27 ounces of forged steel terminating in a four-inch bull barrel pressed against the youth’s head.

Swart and reeking of three days worth of B.O., lean and vicious, the youth was bent over gasping and retching.

“I really don’t give a shit,” Marcus said, breath strained, a little heavy, “but getting paid, making the bread. Heaven forbid I get a bad rep in the business.”

The youth shock his downcast head and laughed. “Yo, pinky ass tink I gives here shit fo’ yo mofo job sitch? Pink slash inside fosho I ain’t.”

Marcus launched a kick into the youth’s side, toecap catching the youth’s floating ribs. A sharp crunch broke into the dew heavy dew night air.

Marcus dropped into street patois, “Saya you got dem here idees in dat fuck happy nappy head makin’ dis ting shit pers’nl, niqqa. Keep dat dik deep in da dirt.”

The walkie at Marcus Sears’ hip blared, “Post four, report?”

Marcus kept his front sight trained on the youth’s head. “Post one, post four reporting intruder detained at gunpoint. It’s the PNG. What’s the word?”

“Checking with the boss now, post two is coming to back you up. Post one out.”


The day had started off as one of those common spring days. Marcus Sears (Capt. USCA ret.) woke to the many merry and varied songs of the birds coming in and out of the gusting of the wind. That all too bright, all too new sunlight filtered through the crumbling tattered blinds and faded green curtains. Marcus clambered off his futon. Knees and low back popped in time as tendons and ligaments warmed up. He opened the window to soak in the sun. His gaze fell over the surrounding buildings, half of them abandoned, slender saplings and green seas of moss flecked in their white caps of bird shit growing on their decaying asphalt roofs.

As he brewed his instant coffee, his neighbors on the other side of the wall were having one of their pathetic druggie fuck sessions. Five minutes of halfhearted heavy grunting, a few sharp yelps punctuating the kabuki screwing. Marcus downed his wooden-tasting brew and got to his routine.

He rotated everything from his neck to his knees. Somewhere between kihon and kata practice, his mind wandered over those greened rooftops, somewhere through the 40 years when he threw his first punch to now.

Snapping back to the present, he began the Sanchin kata. Every muscle tensing, Marcus worked through the darting and crisp hand strikes, a sharp exhalation, a pause of breath, holding each punch and knife hand at the extreme, building the energy in each limb from his knuckles to his toes.

I just had to take some pick up work for this weekend.

“Fucking damn it.”


Ryder’s bell rung as Marcus walked in and took a seat at the counter. The usual late morning crowd was there. Officer Phillips in his dusty leather patrol jacket. Sammy against the back wall, nose buried in a tablet: Ryder’s had semi-reliable Wi-Fi. Jen doing the same whirling dance from table to counter to table, somehow not getting the greasy shit they called “food” on her immaculate uniform. Marcus sat next to Officer Phillips.

“Morning, Marcus,” he said and sipped his coffee.

“Phillips, all quiet on the Western front this week?”

“No fucking way. Remember that youth riot two days ago?”

“Heard some chatter on the CB about it—” Marcus caught the attention of the waitress. “Jen, I’ll take the usual.”

“Be right up, Cap,” she said as she retrieved a coffee pot.

“Thanks.” Marcus turned back to Officer Phillips. “The riot, were you mixed up in it?”

“Yep.” Phillips slipped his phone from the counter to his pocket. “Got real nasty, division called out the APCs, GPMGs tore the crowd to shreds. People’s Square looked like San Bernardino. 18 killed, 60 injured. Check carefully and you’ll find pieces of them in the gutters.”

“Riots ain’t like they used to be,” Marcus said.

“No they ain’t,” Phillips said in agreement, “you ever been in a riot?”


“Back on active service?”

“Arty is never in the shit, shells lay the smack down on rioters. Kind of pointless to loot once you blow apart all the standing structures.”

Officer Phillips furrowed his brow. “Really? Then when were you in one?”

“It’s kind of a story.”

“Do tell; I’m on break until I get a call over the radio.”

Marcus leaned in closer. “Remember back when the boog was ramping up? I was living in Memphis at the time, part owner in a cigar shop with some Army buddies doing me a favor. Summer of ‘24, half the country still unemployed, but we had a steady trickle of business, just enough to stay respectable. Then some cop shot an unarmed punk, I can’t even remember his name, and the whole city went up in flames. Including my shop. So on the second night of riots, I got my old deer rifle and went hunting. It was almost too easy, the cops had pulled out ‘to give those who wished to destroy space.’”

Jenn set down Marcus’ bacon and eggs with a side of sliced orange.

Marcus’ eyes went dark.


It was a muggy summer night in Memphis. Marcus edged closer to the building’s corner, sticking close to the shadows. Not hard to do; the only light in this part of the city was the fires.

Someone had cut the power.

Scraping the balls of his feet close to the earth, he nudged debris out of his path, silently stalking.

Marcus carefully flicked the sweat from his eyes to not wipe away the homemade black grease paint. Ahead in the leaping shadows, a group of rioters and looters were cavorting.

Harsh cries and shrill screams of delight echoed off the surrounding buildings at a barricaded section of the street.

Acrid smoke from a burning building filled the street.

“Yeah! Yeah!”


“Did you see?”

“Nigga, yeah.”

Marcus knelt at the burnt-out hulk of a van and slipped his Ruger scout rifle into position. In the scope, he counted twelve people, men and women, milling about jerking each other off in congratulations.

He lit the reticle.

