Choppers by Matthew C. Funk...

The kids of Desire didn't know they were born to tear each other apart. They made it through childhood on the faith that they would always hold together. But there were five of them, and that was four too many to survive.

Cyrus kept them serious and ran their game by a science of paper bags and throwaway cell phones. Petey Pink played with spinning coins on the cracks of his corners but never played around on his girl. Bebe, Petey's baby mama at fourteen, kept her daughter, Bella, on her knee and only had eyes for Petey. Crush cocked a University of Tennessee Volunteers cap at the top of his towering head as a reminder that once, someone from elsewhere cared about New Orleans. Will Clementine whistled Dixieland through his grin like there wasn't a care in the world.

The Desire Projects were their home-locked in windowless brick and bathed in hot sirens. The corners of Desire were where they lived. The corners' angles aimed at somewhere else-edges stuck in the flank of some place better for them to bleed a living from.

They pushed drugs and pulled in survival. Cocaine won their rent. Weed let them eat better than eggs and rice. Pills came and went like movie tickets to something other than the horror film they knew.

They knew the kind of hunger that kept them awake with thoughts of licking the walls just to taste something. They knew terror of midnight knocking and windows pried silent after hours. They knew growing up was the same thing as being taken from.

They never lost each other. Until the choppers arrived.

The choppers came in a crate that smelled of dust and fry oil and high places. It was marked with an alien alphabet and it was thick with violence. A man named Vicious sold it to them with golden words and a straight razor for a smile.

"This is our ticket out," Cyrus promised as he lifted a chopper-the AK-47 assault rifle feeling like some heavy vehicle too fast for anyone to catch.

"This will make 'em all listen up good," Crush said and counted the bullets.

"This is the big time right here," Petey said, a clip locking home sounding like a lock unlatching. And Bebe put on a smile for him, stitched strong with hope. And Will whistled that the Saints would be Marching In.

Then came the silence of planning. Then there was thunder. From the eyes of the five, the choppers opened a storm that blew blood and loose cocaine across the Ninth Ward.

They broke Eagle Street into an avalanche of crack rock. They hit Florida District until the pills bounced out of the corpses. They chopped up boys' bodies and they stepped on the flake they took from them.

As they picked up the pieces, their whispers of suspicion spread with the smoke. Petey whispered that Cyrus was hiding a thicker cut of the stolen coke for himself. Crush whispered to Will that Petey was looking to play them all. Will stopped whistling and started to listen to the cracks opening among the five.

They each came to Vicious, stoop-shouldered in his jazz-club backroom, their mixed drinks as strange to their hands as magic potions. And they asked his stainless smile if their suspicions were right.

"Yes," Vicious said. To each question of violence, he answered, "Yes."

And he was right. The five made sure of it.

Cyrus was the first to be broken up by the choppers. Petey cracked him open at the Shell station on St. Claude and mixed the pieces with three of his cousins. What was left of Cyrus in his Ford Explorer was a mass of meat that the shape of a friend couldn't be found in.

They weren't friends anymore after that. They were trigger fingers and opportunity. They were cuts of flesh for the waiting choppers.

Bebe broke first. Even in bathtub of ice cubes, she sweated out the story of Petey killing Cyrus to Crush. Crush hung up on Bebe for the last time and made a call to Will.

Will's chopper left the coins from Petey's pockets spinning in the torn plum of his body. The NOPD took five hours picking the bullets from the slime, chunks and glinting change. In four hours, Bebe found Crush.

When the paramedics found Crush, he was still breathing. He'd lost blood and he'd lost use of his bowels. He'd lost most of his teeth. Will found them and made a necklace while he made a list of the places Bebe would hide.

Bebe and Will took their choppers to the streets and took apart every place that belonged to them.

Bebe's house burned with her older brother spine-shot in its bullet-ridden kitchen. Will's mother didn't have a head to kiss goodbye in her closed casket. Their choppers splintered school rooms, church socials, supermarkets, and the Upper Ninth smoked with sawdust and cordite and loss.

The Upper Ninth breathed a week of relief when Will clapped duct-tape over Bebe's sleeping mouth and woke her up in his basement.

He razed her nerves with wire and lit cigarettes. He robbed her right eye with his fingers. He cracked open her body with his and he whispered what he'd do to her daughter.

