Sharing my first drafts with the world


They say it takes about a dozen blows to shatter a human skull, in my experience, it really depends on how angry you are. Sadly for the guy I was presently beating to death, I wasn’t really in the mood. Not that I was going to let him go, mind you. Freddy Sarlby finishes what he starts. It was just gonna take a few more hits than usual is all. My bat hissed through the alley’s dank, cold air and crunched into the poor guy’s fucked-up pulp of a skull. I had scrambled his brain so bad he just kinda burbled when I hit him.

“Sorry, buddy,” I mumbled at the twitching figure.

I really was sorry, but like my pappy always said, a man’s got to be what he is, no use denying it. My bat crunched into his skull again. Pappy was a bastard, but he was right on that count. I swung back for the next hit but he was already dead. Thank God.

I sighed, and drank. Wiping the booze from my lips, I tossed Fletcher’s calling card on the corpse. 

Fuckin’ Fletcher, now that was a bastard and a half. Biggest loan shark in the neighborhood, but people kept borrowing from him, so I kept having to remind them why you pay up on time. As I left the alley, I tried to remember what happened to this guy to earn a visit from me. I think it was the ponies? Maybe the poker table? I don’t really know, and frankly, I’m not paid to know. I’m paid to turn people into mush, and sadly for them, I’m very good at it. 

People in this neighborhood knew better than to leave their house at this time of night, so the streets were empty.

 The walks back home after a job had gotten a lot harder over the past few months. Maybe it was ‘cause I was getting old, maybe it was ‘cause I was getting soft. Maybe it was both. Even the jobs were getting harder, but that was no one’s fault but mine.

Fletcher never seemed to run out of enemies or debtors, so I never ran out of people to fight. ‘Problem was, every time I had to break out my bat, it seemed to need a few more hits to finish the job than the last time I did. I clomped upstairs, my eyes feeling heavy in the dingy light of my apartment stairwell. Since when did killing one guy get me so tired? I sat down at my kitchen table, drink in hand, my dingy apartment dark around me. 

I looked over at the two empty chairs around the table. I sighed. It seemed like ever since the crash my life had just gone downhill. Part of me wondered if the world would have been a better place if I had been the one to die that night and not my wife and daughter. I drained the glass. Y’know, maybe it was time I finally put this life behind me. I remembered Meredith telling me that it wasn’t the mistakes that mattered, but doing better next time. Something snapped me out of my daydream, or I guess it was a regular dream considering how late it was. My phone was vibrating. I fished it out of my pocket, the glare of the blue light making me squint in the darkness. It was a text from Fletcher.

75th and New Osiris Ave. Apt 7. Trap house. Burke owes 2k and isnt paying. Make sure he pays. If he doesnt, make an example. Couple people inside, be ready

Two jobs in one night? I should’ve ignored it. Told Fletcher to fuck himself, finally listened to Meredith. Problem was, Meredith was dead, and I wasn’t yet. I sighed again, pappy’s words ringing in my head again. Man’s gotta be what he is.

Graffiti lined the walls of the building. Someone had scrawled a phone number on the floor, promising a good time. I strode through the mildewy hallway to apartment 7. Maybe Fletcher was wrong, and I’d be able to solve this one without any blood. I knocked. A sliding peephole clunked open, two bloodshot eyes peered out from the smoky interior,

“Whaddya want?” the eyes asked, his croaking voice echoing off the metal. 

“Fletcher sent me. I’m here to collect Burke’s debt,” I replied.

“He ain’t here, buddy,” the eyes said. 

“You sure? Why don’t you let me in so I can check?”

There was a pause. The peephole slid shut. Muffled voices spoke inside the apartment. A moment passed. The peephole slid back back open, those red eyes staring vacantly at me, 

“Alright, tough guy. C’mon in.”

The door clattered open, revealing one of the dirtiest trap houses I had ever seen. A studio apartment illuminated by a single dim bulb dangled from the ceiling, its light filtering through a haze of bong smoke and cheap beer. I cringed at how much it reminded me of my own place. A rail-thin man with tan skin lounged on a threadbare couch, a scabby woman lying next to him, her eyes glassy. Around them, baggies were strewn haphazardly on the floor, along with small bundles of cash, far more neatly arranged on a table by the couch. 

As I scanned the room, I heard the floorboards creak behind me, in my blind spot at the entrance. I ducked as a metal pipe came swinging for the back of my head, wielded by the owner of those bloodshot eyes I had been talking to. I spun on my heel and dropped my bat, grabbing a knife from my belt. Man’s got to be what he is. The blade sunk into his throat, a spurt of blood making my hand warm. He went down like a sack of bricks, twitching and sending red bubbles out from between his lips, my knife still in his throat. 

As I turned towards the couch, the man who I could only assume was Burke dove at me, a knife of his own stabbing deep into the meat of my shoulder. Gasping with pain, I twisted with the impact, using his own momentum to slam him into the wall. The wall rattled and rained down chunks of plaster from the ceiling onto his head. As he stumbled back to his feet, I picked my bat up from the ground and hit him as hard as I could in the face. His nose crunched, sending a spray of gore onto my bat. With every hit I spoke, my teeth clenched,

“I! Just! Wanted! To! Talk!” 

It really does depend on how angry you are. It only took another swing or two and Burke’s face was a red stain on the carpet. 

“Don’t you come after me too, lady,” I panted, pointing the blood-soaked bat at the woman on the couch.


Usually the druggies at least grunt. I walked over, breathing heavy. The woman’s eyes were beyond glassy, she wasn’t even breathing. It wasn’t the first time I had seen an overdose. That didn’t make it any prettier. I heard a flush, and the bathroom door creaked open,

“Mommy, are we leaving soon?”

I turned and saw a kid, maybe four, walking out, her hands still wet from the sink. The kid stopped and stared at me, my hands dripping with Red-Eyes’ blood, my bat dripping with Burke’s, my shoulder dripping with my own,

“Who are you?…”

It’s not the mistakes that matter.It’s doing better next time.

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