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A Minister of Kites
Last Whiteman Chapter 9
The best thing about working for a high and mighty prince who did nothing himself, like Yusef Allen—peace be upon his dead butt—is that he who did nothing, who was a bossy wastrel, never became much of a boss. For the lazy do not know what work is, like dragging some brat from out between its fat mamma and fatter granny in the middle of the motherchuckin' night!
However, there appears to be a long term problem with working for such wastrels—who by their lazy nature were easy to work for—that problem being, bad dude steps out of an old movie and catches the boss sittin' on his butt getting' stoned...and now some young thief has got a new boss, a boss who don't mess around—don't explain stuff either.
Problem was with a new boss—or at least this new boss—as the sharp but addled mind of Grope attempted to re-chart his limited cosmology, was that a man willing to work so hard to wreck everything and take it over and start from nothin', well, that motherchucker would set you hard to work knowing full well in his cruel heart that his man would suffer, and also that it could be done, and woe to the man who did not suffer as directed...
Such were the deepest and furthest-reaching musings on matters of high morality, civics, gainful employment and duty that had ever passed through the mind of Grope, who had been stolen as a boy himself...
'Oh Lord, what a mess this is,' thought Grope, as he gained the top of the roof only to see in the clear moonlight, that the fat man he had pick-pocketed and thereby doomed to death, was not even half-eaten by the rats and the crows, and that some twenty vultures from God only knew where now hovered like one many-faceted wing, about the mound of ruin, tearing and gobbling, some looking red-eyed over their non-existent shoulders at him, rather in warning than in fear. Scavenger kind had grown ever more bold even in the space of Grope's short span of life.
Grope gave the mass of birds a wide berth and took himself to the very corner of the roof and hunkered down. He knew what time the Tenties came to get their recompense for doing Officer Blatz business up on Officer Thompson's territory. So he had taken his time, not letting The New Man boss him quite as completely as he thought.
Grope settled in and unlimbered his wrist rocket, what got his squirrels and rabbits for dinner, and sometimes pranked Officer Thompson into filling out a report of a police being shot by a sniper. Thus pranked, the senior robot police commander in the Northeast would busy himself with the filing of his report while Grope broke what law needed broke to make it through the day.
He would never, ever try that stuff with Officer Blatz, who was one of the new models of super smart computer cops. That brought Grope to the question of the moment; 'What in hell are you doing going up against the Tenties, son?'
'I don't know—but I do; it's the right thing. The pimp militia and Yusef Allen's bullies are all done for. On this side of The Law the only games left is Tenties and Hinterlander...and so far as my butt knows Hinterlander don't eat no light-skinned negroes!'
The Tenties were Liberian refugees who had taken to cannibalism. They were called the Tenties, because they all lived in tents up off of Northern Parkway. They favored eating white men, saying it was the best meat. But you could not find much white around these days, so they usually settled for eating light-skinned fellows like Grope, children and women preferably. But they'd take anyone for their barbecue.
It the occurred to Grope, as he laid his marbles out and placed one in the pouch of his wrist rocket, that if the Tenties had been informed that there was a whiteman behind that side door, that they would be coming on strong. As if to accentuate that point, the vultures all suddenly beat wing and took flight as footfalls sounded all across the grassy church yard.
The Tenties would go right by the chickens and goats and come get a man to eat, in part, because Officer Blatz was not something that even twenty men wanted to mess with—a darned walking tank that was smarter than any man in Town, and had a bazooka on his shoulder to boot.
Grope counted ten by the time that the first five were stacked up by the door. The Tenties were dressed in t-shirts and jeans and wore knit hats on their nappy heads. They were armed with an assortment of bats, axes, knives, machetes, a hatchet, and even a bow and arrow!
One man was standing back with an arrow strung to his bow and Grope decided that he was the threat to the Hinterlander. So he drew his bead on that Liberian motherchucker and waited.
The first man, not the leader, but a short muscular dummy, pulled the bolt. Then the leader motioned for him to head in first while the leader—as most bosses do—pulled the door open from behind it, keeping out of harm's way as he fingered his big fire ax.
