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Fiction by Anthony Neil Smith

Warpig

Warpig don’t care what you think of his mullet. People here in Minnesota call it hockey hair” but Warpig never gave one shit about hockey except for the bloodshed. No, Warpig’s hair was inspired by Kurt Russell, Snake Pliskin himself — goddamn fine locks that man has — but Pig had his cut straight across at his shoulder blades to differentiate. No sideburns. Same color, though: tree-bark brown. Shingle brown. Fake leather wallet brown.

He’s got five shirts to his name. Two black t-shirts with Motorhead arched across in gold over a golden Warpig mascot — some sort of spiked-headed demon vampire dog with fucking elephant tusks. Two long-sleeved Motorhead Warpig t-shirts for winter. And one button-up Oxford blue shirt for funerals, weddings, and court. It’s seen the inside of a courtroom plenty. But Warpig has never spent one night in jail cause he sings as good as Whitney Houston, so a detective once told him.

Not real singing. The detective called him a snitch. Warpig calls himself a professional confidential informant.”

Face it, when it comes to real singing, no one does it better than Lemmy.

Yeah, Lemmy, not Ozzy. People hear he’s called Warpig and go, Hey! Sabbath!”

Fuck Sabbath.

Motorhead.

Warpig knows the words to every Motorhead song. He knows the bios of every band member. He has every vinyl album — can’t beat the sound. Cassettes are fine for the car, but nothing compares to dropping the needle, lighting up, and letting the noise fucking bake you.

Every one of those albums has Lemmy Kilmister’s signature scrawled across.

Jesus, Pig,” Lemmy told him the last time they played First Ave. in Minneapolis. Maybe get another hobby.”

Hobby? No, this was no hobby. This was something spiritual.

So that’s Warpig for you.

Warpig now stands in the middle of Ronnie’s backyard in Uptown, surrounded by tweakers and stoners, a weird vibe. A party.” One of em’s birthday? Tricia or Violet? Either Ronnie’s girlfriend or his cousin, or both. Really too early for an outdoor deal, mid-April — melting season, mud season — but the smell inside the house was too bad for company. Fridge broke, sewer backed-up in the basement, BO and weed fumes clinging to every piece of furniture.

The backyard is a postage stamp, chain-linked, one side with rotting plywood, like a half-assed privacy fence. A cheap above-ground pool is filled with melting snow. Patchy grass, big dead spots from the ton of dog shit Ronnie’s two Boston Terriers pump out because they got nowhere else to go all winter, and he sure as hell wasn’t going to walk the little bastards on icy sidewalks, stoop to bag their crap. The hyper-bitey bitches destroy anything they can get their teeth on. Shards of red Solo cups everyfuckingwhere. Half-chewed flip-flops. Rubber bones sharpened like shivs.

The stoners ignore the yipping dogs. The tweakers kick at them if they get too close.

Warpig needs his head clear, but can’t turn down the pipe when it’s passed his way. He’s a man on a mission, needing info, some reward money on the line. One of the speed freaks they usually hang with, Daniel, was hiding out after — accidentally? — slicing his mother’s head clean off with his dad’s Buck knife.

Warpig had hoped the subject of Daniel would come up naturally.

When it doesn’t, he can’t think of a better line than, Anyone seen Daniel?”

Which gets him looks. Yeah, lot of looks.

These tweakers and stoners, his friends — as close as any, he supposed — tolerated him but knew he snitched. Not a capital crime in their eyes, because they all snitched when it helped them out of a jam. Each and every. The thing about Warpig, though, he was the only one making a living off it.

Ronnie shakes his head, streams smoke from his mouth. Naw, man, like a ghost.”

I need to see him.”

What can I tell you, man? Wait your turn.”

Warpig and Ronnie, Tricia and Violet and their shadow Bill the Bulge, stand around a fire ring of dying embers, mostly twigs and dog shit and newspaper. Others lounge on the swing set the previous owners left behind. Amazing it hasn’t rusted out yet. A few more sit on the concrete slab they called a patio, a butane lantern between them, under an old fiberglass overhang with a big jagged hole.

I’m just saying, they catch him, I’m never going to see the hundred he owes me.” Wincing inside, thinking a hundred’s too low.

Bill the Bulge gives him an eye. They catch him, what do you think’s going to happen? He’ll name all of us and still get the chair.”

Ronnie says, Jesus, Bill, we don’t have a chair. We don’t have the death penalty.”

They’ll make it Federal, then. I’m just saying, him hiding is better for all of us. Him overdosing would be best.”

