I flicked out my cigarette and watched the cops ram a car into a building: a reminder of the dangers of my job. The man in the car had been blasting this psychosonic music out his windows—the kind of music that messes with your mind and makes you feel superhuman. It was the kind of music that made you stupid enough to blare it out your car in the city.
Two shots—one to the head and the second to the chest to make sure, and then the cops rolled away. He got what was coming to him; everybody knew how dangerous it was to own that music.
The briefcase I carried burned in my hands, “Hey, Tommy. Why do you think we do what we do?”
Tommy was my partner. Real quiet on these trips, but not from experience; he was young and nervous. He wore his cap backward and a button-up shirt missing buttons so he just let it hang open. He was a good guy, though. Dependable. He knew how to fight and when to walk away and he had the scars on his knuckles and chest to show for it.
He thought for a minute before responding, “I don't know. Boredom? We need the money to eat and I guess we both just want what happened to that guy up there to happen to us one day.”
Yeah, I thought to myself as we walked along in silence, We all have a death wish, don't we. Every person alive today wishes they weren't, but it's not so easy as that, is it?
We held our breath as we passed an officer on the sidewalk and tried our best not to make eye contact. They wore these big goggles that glowed titanium yellow and could see into your soul. At least, that's what it felt like every time one of 'em looked at you—like they were looking straight through you and could hear every one of your thoughts and feel everything you were feeling. It always gave me chills.
When we passed him, I watched the tension leave Tommy's muscles and the burning in my hand cooled down a bit. The path we tread was grimy and littered with bits of newspapers and missing person signs. I kicked a soda can onto the street and watched it fall through a gutter. The air smelled of rotten eggs and there always seemed to be a thin layer of dust over everything, you could feel it when you breathed. The only reason I smoked was to take the taste out of my mouth. That's what I told myself as I lit another one up.
Tommy was a big guy, he stood about five inches taller than me and I wasn't short. He didn't grow any facial hair and kept what he had on his head trimmed short. He wasn't much to look at, but he was a good partner. We were standing in front of a building, our delivery in hand, and Tommy buzzed the room. The door unlocked with a *click* and we walked in.
The man we were delivering to was a real mess, a nutjob: a typical client. His room smelled worse than the city and was cluttered with dirty clothes and plates of half-eaten food, save one corner. In that corner sat a music player and some headphones. He looked up at us with big, sunken-in eyes and drool crusted on his gaunt face. His hair was matted down in places. He gave us the cash and I gave him the briefcase and that was that.
As we walked back, I looked up at Tommy and said, “Do you really think this is worth dying for, Tommy?”
He shrugged and answered, “I don't know. But, what's worth living for these days?”
I guess he was right.