All Guests Must Be Announced – Ch. 23

Gerry did not sneak around the halls or creep around in the shadows of 534. He made no attempt to conceal himself or to quietly land the service elevator, having missed the intended floor, then descended back down before lining up the elevator perfectly. Unfazed with no second thought he entered 8A through the front door into Pruitt Abruzzi’s parents’ upscale apartment. A modernist architectural torture chamber.

Gerry walked in like he owned the joint. Pruitt’s $900 Gucci sneakers were in the middle of the foyer. We knew how much the ugly kicks cost Pruitt because he made it a point to offer up the price tag. Braggart. Blowhard. Egotist. Pruitt overshared the worth of all his possessions. Gerry kicked them aside. The whole apartment was painted white with a hint of a warm purple. Furniture that looked intentionally uncomfortable sparsely occupied space in the austere living room where Pruitt was seated. It had the feel of a museum and the chemical scent of an operating room. 

The art that hung on the wall was curated by Miriam, Pruitt’s mother. One piece was a large photograph of a mare drinking water from a trough. Another piece was a black and white picture of a couple ringing in the new year beneath a disco ball in a club in the ‘70s. Both pieces sat in ostentatious gold frames by Versace. They bookmarked the giant flat screen television, the most recent top of the line tv on the market that hung across from the couch where Pruitt sat. Of course, we knew how much it cost. He watched Natural Born Killers, blaringly loud, it was the scene where Mickey and Mallory were surrounded by snakes after killing the Shamen. Aren’t we all surrounded by snakes?

Gerry walked into the living room and stood in front of Pruitt’s line of sight. “I love this movie. Great performances from Harrelson and Lewis. The chemistry between those two. Fucking magical. Can you pause it?”

“What the fuck are you doing in my apartment?” Pruitt asked. 

“It’s not really your apartment. None of these things are truly yours. Know what I’m saying?”

“The fuck it’s not,” said Pruitt, standing up. “Are you out of your fucking mind, Gerry? How does early retirement sound? This is going to be your last shift. Get the fuck out of here.” 

“Aye. It’s been suggested. Are you going to go and call your Daddy? Early retirement doesn’t sound too bad now that you’ve mentioned it. But I’m here cause your father, old Maxwell, wanted me to come up and have a little heart to heart with you.”

“He did?” asked Pruitt, puzzled. 

“No. No, just having a laugh. He has too much pride for that.” 

“Real fucking funny. I’m not going to ask you again. Get out!”

Gerry removed his Leatherman from his pocket and opened the 2.6 inch stainless steel blade. “Sit the fuck down. You’re a vile, irresponsible young man. Shallow and manipulative. Your lack of remorse is offensive. Your lack of empathy is insulting.” Pruitt sat. Gerry pulled the coffee table back a foot, and sat across from him, Gerry was within arms length. 

“It’s always a shame when you hear about someone having every advantage and they’re just a waste of life. Your very existence infuriates me. You know between us, I always hoped one of those girls that runs out of the building with their make up streaked from crying would eventually open you up. You know what I mean? Get you good. Emasculate you from sack to sternum. I would have loved for that to happen. You could argue lapse of judgment or whatever bullshit excuse for your behavior that you can conjure up. But you know better. Mickey and Mallory,” said Gerry, thumbing to the television behind him. “They killed for the thrill of it. I like that, in that it’s not real, it’s purely entertainment. In real life I don’t like to see innocent people harmed. You see in my experience. I have harmed people. I killed them for money. That wasn’t right, but…”

“I have money. I have money. I can pay you whatever you want. Name your price.”

“Let me finish. It was merely a transaction, a service, but to quote a fellow Queens guy, Chris Walken, ‘I never killed anybody that didn’t deserve it’. I like the idea of revenge. I liked that I could fulfill that dream for people. It was a job but I was happy in my work. Modern technology made me walk away from that life. Too risky for the price. Know what I mean? It’s funny since I hung up my cutlery, I have been compiling an extensive list of repulsive people that in the event that I got sick, and I have, I would check all the names on my list off. Maybe it’s maturity. I don’t know. But some of those names are gone already, some don’t matter the way they once did, and others are getting pardoned. Recent personal events galvanized the impetus to have a chat with you.”

“You’re not going to kill me?”

“No, silly boy. I’m not going to kill you. But I want you to know how close death was. So fucking close for you, man. I wanted you to know that based on your actions, those things that you have done, you most certainly deserved what I had in store for you, son. I mean I would have given you the works but I don’t even have my doctor bag with me. I want you to understand how painful this could have been for you. There is a lesson here. It’s very Dickensian.”

“I’m sorry.”

“I almost believe you but sorry doesn’t cut it.” 

Gerry grabbed Pruitt’s face with his left hand and quickly punched the Leatherman into Priutt’s throat, a $30 knife, puncturing Pruitt’s carotid artery, worthless, despite having a high existence value on paper. The blade entered the throat vertically. Gerry thought of the Harley-Davidson Softail he rode back in ‘86 and ripped the throttle, turning the blade horizontal inside Pruitt’s scrawny neck and pulling the serrated edge forward, cutting outward through the superior belly of the omohyoid and sternohyoid muscles, leaving a messy gash in his neck. Pruitt choked, coughed and gurgled copious amounts of blood, spraying all over Gerry, his uniform and the now ruined $10,000 Duncan Phyfe style couch. The crimson overpowering the baroque french white fabric of the cushions where Pruitt’s body laid breathless. 

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