Bill the Bulge will tell you he got his name from the bulge of his thick dick in his jeans, but it was more the lipoma hanging off his back he won’t get sliced off because he’s got warrants and thinks the doctor would turn him in. Bill thinks everyone might turn him in, paranoid as hell. Especially wary of Warpig.

Did his dad a favor, no more alimony.” Tricia takes a hit off the pipe and passes it to Violet. One arm across her flat chest, gripping the other just above the elbow. Black turtleneck with a puffy vest over it. Ever met the woman? Acted all churchy, but sucked off dealers to get pills. Bitch.”

The girls are both junky thin, track-marked, pale, and would be hard to tell apart except for hair color — Tricia brunette, Violet dishwater blonde — and when they opened their damn mouths — Tricia a little husky, Violet teeny and always laughing under her breath, even when shit wasn’t funny.

All I want’s my hundred back. I’m not going to, like, turn him in.”

But that’s exactly what Warpig needs to do. Five hundred for info bringing him in, that’s what Luke Duke says. Luke, the cop he feeds info to, has blond fluffy hair like John Schneider, but he was Bo Duke, and Bo Duke didn’t rhyme. Luke was a narc detective who also dealt with drug-related assaults, deaths, all that. Some days it was hard to tell him apart from the dealers and thieves, bending the rules so you could hear them crack, but no farther. Least, not as far as Warpig knows.

Who said shit about anybody turning anyone in? Damn, Pig, let it go. A hundred’s nothing.” Tricia also has a weird slur because of a speech impediment as a kid that she never overcame. Hate to say it, but Bulge is right about Daniel. Might be a good idea if he turns his own lights out.”

Tricia and Bulge exchange a little look, and that’s when Warpig remembers yeah, Tricia is Ronnie’s girl, but he’s also doing Violet, who’s his third cousin, while Tricia and Bulge get nasty behind Ronnie’s back because Bulge’ll share his dope with her. It’s good to know those things. Never know when it’ll come in handy.

But Warpig drops it for now. Takes the pipe when it’s his turn and hopes it doesn’t come back to bite him in the ass.

#

He waits out by the Bulge’s car — a third-hand Firebird. The bird on the hood had faded, but Bulge had tried to paint it back on with acrylics. Not good.

Warpig hopes he’ll be alone. A decent bet, since him and Tricia are a guilty secret, and Bulge’s live-in girl Cynthia is fucking awful. Seriously, about as big and round as Bulge and down to fuck whenever, wherever, whoever, though she don’t get many takers. She hates all his friends, yells things most people would say quietly, and doesn’t have a drop of joy anywhere in all that bulk of hers.

So Bulge will be alone, looking for an excuse not to go home.

Warpig’s ride, his grandfather’s K-Car handed down when the old man passed in 84, is a couple blocks over, but he needed the tweakers to believe he was on foot tonight. Luke said the clock on finding Daniel was winding down, and the reward might drop the longer he’s out there.

There’s the Bulge. Crossing the street, at his car door when Warpig steps out of the shadow of the house.

Bill.”

Jesus! Pig, scared me half to death. The fuck, dude?”

I was just…you know, the car’s got a bad alternator. I need a ride to my grandma’s.”

It’s been his home for seventeen years now, doesn’t seem it. After Mom married that used car salesman who blew through Pig’s child support on designer clothes and gold chains for himself, they didn’t get along so great anymore. Once Dad took off for the oil fields of Saudi, making real money, his son never heard from him again.

No rent, as long as he keeps the house up. Mows the yard, shovels the snow. Means he can spend more on music and comics.

Bulge goes, Sure, fine, let’s go.”

Thanks, man. I owe you.”

They climb in, and Bulge turns on the heater and these Guns N’ Roses guys, Mr. Brownstone,” which would be cool if the band wasn’t so fucking popular all the sudden.

These guys.” Warpig shakes his head. Everyone acts like they’re heavy, but listen, they’re real slick.”

Not everybody can be a hundred-proof drunk all the time like Lemmy.”

I’m not saying that, just, like, the Garage EP? Metallica? Those guys get it.”

Girls don’t like noise. Loosen up, man.”

Couple minutes and a couple blocks down, Bulge looks out. Isn’t that your ride?”

I’ll get it tomorrow.”

That’s not the shop. That’s a curb.”

Can we make one stop on the way? It’s not too far out of the way, I don’t think.”

Bulge cuts his eyes, then pulls in ahead of the K-Car, bumper to bumper. Dude, be straight with me. What do you mean you don’t think’?”

Depends.”

On what?”

Where Daniel is. You know where he is.”

Aw, god, aw, fuck, I should’ve known. Get out.”

Listen to me.”

