“This isn’t a card game.”
“Wadda we do?”
“Let’s see what happens.”
Eddie and Joey, standing in a darkened storeroom with its door slightly ajar, watched the goings-on in the basement of an old church in the Whitestone section of Queens. The concrete floor had faded painted lines on it. A sagging, netless basketball hoop hung at each end of the room. The ceiling was lined with rusted pipes. In one corner a black guy in a pale blue turban was steadily tapping a bongo drum. The only light came from candles on chairs set up along the walls. In the middle of the room a group of black and Hispanic-looking people, men and women, were milling quietly, talking in whispers. Some were holding candles. Several of the women were smoking cigars, the smoke wafting above the crowd. Some had woven baskets on their heads. Others had white bandanas on their foreheads with flowers stuck to the front. Most of the men had white paint surrounding their eyes and mouths, like cheap Halloween masks. A black and white goat was tied to a rope on the far wall.
“What’s that goat doing here?” said Eddie.
“All this shit going on, and that’s what you’re concerned about?” said Joey.
“I don’t like it,” said Eddie.
“Did you remember to feed your cat this morning?”
“Fuck you, Joey.”
“I don’t know what the goat’s doing here,” Joey said.
“I think you were misled.”
“Misled? That’s cute. I’ll kill that fucking Tito.”
“Never trust a drug addict.”
“Look,” said Joey.
An older man dressed in a long white robe had entered the room followed by two young women in similar robes. They walked directly into the middle of the milling people, who opened a path for them and then spread out to form a ring around them.
“They’re gonna do the hokey-pokey,” said Eddie.
“That fucking Tito’s a dead man.”
“Oh, no,” said Eddie.
The high priest had nodded to one of his assistants and she had untied the goat and was walking it into the circle. When she got there, the head guy drew a machete from underneath his robe and placed its flat side on the back of the goat’s neck. The goat’s knees were buckling and its eyeballs were all white, like it had been drugged.
“Santaria,” said Joey.
“I’ll explain later. We should go.” They had come in through a window behind them that Tito the drug addict had left open for them.
“No way,” said Eddie, who, in one swift motion, drew his Glock 19 and kicked the door open.
“Get away from that goat,” said Eddie. He had stepped into the room and was pointing the Glock at the high priest, who stared at him as if he, Eddie, was the weird one and not him.
“Step back,” said Joey, who had also drawn his Glock and moved into the room to stand beside Eddie.
The crowd complied. They weren’t happy, but they complied.
“Bring that goat over here,” said Eddie, nodding to one of the assistants.
Hate in her eyes, she complied as well.
“Where’s the front entrance?” said Eddie, once he had the goat in hand.
The head guy nodded toward a set of metal doors at the far end of the room. Eddie and Joey and their new friend backed that way.
“Make a move. I would love to kill one of you,” said Joey. “I’m Catholic.”
* * *
“Where to?” said Joey when they were in their car, negotiating the maze of streets in this part of Queens, the goat nodding out in the back seat.
“You’re being sarcastic,” said Eddie.
“We could have been killed over a goat. Did you see the look in their eyes?”
“Okay, I fucked up. What do we do with this goat?”
“We’ll take it to Uncle Aldo’s farm.”
“Why not? We could swim in the lake.”
“A little time off from the daily grind?”
“Do you remember how to get there.”
“You take the Thomas E. Dewey.”
“The Thomas E. Dewey? You mean the Thruway. Noboby calls it the Thomas E. Dewey.”
“I do. That’s its proper name.”
“It’s a three hour ride.”
“We’ll have to stop to let the goat shit.”
“After I kill Tito,” said Joey, “I may have to kill you.”
TO BE CONTINUED
About Project 52/2015: I like to take pictures and I like to write fiction. This Blog will combine the two in what I am calling Project 52/2015, one of my images mated with a piece of very short fiction each week in 2015. Enjoy.