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Fine Dining in Baltimore

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A.

“He took it all, the bitch guard did. Only get real food a few days a week and this guard was talking about contraband like we could dig our way out of here using some burgers.” Bey walked into the cell already mad. Shit, Avon was too. He had been looking forward to that shit.

“I mean, like what the fuck.” Avon stretched his legs out until they touched his sink, kicked against it twice in irritation.

“I know, I tried, man, but that man, Bronson, he ain’t got any flex to him yet.” Bey was looking all down and shit, but it wasn’t his fault this guard didn’t know what was what, or more importantly, who was who.

“Yeah, but he is only being such a punk ass bitch because he too new. Fuck that,” Avon said.

“So what’s the problem with that? We'll teach him.”

“The problem is that there be too much new around here. We old, Bey. Old news, old strength. Who know what the fuck we will be by the time Bronson or who the fuck ever learns to bend. Ancient history, maybe. But new, new never ends, just keeps coming.” Avon circled his hand, like the spin of rims in his old ride.

“Yeah, well, old or not, I gots to eat, you know what I’m saying? The caf might not have good fries, but it does a decent tater salad?”

“Nah.” Avon waved Bey out of his cell.

No way he was going down to the cafeteria with the rest of them. ‘Separation of the powers from the pawns, motherfucker,’ String had always explained it. Avon just tilted his head back and closed his eyes, listening to the grumble of his stomach.

 


B.

“Motherfucker. It is colder out here than that bitch from the bar last week, you know the one.” Bunk clutched his coat more closely as he ducked past Kima into the bar.

“The Bunk got no love from her, I take it.”

“No fucking Bunk love, or love of Bunk fucking to be had from that fine female. What is wrong with people, I ask you, that a fine-looking gentleman like myself can’t get some motherfucking pussy?” Bunk grinned as he grabbed the menu. “They all playing for your team now, I bet.”

“I am sure that is exactly why you failed to close the deal.” Kima summoned over the barkeep with a flick of her finger. Girl might prefer the charms of her fellow women, but she sure could wrap some men right around that little finger of hers when she saw fit. Bunk supposed it was the curls. Or maybe the gun. That did it for some men. He preferred the softer ones, himself.

“We eating or just drinking?” Kima asked after ordering them some brews.

“I need some food to make it through a winter this cold.”

“I don’t know, looks like you got enough insulation to me,” said Kima, laughing at her own joke.

“Well ha-ha-ha to you too.” Bunk paused, feeling the telltale vibration from his pocket. Pulling the phone out cemented his suspicion. “Well fuck me.”

“You up?”

“Apparently the murders in this city don’t see fit to pause so I can get some food in my belly,” said Bunk setting a bill on the table for the brew he hadn’t even had a chance to sip.

 


C.

Carver had expected the paperwork. Oh, he hadn’t expected how fucking much of it there would be to do, but he had had an idea.

What hadn’t ever passed his mind was the fucking politics. Police station politics, juicing the stats, motherfucking careerist pricks just trying to run up the ladder faster than they piss, oh, yeah, sure, whatever.

But not this. Not standing around in his dress uniform making nice to all the politicians. He felt like a Dress Me Up Police Doll being played with by a pack of ridiculous politicians who were trying to be Machiavellian. This was such a fine use of his time too. But it would get him the money for those extra hours for his men.

Maybe then they could do some real police work while Carver was doing this play acting bullshit. He smiled widely and nodded at, well, someone. Daniels gave him crib notes on the players, but Carver didn’t really care enough to study them.

What he would love to examine up close were some of those trays of hors d'oeuvres, but fuck it. He had another one of these lovely functions tomorrow and no time to get his blues dry-cleaned in the meantime, and there is no way he could eat one of those without getting shit all over himself. He just watched until the waiter passed him by, and then set off to OT pay.

 


D.

Dukie didn’t hate winter for any of the reasons you were supposed to. It wasn’t that the holidays were coming in close he didn’t know where the fuck his parents ran off to and his friends kept moving farther and farther away from him. It wasn’t even the way the cold got down into his bones until he felt 116 rather than 16.

People gave him money in the winter. He don’t know why they did. Maybe it was the way he had no flesh, only bones with bits of skin stretched over them. He didn’t have a sign or nothing. But every time the weather started getting cold, people started giving him cash. He shouldn’t hate winter when he got his bliss so often.

But he did. It was the smell that bothered him. He knew he stank, had always known about that. It was just a way of life. There goes that stank ass Duquan. When he was real little it had made older women coo, but now they could tell that the scent was on him. Not just the smell itself, but the blame for it, that was on him now, too.

He didn’t notice it anymore, at least not usually. But in the winter all he smelled was the cold; that was, until he walked into a building. Then it rose up like a swamp monster, thick as mud. Dukie took one step into the soup kitchen before backpedalling from it.

The scent was just too much after the relief of the winter air. The crispness, the freshness, being ripped away, that was why he hated winter. He breathed in deep once he was outside again. His stomach rumbled a bit, almost prompting him to go back inside, but some lady had dropped him a five earlier. He had a different hunger to feed.

 


E.

In the cemeteries, the earthworms of Baltimore feasted. They never had to go hungry.