The door opened and three men pushed in with bats. One set of feet stayed at the doorway, but the body must have fell in because he could see the bottom's of the shoes. The short man was not seen. The second man staggered out clutching his bleeding belly and tripped over the feet in the doorway and fell curled up onto the weed-grown sidewalk.
There was now a semi-circled of men with axes and blades giving back. As soon as Grope saw the shadow stepping over the body he rocketed that glass marble into the side of the head of the bowman, and that sucker loosed his arrow all wrong and it went through the back of an ax-man, sticking out of his guts, while the transfixed man screamed in high-pitched horror—and the Hinterlander was out there, his back to the open door exploding heads with his big silenced auto.
Then the gun jammed, and with three men before him, armed with a knife, a machete and an ax, the bowman caught in the head again as he tried to reload and now making his escape, the Hinterlander threw his gun into the face of the machete man, knocking a gout of blood from his face and causing him to reel back, and then brought out his knife and pointy hammer and went for the others.
The problem, was the leader with the ax behind the door and grope dropped his third marble. As the tall Tenty, grinning from under his knit hat, came out from behind the door with his ax raised high, there came out from the rectory a working man, a light-skinned dude in a straw hat, with red beard and light skin, who went right for the ax man and caught the handle of that back-chopping weapon with a hammer and big screwdriver crossed like an X, then stabbed the astonished Tenty in the guts with the screwdriver and went to work with the hammer, like he knew what he was about.
The knife and hatchet men were down, one missing a hand and the other his head caved in. The Hinterlander was now ripping the guts out of the machete man with the pistol-chucked face and that left that bowmen limping away with his bow and arrows—'Grope would sure like a bow and arrow, Tenty,' and Grope let go a marble that hit that nappy head again, and that fellow was off and running, having dropped his bow and spare arrows, as he held his hands up about his pained head.
And the working man yet worried the moaning form of the leader, breaking him all to pieces and mush with that claw hammer.
Grope stood and grinned down at the Hinterlander, who was rising from the retrieval of his gun. The man sheathed his hand weapons and then nodded to Grope who could not help himself, and hissed in a gas of a whisper, “Hey, Bossman, dis crook neva knew how much fun bein' da good guys was, o' I mighta tried it fo now!”
The Hinterlander gave him the silence sign, and as the working man rose from his work, got to work on his gun, with which something seemed to be the matter. The silencer was soon unscrewed and cast aside in silent disgust and the slide was worked with some perplexity.
That was when Grope knew, the cold panic on the face of the Hinterlander over the malfunction of his gun, that his real caper was going to be getting the Police, that you couldn't very well deal with even the meat police without a gun, let alone “real” Robot Police.
With a snarl the Hinterlander tossed his gun onto the rat roost roof. As the working man straightened his hat and wiped off his tools on a dead man's T-shirt, the Hinterlander reached down and picked up the large machete of the man he had maybe ruined his gun on, and then turned to the working man, who handed him the heavy fire ax. This made the stranger look even more out of place, with a machete in his left hand and a big-ass ax in his right hand.
Grope was already down there snatching up a bow and some arrows, though getting the arrow out of the one guy was made more difficult by him not being entirely dead yet.
They then stood, the three of them, and and the Hinterlander saluted them both with his machete, nodded for them to head out into the market, in a manner that suggested that they didn't want to be around the Police Hostel. He then walked back into the rectory room, from where two great ax chops were heard, and then the creaking of a broken door.
“Oh, shoot, Workin' Man, it's on. Bes' ged our butts to da market. Buck 'ill put us up.”
As they began to walk around back, they heard a heavy flutter of wings above. Looking up they saw that the eves of the church and the bell tower was crowded with crows and vultures ready to go to work.
Grope and Working Man looked up above in the falling moonlight and then at each other. When the other shrugged his broad shoulders and opined, “Some body's getting fed,” Grope grinned, patted the man on his broad back, and for the first time in his life felt like he had a friend.
Maybe somehow they could help each other out.
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