“Pssst! Hey, wake up,” said this time with the aid of the gun barrel pressing against the nose.
Hap opened one eye just enough to make out the dark blob standing next to his bed and the pointy end of a chrome-plated gun shining in the moonlight from the window.
“Wha…?” Hap said.
“Shuddup and listen,” the blob said.
Hap blinked and tried to open the other eye but it was sleep-stuck. He started to rub it.
“Doncha move nuthin’,” the blob said. “You just gotta listen, OK?”
Hap got the second eye open just as the blob found the lamp on the table.
“Shit!” Hap said.
Hap blinked several times and forced his eyes to focus. The blob slowly took on the shape of a big guy, maybe six foot, maybe two hundred and a half pounds, a nose that had been broken a time or two, and eyes that were trying to look mean but also had the look of a five-year-old playing cops and robbers.
“Now listen Dingy,” the big guy said, “I got a message for you from Marco. He wants me to tell you that you gotta quit messin’ round and take care of things. Understand?”
“What the hell…” Hap said.
“Shuddup!” the big guy said. “You don’t say nuthin’. I’m s’posed to tell you that you gotta get things fixed by Saturday. Or else. Got it?”
Hap looked at the big guy.
“Now I can talk?” Hap said.
“Yeah, OK. I guess so.”
“Can I ask you a question?”
“Who, or what in the hell is a Dingy?”
“Whatdayamean?” the big guy said, “Don’t mess with me asshole. You’re Dingy. And Marco is really serious.”
“And who the hell is Marco?” Hap said.
The chrome-plated gun moved closer.
“You think I’m stupid or somethin?” the big guy said. “You’re Dingy. And Marco sent me here to…”
“My name is Hap. I don’t know any Dingy and I don’t know any Marco. I don’t know what the hell you are talking about.”
The chrome-plated gun wavered a bit.
“Uh, whadayamean? You’re Dingy. 416 East Crawford Drive, that’s the address Marco gave me. Quit messin’ with me.”
“What’s your name?” Hap said.
“Uh, Carl. Why?”
“Well Carl, I think I see your problem.”
“I don’t got no problem. You’re the one with the problem if you don’t…”
“You see, Carl, you’re standing in my bedroom at 416 West Crawford Drive, not East Crawford Drive. And my name isn’t Dingy, it’s Hap. Hap Shuman. And I’m just wondering what your Marco fella is going to think when he finds out?”
“Uh.” The chrome-plated gun moved away. “Nah, you’re Dingy, you’re just trying to confuse me.”
“Doesn’t look like you need my help there Carl. I’m thinking you’ve got that confusion thing covered.”
Silence as Carl looked at Hap, then at the chrome-plated gun, then at his own feet, then at the door, then back to Hap.
“This is West Crawford?”
“West. Yeah. Just the opposite of East.”
Carl looked around again.
“Listen,” Carl said, “you just gotta stay right there and don’t move, OK. You don’t do nuthin’ until after I’m gone. OK?”
“Sure, Carl. Whatever you say.” Hap said.
Carl looked once more around the room with his five-year-old eyes and slowly backed out the bedroom door. Hap heard the front door open and close.
“You just going to lay there?”
Helen Shuman’s voice had its sarcastic tone as it came from the pillow on the other side of the bed.
Hap opened the drawer next to the bed as he stood, pulled out the 357, blue-steel, long barrel he kept around for just this kind of occasion and walked out of the bedroom. Hap saw the door frame Carl had broken to get in, and wearing his t-shirt and baggy jockey shorts, stepped into the front yard. Carl was walking towards a blue car at the curb. Hap followed him quietly and caught up to him behind the car.
“Hey! Carl!” Hap said.
Carl spun around and reached for his chrome-plated just as he saw the long-barrel. He stopped reaching.
“Look mister,” Carl said, “I don’t want no trouble, OK? It was just a mistake. I’m sorry. Whatchyou doin’ with that gun there?”
“Look Carl,” Hap said, “it’s one thing to wake a guy up in the middle of the night and stick a gun in his face. That’s not good, especially when you do it to the wrong guy. Ya know?”
“Yeah, I know. Like I said, I’m really sorry. I mix things up sometimes. I’m sorry.”
“But Carl, what makes it worse is when you wake the guy’s wife up, especially when she’s sick like my wife is. She has a hard enough time getting any rest, and then you show up and make it even harder. That just ain’t right Carl.”
“Yeah.” Carl said. “She’s sick? Geez, I’m really sorry. What’s wrong with her?”
“COPD, Carl. She’s dying from it. Got a lot of pain. That’s why she needs to get her rest.”
“C..O..” Carl paused, “gee, I’m sorry.”
“Thanks. But Carl, you not only woke her up, but you made her unhappy. And when she’s unhappy, that means I’m not going to get any sleep either. You really screwed things up here Carl.”
Carl looked at his feet, then at Hap, then at the long-barrel, then at Hap.
“Whatcha gonna do?” Carl said.
“Oh, I’m gonna let you go, Carl,” Hap said. “But, you know, it’s one thing that you woke Helen up. But, Carl, you also went and broke her door. And she picked that door out herself when we remodeled the place. She liked that door. What I want to know is who’s going to pay for that door, Carl?”
“My door. The one you broke when you came in my house. Who’s going to pay to get that fixed?”
“Look, I don’t…”
“Carl, I figure it’s going to come to four, maybe five hundred dollars to replace that door. And that doesn’t count the storm door. Did you screw that up too?”
“Uh, yeah, I guess so.”
“That makes it at least six hundred. Who’s going to pay for that, Carl?”
“Uh, I don’t…”
“The way I see it, Carl, is either you can pay for it now, or you can tell me where I can get in touch with your Marco fella. I can explain what happened and give him the bill. What do you think?”
Carl looked at Hap, the gun, his own shoes, the gun, then Hap, then stuck his hand in his pocket.
“I only got about three-hunderd on me,” Carl said. “Honest mister. Just three-hunderd. That’s all I got.”
“Then, let’s call that a down-payment Carl. You can owe me the rest. How’s that sound?”
Carl pulled a wad of bills from his pocket and handed it to Hap.
“Ok, I guess,” Carl said. “You ain’t gonna tell Marco about this are ya?”
“Nah,” Hap said, “you seem to be a nice enough guy. It was an honest mistake. We’ll just keep this between us.”
“Thanks.” Carl said.
“But listen, Carl, you really need to be more careful with addresses next time.”
“Yeah.” Carl said. “I will. Thanks.”
“Um, can I go now?” Carl said.
“Sure,” Hap said. “You going to go try and find Dingy now?”
“Yeah,” Carl said, “but I think I need a drink first.”
Hap pulled a ten from the wad of bills and handed it to Carl.
“Here, have one on me.”
“Thanks,” Carl said, “I appreciate it. I’m sorry I woke you up. And I’m sorry about your wife, and them doors.”
Hap watched as Carl drove down the street. He then walked back to the house, went inside and crawled back into bed.
“Did you take care of that guy?” Helen said from her pillow.
“Yeah.” Hap said. “Seemed like a nice enough fella.”