Get out!” Bulge is a big man with a big voice. The tone alone forces Warpig to open the door and plant a foot on the pavement. But he reminded himself — five hundred bucks.

Listen to me, listen, just listen.”

I’m going to punch you.”

Come on,”

Warning you –”

Warpig flinches. I know about you and Tricia, okay? I know.”

Bulge deflates like a party balloon, all the fight farting out of him, but he’s twice as mad now. Quietly mad. You can’t tell Ronnie.”

I don’t want to. You and Tricia, that’s your own, I mean, I don’t want to tell him, but you’ve got to tell me where Daniel is.”

Jesus, Pig, I done said, he’ll flip on us.”

Murder cops don’t care about drugs, man.”

Bulge slams the wheel. Not murder cops. But they tell their buddies in vice later, like, at the bar, tell them, you ought to check out so-and-so. You should know better. Don’t make it about Tricia. She’s got nothing to do with it.”

Warpig stares at his hands in his lap and imagines the whelp that would rise if he’d slammed a steering wheel like Bulge did. Bill absorbs it like a hug.

I’ll give you some of, wait, half the reward.”

Half?”

Four hundred bucks. You get two to show me where he is.”

You are sad, man. Real sad.”

Warpig shrugs his shoulders a few times. Just saying. It’s murder. Not drug shit. I promise, he’ll never know it was us.”

Bulge lets out a big breath. You’re a prick, you know that?”

Warpig’s got nothing to say back.

Bulge pulls the Firebird off the curb. Axl Rose wails again, his nuts in a vise.

Lyndale, Hennepin, going south. Out of town, into the woods. Where would Daniel have run? Warpig doesn’t know him that well, just got high with him and Ronnie and the rest. Most of the people Warpig knows are people he gets high with, not real friends. Thinking about it now, it kinda sucks.

After a bit, Bill turns to Warpig. What’s to say I turn him in myself? Take the whole reward?”

C’mon.”

Seems fair. I know where he is, you don’t. Seems I should be the one.”

Warpig thinks, this Slash guy is pretty sloppy guitarist.

He says, Sure, you can do that. And then Ronnie’ll know about you and Tricia and we’ll see how that turns out.”

Bulge twists his lips and turns back to the road. Prick.”

#

Motorhead has played First Ave. three times — ’83, 85, and last year, 87. Warpig was there every gig, with new shit for Lemmy to sign each time. He’d paid off the janitor to tell him where the band drank after the show, and Lemmy took a liking to this spaz with hockey hair who worshipped him like some sort of inebriated god.

The third time, Warpig had to bluster through some asshole bouncer, but Lemmy yelled, Would’ja let the lad in already?” He introduced Warpig to the latest band members, signed the new stack of shit, and bought his number one fan a drink.

It was also when Lemmy told him, Jesus, Pig, maybe get another hobby.” But he did it with a wink, grasping his calloused fingers around the back of Warpig’s neck.

Seriously, best night of his life.

Until…

Back at the car, while Pig returned the records to their proper slots in his milk crates, this Bo Duke-looking asshole Luke Pozdyk, dressed up like Don Johnson from Miami Vice in his pastels and Armani, braced him. Told him he needed info on some of Warpig’s friends. A little birdie had tweeted that the Pig knew all the dirt, and sometimes helped put buyer and seller together, or ran deliveries around town on the cheap, just to have a toe in the action.

Fucking cop even flipped through the vinyl with his greasy fingers, smudging one of Lemmy’s sigs, goddamn it! Tossed the discs about like they were trash. Threatened to search the K-Car.

What am I going to find? Weed? Meth? Aitch? Even little traces can get you thrown in prison, my man. Long hair like yours in prison, add a little lipstick, you’ll be a popular guy.”

Fine, sure, yeah, Warpig agreed to rat for him.

After the first couple times, Luke made it official — Warpig was his go-to CI. Started handing out the green. Looked the other way on the deliveries.

If it meant more dough for records, concert tickets, smokes and other delights, not such a bad trade-off. It wouldn’t be forever, and the ulcer gnawing at his gut would eventually heal up, right?

Eleven months and counting, it hasn’t yet.

Luke never made him feel safe. Dude never said, Got your back” without a smirk. And Warpig had to endure Luke’s stream of nicknames like Faghead” and Fagass” and Pimplepig” and Cannon Fodder” and Ass-Spazz.” And also Luke talking about all the pussy he got, how he could hook Pig up with some of the pros he knew, ugly as fuck but still able to teach him a thing or two if he ever wanted to get real” girls.

