I am a bad man. I wasn’t always, mind you. But I am now.
See, I could tell you all the things that have made me this way, I could tell you where the scars came from... but you don’t care. You probably wouldn’t believe me anyway. You all live in your happy worlds, your violence free, trouble-less enclaves where the birds are always chirping and the leaves are always green and it's always Friday. I don’t live there. Hell, I’ve never even seen the signs for it.
I could tell you. I could tell you what it’s like to believe all the lies. I could tell you what it’s like to be a little God fearing Catholic who is brought to Church every Sunday and put down on a knee to beg for forgiveness for things that you can't comprehend. I could tell you what it’s like to be told over and over by sickened, twisted priests that we are sinners, all of us, even me, and how you end up walking around as a twelve year old burdened by some great guilt that transcends the centuries. I could tell you, but you don’t care.
I could tell you what it’s like to have believed the greatest of lies, the lie that all nations purvey, that serving your country is glorious and honorable. I could tell you what it’s like to be 18 and invincible, to be charging hard across the Iraqi desert in a chopper going a hundred miles an hour looking down the barrel of an M-16. I could also tell you what it feels like when that chopper flips over because some asshole at the Pentagon never realized that the fine Muslim sands would burrow into the edges of the propellers, causing an imbalance that’s guaranteed to send the thing ass over tea kettle after a few missions. I could tell you what it looks like to have your buddy from boot camp sprayed all over you as he’s chopped in two, and the torso falls neatly away from the legs still crouched next to you. I could tell you how those guys feel about their purple hearts, walking around on fake legs with diced up forearms. I could tell you what the nightmares are like.
I could tell you what it’s like to be hopeful of a better life when you get out of the military, to go through the cop exams and do well and be proud. I could also tell you what it’s like to cradle your partner’s head in your lap as he spits up blood because of the bullet hole in his back from some scumbag nigger with a vendetta against cops in the slums of Newark. You watch his life drip down his blonde goatee, red, runny, and terrible, and it mixes with the tears falling from your eyes as he tells you to, “Please, please tell my daughter I love her.” That blood never comes off your hands, it sits there and burns like acid, it burns in your heart. I could tell you.
I could tell you what it’s like to walk into your home, the house you had built, and walk right in on your wife, your sweet angel of a girl who you loved since the first time you saw her, and see her riding the dick of that Jew she works with. I could tell you what it’s like to slam him against the wall, to make him eat the barrel of a glock, and tell him that if you ever see him again you will blow his throat out the back of his neck. I could tell you about the fear in his eyes when he pisses all over his half raised black suit pants, all over the carpet that I fucking put down. Motherfucker, I could tell you.
But you don’t care. I know you don’t. No, you never told me you don’t care. But I know. I know you don’t care because if you knew what I was about to do, if you were on the jury if I get caught, all you would read is, “Ex-cop with Mafia ties beats man with pipe.“ And then you’d vote guilty, cause you don’t give a shit where I came from or what I’ve been through, all you know is that you sure as hell would never do something like that, even if you had no other options after you got thrown off the Force for getting drunk and shooting up the bathroom at some shithole bar in Elizabeth. You know why? Cause you don’t understand what it’s like to know that no one gives a shit. You watch them kill each other in another country, cutting each other’s throats and strapping their kids with bombs, all over which imaginary friend is real. Then, you get back here after “serving your country“, and they’re blowing each other away under the streetlights over heroin. You never saw what happens when the stray bullet kills a baby’s single mother, or what happens when some drunk asshole lights his old lady’s house on fire cause she banged his brother. You never see the shit that’s left over. I have. Man, I could tell you.
You don’t know what it’s like to lose all your faith in humanity, to watch everyone die or ditch you. Oh, you might know what it’s like to lose everything. But you have no idea how if feels to stop caring if you get it back. It’s like getting to that point of dehydration where you stop sweating- it’s past the breaking point, and things are going downhill from here. Because if you realize that the world don’t care… then you stop caring back. And that’s how we get to where I am right now. That’s how we make a bad, bad fucking man.
The bar is a long rectangle with raised platforms inside it for the girls to dance on. You know the type- they only have this setup at places where room is scarce and the girls don’t speak English. I am sipping a rocks glass of Jack Daniels’. A little knockout with raven hair is dancing up there now with her back to me, rubbing her chest against the brass pole while "Last Dance with Mary Jane" plays over the speakers. She has hair like Jess. Just like Jess… it even moves the same way when she shakes her head, each hair flails individually-
She walks up behind me, wraps her arms around my chest with her long, fake white fingernails
I tighten my back. “Get the fuck off of me. You know what you’re doing tonight. Go get on it.”
I hear her sneer as she rolls her eyes. “Fine.” She saunters away, her black skin wrapped up in a blue dress and white fishnets, teetering on those ridiculous high heels.
I down some more whiskey, trying to stay somewhere near sober so I can do what I have to. My eyes are locked on her as she works her magic. She’s not a bad looking broad, with long, curly black hair framing her face. It’s not a face that looks like the rest of these women, with the wrinkles and lines and the hard shell of makeup, their futile attempt to make the years go away. I daresay she’s beautiful in the sad way that only strippers can be; you would do anything to get them out of there if you could trust them, but they’d put a knife in your back as soon as anyone else’s. The suckers that don’t realize this are the ones that get burned, and that ain’t me.
She told me once, “Give me a break. I hate doing this shit. I’m just down on my luck right now. ” I rolled my eyes.
“Fuck. Aren’t we all, honey?”
She’s flirting with a guy back by the pool tables. He’s a tall, blonde guy with a toothy grin wearing a pair of torn up jeans, a disgusting yellowed white t-shirt, and a green mesh hat. These hillbilly’s never cease to amaze me. How the hell can you walk out of the house looking like these guys do? At least put some gel in your hair if you’re trying to get laid tonight.
I can tell he’s putting on his game face, trying to work his Appalachian smoothness on this poor unsuspecting girl. He whispers in her ear, and she giggles and smacks him playfully. She makes the offer. He smiles. Bingo.
Ten minutes after they disappear out the back door, I order a double of Jameson and put it down, then drop a twenty on the bar and walk out. My truck is backed into a spot right near the highway, and I drop my hand in the bed as I walk by and take out the gunmetal gray pipe that was once on the bottom of a fencepost. I almost feel bad, I think, as the gleaming light from the illuminated yellowing sign reflects off the metal. I light a cigarette as I look up at it. “Centerstage: A Gentleman’s Club.” Right.
I turn the corner, and stop for a second and see the action going on against the building. It’s like clockwork. Her back is pressed up against wall, and she‘s standing like I told her to, keeping his attention on her while he lets her hands are working lower and lower. This guy is getting a good time out of this. I hope it’s worth it. She looks at me in the shadows, must know I‘m here. She’s impatient. I stomp out the cigarette.