The Man Who Knew Jack Shit

“Have you ever been to the opera?”

The dreadful little knife was being heated slowly by the candle.

“Have you ever thought to just can the bull and just kill me, you dumb sack of shit?”

It wasn’t bravery, Ben had bravery but that was gone in the first hour. Ben was in an angry place and he was probably going to die there. In the basement of a house, on a street where no one cares, the worms had much better odds than the cops.

“Oh, I do believe you can tell me more than that.”

It was a caping knife: pointless, small and very sharp. This was the type of thing you could buy in any sporting goods store. If there was a word for the instrument it would be precision, existing only to relieve an animal of its hard won skin. In the shaking hands of the Mediterranean man, there was no such elegance; it was just a cutting thing. It entered Ben’s arm with no care for veins or muscles. It cut deeply.

The scream Ben had went inwards, down into his own body like a swallowed hiccup. With every ounce of will, he stared into those hazel eyes that were trying to look anywhere else. What pissed Ben off more than anything, was that both knew that the man of olive had screwed up: Ben was no spy.

Sure, he could understand the mentality; trust no one and assume anyone and everyone. Ben (a pasty white flabby creature with the reaction speed of a pigeon) could very well be the last person you’d suspect. However, when found in the megaplex bathroom, he proceeded to piss himself the moment he felt something press against the small of his back. He then proceeded to piss himself twice more as the night went on.

The hard thing that had pressed against Ben was a Luger pistol or at least a clone there of. It was sitting on the table not two feet to the right of Ben. Ben was trying to figure out what the caliber was. Little things were slipping from him and details were so important. As long as he could keep his mind going, he’d stay here and not just drift away. Three feet in front of Ben, the little bearded asshole was desperately trying to think of a question he hadn’t already asked.

Ben had heard of Capistrano but he’d never been called a swallow before. To Ben, the ETA was just the time planes were supposed to arrive. Ben did know why buying two tons of manure might be considered suspicious but so did every 12 year old in the United States. Also, he didn’t buy two tons of manure. In fact, he had never gardened in his life. No, he wasn’t aware that royalty was coming to his fair city. He also disagreed with the word fair.

He was however, suddenly aware that the wooden arm his right hand was strapped to was being held on to the rest of the chair by faith in a higher power. With a couple seconds of wiggling he was loose. Before the bit of furniture hit the ground, Ben had a gun. As the annoying fuzzy torturer turned, the trigger was pulled.

Slowly Ben made his way to where the knife fell. Ever pace was searing pain as his left arm pushed against the rope. He took the terrible swift blade and cut to make himself free. Two paces further, there sat Ben’s former captor.


The man moaned desperately pointing at the pistol. Ben took a small cellphone out of the man’s manbag.

“Uh-huh. Quid Pro Quo. You give me address, I give you death.”

“No, I give me death, I give you address too. Bargain.”

“ Why on Earth would I trust you?”

“There’s a towel in my bag. Grab it, wrap it around your left arm. Don’t die.”

“Unless you shoot me.”

“No guarantees, except death.”

“And taxes.”


“I guess not.”

Ben grabbed the gun from the chair and threw it to the spook. With an “oof” the gun was caught.

“952 Grant.”

Ben sat back into the chair, sort of feeling a full circle, or maybe just an ellipse. 9-1-1. For a moment the cellphone chugged but then it recognized the number.

“Operator, I’m at 952 Grant. Cut up pretty bad in the basement. I think the door is locked.”


“Oh, no. That was just my friend. Don’t worry, he’s dead now. But I’m still free to talk.”