Friday, March 15, 2013


The Halloween after the Valentine's surprise, which consisted of a speedboat flipping in the Atlantic north of Ireland and killing Barney, Quincy's first toady and part-time kidnapper, and the caged Girl in the Front Row, Q found himself holding a whip in a cart being pulled by his newest toady, Arvin, Barney's little bro, who was smoothly guiding the cart from house to house in search of king-sized Snickers instead of the miniature shits that parents tried to pawn off on preschoolers.

Before hiring Arvin, Quincy had said, "In this job, there's one rule.  Actually, there are two rules."

Arvin stared blankly at him.

"Rule one is: No thinking.  Rule two is: No kidnapping.  Got it?"

Arvin continued to stare blankly until Quincy realized, This is what "no thinking" looks like.  But Arvin was a good choice.  He had the two best qualities in a toady: immense strength and incredible stupidity.  Despite Arvin's repeated, insistent claim that "One plus one equals one and one," teachers passed him on to the next grade level, due wholly to his excellence on the football field, where his position of right guard was strictly in name only: The fact was that with Arvin playing all of the offensive guard positions, standing in front of the high school quarterback and knocking defenders to the turf, opposing teams had never registered a single sack.  So Quincy handed him a stack of hundreds on the spot, which Arvin promptly used to eat a dozen Big Macs.  For dessert, he ate dozens of candy bars in a Walgreens aisle and paid for the wrappers at checkout.

Tonight, despite pulling Quincy along every block in the northern part of Truckee, Arvin hadn't even broken into a sweat.  Quincy's bag, an old pillowcase covered in drool stains, was nearly full.  At more than one house, adults had complained, "You're not even wearing a costume."  Or: "Aren't you kids a bit too old for trick or treating?"

It was true.  At age 15, Quincy was wearing blue jeans and a t-shirt and holding a bullwhip.  Arvin loomed behind him, muscular and tall, in a shirt two sizes too small, looking like an overstuffed sausage.  Quincy's response was always the same.

"It's a free roll.  Besides, you can always choose trick."

"What happens if I do that?"

Quincy nodded backwards.  "Arvin here plays a game called Candy Time.  That's where he opens the wrapper and sees what's inside.  In this case, the wrapper would be your house."

"Ha ha.  That's silly."

"Arvin is institutionalized.  He wants to go back to lockup.  He misses the rape."

Candy found its way into the bag.

Two blocks from his house, his bag overstuffed, Quincy told Arvin that he could keep the cart.  Arvin whooped and darted off around a corner, the wooden carriage almost overturning.  Before Quincy made it half a block, he found himself surrounded by Riff Bankman, the school bully, and a couple toadies of his own.

"Cough up the bag, or get socked in the head," barked a predictable Riff.

Quincy smiled and handed him the bag.

Riff socked him in the head anyway, his ears ringing, and shouted, "Daily double!"  Quincy took a couple of steps backwards, wondering, How did Piotr know that Riff would do that?

Riff ransacked the bag until he held up a jumbo cupcake, chocolate with chocolate frosting.

How did Piotr know that he would choose that one? Quincy wondered.  Then, following instructions that Piotr had given him earlier that afternoon, he said, "If it's not wrapped, it's not safe."

Riff laughed.  "What a baby."  Riff hit him with a left this time across the cheek.  He felt dizzy; then his face began burning.  As Biff took a big bite of the cupcake, crumbs rained down onto his shirt.  "Mmm!  Vanilla frosting!  Thanks for the candy, loser!"

His toadies laughed.  As Quincy sat down on the edge of the sidewalk--wondering, How did Piotr know that Riff loves vanilla frosting?--Riff and his sidekicks headed off down the street, Quincy's bag being passed from hand to hand.

Riff missed class every day for the next two weeks.  Then Truckee High cancelled classes on November 15th so that the student body could attend Riff's funeral.

Instead, Quincy, Piotr, and Arvin went to Round Table Pizza, ordered three King Arthur Supremes, and played the only stand up antique Galaga game in town, Piotr beating a high score set previously by himself.


  1. It's not a good idea to mess with the Quinc-meister.

  2. I sense these two entering Shawshank together

    1. Man, I hope not. That'd be a lot of jailhouse chapters.