prey. With my porno deal I thought I could rise to a level where he couldn’t reach out and swipe me with his paw, but I should have known never to trust a mope like Pepe. Old Dudley had taught me better than that.

    So I was hustling up Broadway, trying to avoid Big Johnny, when I caught a flash of pompadour coming the other way. I quickly ducks into a doorway and holds my breath until it passes on by. Strange thing is this guy, Jerry Blatta, he ducks in with me, faster than ever I could have imagined. I just looks at him, he looks back with them dark glasses.

    “What are you doing?” I says.

    “Looking for a date,” he says back.

    I give him a once-over. “Keep your mitts off, palsy.”

    Just then, down the street comes the pompadour, but not on Big Johnny Callas, instead on some silly snot-nosed stick from Jersey. I let out the breath I had been holding.

    “Let’s go,” I says as I head back up Broadway.

    “You got it, sweet pea.”

    Oh man he was hip, was he ever. I had then the first inkling that maybe this strange man in the brown drape and shades had things to teach me. I guess it was the jive patter he slapped on me, that and the way he walked, that bouncy stride, arms pumping, body moving side to side, split-fingered V’s rising and falling with each step. He was quite the sight, he was, following me up Broadway, and you couldn’t tell for certain whether he was the coolest cat on the Square, strutting like a jazz band throwing out a syncopated rhythm, or some physically disabled vet wounded terribly in the war. Except I had seen him duck into that alley after me quick and smooth as a snake.

    Roscoe sold out of a crappy fifth-floor railroad flat on the West Side. We stepped over a junkie curled like a potato bug just inside the front door. The stairwell was dank and filthy, cockroaches scattered like councilmen at a cathouse raid as we climbed. At the right apartment, I knocks on the door. An eye appears in the peep, the door opens.

    “Mite,” says Roscoe in his soft, slurry voice. “This is a surprise.”

    Roscoe stands shirtless in the doorway, leaning carelessly on the right jamb, sweat glistening off the smooth flat plates of his chest. A lit cig dangles from his snarl. It was the era when every other Joe looked like they was ready to drop to theys knees and yell for Stella.

    “I brought a customer,” I says.

    Roscoe’s heavy-lidded eyes lift over my shoulder to take in the man in brown behind me. The edges of his mouth twitch. “What you having, friend?”

    “Smoke,” says Blatta.

    Roscoe takes a deep drag from his cigarette. “You’re in luck. Received myself a shipment of green just this week.”

    “But first, Roscoe,” I says, “we needs to get square.”

    Roscoe stares down at me through the smoke from his cig. “Take a bite of air, Mite,” he says finally. “The man and I are talking business.”

    “I must have sent thirty tea-heads up here in the last two months. You owe me my cuts. We had a deal.”

    “I’ve changed the arrangement. Go outside and play. We’ll talk later.”

    “Roscoe, man. Man. I need it, the money. You know Big Johnny he’s breathing down my neck. I gots to give him something. I figure you owe me like a hundred. That was our deal. Big Johnny, he’ll crush me I don’t pay.”

    “I’ve got two words for you, Mite: grey and hound.”

    “Roscoe, you’re dicking me, man.”

    “Yes, well.” He drags at his cig. “It happens, kid. It happens.” With his left hand he quickly grabs my nose and gives it a twist.

    Just then Roscoe’s gaze, it falls to the floor. A fat cockroach was taking its main chance and sprinting across the threshold of his doorway. With his hand still grasping my nose, Roscoe reaches out the toe of his shoe and flicks the cockroach onto its back. The little bugger’s legs spun wildly in the

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