Character Sketch for TRASHED (aka ‘Johnny Brava’)

Character Sketch for TRASHED (aka ‘Johnny Brava’)

BURNED

You know you’ve made it to the bigs when the smoke shop truck comes to you. And we’re not talking delivery. We’re talking pick up. But the thing you don’t count on is that making it to the bigs and staying in the bigs are two different things.

Nate Hendricks realizes the difference the moment he sees Johnny Brava coming down the street. But big balls don’t imply big brains. Not in the way big feet imply a big dick. Not that Hendricks gets it. What he gets is that he has his big balls in one palm and a big wad of cash from the smoke shop in the other, so he’s feeling no pain and could give a shit about brains.

He stands there in his driveway, his dumbass grin highlighted by the glow of the smoke shop truck’s brake lights, feeling like the big man on the block, feeling like he can take on the world, take on Brava even. After all, Brava is just another thug, so no reason to worry.

And for a few minutes, one or two at least, his crew believes it too and stands beside him, ready to go to blows if it comes to that. A couple of them are ignorant enough to want it to come to that, but those are the guys new to this game and to this neighborhood, the guys who don’t know better.

But when Brava reaches Hendricks’ house and stands out front, unassuming in his jeans and white wife-beater, Hendricks’ crew takes a step back, away from Brava, away from Hendricks, away from the impending brouhaha.

“Nice evening,” Brava says, shoulders relaxed, hands in the pockets of his jeans.

“Yep,” says Hendricks, momentarily quiet despite his earlier bravado.

”Kind of evening folks enjoy stretching their legs, taking a stroll around the neighborhood, and maybe swapping commentary on the weather.”

Hendricks keeps silent, baffled by the direction of the conversation.

Brava nods to Hendricks’ crew. “You do any barbecuing over here on weekends?”

One of the guys nods affirmative. Couple of them glance at the door that leads into the back yard.

Brava smiles encouragingly. “Right on. Nothing like a grilled steak, is there?”

Hendricks finds his voice. “This ain’t no steak house, Brava.”

“Course not,” Brava shrugs. “Just wondering whether you have a spare propane tank I could borrow?”

”Sure, there’s one out back,” one of the guys speaks up.

“Shut up, peckerwood,” someone else says, but it’s too late and everybody knows it.

“I’ll get it refilled and bring it back tomorrow,” says Brava, stepping onto the driveway.

Hendricks moves to block him but Brava is already in motion and nobody in Hendricks’ crew intercepts him.

Brava reaches the back door, opens it, and moves into Hendricks’ back yard.

Hendricks nuts up then, trips over his dick and his pride trying to get out that door and gauge Brava’s expression. But all the fuss is for nothing.

As though the yard full of shoulder high pot plants doesn’t faze him, Brava jerks a thumb towards the rusty barbecue and says, “That the spare tank?”

Hendricks answers in spite of himself. “That’s it.”

”Cool,” Brava says, reaching down to unhook the tank from the barbeque and then reaching into his pocket for a pack of smokes. “You got a light?”

Hendricks snaps, finally. “The fuck are you doing, Brava? Pushing your way in here, running over my crew, borrowing my shit.”

Brava laughs. “You’re kidding me, right? I haven’t been anything but conversational. You need to lighten up, bud.”

“Yeah, whatever. I can play the good neighbor bullshit too. Go ahead. Take my tank, take my lighter, and then get off my property.”

“Sure thing,” Brava says, putting a cigarette between his lips and returning the pack to his pocket. “Didn’t mean to overstep, Hendricks. My apologies.”

Hendricks tosses him a lighter.

Brava catches it with one hand, yanks the propane tank up off the ground, holds the hose nozzle to the lighter flame and directs the blaze into the heart of Hendricks’ grow.

The next few seconds are filled with noise, smoke, and the pungent stench of burning foliage. When it’s over, the yard is a scorched barren wasteland.

Brava pitches the tank towards the barbecue and tosses the lighter to Hendricks. “What you do in your own house is your business. But when you do something that affects the reputation of this neighborhood, that’s my business. I ever see the smoke shop truck in this neighborhood again, it will be more than your crop I burn to the ground. We clear?”

Hendricks doesn’t answer. Can’t say a damn word on account of his balls being stuck in his throat.

Brava doesn’t wait for a response. He walks back into the garage, down the driveway, and off down the sidewalk.

Hendricks follows, stands in the driveway and watches Brava head home.

Half way down the street, Valentia Jimenez, the sweet little school teacher, comes out of her house, sleek as a cat in her yoga gear. “Everything okay, Brava? I heard a ruckus while I was in the shower.”

Brava waves to her, a paragon of neighborly perfection. “Nothing to worry about, Miss Jimenez.”

Valentia steps off her porch and the breeze stirs her still damp dark hair. “Thank goodness. The parent-teacher conferences have me off kilter this week. Thought maybe I’d missed the block party.”

“That’s next week,” Brava chuckles. “But hey, tell you what. I got pork chops and potatoes in the oven. Wouldn’t be no trouble to bring you a plate.”

She leans on her white picket fence. “I don’t want to impose but that sounds lovely.”

Brava winks. “Like I said, no trouble. Give me ten minutes and I’ll have it plated and at your door.”

The way Jimenez smiles at Brava, face lit up like the fourth of July, yanks Hendricks by the short hairs.

Fucking Johnny Brava. The guy was a real piece of work. He turns around to say as much to his crew, but they’re gone. Just like his weed and his dreams of street cred.

You know how it is. One moment your balls are good as gold and the next, you can’t get your shriveled up shit sold.

 


Written for my son V and nephew K. 🙂