To avoid my brother’s ex-wife’s idiot brother and his cousins, my brother and I would walk across rooftops to get around San Francisco. One evening, we saw groups of men smoking and placing bets on the rooftops near Chinatown. They were looking down into an alleyway. We looked down and saw two warring Asian gangs carrying axes, cleavers, butcher knives. There was a lot of yelling and screaming as they clashed into each other with such ferocity. Soon there were many bodies slumped on the ground, and the gutters flowed a blood red. The two assassins came up to us. ‘We went back to your campsite and found a grave a little ways from it,’ one of them said. ‘We found our friend — but he was missing something that belonged to us.’ The assassins eyed us carefully but we just looked at them without emotion. ‘We’ll be seeing you around,’ they said and disappeared.
My brother told me to follow him. We got down from the rooftops. After a long time searching, we found the dead Spainard’s family. They were a kind and god-fearing lot. My brother broke half of the huge gold nugget and gave the bigger half to the family. ‘Aren’t you going to tell them how he died?’ I whispered. My brother replied, ‘Look at them.. They deserve to pursue happiness–not death.’
Weeks passed by. The white ghostly fog rolled in from the bay as drunken sailors singing Christmas carols passed Selene’s shipbar. ‘You’re not shanghai-ing anyone from my place and you’re not using any of the women here to help!’ Bart said sharply. Selene looked at us and shrugged, ‘Go to Bulli’s Bar.’ We left and talked to Bulli.
A couple days later, we watched the two assassins as they drank and played cards at Bulli’s. The drugs worked as they conked out on the table. In a few hours, the assassins would be at sea, on a ship bound for the Orient. Before the ship set sail, I spoke with the Irish captain who was notorious for shanghai-ng his poor victims. ‘Let me know when they come back.’ The Irish lit his smoking pipe and gave a rogueish laugh, ‘Oh thar not going to be coming back.’
‘Still,’ I said with a raised eyebrow as I gave him a few more coins, ‘I’d like to have a warning in advance.’
Categories: Elle Peyarre's Short Stories (fiction)