This is a character Ben and I have been working on together for years. She’s meant to be our version of the perfect female action hero. So many times women in action movies are completely disappointing. Writers will put them in rape conditions, make sure they spend at least 1 out of every 5 scenes crying, or whimpering an attempt to make them ‘real.’ Shit they would never do to a male action hero, they do almost automatically to a woman. So, here is the first public glimpse of our hero.
“That’s the knife you’re trying to mug me with?” She looked embarrassed for me. My mouth opened, but no sound came out. If Nacho was here, he’d know how to put this bitch in her place. He’d say something like “cunt, I don’t play, gimme the fucking money.” So that’s what I said, but it didn’t come out right, and she didn’t answer right. She laughed, low and easy. It sounded like a growl.
I could smell the whiskey on her from 10 feet back in the alley, that’s how I’d known she’d be an easy score. Drunks in this neighborhood didn’t have much cash, but they didn’t fight back and they never called the cops. They all had their own reasons for being down here, just like me and Nacho did.
“You ever stab a man, son?”
She took a step forward, and her body seemed to drop. The muscles in her face and neck relaxed. She looked like a cat. Without thinking, I moved away from her.
“The knife resists the whole way in. You can’t hesitate, or you just make him angry. No one ever dies from being stabbed one time, and the bastard’ll fight you the whole way down. When it’s over, there’s as much blood on you as there is on him.” She paused. “It gets in your mouth.”
All I could do was grip the knife tighter. If she was going to kill me, I’d get my licks in.
“What’s your plan, here kid?” I didn’t answer. I didn’t know. She smiled, and it looked evil. “How old are you?”
“You go to school?”
I had to keep her talking, delay the beating I’d brought on myself. “School was stupid anyway.” Her smile widened. Whatever I was doing, I had to keep doing it. “None of those teachers know anything about real life”
She chuckled. “And you do?”
“Know more than they do!” I said, louder than I’d meant to. I looked down, at my shoes, at the knife. When I looked back up, her manner had changed.
“Why don’t you put the knife away, and we’ll go get some drinks?”
If she was going to beat my ass, at least I’d have some drinks in me. I unlocked the blade and pushed it back into the handle. At first I thought I’d give it to her, but she didn’t seem to want it, so I dropped it in my pocket. I can use it for later when this shit comes to a head.
The late afternoon sun struggled through the dirty blinds and over the pile of tangled blankets, books, and an overflowing ashtray on the bed. Under it all, Arthur lay sweating in last night’s clothes. They had been last night’s clothes for a week. She couldn’t smell it, but she knew the alcohol was coming out of her pores. Her mouth had been open all night, and her tongue felt like a sock. Slowly, she opened her eyes, using her hand to shield them from the setting sun. Her boots were still on.
She staggered through the doorway from the bedroom to the living room, lighting a cigarette along the way, but she stopped short when she saw the man on the couch. Her cigarette paper danced with a tiny, cautious flame, she drew in breath, sucking the flame into the tobacco never to be seen again. Slowly, quietly she backed into the bedroom. Without looking, she reached into the bedclothes, pulled out her SIG and did a press check on the chambered round.
She heard gentle snoring from the living room. Whatever he was doing here, he’d made himself damn comfortable.
After clearing the rest of the tiny apartment, she leveled the SIG at his head. At close range, he didn’t look like a man at all. She tapped his head with the knuckles of her free hand.
“Who the fuck are you?”
The kid groaned, blinked and rolled over.
“I said” she yelled “Who in the cold blue motherfuck are you?!”
“Arthur?” The kid seemed to ask as he rolled back over.
“Well, Arthur,” she said “what the fuck are you doing on my couch?”
“Sleeping.” His eyes were still closed.
“10 more minutes” he mumbled.
“Look buddy, I’ve got a gun and if you don’t wake up and tell me what I want to know I’m going to tell the cops you were robbing me.”
The kids eyes fluttered open and he opened his hands in a gesture of surrender. “What? Arthur, man I told you I was sorry! Sarge, I’ll never do it again, OK? Look, I’ll just leave and I’ll never come back, OK? Shit, don’t shoot me, man.”
His name wasn’t Arthur, he was calling her Arthur.
“Because my name is Arthur, ” she said lowering the weapon.
“Yeah, Sarge. Whatever you say man”
She made the scoot over motion with the gun and sat next to him on the couch.
“How old are you?”
“15” he answered cautiously.
“What’s your name?”
“You wanna job, Beto?”
She nodded her head. “Go home and get cleaned up, meet me back here in 2 hours. Dress like somebody who goes to school.”
This is a drawing of Arthur that Ben did awhile back.