A weird thing happened at school today.
I spend most of my time between the Lab and the Dojo for Space Camp, but I live in residence at the University. It reminds me a bit of the Center, but more classic. We are making a large-scale installation in part of the old brick building with the main reception and lobby, a forest made entirely out of recyclables, an homage to the early 21st century garbage wars.
“What are you doing with all those bags, K?”
He’s hustling towards me with an armload of transparent sacs full of empty beer cans.
“Recycling. I thought you might want it.”
I didn’t really know what I could do with beer cans, but I suppose it was recycling.
“It’s illegal for people to have personal recyclables, you know.” I say.
“Beer can flowers, why not? It’ll attract wasps if we’re lucky. Cmon” He says. “I’ve got some more up at my place.”
We go up, and he has bags and bags of unwashed clothing – which turns out to be his laundry – then he produces some other bags that are full of blanks clothes, sweats and hooded jackets.
“Take em.” I take those, but he has tons of other bags of old clothes and I help him take those to the New Salvation Army. He also has another 30 or so bags of cans, I have no idea where he got them all from. I take a few for the project, then I spend a few hours back and forth helping him bring the rest to stash in the alley behind the school bar, where they might not be so conspicuous.
Afterwards we go up through the vent room where they left the roof unlocked to loiter and soak up the afternoon sun. We were up on the roof of one of the buildings when a scene manifested.
A pimped out car was swerving into the parking lot of the school, followed by another, and a helicopter. The first car was tacky, an eccentrically overdone futuristic low-rider. The other was a shining black gangster prohibition antique that had been modded for diesel, and the helicopter looked predictably like a giant black bug. There was nothing but open asphalt shot through with scrub, and the chopper settled down and cut the drone of the blades in what used to be the parking lot. We ran to the edge of the roof to look. They were close enough I could hear them speak. It was a hot day and the sun blasting the pavement distorted the air. We were absolutely quiet. They had not seen us, or did not care.
A man got out of the car that had pulled in first. The cars raised droptop projected a holographic skin like there was a disco party going on inside. The first man stood beside the car, and another two got out and ran towards the school buildings. The men who got out of the second car were in leather mostly, and slightly plump, like gangster rockabillys.
The first man didn’t try to run when they put a gun to his chest. The gun didn’t make a sound, it just blew through him and he fell to the ground. It must have been fitted with some kind of adapter. The other men were trying to get away and they systematically hunted them in the schoolyard, we held our breath and peered over the roof. Another man stepped down from the helicopter.
“You,” he motioned to a man in a long leather jacket, and long hair in a tight ponytail, who had dark banray insets like a giant fly. “that way”
Another silent gun blast was registered only by the victim’s tortured animal shriek, and a third non-concussion ended it as abruptly. He sounded like a strangled bagpipe.
The commotion brought other loitering students, starting to gather and peer into the parking flat from the street. It was summer holiday there wasn’t many people around.
At one point a fattish man in sunglasses and an italian looking suit (is it the man that makes the suit look italian or the suit the man?) ran up to the roof and right by me. I was sure he his gun would kick silently and I would be no more, but he ran past. They were too big to care about us. He walked his way around the stone mezzanine that held up the roof and made a tour, peering over the railing. After stepping past me I curled up behind a section of large metal beams dividing the veranda. I think he was shooting off the veranda but I only heard the ricochets.
They made a tour, then passed again, still hunting, looking for someone – The ridiculous disco party was unfolding on the cars half retracted drop-top. The rockabilly guy and the guy with the ponytail were loitering by their car. Now a ton of students had gathered to watch, someone must have gone to spread the word in the dorm. One of the men put his gun near the armpit of his compatriot with the shades, leather and a dark pony tail. He fired, but nothing. He reloaded, fired again, blowing a ragged hole through the armpit of the other’s leather suit – maybe because the lack of sound and nature of the blast made it difficult to tell when you were out of ammo, but I’m sure there was a more intelligent way. Maybe he didn’t like the other dude, or they both just didn’t give a fuck.
The men were loitering, meticulously taking their time with the execution mission.
“Has anyone called the cops?” I was wide eyed.
It was surreal and nonchalant, with all the students watching, maybe security thought it was a movie being filmed. K grinned.
“Who said they didn’t? These are the guys you don’t fuck with. The cops will arrive late, as usual. This is personal business, not their business.”
We all just watched until they seemed to have accomplished what they were looking for and convened back in the parking lot. Some of them climbed back into the chopper and lifted away, the others sat in the car for a while, then nonchalantly pulled a lazy doughnut on the hot asphalt before peeling out back into the street. Security came and rounded us up and sent everyone back into the lobby, but we hid on the roof and they didn’t see us. When the squads came with the police we snuck back in through the vent rooms and circled around down the back emergency stairs while they cordoned off the area.