He settled it on the largest silhouette: a shirtless fat black guy in a do-rag drinking a fifth of bourbon. Marcus watched the sweat gleam off the man’s body, his unsteady gait, mouth opening and closing, the babble reaching Marcus’ ears a split second later. Marcus could even make out the man’s shoes: Nike Air Force Ones.

Marcus moved on to an athletically built man, also shirtless, carrying an AR-15 clone. This man was talking to a group of four other men and their girls. The man made dramatic gestures drawing in his listeners.

Marcus placed his finger on the trigger, inhaled and exhaled slowly until the pause once he let out all his breath.

A glimmer of firelight caught the man’s face in full.

Marcus placed the crosshairs on his chest.

He squeezed the trigger.

The recoil jarred against his shoulder.

He settled his scope back on the target.

Motherfucker down.

Gunshots erupted from the group.

Marcus opened both his eyes. Down the block, gun shots were booming. He moved his muzzle a few degrees to the right and found the shooter.

Closing one eye, Marcus aimed again and sent a quiet pill downrange.

Center of mass.

Clean kill.

The group ran.

Towards Marcus.

Marcus worked the bolt and lined up another shot. Then another, then another, then another, and another.

When they got within 20 yards, Marcus scurried into the nearest trashed-out building.

Bold, two of the fleeing men stood before the empty windows.

One screamed out, “You in there, motherfucka? I see you.” And fired a round into the darkness.

No you don’t, Marcus thought and shouldered the rifle.

“Yo! Git yo’ monkey ass out here and face us like a man!” the other shouted and fired blind.

A 150-grain bullet ripped through his guts in answer.

His buddy sprinted the fuck out.

The gut-shot rioter rolled on the ground, moaning.

After a minute, Marcus came out. Looking about, he saw he was alone. No one else but the corpses and the dying rioter.

The rioter focused his eyes long enough to see Marcus emerge dressed in black, slinging a rifle.

“Motherfucka. Git me an ambulance. It hurts.”

Marcus watched closely at the thick blood gushing out of the rioter’s abdomen.

Kneeling, Marcus thrust his face right into the man’s. “You hear that? Right. No sirens. I just blew away a major artery anyways. You’ll be dead inside of five minutes, hurting every second.” Marcus stood up and walked away, saying, “I wouldn’t even waste another bullet on your ass. Suffer, motherfucker.”


“I nailed seven of them. They ran they ran right into my field of fire. I got my space to destroy,” Marcus said. “I wasn’t the only that got that kind of idea. The next night, someone set fires in Shelby while downtown was being torn up.”

Officer Phillips remained silent.

Marcus’ face drooped in resignation and he mechanically fed his food into a slack mouth.

Officer Phillips’ radio squawked, “Demonstration at Smithson and 8th Avenues, all units in area respond.”

“That’s me. See you later, Marcus. Take it easy,” Officer Phillips said and left.

“Nothing’s ever easy,” Marcus mumbled to his eggs.


Ghosting through the bluish pools of LED spotlights, post two approached Marcus. Only the slightest rustle of his dark gray windbreaker announced post two approach. He stopped short of Marcus’ position.

From a well of darkness, he regarded them, chuckling.

“Niqqa fucked up this time. Third time’s a charm, eh?” post two said.

He stepped into the light, a man of medium height, medium complexion, unexceptional. All in all except for his wolfish grin and granite-hard eyes.

He went on, “So if boss decides to adjudicate, you want to do the honors? I’ll let you have it, old timer. I figure you could use the bonus cash.”

Marcus holstered his 1911, resting his hand on the butt of the pistol. “Oh yeah, bonus cash is always good. Take a mini-vacation from shitheads like PNG here.”

“Yo niqqa! I rite here, yo see me? ‘Cause I hear you,” the youth said.

Post two put a foot on the youth’s ass and pressed his dick further into the dirt.

“You gave up all legal protections once you trespassed onto clearly marked private property, so shut the fuck up. Two warnings is more than generous. In Shantytown, you know you’d be dead already.”

“Yo, I didn’ do shit. Yo boss like playin’ wit this big black dick!”

Post two leaned towards the youth. “Love’s fleeting glory.”

The radio burst to life, “Post two, post four, boss says he will pay a bonus of a grand to whoever wants to adjudicate.”

Post two looked at Marcus. “The honor’s yours. You couldn’t pay me enough to touch this cum dumpster.”

“Fine,” Marcus said as he slipped his arms underneath the youth’s armpits and clasped his hands behind the kid’s neck.

The youth thrashed and kicked out. Marcus hauled him to his feet, applying more pressure to the back of his neck.

Arms flailing like a retarded chicken, the youth said, “Dafuq yo doin’, gay pinky bitch, gonna buttfuck me?”

“You wish,” Marcus said and pressed his hands down on the youth’s neck until his spine gave and his chin ground into his chest.

The flapping and kicking stopped; the youth’s head lolled about on a wet noodle neck.

“Dafuq you’d do to me?”

Marcus said, “You have the rest of your life to figure it out,” and let go, allowing the youth to collapse in a boneless heap.

“Ooooh, I wouldn’t have thought of that, I would’ve sliced his Achilles’ tendons,” post two said.

“So where do we dump him?” Marcus asked.

“On the street, what do I care? Just somewhere off the property.”

Marcus grumbled, “Just get me my money.”

“No prob. Boss has cash on hand. The butler will dole it out at the end of shift.”

Dragging the youth under his arms, Marcus opened the alley gate and deposited the limp form in the middle.

As he turned to go back, the youth spurted something, “Yo, know who be my big brotha?”

Marcus turned and shot the youth a hard look. “Yeah, sure. He’s the guy that fucked your shit in when you were ten years old.” He strode inside, slamming the gate.