Sequence of Events: Moving On (part three)
“Love is no use.”
Bruner said it, finally, and Summers said, “No, you’re wrong. Love is a great motivator. One of those cases where you have to strike while the iron’s hot, though. Bruner, I think you can do a job for me. This is not a complicated job.”
His visitor heard nothing wry, or couldn’t be bothered now he’d got down to business. “Bruner, I want you to be a man I can call on…you get me, not just this one time…but whenever I have a particular sort of thing. A job that needs discretion…”
“Why should I be discreet?” There it is again, Bruner thought. I don’t even know what I’m pissed at.
“You should be discreet from loyalty.”
Summers was smug as though Bruner’s heedless question had been exactly what he wanted. He held up a hand. “I’m not from your neighborhood, Bruner…you don’t owe me anything. But you never know. You think, though…”
He could hear his mother rattling in the kitchen, heating up beef stew. She had been near giddy over these visits, certain it would all come right now for her son. She had no real notion of what Summers did. Bruner had a good one…but that meant only that the field was wide open. He could not guess what assignment he was considered stupid enough, dispensable enough, to take on for Summers—or why it was urgent. Summers tilted forward, pressing his hands on his knees for leverage.
“…you can make me a promise? That if I do you a good turn, you won’t forget.”
Bruner’s relationship with luck had left him convinced this lady, per reputation, liked to tease and entice; she pranced ahead, urging you to follow, but she had an unnamed confederate, both errand boy and thug…one who appeared to his imagination not unlike Boxer Chaney. And that bastard waited to tackle you from behind, just when you’d been led by his showier accomplice to the precipice. In his unluckiest moment Bruner had been far luckier, for having fallen out a fourth story window, than many who’d fallen off sidewalk curbs. Detritus from a renovation job, a burst pipe in a ground floor apartment, had left in the alleyway chunks of plaster, a sodden rug pad, stripped wallpaper…a couple of wooden crates (but even a wooden crate will yield to a falling body, where brick pavement will not), and the garbage tossed by passersby that accumulates on any pile of refuse. All this had softened his landing.
(And why did he know all this, as though someone had shown him a picture?)
Boxer’s unnamed friend―Bruner bore it in mind―had also cushioned his fall.
He felt bad…but didn’t feel responsible. It was not a reasonable proceeding, throwing a man out a window because you’d made a mistake. To Boxer, killing to shut a mouth was no worse, no different, than a cashier’s burying his pilfering among legitimate transactions.
(2019, Stephanie Foster)