Roachkiller and Other Stories

Roachkiller and Other Stories by R. Narvaez Read Free Book Online

Book: Roachkiller and Other Stories by R. Narvaez Read Free Book Online
Authors: R. Narvaez
Tags: detective, Crime, Mystery, Short Stories, Hard-Boiled, Noir, Brooklyn, Latino
between us.
    She aimed the gun at me.
    “Itaba. Wait,” I said, standing, the torn, wet bag in my hand.
    “Lo siento, negrito. But I need this,” she said and fired.
    The bullet whizzed past my face. I could feel it even in the wild wind. I stumbled back, and a monster clawed at me and pulled me away.
     
    *  *  *
     
    I don’t believe in magic. I pray at night but don’t expect any answers. But I do it just in case—like making a side bet.
    As I fell into the ocean, I went deep. I swallowed water. There was darkness and cold and, then, maybe even small glowing lights. I could’ve imagined that part. But somehow I survived. I can’t explain it. If I had to give an answer, I’d just say it was dumb luck.
    This time there was barking. When I lifted my face from the sand, there was a small hairy dog barking at me, stepping forward, moving back, stepping forward. Sand in its fur. I looked up and saw dull sunshine. All around me—seaweed, dark wood, things tossed out by the storm, just like me.
    I turned my head to one side and saw, like another dead dog, Pedro’s seaweed-covered body on the drying sand. Moving toward us were police and paramedics. A gurney. Some tourists.
    It began to make sense. Pedro wasn’t the one who wanted to start a drug empire. It was Itaba. She’d wanted Pedro out of the way, maybe because he didn’t approve, maybe to keep the money for herself. He could’ve killed the doctor for her. But I’d put my money on little miss archaeologist—she’d had plenty of time to do it, then come back and pick me up to be her patsy.
    Now she had her stone, and I still somehow had in my hand a torn gift bag with the little coqui on it. Bienvenidos a la Isla del Encanto.
    The dog was licking me. It was still there. It really existed. It looked like a stray. I thought about what was probably going to happen to him, what with all these crazy drivers on the island. “It’s my dog,” I told the cop who handcuffed me. “Eso mi perrrro.”
    The cop must’ve thought I was crazy. I was more worried that my hair was a mess. 

Roachkiller
     
     
    Roachkiller’s heading to the subway, not two feet off the bus from Attica and minding my own, see what I’m saying. Wanting to leave that shit behind. But Joselito, he don’t shut up. Boy talked the whole way down.
    He said, “So, Roachkiller, bro. Anything you need, give me a call, bro. You got my number.”
    “Straight up,” Roachkiller told him. “Roachkiller’s got your number.”
    Two-faced, backstabbing, cocksucking motherfucker. You gotta make friends in prison, a lot of times with people you don’t want to know. But Roachkiller was free now. Joselito was bad on the inside, and tied up with worse shit on the outside. Trouble puro . Roachkiller done did his ten-year bit. Roachkiller was not going back, not for no one.
    “I owe you my life, bro. I owe you,” Joselito said and gave Roachkiller a big handshake and hug.
    “Forget about it.”
    “Let me give you a ride, bro,” he said. “I got a ride outside.” He pointed to a big-ass truck parked at the curb. Bigger than my old cell.
    “Nah, man. Roachkiller’s got places to go, things to do.”
    Joselito went to his big-ass truck, and Roachkiller just strolled down to the A train. It was hot down them stairs, sticky sidewalk hot. Bet that truck had a sweet-ass air conditioner.
    Roachkiller got on the A, switched to the J, and when we pulled out over the Williamsburg Bridge, Roachkiller could see the City, the Empire State Building way up, shiny and silver and shit, and then Brooklyn, Williamsburg, spread out like a brown and gray rug. But Roachkiller was home. Roachkiller was free.
     
    *  *  *
     
    Roachkiller had nowhere to go but Abuelita’s. She was still in the same dump two blocks from the highway. The same three rooms Roachkiller grew up in. This is the room we ate dinner and watched cartoons. This is the room my bro gave me my first, second, and third black eye. This is the room

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