Author: Guede Mazaka
He’s a good man, you’d said, and you remembered the way he had all but winked at the two of you in the interrogation room. He’d liked the idea of the evil men getting the brunt of the fall—literally, like—and of good men walking free. Even if you’d heard him bitching out that tall guy who’d offered you the newspaper for leaking to the press about it.
He’s a good man, you say now, in your head, where things don’t shake like they do outside your head. The world’s on smack and coming down hard, and it’s rattling your gun so hard that you can’t keep it straight ‘tween the dead man on the floor and the living one kneeling by it.
“Evil. He was evil,” he says, and his fingers are stroking his gun muzzle that isn’t warm because he didn’t shoot it. Used the muzzle instead, pulped brains all over the pew. “That’s what you do. That’s what I should’ve been doing.” He’s smiling and that makes it all the worse because you remember his smile, so sharp through the softening cigarette smoke, and it was weary but warmer. “Better late than never.”
A good man, you desperately tell yourself, and the ground heaves so hard that it gets into your gut, twists it about till you almost want to puke at Jesus’ feet. He’d helped you and your brother, and later he’d even helped Da even though the two of them got along about as well as oil and water. Too traditional in all ways, Da was, and he didn’t understand the kind of ultra-modern shite that could warp a man, make him snarl and purr and tease like a back-alley whore even while he was begging for a little bit of faith, a little bit of hope. He didn’t get Rocco, didn’t understand why you and Murph always drank a toast to him every Sunday even after you’d laid out memories till your tongue was parched and your heart wrung dry. All he’d heard was a low-level wise guy that finally did get wise too late, and he never realized you two had loved that hairy, dumbass moron even when he’d been a dutiful little runner for the Yakavettas.
But he’d gotten it, and he’d gotten it because in his way, he’d just been a dressier, flashier (gayer), smarter version. Rocco and the Italians, him and the Fed. Both better than that, and drowning while they waited for a hand up that shouldn’t have come but had because of you and Murph. Rocco hadn’t had enough brains to ever figure that out till he’d gotten his gun shoved into it, but Smecker had probably had it sussed since his first day at work. If Rocco was your and Murphy’s first, most-loved convert, then Smecker had to be your second and most-prized one, and not because of what he could do for you. What he had done.
“I tried leaving you guys a message, but the agent running that district hates my fucking guts ever since I wrapped up the case of his life for him,” he says, so damn calmly. Like that body there doesn’t matter. But his hands show—his fingers are rubbing the blood between them, slow, like he’s liking it. He is liking it.
Your hands show because they’re shaking and shaking and even when you steady them on the top of the pew, they’re jangled, shot, can’t hold the fucking gun. Aren’t worthy of holding the fucking gun anymore because you’ve failed failed failed and oh, God, what have you been doing? Where is your faith? Where is that certainty that you’re doing the right thing, that you’re making the world right and safe?
Post-sex, Murphy would call that expression. Post-hell, in hell, is how you’re always know it now, and Smecker looks so damn happy with it on him. Content. Believing. “Did it myself. Sorry I didn’t know you were coming, or else I would’ve saved you one.”
And oh, Christ, there’s a leg sticking out from behind the altar. There’s a—and this isn’t right, this isn’t the Lord’s vengeance. This was a cock-up and now you’ve got to explain but goddamn it, your hands won’t stop shaking.
“Can’t believe I ever doubted you,” Smecker tells you, and he’s turning to look at you and you can already begin to see the beginnings of worship on his face and no.
He’s a good man. A good man.
A good man.
* * *
You spill out your pockets and you even thieve from the pockets of the dead innocents all around, blood money sticking to your guilty hands, but there’s not enough coin to pay his journey. Nor yours.