"How the fuck I'm 'posed to tell you when you never fuckin' listen anyway...?"
"Because I was..."
"You what? Because you fuckin' what?!?!"
"The hell you didn't, motherfucker. The hell you fucking didn't. And now you callin' me a liar?"
The slap was like a firecracker. He was instantly back there, fingers tingling from the M-80s and worms and hearing that bang as loud as all creation. He shook his head.
"Now, tell me again how I'm a fuckin' liar."
"You're not a li..."
"Goddamn right, I ain't no motherfuckin' liar. I gave it to you straight, motherfucker. I fronted your ass. Cause you's 'family'. Now you got it twisted? That ain't my fuckin' fault. You can't get your shit together? Ain't my fucking fault. You ain't never got no money and your woman does you wrong. Ain't. My. Fuckin'. Fault. I don't care if she is my sister, she's your fuckin' problem. And we ain't 'family'."
He rung his hands nervously. Cleared his throat. Reached down into the hard place where he hoped his courage lived, blind and groping, a deep sea creature.
"Brother, I will get the money!"
The second slap was louder. Antoine spit blood and looked at the face in front of him. Where it had been twisted in fury, it was now resigned. This was just part of the job now. It wasn't personal. He might live.
"Man, I promise on my Momma's life, I'ma get you that money..."
"What the fuck I care about your momma, bitch? Fuck yo momma. And fuck you. I'm fixin' to put a boot so far up your ass you can tie the laces with your teeth. You get that money. I'm coming back here at this same time tomorrow. You better be here smilin' with five large in your pocket...on top what you already owe. You feel me?"
"I do. I will. I..."
But he was already walking away. Antoine waited until the Escalade rounded the corner, and then he started shoving his things into bags and boxes. He threw as much of his wardrobe as he could into the trunk and dumped the rest in the back seat. He was in Reno, days later, drunk and losing money, when he was slipped a piece of paper by a beautiful Latina. He smiled, groggily, and read the note. 'Meet me outside, I have something for you' - cute with a little heart and everything. Antoine slid off his stool and walked to the neon door. He stepped out into the evening heat. He squinted into the darkness. And then he knew. The voice came from behind him.
"And yo' fool ass comes outside. Just like that. This is too fuckin' easy. Hey, Antoine, you stupid motherfucker..."
Antoine felt his eyes burn. Tears. He reached inward for the words that could stop this. But he knew there were none.
"You can't outrun a bullet, bitch."