Luke’s wink didn’t feel the same as Lemmy’s. As long as you don’t mind scars, missing teeth, and no English, I got you covered.”

He never took the cop up on it. Knowing Luke, the cop would get pics Pig embarrassing himself with the hookers.

No more cash. Only blackmail.

No thanks. His life was humiliating enough — living at grandma’s, no skills, no talents, no romantic prospects.

Now, he was no virgin. Fuck no.

Couple times, with his high school squeeze, who loved Dungeons & Dragons and Led Zeppelin, and said she loved Warpig even though his name was Rupert Van Ostereich. They fumbled around on her sister’s bedroom floor one night, and then in a friend’s van at Bible Camp. A few months later she was gone.

And an almost. That time after his second Motorhead gig a girl who thought he could get her backstage almost gave him a blowjob. She’d had it in her hand when he chickened out and told her he couldn’t. Should’ve let her do it.

Since then it hadn’t been a priority, and the only time he felt nauseous about it was when Luke showed up, a true paragon of masculinity.

If Warpig could save up enough to move away from the Cities, down to Omaha or Kansas City, get a job in a record shop, or roadie for a band, he’d leave town without a word to Luke, not even tell his own grandma.

But there was always one more bootleg to buy, one more first pressing, one more Frank Miller Daredevil back issue in mint condition.

Which meant he’d be answering to Faghead” for a good long time.

#

Bulge pulls to the curb outside a shit little ranch house in Northfield, not quite an hour later. They park behind a Yugo that’s more rust than car anymore. In the driveway, a brand new Mercury Sable and a bald-tired Mercury Cougar. A single string of Christmas lights still shining this late in the year, drooping low across the front windows.

He’s here?”

His cousin’s house. Cousin on his dad’s side, anyway. Second cousin.”

Warpig rubs sweaty palms across his jeans. So, how do we do this?”

Do what? This is where he is. So now we go get the money.”

Dude. That’s not how it works.” Warpig sees someone peeking out curtains. We have to verify he’s here. Go knock on the door, say something so he won’t get suspicious, then we go tell the police. When they get him in custody, they pay us.”

Bulge turns towards the house, too. The curtains still slightly parted. D’s so fried on crank right now, I bet he’s suspicious of everything.”

So you tell him a cop’s been sniffing around. If you tell him about a cop, he’ll think you’re not working for one.”

You’re good at this, Pig. A natural. Oink, oink.”

Warpig’s face got hot. Didn’t matter. Sarcasm wouldn’t pay for that t-shirt from Motorhead’s 1981 French tour he’d had his eye on. Wouldn’t pay for Daredevil one-sixty-eight, first appearance of Elektra.

Tell him cops are asking, but you lied to them, told them you’d gone up north.”

Bulge nods, pushes his door open. The hinge groans like his grandma standing up from her recliner. Looks back at Warpig.

So come on.”

He doesn’t need to see me. I’ll wait.”

Fuck, dude, he might have a samurai sword! He’s already sliced one head off.”

You’re bigger than him!”

Bulge closed his door. We both go, or I tell him you want to rat him out.”

Five hundred dollars. Give two to Bulge, still good. What he’s got in the shoebox under his bed, not a bad haul.

They get out and walk up the icy drive. Halfway, a shirtless Daniel swings the door wide open and steps out barefoot onto the frozen ground. He’s slick with sweat, bony but cut, fuck, how a guy who never eats or sleeps can still look ready to smash a brick wall. Warpig feels the whoosh of hot air blown from the house from a heater that must be set to Roast.”

Fuck you doing here, Bill?” Frantic eyes flick between Bill and Pig. And him, man.” He points at Warpig with a crazy grin, bobs his head. Warpig knows what’s coming.

Daniel sings, sort of. Grnnl gutter in dur MASSES!”

Yeah, yeah.”

Jrrs like wrrchurrs at BLACK MASSES!”

Cool, man. Cool.” Fucking Sabbath. Fucking Ozzy.

The fuck you doing here, Pig?” To Bulge. What’s he doing here?”

Giving him a ride, is all. Dude asked for a ride.” Maybe Bill’s too stupid to pull it off.

Bill told me he was coming to see you. Been a while, man. Everything cool?”

Duuuuuuude. Guy just killed his mom. Everything cool?

Daniel is too gone to notice. Like his eyes are seeing through the both of them. His chest heaving with each breath. Come in, guys, come in. Don’t want no one to see me out here. I’m incognito.”

He turns and jitters into the house. They follow. The dry heat sucks all the spit from Warpig’s mouth.

