"Hey buddy, got a light?"
:( "Shut up and let's do business!"
:) "Sorry, I don't smoke."
Just as he turned to walk away the other man said
"Yeah, this shit isn't good for me. I should quit."
"It's tough! Boy, I remember when I quit seven years ago." He made a gesture with his hand, slapping the air in a downward motion.
"Well, good night."
"Hang on man. You live in 5C right?"
"I'm in 9C, next to the Dickissers."
"Oh really? Sorry I didn't recognize you. Yeah, I know Mr. Dickisser. Such a nice guy."
"He is, and so is his whole family. Such quiet and polite people. He helped me move my couch last month."
The smoker extended his right arm
"John. Pleased to meet you. Your name is quite interesting…"
"Yeah, it was my father's. He wasn't from around here. I guess Mr Dickisser isn't the only one with an exotic name. He must be from Europe."
"Ah, Europe!I always wanted to go there. My wife bugs me all the time about it too."
"So why not take a trip?"
"We're planning a trip to Hawaii this year. You know: sun, surf, tiny umbrella drinks."
The men share a laugh.
"I better buy bread before it closes. Nice meeting you, Xardas.”
"Relax man. They ain't closing soon."
"Actually they close in ten minutes. See, it says on the door that-"
"I work here man. Just got the job, it's my first day."
"Oh, well um… So when do you plan on closing?"
"Pff, I don't know. Later."
"You sure? You might get in trouble."
"It's cool. With this rain, I don't expect anyone to show up."
John studied the man facing him.
"You don't have lighters in the store?"
Xardas pulled out a pack of smokes and lit up.
"I just wanted some company. It's boring out here. Hope I didn't piss you off."
"No, it's just weird. I mean it would have been if you didn't know me or live around here."
"Weird? Why? Oh, you're one of those modern babies, the generation born in the late ‘90s."
"Haha, you know I get that a lot these days."
Xardas flicked the remaining cigarette into neatly arranged flower pots.
"So what you wanna buy?"
"Just some bread and beer."
"Come on in."
Both men entered the store. The echo of that little dinky bell lingered as they made their way to the cool box. Xardas popped open two beers and handed one to John. They drank and shared a few laughs and promised to see each other again. They both had an interest in sports and the store had a nice tv. So on game night, in the late hours, John would stop by the store.
He made his way up the stairs to his apartment, bread loaf in hand. Just as he was fiddling to find his keys, an older gentleman greeted him.
“Good evening John!”
“Oh, hello mister Dickisser. Didn’t see you there.”
“Please, call me Dick. How’s the wife?”
“Fine, thank you. She needed bread for sandwiches so I just went to the store. And how’s the misses and son?”
“Ah, just fine. They’re excited about our upcoming trip to Europe. We have family there, in Europe.”
“You don’t say...Hey Dick, would you like to come over with your family some time for coffee and cake? My wife would love to hear all about Europe and the culture and food. She keeps bugging me to vacation there.”
“But of course. I’d love to. My lovely wife will bring some of her famous sponge cake. Have you had it yet?”
“Yes, she brought some the day we moved in. She’s lovely. Oh and so are you, Dick. “
“Haha, thanks, neighbor! I’ll let you get back home. Don’t forget, Sunday's the big game. Go cows!”
“Hey about that...Would you like to see it together? Me and Xardas, the store clerk, we’re planning on seeing it at the corner store.”
“Wow, he has that big tv set. What is it, a 65 inch 4k?”
“An 82 inch 8k beast.”
“Son, you know I’ll be there. If it’s ok with him that is.”
“It is. He told me he likes you. Xardas said you helped him carry his couch.”
“Excellent! Then it’s settled. See you boys there!”
"Calm down fool. This is my spot, everybody knows me, Xardas the Wizard. My shit’s pure magic.You looking to buy some?"
"Yeah, check it out. The store is open. Chicco, shut the fuck up! Fucking mutt…"
The pitbull yanked his chain spewing foam left and right, demonic growls coming from the beast.
"How much?" His tone was dangerous.
"Get fucked! I'll give you fifty bucks. Hand over the stuff."
"Yeah right, get outta here you bitch-"
Before he could continue, John punched him hard in the throat, only to get his leg bit. John desperately reached inside his pocket and pulled out a phillips-head screwdriver. He drove the shank clean through the pitbull's skull, dropping the thing limp on concrete. The drug dealer staggered to his feet, wheezing and coughing. John still fueled by fear quickly tackled him to the ground, smashing his head repeatedly. Xardas stopped moving. John frantically searched his pockets and found drugs; lots of drugs. The heavy rain continued its downfall as John staggered up the stairs to his apartment. His leg hurt like hell and he could barely limp, but nothing would stop him. Not when he was so close to getting his fix. Using teeth to tear open two bags, he heated a spoon and shot up. Time flowed much slower, the pain in his leg faded away. John’s mind settled, his ears ceased ringing, his skin felt cool and relieved. Everything was right again. John lay there, head on his couch cushion as blood slowly oozed out of his leg. In the flat’s hallway, someone was making a ruckus, spewing threats and kicking down his door.