I looked like shit. But a shotgun blast to the face’ll make any guy look like shit though, right? The doctors said I wouldn’t make it. If I did, I’d be a freak. At least that’s what I heard before they put me under and I awoke weeks later from a coma. They wouldn’t let me look at myself for a while. Not until the swelling had went down. They were adamant about that part. When I finally got a peek it was bad. More than bad. It looked like I’d been face-fucked by a chainsaw. A burst of buckshot had made a chaotic mess of the flesh. Deep furrows marred the spot where the meat had been blown away. My bottom jaw had to be remolded and screwed back into place. By chance I still had my sight and half my teeth but now I talked like I had a wad of chew packed between my lips. The surgeons patched me up as best they could, even if that meant half my skull was now made of metal.
The only thing I remember being after seeing myself was pissed. I punched out a few mirrors to say the least. I mean I wasn’t pretty before, but now? Christ. I belonged among lepers.
The cops said they didn’t know who’d done it but that was total shit. The bastards. Of course they knew. Even after I’d healed and the PTSD took hold and I awoke in cold sweats, I knew. Unfortunately for me I hadn’t seen the prick coming until it was too late.
Truth was the cops around here were a herd of dirty squealers with hooves that’d been finely greased. Even the good ones had their hands tied in fear of retaliation. So I took it as a sign. Because sometimes in life you got to be your own cop.
Sure, I could’ve let the bad guy get away with it. It would have been easier for sure. But I knew the asshole well enough to know that if I pushed my case with the cops it’d only be a matter of time before he came gunning for me again. And this time he’d make sure I was dead. So I bit my tongue, healed, and waited.
The gunman’s name was Shannon Costa. A conman and mobster with a penchant for sadistic violence. What made him significant was that he also happened to be cousins with Frank Costa, the chief of police of our trigger-happy town. And both were friends with the mayor. This worked well for all parties because while Shannon extorted every grey-area business in the district all anyone had to do was turn a blind eye while waiting for a kick-up. That game played out great ‘til the day Shannon came knocking on my liquor store door.
Shannon had his palm outstretched when I told him straight out to fuck off.
“You’re itching for an accident, O’Mara,” he told me. His temples pulsed at my defiance. He perched a palm on the counter’s edge, fingers drumming, and leaned in. He wasn’t a big guy but he thought he was the shit in this town. The sad truth of it was that he was probably right.
I spoke not a word. Instead I stared him down and considered the loaded Taurus beside my hand beneath the countertop.
Shannon said nothing. He just threw me a damning look then cracked a smile like it was all a joke and shrugged. Then he left. I didn’t see him again ‘til I ate a face-full of buckshot the following night.
Poor Shannon. He should’ve double-tapped. Because now, a new out-of-state address and a year later, I was well enough to pay him a visit.
I was camped in a dense thicket that lined Shannon’s sprawling countryside property. I’d been tailing him for days when I finally caught him alone. If he had one I would’ve bet big money his dating profile mentioned he liked long walks through the woods since that’s exactly what he was doing when his eyes met the sights of my Bushmaster BA50.
I pinched the trigger. A blast echoed into the open air and his head disappeared. Well, disappeared wouldn’t exactly be an apt way to put it. Burst and fragmented might paint a better visual. Either way it popped, pouring forth a river of red onto the forest floor. His dead weight hit the dirt.
I picked up the shell casing and threw the rifle in my truck. I was already packed up to split. I could’ve taken my time with Shannon but what was the point? I wasn’t a sadist. But this town needed to be scrubbed clean and I didn’t care what happened to me in the end—death or prison be damned—so I was just the man for the job.
I didn’t bother wiping Shannon’s hamburgered ass up off the ground or burden myself with hiding him. I had a list of his connections and anyone who gave a shit about him would be dead by tonight anyhow. The Chief of Police. The mayor. Anyone Shannon had so much as winked at to suck him off would pay. Not just for what they helped Shannon get away with in my case—that prick was a mere cog in the wheel of this town—but for orchestrating the worst hierarchy of corruption this area had ever seen.
Sure I could’ve called up the attorney general’s office. Let them know this place was full of rotten pukes and watch it all unfold on TV as they brought the smack-down on anyone who got caught with their dick out. But in the end, truth is, a trigger squeeze is much more sweeter than seeing someone get the cuffs slapped on them on the six o’clock news. Especially when you’re the one holding the gun.