Leslie decided he really was going to kill her. She was resting in the bedroom to some Oprah re-run. So Leslie removed from the inside of a shining, brown leather briefcase containing a number of forms and instruction manuals, a long-handled gun with a muzzle and blew her brains against a wall silently.
He went down two flights of stairs with a ringing echo into his own place. Three rooms, second floor. It was 8:30 P.M.
One half hour passed.
There was a knock on the door. Leslie had been lighting a cigarette with a gold lighter and his hand remained stable.
Leslie moved the small circle to the right and looked through the glass. Ronald came in to snort some cocaine. They said, ‘Hi,’ rolled the five dollar bills up and blew the powder into their noses that Ronald laid on the smooth glass surface of Leslie’s dining room table.
Leslie was a school principal who had been railroaded. ‘They got me outta there,’ Leslie said, a little high.
‘It’s just too fucking bad,’ responded Ronald.
‘Yeah, but this is class powder.’
‘It makes you feel better.’
‘A union rep said the power is always on the side of the higher authority. Anybody can make up any charge they want and it’ll follow a paper trail and it’ll be backed.’
‘The powder does take your mind off some things, though, doesn’t it, Les?’
‘It sure does – it makes the mind clearer, too.’
‘We’ll roll another bill in about ten minutes.’
‘Yeah. Anyway, the cocksucker wanted to move me into another school, too far from here. I had a good deal, in walking distance, decent kids. Morgan put a crony in and he had all the papers set up and the reasons to justify the move.’
‘Once they play the power games they can pull all the moves. Even the union can’t help. My own man, Walsh, told me that. I wish I were back in the classroom crackin’ some skulls. The reps from that union don’t take shit from nobody, but our reps suck.’
Ronald was free with his drugs. Ronald was a session bass player. He played standup and electric. Ronald backed very famous people, everyone from Michael Jackson to Linda Ronstadt to Christina Aguilera, to Christian gospel- and rock-groups. He played with some of the best in New York too. Carmine Serra on guitar, the Brecker Brothers on trumpet and sax. Ronald was always well-dressed, in a suit and tie, even when relaxing. Leslie was more casual now, in blue jeans and a pulled-out, light-green sports shirt.
‘I like to get stoned with you,’ Ronald said, ‘because you are an intelligent man. I never had much schooling and I like to mingle with the educated.’
They decided to take another snort now and each rolled a bill again into a narrow chute, inhaled the fine powder from the flat, smooth glass table top. ‘How’s it going in the studios, man? I had been meaning to ask you that. Excuse me for being rude.’
Ronald poured a straight scotch from behind Leslie’s dark wood bar. Ronald was a big fan of intoxicants. ‘You don’t mind, do you?’ He added a few ice cubes.
‘No, go right ahead, man.’
‘And one for you?’
‘No, it’s alright.’
Ronald was feeling pretty good, too.
He returned to his position on a small, black leather living room chair, a little, round, dark wood table to the left holding a lamp with an orange colored lampshade that Leslie used for his nightly reading.
Leslie was seated across from him on a beige couch.
Ronald’s drink had a coaster under it.
‘In Atlantic Studios, I was on a session last week – some guy named Herb was the conductor – with blues guitarist Robert Cray. Do you know the name?’
‘I’m more familiar with the big names like the Brecker Brothers.’
‘He plays kind of interesting jazz-blues. Anyway, Bob brought one of his own guitarists in that he always carries, Dave something-or-other. He was a really bad heroin junkie. Could barely sit up straight. Could not tune his guitar. Cray gently turned the pegs, whispered to Dave some kind of joke. Dave laughed. Dave played these little parts perfectly, though. Little classy chords. Recording sessions do not carry health rules. It’s all about the money and getting the job done.’
The two men were both single and sometimes double-dated. They enjoyed women, intoxicants, and good male companionship.
‘I guess the arts are different than the school bureaucracies,’ Leslie said. ‘They play it very straight-laced, on the surface.’
‘Each onto his own world.’
Ronald raised his scotch glass, said, ‘Salud!’ He took another swallow. ‘I’ve got an early gig tomorrow,’ Ronald said. He drained the glass. Ronald stood up.
‘Well, be good,’ Leslie said.
‘Yeah, right buddy.’
Leslie heard Ronald’s footsteps moving lightly down the hall.
Leslie remained alone on the couch. He poured himself his own drink now, rum mixed with Coca Cola, into a clean, thick glass. He thought about how the system was fucked-up.
It was like an awakening that you don’t realize until you get screwed. Any authority has unlimited power to abuse any subordinate.
On a certain level, it was astounding to realize. They got him out of that school on a paper trail. He was doing well, too. The reading scores had gone up 100%. Little kids whose mommies would be so happy.
‘Injustices make a man mad enough to kill,’ Leslie thought. ‘There is no way around it and no freedom at all, like they say.’
He poured another of the same. He thought about this for some time.