What was left of Bebe scarred over and closed ugly.

Vicious pulled her from the basement while Will was nodding on purple drank. He brought Bebe to his white-washed backroom and he sat her at a table with Crush. Crush sported a new smile made of solid gold. Vicious filled their hands with umbrella drinks and their heads with promises.

Crush asked if Vicious really cared about Crush's New Orleans. Bebe asked if they would get her daughter back.

"Yes," Vicious said. To load their clips and keep the choppers firing, he said, "Yes."

The choppers roared until no one was left to answer.

Matthew C. Funk is a social media consultant, professional marketing copywriter and writing mentor. He is the editor of the Genre section of the critically acclaimed zine, FictionDaily, and a writer for FangirlTastic and Spinetingler Magazine. M. C. Funk's work features at numerous sites online and in print with Needle Magazine, Howl, 6S and Crimefactory. He is represented by Stacia J. N. Decker of the Donald Maass Literary Agency.

23 comments:

David Barber said...

A great piece of writing, Matthew. Really enjoyed this and it fits perfectly on here. Top work and thanks for sending it over here. Well done!

Paul D. Brazill said...

Mr Funk, you pack a lot of good stuff into a 1000 words.

David Cranmer said...

My thoughts follow Mr. Brazill and I can only add well done.

Jimmy Callaway said...

Nobody writes New Orleans like Matty Funk. Fuckin' nobody.

AJ Hayes said...

Jimmy Lee Burke watch your back. There's a new guy in your town and, frankly dude, he's kicking your ass up one side of Desire and down the other. This thing BREATHES, Matthew. Knocks the reader to his knees. Don't matter how many words are takes when the story gets done right. This one's right. Cool.

Mike Miner said...

Beautiful writing. So many great lines.

Christopher Pimental said...

Fucking superb.

AC said...

Matthew, you've produced prose here that slices through the brain as swiftly and thoroughly as a well-maintained butcher's knife. Good work.

Chris Rhatigan said...

Kickass writing and an unflinching eye for detail. Callaway's right on--nobody writes New Orleans like Matthew Funk.

Joyce said...

Brutal and vile and right on the money. Life on the streets flows from corpse to corpse and to keep on living, one must keep on killing. Superb, Matthew.

Julia Madeleine said...

Cool. I really liked this one.

Benjamin Sobieck said...

Brutal, elegant and brilliant. These words cut right into the gray matter and fester like a bug. I'll still be thinking about this tomorrow.

Julie Lewthwaite said...

Just brilliant - I absolutely loved it.

Michael Solender said...

Rhythmic cadence that absolutely stings with precision. Lovely characters and finely chosen verbiage. Instant classic.

Harry said...

You damn sure left out the boring parts. Rat-a-tat-tat Mr. Funk!

Jesse Lee said...

Gritty with no punches pulled here. A fun read.

skees said...

Matt,

Terrific story. It read like the AK fires. Brutal, non-stop, heartless. So well done.

Lily Childs said...

Hard fucking core. I've read several of your pieces in the last couple of weeks and I can't get over your ability to suck the reader right into the heart of a place, of a situation. Absolutely brilliant writing - I want more.

Bill Baber said...

congrats on another great effort Mr. Funk...

kurtnewton said...

Brutal and grim. Excellent writing. Great stuff.

M. C. Funk said...

Awesome comments. Thank everyone for expressing their enjoyment, disquiet and consideration. You keep my clip loaded.

This took some doing to write. I'm convinced it paid off better than I had hoped.

Thanks for spending some time in Desire.

Jodi MacArthur said...

Cruel poetry and bites of a hard life between these lines. Your stories always make me think twice, Matt. Excellent.

wayne d. dundee said...

Tight, tough, enjoyable story. I knew that Cash was somewhere in the mix at the card game, but you caught me with the Stranger/Teeth twist. And it was a kick to see the Long Branch's "redhead" and "bartender" and then "Matt" and his "limping" deputy drift through the story.
The ending was harsh, but fitting to the time and the circumstances. Letting Doig suffer and then taking his scalp --- no matter whether or not it might seem justified by someone else's standards --- was perfectly suited to Cash and what we've come to expect from him.
Persevere --- WD