Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Best Of: "L-I-N-G-O"

I don't know if I could really consider this story to be one of my better works, but it certainly has three of my favorite lines, and I will be using them again somewhere down the line. See if you can guess which bits of dialogue are my faves from this story.

"L-I-N-G-O" originally appeared on

4:50 PM on a cold, secluded, rain-soaked road just outside of Sacramento. Barry and Cap sit in a car, and even though Barry has felt Cap up for the second time in the last fifteen minutes, this isn't a date. Barry has been checking Cap for weapons both times once before he got in the car and now, just seconds ago. All Barry has found on Cap is a cell phone which he confiscated, and a pager, which he let him keep.

There are hurt feelings and silence just like a date gone wrong, but they both know that all this tension has to do with the fact that one of them isn't going to get out of the car alive.

"Let's Rorschach this situation, Barry."

"What's that, Cap?"

"You know…a Rorschach test?" Cap says as he pulls out his pager and glances at it.

"Because all I see are a bunch of ink blots and you? Obviously you see something else altogether."

"What are you goin' on about?"

"I'm "goin' on about" why you have me out here in the middle of nowhere, while I haven't done anything wrong."

"Define 'wrong,' Cap."

"While you have had your head in anything but the game, I've been the one that has been making sure that the business is run right."

Barry watches Cap gesture with the pager and he retorts through clenched teeth, "Is that so?"

"Yeah, that's so, and you need to realize that before you give me the waterboard and the full Gitmo experience. The sales are steady when I'm in charge, the product moves when I'm in charge, and the count is never short when I'm in charge. Now, can you say the same when Antoine fills in?"

"Are you claiming to be an honest man, Cap?"

"The facts speak for themselves, man."

"Well, Cap, in my experience? An honest man is like somebody who is Chinese having the name Mookie or Ray-Ray. They might exist, but I've never seen one."

"Have I ever cheated you?"

"Out of money or product? Maybe a dollar here or some rock there, but it ain't nothing that I've noticed." Barry grins and pulls out a Glock .40. "Now, other things?"

Cap looks at the leer in Barry's eyes and snaps, "hell to the no, you got this more twisted than an accident at a pretzel factory!"

"No, bro, I'm straight on this. You're the one that's always talkin' about how much you hate Ashley and she's always talkin' about how much she hates you. Both y'all ain't foolin' me on this; I got you two locked in."

"As long as you've known me," says Cap as he grimaces and points his pager at Barry, "have I ever been about anything but the money? Answer me truthfully; have I ever been about anything but the money?"

"No, but people change."

"And who has changed around here, man? I've been running this business, the same as always. You got yourself your little tail from the suburbs and I didn't trip. You spent more and more time with her, while I made sure that everything was all quo. If this was a legit biz, I woulda fired your absentee-ass first thing. But you never saw me drive you out into the middle of nowhere and try to put some trumped-up bullshit on you, like a corrupt cop paying out triple alimony!"

Barry mulls it over it over and his face strains like preschooler trying to figure out the Federal budget.

Barry chambers a round and says, "You're just trying to throw me off."

"Ain't nobody throwing you off but you. You're the one with your head out the game, playing "Ghetto Ken and Suburban Barbie." Me? I'm so far into the game, that I am quarterback, head coach, general manager, owner, and league commissioner, all rolled up into one. I'm the one that makes sure that you have money. So that you can have this nice car and so that she can spend it just as fast as it comes in. That's who I am."

Barry contemplates again with that strained look on his face, then he nods to the pager that Cap keeps pointing at him.

"What the hell is that, a wire?"

"No, Barry, it's a twenty-five caliber."

The pager lets out a loud snap and the back of Barry's head hits the driver's side window, cracking it. The strained look on Barry's face is now permanent. Cap gets out of the passenger side and opens the driver's door. The upper half of Barry's body falls into the mud and gravel. Cap pulls the rest of him out of the car and drags him off the road, and into a copse of trees.

"What's that dumb-ass saying, Barry? Oh, yeah, "bros before hos." Well bro, you should've kept your head in the game, because it's "dough before bros and hos" with me."


Pamila Payne said...

Tight and nervy. I like the dialogue, chuckled at: "Ghetto Ken and Suburban Barbie."

lakeviewer said...

I like the dialogue, snappy and twitchy. How can something that looks like a pager turn into a gun?

The line about Gitmo is dating this piece.

Cormac Brown said...




Thanks and yeah, it was written around November/December of last year. There are gun pagers, though unlike last year, all I can find is this half-dead link.

Doc said...

I have seen advertized in a catalog a pager that conceals a small derringer.

"his face strains like preschooler trying to figure out the Federal budget." I have this look on my face all the time.


SkylersDad said...

I always get fooled by the pager/gun!

I loved the phrase "There are hurt feelings and silence just like a date gone wrong, but they both know that all this tension has to do with the fact that one of them isn't going to get out of the car alive."


This reminded me of a line from a friend I had in the Navy, who was a SEAL. He told a marine who was giving him shit about not being big enough or tough enough, and he looked at the marine and told him, "Well, I may not look tough to you, but put the two of us in a phone booth with a knife, and I know who is walking out."

Gifted Typist said...

you have a gift for dialogue, no question

Cormac Brown said...


I have that look too...all too often.


I should've saved that little pager est machina for another story, but I wanted to get that story out.

Thanks, and why would anyone but a SEAL want to gut-check a SEAL?


Thanks, I need to find my gift for endings again.