Warpig guesses it’s the cousin on the couch, sunk in, watching wrestling. Mouth-breathing. A lamp sans shade on an end table, but in front of him, a coffee table full of D-R-U-G-S. Jeez lousie. Bags of crank, weed, coke. A tallllll bong. A popcorn bowl full of pills, as colorful as Trix is for kids.

Daniel can’t settle, pacing the room like Macho Man, throwing atomic elbows at invisible foes. You guys, man, you guys. Good to see you. Good to see anyone, not supposed to see anyone, supposed to…fuck man.” Sloughing enough sweat to see it staining the carpet. Fuck.”

Ric Flair grabs the mic on TV. Woo!”

Daniel goes, Woo!”

The cousin snorts, points, and laughs. Woo, man. Woo.”

Bill bumps Warpig and goes, like, Tell him.

Say, Dan, man, I thought you should know, back home –”

They all jump when someone pounds on the door — Boom Boom Boom Boom. The fuck is it now? Warpig wishes he’d left this all alone, gone home, wait for the next shirt, next bootleg.

Goddamn, it’s a party. I don’t need a fucking party.” Daniel shouts at the door, What?”

Whoever’s outside twists the knob, lets himself in.

There’s Luke Duke Pozdyk, bomber jacket, steel-toed boots, and a giant .44 in his hand. Dirty Harry’s gun.

Am I fashionably late enough?”

Bill’s face goes feral, turning to Warpig. I’m going to straight up kill you.”

I didn’t…I didn’t know.”

Of course he didn’t know.” Luke drapes his gun arm around Warpig’s shoulder. Too dumb to realize I’ve been tailing him all goddamn day. But I knew I could trust him. Eyes on the prize, right Ass-Spazz?”

Daniel drops to his knees, lifts his hands towards Luke like beholding a Messiah. Luke Duke steps over, ratchets a cuff onto a wrist, yanks Daniel facedown, lands a knee right in the middle of his back and cuffs the other wrist.

Daniel, muffled into the carpet, Fuckin’ Warpig.”

Bill the Bulge gets in Warpig’s face. You set me up.”

I swear, I didn’t.”

He gives a slow headshake. At least there’s the money.”

Luke climbs off the floor. Pig, you cutting in partners now?”

He told me half. Two hundred bucks.”

Warpig’s sphincter tightens so much it hurts.

Dude, seriously? He’s holding out on you. I told him five.”

Bill swings back around. Gnarly. You piece of shit.”

He winds up his arm and launches it like a pinball plunger on Warpig’s jaw.

Something cracks. Something comes loose. Warpig swallows it as he falls. Raw nerve pain shoots through his skull, down his neck. He lands, covers his head.

The Bulge turns to Luke again. You know what? Fuck it. I want the whole shebang now. I want the full reward.”

You want it all?”

Yeah, after this bullshit, you’re motherfucking right I do.”

Luke chuckles — an honest to god chuckle — before he lifts his .44 and shoots Bill the Bulge in the face.

Warpig’s ears go hypersonic. The pain intensifies.

Bill’s body falls inches from Pig, splattering blood on his mullet.

No face. The dude’s got no face anymore. No face.

Like, Warpig’s seen three of the Faces of Death videos, laughed the whole time. This was way different.

Of course it was.

When he can hear the room again, he hears Daniel going, Oh god oh god oh god oh god” into the carpet. Luke steps over him, kneels by Warpig and helps him sit up.

He got you good.”

What?”

He got you good. Tagged you, man.”

Listen, all of you.” He looks from Warpig to Daniel to the cousin, still slackjawed on the couch, his eyes drifting between Dead Bill and the squared circle on TV. Fucker attacked me. Self-defense, pure and simple.”

Seriously?”

Get up, douchebag. Get up.” He grabs Warpig by the top of his bloody hair and yanks. Go to the kitchen, get me a knife. Dude lunged at me with a knife, right?”

#

In the kitchen, alone, Mean Gene Okerlund’s voice bouncing off the walls, Warpig can barely stand the pain. He rustles through a few drawers until he finds a big enough knife to satisfy Luke Duke’s needs. There wasn’t going to be a payday. No five hundred. Like Luke told him, You didn’t give me any info. All I had to do was follow you. Sorry, them’s the rules.”

Goodbye t-shirt. Goodbye Daredevil. Goodbye to any chance he had of staying in the good graces of Ronnie and the gang. No more cash flow.

Daniel starts singing Sabbath again, changing the words: Warpig’s got to die, Warpig’s got to die.”

Warpig holds up the knife. Smiles through cloudy eyes. Remembers how it felt when Lemmy gripped his neck and winked.

Best night of his life.

Anthony Neil Smith

IG: @prof_an_smith

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